Category Archives: Jamie Fessenden

The Jomsvikings

jomsvikingsI’ve been working on a novel for a while now—an adaptation of The Saga of the Jomsvikings, which was written in Old Icelandic in the 13th century. It tells of an elite band of viking warriors residing in the fortress of Jomsborg on the island of Jom. They were theoretically real, though it’s hard to say how much truth there is to the story. They appear in other sagas, including the ones I based my first YA novel Seidman on. But by then, they were in decline. They appear briefly at the battle of Svoldr, when King Olaf Tryggvason was defeated, but they quickly decided to sit the battle out.

This novel will be an adult MM romance, because, frankly, the story begs to be a MM romance. It’s a fortress full of young men, and no women are allowed. The Norse were a very homophobic society, but I can’t imagine a context like this in which absolutely no sexual activity occurred. Conveniently, the saga has a gap of three years between the initial founding and selection of warriors and the death of their leader, which led to their decline. I’ve written up to that point, and now I’ve begun to fill in those three years. That’s where the romance will really take place.

I decided to tell the story from the POV of two characters not actually in the saga: Bragi and Asleif.

ragnarBragi is older than most of the men in the fortress, and he’s seen a lot of combat. He’s weary of the death he sees on the battlefield, but he’s a survivor and he takes pride in his skill with a blade. At Jomsborg, he’s given the opportunity to pass some of his knowledge of fighting techniques along to others and help keep them alive. The actor who most closely resembles him is Travis Fimmel from Vikings.

tumblr_mub3o5naae1qa2ovmo1_500Asleif is young, and he has endured a lot of teasing over the years because of his feminine features, even after he grew to stand over his comrades. He’s skilled and cocky, and sees Bragi as a challenge. But he also senses a strong sexual undercurrent between them. Bragi is hesitant to pursue it, but Asleif gleefully chases after him, despite the danger of discovery. I found this picture online, which I believe is of Alexander Skarsgard, and despite the modern clothes and background, it perfectly represents the image I have of Asleif in my head.

The novel has been coming along slowly, in part because the saga is very short and sparse. I’m having to flesh out a lot of scenes. It also requires a lot of research into Viking fighting styles, locations (Jomsborg was most likely on the island of Wolin in modern-day Poland), and what life would be like in that environment. But it’s coming along.

Here’s an excerpt from when Asleif is being tested in mock combat to see if he can be accepted into Jomsborg. He’s part of Vagn’s crew — Vagn being a 12-year-old boy with his own raiding fleet, and no I didn’t make that up — and the entire crew is fighting against the men already residing in Jomsborg.

Excerpt:

Asleif parried a thrust to his midsection, and then bashed his attacker in the face with his shield. The Jomsviking staggered back. He seemed to be readying himself for another charge, but Bragi came up behind him and forcefully shoved him aside. “Leave him! He’s mine!”

The warriors swarming Asleif suddenly drew back, forming a circle around him and Bragi. Asleif was so startled, he almost failed to parry Bragi’s attack—almost. He deflected Bragi’s sword with the head of his axe in a quick upward and outward motion.

“Good!” Bragi shouted delightedly.

Asleif knew then that Bragi wanted him to test him, rather than kill him. Not that it was going to be easy. Bragi’s next cut was swift and powerful, looping around Asleif’s arm and coming up inside. Asleif barely managed to jump back in time to prevent a nasty cut to his abdomen. As it was, the tip of Bragi’s sword cut through his tunic, before he slammed down upon it with the edge of his shield.

It was a hasty move, and it opened his upper body up for an attack. Bragi lost no time in crashing down upon Asleif’s head with his own shield. Asleif had a thick head—he’d be the first to admit it. And he was wearing a helmet. So the blow didn’t knock him unconscious, but it rattled him. He staggered back.

“You went easy on me,” he grumbled. “You could have easily hit my eyes or my throat.”

Bragi grinned. “Now, what would be the fun in that?”

It pissed Asleif off to be treated like a child. But he’d also seen in just the few blows they’d exchanged that Bragi’s skill was equal to his own. Possibly—though he was loathe to admit it—greater. He’d never defeat the man, as long as he stayed on the defensive. Bragi could keep coming at him until he collapsed or opened himself up again. Asleif would have to go on the attack. But a charge could prove foolhardy. If Bragi managed to sidestep, Asleif’s momentum might carry him past and open him up to an attack from the rear.

Instead, he began walking slowly forward, whipping his axe around in a swirling motion and striking against Bragi’s shield so fast it was impossible to count the blows. Bragi was forced to duck behind the shield and edge backward. Any attempt to thrust his sword at Asleif would merely damage the blade against the axe.

At last, the shield cracked loudly and split in two. Asleif immediately drew back, surrendering his advantage, rather than bringing his axe down upon Bragi’s arms or head.

Bragi tossed his broken shield aside, but he was laughing. “Excellent!”

In the distance, someone blew a horn.

“Give him a shield!” Asleif shouted, panting.

