Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fifty-Seventh

[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at Wipe your feet before entering.]


Hello All, Melanie here!

When I first moved to New Hampshire, it was because my partner and I threw a dart at the map and ended up here. I was in no way prepared for the lack of cell phone service and, to my eye, the severely limited options for internet access.

For two years, I lived in a beautiful house up the road from former president Franklin Pierce’s homestead. It was an area that no cell phone provider could penetrate.

Suddenly, my endlessly connected life became disconnected. It was like being in the 90s all over again. No text messages. No mobile phone ringing off the hook. Not that it ever had a hook.

A weird thing happened. My yearly word count tripled.

Correlation? You be the judge.

Without further ado…

Subject: Resending these emails!!!!

Dear Gladys,

It’s December 1st. I hope your reputation recovers from the miming incident. I’ve heard the goat is recovering well and journaling at the Buddhist retreat. The restored library is cleaning up after the firefight surprisingly fast.

Anyways, your reputation and the reputation of an entire government agency aside, I’m sure you’re dying to know how the Fantasy Dream Team has done in the NaNoHooverDam contest against the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap.

Did we win??? I DON’T KNOW YET. I don’t think my nerves can take the anticipation!!!

Tryxy and I are on our way to the final count in the Cradensburg town square. Brokenheap doesn’t even have a town square!

In the meanwhile I’ve realized that some of my emails never made it to you last week. It must be because the whole southeast neighborhood of Brokenheap doesn’t have cell service so they got stuck in my outbox.

Anyhoo, I’m sending those emails to you so you can get caught up NOW!!!! Make sure you read them, Gladys!!!! So that everything can make sense!!!!!




Dear Gladys,

It’s November 24th—YES, TURKEY DAY and I am A DAY BEHIND thanks to the pesky nurses at the Cradensburg hospital wanting to keep me for “observation” after my panda suit caught on fire the second time. 

Gladys, I’m going to need you to stop babysitting your stand off with the armed commune long enough to help me figure out what I need to do to stop this next guy from writing. You can’t just think about yourself and a few folks with grenade launchers!!!! I’m taking on RETIREE WRITERS!!!! These are the big guns!!!!

I’m going to pass by you pretty soon but don’t let off any sign that you know me or else the locals might start to suspect and see through my disguise. I’ll be the lady in the pink leotard and 100% nylon legwarmers power-walking a suspiciously demonic poodle. Who is also power-walking. Whew!! We are burning some calories!!! Brokenheap hills are STEEP!!!!

Target #4: Boots Donovan
Age: 66 years old
Occupation: Retired
Fantasy subgenre: Sword & Sorcery

Early intel tells me that he is going to go to his sister’s house for her Annual Impossibly Early Turkey Dinner at 12:00. That’s far too early to serve a turkey, Gladys!!! I estimate that I’ll have about two and a half hours to explore his house with him gone.


Gladys, who’s that guy talking to you??? You know. The one with the bushy white beard poking out from beneath a droopy fishing hat???? Because with that walking stick and liberatarian party t-shirt beneath his camouflage coat, he looks SUSPICIOUSLY LIKE BOOTS DONOVAN!!!!! I’m just going to power-walk past you two with all the desperation of woman with a cheesecake to burn and a button that just ominously popped off her skinny jeans. Don’t give me away!!!

Gladys where are you going???? You’re my decoy!!! He’ll call me over—oh confound it, here he goes!!! Why’d you have to walk off????

Okay Gladys, I’m back. I finally got free of Boots Donovan. That was a close call!!!!

FYI Boots suspected nothing. That’s the power of a great power-walking disguise. I’m not sure you knew this, Gladys, but that armed commune hasn’t always been a commune. Boots tried to accost me and see if I’d be willing to protest the stand off between the FBI and the mimers who took over what used to be the Broken Heap Town Library building (and is now an miming commune.) Boots isn’t protesting the FBI OR the mimers, but rather the STAND OFF itself because the noise of the firefight is making it hard to read. He also yammered on how, while he’s categorically against the FBI, he also wants the mimers gone so that Brokenheap can start a new town library in the old town library’s place.

