Tag Archives for " rambling "

Jan 23

Fairies, or Demons?

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts


As I mentioned Monday, I went on a photo safari this week. I ended up at a park next to a lake, and from the looks of the empty parking lots I was probably one of three people out there. You’d think that would be relaxing, wouldn’t you? As I walked along a path through the woods a soft breeze played through my hair and rustled the leaves on the ground. Birds sang and chatted, and small animals scurried up trees. It was blissfully isolated. No traffic noise, no people talking.

No people talking.

No people.

Then what is that noise? That rustling noise over there? It’s too big to be a squirrel. It sounds like a coyote. Or mountain lion! It could be a mountain lion. Or a bear! They have those in Maryland, right?

Oooo, it could be a Chupacabra!


It could possibly be a serial killer just waiting for the next woman to happen by the lake. I’m alone. I have no weapons. I don’t even have a dog. I’m 50 feet from the car.

Deep breath.

Note to self: it might not be a good idea to watch a lot of NCIS or Castle before going out in the woods alone.

P1210217_FairyBesides, it might not be a mass murderer. It might be a fairy! Yeah, that’s it. Surely there are good things hanging out in the woods too!

What do you think? Was it a demon (killer) or fairy? Or something else entirely?


Sep 24

What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts


Since we’re leaving next weekend, I finally got around to pulling out some boxes this last weekend and packing some of the things out of this apartment that we’re taking with us.

Jasper immediately wanted to know if he was going with us. He then proceeded to beat up the box. There is no kitty toy on earth that brings as much happiness as an empty cardboard box.

Packing so far has gone something like this:

Tape box together. Place box on floor. Pull a few things out of the cabinet in the kitchen. Remove cat from box.

Wrap bowl and place in box. Wrap another bowl. Put bowl down and remove cat from box. Put bowl in box.

Wrap two more bowls, remove cat, place bowl, remove cat, wrap, toss handful of paper on floor to distract cat.

Give up and build another box for the cat.

After two cabinets, I turned to the darkest recesses of the kitchen. This area should probably have crime scene tape to keep away unsuspecting innocent strangers from the horrors that is… the junk drawer. Everyone has one, right? Tell me I’m right.

Anywhere I live a junk drawer sprouts up in the kitchen and bathroom and quickly takes over not only the drawer, but the surrounding cabinets. I try so hard to keep it organized, but junk defies that sort of thing.

What’s in my junk drawer? junk drawer, kitchen

Everything from emmory boards to scissors to no less than four (4!) rolls of tape to various bits of unidentified receipts and paper to hairball remedy to a coin purse that miraculously survived 10 years of work, then two years of oblivion in the desk I used to use, until it found it’s way to my junk drawer. Oh, there’s also plastic utensils from take out places, a couple of menus, pens, thumb tacks, and one pack of ancient gum.

There’s also this thing:





What the heck is this?





Seriously, do you know? Should I pack it, in case it’s some super important piece off some gadget that I’ve yet to discover? Do I toss it, knowing I’ll likely never know what it is and it’ll just haunt me from place to place?

What’s in your junk drawer? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found while moving?

Sep 17

Changes Make My Head Spin

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts

My head is spinning today. Last week my husband was offered an excellent position in another state, and he accepted. That means, dear friends, that we’re moving! During our 15 years together, we’ve moved from Syracuse, to Dallas, to Philadelphia, to Dallas, and now to Washington, DC (or Maryland, we haven’t decided yet). We hadn’t actually settled from the last move, so the majority of our things are still in storage. Basically, we need to get rid of a few things, pack up the car and the cat, and head out. Sounds simple, right?

First, loading the car is sort of like building a Jenga puzzle. It’s only a Matrix, after all, and we don’t have a luggage rack on it. So everything has to fit on the inside, along with us and the cat. We have to turn off the utilities, the internet, the tv, the gym, and probably other things I’m forgetting. We have to empty out this apartment which includes selling furniture, donating things we no longer need, pack up things we can afford to ship, pack the car with the rest, drive across country, spend a few days frantically searching for a new place to squat for a few months, and get everything set up again.

It’s enough to make you dizzy!

I have so many things I need to get done now that I don’t even know where to start. I keep chanting “one thing at a time, one thing at a time.” Riiighhhtttt. Most of all, I need to finish up the revision on Stronger Than Magic and hand it off to the poor, unsuspecting editor so that at least something is happening with it while I move.

It’s a new adventure. The area we’re moving to is beautiful and has a ton of fun things to do, and I’m sure my writerly soul will rejoice at the creative stimulation.

But we have to get there first.


Sep 10

Ten Questions Answered About The Next Big Thing

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

As you know, I’m working feverishly on a story that will be published later this year. Since it finally has a title, I thought now would be the time to tell everyone more about it. As luck would have it, I’ve also been tagged by the lovely Tameri Etherton for an internet game called The Next Big Thing.

The rules are simple: Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress), then tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.


What is the working title of your book?

Stronger Than Magic


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An heir to a magic artifact must protect it by completing an archaic breeding ritual triggered by a demon attack, before the demon is able to siphon away her power and use it to steal her birthright.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I honestly have no idea. One day I was cleaning out a drawer and found an old notebook. Judging by the penmanship, I was probably in high school or the first couple of years of college. It was basically a blend of journal entries and story bits, and I was about to throw it away when I happened on a couple of pages that caught my eye. It might have been my use of a curse word (it took a long, long time for me to start using curse words in writing), or maybe I was just curious about what kind of story it was.

