Author | 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.


A Discovery of Witches Review

Posted on September 6, 2012 by

A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy and was written by Deborah Harkness. The premise is centered upon Diana Bishop, a historian with a secret past, who stumbles upon an ancient text that is *also* a palimpset. After her accidental discovery of Ashmole 782, Diana’s life begins to change — and not necessarily for the better.

What drew me to this story was the promise of mysteries and ancient texts. I immediately identified with Diana and her more rational side and, as the book’s secrets took a strange turn, felt even more drawn into the story.

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Cthulhu At Your Luau

Posted on August 15, 2012 by

Back in June, I pledged to The Horror in Clay Kickstarter. The concept? Simple enough. Cthulhu’s sanity-blasting image immortalized in a glazed tiki mug. The Kickstarter got a lot of acclaim and was picked up by sites like Boing Boing, iO9.com, and the like. Their original goal was $12,500 and they successfully raised over $75,000. I was thrilled to be one of the people who pledged to this and look forward to sipping refreshing beverages out of Cthulhu’s unhallowed form.

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The Iron Wyrm Affair Review

Posted on August 14, 2012 by

I picked up The Iron Wyrm Affair when I first learned about it to support the author. I had the chance to connect with the extraordinarily prolific Lilith Saintcrow on Twitter and, while I’ve never met her in person, I’ve always been inspired by the passion she has for her craft. I had no idea what to expect when I dove into this, but I had read some of her other books. I have a lot to say about this particular tome and its characters so I hope you enjoy the review.

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Design Notes for Falling Scales Part II

Posted on August 13, 2012 by

Our game design essay series continues today with some notes from Monica Valentinelli, author of Falling Scales Chapter Two, a World of Darkness SAS from White Wolf.

Falling Scales Chapter Two is the final, and second installment, for Falling Scales Part I. I started working on this project last Fall under the assumption that this would be a more atmospheric piece to further introduce a global conspiracy. While there were elements I was able to draw upon, the plot was directed, and there were some liberties I was not allowed to take.

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Monica’s GenCon Schedule

Posted on August 12, 2012 by

This year, for GenCon, I will be working in my capacity as Marketing Director for Steve Jackson Games. We have a giant eye-in-a-pyramid at the top of our booth so you can’t miss us in the Exhibit Hall. If you don’t spot that, we’re listed as Booth #1301 in the program book.

This is my first fan-facing convention for the company and I’m pretty excited about it. I coordinated a Munchkin Apocalypse preview contest on Twitter and the winners will be sitting down with the Munchkin Czar, Andrew Hackard, to play this upcoming release. (Hint: we also have a capsule machine in our booth and the last golden ticket… Er… seat will be won there.) There are also a ton of signings, interviews, and announcements planned.

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Vampires Are Not Dead

Posted on July 13, 2012 by

New Hero Volume OneThis is not a rhetorical statement, dear readers. Vampires are *not* dead. Today, Stone Skin Press shares with you a taste of “Fangs and Formaldehyde,” which was included in the upcoming New Hero anthology. This anthology is part of a Kickstarter for Stone Skin Press – Anthologies of New Fiction.

Why are my vampires different? To be blunt, I wanted a legitimate reason why vampires could not fall in love or get too emotional. In my setting? They die. Not only that, they die horribly. Their death is so terrifying to them, in fact, that the ones who have stuck around for a while strive for ennui just to survive.

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Writing On, Writing On for the Clarion Write-A-Thon

Posted on June 29, 2012 by

Last Sunday, I started writing for the Clarion Write-A-Thon to raise funds for their workshop. I have pledged to write 50,000 words by August 4th. So why am I doing this? Well, it’s like I said in this blog post: It’s a rough publishing world out there, I know, but part of what Clarion and […]

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Celebrating International Short Story Day with New Hero Launch

Posted on June 20, 2012 by

The New HeroYay! Today is the official pre-release of New Hero from Stone Skin Press. This day also marks International Short Story Day. What a great day to launch an anthology of iconic heroes!

You’ve heard me talk about “Fangs and Formaldehyde” before when I said why I couldn’t wait for New Hero. This story features a vampire named Atlas who helps other vampires. To celebrate this character’s debut, I would like to answer a Reader question.

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Choose How I Destroy The World

Posted on June 16, 2012 by

Greetings and salutations fans of explosions, plagues, floods, fires, and alien invasions!

Yes, that’s right. I am talking to you, oh fans of Michael Bay, who love disaster stories of every shape imaginable. Lean in for a super special announcement!

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Prometheus Movie Review

Posted on June 15, 2012 by

Last night, we meandered into the gorgeous Sundance theatre to watch Prometheus on the big screen. For those of you who haven’t heard of this film before, here’s a link to the Prometheus trailer.

I went into this movie as someone who was familiar with the Alien franchise (which began in 1979!) but who hasn’t read the comics or seen the films in some time. I had also heard a lot about this film from the wildly mixed reactions as seen in my social media feeds.

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Squick Out Your Friends. Heebie Jeebies Kickstarter

Posted on June 14, 2012 by

Heebie Jeebies Sample CardHeebie Jeebies is a card game of “unsettling notions” designed by Dave Cook. Don’t be fooled by the smiley faces! The game, which I describe as a cross between a tell-all game like Truth or Dare with a Garbage Pail Kids flair, has been announced through crowd-funding source Kickstarter. The Heebie Jeebies Game Production Kickstarter has a few weeks to go yet for its goal.

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Three New Releases To Read (By Yours Truly)

Posted on June 14, 2012 by

You may have read about my 2011 new releases (which included games, fiction, and non-fiction) or seen the pictures where I showed The Queen of Crows in print.

Well, I’ve had two new releases so far (with a third on the way) and I haven’t really done a good job mentioning what those are. So let me rectify that RIGHT NOW and give you some clues about what’s available for you to either obtain, attain, read, ignore, obsess over or celebrate. (Hah, you get the picture.) There’s a ton more set to debut in third quarter, but until those hit the proverbial digital or physical shelves, can’t say just yet what those are.

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Round Up of RPG Freelancing Articles

Posted on June 11, 2012 by

For about a year, I’ve been writing about freelancing for the hobby games industry on the Geek’s Dream Girl website. Here’s a round-up of the articles I’ve been writing for the site:

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Throne of the Crescent Moon Review

Posted on May 24, 2012 by

Fantasy as a genre is rife with rich worlds, dense descriptions, and complex cultures. As a reader (and a writer) I’ve always been fascinated with how other authors explore cultures within the context of the genre. Sometimes, a culture is revealed through a character’s actions or speech patterns; other times, through the way a particular town or setting is described.

In my experiences, the majority of the books I’ve read keep diverse cultures at the background of the story instead of the forefront. Intellectually, I understand why this is. Often, there’s a lot of world to explore and, in the fantasies I’ve read, that means the story matches that as well. Still, I’ve often found my reading has been bereft of the richness of contemporary stories that were firmly rooted in “a” non-European culture in “this” genre. Is that a fault of the industry? No, it just means there’s been a gap in my library that this picky reader hasn’t been able to fill since I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho many years ago.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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