Category Archives: Religion

Excerpt from “When Heaven Strikes” by F.E. Feeley, Jr.

Can love survive heaven’s wrath?

Artist Ted Armstrong lives a solitary and eccentric life. The survivor of child abuse disguised as religion, Ted has cut himself off from the world.

Then Ted meets Anderson Taylor, and it’s like being struck by lightning.

Anderson is a cardiac surgeon whose passion for his work has consumed him. He fears he’ll never find a partner—until he sets eyes on Ted. It’s happening fast, but both men know what they feel is right.

Confronted with an angry preacher, a scandal, and an act of God that threatens to destroy everything, their relationship will face it’s first true test.

EXCERPT:

The wind chimes danced in the gentle sigh of the night, but for some reason Ted jerked awake. He wasn’t sure why at first but he was alert. Slowly, he sat up and took in his surroundings. Anderson who had rolled onto his back was unusually tense. His eyes shifted hard behind closed lids, and a light sweat had broken out on his head. His body jerked once, twice, three times.

            “Ted… get…way….”

            “– ooooooove!”

            Ted moved to touch his shoulder but hesitated when Anderson shouted.

            “Teddy!”

            Anderson started thrashing in his sleep.  Not wanting to startle him, Ted reached out and rubbed his face.

            “It’s okay, Anderson. It’s just a dream.”

            “Oh…Teddy….”

            Ted smiled to himself. Anderson was calming down. His lips were pursed, and his hair was sweaty against his forehead, but his breathing had slowed.

            “It’s just a nightmare. I’m right here,” Ted whispered gently.

            Anderson was caught in the twilight, halfway between wakefulness and dreams.

            “… the storm….”

            “There is no storm, Anderson. It’s a nightmare. Okay?”

            “…kay….”

            Anderson rolled over in bed toward the reassuring voice and placed a hand on Ted’s chest. Ted took the hand and kissed his knuckles, then his fingers, the open palm and then put it on his own face as if he could absorb the talent and know-how, the brilliance that it took to do what Anderson did.  Ted marveled at the softness of it, the warmth and tenderness, and was moved. Carefully, he got out of bed and disappeared through the door, only to return carrying his sketchpad.  Anderson stirred again, and the blankets slid down Anderson’s body to where they just covered his hips. He was on his side, snuggled deep into a pillow, his mouth partly open.  Ted sat in the wingback chair opposite the bed. Moonlight streamed through the window bathing the scene in silver light. He turned on the dim side table lamp to add shadows and definition to Anderson’s sleeping form. With one eye—his right eye now completely swollen shut– with a bruised hand, he sketched the sleeping form furiously. He worked, inhaling deeply over and over again as adrenaline rushed through his body and down his arm to his fingers.

            He paid attention to the curve of Anderson’s shoulder, the slope of his arm resting on the mattress where Ted had lain just moments before, the gentle slope of his side as it dipped down toward his hips, and the cleft of his buttocks. He painstakingly captured the slight openness of his mouth, the tender eyelashes, his chin jutted out defiantly in his sleep, and the curls spilling over his pillow.

            When he was done, he wiped sweat from his forehead with the back of his aching drawing hand and smiled softly at the man who was in his bed.

 Outside, the wind picked up and the night called out its lonesome song of crickets and the rustle of trees. He had the window open and watched as the curtains sucked to the screen, suddenly billowed outward as the breeze shifted direction, and assailed the room with the fragrance of coming rain.  With that change of direction in the wind, Ted had a realization that made his heart hammer slowly and deliberate.  As his body relaxed, cooled by the breeze and lonesome for the comforting warmth of another person, and the bed became more and more attractive to him, he said aloud something only he and the night heard.

            “I’m falling in love with you.”

            Anderson murmured in his sleep and rolled over on his back, throwing his hand above him before settling down. His chest was bare, and Ted reached out to stroke it.  He knew his drawing was good. Yet he lamented silently that no matter how good a work of art could be, it was a mere reflection of the realness of the man. His silky skin.  The way he smelled. The observer would not understand the tone of voice nor the mind that lay dormant beneath closed eyelids.  In a way that made Ted sad, but then again, it also made him happy in the place where he kept his jealousy bone. That place that was always tender to the touch, easily made sore.

