Category Archives: Cyberpunk

Where do we go from here?

It’s been a moderately busy week for me.  First Lou Sylvre kindly let me rant about creating romantic suspense on her blog.  I used examples from two of my favorite M/M novels, Dark Horse, by Kate Sherwood, and Bear, Otter and the Kid, by TJ Klune, and ended up making a two-parter out of it:

Riding the suspense roller coaster in a romance novel – Part One

Riding the suspense roller coaster in a romance novel – Part Two

And We’re Both Straight, Right? received a wonderful review at Miz Love & Crew Loves Books!

I’ve also just turned in my first edit on The Dogs of Cyberwar, which is slated to be released by Dreamspinner Press in November.

I’m back at work on my occult murder mystery, Murderous Requiem, though it’s been a bit slow.  Only one more chapter added this week.  But it’s been a busy week at work and at home, so I’m hoping to ramp up my writing on that, now that I have a few days to breathe.

So having a full-length novel submitted (published is unlikely) by the end of the year is one goal I’ve set for myself, as a writer.  Everything I’ve had published in the past year has been under 60,000 words.  And there is a subtle bias in the industry that tends to favor novels over short stories or novellas, when it comes to readership.  I also still keep being asked if I can produce physical copies of my “novels.”  Until I have something over 60k, I won’t actually have a printed copy from a publisher to show people.   And the fact of the matter is, until you can produce a physical book with actual pages people can touch, they tend not to believe you’re really a professional writer.

The frustrating part is, I already do have two novels sitting in the wings, waiting to be published.  One of these — Seidhman — is, according to everyone who reads it, my best work.  It’s certainly the most polished, having been re-written five or six times and fact-checked by an Icelandic historian.  But it’s YA, and not suitable for my current publisher.

So my goal this weekend, is to draft a query letter and the whole package to submit Seidhman to an agent.  I have one picked out, but I won’t say which one, in case I jinx it.  🙂

By That Sin Fell the Angels — my other finished novel — needs one or two re-writes, before I consider sending it out.  That one isn’t suitable for Dreamspinner, either.  Not because it’s YA (which it isn’t), but because there really isn’t much romance going on.  I’m not sure where to send that one, but it’s time to start thinking about it.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing, Young Adult

Stretching myself thin

Lately, it feels as if I’m working on a million different projects.  Combine that with a particularly stressful week at work when one of my fellow techs was on vacation, parents visiting (meaning a fast and furious house cleaning), and Erich being sick for the past week with a mysterious vertigo (that two doctors have assured us isn’t a stroke or heart-related), and I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed. I purchased a brand new vacuum – it did a pretty amazing job with the blots from last weekends partying.

And the best of it is that it can clean by itself only if you program it, so is the best vacuum I ever had.

First of all, let me mention that Lou Sylvre was kind enough to invite me to be a guest blogger this week at  I really appreciate the opportunity to put myself out there a bit more, so if you’re interested in my adventures adapting a screenplay I’ve written into prose format, please hop on over!

The screenplay I’m adapting is as yet unnamed.  The original was called At the Edge of the Forest, which is yet another example of how bad I am at titles (I really need to work on that).  Despite the mediocre title, I’m fond of the screenplay, but it’s proven difficult to film.  So after three years, I’ve called it quits on that film project and I’m going to write it as a short story and put it out there for people to read.

I have two other werewolf short stories, featuring a character named Devon, that were originally submitted, independently, to horror anthologies.  They weren’t accepted, so I’m stringing them together, reworking them a bit, and then adding a third part to make a triptych of stories about Devon and the character, Ronnie, that he meets in the second story.  The original two stories weren’t more than 6,000 words, so the whole may not be more than a short novella.

My publisher has put out a call for very short (under 2,000 words) fiction for an October collection, and I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head for a story about a man who encounters Sasquatch in the northern NH forests that I think would be perfect.  I’ve written two-thirds of it, but I’m in a race to see if I can finish before they get the 31 stories they’re asking for.

I also need to reassemble my film editing workstation, so I can finish up our last two shorts, Sunny Cafe and Blue Collar Crime.  Currently, everything is stacked in one corner of the basement, since we had to rip up the carpet and put tile down.  And I’m still trying to sort out our epic film project, The Resurrection.

And I promised my brother I’d finish his film score by September.

Lastly, my friend, Xebic, has come up with an idea for a short film he’d like to do this summer, and he’s asked me to write it and film it.  It’s a bit of a tall order, but I like the basic idea, and I’ve already been able to write about ten minutes worth of a screenplay.  If the story stays under a half hour, it might be doable in a couple weekends before winter sets in.

