Tag Archives for " writing "

Mar 16

Office Space: Before

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

This past weekend my husband and I embarked on a quest to locate the perfect chair for me to plop my rear into while working. Since I spend so much time in this room, in this chair, it’s vital that it serve me well and also be insanely comfortable. I not only work here, I play here too, since my fun time usually involves computer games like WoW. The reason for the sudden quest will be explained in the newsletter on Wednesday, so if you haven’t signed up now’s the time to do it (look up…up at the top of the screen…see that box? enter your email there to sign up). You’ll get the juicy details and an original photo illustration that won’t ever be seen on the blog. The only way to see these special works of art (created by yours truly) is to get the newsletter. So sign up šŸ™‚ You know, if you want to. I won’t beg or anything. Really.

Since this quest consumed my life for several days I thought I’d shareĀ what my workspace looks like now, and when I get it spiffy I’ll share the after. Getting to peak at someone’s workspace is like rummaging around in their brain and seeing all the juicy bits. It says a lot about a person, how they keep their surroundings while working. I’m curious to hear what you think of mine…though in the interests of full disclosure you should know that I did tidy just a bit before I took the picture. I mean…sixteen empty Starbucks cups just doesn’t look rational no matter who you are.

So here we are, my space…before:


Yes, that’s a pillow on my chair. Again, sign up for the newsletter and hear all about it. The shiny white thing on the left is an iPad. That’s a World of Warcraft multi-button mouse, and the green glowing lights in the background on the left is a gaming keypad that helps meĀ cast my spells faster. Yes…I’mĀ that person. The small white electronic gadget on the right behind the Starbucks is a fake sun, because I miss the real one. That box on the right is where I toss everything I don’t want people to see but don’t feel bothered to put away properly. The papers…taxes. ugh. The handle on the one drawer in my writing tableĀ has been missingĀ since about six months after I brought it home. The laminate is pealing and the legs are wobbly but it was only $99 brand new so I’m not complaining. It served well for many years. The chair is an Office Depot special. I hate the chair.

So there you have it! My “before” writing/designing space. Share your own! I’d love to see them. I showed you mine, after all šŸ˜‰


Aug 18

Dreams, Day Jobs and Basketball

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



While I was taking a photo tour of New York City, my guide and I walked by a large crowd gathered around what looked like a parking lot. As it turned out, it was a concrete pad with basketball hoops. I paused, because so many people were watching I wondered why. My guide told me it was a neighborhood league, one of the biggest. Kids (this group obviously late teens) from all over tried to play on this court, because NBA scouts sometimes came to watch. If they were good enough, they just might catch a scout’s attention and who knows, might make it to the NBA. That’s the dream anyway, and it’s so real you could taste it on the air. Not just from the players, but even from the people watching and cheering them on. Ā So many hopes ride on the movement of one bouncing ball.

The guys pinned to the fence on all sides looked on with expressions somewhere between excitement, hope, and despair. Perhaps they’d once played on the court, and been passed over. Maybe nobody of note ever saw them play. Maybe they got injured and had to quit. Or maybe they simply had to go work a day job and couldn’t participate.

Whatever the reason, you could tell they still longed to be there, on that court, working toward a dream that just won’t die.

I don’t know if playing on that court is the only way to get to the NBA. Probably not. There’s always other courts, college, whatever. There’s steps to take. Sacrifices to make. But in the end, just how many people play in the NBA? I’m thinking not very many for the sheer numbers of those who want to.

It’s kind of like writing, I think. I have dreams, of course. I didn’t quit my day job on a whim. It was a deliberate decision, a first step toward the dream of being a published author. It sure wasn’t the only step. Heck I’m still working on this dream, because I realized once I published the first book that my dream needed a re-definition. Yes, I wanted to be published. And here I am, published. So, now what? Do I move on and take up sky diving or something? Pursue another item on the bucket list? Join a circus?

Fact is, my dream involved more than just publishing a book. It took that first book to realize that what I dreamed for and longed for was a career. I don’tĀ just want to write one book. I want to write a hundred books. I want to have so many they fill a bookcase. In a bookstore. With my name in lights hanging over it like I’m in Vegas. Hey, you gotta dream big, right?

That’s the dream I tell people, if they ask. The step I take to get there, so far, is toĀ write the next book. Always. Keep writing, keep moving forward, keep producing. Because I have a lot of stories to tell and like those guys hanging on that fence, I fear I missed the boat. I didn’t even try for this dream until I’d exhausted myself on the treadmill inĀ cubicle land. Why’d it take me so long to figure out I could try for something better? I ask myself that question every day.

The dream that I don’t tell people is a lot quieter and much harder to quantify. In my dreams, someone, somewhere has my story in her hands. She’s on the train heading home from work. She’s tired from her own treadmill race and all she really wants is to forget the hassles of the day, the irritation of her co-workers, the expectations of her boss and the fact that she didn’t spend all that money getting a college degree to end up…here. She wants to live in someone else’s world, if only for a little while. So she has my story in her hands, and she’s reading. My dream is that it takes her away. That it lets her live a fantasy. That it helps her ease out of work mode and into home mode where she can maybe focus on something that’s just for her. My dream is that when she reads the last word on the last page, she smiles and leans back and closes her eyes, pleased with the journey.