Not to mention the property values in the area have severely decreased since the mimers moved in. You know how mimers and neighborhood desirability are. Brokenheap is the only place in the U.S. where property value has gone down instead of up with the COVID housing market!!!! Anyways, good thing you’re not in the FBI, Gladys, or else you might look foolish with people protesting you!!!

Where was I? Oh, right, Boots has no idea that I’m heading to his house. I can see it up ahead, it’s the one with seventeen Gadsden flags and the sign that reads “TAXATION IS THEFT” above the door.

I wonder why they don’t have a town library any more?

Closing this email out, Gladys, I’ve got a basement window to break!!!



sent from my iPhone


Dear Gladys,

I warned you that Boots Donovan is a retiree writer. I clearly insinuated the fear that should be lurking in the cockles of your heart—

Whoa. That was a big explosion. It shook Boots Donovan’s entire house!!!

Anyways, this writerly situation is FAR WORSE than I thought.

As you know, Boots Donovan writes Sword & Sorcery. I am standing in his living room overrun with a collection of fantasy and science fiction books that have been accumulated over five decades and I am telling you that I have no idea how to stop this JUGGERNAUT!!!! As a retiree he is nearly free to write all day!!!! Sixteen of these books WERE WRITTEN BY BOOTS DONOVAN!!!!! I checked his computer and he’s in the middle of writing BOOK SEVENTEEN for NaNoVisigoth!!!!

This is goinosoieobe[o’eg

Gladys!!!! Would you quit it with the explosions??? Tryxy and I keep having to dig ourselves out from beneath these yellowed copies of Frank Baum’s Oz series, three quarters of the Mercedes Lackey, and ALL OF THE PIERS ANTHONY. One more BOOM of yours and the Asimov tower of books will topple and once that does WE ARE NEVER GETTING OUT!!!!!

Well would you lookee here.

A clue.

A filing crate fell off the stack of Michael Moorcocks and some handwritten letters to the internet company fell out. Boots Donovan has sent out a letter to various internet providers every year for the last ten years asking them when they will be able to deliver internet access to his home and every year he gets a reply that says something to the effect “it’s far too rocky and weird where you are.”


Oh for heaven’s sakes!!!! Gladys, cut it out with the rocke

Oh no!!!! Gladys why didn’t you warn me???? Boots Donovan has come home early from his impossibly early turkey dinner!!!!

His keys are in the front door!!!! Tryxy’s started barking because he’s a method actor and now Boots is shouting “Hey!!!! WHO’S IN THERE????!!!!”

I’ve gotta flee and the only way out is for me to hurdle over these piles of books and throw myself through the patio screen door.

Good thing I wore my leg warmers and fueled up with all that cheesecake!!!!



sent from my iPhone


Dear Gladys,

Boots is after me!!!! I’m banging on the door of your surveillance vehicle but no one’s coming to let me in!!!! Why aren’t you getting my emails???/ This is URGent!!!! Oh no!!! That’s the top of Boots’ droopy fishing hat lurking behind that rhododendron!!!

…Do you ever feel like rhododendron has an unreasonable number of Ds in it?

Let me in Gladys or I’m going to have to run down into that other valley on the opposite side of the valley where the stand off is!!!! And I’m not ready for what is or isn’t waiting for me there!!!

Open the door!! He’s rounding the rhododendron!!!!

…Why couldn’t it be spelled rhodendron? It would have gotten the point across.

Hang it all, Gladys!!! I’m headed for the little lavender house on the other side of the valley and taking evasive maneuvers!!!

This is painfully close. I’ve woven down the hill, taking cover behind the many oversized granite rocks here.

…I wonder why they call New Hampshire the granite state?

I’m in the middle of the valley and Boots is hot on my tale and there’s no more rocks!!!! What do I do, Galdsy???

I’ll have to take refuge inside that giant heap of broken old range rovers, jeepss, and chicken trailers. It’s like a citadel!!! A colossal heap of broken…

Huh. So that’s why they call this town…what they call this town.