My occult murder mystery has come to another halt at 50,000 words.  It’s not that I don’t know where it’s going next (at least, for the next few scenes).  I just got sick to death of it.  I’ll probably go back to it in a couple months and love it again — that’s just how I am with long works.  But for now, I’m putting it aside.

Now…inhale slowly…hold it…then exhale, while counting down….

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Film Writing, Mystery, Occult/Paranormal, Romance

“Meet the Author” chat with Jamie Fessenden (me) at Goodreads on Saturday!

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 25th), I have a “Meet the Author” chat scheduled on Goodreads, from 1pm to 6pm EST.  Basically, I’ll be hanging out there, waiting to answer any questions people might have about my stories or life as a famous soon-to-be-fabulously-wealthy author. 

If you’d like to join me, follow this link and click on the chat with my name on it.  You’ll have to register with Goodreads, but it’s free and it’s not a bad site to have an account on, anyway, if you like to read.

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Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Drama, Fantasy, Japanese, Mystery, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing, Young Adult

“The Dogs of Cyberwar” has been accepted for publication by Dreamspinner!

Some of you may recall that I finished a short novella about a virtual reality “netrunner” and his bodyguard, and I submitted it to Dreamspinner about two months ago.  Well last night, at just a little past midnight, I received a contract for it in my Inbox!

This will make my fourth story published through Dreamspinner, and I’m beginning to feel like a “real writer” now. 

“What,” you might ask, “would it take for you to actually feel like a ‘real writer,’ Jamie?”

Well, I think the next step is to get a full-length novel published.  To date, only The Christmas Wager approached novel length.  By some definitions, it was a novel, at 47,000 words.  But Dreamspinner defines a novel as 60,000 words or more, and a story that’s at least that long also gets a paperback edition.  Imagine holding a paperback of your novel in your hands!

So that’s my new goal: a 60k-plus-word novel submitted by the end of the year.

I have two nearly finished novels, already:  Seidhman and By That Sin Fell the Angels.  But Dreamspinner isn’t the publisher for either of those.  Seidhman is YA and By That Sin Fell the Angels isn’t really a romance.  I still have no idea where to submit either of these novels.

However, I’m halfway done Murderous Requiem, the novel I started for last year’s NaNoWriMo.  I began it with Dreamspinner in mind and I still think it will be perfect for them…as soon as I finish it.  Since last November, it’s undergone some revision and tightening, which is all well and good, but it really needs to start moving forward now.  I know what the next few scenes are, so I just need to sit down and write them.


Filed under Cyberpunk, Romance, Writing

Jamie Goes Commando

No, not that type of commando.

Well, not at the moment, anyway….

I’m afraid the Japanese story is beginning to wear on me — too much research and cultural nitpicking — so I think I’ll have to take a break from it.  Usually, after I go through my “Japanese Phase,” I segue into a “Cyberpunk Phase.”  This is due, in large part, to psychological associations between Japanese culture and Cyberpunk fiction.  If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, check out William Gibson, the novel “Snowcrash,” the film “Bladerunner” and about a hundred other references, including a bunch of Anime.

But somewhere wedged in between Japanese culture and cyberpunk, I often wander into high-tech Special Ops military fiction.  This is probably the fault of Tom Clancy, especially in his NetForce series.  And of course, the recent Navy SEAL attack on the Osama bin Laden compound didn’t hurt either.  (I won’t get my opinions on that issue here — I’m trying to keep this blog restricted to writing.)

So, getting back to writing, this means I’ll probably do one of two things:  1) Pick up Eastside-84, my ailing YA dystopian novel, again and try once more to fix the issues beta readers have been having with it, or 2) Continue with the next installment of The Dogs of Cyberwar.  The first installment is still in limbo, waiting for a response from the publisher I submitted it to.  I have to admit, I’m a bit concerned that a rejection letter on that one could derail any new installment I happen to be working on.  Not permanently — there are plenty of other publishers to submit to — but it might cause things to shut down for a while.

What I’ll probably do is pick up Eastside-84 and work on fixing that one (I have a few ideas what to do with it), while I start outlining the sequel to The Dogs of Cyberwar.

I also need to think of a title for the series….

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Writing

Cyberpunk story finally submitted to Dreamspinner!

I finally got my cyberpunk story, now titled The Dogs of Cyberwar, polished up as good as I can make it, and I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press this afternoon!

This was, by far, the most awkward submission I’ve ever sent off.  The problem occurred when I began doing some final polishing this morning.  This turned into some substantial changes throughout the manuscript, which would all be well and good…except that I had accidentally opened up the backup copy of the manuscript, rather than the main copy I was working on. 

When I put together the submission query letter, I attached the novella and the synopsis (which I think is actually one of the better synopses I’ve written — short and succinct) to the e-mail, I proceeded to grab them from the folder where the backup copy was located.  This would have been fine, since that’s the copy I’d just spent the morning modifying. 