A man tossed one into the air, and Bragi caught it. But then he stepped forward with the pommel of his sword held outward. “Let’s see how you do with a sword.”

The men around them laughed, and someone shouted, “This isn’t a fight! It’s a lesson!”

That evoked more laughter. But Asleif was up to the challenge, so he reached for Bragi’s weapon. But as he clasped it, a second horn called out over the strand.

Bragi glanced up. “It seems the fight is over.”

It was true. Straightening, Asleif looked over the heads of those nearby and saw that everywhere men were sheathing swords and catching their breath. Some had cuts on their bodies and their clothes were blood-spattered, but if anyone was severely injured, Asleif saw no sign of it. All appeared to be standing.

“Get out of my way!”

The men near him parted to let Vagn through. The boy looked healthy enough, despite a bloody gash on his shield arm. “Asleif!” he shouted in exasperation, “Did you miss the entire battle? We won!”

2 Comments

Filed under Excerpt, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, Romance, Viking, Work in Progress, Writing

“The Christmas Wager” is being re-released as a second edition!

the-christmas-wager
My  very first sale as a writer occurred in the summer of 2010. I’d written a Christmas Victorian, and I chose Dreamspinner Press to submit it to. Luckily for me, they bought it, and it was published that December.

It did moderately well, and has continued to sell a few copies every year around Christmas time, but there was a problem: my knowledge of the Victorian Era—and particularly British culture—was severely lacking. I’d written it as a sweet romance, before I began defining myself as an author who loves to really dig into my research and wallow around in it.

This put my first novel in a unique position—it was the only one of my published stories I couldn’t stand to re-read. The prose wasn’t utterly terrible, in my opinion, and I liked the story, but six years later, I’d come to know a few people from England, and I’d learned a bit more about the Victorian Era, so the mistakes I’d made now jumped out at me on every page.

The solution presented itself to me this past March, when a friend from Britain and I were having coffee and I mentioned how much I would love to go back and fix all of the problems in it, assuming that was even possible. She agreed to help.

Now, with her assistance, and the assistance of a wonderful editor, I now present the 2nd Edition of The Christmas Wager! It is currently available for pre-order, and will be released on December 14th.

The story is basically the same. I didn’t want to change that. It still follows Thomas and Andrew as they spend the Christmas holiday at the home of Thomas’s estranged father, Andrew still secretly in love with his close friend, and Thomas gradually coming to realize his feelings for Andrew.

What has changed are some surface details, such as names—since we discovered there is a real Duke of Barrington, Thomas is now Lord Thomas Pendleton, second son of the Duke of Branmoor. The way the family and servants addressed one another was driving British readers to distraction, so that has (I sincerely hope) been corrected. And much of the detail of the period has been corrected, as well as anachronisms and Americanisms (one of the biggest challenges for me) removed.

It was a much larger undertaking than I realized back in March. Just when I thought I had a handle on things, a new set of eyes would uncover more problems. But I am extremely happy with the end result.

The wonderful cover by Paul Richmond wasn’t changed at all. I still think it perfectly suits the story.

Blurb:

2nd Edition

Lord Thomas Pendleton, second son of the Duke of Branmoor, needs to discharge a debt to his friend Andrew Nash. In doing so, he must return to the family estate he fled six years earlier after refusing to marry the woman his father had chosen. To Thomas’s dismay, Branmoor Hall is no longer the joyful home he remembers from his childhood, and his four-year-old niece has no idea what Christmas is.

Determined to bring some seasonal cheer back to the gloomy estate, Thomas must confront his tyrannical father, salvage a brother lost in his own misery, and attempt to fight off his father’s machinations.

As Christmas Day draws near, Thomas and his friend Andrew begin to realize they are more than merely close friends… and those feelings are not only a threat to their social positions, but, in Victorian England, to their lives as well.

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2010.

Excerpt:

“Your father seems to have mellowed a bit,” Andrew commented as they stood in the hallway outside his door.

“Don’t believe it for a second,” Thomas replied. “He never gives in. The old bugger is up to something.”

Andrew smiled at that. “Well, are you coming in, then?”

“I think I’ll have hot water brought up for a bath.” Thomas leaned his head wearily against the doorframe. “Would you care to join me for a brandy?”

Andrew laughed. “In the bath?”

“No,” Thomas replied with a tired smile, “that isn’t precisely what I meant.”

A short time later, Andrew was sitting in his dressing gown, sipping a brandy near the tub in Thomas’s room. This, too, had become a ritual with them, back at the University Club—one of them bathing while the other sat nearby, both of them enjoying one of their lengthy philosophical conversations.

Thomas didn’t appear to be feeling philosophical tonight. He sat in the water, steam billowing about him, sipping his own brandy and brooding. After his third glass, he was rather tipsy. “I really don’t see that we’ll have any attendance at the dance at all. It’s going to be an unqualified disaster.”

“We shall see,” Andrew replied. He was used to Thomas’s dark moods and knew not to take them overly seriously. “Have the invitations gone out yet?”

“No!” Thomas gestured dramatically with his snifter, splashing some brandy into the tub. “That’s part of the problem. Henrietta is still preparing them.”

