Tag Archives: Christmas

“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 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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What I’ve been up to lately

008Things have been pretty quiet on both my adult blog (https://jamiefessenden.com/) and my YA blog (http://jameserich.com/) over the past few months, so perhaps it’s time to let people know what I’ve got going on.

So I did have a novel (Violated) come out in the fall, and it did pretty well. It’s pretty dark, and the resolution — while happy — isn’t the big catharsis a lot of readers hoped for, simply because my goal was realism. A story like this isn’t resolved by an epic bout of sobbing in your lover’s arms. Ever. Derek and Russ find the best possible, realistic happily-ever-after for them.

At Christmas time, I was delighted to be offered the chance to do a Christmas story on the WROTE Podcast — one of twelve stories representing the twelve days of Christmas in the carol. I hadn’t had time to get out any of the Christmas stories I was working on (I have one contemporary novella in the works, a free holiday story that revolves around the characters in the Dreams of Fire and Gods series, and a re-write of a previously published novella), so this was a great opportunity. I’m delighted with how the story came out, and Brad Vance‘s wonderful narration! All of the stories are terrific, so if you’re still in the mood for Christmas….

Brad also conducted a great interview of me, aided by my friend, Scott Coatsworth, if you’re interested.

Moving forward, I’m currently working on a novella about alien abduction for the next Gothika anthology (see previous installments: Stitch, Bones, Claw, and Spirit). Eli Easton, who originated the series (I helped a little), won’t be joining us on this installment. The authors participating in this issue are Kim Fielding, BG Thomas, FE Feeley Jr., and myself.

As far as which novels I’m working on goes, I’m having a little trouble with that one. I have several in the works. My YA novel Martian Born, a novel about a spy in the Soviet Union during the cold war (currently called Chimera), and a novelization of the Jomsviking Saga, about a fortress full of Vikings in the tenth century. I’m also tentatively working on an untitled novel about “cavemen” (what we used to call Cro-Magnon Man, but is now referred to as “Early Modern Humans” or “Anatomically Modern Humans,” because they are physically no different from us).

This probably sounds like I need to focus, and that would be correct. Martian Born is closest to being finished, but it’s intended for the mainstream science fiction market. This means a long, tedious process of sending queries to agents — most likely over a year or two, if not longer — because mainstream publishers, by and large, no longer accept submissions directly from authors. So while I do want to get that process moving, I’m also looking at getting other novels out more quickly.

This probably means I’ll either finish up Chimera or The Vikings of Jomsborg. But both still have a lot of work to do on them.

In the meantime, I have two stories that will be coming out soon. One is actually the first part of Chimera, presented as a short story called Train to Sevmash. This will be part of an anthology published by DSP Publications. I wrote the story first, then got permission from the editor of the anthology to expand it into a novel.

The second story is in an anthology put together by BG Thomas called A More Perfect Union — a collection of stories about same-sex marriage written by gay men who are actually married. My story, Destined, is a fictionalized account of how I met my husband and how we created our life together. The characters aren’t exactly me and Erich, but the events are largely true.

This has gotten lengthy, and I haven’t even touched on other projects I’ve been working on, such as finishing the Dogs of Cyberwar trilogy (I’m nearly done the second novella (A Mote in the Eye), but my publisher wants the third, before we move ahead), the samurai tale I’ve been adapting (Shinosuke), and the sequel to Murder on the Mountain, which is in the plotting stages (murder mysteries take a lot of plotting).

Yes, I’m a bit over-extended. But it’s my fault — ideas keep popping into my head. I just need to focus and prioritize.

In the meantime, I have the re-release of my first novel, Murderous Requiem, available for pre-order on DSP Publications. It will be released on March 22nd. This edition isn’t enormously different from the first, but I did go through and tighten things a bit, as well as clarify some of the confusing sexual issues in the novel. The story centers around an occult order in what is basically a “free love” commune, so all of the characters are in open relationships. This upsets some readers, who regard it as “cheating.” I do not. I wrote it for my friends who are involved in open or polyamorous relationships where everything is up front and honest, and everyone’s feelings are taken into account.

But that isn’t actually what the novel is about, anyway. It’s about an ancient manuscript containing a requiem mass that, when performed, may cause death… or possibly may resurrect the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mrs. Sutherland’s Eggnog Recipe – Redux

I posted this last Christmas, but I love the recipe, so I figured I’d post it again this year.