However, I noticed that I’d named the synopsis file “Dogs of Cyberspace Synopsis” instead of “Dogs of Cyberwar Synopsis.”  So I went into the main copy folder and renamed the file.  But whenever I attempted to browse for that file, it kept showing the original “cyberspace” name, instead.  I verified that the name of the file in the folder I was looking at said “cyberwar,” but the browser kept showing me a file with “cyberspace” in the title.  Thinking that the browser had cached the original folder contents (which browsers sometimes do), I exited out of everything and went back in.  But the discrepency still existed, so I rebooted. 

Now, when it rebooted, I of course opened the main copy folder, rather than the backup copy folder, since that’s where I thought I’d been working all along.  The file said “cyberspace,” which didn’t make much sense.  Except that I’d had experiences with thumb drives (where my main copy folder was located) sometime not retaining changes.  I’ve actually lost files by saving them on thumb drives, pulling the drive out and finding the file missing when I plug the drive back in.

So I renamed the file again, and this time the browser found it with the correct name.  I then sent it off.

Only when the editor at Dreamspinner replied that she’d received the submission and would let me know, did I realize what had happened.  The files I’d sent her from the main folder were dated yesterday!  At first, I completely freaked out, thinking I’d lost all of the changes I’d made that morning.  But Erich asked if I was sure I sent the correct files, so I thought to check my backup folder, and there everything was, all up to date and named correctly.

Thankfully, I’ve been working with Dreamspinner for a while now.  I highly recommend against following up a query letter to a publisher you’ve never worked with with a message saying, “Um…would you mind looking at these files, instead of the two I just sent you?”  Fortunately, the editor at DSP was fine with that.

Now I get to stress while they consider the story.  Even though I like the story and think it’s pretty well put together, I’m concerned about it.  In the first place, though I did have some readers tell me they loved it, a couple readers were blasé about it.  That could just be personal preference, of course.  Not everyone likes the same kind of stories. 

But the other concern is the fact that it’s clearly “to be continued.”  The story is complete, but the ending indicates another story to come.  In fact, I’m already plotting out two more stories with these characters.  I’m even weaving some vague Irish mythological themes into it.  I know DSP prints series of novels, but I don’t know how they feel about a trilogy of novellas.  They might want me to finish all three first.

Or, of course, they might not like it, at all.  Then I’ll have to decide whether it’s worth sending to other publishers or if it needs some major work first.

In other news, I’ve finished the second round of edits on We’re Both Straight, Right? and I sent that back Friday night.  I think the next thing they’ll send me will probably be the galley proof of the pdf, which I’ll have to check over for minor typos and things like that.  At that stage, they don’t like the writer to do much rewriting of the text.  Publication is still six weeks away.

Shinosuke is coming along.  It’s up to about 10k words now.  It’s going to require a major rewrite, to sort out all the Japanese etiquette.  I was at a party last night, talking to a friend who’s majoring in Japanese studies, and two of his classmates.  We were trying to sort it all out, and they told me some things that I’ll have to take into account, such as their belief that only women would use the suffix –sama, for the most part.  It’s all very difficult to sort out, and I don’t know how to get definitive answers.  But the main thing to worry about, right now, is the story.  I’ll have to sort out the rest later.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Japanese, Romance, Writing

Kind-a-sort-a done with my cyberpunk story

I thought I’d be able to finish up a final draft of the cyberpunk story this weekend and send it off to Dreamspinner.  (Frankly, I’m starting to get anxious about DSP rejecting the last story I submitted, so I was hoping to stave off some of the anxiety by having a second story submitted before they informed me of their decision on Zack and Larry.)

But that didn’t quite work out.  I finished the draft, but the 2nd half of the story had to be rewritten a good bit, mostly because it was a dull travelogue of locations in the Seattle area, before we got to the final scene.  I ended up expanding two key sections into small scenes, to keep things interesting, and provide a little more character development.  But now my confidence is a little shaken on that part of the story, so I need to set it aside for a few days and pick it up again when I’m able to step back and look at the new material critically.

In the meantime, somebody from the Seattle area said she’d try to look it over for errors in my depiction of the landscape. 

Which reminds me…whatever happened to that woman from Iceland who was reading Seidhman?  I should send her a note….

I’m two-thirds done the current draft of Seidhman, based upon notes given to me by a friend.  Another friend is waiting to read it, but I decided I wouldn’t pass it along to him, until this draft was ironed out.  I have all day tomorrow, so we’ll see how far I can get.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Viking, Writing, Young Adult

Zack and Larry is finished

Zack and Larry Make a Porno was finished a couple days ago, and it came out better than I’d anticipated.  I was afraid it would just be, well…porn.  It certainly does have a lot more sex in it, than anything I’ve written previously.  Not terribly surprising, considering the premise.  But the characters found their own voices, with Zack being protective of Larry and concerned about what “normal” straight men were supposed to do and not do, and Larry being an outsider who manages to offend nearly everyone, but who would do anything for Zack. 