“Who is Henrietta?” Andrew looked at him quizzically. “I thought your mother said she would take care of it.”

“She did take care of it, by ordering Henrietta to do it. She’s my mother’s personal secretary.”

“I see where your streak of industriousness comes from.”

Thomas smirked at him. “Are you disparaging my mother, you blackguard?”

“Of course not. I would never—”

Thomas staggered to his feet, dripping with water. He brandished his snifter at his friend like a weapon. “If I weren’t a bit drunk, and naked, I would call you out, you scoundrel.”

Andrew laughed, but he found the sight of Thomas’s naked crotch so near, and at eye level, extremely disconcerting. He set his glass down on the floor, then stood to take Thomas’s snifter out of his hand.

Thomas offered no resistance.

“Sit down, you fool,” Andrew said, “before you slip and break your neck.”

“The water is getting cold, at any rate.”

“Then let me help you out.” Andrew slipped his arms underneath Thomas’s armpits. Thomas wrapped his own arms around Andrew’s shoulders in a soaking-wet embrace, allowing his friend to half lift him out of the metal tub.

Andrew found Thomas’s towel and wrapped it around him before settling him on the chair he’d been using himself. Then he held out his arms, surveying the sodden arms of his dressing gown. “Well, that ends my evening. I think I shall retire to my room and crawl into a nice dry bed.”

Andrew wasn’t certain whether Thomas would find his way to bed, if he left, or simply fall asleep in the chair. So he helped his friend up again, made certain he was reasonably dry—at least so far as his sense of honor would allow—and then helped Thomas climb into his own bed. “There you go.”

“Andrew, you are the best friend a man could ever ask for.”

Andrew smiled, feeling self-conscious. “Everybody’s a bosom friend when you’re drunk.”

“I’m not that drunk,” Thomas protested. “And I mean it. You’re wonderful, and I adore you.”

That made Andrew even more uncomfortable. He smiled faintly and permitted himself a light brush of his fingers along Thomas’s forehead and cheek—to brush the hair out of his eyes, or so he told himself. “Sleep well.”

Then he went back to his room. He doubted he would sleep well. Not after that. Oh, why did Thomas have to be so prone to these bouts of melancholic affection? They made Andrew’s life agony.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Excerpt, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Romance, Victorian, Writing

New Release! A Cop for Christmas!

acopforchristmas-1000x1500I love Christmas! And these days, nothing makes me sadder than not having a story to offer for the season.

Last year, I was unable to finish the novella I was writing for the holidays, but I was saved by a request for short stories on the theme of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” My contribution, a sci-fi story on a space station called “Five Rings,” was released as one of a series of podcasts on WROTE Podcast.

This year, I was able to return to the novella from last year, which I’d only just begun, and finish it up. The result was one of the longer novellas I’ve written: A Cop for Christmas 

The cover art is by the fantastic Reese Dante.

I actually commissioned it last year, but was unable to use it then. I’m so excited to have this story come out now!

Blurb:

Mason Collier isn’t big on authority figures. When Office Steve Coleman pulls him over and gives him a speeding ticket, he doesn’t react well. He’s even less happy when he discovers the cop lives next door to his parents’ house.

No matter where they turn this holiday season, Steve and Mason keep running into each other, and whenever they talk for more than a minute, they piss each other off. But from wayward dogs to Christmas tree hunts to maple syrup festivals, it proves impossible to avoid each other in the small town.

If Mason can see the good man behind the badge, he might just get a cop for Christmas.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NB9811M/

Excerpt:

Steve decided to take Rufus out into the yard to pee. The dog had already marked most of the yard by this point, and probably didn’t have much left in him, but he assumed Mason had come to talk to Sam. Steve didn’t need to hover around for that.

To his annoyance, Mason followed him.

“What?” Steve asked testily when they were out of earshot from anyone listening in the barn.

Mason stopped walking, startled. “What do you mean, ‘What?’”

“Why are you following me?”

“Sorry. I just thought…. It’s pretty awkward between me and Sam right now.”

“I know. I heard all about your date last night.”

Mason grimaced. “Exactly. I tried to tell Mom it was a bad idea for me to come over here, but she twisted my arm.” Rufus was begging for his attention, so he petted the dog’s head absently. “She seems to think Sam and I are perfect for each other. We just don’t know it yet.”

“Sam’s a good guy,” Steve said, the old feelings of protectiveness welling up again. He glanced at the barn, certain Sam was watching them, but there was too much contrast between the bright sunlight in the yard and the shadows inside for him to make out anything.

“I don’t doubt that. But he’s really not my type.”

Steve snorted. He didn’t have much respect for the idea of people having a “type.” “My mother practically hated my father on sight. He was ex-military, clean-cut, a cop, and she was an anti-war activist who mostly went for scruffy-looking guys in Bajas and sandals.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine you with a hippie for a mom.”