My story The Healing Power of Eggnog deals with a family torn apart by the mishandling of their son Will’s coming out, and their attempts to patch things up years later.  Will’s mother, Mrs. Sutherland, always does Christmas up big, with homemade cookies, cakes, pies, and everything else imaginable.  And of course, she always makes up a batch of quite potent eggnog.

eggnogAs much as she loves eggnog made with raw eggs, she really prefers it to be cooked.  We tend to associate cooked eggnog with the thick, syrupy eggnog bought in stores, but homemade eggnog isn’t nearly as heavy, and its sweetness can be controlled by the chef.  At it’s heart, it’s a custard, made from egg yolks, milk, and sugar—but drinkable!

You can cook this in a heavy saucepan directly on the burner, but I prefer a double boiler, or placing the saucepan in a slightly larger pan with inch or so of water in it.  This distributes the heat of the burner better, so you don’t have a hot spot where the nog starts to burn before it’s cooked.

Ingredients:

12 egg yolks
1 quart (4 cups) milk or 2 cups milk and 2 cups whipping cream
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups sugar , depending on your sweet tooth
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (2, as might be expected, gives it a strong vanilla flavor)
nutmeg

Alcohol:

1/2 cup golden rum
1/2 cup bourbon (Southern Comfort)

Prepare a large pan or bowl of cold water you can set the pan you’re cooking into, when the eggnog is done on the stove.

Separate the egg yolks and place them in the double boiler, along with the sugar.  Whisk this together.  Then add 2 cups of the milk.  The tricky part about cooked eggnog is that it has to be stirred or whisked constantly while you bring the temperature up to the point where the hot custard coats the spoon, but not beyond.  This takes fifteen or twenty minutes, but you really just have to keep a close eye on it.  If you cook it too long, the egg starts to separate out of the liquid and this gives it a grainy feel.  It also works to use a cooking thermometer.  In that case, cook until the temperature reaches 160 degrees.  If necessary, you can strain it to remove any large bits of cooked egg.

Immediately mix in the remaining milk or whipping cream, and then set the pan into the bowl of cold water. Continue stirring until the eggnog is cool.  Add the vanilla extract and sprinkle in nutmeg to taste.

Alcohol:  The alcohol mix is an art form.  A good basic mix is half rum and half bourbon (Southern Comfort), which produces a mellower mix than just plain rum.  Using Irish whiskey in place of the Southern Comfort is a little more harsh, and of course a good scotch adds a distinctive—and strong—flavor.  Mrs. Sutherland also likes to add a splash of cognac, but not a lot.  Overall, a cup of alcohol mixed into four cups of eggnog produces a mix with a bit of a bite, but not so much alcohol that the eggnog is overwhelmed by it.  But of course that’s a matter of taste.

900x1350_TheHealingPowerofEggnog-FSThe Healing Power of Eggnog

Will Sutherland hasn’t been home to see his parents in four years—not since they reacted badly when he came out. This Christmas, he’s finally worked up the courage to go home, where he’s surprised to find they’ve taken in a boarder. Ryan Bennett is just a couple years younger than Will, cute, sweet… and openly gay. 

As Will deals with his jealousy of the man who’s been receiving the love and acceptance he was denied, Ryan finds himself falling for Will’s brooding good looks. But Ryan also suspects the Sutherlands may be using him as a pawn in their long-standing conflict with their son. Will this Christmas finally tear the family apart, or is there a chance they can put their hurt and anger behind them? 

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Advent Calendar package “Heartwarming”.

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Mrs. Sutherland’s recipe for eggnog

My story The Healing Power of Eggnog deals with a family torn apart by the mishandling of their son Will’s coming out, and their attempts to patch things up years later.  Will’s mother, Mrs. Sutherland, always does Christmas up big, with homemade cookies, cakes, pies, and everything else imaginable.  And of course, she always makes up a batch of quite potent eggnog.

eggnogAs much as she loves eggnog made with raw eggs, she really prefers it to be cooked.  We tend to associate cooked eggnog with the thick, syrupy eggnog bought in stores, but homemade eggnog isn’t nearly as heavy, and its sweetness can be controlled by the chef.  At it’s heart, it’s a custard, made from egg yolks, milk, and sugar—but drinkable!

You can cook this in a heavy saucepan directly on the burner, but I prefer a double boiler, or placing the saucepan in a slightly larger pan with inch or so of water in it.  This distributes the heat of the burner better, so you don’t have a hot spot where the nog starts to burn before it’s cooked.

