Category Archives: Contemporary

“Borderland” is out in the world and doing well!

Borderland was a “labor of love,” as they say, from the start. FE Feeley, Jr. (henceforth referred to as “Fred”) proposed we work together on a horror novel over two years ago, and we tossed ideas back and forth until we settled on a ghost story set in a haunted inn in Vermont.

So much time has gone by, it’s now impossible to sort out who thought of what, but I recall Fred being interested in Vermont, because he wanted to visit New England. I’d never officially lived there, but they don’t call Vermont and New Hampshire the “twin states” for nothing. Jump in the car and you can reach anywhere in either state in a few hours. I’ve spent a lot of time there, especially near the border. It’s a gorgeous state: heavily forested, mountainous, and dotted with old farms. It’s about the same size as NH (but “upside-down” ;-p ), and the population is just over 600 thousand—half that of NH, and we’re not exactly struggling for elbow room.

Fred can also be credited with the idea of working the flu epidemic of 1918 into the story. I want to be clear that he thought of this years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Frankly, we might have veered away from the topic, if we’d known about the pandemic, since so many readers have had family affected by the virus. Instead, one might call it a bit of prescience. The story had already been submitted to our publisher by the time the pandemic hit the USA.

Writing with another author was a new experience for me, and it didn’t always go smoothly. We wrote scenes and showed them to each other, usually liking what we were piecing together, but as the order of the story was rearranged, some scenes had to be tossed and others extensively rewritten. One scene was simultaneously written by both of us, leaving us with the decision of which to keep. In final edits, we noticed that the music box was somehow upstairs in a bedroom and on the fireplace mantel in the living room at the same time. And who the heck was Meghan? Oh, that’s right. We changed her name to Grace…

But under the guidance of our wonderful editor, Debbie McGowan, at Beaten Track Publishing, we hammered the novel into something we’re all very proud of. And the reception has been wonderful. Here are some quotes from our favorite review sites:

“I very highly recommend this ghost story. It is one of my favorite reads in a long time. If you have Amazon, one-click it now. You won’t be sorry.” — Dan at Love Bytes Reviews

“If this is what a story becomes when FE Feeley and Jamie Fessenden collaborate, then sign me up for more. These two have put together an amazing combination of mystery, thriller, and horror, and then intertwined within all of that darkness, is a sweet, poignant romance that will stick with you long after “the end”.” —Melissa Brus at the Paranormal Romance Guild

“It was with great expectation I awaited this book…..I am a longtime follower of these two authors and expected nothing less than perfection….I received it hands down!!” — Gloria Lakritz at the Paranormal Romance Guild

“Yes, there is a sad element to this book. But there’s also hope, as well, and that’s deftly written by FE Feeley and by Jamie Fessenden, as well. I really enjoyed this book. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. It won’t necessarily be that way for everyone, although I would imagine that most people that read this book will have a definite visceral reaction to it. So, for me, Borderland is a lovely piece of writing. I thoroughly… I’m just really glad that I got to read it, and I’m giving it five stars.” — Kazza at On Top Down Under Reviews

I’m very proud of the work Fred and I did on the novel. Perhaps in the future we’ll collaborate on another one, and hopefully our process will go a bit smoother from our experience with Borderland.  In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy their visit with the hotel and it’s residents… both benign and evil.

They were young.
In the prime of life and recently married.
And then the diagnosis came.
Cancer.

George and Jason make arrangements to travel back to George’s home state of Vermont so he may pass away in the town where he grew up, but a terrible storm diverts the couple into the gates of an out-of-the-way hotel called Borderland.

Sure, the employees are well dressed and polite. Sure, the food and entertainment are old-time fare. But it’s all a schtick, right?

Or is there something far more sinister at work here?

Welcome to the Borderland Hotel, where you may check in, but you’ll never, ever leave.

Buy Links:

Beaten Track Publishing

Amazon

 

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Filed under Contemporary, Feeley, Historical, horror, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Victorian, Writing

The Spookiest Stories from Jamie Fessenden!

I missed Halloween with this post, so I’ll aim for the Day of the Dead instead! My intent was to blog about some of the scary/creepy stories I’ve written over the years.

I love horror, so I’m actually surprised I haven’t written more of it. For a very brief time, I made micro-budget horror films. They were of variable quality, and unfortunately you can only see one, at present, on YouTube. It’s really grisly, so don’t watch it if you don’t go for gore. I made it for the Eerie Horror Fest in 2006. They had a contest for filmmakers to submit ads for the festival. Sadly, ours “won,” simply because it was the only submission, but I’m proud of it. We were experimenting with lighting and learning how to use our new camera crane (basically a teeter-totter device that allowed the camera to smoothly pan up and down). If you go to the YouTube channel for Dunkirk Studios, you can see some trailers for other films we worked on. Some made it into festivals, but our big project, “The Resurrection,” was never finished, due to lack of locations willing to allow naked people covered in blood to run around on their premises. It would have been epic. EPIC.

After publishing some short stories  and novellas (one I’d consider novel-length, in its second edition), I decided to dive into a full-length novel in same vein as The Da Vinci Code, in which the characters are piecing together an occult mystery by researching ancient tomes. The result was Murderous Requiem.