“Activist,” Steve corrected. “She wasn’t what I’d call a hippie. I mean, she wasn’t particularly into mysticism, and she never did drugs. That would have been a deal-breaker for Dad. He loved her, but he was still sworn to uphold the law. My point is, he wasn’t her ‘type,’ and she wasn’t his. But they still fell in love.”

Mason smiled and came closer, his feet crunching on the packed snow. “That’s really sweet. How on earth did they even meet to begin with?”

“How do you think? Dad arrested her at an anti-nuclear protest. I hear things got a little rowdy.”

Mason laughed. “Yeah, I went to a couple of protests against the Iraq war when I was in college. Kade still does a lot of that.” He shook his head sadly. “But I’ve turned boring in my old age.”

“According to your driver’s license, you’re twenty-nine,” Steve said, then wanted to kick himself for bringing up the traffic stop while they were having a pleasant conversation.

Mason didn’t seem upset by the reminder. “I just mean I’m not a very interesting guy. I do freelance illustration for a living, if you can call it that. I read a lot of books, watch a lot of romantic comedies, and help out with UNH art classes for extra money.”

“And I’m a cop who watches a lot of action flicks and loves dogs more than people. I’m not your type, and you’re not mine.” The implication of that suddenly struck him, and he froze, his eyes going wide like a deer in headlights.

Mason stared at him, an expression of surprise on his handsome features. He said quietly, “Dogs are pretty awesome.”

“Mason!”

They jumped at the sound of Kade’s voice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, gay, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Pets, Romance

Bigfoot Hunters in Love

Bigfoot Hunters in LoveWay back in 2011, I wrote a short story about a guy who gets chased by Bigfoot and stumbles across a Bigfoot hunter in the forest. It was a cute story, if I do say so myself, but very short and not particularly satisfying. Even though I made it available for free, few people read it. (It’s still available here under the original title Finding Love through Bigfoot.)

So this year, I’ve gone back to the original story, tightened up what was there, and expanded it to a novella!

Bigfoot Hunters in Love is a more involved story, over three times longer than the first, which follows Stuart and Jake through several encounters with multiple creatures that might or might not be Bigfoots. The story also includes some guest appearances by Tom, Kevin, Sue, and Shadow from my novel Billy’s Bones a few years after the incidents in that story. And it features a wonderful, quirky cover designed by fellow author J. Scott Coatsworth!

Blurb:

When Stuart bought a house in the country, he thought he’d have some quiet time to write. The last thing he expected was to be chased through the forest in the middle of the night by something massive and hairy that can run on two legs. When he literally runs into a ranger named Jake, he learns the bizarre truth: he’s just had a Bigfoot sighting.

Jake rescues him, but Stuart soon discovers he hasn’t seen the last of Bigfoot. There’s a family of the creatures out there, and Jake has been tracking them for years through the state parks of New Hampshire. Soon Stuart finds himself caught up in Jake’s quest… and in very close quarters with the handsome ranger himself.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Bigfoot-Hunters-Love-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B01M8FGTED/

Excerpt:

“You can take the sleeping bag if you want,” Jake volunteered, still crouched at the entrance to the tent as he unlaced his hiking boots and removed them.

“That’s okay. I’ll just stretch out beside you on the mat. Can I borrow one of these blankets?”

Jake crawled inside and zipped up the door flap. “I suppose you could do that, but that insulating pad’s not very thick. You’d probably be more comfortable—and warmer—if we laid the sleeping bag out beneath us and shared a blanket. Up to you. I’m fine with whatever you want to do.”

Stuart wasn’t sure if Jake’s suggestion was sound wilderness survival logic or just an excuse to get close. Maybe it was both. Was Jake gay? At this point, Stuart couldn’t really say he cared. The light of the campfire had revealed a handsome, rugged man with a strong jaw softened by several days’ worth of beard growth, unkempt blond hair, and striking, emerald green eyes. Stuart would normally have considered the man to be extremely hot, but now that he was no longer pumped up on adrenalin, the only thing he could think about was lying down somewhere comfortable and closing his eyes for a while.

“All right,” he said.

“Do you mind if I sleep in my skivvies?”

“I guess not.”

Jake didn’t bother unbuttoning his shirt. He just slipped it over his head, along with his undershirt. The harsh, bluish light from the LED flashlight wasn’t exactly mood lighting, but Stuart was nevertheless impressed by the muscular arms and chest revealed. When Jake shucked his jeans, Stuart had to force himself to look away. In just a pair of gray boxer briefs, Jake was as beautiful as a Greek statue, though a bit hairier. And even though his crotch was covered by his briefs, it was easy to tell the Greek statue comparison didn’t extend to that part of his anatomy.

“You don’t have to keep the robe on,” Jake said.

“You know I’m naked under this.”

“I do,” Jake replied. “I’m just sayin’ it’s up to you. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable tangled up in that thing all night long.”

Stuart eyed him warily. It wasn’t that he was shy exactly, but Jake stripping to his underwear already felt kind of sexual. Now he wanted Stuart to get naked? “Um… you’re straight, right?”

