Author | Monica Valentinelli

Monica Valentinelli

Monica Valentinelli is a writer and game designer who lurks in the dark. She creates original worlds and writers for media tie-in settings which include Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Firefly, and Vampire: The Masquerade.

Published stories and games include “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” for EXTREME ZOMBIES, IN VOLO'S WAKE for Dungeons & Dragons, and DREAD NAMES, RED LIST for Vampire: the Requiem by White Wolf Publishing.

Her non-fiction repertoire includes online articles, essays, and reference materials like the THE GORRAMN SHINIEST LANGUAGE GUIDE AND DICTIONARY IN THE 'VERSE for the Firefly TV show. She has written for sites like HowtoWrite Shop.com, Crackle.com, SFWA.org, GeeksDreamGirl.com, and BookLifeNow.com in addition to contributions for books such as FAMILY GAMES: THE 100 BEST and THE BONES: US AND OUR DICE.

For more about Monica, visit booksofm.com.


Monica Valentinelli

Bats about Bats

Posted on May 16, 2012 by

On Saturday, we headed to the Wisconsin Bat Festival where we not only learned about bats, why they are endangered, and why that’s bad for the environment — but we got to see a few live and in person as well. Here are some pictures of bats from the festival!

The Bat Festival featured live bat programs with bats from around the world, including Wisconsin’s backyard bats. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources experts were on-hand with information about bat habitats, predators and white-nose syndrome. Several authors were also at the event, including Brian Lies, author of the children’s books Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, and Bats at the Ballgame.

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Monica Valentinelli

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

Posted on March 29, 2012 by

I have had a long, sordid relationship with the Final Fantasy franchise. While I haven’t played every game, I have played most of them. When you play Final Fantasy, there are certain elements that you come to expect: cactaurs, chocobos, moogles, summoning, and BIG GIANT SWORDS. Final Fantasy XII began to stray from the iconic characters found in the property with its attention to new mechanics and a more realistic art style heavily inspired by the steampunk genre.

Final Fantasy XIII further deviated from the heart of the franchise. Though it did offer eidolons (one per character) this far-flung futuristic story jarred a lot of fans who hadn’t seen Square Enix dive that heavily into science fiction since the days of Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII.

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Monica Valentinelli

Broken Blade Review

Posted on March 23, 2012 by

Kelly McCullough, author of the WebMage series, dives into the fantasy noir genre with the debut of Broken Blade. Dubbed the Fallen Blade series, this first book introduces Aral Kingslayer, a former assassin for the now-dead Goddess of Justice named Namara.

I feel McCullough’s strength has always been building worlds that the characters are immersed in. Broken Blade explores a different side of dark fantasy than the typical European/medieval fare. The world is a blend of East meets West where remnants of martial arts and Asian mythology merge with European politics and the rights granted by proper lineage.

Written as a fantasy noir, there are plenty of mysteries to explore in this book. Kingslayer is the anti-hero; he’s the drunk who sits in the corner of a bar who’s depressed and feeling sorry for himself — for good reason. His ever-present familiar, Triss, lives in his shadow as Aral simply tries to get through the day.

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Monica Valentinelli

The Halloween Tree Audiobook Review

Posted on March 6, 2012 by

The Halloween Tree AudiobookThe Halloween Tree is the audiobook version of the 1972 publication by Ray Bradbury. The story is a fantastical look at the history of Halloween. Spanning several cultures, the characters experience the customs of people from Ancient Egypt, Rome, Mexico, the British Isles and others.

The story is impeccable and Bradbury does what he does best: social commentary through the guise of a story. Here, he teaches us about our own customs by forcing us to peer into the past without beating us over the head or giving boring explanations. I’m not the only one who thinks The Halloween Tree is spectacular. In fact, the story is so popular the animated version of The Halloween Tree was featured on Cartoon Network and it’s also been incorporated in Disneyland‘s Halloween decorations.

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Monica Valentinelli

Tentacular Tentacles at Warehouse 23

Posted on February 27, 2012 by

If you read my What’s New at Steve Jackson Games report, you might have seen the Plush Tentacle on that list. Even though I work for the company, there’s a lot of toys and games I don’t personally design or help create. This particular project was already designed, created, and in the manufacturing queue before I started!

