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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The Hunger Games Movie Casting (thoughts)

If you’re like me–a not-so-secret Hunger Games fangirl–you’ve probably prowled the four corners of the web waiting for any tidbits of casting news for the forthcoming movie. I’ve been known to indulge in book to movie fantasy casting in the past and I’ve even assembled my own Hunger Games cast last year, so when the actors for the Peeta/Katniss/Gale roles were announced, how could I let the opportunity slip by without offering my two cents?

This whole Hunger Games movie brings about so much nail-biting anxiety, especially in lieu of ‘The Great Twilight Debacle.” Because I love The Hunger Games so freaking much, I will be devastated, no, inconsolable, if the movies descends into a Michael Bay meets Twilight CGI noise-fest. In short, I’d like to impart a few words to Hollywood: Please don’t F**k this up!

KATNISS: Any actress cast in this role is sure to receive criticism. After all, these are large hunter boots to fill…Jennifer Lawrence has Oscar creds, I’m actually rather relieved she’s going to play my favorite YA heroine, though I speak from Oscar awe and not from having seen Winter’s Bone. My first choice (highly improbable due to age) was Summer Galu the Terminator girl: so perfect for the role but alas, we’re about five years too late. So Jennifer Lawrence, huh? I’m trying to imagine her sooty-faced and shooting arrows into people’s asses and you know what? I could totally see it! Give the girl a bottle of hair dye and some archery lessons and let’s see if she can incite a revolution. Plus, she’s got Suzanne Collins’ personal approval but the verdict is still out until I’ve seen Winter’s Bone.

Katniss by LitCon on Polyvore.com

PEETA: My first reaction upon hearing that Josh Hutcherson was going to play the baker boy was “Who the heck is Josh Hutcherson?” followed by “This dude has Batman’s (of the Animated series) jaw! So strong, so square!” Plus, the pictures of him sporting a fohawk was not helping his cause. An IMDB search revealed Josh H. as the somber, doe-eyed kid in 2007’s Bridge to Teribithia movie… Ah. What a relief! There was a lot of soulful ‘staring-off-into-the-distance as I contemplate my mortality’ scenes in Bridge to Teribithia, which Josh H. OWNED and he was all of twelve years old. I hoped he’s brushed up on his meaningful stares because Peeta waxes philosophic ALL THE TIME. Remember “Real vs. Not Real?” in Mockingjay? Or the “Let us stand on the rooftop and gaze upon the city while we decide how we should die with dignity” scene in Hunger Games? This square jawed, chin-dimpled boy has my seal of approval! As for the hair, I’m sure the stylist who bleached Tom Felton’s hair in the Harry Potter movies will welcome the commission…

Peeta by LitCon on Polyvore.com

GALE: Liam Hemsworth?!!!!  As in the Captain America look-a-like who romanced Miley Cyrus with BABY SEA TURTLES in The Last Song?!!! Oh God… OH MAN! Oh GOD! OH MAN! Let me take a moment to drop to my knees and howl: NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! As you can see, I was not pleased with the casting. Up until the end of Mockingjay, I was waving the Team Gale banner to victory. I knew it was a lost cause but guys, Gale… Hunter. Adonis. Henry Cavill in the movie of my mind! Perhaps I’m being unfair to Liam and yet, the taint of that sacchrine Nicholas Sparks movie coupled with being Miley Cyprus’ off screen arm candy is hard to shake.

Wallflowers: I’m a Lisa Kleypas fan for life!

Why haven’t I discovered Lisa Kelypas sooner? So recently I’ve been devouring one Kelypas novel after another. They are as addictive as crack or, since I’ve never done crack, they are like… a big bag of hot Cheetos: spicy and finger-licking good. Not that I go around licking my fingers after I read these novels. I checked them out from the library and they came to me severely abused and covered in germs. Ick!

SQUEAL!!!!!!  The Wallflower series! This post is a little premature since I am still on waitlist for Scandal in the Spring, but dudes! I cannot get these books out of my mind. Here’s the whirlwind set-up: sick of being snubbed by all the eligible bachelors in upper-crusty Victorian England, four young women band together to help each other catch husbands. Each heroine has a social defect (too poor, too American, too shy) which has previously branded her undesirable in the marriage game until she finds the right man.

For the week, I have been in bliss! So much so that I’ve made collages of my two favorite books in the series (The Devil in Winter and It Happened One Autumn). While I liked Secrets of a Summer’s Night, I didn’t love it enough to make a collage and you should know by now that a collage from me means business! Fair warning, the following will probably make sense for those who have read the books. I will now commence with my fangirl rambling…

The best thing about IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN (pictured below) is the hero/heroine mash up. The key to good romance is all the pairing and the best pairings are always between polar opposites. Lillian Bowman is a brazen American soap heiress who can cuss like a sailor and ride like a man while Marcus, Lord Westcliff is the most proper gentleman in all of England and he WILL look down his aristocratic nose at YOU. In fact, his is exactly like Mr. Darcy right down to the “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.” This book IS Pride and Prejudice except with sexy times in secret gardens and abductions involving handcuffs and very proper British men fighting, which in it self is hilarious! Think Hugh Grant and Colin Firth’s fight in Bridget Jone’s Diary…yeah, it’s that kind of fighting.