Jake was in the process of unzipping the sleeping bag he was sitting on. He stopped and looked up with a sour expression on his face. “I wasn’t making a pass at you,” he said coolly, “but if it makes a difference, no. I am not straight.”

“You’re gay?”

“Bisexual, I suppose. I’ve fooled around with both.”

Stuart took a moment to process this. Did it really matter? Maybe. “Sleeping naked with some guy I’ve just met feels a little weird to me.”

“So don’t do it then.” Jake sighed, and his expression relaxed. “Look, just because I like men doesn’t mean I have the hots for every guy I meet.”

To his surprise, Stuart felt a little hurt by that though he knew what Jake meant. “I know that.” He decided he might as well come clean. “I’m… gay, actually.”

Jake snorted and shook his head. “I don’t see how that changes anything.”

“Is it that unusual to be uncomfortable sleeping naked with a strange man?” Stuart asked defensively.

“I guess not,” Jake conceded. He went back to unzipping the sleeping bag. “Like I said, it’s up to you. Gay, straight, bisexual… I’m still not gonna be gropin’ you in the dark. I said you could sleep without the robe if it would make you more comfortable. If it doesn’t, then don’t do it. Now why don’t you scoot to the front of the tent while I lay this out?”

The conversation died for a few minutes as Jake spread the sleeping bag over the insulated pad that covered the floor of the tent, then spread a blanket over it. The blanket was soft on one side, like polar fleece, but had a heavier insulating material on the reverse side. Jake slipped underneath it.

“Go ahead and crawl in,” he told Stuart.

Stuart stubbornly clung to the bathrobe as he wormed his way into the makeshift bed. It was a tight fit with both of them lying side by side, and the damned robe kept wrapping around his torso and legs in uncomfortable ways. But it wasn’t until Jake had switched off the LED lamp and plunged them into darkness that Stuart announced, “I’m going to lose the robe.”

“No problem.”

Wrestling his arms out of the stupid thing and pulling it out from under him was much harder than stripping before getting into bed would have been. Jake didn’t get to see him naked this way, but by now Stuart was beginning to think that would have been more dignified.

He tucked the robe under his head for a pillow and muttered, “I’ll try not to rub against you in the night.”

Jake chuckled. “Whatever.”

They settled down, lying back to back, and in the close quarters, it wasn’t actually possible to avoid touching. Stuart could feel Jake’s warmth against his skin and the gentle rhythm of his breathing. It made him feel surprisingly safe and comforted, despite the fact he was in the middle of the forest, snuggled up to a total stranger—a man he might have considered to be crazy had they met a few days ago.

Within minutes, he was sound asleep.

3 Comments

Filed under Bisexual, Contemporary, Cover, gay, horror, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Pets, Romance

“Abducted” (from Gothika #5: Contact) is now available for pre-order!

gothika-contactThe newest Gothika anthology, subtitled Contact, features four stories of alien encounters by me (Jamie Fessenden), Kim Fielding, B.G. Thomas, and a new addition to the list of Gothika authors, F.E. Feeley, Jr.

It’s available for pre-order now at Dreamspinner Press and will be released on October 24th, just in time for Halloween!

My story is called Abducted, and it’s about a man who initially doesn’t believe that his old college roommate is being abducted by aliens… until he is abducted himself!

Abducted – Blurb

One night, Marc receives a frantic call from his friend, Cody. When he arrives at Cody’s isolated farmhouse, Cody is filthy, half-starved, and under the paranoid delusion that aliens are abducting him and implanting things in his body.

Marc agrees to stay one night, as long as his friend will go to the hospital in the morning. But Cody isn’t mentally ill. Aliens have been abducting him, and in the process of trying to stop it from happening again, Marc is abducted himself. But that’s just the beginning of his nightmare.

Marc learns of two alien races at war. To make matters worse, the Alzhen have Marc and the evil Karazhen have Cody. Marc’s only ally is Dalsing, the Alzhen security chief he feels an unexpected attraction to. They’ll have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to rescue Cody… and prevent the creation of a deadly biological weapon.

Abducted — Excerpt:

I walked out into Dalsing’s living quarters and then stopped dead, gaping in awe.

I wasn’t sure what I’d expected. Gleaming chrome and florescent lights, maybe. Or more of the malleable greenish mesh I’d been seeing in other parts of the ship. The last thing I’d expected was a forest. By that, I mean trees. A lot of trees. Though not Earth trees. In the relatively dark space, bioluminescent lines of blue-green and pink highlighted the rough edges of their bark and created swirls around knotholes and the bases of branches. Under my feet, a carpet of moss sparkled with shimmering silver, and glowing orange cones four or five inches high shot up in clusters like mushrooms.

“This is beautiful,” I said, whispering, afraid to disturb the stillness.

“It is my home world.”

I turned to find Dalsing standing behind me, naked again and holding out his robe to me.

“I am sorry,” he continued, “but I was unable to find a robe. You may wear mine, if this isn’t taboo in your culture, or you may look at my other clothing to see if anything else might suit you.”