 

In this novel, I delved into the writings of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), the Italian scholar who was more or less responsible for bringing the works of Plato to the West, and who believed that music could heal the human body by bringing our pure spiritual form into harmony with our physical form. He was a jack-of-all-trades – a doctor, philosopher, writer, and composer – so the story is about the discovery of a mass written by Ficino, which could go one step further and pull the soul back into the body after death. The story involves a beautiful drug addict with the voice of an angel, a murder, nearly everything my music theory major taught me in college, and ominous, supernatural flocks of ravens.

Bigfoot Hunters in Love was originally a free short story I gave away on my blog. You can still get it here. But I thought it needed more, so eventually I expanded upon it and contracted Scott J. Coatsworth to create a cover that conveyed both the silly elements of the story and the creepiness. It’s about a man who moves to the country and is chased into the forest one night by a monster. He loses his slippers and his dignity, eventually crashing headlong into a man who’s been hunting the creature for years. Along with our hero’s trusty dog, Thor, they set out to uncover proof that the creature exists.

Sadly, the anthology of bizarre stories set in the Old West edited by my friend and fellow author, Kim Fielding, is no longer available, except in used paperbacks. I’ll have to republish my short story from it: The Sheriff of Para Siempre. This was one of my favorite of my own stories, about two young men hiring themselves out as law-enforcement in a dying mining town. It ultimately involves a man who simply won’t stay dead, and the ending is the most tragic thing I’ve ever written. As one reviewer said: “I’m a blubbering mess right now, so if I’m not making sense, you can blame it on Jamie Fessenden. Quite simply, this story broke me. It broke my heart and it made me speechless.”

Author and friend, Eli Easton, came up with a great idea for an anthology: Gothic horror romances to be released each Halloween, each with a specific theme. The first was called Gothika #1: Stitch, and Eli did the cover for it. It was gorgeous. I even made a book trailer, which looks a bit clunky, in retrospect, since it was the first time I played with Movie Maker. But I’m very proud of the music I wrote for it. (Yes, all those tens of thousands I spent on my music theory degree paid off!)

I won’t describe all the wonderful stories in these anthologies, since that would take forever, but I’ll briefly describe the stories I wrote. For Stitch, I wrote a story called Watchworks, about a watchmaker in Victorian London, who is called to the home of a wealthy gentleman for a bizarre purpose: to repair the intricate mechanical hand of a handsome young man. The hand is so lifelike, it’s impossible to tell it isn’t flesh, unless the artificial skin is removed. But as the watchmaker attempts to repair the hand, he begins to suspect more and more of the young man is clockwork. Just how much of him is still human?

 

For Gothika #2: Bones, I wrote a Young Adult story about two teenagers living in a Latinx neighborhood in Manchester, New Hampshire. One has a grandmother (abuelita) who runs a botánica – a shop that sells folk medicine and magical items used in vodou rituals – and when he attempts to acquire a copy of the dreaded Book of St. Cyprian for the shop, he accidentally releases a dark spirit that possesses his friend’s dog. The two boys work frantically to exorcise the spirit, before it can hurt the dog or, worse… abuelita finds out what they’ve been up to.

Don’t expect any sex with this one, but it’s fun and creepy and has some interesting stuff about local vodou practices. I had a couple of Spanish-speaking friends take me to the botánica in Manchester, so we could quiz the owner and see what she had for sale. And, yes, the Book of St. Cyprian is a real book, rumored to be so evil, anyone who reads it risks losing their soul.

Isolation (Gothika #3: Claw) is adapted from a screenplay I wrote, but was never able to film – mostly because we weren’t able to find a good location. It follows a man who once had a great relationship with his best friend and lover, but chickened out of a long-term gay relationship and married a woman. Years later, after his marriage has disintegrated, he comes back with his tail between his legs, hoping to rekindle what he and his friend once had.

But he finds his friend living deep in the woods, isolated from the town, and not at all willing to get into a relationship with him… or anyone, apparently. And he soon discovers there is something sinister prowling through the forest at night…

 

For Gothika #4: Spirit, the theme was ghost stories, and I delved into the history of the old mill buildings in New England, which were plagued by fires that killed massive amounts of workers – usually young women. The most famous is the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire which killed 146 workers, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrant women in their teens and early twenties (the youngest was 14), because the doors to stairwells and exits were locked to prevent workers from sneaking out on breaks.

For The Mill, I adapted a ballad about the Granite Mill to my fictional mill building, and had a team of ghost-hunters investigating appearances that have frightened off construction workers so often the building now lies empty and abandoned.

The last Gothika we did was called Contact, and it dealt with stories of alien abduction.

My story was called, not surprisingly, Abduction. It’s about a man who visits an old boyfriend and finds that he’s basically had a nervous breakdown and ranting about aliens abducting him and implanting things in his body. Our hero agrees to stay the night and help watch for aliens, and to his horror, he’s abducted.

The aliens don’t experiment on him, but that’s because he was abducted by different aliens than his friend was abducted by. In order to save his friend, he has to take sides in an interstellar war and befriend the commander of the ship he’s a prisoner on. Over time, he and the commander discover they have a connection…

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Filed under Contemporary, Day of the Dead, Film Writing, gay, Halloween, horror, Jamie Fessenden, Murderous Requiem, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Pets, Romance

“Small Town Sonata” is RELEASED!!!

My Dreamspun Desires novel, Small Town Sonata, hits the stands today!

