Tag Archives: romance

“Train to Sevmash” is now available! For FREE!

77When I was approached to contribute a story for 7&7: A DSP Publications Anthology of Virtue and Vice, I immediately chose “mercy” as the virtue I wanted to write about. My first idea had to do with a police officer chasing down a criminal, but ultimately choosing to let him go. Unfortunately, the more I thought about that idea, the less I liked it.

But I’d recently found a tutor to help me brush up on the Russian language, which I’d studied a very long time ago in college, and I’d also just read Ian Fleming’s original novel Casino Royale. Suddenly, it clicked! A secret agent! And he wasn’t trying to capture somebody—he intended to assassinate his target.

Since I’m not British, my secret agent wouldn’t be, either. He’d be American, a former member of the Special Forces. And less upper crust than Bond, with a bit of Mack Bolan and John Clark (from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six) thrown in. Agent Jax Colby. I was setting this in the late 60s, during the Cold War, when the USSR was developing Victor Class nuclear submarines, so that would be the impetus of the agent’s mission.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time studying Soviet naval bases, and determined that the most likely place a submarine of that class would be docked for testing would be Sevmash. (I’d originally picked Murmansk, and I no longer remember why that wasn’t viable.) So how would I get an American spy into a high-security Soviet naval base?

Initially, the story was going to revolve around Colby’s adventures in Sevmash itself, once he’d infiltrated the base. He was there to assassinate an American defector. But a throwaway line I’d written in the first paragraph about how he’d killed an innocent man on the train to steal his identity intrigued me, and I found myself more interested in exploring how that had gone down, so I rewound the timeline to that night.

YuriColby needed a target who had a similar physical description to himself, and who was en route to the location on a fairly long journey, being transferred from another base—Murmansk. It was possible to travel by train between the two bases, but the trip took several days. This, of course, was in the days before information could be transferred easily over the Internet from one city to another, which would work to Colby’s advantage. He would have to have forged papers with his photo, but the Russian’s vital information—internal Soviet travel papers had a stamp across both the photo and the document, so simply replacing the photo would be an arduous task. As long as nobody in Sevmash had seen this man—Yuri Ivanovich Veselov—Colby should be able to get in and out. He just needed to kill Veselov on the train to Sevmash and step into his identity.

The only problem was, in order to kill Veselov, Colby had to get him alone. And that meant getting close to him. And the closer he got, the more Colby would be forced to realize Veselov was not only an innocent in this game, but in many ways a kindred spirit and downright likable.

In fact, he was kind of adorable….

After I finished the short story Train to Sevmash, it was clear to me that I’d just begun to explore these characters and the world they inhabited, so I got permission from DSP Publications to expand the story into a full-length novel (tentatively called Chimera). That’s about half completed now, with the Train to Sevmash story taking up chapters five through seven, and I’m hoping to finish it this summer. Then, perhaps, it will be released next year.

Train in St PetersburgTrain To Sevmash—Jamie Fessenden 

Jax Colby is an American secret agent operating within the Soviet Union in 1967. His assignment is to infiltrate the Sevmash naval shipyard in Severodvinsk in pursuit of an American scientist turned traitor to his country. But in order to do this, he must first kill a naval lieutenant traveling to the base and steal his transfer orders. He homes in on his target on the two-day train ride from Leningrad to Belomorsk.

But there’s one problem. Lt. Yuri Veselov is handsome and friendly. As Colby spends time with him, he begins to like him—and it might be more than friendship. The train draws nearer to Severodvinsk, and Colby grows increasingly reluctant to do what he knows he must—kill Yuri Veselov.

(This story is included in the free anthology 7&7: A DSP Publications Anthology of Virtue and Vice )

Buy Links:

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/77-by-andrea-speed-271-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/7-Andrea-Speed-ebook/dp/B01DRIXN8M

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Filed under 7&7, Drama, gay, Historical, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, Romance, Russian, Writing

Trying my hand at category romance

Main Street in Gorham, NH.

My publisher, Dreamspinner Press, recently came up with the idea of putting out category romance novels — light, quick reads between fifty and sixty thousand words without much angst or too much sex. Think some of the old (and probably current) Harlequin and Silhouette romance lines. I actually like this idea a lot. It may come as a surprise to many people, but I used to love category romances. Not all the time, certainly. But as a pleasant distraction now and then.