His eyes—or rather, his eye—was getting droopy and he wrote a title above the drawing before setting it on the floor next to his bed.  He crawled underneath the covers once more and reached for the light to turn it off.  The rain clouds rolled in, and darkness washed over the room. He wrapped an arm around Anderson, who turned turn his back to him.  Easy, as not to disturb him too much, he pulled, and Anderson scooted back until his ass was flush to Ted’s groin, which twitched its appreciation. The night sang, and the rain began to fall. Mr. Jefferson leaped onto the bed. As Ted closed his eyes, he felt the cat curl up at his feet, and with a slight smile tugging at his lips, he bid farewell to the day.

Amazon eBook: https://www.amazon.com/When-Heaven-Strikes-F-E-Feeley-ebook/dp/B07452W7HK/

Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/When-Heaven-Strikes-F-E-Feeley/dp/1521910529/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

F.E. Feeley Jr was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and lived there for twenty years before joining the military. He is a veteran of the US Armed Services; having done a tour in support of Operation Iraq Freedom in 2002-2003, he turned college student, pursuing a degree in political science. He now lives in Southeast Texas where he is married to the love of his life, John, and where they raise their 1½ year old German shepherd, Kaiser.

As a young man, reading took center stage in his life, especially those novels about ghosts, witches, goblins, and all the other things that went bump in the night. His favorite authors include such writers as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice, whose work allowed him to travel to far off places and meet fascinating and scary characters. As a gay man, he wishes to be able to write good fictional literature for those who love the genre and to write characters that readers can relate to. All in all, he is a cigarette smokin’, whiskey drinkin’, rock and roll lovin’, tattoo wearin’ dreamer of a man with a wonderful husband who puts up with his crap and lets him write his stories.

F. E. Feeley Jr

Author of The Memoirs of the Human Wraiths
Web Coordinator for The Paranormal Romance Guild
‘Where the pursuit of extraordinary love, romance, and passion is first and foremost.’
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Filed under Contemporary, Drama, Excerpt, gay, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Religion, Romance

Remembering Charlie Howard (1961-1984)

I came across a rather unpleasant editorial by a member of the clergy in Britain this morning.  I don’t intend to name him, since I am tired of giving free publicity to these people (though I did comment on the article directly on Facebook), but his point was that Christians who oppose same-sex marriage are as brave as gays who came out in the 1970s.

It’s a common fantasy—the persecuted Christians under constant siege by the liberal media and government, merely for professing the Word of God.  It ignores the fact that the majority of people who support same-sex marriage are, in fact, Christian.  And not all of them are liberals.  But apparently, the fact that they don’t think there is a conflict between their faith and granting gay men and women equality under the law somehow excludes them from the community of “true Christians.”

I could go on at great length about my disgust with those who use their religion as justification for treating others as lesser citizens, but instead I’m going to focus on his assertion that he and his ilk are as brave as those who came out in the 70s.  I came out in the early 80s, just a few years later, and I have a fairly good recollection of the way things were back then.

I’ve written about my personal experiences being gay in New Hampshire in the 1980s.  My primary problem was loneliness and isolation, rather than outright persecution.  I’ve never been beaten up for being gay.  In that, I consider myself very lucky.

But let me tell you a story….

It happened the year I came out—1984.  And it happened in Bangor, Maine, the town I was born in.

Charlie was 23 years old, just four years older than I was.  I was nineteen at the time, living in Keene, NH.  My boyfriend was twenty-four, which made him older than Charlie.  We didn’t know him.  He was originally from Portsmouth, NH, just a half hour down the road from my house now, but the last year of his life was spent in Bangor, which is about 4.5 hours drive from Keene.  My grandparents still lived just outside of Bangor at the time.

Charlie was out.  Not just out to immediate friends and family, but still closeted at work and around town, as many of us were.  He was flamboyantly gay and often wore makeup and women’s jewelry and other accessories.  He had friends in the area and had found a local Unitarian Universalist church that supported him.  He’d just taken an apartment on First Street and adopted a kitten.