For anyone who hasn’t been following, this novel is a very personal one for me. I taught myself to play piano as a teenager and picked it up pretty quickly. I was actually good enough to play at the Homecoming assembly in my high school just a couple of years later. (Okay, it was a very small school, in a rural area.)

I was good enough to get into the music program at the University of New Hampshire, but alas I’d taught myself a lot of bad fingering, and I was never able to overcome that. I’d always dreamt of being a professional pianist, but it was not to be.

Aiden is a bit of wish-fulfillment – a child prodigy who quickly outgrew his small town and had to leave, in order to pursue a shining career, traveling around the world as a sought-after pianist.

But as I would, if I were in his place, he misses his small-town life… and the handsome young man he’d begun a tentative relationship with when he was a teenager. He returns under unhappy circumstances, but finds his old boyfriend, Dean, has grown into a handsome, well-liked man.

And then things begin to get interesting…

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

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Filed under Contemporary, gay, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, Music, New Release, Romance

New Release! Small Town Sonata is now available for pre-order!


My Dreamspun Desires title, Small Town Sonata, will be hitting the stores on August 6th, and is already available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon!

This is a return to light, fun romance, after spending so much time writing dark stories. I spent a lot of time lovingly describing the town I grew up in, until I was about eleven, making everything vivid and brightly colored, full of the scents of lilacs and cut grass and warm coffee. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I hope it will be for you as well!

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/small-town-sonata-by-jamie-fessenden-10674-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Sonata-Dreamspun-Desires-ebook/dp/B07QXQYH8X/

Excerpt:

Dean was unaccountably nervous as he followed Aiden around to the backyard. It wasn’t as if they were going to fuck in the gazebo or anything. Aiden had already vetoed making out, which was reasonable. But Dean had thought about him a lot over the years. After a couple of years had gone by with no sign of Aiden returning to Springhaven, even for just a summer, any delusions Dean had had about them running off together had died a painful death. But, yeah. Dean had still thought about him. And his thoughts hadn’t always been pure.

Now, Aiden was walking just a few feet ahead of him, and he’d grown up to be sexier than Dean’s most lurid fantasies. My God, look at that ass!

The gazebo was octagonal, with one side open and the other seven enclosed by a waist-high white wooden railing. Three curved benches formed a semicircle in the center, underneath a conical roof. The gazebo rested in the center of the lawn surrounded on all sides by a small, artificial frog pond, and that was surrounded by more of Mrs. Scott’s rosebushes. The scent of the flowers hung heavy in the warm evening air, and a chorus of crickets and spring peepers serenaded the men as they crossed the small, arched bridge and climbed the short flight of wooden steps.

As a boy, Dean had thought the Scotts must be millionaires. He knew that wasn’t the case, now, but they were certainly well-off.

“I’m tempted to light the TIKI torches,” Aiden said, grinning. “But I suppose Dad would come barreling out of the house, demanding to know who was screwing around in his yard. Either that, or Mom would be worried I was out here moping.”

“Moping about what?”

The shadows inside the gazebo were deep, so Dean couldn’t see Aiden’s face clearly, but there was a sadness in his voice. “Nothing. I guess I miss New York a bit.”

Dean could tell that wasn’t the real reason, but he doubted he’d get much more out of Aiden by prying.

A firefly drifted into the gazebo and they watched its slow flight until it landed on the railing. It sat there, blinking a soft greenish-yellow.

“You really liked it there?” Dean asked at last.

“I guess so. It was busy. Exciting. And people treated me like….” He trailed off.

“Like what?”

Aiden gave out a faint, wistful little laugh. “Like a movie star.”

“Just because you play piano?” Dean realized he was probably being insulting. “Sorry. I mean… you play great. I love listening to you. But are you saying people wanted your autograph and shit like that?”

Aiden was silent for a long time, and Dean was afraid he was going to turn around, go back inside, and that would be the last time Aiden ever bothered to talk to him. Why the fuck did I have to say it like that?

Eventually, Aiden said, “Sometimes.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know shit about stuff like that.”

Another long silence. Then Aiden said, “Mom tells me you play clarinet now.”

“Uh… yeah. I’m not that good, though.”

Aiden sat down on one of the benches. “You play in the town fair?”

“Sort of.” Dean sat beside him, praying Aiden wouldn’t immediately get up again. The bench was small, so they were forced to sit close together. Dean could feel the heat of Aiden’s arm against his own, but Aiden made no move to put distance between them. “Remember Bart Robinson?”

“The math teacher?”

“Well, he was when you and I were in high school. He retired ages ago. And he put the Springhaven Septet—that’s what we called the band—together. We played every summer, until he passed away a couple of years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah.” Dean sighed. “So this year, they’re making me do it.”

“The band? Who’s making you do it?”

Dean held his hands out in front of him in a gesture of surrender. “The Ladies of Lilac Lane.”

“The… what?”

That was right. The ladies hadn’t formed their little cabal before Aiden left. “Well, they’re kind of a… bunch of old women who boss people around a lot. Especially me.”

Aiden laughed and nudged him with his arm. “I didn’t think anyone could boss you around.”

“Yeah, well… I guess I let them.”

Dean shifted uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure if he could explain it in any way that made sense to anyone else. “Do you remember Mr. Whitaker?”

Aiden sighed, a wistful sound. “Oh, yeah. I was thinking about him this afternoon, when I went uptown.”

