Category Archives: Victorian

“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.

 

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

New trailer for “Gothika #1: Stitch” coming this April!

This is a trailer I created for a gay Gothic romance anthology called Gothika #1: Stitch. In addition to my story, called Watchworks, the anthology also contains stories by Eli Easton, Sue Brown, and Kim Fielding.

It will be released in April 2014.

The music for this video was written by Jamie Fessenden (me), and all of the images are, to the best of my knowledge, public domain or purchased stock photos.

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Filed under Book Trailer, gay, Historical, horror, New Release, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, SciFi, Victorian

Finalists in the Rainbow Awards!

FinalistSMBoth Billy’s Bones and By That Sin Fell the Angels are finalists in the Rainbow Awards this year!  My YA fantasy novel, Dreams, also made the cut!

Unfortunately, we won’t find out who won until December, and the competition is steep.  Click on the image to see the other finalists!  I’m honored to be included among them.

In other news, I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my college romance Screw-Ups!

I’ve also submitted a steampunk novella called The Watchwork Man for an anthology, finished round two of edits on my Christmas story (The Healing Power of Eggnog) for the Dreamspinner 2013 Advent Calendar, and I have part three of the Dreams of Fire and Gods YA trilogy (Gods) coming out on October 17th!

It’s been a busy two weeks.

The Dogs of Cyberwar

The Dogs of Cyberwar

I now find myself without a deadline for the first time since the summer began.  So I’ll need to set some new ones.  I’ve been re-reading what I’ve written for A Mote in the Eye — part two of the B.A.L.O.R. Cycle, my cyberpunk trilogy which began with The Dogs of Cyberwar.  I’ve been promising to finish that forever, but other deadlines kept interfering.  I’m liking what I’m reading, so I’m setting myself a deadline of October 31st to have at least A Mote in the Eye finished and the third section started.  The story is, in my humble opinion, just too good to let it languish unread forever.

I’m also hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  I have a murder mystery in my head that takes place on Mount Washington.

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Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Drama, Fantasy, gay, Historical, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Romance, SciFi, Victorian, Writing, Young Adult

Final Cover Design for Murderous Requiem!

MurderousRequieum_ORIGI just received the finalized design of the cover for Murderous Requiem!

This was created by Brooke Albrecht, whom I’ve never worked with before, but the design came out beautiful and I love it!

We don’t have a firm release date for the novel yet, but I’m told it might be some time in April.

EDIT:  The cover design was just modified slightly, so I’ve uploaded it again.  Originally, the characters in the center spelled out the Tibetan prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, but that wasn’t really appropriate to a story about ceremonial magicians.  So it was replaced with Enochian letters, which is the magical language the characters work with in the novel.  The letters spell out the word Requiem.

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Filed under Cover, Drama, gay, horror, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian, Writing

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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Just Under the Wire!

Just ten hours before the deadline, I’ve submitted my time-travel story to Dreamspinner Press!

Well, okay, the deadline is March 15th, which most likely means they’d accept submissions tomorrow.  (So, if you’re interested, write fast!)  I actually finished the story last week, but it needed some readers to look it over.  I spent the afternoon with my husband, Erich, and my best friend, Claire, going over the jumbled time-travel “science” in the novella.  I’m not completely clueless about science.  I’ve been known to read physics and chemistry books for fun.  But I admit that quantum mechanics baffles me.  Erich and Claire know at least a bit more about it than I do, and Claire has worked in a scientific laboratory.  (I forget what she did, but at least part of it involved trained monkeys.  And no, they weren’t hurting them.)

Once the science was made to sound more plausible and a few other details added, I think the story came out pretty good.  This is the summary I sent in my query letter:

Joshua Bannon has idolized the renowned physicist, Patrick Riley, ever since coming across a picture of the man in a high school physics text book.  Now that he has his doctorate in quantum physics research, Joshua is delighted to land a job working with Patrick and his assistant, Max, at the Eloi Institute.  But when things begin to heat up romantically between him and Patrick, the older man balks at the twenty-five year difference in their ages.  A serious bout of the flu breaks through Patrick’s reticence and throws the two of them together, at last, as well as providing the breakthrough they’ve been needing to turn time fluctuations into actual time travel.

But as the work on the time machine (affectionally dubbed “Saturn”) progresses, the relationship between Joshua and Patrick begins to unravel, until Joshua is forced to make a decision which will affect all of their futures…and their pasts.

Incidentally, the story is called Saturn in Retrograde

This isn’t the best query letter I’ve ever written, I’m afraid.  I find the last sentence both a bit cliche and awkward.  My synopsis was also far from perfect — I always write them too long.  But I was in a hurry, and I have a relationship with this publisher, so I’m hoping they’ll overlook those details and just read the story for what it is. 

Kids, do not try this at home!  Your query letters and synopses should always be as close to perfect as you can get them.  An editor who doesn’t know  you will chuck that baby right in the trash bin, if it isn’t up to snuff!  I can’t stress that enough. 

And don’t hit your little brother!

My God, I’m such a bad influence….

 

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Revisiting werewolves

When I was a teenager, and then later in college, I had a huge thing for werewolves and vampires.

Unfortunately, two things happened.  The first was that Anne Rice came out with Interview With A Vampire and its sequels.  They were good books — especially, The Vampire Lestat — and for a while I was as excited about the vampire revival they spawned as anyone.  But practically overnight, the majority of vampires in literature and movies turned into Lestat and Luis clones, haunted and “sexy” and brooding and going on at tedious length about how their curse means they can never find happiness.  Ugh.

The second thing was that the gaming company, White Wolf, came out with both Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: Apocalypse.  Again, though I enjoyed both games, the first compounded the tortured vampire fad and expanded upon the underground vampire clan idea that Anne Rice had used in her novels.  (I don’t know that she originated it, but I’m not sure who did.)

The latter game expanded on the idea of clans that White Wolf is so fond of and somewhere the idea of a war between vampires and werewolves was introduced — don’t ask me where.  Although Apocalypse never achieved the popularity that Masquerade did, it had an enormous impact on werewolf fiction, to the point where publishers started saying in their submission guidelines, “Please don’t write up your latest RPG adventure and submit it to us as a short story.”

Then the film series Underworld came out, spawning an intellectual property lawsuit by Whitewolf and even more stories of tormented vampires battling werewolf clans, and the inevitable Romeo and Juliet (or Romeo and Julio) takeoffs that came with these motifs.

I’m not saying that, in the hands of a good writer, these themes can’t be done in interesting ways and make for excellent reading, so if you’re writing stories along these lines, more power to you!  But I miss the days when vampires were truly undead monsters and werewolves were solitary.  I miss the days when these tales were frightening.  (Don’t even get me started about how Hollywood has turned horror films  into boring parodies of themselves).

Anyway, I’ve avoided vampires and werewolves in my stories for years, because of all this.  But recently I’ve decided to dig up a couple old short stories that never found publishers (not that I tried very hard) and a short screenplay that was never filmed.  I’m turning the screenplay into a short story, and since the other two short stories feature a common central character, I’m thinking of adding a third story to those and making a triptych.  I’m not sure what to do with the short story that will come out of the screenplay.  Its characters have nothing to do with the other two stories.  I could put them all together in a collection, of course, but I think I’d still need at least one more story.  If I had two stories about two characters, then a third with different characters, people would be baffled, wondering if it was going to tie in somehow.

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