Charlie also had asthma.  Remember that.  It comes up later.

He was frequently harassed by local high school kids, and adults in the area didn’t behave much better toward him.  He was ousted from a club for dancing with a man and one day a woman started shouting “pervert” and “queer” at him in a market.  One day he walked out of his apartment to find his kitten strangled on the doorstep.

Then one night around 10 p.m.,  he was walking the post office with a friend and a car with five teenagers started following them.  The teenagers were apparently on their way to buy alcohol with a fake ID one of the two girls in the car had.  Charlie had had run-ins with the boys in the car in the past, so he began to run.  The three boys jumped out of the car and chased after him, shouting epithets at him.

Then Charlie had an asthma attack.  He fell near or on the bridge that crossed the Kenduskeag River and couldn’t catch his breath, while the boys descended upon him, kicking him and beating him.  According to the wikipedia article:

Jim Baines shouted to throw Charlie over the bridge and grabbed him by the legs. Jim Baines and Daniel Ness grabbed Charlie and they began lifting him. Pleading for his life, Charlie grabbed the rail and begged them not to throw him in the river as he could not swim. Prying his hand loose, they began to pitch him over the rail, with Shawn Mabry giving the final push.

The river wasn’t deep—only about three feet—but due to the asthma attack he was having and the fact that he couldn’t swim, Charlie Howard drowned that night, on July 7th, 1984.  His friend escaped from the teens and pulled a fire alarm, which brought the police and fire department.

Charlie’s body was recovered about three hours later.

The teenagers returned to the party they’d been at and bragged about what they’d done.  It’s probably true that they didn’t know the full extent of it, that they’d thought he would swim to safety.  They found out the next morning that they’d killed a man and one of them turned himself over to the police.  The other two were arrested at their homes.

As I said earlier, this didn’t happen to me.  But I came out at a time when it could have happened to me or anyone else I knew.  My boyfriend, Michael, was billy-clubbed in the stomach at a Pride march and later had to jump out a second story window when the gay bar he was DJ-ing in was smoke-bombed.

We didn’t feel safe, because we weren’t safe.  Don’t forget that Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone were gunned down just six years prior to this, when I was in high school.  The danger to gay men and women in the 70s and 80s felt very real to us.  And it was.

Christians make up 70 to 80 percent of the people in this country, and although it is now unpopular to express opposition to gay rights, that is a recent development.  And to the best of my knowledge, nobody has been murdered or beaten up for it.  Oh, sure, they might be called names.  But that’s the way Free Speech works—you can say anything you like, but that means other people can say anything they like right back at you.  Also, the law says that in the public sphere, everyone has to be treated equally.  So if a business person decides they don’t want to allow a black person, or a gay person, or a Jewish person to stay in their hotel or buy things in their store… well, guess what?  That’s illegal.  That person can be sued.

Darn.

So I don’t want to hear it, if some jackass whines that he should have the right to insult people without anyone insulting him back, or discriminate against people in a place of business without the law coming down on him, all because he has “religious convictions.”  He doesn’t know what it’s like to really feel threatened by the community he lives in.

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Filed under gay, Gay Marriage, Life, Religion

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013

2013 2Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an event designed to get people to rally together in this ongoing fight.

To that end, I’m participating in the 2013 Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in which almost 200 authors, publishers, reviewers, and cover designers of LGBTQ literature promote awareness of discrimination against the LGBTQ community on their blogs.

Each blog is also contributing a prize.  My prize, for one lucky person who leaves a comment on this blog, is a free copy—either digital or a signed paperback, your choice!—of my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels, about a small New England community reeling from the suicide of a young gay teenager… who happened to be the son of a prominent fundamentalist pastor in town.

This novel is loosely based upon my own experiences as a teenager in a fundamentalist community.  I came into this community late, though already devoutly Christian.  When my parents had been married, we lived in the small town of Gorham, NH, where much of my life revolved around the church—I believe our church, if I read Google maps correctly, was the United Church of Christ—including Sunday services, Sunday school, after school Bible study, church socials, church potlucks (with more Jell-O salad than you could shake a stick at), and church-run Easter egg hunts in the park.  For a short time, one of my best friends was the pastor’s daughter.