“He kind of saved my life.”

Aiden huffed out a breath. “By making you mop his floor?”

“He told me that night, ‘Springhaven is a small community. A place where people still trust their neighbors. A lot of us don’t even lock our doors. But you’ve got the power to change that. If you want to live in a town where people always have to lock up and keep their eye on each other, well… all you gotta do is keep stealin’ people’s stuff. You’ll make it happen.’”

Aiden seemed to think about that for a while. Then he said, “Not that I’m saying you should have kept on stealing, but even if you didn’t, somebody else could.”

“Yeah,” Dean replied, nodding. “But I decided it wasn’t gonna be me. I liked the fact that everybody could trust their neighbors here, and I wasn’t gonna be the one to destroy that. I never stole another thing after that day. A while later Mr. Whitaker hired me for some yard work and started recommending me to his friends. That’s how I got started doing handyman stuff. And the old people in this town? They’re the best friends I ever had.” Then, without thinking, he added, “’Cept for you. But you left.”

He hadn’t meant to say that last part. It had just sort of slipped out. He knew then that, as much as he thought he’d gotten over that brief teenage romance between them, he hadn’t. Not really. The memory of how alone he’d been during the last years of high school was still painful to think about.

God, I’m pathetic.

To his surprise, Aiden reached out and covered Dean’s hand with his. He didn’t say “I’m sorry” or anything else. He just quietly took Dean’s hand and held it. They sat in silence for a long time, and Dean was grateful he didn’t have to speak, because a lump had formed in his throat. If he tried to say anything, he’d probably embarrass himself.

 

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Filed under Contemporary, Cover, Excerpt, gay, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, New Release, Romance

“Small Town Sonata” is finally finished and submitted!


I posted about my Dreamspun Desire (I hope) novel Small Town Sonata quite a while ago, but life intervened and I was unable to finish it for a very long time. The novel ended up sitting on my computer with the final chapter staring me in the face, half written, for almost a year. But I’ve finally finished it and submitted it to Dreamspinner Press!

Dreamspinner is under no obligation to publish it, of course, but they liked what I showed them a while back, so I’m hopeful. If it’s rejected, I have enough faith in the novel to self-publish it. This is the blurb (so far):

At thirty, Aiden Scott was a star. As a pianist, he performed all over the world with prestigious orchestras, and thought he had everything he’d ever wanted. Two years later, a freak accident ended his career. He retreats to the small New Hampshire town he grew up in to lick his wounds and reevaluate his life. To his surprise, he finds the boy he loved as a teenager has grown into a handsome man, and even after seventeen years, the attraction between them hasn’t dwindled.

Dean Cooper’s life is far removed from the glamorous life Aiden was leading. He’s a handyman and general errand boy for the people of Springhaven, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever, but soon realizes how unhappy Aiden is over the loss of his career. He sacrificed his own needs when they were teenagers to let Aiden go where he needed to be. Now, just as it seems the romance between them is rekindling, he may have to sacrifice once more to help Aiden recover his career—and again leave their small town behind.

And it’s killing him.

I’ll update my blog, once I hear back from DSP. But it feels terrific to finally get this off my plate, so I can tackle other projects. Currently, I’m working on a horror novel with F.E. Feeley, Jr. — not a romance, but a classic ghost story. That’s getting near the final chapters. And I’ve been mulling over a pirate novel…

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Filed under Contemporary, gay, Jamie Fessenden, Romance

Tomte is now available on Amazon!

My newest Christmas story Tomte is now available on Amazon!

RYAN ANDERSON has known something was wrong since he was a teenager. He’s been tormented by a sense of emptiness and loss—but what did he lose? He has no idea. Then a mysterious man appears, calling himself Tomte, a Swedish word Ryan remembers hearing from his grandmother in his childhood.

It means “Christmas elf.”

With the help of his older brother and his nine-year-old niece, Ryan begins a journey to discover what happened fifteen years ago, when he disappeared during a winter storm and didn’t reappear until spring. Not only has he forgotten those months, he’s forgotten the faithful dog who failed to come back with him. 

As memories surface and impossible things happen all around him, Ryan senses Tomte, that beautiful man he’s inexplicably drawn to, is the key to everything—his past, his future, and his happiness. 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KWLZ4YT/

Excerpt:

Ryan came to an intersection where the tracks went in two different directions, and he swore under his breath, struggling to sort it out while snowflakes flitted across his vision. A frantic bark to his left sent him in that direction, and after a few more twists and turns, he burst into an open circular area. There were no lights, but the overcast sky had the bluish-gray pall it often had on stormy nights and the snow on the ground reflected it back. Ryan could see, though barely. The music was louder here, and mixed with laughter and exuberant conversation—the sounds of a joyful gathering.

A mound rose from the earth in the center, about the height of a grown man and twice as wide—the same mound he’d dreamt of nearly every night since leaving the hospital, though in the dream it had been surrounded by forest, not a labyrinth of corn.

Tracks led to a sort of cave in the side of the mound—dog prints and what seemed less like deer hooves than human boot prints, though they were rapidly fading under a blanket of white. Ryan followed them. The opening in the mound was barely large enough for someone his size to crawl through. He stood at the entrance and peered inside. The ground inside sloped downward and then took a sharp turn to the right. Light flickered in the depths, as if a campfire burned just out of sight. He’d never seen this cave before, but a memory kept dancing away from him, maddeningly out of reach.

