Category Archives: Pets

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.

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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.

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

The best girl in the world

Lady

In my novel Billy’s Bones, I based Tom’s dog, Shadow, on my own dog, Kumar. In Violated, Derek’s quiet, aging dog was also based upon one of my dogs — Lady. This is her story.

When I graduated from college, I eventually found myself living by myself out in a cabin in the woods of Nelson, NH. I had a job and a car, but not much of a social life. It was damned lonely.

So I decided to get a dog. I went to the local shelter and played with several of the dogs there over the span of a few weeks, but I couldn’t find the one I was looking for. I needed an older dog, medium-sized, who wasn’t too hyper, thanks to the fact that my landlady’s mother was 80 and afraid of big dogs.

Then one day I walked into the shelter and there was a new dog out front. They hadn’t even finished her paperwork yet. But she had the biggest, most soulful eyes I’d ever seen, and I fell in love with her immediately.

Lady was at least six when I got her, though we suspected the owner lied and she might be older. She’d been left out in a dog pen with other dogs her entire life, so I had to house train her. Fortunately, she caught on quickly. She also had this weird habit of taking her dog kibble out of the bowl and trying to press it into the wooden floor, scraping all around it with her nose as if she were burying it and hiding it from anyone who might try to steal it from her.

She was very docile and quiet. I wasn’t even sure she knew how to bark, until one morning the landlady opened the door of my cabin and walked in without asking permission. Lady was sleeping on my bed with me, and she immediately leapt to her feet, standing over me and barking ferociously to defend me. (Good girl!)

It’s hard to describe how much I adored her, this little dog I could scoop up in my arms and cuddle like a baby. She was a bit big for that, but she put up with it.

Lady 2When I moved in with a boyfriend for a while, things went downhill for her. He didn’t like dogs. While he wasn’t abusive to her, he largely ignored her, and when she still had the occasional accident inside, he yelled at her — which usually made her crouch down and pee more.  She was no longer allowed on the bed, so I had to buy her a dog bed.

Ultimately, that human relationship would break up, and I’d realize I should never have given in as much as I had. I should never have let my girl be yelled at. I should have fought to keep her on the bed, at my side where she wanted to be. She was my best girl, and she stuck with me through some of the hardest times of my life.

But one night, when my ex and I were having yet another of the arguments that marked the end of our relationship, there was a storm going on outside. When I came out of the bedroom, I asked one of the house guests we had where Lady was. She was terrified of storms. And he told me she’d been running around looking like she had to pee, so he’d let her out.

She hadn’t needed to pee. She’d been panic-stricken. Out in the storm, she panicked and bolted and disappeared into the night.

After a week of searching the neighborhood, calling her name, and putting up “Lost Dog” signs, I woke one night in the wee hours of the morning with a sense that I needed to go to the front door. I went into the kitchen and opened the door to find Lady sitting on the porch. I was ecstatic that she’d found her way back to me. The next day, I emailed everybody I knew to let them know.

But I was celebrating too soon.

A couple of days later, she started coughing. While she’d been wandering around out in the cold, rainy September nights, she’d caught pneumonia. I took her to the vet — who I’m convinced to this day was incompetent, for a number of reasons — and eventually she ended up on oxygen.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, while everyone else watched the bombing of the World Trade Center in horror, I was barely aware of it. Because Lady was dying. I saw her on my lunch break from work, and she looked awful. Her lips were blue, and she was gasping for breath. I held it together as best I could and went out to get something to eat. While I was out, the vet called and told me she’d died. And I hadn’t been there.

Best Girl in the WorldI fell apart. I couldn’t go back to work. I was a wreck for weeks — months. To this day, I still can’t think of that day without crying. I’m crying now.

It was ten years before I could bring myself to get another dog. Lady had been irreplaceable. She was my girl.

The best girl in the world.

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The world of “Billy’s Bones” – a tour through Tom’s house

BillysBones_FessendenAs some of you may already know, I based a number of elements in my psychological mystery novel Billy’s Bones upon my real life.  There is no specific person in my life who inspired Kevin, though I know many people who are a bit like him in one way or another, including a friend who works as a handyman.  Alas, I am disturbingly like Tom.  I don’t look like him, but I often think like him (well, a combination of him and Jeremy from my novel Murderous Requiem).

The setting though—particularly Tom’s house—was based very much on my real house.  One of my friends told me she had trouble reading the novel, because she knew the setting too well and she prefers to let her imagination create it.  So if you have vivid images in your mind about the setting of Billy’s Bones, you might want to skip these pictures.  But for those of you who are curious….

The house sits at the end of a long driveway, far enough out in the country that we have no streetlights, though still close enough to the highway that we can get to the hospital if we need to.  Unfortunately, my husband didn’t feel comfortable posting a picture of the outside of the house, since it would be easy to drive around our small town with a photo and figure out where we live.  This post is basically going out to the entire Internet, after all.  But I can post some pics of the inside and pertinent areas.

007We do have a flock of about 20 wild turkeys that wander through the yard almost daily and they can get in the way when we drive in and try to park.  They aren’t afraid of us.  They just casually saunter out of the path of the car and glare at us for disturbing them.  Deer show up occasionally, too, but not as much since we got the dog.