The new Dreamspun Desires line seems to be doing quite well with readers. And now a lot of writers I know are working on books for it.

I’m not normally one to jump on bandwagons, but this particular bandwagon appeals to me. So with that in mind, and knowing full well that my submission will be at the tail end of a lot of other author submissions, I’m going to try my hand at it. No rape, no child abuse, no murder. Just a nice, happy little romance.

I can do this!

My story is tentatively called Small Town Sonata, though I’m not utterly thrilled with that name. It was going to take place in a fictional community called Springhaven, NH. Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered there is a Spring Haven campground or something in NH, so I’ll have to come up with a different name. It’s based upon the town I grew up in, which was a pleasant little community of less than 2,000 people in northern New Hampshire, which goes by the rather unpleasant-sounding name Gorham. The picture at the top of the post is of main street in Gorham, and it looks pretty much like it did when I was a kid there in the 1970s. Parts of it have changed, of course. But that’s why I’m setting my story in a fictional, idealized version of the town, rather than the real one.

The story follows two characters: Dean Cooper and Aiden Clark. (Uh-oh. I just noticed both last names begin with “C.” I might change that….)

Dean is a local handyman. Everyone in town knows him, and most like him. He’s openly gay, but the prospects for a gay man in a town that size are somewhat small. In place of a love life, Dean has the dubious honor of being mothered by a host of elderly women in town. The ladies have taken it upon themselves to organize the annual town fair. Mr. Robinson, who used to conduct the band, passed away two years ago, so the ladies decide it’s up to Dean to continue the tradition this year. Aside from playing clarinet in the band, when it existed, Dean has no idea how he’s going to get everyone back together, especially when confronted by band members moving away and broken instruments that can’t be replaced.

In the meantime, Aiden Clark, who moved away from town when he was a teenager to pursue a career as a concert pianist, is back in town. He’s pleasantly surprised to discover his best friend from high school, Dean, has grown up to be sexy as hell. But the last thing Aiden wants is to get involved with someone. He hasn’t told anyone the reason for his return — that his career as a pianist was ended by an injury to his hands, and he just wants to withdraw from the world for a while. Possibly forever, but rumors has it that the Preszler Law group is helping him get compensation for his injury.

As a blurb, this is awfully wordy and somewhat awkward, but you get the idea. I’m having fun with it. It’s up close to 8,000 words now, and if I can keep up the past I’ve set, I should have it done in four to six weeks.

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Filed under Contemporary, Drama, gay, Jamie Fessenden, Romance, Writing

“Screwups” gets its first review – 5 stars!

My new novel Screwups will be coming out on March 7th, and it’s already received a great 5-star review from Brandilyn at Prism Book Alliance!

Is that enough bolds and highlights?  Maybe I should add a couple more….

“The characters in the dorm are very real. I felt like I was back in college, myself. I was not in an “artistic” dorm, but I was in the “honors” dorm. Many of the characters were taken right from my own past. I had a Paul. I had a Danny and Jake. I wasn’t nearly as cool as Eva, but we can’t have everything. Even though I am not a gay male, I can certainly relate to some of the issues Jake is holding on to from high school. Everyone will find something to which to relate in Screwups, from the weekly D&D game to the Police Box to the characters surrounding the main couple.

. . .

These people aren’t perfect. There are no pretty ribbons and bows. There is no fairytale romance. What there is is slow and real, hurting, misunderstanding, over reacting, groveling, holding, kissing, loving, and hoping.”

Blurb:

In 1996, Jake Stewart is starting his third year at the University of New Hampshire. Even as a successful business major, he is absolutely miserable. Not only is Jake pursuing a field he hates when he’d rather study art, he is utterly terrified of what will happen if his father finds out he’s gay. When he finally gets up the courage to move into the creative arts dorm on campus, his new roommate, Danny, is openly gay—and there’s no denying the attraction between them. 