I took the robe and smirked at him. “Are you sure you don’t get off on running around naked in front of me?”

“Get off?” He seemed genuinely puzzled.

I slipped the robe on and cinched the belt around my waist. “It means to get turned on—become sexually aroused. I’ve known guys who get turned on by being naked in front of other people.”

“Why is that?”

I thought about that for a second. “Well, I suppose it only works in a culture where being naked in front of other people is a rare thing. That doesn’t seem to apply here.”

“If I become sexually aroused,” Dalsing said, taking my hand and leading me deeper into the forest, “you will know. It will be obvious.” This was the first time we’d touched, skin to skin, and his hand was disconcertingly warm.

He was walking sideways, so he could look back at me as he spoke, and I couldn’t help but glance down at his crotch. “Why? Because your… genitals will pop out?”

“Eventually. But before that, my shiri will glow.” He stroked the darkly pigmented spots on his face with his free hand.

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “I remember! Some of the… Alzhen in the lounge were doing that.” I felt my face flush as it occurred to me those people must have been aroused. And they just walked around like that? In public?

But Dalsing laughed and shook his head. “That is just a paste some of us wear on social occasions to mimic arousal. Mostly younger Alzhen. My generation generally considers it… I am uncertain what the word is in your language….”

“Crass? Tacky?”

“Perhaps. You understand my meaning? It is something the young do.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that, imagining all the 150-year-old Alzhens shaking their heads in dismay at the way the younger generation dressed. They probably disapproved of their music too.

1 Comment

Filed under Blog Tour, Contemporary, Cover, Excerpt, gay, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Romance, SciFi, Sex

Does it matter if Lincoln was gay? Yes, it does.

UmbrellaNo Year

May 17th is the  International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and from May 17-24, we will be celebrating with the:

Hop for Visibility Awareness and Equality

At the bottom of this post, you can check out the other authors, reviewers, and allies who have blogs in the hop, and if you leave a comment with an email address, or send me a private email at jamesfessenden@hotmail.com, you’ll be entered into a giveaway for any eBook in my back catalog, or the audiobook for my latest novel, Violated.

~ * ~

I’d like to talk a few minutes about one of our US presidents….

Recently, I saw another article about the sexuality of Abraham Lincoln making the rounds on social media. Abraham Lincoln: A life in the closet? made a good case for Lincoln being gay or bisexual, though as is often the case on Facebook, the article turns out to be several years old.

The evidence that Lincoln had very strong, even passionate, attachments to men throughout his life is fairly strong. He wrote several letters to these men, using language that seems oddly intense for just friendship, and insisted upon sharing a bed with more than one man. Times were, of course, different back then. Our culture wasn’t as quick to see sexual interest in an emotionally close friendship between two men, and the practice of sharing a bed was common when there weren’t enough beds to go around.

Several things seem… off… with this interpretation, however. One is that Lincoln continued to share a bed with men well into his later years, when he was no longer poor and living in mean circumstances. In fact, he was rumored to share his bed—and a nightshirt—with his bodyguard while president, whenever his wife was away. He certainly didn’t need to do so.

But, to me, the largest hole in the “it was perfectly ordinary for a man to behave this way in those times” argument is the fact that several of Lincoln’s contemporaries commented upon the fact that it was not ordinary. To quote wikipedia (which in turn, is paraphrasing Michael B. Chesson in an afterward of CA Tripp‘s book The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln):

Elizabeth Woodbury Fox, the wife of Lincoln’s naval aide, wrote in her diary for November 16, 1862, “Tish says, ‘Oh, there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L. is not home, sleeps with him.’ What stuff!”

Of course, there are plenty of detractors of the book (one might even say “haters”), and the quote is equally picked apart, with people debating whether “What stuff!” meant “What juicy gossip!” or “What nonsense!” I personally sense a little of both, as in, “Nobody would take that seriously… would they?” Regardless, this salacious bit of gossip clearly was not describing something a lot of men might do. It was scandalous.

My big question is, “Why is it so important that Lincoln be 100 percent heterosexual?”

Not, “Why is it important for Lincoln—or any other well-respected historical figure—to be seen as LGBTQ?” I already know the answer to that. It’s important, because we have largely been eradicated from the history books.

Lincoln-Up-CloseLincoln lived in a time period where it would not have been acceptable for him to come right out and say, “I’m in love with a man, and I’m going to marry him.” Likewise, nobody could have asked him, “Were you in love with Joshua Speed?” It simply wasn’t talked about. So if we’re forced to glean the truth from insufficient evidence and hearsay, don’t blame the LGBTQ community. (On a side note, I often hear the assertion that since “gay” didn’t mean the same thing back then, people couldn’t really be “gay.” I’m sure that would have been good news to the men and women who were imprisoned and killed throughout history for same-sex relationships. Look, there have always been people who preferred sex with others of their gender—or both genders. Always. What changed over time was the idea that this could form the core of a person’s life and identity.)

But we live in different times, don’t we? Today it’s perfectly acceptable for a man to be gay, and even to marry another man. Isn’t that right? If that were really the case, I doubt the suggestion that one of our revered former presidents might have had sex with men would send people into such fits.