The sound of footsteps crunching on snow made him spin around. A large white shape emerged from a dark gap in the wall of corn. The stag. It walked purposefully toward him, and the nearer it came, the larger it loomed in his vision. Ryan had never seen a stag that size. He’d read about a seventeen-pointer called the “Emperor of Exmoor,” which stood seven feet tall, and this magnificent beast had to rival him.

Unlike in the dream, the stag didn’t run past Ryan. It drew near and was suddenly engulfed in a swirl of snow. When the snowflakes spun off into the night, Tomte was standing in its place, stark naked, his skin shimmering as if it were sprinkled with stardust. He walked barefoot through the snow as calmly as if it were a warm, summer evening. Without clothes, Tomte’s slim form was surprisingly muscular, though the beauty of his nude body was overshadowed by the antlers that sprang from his head, forming a magnificent crown of silver wider than his shoulders.

When he was near enough to touch Ryan, he asked, “Do you remember?”

Ryan’s head was full of a confused jumble of images, wonderful and awe-inspiring but also a bit frightening. “I… I’m not sure.” His gaze traveled down Tomte’s trim torso, unable to escape a strange sense of familiarity, as if he’d once rubbed a thumb over Tomte’s nipples and caressed the ripples of his abdomen. The thick, uncut flesh between Tomte’s thighs… yes, that was familiar too.

Self-conscious now, he forced himself to look into the man’s face. There were sparks in Tomte’s eyes. They were clearly visible in the darkness that surrounded them—tiny flickers in the depths of his pupils. Ryan could gaze into those eyes forever.

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Cover, Excerpt, Fantasy, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian

Coming Soon: Tomte

I did it!

I finished my Christmas novella, after a very long dry spell.

Tomte is a holiday story about Ryan, a man who’s been suffering from depression ever since his teenage years, but he has no idea why. Then a handsome man begins appearing in his life at odd moments, only to disappear again without a trace. Eventually, his older brother tells him about the time he got lost in the forest, during a winter storm, and didn’t return for six months. Ryan has no recollection of this or the faithful dog he’d always had by his side, up until that night.

 

Then things get really bizarre. 

Don’t worry, that’s not actually the blurb. I’m working on that. I’m also working on formatting, and intend to have everything polished and professional in a few days, aiming for a release date of Friday, November 3oth.

I already have a gorgeous cover from Reese Dante, but I’m holding off on posting that until I have the Pre-Order link on Amazon.

NOTE: A tomte is a Swedish gnome who watches over a family or farm. Some people believe he’s the spirit of the first farmer to clear the land, and he’s usually depicted as a small man with a long white beard, wearing the typical clothes of a medieval farmer: breeches, stockings, a tunic, and a pointed cap. (The tomte in my story is human-sized and sexy. I claim poetic license.) As long as he’s treated well by the people living on the homestead, who leave him offerings of milk and porridge with butter, he’ll make sure they’re prosperous and well cared for, often leaving small gifts for them. This folk legend greatly contributed to the Santa Claus mythos.

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Fantasy, gay, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance

Christmas music in Iceland!

I have yet to actually visit Iceland. So when I was writing my novel A Viking for Yule, I had to rely upon a friend (Sigríður Valdimarsdóttir) who lives there, a lot of research, and Google Maps. But I wanted to experience as much as I could, so I ordered food from Iceland (the shipping cost was more than the order, not surprisingly) and tried the rye bread, licorice, and chocolate Sam eats in the novel. I also ordered Appelsin and Malt Extract, so I could make Jólabland. (It was all absolutely delicious, and I want more!)

Another thing I wanted to do was experience Icelandic Christmas music. What’s Christmas without music?

So I dug around on the Internet and talked to my Icelandic friend to learn what might be on the radio during the yule season this year. I ended up putting together a CD that I listened to pretty much constantly, as I worked on the novel.

It drove my husband insane, but I picked a couple of songs to use in the story.

The first time Arnar turns on the radio, this song comes on, which I thought was a wonderful upbeat pop song. It’s called Jólin eru að koma (Christmas is Coming) by the group Í svörtum fötum (In Black Clothes from the best John Henric UK collection).
Here’s the scene where they come across it:

Arnar fiddled with the radio and a contemporary rock song came on. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics were in Icelandic.

“What is that?” Sam asked.

“Christmas music.”

Sam grinned at him. “It doesn’t sound very Christmassy. It’s more like the J-pop I heard in Japan.”

“Stop being so provincial.” Arnar looked scandalized. “That’s ‘Christmas is Coming’ by In Black Clothes.”

“In Black Clothes?”

“That’s the name of the group. It’s actually a pretty old song, from when I was at university.”

“Oh.” Sam wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. For that matter, he wasn’t sure if Arnar liked it or just didn’t like Icelandic music being mistaken for J-pop. He closed his eyes for a bit to listen.

After a moment, he heard Arnar softly singing along with it.

 

Later, when they are sitting in the car, waiting to see if the Northern Lights will put in an appearance, a song called Ef ég nenni by Helgi Björnsson comes on. It was Sigríður’s favorite Christmas song, and I fell in love with it too. The line Arnar “sings” to Sam was translated by Sigríður from the original Icelandic.