Danny Sullivan has been out since high school, and he appears comfortable with his sexuality. But something happened in Danny’s past—something that gives him nightmares he refuses to talk about. Unknown to Jake, the way he mistreated his friend, Tom Langois, when Tom came out to him in high school, is mild compared to the way someone very much like Jake treated Danny. 

It may be too late to fix the mess Jake made with Tom, but if Jake wants to be with Danny, he’s going to have to fix the mess made by another closeted jock he’s never even met.

Buy link:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4756

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Filed under College, Contemporary, Drama, gay, New Release, Reviews, Romance

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

Busy, busy, busy

So I confess that I was worried.  When I quite my day job to write full-time, I was concerned that I might slack off.  I know myself.  If I can nap all day, I might just do that.  But although my workday is considerably less hectic than it was in phone support, I’ve discovered that one deadline is almost immediately followed by another in this gig.

There are plenty of writers who write faster than I do.  I talk to people daily who find it easy to churn out 2,000-5,000 words a day, and it’s not because they’re writing crap.  Some are among my favorite authors.

I can’t do that.  I can do 1,000 words a day on average, generally a bit more.  When the spirit moves me, as it did for the final couple weeks of my YA novel, Gods (Book Three of the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy), I can do twice that.  But that’s not a normal writing pace for me.

I’m also a little fuzzy on the whole deadline thing.  Always have been.  I try very hard not to piss off my publisher, but begging an extra day or two is sadly not uncommon.

However, I’ve had a pretty productive summer despite my shortcomings.  I turned in the manuscript for Gods, which turned out to be 66k words long, in mid(-ish) July, and submitted a 20k Christmas novella for the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar on August 1st.  Then I spent a week or so starting a steampunk project for an October deadline (it’s currently at 8.8k), but put that aside to finish a 9.5k story about two men on a business trip for a charity anthology, where they will learn about ichimoku cloud strategy for their business.  In between there have been miscellaneous bouts of editing, blog posts (not counting guest blogs), and other promotional work.  About 30k of Gods was written since going full-time, so I’ll say that’s about 68k written in the past … well, about 86 days.  Which works out to about 790 words per day….

Wait a minute — that sucks!

Oh, wait.  I get to take out 24 days for weekends (there were also some holidays in there).  That brings it to just over 1,000 words a day.

Well, that was all rather pointless then, but at least I can justify not searching through Help Wanted ads for a bit longer.

Anyway…

JakeMy current project is a contemporary (more or less — it takes place in 1996) college romance novel, currently called Second Chances.  Yes, my publisher has already suggested changing the name, since are probably about ten million romances out there with similar names.  It’s not all that descriptive anyway.  It’s just the best I’ve thought of so far.

Anyway, the story concerns a  cute, somewhat jockish redhead named Jake, who resembles the possibly naked young man pictured on the right.  Jake was mentioned in Billy’s Bones, as the high school best friend of Tom Langois.  Tom had had a crush on him and came out to him, only to have Jake freak out and run away.  Tom brooded for a while, walking past his house every afternoon trying to build up the courage to go knock on the door (yes, I did this once, when I’d had an argument with my best friend in high school), until Jake’s father threatened to put a restraining order on him.  (In real life, my friend and I just patched it up and we’re still friends to this day.)

So, back to Jake.  Jake, we learn in this next novel, is gay too.  He’s just closeted, as a result of growing up with a homophobic father and two older brothers who enjoy beating him up.  His family moves away from the area before he can figure out how to patch things up with Tom, and sadly they never see each other again.

DannyBut Jake goes off to college and that’s when, in 1996, he moves into a creative arts dorm at UNH (the dorm I lived in) and becomes roommates with Danny, who resembles the possibly naked young man pictured on the left.

While Jake struggles with the guilt he feels over rejecting the best friend he ever had for being gay, knowing that secretly he was gay too, Danny is dealing with the aftermath of what happened when the jock he was crushing on in high school betrayed him in a rather horrible way.

This story is a bit lighter than Billy’s Bones, though it deals with some similar themes.  That part wasn’t intentional — they just kind of crept in there.  But Jake and Danny are young and living in a dorm with coed bathrooms, marathon D&D sessions in the lounge, and naked pizza parties, so I think it’s a fun, entertaining read.  And God is it nostalgic for me to write!  The years I lived in that dorm were some of the best years of my life.

