Monthly Archives: July 2012

“By That Sin Fell the Angels” is now in editing!

It’s surprising how addictive editing can be.  Just knowing that what you’re working on is being polished up for print in a few weeks is a huge rush.  It can be frustrating at the same time, if you’re trying to actually write something new at the same time you’re working on your edits — especially if the two manuscripts are completely different in tone — but I still love it!

So even though I’ve been frantically working on book two of my YA fantasy trilogy (Dreams of Fire and Gods — don’t ask me what the subtitle for this one is yet), I’ve still been jonesing to get back to editing…something!  Anything!

My publisher had been tossing various forms at me to fill out for By That Sin Fell the Angels:  the cover art form, the  blurb form, the dedications….  Those are all set (though I have yet to see any designs for the cover — I can’t wait!).

Incidentally, here’s the blurb:

It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

 Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

So I just received the first edits and now I have to approve them or reject them (with an explanation for why I don’t like them) and add any of my own (with review tracking turned on in Word, so the editor can accept or reject my suggestions).  Then I have to send it back by Tuesday.  Usually we go back and forth about three times before the final galley proof is sent to me.

The novel should be coming out at the end of August!

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Filed under Drama, Fantasy, Religion, Writing, Young Adult

The First Draft of Murderous Requiem is Finished!

Okay, it’s actually been finished for a few weeks, but I’ve been so busy with other stuff, I haven’t really talked about it.

The first reports back from beta readers indicate I may have something here.  I was told that it hooked them and carried them right through the story and the occult stuff was really creepy and interesting.  Score!

There have been criticisms, of course.  The beginning may throw the reader into a bizarre environment (called “the Temple” — sort of a free-love, occult commune) a bit abruptly without giving her or him time to get used to the idea.  Additionally, some of the occult information is imparted in big wads of text that would be better served by dialog, perhaps.   And my husband, Erich, felt that adding one or two characters with speaking parts might serve to increase the impression of the Temple being a busy place with a lot of people, and could also divert suspicion from the obvious “suspects.”  (As a “murder mystery,” the ending is a bit too obvious, perhaps, but the story apparently works well on other levels.)

Two things that gave everyone pause:  the  sexual acrobatics and the open relationship between Jeremy (the viewpoint character) and his love interest, Bowyn.

Sexual acrobatics…well, I set out to write a novel that takes place in a free-love commune.  It was deliberately designed to provide me with a lot of opportunities for casual sex between the characters.  Nobody has complained about that, specifically, but there’s one scene that gets pretty kinky, and it’s been raising some eyebrows.  When I ask, “Should I change it?” I invariably get a response along the lines of, “I’m not sure….”  Nobody is certain whether it pushes the boundary too far, or just enough to be vaguely uncomfortable.

That’s something I might run by my publisher.  The scene doesn’t technically violate their submission standards (or the standards of most publishers of M/M erotic stories), but they know what they’re comfortable with.

The open relationship might be a bigger issue.

I believe in open relationships.  Several of my friends have been in “poly” relationships and they seem perfectly happy, or at least as happy as anybody else.  True, sometimes poly relationships blow up or otherwise disintegrate due to jealousy or for other reasons, but so do monogamous relationships.  In my story, Jeremy realizes that the poly relationship he had with Bowyn eight years ago fell apart because he (Jeremy) was too jealous of Bowyn showing affection for one of their mutual friends.  He was fine with Bowyn sleeping with other men.  But he couldn’t handle Bowyn loving anybody but Jeremy.

Jeremy and Bowyn end up deciding that they need to be together.  And for that to work, they need for their love to be exclusive.  But the possibility of casual sex with other men now and then isn’t completely eliminated, due to the situation.  This, to me, is a perfectly good solution and a happy ending for the romance.  Unfortunately, a lot of romance readers would probably disagree.  For them, the only happy ending is a monogamous (emotionally AND sexually) ending.  It’s possible to have a threesome, of course, but even then, most readers would prefer that all three people involved be monogamous to that relationship.

Should I change it?  I don’t know.  This isn’t as simple as modifying one scene to remove some kinky sex.  Two men who co-founded a “sex cult” aren’t just going to decide casual sex is “bad.”  They don’t think it’s bad.  For them to suddenly decide to put that life completely behind them and start over as a traditionally monogamous couple living in suburbia in a house with a white picket fence…well, I can’t see that happening.  And I don’t think I could make it believable to readers.

So once again I find myself with a book that a lot of people tell me is really good…but they don’t think it will have broad audience appeal.

The story of my (writing) life.

Incidentally, I have to change the title.  It’s no longer about a requiem — it’s about a mass.  But Murderous Mass would be a terrible title….


Filed under Mystery, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Good Reviews for “Saturn in Retrograde”!

In addition to generally positive reviews of Saturn in Retrograde from readers on Goodreads, the novella has been noticed by a couple of review sites.

Serena Yates, from QMO Books (which is unfortunately temporarily offline for renovations of the site), gave the book 5-stars and said:

The story built very nicely. There are quite a few hints as to what is going to happen (most of which I figured out, but not all). Despite that, I loved watching the story unfold and following the details of how Patrick and Joshua arrived at where they needed to be. As for the big surprise at the end? That was truly shocking, yet no less logical. If you like time travel stories with a scientific slant, if two men separated by 25 years wanting to be together sounds like an interesting problem to solve, and if you like the slight headaches caused by trying to think in temporal circles, I am pretty sure you will love this story.

You can read the entirety of Serena’s review on Goodreads, though you probably have to have an account.  The link is here.

Don, at Hearts On Fire Reviews also gave it 5-stars and had this to say:

Patrick and Joshua were terrific together as a couple and the sex was hot.  Mr. Fessenden did a lot of research on the scientific end of the book which made the book all the better.  The numerous plot twists and turns kept me interested and guessing.  The unexpected HEA ending blew me away with surprise.  I didn’t see that coming at all and I’m still going over it in my mind.  I highly recommend this mind twisting book to anyone who loves a good puzzle.

The entire review can be read here.


Now you’re probably wondering, “Does this guy do anything besides sit around all day reading his reviews?”

The answer is, “Yes.”   But it hasn’t been very exciting as a spectator sport.  I’ve mostly been writing.  By That Sin Fell the Angels is in editing now, so that will take up a good deal of my time for the next month or two.  I don’t have a firm release date for that one yet, but I believe the plan is for sometime in August.

I also signed a contract for a YA fantasy novel called Dreams of Fire and Gods: Awakening, which is part one of a trilogy!  I’m frantically writing part two now, because my publisher wants it fast, fast fast!  Don’t worry — it won’t suck.  So far I’m really liking it.

Whereas the first part was a traditional sword & sorcery story with a band of adventurers fighting monsters, as they trek through the wilderness, then fighting a big battle against an enemy army at the end, part two is a bit different.  We’re seeing a lot more of the political and religious struggles going on in the empire.  I’ve also introduced a third viewpoint character, in addition to the two heroes: an assassin who is attempting to kill one of the heroes for the emperor!

And no, before you ask…I haven’t seen or read Game of Thrones yet and this isn’t my attempt to emulate all of the political maneuvering in that series.  It’s just the way the story is developing on its own.  I love it!

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Filed under Fantasy, Romance, SciFi, Writing, Young Adult