Arnar turned the radio on, tuned to the same station they’d been listening to wherever they drove, and Wham’s “Last Christmas” washed over Sam, comforting in its familiarity, though it wasn’t normally one of his favorites. He settled back in his seat, relishing the warmth of his new sweater and the smell of clean wool. The song ended, and another song came on that he didn’t know.

“This is my favorite Christmas song,” Arnar said softly.

It was in Icelandic, so Sam had no idea what it was about, but it was slow and pretty, with sort of an ’80s pop ballad feel. Arnar sang along in a smooth baritone, which made it sound beautiful. After a few lines, Arnar said, “He’s singing about how he wants to give his love all these wonderful presents for Christmas, if only she’ll have him—gems and pearls and a golden crown for her forehead, all the kingdoms of the world, the most beautiful roses from the bushes of the past, the Water of Life….” He sang a little more, then translated, his pupils glinting in the faint light of the GPS, “‘Never again will you have to endure any evil in this world, my angel, because I’m here and watching over you.’”

That sent a shiver down Sam’s spine. He smiled sadly and glanced away. “For a couple more days at least.”

“Já,” Arnar said gently, lifting Sam’s hand to brush his lips against it. “For a couple more days.”

But of all the songs I listened to while I was writing A Viking for Yule, this Icelandic version of A Spaceman Came Traveling by Frostrósir struck me as the most beautiful. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a live version I liked as much as this one, so this video just has the album cover. But thankfully I also came up to interesting car articles which helped me decide what car to finally buy.

For that matter, Frostrósir has become my favorite Icelandic “group.” Actually, they’re not really a group, so much as an annual concert with different performers each year. The music director is Karl Olgeirsson, who writes a lot of the music and lyrics for the songs each year. Another of my favorite Icelandic Christmas songs springs out of it. This one features an appearance by one of Iceland’s openly gay male singers, Friðrik Omar, along with Margret Eir, and it was released for the 10th anniversary of the Frostrósir concerts. It’s just so… cheerful!

Next, we have two quieter songs. The first is Dansadu Vindur (Danse Wind) by a singer known as Eivør:

Then, a beautiful ballad called Hin fyrstu jól (The First Christmas) by another openly gay Icelandic singer, Páll Óskar.

Sigríður pointed me at another favorite of hers: Það á að gefa börnum brauð (We Should Give Children Bread) performed by Reykjavíkurdætur.

The next two are just songs I enjoy listening to: Heima um jólin (Home for Christmas) by Helga Möller and Þú komst með jólin til mín (You Brought Me Christmas) by Bo Halldorsson and Ruth Reginalds.

Lastly, Sigríður tells me the song “Morning Has Broken,” popularized by Cat Stevens in the 1970s (it actually originated as a Scottish hymn in 1900, with English lyrics written in 1931 by Eleanor Farjeon), has become a very popular Christmas song in Iceland. This is the version I stumbled across while writing A Viking for Yule, called Líður að Jólum (Christmas Is Coming) performed by Stebbi Hilmars.

This is a really long post, so I’ll stop there. But I hope you enjoy the sound of Christmas in Iceland!

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world?

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather.

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

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This Christmas, let’s go to Iceland!

This Christmas, I wanted to write about a couple of secondary characters in last year’s A Cop for Christmas: Sam and Jackie.

Sam Wilson was the ex-boyfriend of Steve Coleman, and he was kind of a sad, lonely person, whose life nearly fell apart when his grandfather had a heart attack in a blizzard, and help couldn’t get there in time. Fortunately, Steve was able to drive them to the highway through the storm, and they made it to the hospital.

They spent the night at Jackie Montgomery’s house, a house from the houses for sale greenwich ct. Jackie is an older woman who knew Steve’s mother in college, and she’s been a close friend of the family since Steve was born. She’s a bit like Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame—a woman who believes in living life to the fullest, who travels the world in search of adventure and has the financial means to do so. In A Cop for Christmas, she immediately took Sam under her wing, drawn to his insecurity. For other travel tips, visit aceboater.com for more information.

As A Viking for Yule begins, Sam and Jackie have been traveling through eight different countries in as many months, and Sam is a bit more self-confident. He’s been to baths in Japan and Russia, experienced an earthquake in Indonesia, and had monkeys steal food from his pockets in Bali. But nothing has prepared him for a week in Iceland with Arnar Thorsteinsson as a guide….

The Christmas season in Iceland is still called Jól—Yule—as it was before the country was Christianized, and many of the popular traditions still have a very pagan feel to them. At this time of year, the sun doesn’t rise until nearly 11:30 a.m. and sets around 3:00 p.m. The shortest day (the winter solstice, December 21st) is just four hours long. So most of the day is dark. But the largest city in Iceland, Reykjavik, is lit up like a Christmas tree!

Like other cities in Europe, Reykjavik and the neighboring Hafnarfjördur  have Christmas markets where you can go from booth to booth, buying Christmas ornaments and decorations—many locally made—and the hot chocolate Sam and Arnar are so fond of. Akureyri in the north also has year-round Christmas shops.

But my favorite thing is (are?) the Yule Lads. Since about the twelfth century, and possibly dating back before then, Icelanders have warned their children that, if they’re not good, the troll, Gryla, will scoop them up in her sack and take them to her cave to devour them. She is aided in this by the Christmas Cat. Less sinister, however, are her thirteen children—the Yule Lads.

