LOVE IN A TIME OF MONSTERS IS OUT!

This is the post I’ve been waiting to write for years. YEARS! My fantasy novel, LOVE IN A TIME OF MONSTERS, is on sale!

LoveMonsters_FC_BNG copy

He has a monster problem

Scotland, 1867. When Rob Stevenson’s brother is killed—and eaten—in the forest outside their estate, Rob’s sheltered world is shattered by a monster infestation. Determined to keep his village safe, Rob’s first duty as laird involves hiring a professional hunter.

She kills monsters

The sole survivor of a massacre in the Congo, Catriona Mornay is rumored to have lost her mind in the jungle. In Edinburgh’s gas-lit streets, Cat’s skill as a hunter is unmatched. Her reputation as a killer of unnatural creatures, legendary.

Two worlds collide

Faced with a rising body count, Rob takes a chance on Cat, hoping that somewhere inside this tortured yet charismatic girl is the hero he’s been searching for. But in this shadow realm of secrets, lies, and underworld crime, their lives overlap in more ways than one. And in an age where harpies flock the sky and serpents rule the sea, it’s even possible for a boy and his hunter to fall in love.

But can their love survive in a time of monsters?

You can buy it here:

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

The ebook is cheaper than the price of popcorn chicken (or Girl Scout cookies for those of you who do not gorge yourself on popcorn chicken) and will net you hours of entertainment. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel a little scared and perhaps… a little sexy? I have a dirty mind, and while that’s no secret, aren’t you curious about my dirty mind when applied to a fantasy setting?

As an added bonus, if you buy the paperback version on Amazon, you’ll get the kindle version for $0.99.

I’m thrilled to share this book with you and hope you enjoy it! And once you’ve enjoyed it… please consider leaving a review (I won’t direct you to where, but allow me to point in Amazon’s general direction) to help others find my work and spread my dirty mind around… rather like herpes but in a more pleasant way.

 

 

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Bookish Eye Candy

I made a collage of Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor! This is my second favorite romance novel. I don’t need to beat a dead horse and tell you that Outlander is #1. Thanks to The Tudors, I’ve finally found my perfect Lord Nicholas Stafford: Henry Cavill. In fact, Henry is now the go-to actor for when I read Medieval/Renaissance Romance! He is also my perfect Gale (Hunger Games). I will refrain from gushing about Knight again and filing subsequent pleas to READ THIS BOOK so you can indulge in the hilarity and hotness that is Lord Nicholas!

I am currently reading I Capture the Castle. I think it’s safe to say I have Henry Cavill on the brain. Now you know that H. Cavill has played a) A rogue hunter from District 12 b) A chivalrous Elizabethan knight c) A considerate stable boy.  He is currently the leading man in my book-related mind movie.

Two years ago Gaspard Ulliel used to hold the coveted title of ‘imaginary leading man.’ Back when I read Twilight, that is, BEFORE the atrocious movie (Damn you R.Patz! You’ve ruined vampires for me forever!), Gaspard was my Edward Cullen. Sigh. Oh guys, I would be so happy if, in the forthcoming Breaking Dawn movie, Edward undergoes a face transplant. When Carlisle unwraps the bandages, Edward becomes Gaspard and starts speaking French.  Apparently, surgery will do that to you! Dear Twilight people, please give Bella a face/personality transplant too. Make her less annoying! At least make her close her mouth… But alas, why do I care? EDWARD IS DEAD TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!

Gaspard used to be the hero in my Novel in Progress. Back in my earliest planning stage, I didn’t have a plot or a fully developed cast of characters. The heroine, who also happens to be the first person narrator, was flatter than my chest at age thirteen. I only had one requirement. The heroine’s love interest must be HOT, ergo, he must look like Gaspard! He’s required to take off his shirt at least twice and shoot meaningful yet sexy glances at the heroine. Allow me to illustrate: one day heroine is walking down the street and she collides into lover boy. In one swift move, he leans against the wall and glares down at her like this:

Or perhaps heroine ventures into the bathroom only to find lover boy sitting in the tub waiting for her. She props her hand on her hips and says “I see you have your suspenders on…”

Don’t laugh at me! Need I remind you this was in the grassroot stage? Three years and a tower of notebooks filled with outlines later, I like to think I’ve improved. Merely describing characters by their physical attractiveness won’t make them hot in the eyes of the reader. A character is crushable because of his DEEDS. Once I fleshed out lover boy’s character, I realized that it’s in the book’s best interest that I de-hottie-fy him. Rather, he starts out ordinary; as the story progresses, he becomes more attractive in the eyes of the heroine as she gets to know him. Character transformation!