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Monica Valentinelli

Behind the Romance of Strange, Dead Love

Posted on February 14, 2012 by

I was excited when Russell and Eddy first approached me to work on Strange, Dead Love. For the past couple of years, I have attended several romance writing workshops to learn more about the genre from an author’s perspective. Several of the sessions were dedicated to paranormal romance and we often took a lit crit approach to the genre by pulling out contemporary examples: Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice, Yasmine Galenorn, Patricia Briggs, etc. The subject was something I knew a lot about and, as a Vampire: the Requiem player and author of Scenes of the Embrace, I was happy I could contribute to help other players dive into this genre.

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Monica Valentinelli

What’s New From Steve Jackson Games

Posted on February 7, 2012 by

Zombie Chibithulhu In November 2011, I took on the role of Marketing Director for Steve Jackson Games. I telecommute, which helps me get a lot more done than I would if I was down in Austin. I recently spent a week down there and talked about my trip when I returned from Austin on my blog. The experience reminded me of working for a restaurant or a newspaper because everything hinges upon product getting out the door in a timely fashion. For a small company with a big reputation, day-to-day operations can get pretty crazy especially when we’ve got a lot of new staff.

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Monica Valentinelli

Dark Tower CD Review

Posted on February 6, 2012 by

The Dark Tower CD from Nox Arcana was developed solely by Joseph Vargo as a themed complement to The Dark Tower anthology series. The music composed for this particular collection seems to be more understated than their other offerings. There are two types of experiences I’ve had with Nox Arcana’s music. The first is evident through Blackthorn Asylum, The Necronomicon, Phantom of the High Seas, and the Theatre of Illusion.

After you hear the opening refrain, there’s typically a story threaded throughout the music so it’s often a bad idea to play the CD at random if you want the full experience. I found this was especially true for Grimm Tales, which is one of my favorite Nox Arcana CDs.

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Monica Valentinelli

Horror Reveals Male Insecurities? Some Guy’s Fantasy? I Disagree.

Posted on November 6, 2011 by

A letter came across my feeds today written to film critic extraordinaire, Roger Ebert. In this letter to the editor, the writer states that:

Ever ask yourself what gave birth to the horror genre in the first place?

A: You’re a horny teenage boy and girls terrify you — which you find exciting: the combination of fear and the erotic. Almost every horror film taps into it and that’s why it’s a genre watched mostly by males.– A Reader’s Letter to Roger Ebert

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Monica Valentinelli

Check Out Legends and Lore by Monte Cook!

Posted on October 26, 2011 by

On September 27th, Monte Cook took over for Mike Mearls as a columnist on the Wizards of the Coast website. Penning “Legends and Lore,” the series dives deep into the core of Dungeons and Dragons to explore the essence of this game. I recently had the chance to pore through these articles and he brings up some great points that I hadn’t thought of. What I feel this column does, is open the door to community-focused discussion and feedback from all gamers, not just players who prefer a particular edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

I really liked some of the subjects Monte addressed when he talked about Magic and Lore in Dungeons and Dragons. In the article, he posed these questions: “What if the game assumed no magic items? What if magic items really were just hard-fought-for treasure that made characters better?”

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Monica Valentinelli

Dungeons and Dungeons: Heroes of Neverwinter on Facebook

Posted on October 21, 2011 by

Remember my Neverwinter Nights on Facebook review? Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter is a huge step up. It has music! And awesome graphics!

Okay, here’s a run through:

I create a new character. Choices are arranged by height: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Rogue and Custom. Curious, I click on “Custom.” Although I can create my own character and stats, I opt to go with an Eladrin Wizard.

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Monica Valentinelli

Neverwinter Nights on Facebook Review

Posted on October 10, 2011 by

One of the cool things about “new” media is a company’s ability to bridge the gap between paper and pencils with technology. Neverwinter Nights on Facebook is a social game you can play.