The Yule Lads are trolls, but they’re more mischievous than evil. Each one has a particular vice. Window Peeper looks into windows to spy on people and steal what he sees. Door Slammer stomps around your house in the night and slams doors, to prevent you from getting any sleep. If you can’t find your… *ahem*… sausage, it’s probably because Sausage Swiper absconded with it, when you weren’t looking.

If children are particularly good, however, the Yule Lads just might leave some candy behind for them.

Each lad comes to town on a different day of the yule season and remains thirteen days before departing. So, for example, Sheep-Cote Clod (who steals the milk from sheep) shows up on the 12th and remains until the 25th. His brother, Gully Gawk (who hides in gullies and watches people), arrives the next night, and stays until December 26th. The last to arrive is Candle-Stealer on the 24th, which is the night Icelanders typically open all of their gifts. He remains until January 6th (Epiphany).

The Reykjavik Art Museum-Hafnarhús put out a booklet called Christmas Creatures in Reykjavik, which gives brief descriptions of the Yule Lads and Gryla, and shows the locations of them on a map. If you go to these spots during the yule season, you can see animated projections of them on the sides of buildings.

AFTER SAM’S GRANDFATHER nearly died in a blizzard one year ago, Sam has panic attacks in snow storms. So where does his friend Jackie propose they spend the holidays, as the last stop on their trip around the world? 

Iceland. Of course.

But there’s more in Iceland than snow. When Arnar, a handsome Icelandic man, offers to escort Sam on a several-day tour of the beautiful countryside, they soon find themselves drawn to each other. But Arnar is firmly rooted in his native soil, and Sam has to return to the US in a week to care for his ailing grandfather. 

Suddenly, yule can’t last nearly long enough.

NOTE: Though this novel includes characters from “A Cop for Christmas,” it is a standalone adventure. It isn’t necessary to read “A Cop for Christmas” first.

Buy Linkhttps://www.amazon.com/Viking-Yule-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B077TLWLZ4/

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Polyamory Is About Love

I’ve read a number of MMM books over the years, and many were excellent—Us Three by Mia Kerick (this one is YA), The Hot Floor by Josephine Myles, Polar Reaction by Claire Thompson, and Dark Horse by Kate Sherwood are all great—but I was surprised to discover how strong the connection appeared to be between MMM and BDSM. Don’t get me wrong. BDSM is fine. It’s just not something I’m into, and I wouldn’t classify the poly relationships I know of in real life as having much to do with BDSM—certainly not all of them. (None of this is meant to imply anything about the content of the novels I listed—some have BDSM, some don’t.)

As I was developing the blurb for my novel, The Rules, it was mentioned more than once that I should emphasize that the book was hot, hot, HOT! and kinky… except that it isn’t, by my definition. Oh, sure, there’s plenty of sex and those scenes are hot. But the novel isn’t specifically meant to be kinky or about a hot menage or threesome (both of which terms imply a temporary, sexual circumstance to me, rather than a permanent relationship).

It’s about three men with emotional holes in their lives coming together to form a loving, polyamorous family. (The search engine on Goodreads tells me “polyamory” is mostly used for nonfiction. Seriously?)

Hans feels alienated from his family. After his parents divorced, his father drifted away, and his mother and sister grew close, more or less excluding him. Thomas was thrown out of his family and cut off from his inheritance for being gay, and Boris… Boris is a mess. He survived bullying and worse at the hands of his country, Russia, and has a dark secret he’s afraid to reveal to anyone. But they come together to heal and love one another. The sex (and there is a lot of sex for a Jamie Fessenden novel) begins as kind of a kinky situation, but quickly becomes more than that.

My point is simply that a polyamorous relationship should be viewed as an alternate type of relationship. Polyamorous families are families. They involve more than two people, but they are still families. They aren’t about sex (exclusively)—they’re about love.

Family is how you define it.

BLURB

WHEN HANS BAUER, a college student in New Hampshire, accepts a job as a housekeeper for an older gay couple, he soon learns the reason they’ve hired someone with no experience is that professional agencies won’t work there. Thomas is a successful businessman whose biggest goal in life appears to be giving his husband anything he wants. Boris is a writer who immigrated to this country from Russia, and suffers from depression and PTSD because of the things he endured in his native country.

He also refuses to wear clothes—ever.

While Hans is working alone in the house with Naked Boris all day, things start getting a little weird. Boris gets flirtatious and Hans backs away, not wanting to come between him and his husband. So Boris calls Thomas at work and asks permission.

At that moment, The Rules are born—rules about touching and kissing and pet names that the three men use to keep jealousies at bay, as they explore the possibilities in a new type of relationship….

WARNING: This story deals with themes of sexual assault and past abuse.

BUY LINK

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B075FPT1VF/

EXCERPT

[Hans comes to the house to ask Boris to pose nude for his art project.]

The house was wonderfully cool. They must have been running the air-conditioner, though Hans couldn’t hear anything. The place was absolutely silent, as if nobody was home. Hans closed the door and called Boris’s name, but there was no response. From the front hall, he could see the sofa, and it was bare. Hans did a quick check of the downstairs rooms. The study door was open, and the room was empty. It also smelled kind of like a men’s locker room. Hans wondered if Boris would let him in again to clean on Tuesday.