It’s a bit over half done, since I started it in the spring.  I had to put it aside for the other commitments, but my publisher wants to see it in mid September, so I really have to get cracking!  The first half was so much fun to write, I’m really excited to finally have a chunk of time to finish it.

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Filed under gay, Life, Romance, Writing

Just finished “Billy’s Bones”

I finally finished the contemporary psychological drama I’ve been calling Billy’s Bones (awful, awful title!) and several friends are reading it to tell me if it’s any good.  I’m really not sure.  I like the first half, but it gets very grim in the second half.  Ever read the beginning of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones?  That’s about the level of grim I’m talking about.  To a lesser extent it resembles the revelation of Tom’s repressed memories of “Callanwolde” in The Prince of Tides (considerably toned down in the film version).  Not exactly what most people expect in a romance novel.

I should have seen it coming, of course.  I came up with this plot centered around repressed memories of sexual abuse and murder, and then when I came to the part where the repressed memories begin to surface, I thought, “I could have the character tell the story to his therapist or his lover (who is actually the viewpoint character), but it would be far more dramatic to show it in a flashback!”

Yeah, great idea.

Except that I soon realized that what I was writing was too horrific to describe in any kind of detail.  There’s a reason that I tend to use crimes against children to represent evil in my novels:  I find them absolutely horrifying.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  So there’s a fine line between being boring by not dramatizing it and showing too much by dramatizing it.  It wasn’t my intention to write a horror novel.

So I wrote the scene out, but didn’t go into graphic detail.  We’ll see what my friends say, when they read it.

The other potential problem is that my viewpoint character (Tom) almost disappeared in the last quarter of the novel, as Kevin works with the police to piece things together.  I had to go back and make sure he said something now and then to remind readers that he was still there.  I don’t know if that worked.  We’ll see.

What all of this demonstrates is that I can’t write in a vacuum — at least, not all of the time.  While I’m working on the first draft, I don’t let anyone look at it.  I generally have a sense of whether it’s good or not and I like to think I’m a fairly good storyteller.  At that stage, I don’t want people injecting their opinions.  But as soon as that first draft is done, I lose the confidence I had while writing.  Sometimes my ego is too fragile for criticism for a week or so, as my husband has learned, but fairly soon after the first draft is done, I need feedback to tell me if the story came out any good or if it should be scrapped.

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Filed under Drama, gay, Mystery, Psychological Drama, Romance, Writing

“Murderous Requiem” has been contracted!

Murderous RequiemSounds a bit like a disease, doesn’t it?  But no.  I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my occult mystery novel, Murderous Requiem!

As anyone who’s been following my blog or facebook page knows, I’ve been fretting about the marketability of this book for a long, long time.  It has a lot of sex, some of it rather raunchy, and more importantly a lot of occult information concerning ceremonial magick that could make some readers uncomfortable.  There is a romance between the main character and his ex-boyfriend, but since they’re in a sort of “free-love” commune environment, they have sex with other people while they’re working things out with each other.  Some readers don’t like that.  There are also some parts that cross over into horror.

I wasn’t sure if Dreamspinner would like it, because it doesn’t fit the classic romance model.  But they publish a wide variety of stories, so it was worth submitting it to them to see.  And now I have a contract!  Yay!

No info on a release date at this stage, but I’ll let everyone know when I have something.  Incidentally, the “cover” design to the left isn’t official and definitely won’t be the cover.  I cobbled that together from pictures I found on the Internet and used it as my “cover” for NaNoWriMo a couple years ago.

In related news, I did not win NaNoWriMo this year.  I didn’t even come close.  But I did get a start on my YA novel, Dreams of Fire and Gods book three, and re-wrote the ending of Dreams of Fire and Gods book two.  Trust me, the new ending is infinitely better than it was when I submitted it.  I’m very lucky that my publisher was understanding enough to humor me, when I asked her if I could resubmit the epilogue after we’d already signed the contract.  I also finished most of the edits on Dreams of Fire and Gods book one — we’re at the galley proof stage now.  That one will be released through Harmony Ink Press on December 15th.

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Filed under Fantasy, gay, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing, Young Adult