And because Lord Westcliff reminded me so much of Colin Firth, who is, in my opinion, the perfect British gentleman, I’ve put him in my collage

It Happened One Autumn

It Happened One Autumn by LitCon on Polyvore.com

Next up THE DEVIL IN WINTER. This book skyrocketed to one of my top romance picks in such a short time. Sebastian St. Vincent (the villain from It Happened One Autumn) is the most beautiful man in England. In today’s terms, he is a notorious man whore until he is brought to his knees and redeemed by the shyest wallflower: stuttering Evangeline Jenner. Theirs is a marriage of convenience (he is an impoverished aristocrat in need of money, she is an heiress in need of a husband’s protection from her abusive guardians). So yes, I’ve seen this match-up a million times. It’s been done. And yet, so much of Romance depend on the telling and in this case, it was told exquisitely. There’s so much to love about this book, but if I had to choose, I’d say what really got me was St. Vincent’s character transformation from a callow rake to a man of substance. He pretends not to care for Evie and she’s all “You’re not the villain you pretend to be” while he insists “Yes I am!” but then secretly wears her wedding ring around his neck. Ohhh!!!! This reminds me of The English Patient in which Ralph Fiennes is carrying Kristen Scott Thomas’ battered body to their secret cave and he discovers that thimble around her neck and he’s all *Sniff sniff* “You’re wearing my thimble” and she’s all *in proper British accent* “I’ve always worn your timble. I’VE ALWAYS LOVED YOU…” And Ralph Fiennes descends into wrenching man sobs, which I think is utterly HEARTBREAKING but my boyfriend thinks is a shameless bid for an Oscar nod. But you know what? I like to see men cry!!!! Bravo Ralph Fiennes! Bravo! Oh, I am such a sucker when it comes to reading about these indirect displays of affection. P.S. Redemption is my favorite word. During the reading, I pictured Rupert Friend as St. Vincent, who is described as a feral tomcat. The picture of Rupert Friend with his hair blowing in the wind is definitely…feral.

P.S. I wish we could play in real life. We could spend the afternoon acting out scenes from The English Patient. One more for the road. Me as Kristen Scott Thomas. Imagine that I still look good after a fatal plane crash: “Promise you’ll come back for me. PROMISE…” And you could be Ralph Fiennes. You’ll look at me with your signature piercing stare and say “I promise…”  I’ll die and you’ll carry me into your plane. Then we’ll get shot down by Nazi gunners TOGETHER and I’ll perish in the flames and you’ll have your beautiful face INCINERATED and look like Voldermort for the rest of the movie. Fortunately, The Devil in Winter has a much happier ending. Nobody’s face gets burned off.

Romance Novels, Puffy Shirts, and Musicals

Sometimes I’m seized with the need to blog my random thoughts yet hold myself back because randomness=off-putting. Considering that a month long blogging break also equals off-putting, I figured ‘What the heck? You only blog once, right?’

God, I love romance novels. There was a time in say, middle school, when I was not so proud of my romance novel reading habits but now I have fully embraced my love of the genre. A monthly dose of sexy times does a body good! Lately I just discovered a new favorite author (Lisa Kleypas via The Booksmugglers) and after polishing off Devil in Winter and Sugar Daddy, I’ve morphed into a fangirl and placed three more of her titles on hold. I’ve read the reformed rake + virginal heiress story a million times so you’d think I’ve seen it all, but damn it if it does get me every time. Sigh… Oh dudes! I am a swooner. I really do put the book down, roll my eyes back, and SWOON. I also fan myself because SOB…so romantic!

Speaking of Romantic: this trailer for The Princess of Montpensier is freaking me out in all kinds of good ways. Let me just highlight and ALL CAPS a few key words: GASPARD ULLIEL + PUFFY WHITE SHIRT + SWASHBUCKLING ROMANCE NOVEL PLOT.

Change of topic… So I discovered there’s a Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert floating around on DVD somewhere and freaked-the-eff-out! To fully understand the freak out, here’s some background information on my Les Mis obsession. ‘Twas my senior year of college and like any undergrad pursuing what would eventually become a useless liberal arts degree, I was prowling my local library shelf in search of an answer to or a distraction from my future. My browsing fingers tripped upon a VHS of the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables, which blew my mind upon the first viewing so much so that I immediately rewind and watched it again. And again…until I could bellow “On My Own” in the shower. Then came the soundtrack (in English and French) which I played on a continuous loop between bouts of Wicked. I give ‘obsession’ a new name. Anyway, this is all to say: a new Les Mis concert! But alas, I squandered away an hour of my precious writing time watching clips of it on YouTube and was aghast to discover a Jonas Brother as Marius, who in turn, BUTCHERED “A Little Fall of Rain” and left me spewing vile words that cannot be repeated here.

Back to puffy shirts: my beloved boyfriend created a Jamie Fraser avatar on his XBOX just for me! Since there were no kilts in this virtual wardrobe, we dressed him in a puffy pirate shirt and black tights and pretended this is Jamie disguised as a Musketeer.

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.


Belated Halloween Outfit & Readings

Readers! I have not forsaken you. But the intrawebs has forsaken me! Do recall the Verizon commercial with the HORDES of people waiting to back you up should you encounter systems failure? Well… LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The intrawebs died on me and I couldn’t even get one person, let alone hordes of people, to tech support me. So after a week of volleying back and forth with the vicious V, I am back!

Because I couldn’t post this up sooner, here’s my Halloween outfit. I couldn’t go to work dressed as the giant foam hot dog I intended so I dressed in Halloween colors!

On the reading front: this week I polished off Dream Man by Linda Howard. There’s a lot of romance novels on the shelves, which can be dizzying for someone looking for the ‘best of romance’ to read. So I Googled “Best Romance Novels” which brought me to this link and found Dream Man on the top (under Outlander by Diana Gabaldon…obviously). Okay, so Dream Man is no Outlander and Jamie Fraser ruined me for other fictional men. Having said that, this romantic suspense about a hardboiled detective investigating a serial killer and getting involved with the psychic who has visions of said killings is seriously good. In any event, I don’t feel inclined to review it when the only thing I have to say is “It entertained me.”

Happy Reading!

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.