Boots has entered the broken heap citadel. There’s the crush of his camoflauge duck boots on the detritus of maple leaves and discarded wing nuts.

The sweat on my upper lip feels like ice. The sweat under my leg warmers feels like a river swaddled in plastic cling wrap. If you’re waiting for Tryxy to do something, he’s very committed to method acting as a poodle and is looking up at me with eyes as round as frisbees. He’s very good. I wonder if Miskatonic University has a theater club.

Boots’ walking stick has appeared from behind the fender of mashed up Grand Cherokee and it looks like a talon. It’s going to touch me!!!

I’ve got it, Gladys!!!!

I’ll use my ventriloquist ability and throw my voice behind Boots to distract him while Tryxy and I make for the little lavender house!!!!



sent from my iPhone

Subject: From the mixed up files of the little lavender house

Dear Gladys,

I’m just writing you to mark myself safe from Boots Donovan. Shouting “Quick! Congress is passing another Omnibus Spending Bill!!!” was all that was needed to get him to turn around and blindly run in the opposite direction screaming “TAXATION IS THEFT!!!!” the whole way.

But now that I’m in the little lavender house, I should catch you up. I’m no longer sure it’s lavender. I wonder if it’s more gray. Or a gray-y lavender.

Target #5: Rain F. Williams
Age: 63 years old
Occupation: Retired
Fantasy subgenre: Fairy Tale Retellings

This little lavender house is giving me the creeps. Not only was the front door unlocked LIKE IT SHOULD BE, there was a glass of milk and a slice of cheesecake set out by the umbrella stand with a note that says “EAT ME.” That wasn’t suspicious at all and was very delicious. But then I started looking around the house and what I see here is terrifying.

IT IS EXTREMELY CLEAN. And symmetrical. The left side of the house is a mirror image of the right. Or is it the other way round?? For instance. There are two sides to the living room on either side of the front door. Each side is perfectly reflective of the other side. Two identical gray couches face each other from either living room and they are each precisely one dog length away from the ornate symmetrical rug running down the center of the room. There are two silvery tiffany lamps on identical glass lamp stands, one sits to the right of the sofa on the right, the other to the left of the sofa on the left.

Directly across from the front door there is a gray soapstone stove, polished to a high gloss with a cheery fire burning inside of it and a stovepipe fixed to the gray paisley wall behind it. On either side of the soapstone stove there are two open doorways and on the other side of each of those doorways are dark staircases leading up.

But what is REALLY creeping me out Gladys is that on the walls behind the sofa there are two identical portraits of Rain F. Williams. In each, she is wearing a severe gray suit and is posed next to a gray bookshelf and a vase of eucalyptus. In one she is frowning slightly, in the other, she is smiling slightly but I can’t seem to tell which one is which. Is she smiling on the right or is she frowning??? And why is everything gray??? People with single color obsessions really creep me out!!!

Oh look! There are identical college diplomas on each side of the living rooms. She has a Bachelors Degree in Pragmatic Foresight. Apparently F stands for Freespirit. And there’s filing cabinets!!! I wonder what’s inside. 

Okay, that wasn’t very interesting. Apparently, Rain F. Williams is also a published author and there was a letter from her publisher saying that they didn’t see the point in keeping her books in print if she doesn’t have an online platform. There’s also print outs of her replies explaining that she would have an online platform if it weren’t that the rocks and broken heap near her house prevent any company from providing her with service. MUST BE NICE TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!! When I’m finally a published writer, I won’t write letters like this to my publisher because EVERYTHING WILL BE A WALK IN THE PARK when I’m FAMOUS.

Anyhoo I’m lactose intolerant and that cheesecake is running through me so I better hurry up and pick a set of stairs to go up!!! Tryxy just method-acting piddled on the couch on the right so RIGHT IS IT IS!!!!

Uh oh Gladys.

I’m upstairs… and someone is definitely here. Someone just called my name from a bedroom.

It’s Rain Freespirit Williams and she does not look happy. Wait. Is she smiling or is she frowning???