The first thing you do is roll stats. There’s no character class, but this min/maxer (That’s right.. Me…) rolled a few times until I got… Well… Some decent stats. The game didn’t work on Chrome so off to Firefox I go… That’s where I found out that punctuation doesn’t work in the character name field. I have an elf name I often use (Lazy, I know, I know…) but the apostrophe didn’t take.

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Monica Valentinelli

Warhammer 40k Space Marine PS3 Review

Posted on September 26, 2011 by

Warhammer 40,000: SpaceMarine is a game that debuted for the PS3 (and other platforms). While I’m familiar with Games Workshop, I am new to to the Warhammer universe. I feel that’s important to keep in mind when you’re reading my review.

Part of the reason why I’ve never played Warhammer or read the fiction was because my impression was that I wasn’t really the target market for this setting. It has always felt very male-dominated and macho to me. Even though I felt that way, I always gave the property a healthy amount of respect. I consider the Warhammer SpaceMarine to be the original. Period.

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Monica Valentinelli

Shadow Fall Review

Posted on September 19, 2011 by

SHADOW FALL is the third book in the Shadowchasers series by Seressia Glass. You can read my review of SHADOW CHASE, the second book in the series, here at Flames Rising.

An exhibit at an Egyptian museum and a dark mystery is the focal point for Kira Solomon and the other characters in SHADOW FALL. The events that happen in this book dive into Kira’s murky background and the reactions of all those around her — which aren’t always positive.

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Monica Valentinelli

Need Your Help! Feedback on Speak out with your Geek Out

Posted on September 16, 2011 by

Speak Out with your Geek Out began with a single drop of creativity. Today, from where I sit, I’m floating happily along in an ocean of laughter, smiles and friendship. For that? I thank you muchly. (See: the answer to why is a raven like a writing desk.) The majority of the responses have been […]

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Monica Valentinelli

Night Veil Review

Posted on September 13, 2011 by

NIGHT VEIL is the second book in the Indigo Court series by NYT best-selling author Yasmine Galenorn. It follows the story of Cicely Waters who found herself inexplicably drawn to Grieve, a Fae Prince, then torn from his side. This story is the second in the series and may not be as powerful if you haven’t read the first book, so please keep that in mind when you’re reading this review and you’re worried about spoilers. My review of NIGHT MYST was published during our Vampire Week, and we do have a NIGHT VEIL excerpt you can read at your leisure.

One of the reasons why I like this series, is because Galenorn presents the darker side of magic, vampires, Fae and other creatures. This is not the happy-go-lucky world where everyone winds up together.

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Monica Valentinelli

25 Blog Post Ideas for Speak Out with your Geek Out

Posted on September 8, 2011 by

Today’s post is to give you some ideas to blog about. If you want to help, please share your ideas for blog post ideas in the comments below or contact me to do a guest post. Before I do, I want to share with you one of the debut posts encouraging people to sign on. […]

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Monica Valentinelli

Speak Out with your Geek Out FAQ, Tumblr and Logo!

Posted on September 5, 2011 by

We surpassed 500 committed bloggers for Speak Out with your Geek Out this weekend. If this keeps up? We’ll hit 1,000 by Thursday. For today’s post, the logo is revealed, a few questions are answered, and the Tumblr is unveiled. You are encouraged to share the logo and spread the word!

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Monica Valentinelli

Calling all Geeks! Operation Speak Out with your Geek Out

Posted on August 31, 2011 by

The other day, an article went viral around the internet. The writer decided to write about her dating experience in a very negative way to illustrate her point that people stereotype. The guy in question? A world champion Magic: the Gathering player. Unfortunately, the article was extremely mean and, as I later found out, the […]

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Monica Valentinelli

The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu Mini-Review and Trailer

Posted on August 24, 2011 by

I just had the chance to watch The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu and I was impressed! For an independent film (one that has also won a couple of awards, I might add) this is an awesome film. What’s it about you ask?

Well, there is a story to be told here and quite honestly, the reason why this is a mini-review is because I really don’t want to spoil it for you. I feel this is the type of film you have to discover… laugh out loud… groan… And realize the costuming is just that much better than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or The Keep.

Part of what makes this movie strong is the characterization and the nerdly discussions, but there are some other surprises hidden between the script’s pages.

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