Sadly, Gaspard is out. My heroine’s love interest looks like a cross between a clean shaven Ben Whishaw and Anthony Perkins. Imagine Ben’s head on Norman Bates’ body. Or Ben Whishaw’s evil face from Perfume on Sheldon Coopers’ (Big Bang Theory) body. Lover boy used to be a pretty boy, now he needs to a) make a sinister face b) be tall and lanky, wiry and gawky. Apparently, I like making FrankenPeople. It’s really not as creepy as it sounds.

If you’ve ever wondered if I made collages of my WIP… Indeed I did. Several, in fact. Of course, this WIP has been many things. I’ve seen it through one drastic setting change, multiple character relationship alternations, and a de-hottie-fication. This is what it currently looks like in my head. I’ve included some of the characters and random objects/images that defines each character. The setting, as you can guess, is supposed to be spooky in the gothic romance tradition, i.e. lots of fog and rumbling clouds.


The Thief and Mini Flavors of the Week

The Thief is a book I wished I read when I was twelve. I would have harbored a MAJOR literary crush on the narrator Gen. He is like a darker, more cunning version of Nat Eaton from The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

I picked up The Thief over a year ago. It came highly recommended by Mems, one of my regular readers who was also Witch of Blackbird Pond obsessed. She commented that Gen was like Nat Eaton and she couldn’t choose which one is better. In other words, Team Nat vs. Team Gen! So I promptly checked out The Thief from my library, read the first 50 pages, and abandoned it. The beginning was slow, crawling along at a snail’s pace. And while Gen was clever, cunning, and nimble (all enticing and crush-worthy character traits), I must admit I was bored by everything else…particularly the long and arduous quest through what seemed like an endless grove of olive trees in search of Hamiathes’ Gift.

Last week I stumbled upon this Book Smuggler’s glowing review of the entire series, which sparked a renewed interest in the book. In fact, every review I’ve read of The Thief praises the ‘TWIST at the end that will make you re-examine the entire book with new eyes.’

I picked up where I left off (yes, I know it’s freaky how I could remember precisely at what point I abandoned a book). On the whole, I have a new appreciation for this book. It does get more exciting toward the middle and the twist was rather clever. But I am riddled with guilt because I’ve convinced myself I should love the book yet, sadly, I am just mildly fond of it. I am flogging myself for not being more excited or wowed by this twist. Is it because I spend my every waking thought constructing shocking twists that I saw this twist coming? I connected the dots and picked up on the clues long ago! Damn my Ghostwriter watching days! I am now too good of a sleuth to be allowed to read mysteries and middle grade novels with blow-your-mind endings.

Mini Flavors of the Week

I usually twitter my mini flavors of the week, i.e. random crap I’m interested in. But Twitter is a flighty medium for chronicling your life.  Sometimes I want to chronicle this random crap so that five years from now I’ll scroll through my archives and say “Hmm. I wanted to dress like Willy Wonka. What was I thinking?”

1. Classic movie kick: I recently watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and then watched an entire documentary on Bette Davis. I wish I can be half the alpha female she was. I also wish my eyes were half as big as B.D.’s. That being said, I’ve got Bette Davis Eyes stuck in my head.

2. Speaking of songs from movies: I’ve been singing Peggy Gordon from The Proposition for the past two years. Okay, you may think this is really weird: I’ve watched this montage repeatedly, mostly for the song but also for the ‘meaningful looks.’ These ‘meaningful looks’ break my heart! I find them very existential, like “maybe the meaning of life exists in the lyrics of Peggy Gordon.”