Consider this:

Another contemporary of the young Lincoln was a woman named Ann Rutledge. She was engaged to marry a man named  John MacNamar, but she knew Lincoln, and many speculate that he was in love with her. She died at the age of 22, when their town was hit by typhoid fever. Supposedly, Lincoln was asked by a friend if he’d been in love with her, and he replied, “It is true—true indeed I did. I loved the woman dearly and soundly: She was a handsome girl—would have made a good, loving wife… I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Nobody knows if Lincoln really said this. According to JG Randall in an essay entitled “Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence”:

“The most obvious thing about this effusive statement is its unLincolnian quality.” Noting how disinclined Lincoln always was to express private feelings, Randall added, “In the face of such reticence, the Cogdal record seems artificial and made to order. It was given out after Lincoln’s death; it presents him in an unlikely role; it puts in his mouth uncharacteristic sayings.”

The Strange Case of Isaac Cogdal )

Yet there have been popular films and books about the relationship between Lincoln and Rutledge since 1919, and this incident is frequently used to “disprove” the assertion that Lincoln fell in love with men (as if he couldn’t possibly be bisexual). Rejecting the tenuous evidence for Lincoln’s same-sex relationships, while accepting the equally tenuous evidence for a relationship with Rutledge says “heterosexual bias” to me more than it says “desire for historical accuracy.”

abraham-lincoln-quotes-hd-wallpaper-4Ultimately, this isn’t really about Abraham Lincoln. It’s about all the historical figures where we have evidence indicating they may have been LGBTQ. Lincoln may or may not have had same-sex relationships. We’ll probably never know. But why on earth would we look at his history of close relationships with men, his fond letters to them, and the rumors surrounding his relationships, yet ignore all of that in favor of the assumption he couldn’t possibly have been gay or bisexual? Does that really make sense?

Only from the perspective of someone who assumes heterosexual and cisgender is “normal.” And that attitude needs to change.

Even if we’re wrong about some of those historical figures, we’re not wrong about all of them. Some were gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans. Their voices were silenced by the societies they lived in, so they were frequently unable to safely be honest about their sexuality. Either they pretended to be heterosexual and cisgendered, or they remained quiet and allowed everyone to assume they were. But LGBTQ people living today deserve to know that in the past many of us did great things.  We need to hear more about LGBTQ people in history than how the world treated us whenever we were discovered.

Yes, it’s possible we’re making false assumptions about some historical figures. But if we really do believe it’s okay to be LGBTQ, and we’re not just paying it lip-service, we shouldn’t look upon the suggestion that a particular person might have been LGBTQ as diminishing their memory. I grew up thinking Abraham Lincoln was heterosexual. It didn’t make me think any less of him. If somebody can’t respect the man after learning he might have been gay or bisexual, then that’s their failing—not his.

~ * ~

Remember to leave a comment with an email address, or send me a private email at jamesfessenden@hotmail.com, to be entered into a giveaway for any eBook in my back catalog, or the audiobook for my latest novel, Violated!

 

Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality.

1. Tyler Robbins (M/M, M/M/M) 24. Heloise West (M/M) 47. Sean Michael
2. N.S. Beranek(Gay) 25. Angel Martinez (M/M GAY BI TR) 48. Remmy Duchene (MM)
3. The Novel Approach/Lisa Horan 26. Amelia Bishop (MULTI) 49. Sharita Lira writing as BLMorticia M/M
4. B. A. Brock (BI TR GAY LES) 27. Moonbeams over Atlanta – Eloreen Moon (MM, REV, MULTI) 50. Barbara Winkes (LES)
5. Jamie Fessenden 28. Helena Stone (M/M ) 51. Bronwyn Heeley (m/m)
6. Rory Ni Coileain 29. AM Leibowitz (M/M, F/F, BI, TR, NB, REV) 52. L. J. LaBarthe
7. Erica Pike (M/M) 30. L.D. Blakeley (M/M, BI) 53. VJ Summers (m/m, m/m/f)
8. Andrew Jericho (GAY) 31. Lila Leigh Hunter [M/M, BI] 54. Nikka Michaels (M/M)
9. Tempeste O’Riley (M/M (Bi) (NB) 32. Sharon Bidwell 55. Caraway Carter (LGBT)
10. The Macaronis [various] 33. Nicole Dennis (M/M, ACE, M/M/F) 56. L M Somerton (M/M)
11. Elin Gregory [mm] 34. Lexi Ander 57. Taylor Law (GAY)
12. Alexa MIlne 35. Barbara G.Tarn (M/M, ACE) 58. Anastasia Vitsky (F/F, TR, BI)
13. Nic Starr (M/M) 36. Kaje Harper M/M, TR, BI 59. Draven St. James (M/M)
14. Evelise Archer (MM) 37. JMS Books LLC 60. A.V. Sanders (GAY, ACE, NB)
15. Sue Brown 38. JM Snyder 61. Lynley Wayne
16. Elizabeth Varlet (M/M, BI, NB) 39. Dean Pace-Frech 62. DP Denman (GAY)
17. Raven J. Spencer 40. Kimber Vale 63. M.A. Church M/M
18. Sharing Links and Wisdom (REV) 41. Jacintha Topaz (BI, F/F, M/M, TR) 64. Andrew J. Peters GAY
19. Lisa Horan (REV/Multi) 42. Prism Book Alliance® (MULTI) 65. Dianne Hartsock MM
20. Archer Kay Leah (M/M, F/F, TR, NB, BI, ACE) 43. Eva Lefoy (M/M, F/F, F/M/F, BI, MULTI) 66. M. LeAnne Phoenix M/M F/F
21. Alexis Duran (M/M) 44. Lou Sylvre (M/M) 67. Cherie Noel (M/M)
22. Jules Dixon 45. Anne Barwell 68. Chris McHart (M/M, Trans*)
23. R.M. Olivia 46. Viki Lyn (M/M)