IMG_0382I won’t show you every room in the house, but here are a couple, as they looked when we moved in and as Tom saw them.  The first is the stove room.  You can see the spiral staircase leading down into the basement.  Like Shadow, our dog was too afraid to go down those stairs, so we didn’t have to block it off when he decided it was fun to run down into the basement.  We did have to put up a child gate in front of the other basement stairs until he outgrew that phase.
IMG_0383

And here’s the living room, where Tom and Kevin had to sit on the floor to use the laptop.
IMG_0391Probably the biggest difference between the novel and reality, is that I extended the back deck quite a bit in the novel, so it would be large enough to hold the hot tub. Unlike Tom, we do have neighbors, but in some directions the forest extends all the way to state park land, and you could easily get lost in it.  I know—I once spent a half hour wandering around in it, chasing after our dog, when he broke free of his harness.  Fortunately, we both found our way back home.
IMG_0388
The real hot tub is off a side deck. When we turned the thing on and discovered it was dead (the original is in this picture), we couldn’t find anyone willing to repair it.  It was as badly cobbled together as I described in the novel, and not particularly safe.  So eventually  we replaced it.

2013-10-25_13-15-55_848And this appropriately creepy picture (taken with my cellphone, since a certain pooch ate our digital camera), is The Well, as seen through the trees in back of the house.  No, not the one at the end of the novel, but the cement one behind Tom’s house, where Kevin damaged his hand.

008Last but not least, this is Kumar the Mighty Duck Hunter, the inspiration for Shadow.  He’s still just a few years old and full of energy.  He doesn’t normally have demonic glowing eyes.  He did have a terror of stairs when we first got him, and yes we had to carry all 75 pounds of him up and down for a while, but he’s over that now.

He does still prefer to communicate with people through his stuffed ducks.

Honk!  Honk!

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Filed under Drama, gay, Mystery, Pets, Psychological Drama, Romance, World Building, Writing

“Billy’s Bones” is touching a lot of readers

BillysBones_FessendenI almost titled this post, “Billy’s Bones could be my breakout novel,” because it very well may be.  A breakout novel is a novel that finally draws enough attention to put an author’s name on the radar.  Generally, subsequent novels sell much better as a result, because now readers have heard of the author.

That may be what Billy’s Bones is for me.  It spent over a week in the top ten of the Gay Romance list on Amazon, peaking at #7, and remained in the top 20 for almost two weeks.  The reader reviews and professional reviews have been amazing!  Sales have been astronomical, in comparison to any of my previous novels (and sales picked up for them over the past weeks, too).  And I’m still on the Dreamspinner bestsellers list!

What this will mean in the future, I don’t know.  If I’m lucky, my next novel will be successful as well.  Though it will be a little while before I attempt to tackle anything this dark again.  My next novel is a romance between two roommates in college.

But really, what’s more important than sales (yes, really) is that I’ve received numerous reviews and emails in which people have told me how much the book touched them.  Many have survived abuse themselves and the novel helped them — or at least didn’t disturb them — by dealing with the issue sensitively.  I couldn’t ask for greater praise.  My fear as I worked on the novel and all the way up until the day of its release was that it would be traumatic for some readers and come across as insensitive and  wildly inaccurate in its depiction of PTSD.

There have been, in fact, some readers who marked the book as something they know they can’t read.  After reading other reviews, they’ve concluded that the subject matter is too unpleasant for them to deal with in the context of their own pasts.  I understand that and sympathize.  I would never want somebody to be further traumatized by something I’ve written.

There have been a number of comments in reviews about the level of research that went into the novel.  Certainly I did read up on the subject of PTSD and watch videos of survivors discussing flashbacks and other experiences, but I was also lucky enough to know a number of therapists, including my mother, who specialized in treating clients with PTSD.  She and others read over the therapy scenes in the novel to make sure I wasn’t doing anything too horrendous.  She did point out that pushing someone to recall repressed memories wasn’t always a good idea.  In some cases, it’s better to leave it alone.  But of course, in the novel, it becomes necessary for Kevin to remember what happened, since he is the only witness.

As a final note, I would like to point out that, although I did have some experiences in my childhood which came into play while writing this novel, no one in my family was ever abusive to me or my brother.

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Filed under Drama, gay, Life, Mystery, Pets, Psychological Drama, Reviews, Romance, Writing

“Billy’s Bones” has been released!

BillysBones_FessendenMy psychological drama, Billy’s Bones, has been released today!

It can be found at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and other resellers.

It also received a 5-star review from Live Your Life, Buy The Book, calling it “Brilliant.. Gripping.. Suspenseful.. Emotional.. Page turner..”

I’m so excited about this release!

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New cover for “Billy’s Bones”!

BillysBones_FessendenI just received the cover design for my upcoming psychological drama, Billy’s Bones!

The cover is by Lou Harper and I love it!

We went through several variations, some of which might have been terrific for a lighter novel.  Unfortunately, this is a fairly dark book, with Kevin tormented by repressed memories that break through in his nightmares and cause him to have panic attacks in certain situations—memories of abuse in his childhood.

One thing I insisted upon was the dog.  Shadow is based upon my own black Lab, Kumar, who went through a period of adjustment when we got him home from the shelter—getting over an irrational fear of going up and down stairs and peeing on boxes indoors.  In the novel, Shadow’s adventures parallel what Kevin is going through to be with Tom.

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Filed under Cover, Drama, gay, Pets, Psychological Drama, Romance, Writing