3. I’ve watched the Plastic Jesus banjo playing part of Cool Hand Luke more times than I can count! Paul Newman sings a requiem for his dead mother and a single solitary tear falls down his cheek. It’s a lot deeper than I’ve made it sound. SOB! This movie is the reason I want to learn to play the banjo!

4. Night of the Hunter anyone? It came to me while I reading Monsters of Men that if Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy were a movie, I’d fantasy cast Robert Mitchum as Mayor Prentiss. Of course, Robert Mitchum is dead, hence the term ‘fantasy casting.’ But this clip perfectly explains my reasoning. Sometimes I sing ‘Leaning’ when I want to be creepy and scare little children on Halloween.

 

 

The Duchess

The Duchess by Jude Deveraux

Men with mustaches frighten me more than words can say. You could probably deduce that my worst fears involve Tom Selleck and the world’s itchiest Eskimo kiss. This is probably why I read YA: adolescent boys are relatively ‘stashless, not to mention peltless.

The romantic lead in this book has a very conspicuous Victorian handlebar. Normally this description would send me running to the woods, but in Trevelyn’s case, I’ve grown accustomed to his ‘stash. It also helps that he’s named after a Bond villain.

A master of disguise, a certified priest, a famous explorer, bestselling author, speaker of nineteen languages, a deft fighter, a titled Duke, a passionate yet gentle lover… Clearly this man is the definition of a badass. In my pre-Outlander days, Trevelyn was THE MAN by which I measured all fictional men. Then I met Jamie Fraser and the title changed hands because I started comparing locker room stories and the verdict stands: Trevelyn has been around the block one too many times. Who hasn’t this guy slept with?

Like many of Jude Deveraux’s works, I’ve read The Duchess many times and it ranks up there as one of my favorite childhood books. Not that I recommend this book for children. There’s a healthy amount of doinking, though not graphically so. I learned about the birds and the bees from the likes of V.C. Andrews and by the time I got to The Duchess, I was relieved that there was no incest.

Claire is American heiress who stands to inherit ten million if she marries a man approved by her parents. She settles on Harry Montgomery, a Scottish hottie and a Duke to boot. Harry whisks her away to his castle in the Scottish Highlands and there Claire crosses paths with Trevelyn, a dark and mysterious man who is as exasperating as he is alluring. Okay, by now you’ve read enough books or seen enough movies to know where this is heading. I’ve blogged (very clumsily, if I may say so) about The Duchess before, but I failed to explain why I considered this book my comfort read during my adolescent years.

The reason is this: Claire doesn’t fit in with all of Harry’s eccentric relatives. She loves to read and talk about what she reads. Sadly, nobody around her likes to read. The conversation around the dinner table usually revolves around hounds and horses. This is strangely similar to my high school experience. Nobody wanted to talk books with me and there were no such things as blogs. I’d sit in the quad during lunch secretly wishing I could find a book buddy, a brain twin, but alas, no such luck. In The Duchess, Claire stumbles upon Trevelyn. He’s the man behind the pseudonym of her favorite writer! This, my friends, is the equivalent of say, me meeting Christopher Pike in high school and he coincidentally resembles young Ernest Hemingway with nerd glasses. For the record, I knew Christopher Pike was probably old enough to be my father, but I’ve always imagined him as a teenage horror writer.

There is a healthy serving of witty bantering and sexual tension between Claire and Trevelyn. But there is also a genuine friendship BEFORE the actual romance and that, above all else, does it for me. None of this “I just met him. Five minutes later, I’m willing to die for him. I need this to live!!!!” mumbo jumbo.

The Duchess is not a perfect book. It is, however, perfect for thirteen year old me. It has influenced the types of books I read in the future and in many ways, the kind of books I want to write.

I list The Duchess as another pre-requisite read if you want to be my book soulmate.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

If I had to handpick my favorite heroine, it has to be Scarlett O’Hara. Hands down. I’ve certainly read my share of headstrong and willful heroines, but many of them fell flat when compared to Scarlett. You see, I have a soft spot for literary villains and, if the bad guy is well-drawn, multi-dimensional, and sympathic, I will root for the bad guy over the bland good guy any day. Unapologetically selfish, vain, narcissistic, pragmatic to the point of cutthroat, scheming and conniving, Scarlett O’Hara is no heroine; she’s a bonafide anti-heroine. She’s a force, an original, and now I truly understand why she’s the most beloved character of all time.