According to Wikipedia, that church is a fairly socially liberal Protestant church these days (not to be confused with other similarly named churches), which might explain why I managed to grow up very liberal.  But this was the seventies, and the community was still pretty conservative about some things.  When my mother divorced my father, she wasn’t treated particularly well and ended up withdrawing from the church, as a result.  But I held onto my faith, reading the Bible on my own.  Not all the time, mind you, but now and then—especially during the holidays.

Then puberty struck.  It took two weeks—literally—for me to go from “It feels good when I rub this!” to “My God!  How do I get rid of this mess!”  And although I was confused for a while by crushes on both boys and girls, I have no recollection of ever feeling the slightest bit of arousal when looking at girls.  But I have a very distinct memory of watching a male friend undress in our living room after swimming.  We were eleven and I thought he was utterly fascinating.

Still, I didn’t know I was gay.  I thought the attraction to girls would come eventually.  And I knew that the Bible said homosexuality was an abomination.  Since I was still a good Christian, I was convinced that I couldn’t actually be homosexual.  It had to be something I was just being afflicted with for a while—like bronchitis.  It couldn’t be helping of course that, when I was aroused, I would write out my fantasies on paper, or sketch naked boys.  I kept destroying these, convinced I could swear off my homosexual tendencies, go cold turkey, but then I’d just end up creating more.

When I was sixteen, I moved out to New Mexico to live with my father for a year.  Unlike my mother, he’d stayed with the church and was now attending the considerably less liberal Assembly of God church in Truth or Consequences.   I had no problem settling into this church, primarily I think because certain topics never came up.  Nobody ever talked about homosexuality—the gay rights movement hadn’t really come to small-town America yet.  Nobody talked about Evolution.  (I had no idea I was supposed to be against it.)

Then we moved to Texas.  The Assembly of God church there was great!  The kids in the high school were mostly horrible to me and the teachers weren’t much better (with the exception of a wonderful English teacher who did a lot to encourage my writing), so the teenagers in the church seemed particularly nice.  The pastor was a woman (surprising in and of itself, back then) and she was incredibly funny and charismatic.  She even let me come in to practice on the piano during weekdays.

Then there was the anti-gay sermon.  This hit me completely out of the blue.  One minute, I practically idolized this woman and the next, she was breathing fire about homosexuals.  I was still in denial about my own homosexuality, despite having fallen in love with my best friend in New Mexico (he figured it out before I did), and I’d convinced myself that I was just being tested with these feelings. I was being given a challenge to overcome by God (because He was apparently a sadist).  But there was nothing in this sermon about some of us might have to contend with these feelings, or why God would allow some of us to be afflicted with this thing.  There was no sense that any good Christian could possibly experience homosexual feelings.  It was them, the outsiders.  They were against God and therefore prone to evils like homosexuality.

I was shocked to my core.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I belonged to my church.  For seventeen years, I’d felt close to God and Jesus, but suddenly I was the enemy.  I was a sick pervert.  And there was no hope for me.  God hated me.

All of this happened so long ago, it’s difficult to even recall now how much of an affect this woman’s hatred of homosexuals had on me.  We moved away from Texas soon after that and I returned to New Hampshire to live with my mother again.  I think that probably saved me.  As it was, I spiraled into a depression for next year, searching desperately for answers in the Bible, but there were none there.  It was probably a good thing that I didn’t have access to anything from the ex-gay movement (which may not have even started yet), or I might have jumped on board.  I’d already been trying some of the tactics they’d later employ—psychoanalyzing my childhood in an attempt to find out what made me this way, trying to remain pure and “pray away the gay,” trying to condition myself to find naked pictures of women arousing.  Celibacy, which many ex-gay organizations now claim is the best answer, was something I knew I could never do.  I was eighteen by then and feeling isolated and alone.  The thought of never finding someone I could be with romantically frightened me more than God turning His back on me!