21 Comments

Filed under Bisexual, Bloghop, gay, GLBT History, Historical, Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Hop for Visibility Awareness and Equality, Jamie Fessenden, Transgender

“Train to Sevmash” is now available! For FREE!

77When I was approached to contribute a story for 7&7: A DSP Publications Anthology of Virtue and Vice, I immediately chose “mercy” as the virtue I wanted to write about. My first idea had to do with a police officer chasing down a criminal, but ultimately choosing to let him go. Unfortunately, the more I thought about that idea, the less I liked it.

But I’d recently found a tutor to help me brush up on the Russian language, which I’d studied a very long time ago in college, and I’d also just read Ian Fleming’s original novel Casino Royale. Suddenly, it clicked! A secret agent! And he wasn’t trying to capture somebody—he intended to assassinate his target.

Since I’m not British, my secret agent wouldn’t be, either. He’d be American, a former member of the Special Forces. And less upper crust than Bond, with a bit of Mack Bolan and John Clark (from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six) thrown in. Agent Jax Colby. I was setting this in the late 60s, during the Cold War, when the USSR was developing Victor Class nuclear submarines, so that would be the impetus of the agent’s mission.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time studying Soviet naval bases, and determined that the most likely place a submarine of that class would be docked for testing would be Sevmash. (I’d originally picked Murmansk, and I no longer remember why that wasn’t viable.) So how would I get an American spy into a high-security Soviet naval base?

Initially, the story was going to revolve around Colby’s adventures in Sevmash itself, once he’d infiltrated the base. He was there to assassinate an American defector. But a throwaway line I’d written in the first paragraph about how he’d killed an innocent man on the train to steal his identity intrigued me, and I found myself more interested in exploring how that had gone down, so I rewound the timeline to that night.

YuriColby needed a target who had a similar physical description to himself, and who was en route to the location on a fairly long journey, being transferred from another base—Murmansk. It was possible to travel by train between the two bases, but the trip took several days. This, of course, was in the days before information could be transferred easily over the Internet from one city to another, which would work to Colby’s advantage. He would have to have forged papers with his photo, but the Russian’s vital information—internal Soviet travel papers had a stamp across both the photo and the document, so simply replacing the photo would be an arduous task. As long as nobody in Sevmash had seen this man—Yuri Ivanovich Veselov—Colby should be able to get in and out. He just needed to kill Veselov on the train to Sevmash and step into his identity.

The only problem was, in order to kill Veselov, Colby had to get him alone. And that meant getting close to him. And the closer he got, the more Colby would be forced to realize Veselov was not only an innocent in this game, but in many ways a kindred spirit and downright likable.

In fact, he was kind of adorable….

After I finished the short story Train to Sevmash, it was clear to me that I’d just begun to explore these characters and the world they inhabited, so I got permission from DSP Publications to expand the story into a full-length novel (tentatively called Chimera). That’s about half completed now, with the Train to Sevmash story taking up chapters five through seven, and I’m hoping to finish it this summer. Then, perhaps, it will be released next year.

Train in St PetersburgTrain To Sevmash—Jamie Fessenden 

Jax Colby is an American secret agent operating within the Soviet Union in 1967. His assignment is to infiltrate the Sevmash naval shipyard in Severodvinsk in pursuit of an American scientist turned traitor to his country. But in order to do this, he must first kill a naval lieutenant traveling to the base and steal his transfer orders. He homes in on his target on the two-day train ride from Leningrad to Belomorsk.

But there’s one problem. Lt. Yuri Veselov is handsome and friendly. As Colby spends time with him, he begins to like him—and it might be more than friendship. The train draws nearer to Severodvinsk, and Colby grows increasingly reluctant to do what he knows he must—kill Yuri Veselov.

(This story is included in the free anthology 7&7: A DSP Publications Anthology of Virtue and Vice )

Buy Links:

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/77-by-andrea-speed-271-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/7-Andrea-Speed-ebook/dp/B01DRIXN8M

Leave a comment

Filed under 7&7, Drama, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Romance, Russian, Writing