I’ll never see that dream realized. Because I don’t know her, and I’m not there as she reads and I’ll never see her face as she finishes the story. But it’s enough to know she’s out there, I think. And who knows, maybe she’ll leave a review to tell me about it.

So when I see someone reading in the coffee shop or on the bus or whatever, it always makes me smile. Somewhere, an author is hanging on the fence, watching the game, with stars and hope in their eyes.



Mar 05

Windows To Imagination

By Melinda VanLone | Imagination



Guess what day it is! Guess What. Day. It. is!

I bet you’re all hearing that commercial in your head right now. You’re welcome.

It’s the middle of the work week! Bet you thought I was going to say something else. Maybe Lasagna Day or Pancake Day…wait, that was yesterday. Anyway, today I’m starting something new. I’ve been thinking about this website and the direction it should take, and Ā I thought that what I really want to do besides share my stories with the world is share a little bit of visual story to go with them. So I’ll be doing an experiment. Usually my photography reflects truth as I see it around me, wherever I happen to be. But as with my writing, truth can be a little dull and ordinary. I’d like to sprinkle a little magic into it.

And these days there’s really nothing to stop any of us from throwing a little magic into the mix to create a window to the imagination that lets our inner child come out to play. Sometimes all it takes to spark that imagination is a picture that Ā takes us to another world if only for a minute.Ā That’s what I hope to bring to you. On Wednesdays. Because, you know…it’s Wednesday!

As you look at the image, I hope you let your imagination roam. Go on, try it. Take a good look at the photo. Tell me, what’s the story?



Feb 26

Decisions, Decisions

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts


Monday I handed off my latest WIP, code-named Macari, to the editor. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share it with all of you. Now comes the part where I get the cover done, the edits, the book formatting, you know – all that publishing business stuff. In the meantime, I’m re-thinking the website here, and already in revisions for Book 2 (or Book 3, depending on how you like to count), Promise of Magic.

Now would probably be a good time to tell you a little about the publishing strategy for the House of Xannon. There will be five books in the series, and five novellas. The five main books are all told from Tarian’s point of view (well, sort of…you’ll see). The novellas are all told from other character’s points of view, and give a little bit of what’s happening behind the scenes that Tarian and her family might not be aware of. It’s like getting to peek through a keyhole, or hiding on a wall. Snooping, in a really fun way. The novellas are a bit shorter, but all contain vital elements of the storyline. Macari will introduce some new characters who all will be affected by Tarian’s actions in one way or another. Tarian, like most of us, doesn’t always know the consequences of her decisions, especially on others. And of course, likewise she has no idea what other people are doing that might push her to make those decisions in the first place. It’s a tangled web, with someone behind the scenes pulling the strings. And sooner or later, all of it will come to rest on one girl’s shoulders. It’ll be her job to save the world, to right the imbalance, and to find space for forgiveness. And you haven’t even met her yet!

All that to say I have big, big plans. And big decisions to make, so I thought I’d ask your advice and opinions. I originally thought that I would try to publish every 29 days. Why? Because Amazon likes it that way. It helps a book become more visible, and for ebooks and indie authors, visibility is everything. On the other hand, I worry that a schedule that quick might be too crammed for my readers. I’d have to market the next book while the current one is just launching, which seems a little hard and fast to me.

I could stretch out the timing, to every 59 days, which would give time for the currently released book to find its way into your hands, and for you to enjoy it, before the next one is beating on your door. But then perhaps the Amazon machine doesn’t like it as well, because the pace is slower. That, my friends, is my dilemma.

My question to you is this…if you’re reading the House of Xannon series, how fast would you like to see the next book or novella pushed out to the virtual shelves? Please feel free to leave a comment here, or shoot me an email, or find me on Facebook, or Twitter, or Google+. I’m everywhere, and I will see the comment. I’m a techie girl, and obsessively check those things. Just be sure to tag me.

At the end of the day, I’m far more concerned with how my readers would like to receive their next read than what Amazon thinks about it. So tell me, readers…what say you?

Nov 04

NaNo is here!

By Melinda VanLone | Imagination , Photos , Thoughts



Yes, it’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, the air is chilling, my fingers are cramping. I’m writing more words. Lots and lots of words. New words never seen before. Well, in precisely this order anyway. I’ve been revising so much the last few months that writing new words feels strange and wonderful. I have about 8,000 words so far towards a novella code-named Calliope. Yes, it’s a story from Calliope’s point of view. She’s on a quest to get to know someone who will be very important in the stories to come. Someone Ancient. Fiery, even. For those in the know, I hope that’s something for you to look forward to.

If you don’t know who Calliope is, I direct you to Stronger Than Magic, the first book in the Xannon series.

I hope you will enjoy this peak into Tarian’s world through someone else’s eyes. My goal is to continue giving these glimpses in between the main novels, so that the complete picture of the world of Xannon is painted and so the people important to Tarian get a bit of the spotlight.

I’ll have an update for you next Monday. In the meantime, carry on.



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