It got to the point where I was coming home from school every day and literally rushing to my room before the tears could hit.  My mother noticed and tried to help, but I didn’t feel I could talk to her.  In the end, it was coming out—first to a family friend and then to her—and finding love and acceptance there, that saved me.  Within a couple years, I was no longer Christian.  My faith had turned it’s back on me and, in order to survive, I’d had to turn my back on it.

By That Sin Fell the Angels Looking back now, I realize I had it easy.  I wrote By That Sin Fell the Angels as a way of reconciling old conflicts still lingering in my psyche from these years, but since then I’ve spoken to others who were much more immersed in Evangelical fundamentalism than I’d been and whose families turned on them.  I was lucky that my mother didn’t turn on me.  Would my father have cast me out?  I like to think not.  He is still as religious as ever, but he tells me all the time about the nice gay couple who live down the road and have just adopted a child.  He seems very happy for them.

If I’d known certain people back then—my mother’s second husband, a Baptist minister who strongly supports the LGBTQ community, a friend who came out as an Episcopal priest and found support within his congregation, many other good Christian people I know—I might have been able to retain my faith.  But I have explored many religious paths since then and I no longer believe that there is only one valid one.  I have no desire to go back.

To view other blog posts on this  hop, click the link below (here’s hoping it works!) or click here to go back to the blog hop page!

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Religion

Release Day!

And here it is, at long last:  By That Sin Fell the Angels has officially been released today!

Itineris Press, the best in quality GLBT faith-based fiction, is proud to offer By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden.

It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart. 
At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

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Filed under Drama, Psychological Drama, Religion, Writing

“By That Sin Fell the Angels” will be out on August 29th!

By That Sin Fell the Angels

Edits are basically finished on my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels.  I have the final galley proof in my hands and I’m going over it for minor errors before it gets sent to press.  That has to be turned in by Tuesday.

And then the finished novel will be released on August 29th!

It’s already up on Dreamspinner’s Coming Soon page.

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New Cover Design for “By That Sin Fell the Angels”!

Cover art by Paul Richmond

I’ve just received the cover art for my new novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels (coming out at the end of August), and I think it’s absolutely beautiful!

The painting is by Paul Richmond, who also did the cover art for my first novella, The Christmas Wager.  He’s extremely talented.  He told me that this image was inspired by the scene in my novel where Daniel strips naked and stands on the railing of the bridge, looking down at the train barreling underneath him as he contemplates jumping.  I had been insistent about doing something with an angel motif (Duh!) and Paul found a way of working that in by suggesting the shape of a wing in the clouds.

I love it!

Incidentally, I had the privilege of spending an evening with Paul and two other cover artists, Catt Ford (who did the covers for We’re Both Straight, Right?, The Dogs of Cyberwar, and Saturn in Retrograde) and Shobana Appavu at the drag club, Lips, in NYC this spring.  We were with fellow authors Jonathan Treadway and M.D. Grimm.  (I think that was everybody.)  What an amazing night!

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Filed under Christmas, Drama, Religion, Victorian, Writing

“By That Sin Fell the Angels” is now in editing!

It’s surprising how addictive editing can be.  Just knowing that what you’re working on is being polished up for print in a few weeks is a huge rush.  It can be frustrating at the same time, if you’re trying to actually write something new at the same time you’re working on your edits — especially if the two manuscripts are completely different in tone — but I still love it!

So even though I’ve been frantically working on book two of my YA fantasy trilogy (Dreams of Fire and Gods — don’t ask me what the subtitle for this one is yet), I’ve still been jonesing to get back to editing…something!  Anything!

My publisher had been tossing various forms at me to fill out for By That Sin Fell the Angels:  the cover art form, the  blurb form, the dedications….  Those are all set (though I have yet to see any designs for the cover — I can’t wait!).

Incidentally, here’s the blurb:

It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

 Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open for the devil—and for a second tragedy to follow.

So I just received the first edits and now I have to approve them or reject them (with an explanation for why I don’t like them) and add any of my own (with review tracking turned on in Word, so the editor can accept or reject my suggestions).  Then I have to send it back by Tuesday.  Usually we go back and forth about three times before the final galley proof is sent to me.

The novel should be coming out at the end of August!

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Filed under Drama, Fantasy, Religion, Writing, Young Adult