Category Archives: Jamie Fessenden

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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July Fourth Weekend Sale!

July Fourth Weekend Sale

 

 

Kiss Me Daddy

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular price: $3.99

Operation Makeover

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Lucky

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The Rules

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.29

Melting for You

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $2.99

The Rainbow Clause

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

The River Leith

Sale Price: FREE / Regular Price: $3.99

Rainbow Place

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $2.99

Spark

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.99

Maybe This Time

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

Family Camp

Sale Price: $.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

Rapid Response

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.99

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Writing advice, because that’s what we writers like to do

So my latest novel, Small Town Sonata, was contracted for publication by Dreamspinner Press, and I’m very happy. Hopefully, it signals the revving up of my writing career again.

So, in the spirit of that, and because someone asked about it in a Facebook group, I’ve decided to offer some Writing Advice (capitalized, to show how pompous… I mean “important” it is). Seriously, this is just some stuff I learned over the years. Take it or leave it, as you like. It’s less about writing than about some practical concerns.

I started writing in Middle School, reading articles in The Writer (which was a much better magazine then) and locking myself in my room after school to type. My mother bought me my first typewriter (personal computers were like $5,000 then), but with the door closed, the heat from the wood stove couldn’t reach me, so I had to bundle up in a blanket. Abe Lincoln would have been proud.

I still have all of that writing in a briefcase. Most of it is pretty bad. Writers often tend to start out thinking their prose needs to be Serious and Important (translation: flowery). That’s actually the worst thing for modern writers, unless you’re doing historical or literary fiction. (And even then, it’s probably not great.) So there are some story ideas I like in that pile, but I’d have to rewrite them all from scratch. But, hey, that period taught me a lot about how to write.

I wrote on and off over the years after that, but had difficulty finishing things. Eventually, I tried NaNoWriMo, and that allowed me to finish my first novel (Seidman), then another, and so on. Everything I wrote through NaNo was eventually published. (Finish what you write. An unfinished story is no good to anybody, and even one that isn’t 100% perfect has a better chance of being published than an brilliant, unfinished one.)

I write in Word and use Scrivener to keep my notes. (Tip: You can relocate the Scrivener directory to a folder in your Dropbox folder, so they’ll be backed up.) I tried writing in Scrivener a few times, but so far I’ve found it difficult. The problem I’ve had with Word is that it wants me to buy it on iPad, even though I own (=lease) it on my laptop. This has made it nearly impossible to use my iPad for writing, as I used to do.

In college, I composed electronic music, using a program called Personal Composer, which had a problem with frequent crashes (at that time). One night, after working on a piece for something like 5 or 6 hours (it was around 3am), I saved and it crashed. Because I’d only used ONE file the entire time, it got corrupted, and all my work was lost. I learned to create a NEW save, every time I work on something. My novels tend to have over a hundred save files, by the time I’m done.

For a while, I was working a corporate job, and using thumb drives to take my current working files back and forth between home and work (I didn’t have a laptop). I discovered two things about thumb drives:

 

  • They’re easy to lose. I had to completely rewrite an entire chapter once.

  • They’re unreliable. On several occasions, I saved files to a thumb drive, ejected, and discovered the files were not there. They weren’t anywhere – not on the drive, not on the computer, not even in temp files. This is when I started using Dropbox, and yes, they’ve had some problems with security, but they also keep backups of files, so when a file of mine was destroyed somehow (Virus? I don’t recall.), I was able to go to the Dropbox site and download it again.

Lastly, if you can’t get a publisher or agent to buy your novel, consider self-publishing it. I’ve read a bunch of articles which insist self-publishing is what Losers do, when their work isn’t good enough to be published by real publishers. They’re the equivalent of cavemen banging on rocks, angry that “cheaters” have discovered a box of matches.

Look, the fact is, self-publishing is relatively easy, and that’s led to the market being flooded with a lot of stuff I would have to call “poor-quality”… if I’m being kind. This, in turn, has led a lot of readers to assume our self-published work isn’t worth very much. Combined with Kindle Unlimited, authors are now forced to sell months of hard labor for pennies, if we want anyone at all to notice its existence. (Thank you, Amazon, for pulling the floor out from under aspiring authors.) This has led to more and more indie publishers throwing in the towel, so those that are left have been forced to close or severely restrict submissions.

Throw in the fact that, with so many people out of work, everyone seems to think writing might be a way to earn some income, and the end result is that traditional routes to being published, which were already difficult, are now extremely difficult. Good books, bad books, books written by the next Great American (or whatever country you’re from) Author… they’re all being rejected. It is not a sign of failure to self-publish.

Some books make the rounds between publishers for years — even decades. Do you have that kind of time? I’ve published over 30 novels and novellas between December 2010 and now — just over eight years. (Of course, I know authors with two or three times that output.) I may not be a brilliant author, but my work is being read. And that’s what needs to happen, if you want to earn anything writing.

What a lot of authors are doing, if they can, is publishing through publishers at the same time they self-publish. This is called hybrid publishing, and it has the advantage of getting your name out by association with the publisher, as well as convincing readers your stories, including the self-published stories, are professional quality. Going through a publisher can also help you make contacts with editors, cover artists, and others who can help you, when you self-publish.

And that’s a key thing: if you self-publish, you must hire a professional editor and a professional cover artist, and probably a formatter, as well. This shouldn’t break the bank, but it will likely cost a few hundred dollars. It will be worth it. Nothing screams “Crap!” like a homemade Photoshopped cover with free images everyone and his brother has used before. And if a reader skims the preview and sees typos and spelling errors on the first two pages, you’ve lost that reader forever.

But self-publishing has a much quicker turnaround than publishing houses. When I published my last Christmas novel, I finished it, had it edited, got a wonderful cover for it, and published it — all in the space of about a month and a half. I didn’t have a choice about going through a publisher, if I wanted it out by Christmas. Self-publishing also means a smaller chunk comes out of my royalties. This isn’t because publishers are swindlers, but simply because they have overhead costs.

Anyway, all this pontificating has worn me out. I’m gonna go take a nap.

I mean “write.” I’m gonna go write.

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Filed under James Erich, Jamie Fessenden, Life, NaNoWriMo, New Release, publishing, Romance, Writing, Young Adult

“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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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