At the end of the hall, Hans looked out the French doors and spotted his quarry. Boris was lying on the lawn, sunbathing face down on a large blue-and-white beach towel. Hans opened one of the doors and stepped outside.

Boris heard him and raised his head. “Hans! I did not expect you today.”

“No.” Hans crossed the patio to where he was stretched out. “I’m not normally… Boris Ivanich, do you have sunblock on?” The Russian’s back was getting a little red.

“It did not occur to me.”

Hans set his backpack on the grass. “Do you have some in the house?”

“Thomas might. I do not know.”

Hans frowned at him. “Hold on.” He went back inside. I swear, it’s like looking after a kid. He wasn’t sure where to search for sunblock, but the bathroom seemed a good possibility. He checked the downstairs half-bath first. There was nothing in the medicine cabinet, but he found an old plastic tube of sunscreen under the sink. It was nearly empty, but there was a little left.

He went back outside and knelt in the grass beside Boris. “You really should put some on. You’re getting burned.”

Boris took the tube and opened it. He scrunched up his nose. “It smells like coconut.”

“I got this out of your bathroom. You must have used it at some point.”

Boris waved dismissively. “Not me. Maybe Thomas.”

“Well, it’s the only one I could find, so stop being difficult.”

Boris grinned, and Hans’s heart did a little flutter. That wasn’t good.

“Okay,” Boris said, handing the tube back to him. He put his head down and wiggled his butt like an excited puppy. “You may put some on me.”

“Oh, may I, your majesty?” Hans was using sarcasm to disguise his sudden discomfort. It really didn’t seem like a good idea for him to rub lotion on Boris’s… anything.

Boris snickered. “Please put some on me?”

“I’m not sure I should do that, Boris Ivanich.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because you’re naked.”

“I am always naked.”

“Yes,” Hans explained patiently, “but I’m not always touching you.”

Boris lifted his head again and cocked an eyebrow at him. Then he grunted and nodded. “You are worried about Thomas.”

“I don’t want to do anything that would upset him,” Hans said. Then he quickly added, “Or that we’d have to hide from him.”

Boris held out his hand. “Do you have your phone?”

Hans hesitated, but Boris made an impatient gesture with his fingers, so he dug his cell out of his pocket and handed it over. He watched nervously while Boris dialed. Boris put it on speaker while it rang, placing it on the towel between them.

“Hans?” Thomas asked. “You still can’t find him?”

“I am here,” Boris said.

“Oh. Why do you have Hans’s phone?”

“He gave it to me in exchange for a blow job.”

Hans gasped. “I did not!”

Thomas laughed. “What’s going on?”

“Hans tells me I will get sunburned,” Boris said, “so I should put on this nasty-smelling coconut shit. But I cannot reach my back—I am not a comic book character—and he will not put it on me.”

“You’re sunbathing? Since when do you sunbathe?”

Boris made a rude noise. “That is beside the point. I need you to tell Hans you won’t divorce me and come after him with a butcher knife if he rubs coconut shit on my back.”

“You two will be the death of me,” Thomas muttered, but there was a note of affection in his voice. Hans assumed that was for Boris, but the way Thomas had said “you two” sounded as if they were all somehow together. Hans was surprised by how much he liked that. “Hans, I won’t divorce Boris and come after you with a butcher knife if you rub coconut shit on his back.”

“Thank you,” Boris told him.

“But Boris? You behave.”

“Me?” Boris sounded scandalized.

“Don’t think I can’t see what’s happening.”

“What is happening?”

“You’re attracted to Hans,” Thomas said calmly.

Hans was suddenly dizzy. This is not normal. People don’t have conversations like this! He wanted to run away, but he was riveted.

Boris looked at Hans for a moment, as if he were evaluating the truth of Thomas’s statement. At last he said, “That is true.”

“And I think Hans is attracted to you.”

Hans tried to answer but couldn’t speak. Boris smirked and said, “He might answer that, after he stops pissing himself.”

“Shut up,” Hans said, finally finding his voice. Boris grinned.

“I’m not going to flip out over it,” Thomas went on, “but I think we should all sit down and talk about this, especially if Hans decides to move in for the summer. For today, I need you both to understand what my boundaries are. I’m fine with you rubbing lotion on each other’s backs, chests, arms, and legs. I guess butts are reasonable. But don’t be rubbing lotion on each other’s dicks—your crotch is not a hard-to-reach spot.” Then he dropped the bombshell. “If you get so turned on you absolutely can’t stand it, jerk off in front of each other, but don’t jerk each other off. Are we clear?”

“Yes, yes,” Boris said, clearly enjoying this. “We’ll fondle each other’s asses and jerk off, but no touching of dicks.” He glanced at Hans, who was sure his face had turned bone white. “Or maybe Hans will run screaming in terror and never come to our house again. I will keep you informed.”

“Buck up, Hans. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Be nice to him, Boris.”

“I will be very nice to him.”

Thomas groaned, but he said goodbye and hung up.

Hans wasn’t sure what to make of the exchange, and he was pretty wigged out. “What just happened?”

“You were worried about how Thomas would feel,” Boris said matter-of-factly, “so I asked him.”

“Did he just tell us to jerk off together?”

“No,” Boris replied. “He explained what would bother him and what would not. Jerking off together would not bother him. That does not mean we have to do it.”

“All I wanted was for you to put on some suntan lotion!”

 

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