I don’t know where I originally intended to go with the story because I didn’t even remember writing it. It was about four pages long, and described a busy city street, with cafes lining both sides. On one side, a man with dark hair sat at one of the sidewalk tables, casually talking with another man. Across the street a woman occupied another table, watching them. She was there to arrest the dark haired man, and was merely biding her time until the right moment came along. She was smug, full of herself, and thinking “he has no idea what’s about to hit him.” The man had noticed her watching, and smirked. “She has no idea who she’s dealing with.”

In other words, it was a tiny little scene in which two powerhouse people are about to clash.

I was hooked from the first word, and eagerly turned the page to find out what happened. And wouldn’t you know… nothing happened because I never finished the story! I was so frustrated that I decided to go ahead and finish what I’d started so long ago.


What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy with strong romantic elements.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Originally I pictured Jessica Alba (with darker hair) for Tarian, but I think Serinda Swan would look the part as well. Daric is a dark haired Irish man. I’m going to have to keep looking for someone to play that part.

I’ve started a Pinterest board for this book, to share what visually inspired me.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am self-publishing this story. Although I’m not opposed to traditional publishing, I feel like this is the right move for me at this time for this particular book. It’s time to get the story out into the world and start working on the next Big Thing.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hmmm. I’m not exactly sure. There were so many drafts! I would say the original first draft took two months or so. That doesn’t count the revisions, of course. It’s been in the process now for about two years, give or take. I had a lot of things to learn, and a lot of growing to do, before I ended up with a story I thought was worth a reader’s time.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I would say Illona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, although my story ended up with more sex in it than hers usually do. It’s hard not to include sex if one of the main story problems is a Succession Ritual during which the heir is supposed to end up pregnant. At least, if you’re a human.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Stronger than Magic is set in our modern day world, with a secretive magical Society mixed in with our own. To Tarian, the strongest thing in her world is her own magic power. When something comes along to rip that away, she’s forced to figure out just what is stronger than magic. The answer is there; I just hope she sees it in time to help herself.


You might have noticed I didn’t tag anyone else. I don’t tend to do that, as I don’t want people to feel pressured to participate in what can end up feeling like a chain letter. However, if you would like to be a part of the fun, let me know and I’ll tag you!



Sep 05

Walking Sticks and Butterflies

By Melinda VanLone | Photos , Thoughts

walking stick, insect, bug, Houston, Museum of Natural Sciences

Whenever I travel someplace, I always try to squeeze in something unique to the area. Something touristy, something you probably never do if you live in the place. When I ended up in Houston for a day, I managed to cram in a visit to the BRC (Big Red…er, male chicken.), Hermann Park, and the Museum of Natural Sciences. I went there first because it was air conditioned (what can I say, it’s August in Texas). But then I saw they have a butterfly exhibit, and I instantly plunked over $8 to see it.

You might notice this is not a picture of a butterfly. I have plenty of those too, but this was an experience I just don’t have every day. While I was walking through, taking photos and communing with fluttering winged things, I saw a couple of men off to the side of the path. They sat amidst the green leaves, chatting, trying to stay cool in the tropical moist air. I smiled, prepared to walk by, when one of them stood up and held out his hand.

“Have you ever seen one of these?”

I nearly shrieked. No, no I haven’t. And if I had, I’m pretty sure I’d have sprinted in the other direction.

“Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite. She’s an herbivore. She only eats leaves.”

“But she has a tail like a scorpion!” I managed to stand still, although every ounce of my body was shouting “run!” at me.

“No, she really doesn’t. That’s just her defensive posture. This end here…” he tickled the end, which made her curl it more…”is where she releases her eggs, along with the operculum, which ants like as a food source. The ants take the operculum and egg, and carry the bundle back to their nest. They eat the operculum, the egg is left alone to hatch. When the baby comes out, the ants think it’s one of them and leave it alone. It lives protected there until it’s old enough to go out into the world.”

Now isn’t that an amazing life cycle? This is the creepiest looking bug, but the dance of life is nothing short of beautiful. She lives on trees, where when she’s extended she blends right in with the leaves and tree bark. You’d walk right by and never notice her. Just another stick here…nothing to see.

And yet, during her life she aids the tree by spreading the seeds, aids the ants by providing food for them, who in turn eat the plant destroying bugs off the leaves, take the egg back to the nest to protect it until the egg hatches and the whole thing begins again.

bug, walking stick, Houston, natural sciences museum

Is it a bug, or a leaf?

He asked me if I wanted to touch her. I told him no. No, definitely not.

“She’s soft.”

“She’s creepy.”

He shrugged, but smiled. Obviously he’s encountered this reaction before. I did give him a big smile in return, and thanked him for sharing his passion with me. I couldn’t be more grateful for the volunteers who spend their day in that hot, steamy place, sharing their love of nature with people like me. And I’m pretty sure I have a new character for a future book. The question is, which is it…the man, or the bug?

Maybe it’s both!

And now, in case you were creeped out by the bugs too, here’s a prettier bug to look at:

butterfly, Houston, Natural Sciences Museum, bug