Since brevity is the soul of wit, I won’t get too much into the plot. I’ll assume you’ve seen the movie. In case you haven’t seen the movie, I ask you this: how can you call yourself my book/film soul mate and not have seen my all time favorite film? Tsk. Tsk. I lower my head in shame. You better rectify this breach in our relationship. *Shakes virtual fist* Rectify…

Okay. Enough threats. I decided to pick up Gone with the Wind because I was disappointed by all the pansy heroines out in the market today. Though I will not name names, you know the sissy girls of which I speak: the clumsy waifs driven hither and dither by the plot instead of DRIVING the plot.

Although Scarlett didn’t start the Civil War, it’s to her credit (more so the author’s) that the war read like it was created to inconvenience Scarlett’s Ashley-coveting endeavors. The magic of perspective, yo.

Scarlett is uber-selfish and her narcissism forbids her to suffer any conversation that doesn’t involve her as the center, and she’s something of a malicious beau-snatcher. So why you ask, do I admire her so? Because she unwillingly performs selfless and heroic deeds like staying with an ailing Melaine during the Yankee siege on Atlanta or looking after her kinfolks in the lean days after the war or whoring herself out to Rhett Butler to pay the taxes on Tara. So what if her heart wasn’t in it and she was more than reluctant to do good? It’s the deeds that matter! That said, if it came down to choosing teams—like in soccer—I want Scarlett on my team, then Rhett, then Melly. Um. Ashley will probably be the last person picked; he is as useless as “a turtle flipped on his back.”

The prose was flawless: unobtrusive enough to suck me in, elegant enough to warrant praise. Some authors have to slave to be good; some authors are just born talented. Margaret Mitchell falls in the latter category. I am one part in awe and two parts jealous of Mitchell’s writing superpowers.

P.S. I wish that there were more characters like Scarlett out in the market, particularly in the YA market. Am I the only one who thinks the YA genre could benefit with say, a vile scheming high schooler defending her turf against all odds?  YA heroes/heroines could still come of age, but wouldn’t it be more interesting if they came-of-age AND had strong wills AND did non-virtuous things BUT performed redeemable deeds? Character complexity, people. Just a suggestion….

A+

An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Let’s dive into the meat and potatoes and dispense with back story. If you haven’t read Outlander, I will slap you upside the head: “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you want to be my book soul mate?” In a few words, Outlander is a historical romantic epic with a time-travel bonus and Jamie Fraser—the hottest, most complex male character ever created by a woman. Also, I want to give him my flower and he will make me BLOSSOM!!! But that’s private talk for later…

An Echo in the Bone is the long awaited Book 7 and there really is no way to talk about it without spoiling its predecessors, so if you’re an Outlander virgin, look away.

When last we left Jamie & Claire, they were perched on the eve of the American Revolution and there’s talk of returning to Scotland to fetch Jamie’s printing press. Jamie, being older and wiser, will fight this war with his words instead of with his broadsword. Meanwhile, there are misadventures involving pirates and espionage and 18th century amputations.

There are complications heaped upon complications and run-ins involving characters who you thought were dead but were MISTAKEN and the adopted son of a certain man-rapist crosses paths with the bastard son of a certain red fox and there’s a paternity issue that’s Star Wars “Noooooo!!!! You’re not my father!!!!!” all over again. Unless you are a diehard Outlander fan, you will have NO IDEA what I’m talking about.

By this time, Jamie and Claire are old enough to be my parents but they still do the deed…in the barn where Jamie touches Claire THERE and in the garden where Jamie touches himself THERE…and I am blown away and fanning myself because their middle age deed doing is still as hot as their young and supple mmmphing. *Cranks up electric fan to full blast*

And speaking of hot, I’m in love with Young Ian who has morphed into this ridiculously feral Last of the Mohicans frontiersman. There is a love triangle involving Young Ian, William (Jamie’s bastard son) and a feisty Quakeress—I am hereby drawing a line in the sand in favor of Team Ian! I’m also officially in love with Diana for jumping on the love triangle bandwagon and heeding the universal fangirl call for choosing Teams.