Ingredients:

12 egg yolks
1 quart (4 cups) milk or 2 cups milk and 2 cups whipping cream
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups sugar , depending on your sweet tooth
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (2, as might be expected, gives it a strong vanilla flavor)
nutmeg

Alcohol:

1/2 cup golden rum
1/2 cup bourbon (Southern Comfort)

Prepare a large pan or bowl of cold water you can set the pan you’re cooking into, when the eggnog is done on the stove.

Separate the egg yolks and place them in the double boiler, along with the sugar.  Whisk this together.  Then add 2 cups of the milk.  The tricky part about cooked eggnog is that it has to be stirred or whisked constantly while you bring the temperature up to the point where the hot custard coats the spoon, but not beyond.  This takes fifteen or twenty minutes, but you really just have to keep a close eye on it.  If you cook it too long, the egg starts to separate out of the liquid and this gives it a grainy feel.  It also works to use a cooking thermometer.  In that case, cook until the temperature reaches 160 degrees.  If necessary, you can strain it to remove any large bits of cooked egg.

Immediately mix in the remaining milk or whipping cream, and then set the pan into the bowl of cold water. Continue stirring until the eggnog is cool.  Add the vanilla extract and sprinkle in nutmeg to taste.

Alcohol:  The alcohol mix is an art form.  A good basic mix is half rum and half bourbon (Southern Comfort), which produces a mellower mix than just plain rum.  Using Irish whiskey in place of the Southern Comfort is a little more harsh, and of course a good scotch adds a distinctive—and strong—flavor.  Mrs. Sutherland also likes to add a splash of cognac, but not a lot.  Overall, a cup of alcohol mixed into four cups of eggnog produces a mix with a bit of a bite, but not so much alcohol that the eggnog is overwhelmed by it.  But of course that’s a matter of taste.

900x1350_TheHealingPowerofEggnog-FSThe Healing Power of Eggnog

Will Sutherland hasn’t been home to see his parents in four years—not since they reacted badly when he came out. This Christmas, he’s finally worked up the courage to go home, where he’s surprised to find they’ve taken in a boarder. Ryan Bennett is just a couple years younger than Will, cute, sweet… and openly gay. 

As Will deals with his jealousy of the man who’s been receiving the love and acceptance he was denied, Ryan finds himself falling for Will’s brooding good looks. But Ryan also suspects the Sutherlands may be using him as a pawn in their long-standing conflict with their son. Will this Christmas finally tear the family apart, or is there a chance they can put their hurt and anger behind them? 

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Advent Calendar package “Heartwarming”.

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“The Healing Power of Eggnog” is out!

900x1350_TheHealingPowerofEggnog-FSMy Christmas novella The Healing Power of Eggnog has been released today!

Here’s the blurb:

Will Sutherland hasn’t been home to see his parents in four years—not since they reacted badly when he came out. This Christmas, he’s finally worked up the courage to go home, where he’s surprised to find they’ve taken in a boarder. Ryan Bennett is just a couple years younger than Will, cute, sweet… and openly gay. 

As Will deals with his jealousy of the man who’s been receiving the love and acceptance he was denied, Ryan finds himself falling for Will’s brooding good looks. But Ryan also suspects the Sutherlands may be using him as a pawn in their long-standing conflict with their son. Will this Christmas finally tear the family apart, or is there a chance they can put their hurt and anger behind them? 

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Advent Calendar package “Heartwarming”.

I set this story in Plainfield, VT, where my first boyfriend lived for a while, when he was attending Goddard College.  Though the title may sound like it’s a humorous story, it’s a bit more serious than that, dealing with a family trying to heal old wounds.

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The first draft of my Christmas submission is done!

christmas20wallpaper.jpgI finally finished the first draft of my submission for Dreamspinner’s 2013 Advent Calendar!  Tomorrow, I’ll polish it up, based on some criticism from Eli Easton, who was kind enough to beta read it when it wasn’t even quite done yet.

I think it’s a good story, though it’s a bit long for the submission requirements, and I doubt I’ll be able to trim it much.  Sometimes they’re willing to accept longer submissions, if they really like them.  We’ll see how that goes.

Another possibility is that they may like it enough to publish for Christmas, but not as part of the Advent Calendar.  This has good points and bad points.  Generally, the Advent Calendar gets more attention from readers and reviewers.  But on the other hand, a separate novella gets its own cover.

I have to pick out a title tomorrow.  Right now it’s called Christmas in Vermont, which is pretty dull.  Hopefully, I’ll come up with something better.

 

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