It needs polishing.  The pacing is a bit off, and the characterization can be improved, but there’s something there worth putting out, I think. 

My still-unforunately-named cyberpunk story, The Bodyguard, has been read by a couple friends and both liked it.  The main criticism, so far, has been unhappiness with the open ending.  It’s intended to imply that our heroes are now heading into an even bigger adventure.  But of course, my friends wanted to read that adventure now.  I’m beginning to think I might need to write the sequel, before submitting this one.  I’d rather not change the ending.  But it might be a good idea to have the sequel already written, so I can tell the editor that there is definitely a follow-up story — and here it is.

Of course, that means both stories may be considered together, and if the editor doesn’t like one, or doesn’t feel like publishing two stories, right now, neither will be published. 

I’ve gotten back to work on my YA fantasy novel, The Guardians Awaken, about two young men — one a street urchin; the other, nobility — caught in the middle of a human war and a simultaneous war between the gods.  I love the novel, but I’ve been stuck on the big battle scene at the end since last Fall.  Hopefully, I can get through that and finish it up.  Between that novel and my YA novel about a Viking sorceror, Seidhman, I really hope I can at least start making the rounds of YA publishers this coming year.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Fantasy, Romance, Viking, Young Adult

Another good review!

The Meaning of Vengeance is doing very well, so far.  I just picked up another wonderful review from Jeff at!  My rating at Goodreads has climbed up to 4.25 out of 5 stars!

On the same site, The Christmas Wager has picked up one 5 star rating!  No reviews yet, but it was just released, of course.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that people like it as much as they seem to like Vengeance.

I have a friend currently reading my first draft of my as-yet-unnamed cyberpunk story, and in the meantime, I’m getting back to a Christmas short story idea I have for next years Advent Calendar anthology.  I might as well get most or all of it written while I’m still in the Christmas spirit. 

Of course, I find myself in the Christmas spirit about four times a year, but that’s beside the point.

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Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing

Finished the first draft of my cyberpunk story!

I still have no idea what to call it.  I have a bad habit of always naming my stories “The _____”:  The Sacrifice, The Resurrection, The Kiss, The Blind Date, etc.  (The Kiss eventually became Boundaries of Attraction, after an off-hand comment my friend, Claire, threw out during a script meeting, and The Blind Date eventually was renamed Sunny Cafe, after the diner where the action takes place.)  This story has been going by the working title The Bodyguard, which doesn’t indicate that it’s cyberpunk and says nothing interesting, at all.  I’ll have to work on that.

The story also needs some rewriting, of course.  I don’t think it will require much, since my stories tend to be fairly polished, by the time I get to the end.  It’s my habit to keep going back over what’s been written, as I’m working on it, so by the time it’s finished, most of it has been revised several times.  But this one took some unexpected turns near the end, with one character revealing secrets I hadn’t known he had.  So now I have to go back and make sure that’s consistent with what happened earlier. 

The romance could also use some tweaking.  By the last few paragraphs, I think I had the character motivation pretty well figured out, but now I need to go back and make sure all of that is adequately foreshadowed.  I always hate it when two characters proclaim that they love each other for no apparent reason, other than that’s what is supposed to happen at the end of the story.

I’m also in a unique position with this story, in that it’s the first time I’ve written a story that’s too long for the editor I plan on submitting it to, so I’ll have to hack a couple hundred words out of it.  That’s really not much — less than half a page.  I’ll just have to tighten it up a bit. 

I left the ending wide open for a sequel.  In fact, it sort of ends on a cliff-hanger.  The characters are safe and falling in love with each other, but they are clearly heading towards the next phase of their adventure.  I could simply stop writing, right there, and it would stand on its own.  But hopefully the readers will want more!  I have only a vague idea what that “more” will entail, but I think it will be fun to find out.

In other news, yesterday the Senate voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!  I’m not connected to the military, in any way, but I’m very happy for those in the service who will, someday very soon, be able to talk about their partners/spouses without fear of ending their careers.  Before this weekend, if a gay man or woman in the military was killed in combat, their partner/spouse might never be notified, because nobody would know to tell them.  Can you imagine your husband or wife being killed in Iraq, and you never being informed?  Months later, you might eventually figure out that the person you love isn’t just being moved around and can’t contact you — that, in fact, he or she is never coming home again.  That, in and of itself, makes current policy insane, to my mind.


Filed under Cyberpunk, Romance, Writing