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: serious shit goes down in the last 100 pages. Shit that you won’t believe CAN happen WILL happen and said shit won’t be resolved until the next book which better be drafted and in the editing stage by now… I can’t wait 4-5 years!

You’ve just read a review written by hormones alone. To summarized: I am still in love with Jamie Fraser, but I wouldn’t mind giving my flower to Young Ian…and Roger…and William…also, the Beardsley Twins, maybe Lord John. This flower is starting to resemble Lindsey Lohan’s flower: soiled beyond recognition.

Cleopatra’s Daughter

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Juba. Repeat after me: Juuubaaaa. I like to roll that name over my tongue like a Jolly Rancher. Ditto the character.  I’m speaking of Juba the Roman spy whose sardonic one-liners reminds me of Nat Eaton…in a toga.

R-rated opening line aside, Cleopatra’s Daughter is so PG-13 I expected dinosaurs to pop up and spray me with black goo Jurassic Park-style.

That being said, I loved Cleopatra’s Daughter so HARD. I even reminisce about that time I spent three blissful nights reading it. When I had to return it to the library, I knelt by the book drop and stared longingly at the cover; you had to pry the book from my cold dead hands because I couldn’t part with it!

Cleo’s Daughter picks up immediately after Marc Antony falls on his sword and Cleopatra opts for death by snake. Their children, Selene and Alexander, are swept away to Rome by the diabolical Emperor Octavian as trophies in his game of Risk or pawns in his game of chess or pieces in his game of Battle Ship.

While Alexander is seduced by the chaise lounging, chariot racing Roman way of life, Selene longs to reclaim the Egyptian throne. Plus, Selene lives in perpetual fear that Octavian might, and I quote the great Keanu Reeves, “Shoot the Hostage” to secure his Caesar-ship.

In the meantime, there’s Rome and stab-you-in-the-forum DRAMARAMA. I’m rubbing my palms together and jumping up and down in glee because there’s so much Ssscandal in Cleo’s Daughter I don’t know where to begin! Should I tell you about Octavian’s bitchy empress and how she mastermind a SLAVE RAPE? Or about the dashing Red Eagle who is Robin Hood, Spartacus, and the Scarlet Pimpernel rolled into one?

*Fans self* As I’ve mentioned before, JUBA! How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. I’ve already compared you to Nat Eaton, who is practically the Puritan version of Mr. Darcy, ergo, Juba, you are Mr. Darcy and I am smitten by your cheese grater abs, your chiseled bust, your fine stallion-riding legs and your George Clooney circa ER haircut.

A+

Let me be your book pimp. Read this book.

While you’re at it, I’m going to get down on my hands and knees and beg you to watch HBO’s ROME (my favorite TV show that is no longer on TV). Due to an overpriced set and costume budget, HBO canned ROME during its 2nd Season and I was devastated. Inconsolable. Reading Cleo’s Daughter was like reading the non-existent 3rd Season.  No, don’t go ‘yeah, yeah, I’ll put it on my To Be Watched list and forget about it.’ DO. IT.

Don’t make me shake my virtual fist!

In order to get you to do my bidding, I give you this analogy.

Rome:TV::Outlander:Books.

I am comparing this show to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am a die hard Outlander fan. A quarter of my blog’s content is dedicated to Outlander casting. Notice how I bolded and underlined the above phrase. Unfortunately, there’s no double triple underline, so I am literally grabbing you by the shirt and shaking you until you say ‘Uncle.’

I grovel at your feet. “Please…PLEASE! I want to be your TV pimp.” If you ignore my pleas, I’ll whine and throw a tantrum on the floor and chuck my snot rag at you and then I will become so distraught that I will do like the Romans do and FALL ON MY SWORD. In short, you must watch ROME to save my life.

Also, every guy in ROME is hot and they get naked. There. Point made.