She’s saying that she’s been expecting me. She also says that a giant, deadly rocket is about to be misfired and will hit the house with us inside but not to be afraid because reality is not what it seems.

Gotta go, Gladys!!!!



sent from my iPhone


Dear Gladys,

I’ve survived the explosion and Tryxy is currently method acting as a wifi connection for Rain and Boots’ houses but I need you to stop firing at the armed commune so that I can go and talk to the mimes without getting a bullet in my buttocks!!!!!

YOU ARE NOT BEING FIRED ON BY REAL BULLETS!!!! Those are just HIGHLY TRAINED MIMES defending their commune in the repurposed town library by MIMING an ARMED COMMUNE and EVEN MIMING BULLETS!!!!

The rocket that just hit Rain Freespirit Williams’ house wasn’t actually a rocket that decimated the side of the house and engulfed us in a fiery blaze, it was a MIME MIMING A ROCKET and another MIME miming the exposed beams, charred crumbling bricks, and yet ANOTHER mime miming the FIRE!!!! This is a very talented miming company Gladys, and if you don’t stop your siege, they aren’t going to be able to help the Fantasy Dream Team win the writing contest against the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap!!!!!

Also, there is a young goat named T-bone who lives in the valley and doesn’t have the mental training that Rain Freespirit Williams has to see through all the clever miming and T-bone is TERRIFIED.

Do you want the writing contest on your conscience???? And T-bone????



sent from my iPhone

Subject: SUCCESS!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I don’t know why you’re not checking your emails but I have managed to get to the miming commune in spite of you. You can thank me for the ceasefire later. If you need to question the mimes as to why they mime-fired at FBI angents, you will have to look for the new communications array next to Rain F. Williams house. THEY”RE THE NEW WIFI ACCESS.


But please don’t interrupt them too much, I just peaked inside Boots’ house and he is happily engaged in a political battle on twitter. If you stop him, he might go back to writing. The last I talked to Rain, she was on Wix building her author website one severe gray drag and drop at a time.

I keep trying to check our word count progress but there aren’t any cell bars out this way and both Rain and Boots have their wifi access locked down and so password protected, it’s like they don’t trust the government!!!!

Rain F. Williams did say one thing that bothered me. She said that she knew I was sabotaging their team the whole week but that it was too late, the Fantasy Dream Team wouldn’t be able to catch up to their word count totals.

I asked her if she could give me a hand since I got her that wifi access and she gave me a private look. I couldn’t tell if it was a smile or a frown.

Can you give me and Tryxy a ride back to Cradensburg, Gladys??? I don’t want to power-walk all that way. I’m starting to chafe.



sent from my iPhone

Subject: WE LOST!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I can’t believe this. After all that work these are the final word counts for the writing battle between the Fantasy Dream Team and the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
154,227 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
143,292 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 69,866 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 29,695 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 43,569 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written
T-bone: 162 total words written

THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!! I have a John Deere mousepad and a book of stamps of my very own. It’s a $12 savings, Gladys!!!! I’m gonna mail you a letter!!!!

The Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap never showed up for the final word count and FORFEITED THE CONTEST!!!!! We’re all going over to Ink Black Coffee Club to celebrate.

By the way, the other night I accidentally emailed my story to Bevvy Hart and I got an email back from her before I could tell her to send me back the file. I’ll forward it to you.

Look at it right away, Gladys!!!! Don’t drag your feet like you did about the mimes!!!



From: Bevvy Hart
Fw: Your Manuscript begin forwarded message

Dear X,

I’ve been unable to produce words for yet another NaNoWriMo. However, the arrival of your manuscript about Fenchin has revealed a twist of fate. I think I am meant to be an editor. I’ve also decided that the person who attempted to enter our critique group by plagiarizing Tolkien must have been some other Writer X and not you. It makes sense to forgo telling the others about this.

I’ve read through your pages and I have some thoughts. Have you heard of Patrick Rothfuss? Let’s talk.


Bevvy Madison Hart she/her
Wandering Spirit Small Press, CEO
A Vegan Owned and Operated Press









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