Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-First

[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!

I’ve never been on a writing retreat though I’ve considered it numerous times. I’ve even priced rates for a single room at a hotel or cabin in the White Mountains. I’ve visualized the sound of my fingers striking the keyboard in the deep quiet of wild New Hampshire.

And then I imagine my kids burning my house down while I’m away. My partner clinging to a piece of hard cheese as a security blanket while our life goes up in flames around his ears. My kids electing their guinea pigs as their gods.

Without further ado…

Subject: Mr. Morgan’s Week of Free Samples

Dear Gladys,

As my boyfriend—award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins and I set off for this year’s New Hampshire Writer’s Retreat, I used my clairvoyant abilities to scan the sky for clouds of doom. I noted the following cloud shapes in the sky:

A skull, a castanet, a penguin with a pimp hat, the grinning face of death, and a hanged man.

I was very happy to see that there was absolutely no doom indicated for our week long cruise in the scenic waters of the frozen New England coastline. As you know, last year’s trip got unexpectedly extended an additional week thanks to the Deep Ones and that Esoteric Lodge of Dagon cult.

I absolutely cannot take ANY delays this year. I am a very busy PUBLISHED writer and I need to write more short stories. I also need to be back in town for Free Samples Week at Mr. Morgans Food Emporium and Things Nicely Priced.

You know I live for those little plastic cups of clammy asparagus tips with half-congealed hollandaise sauce!!!! Not to mention the exclusive coupons!!!

Not only that, I received an email letting me know that I had not shown as much frugal activity last year as I did the year before.

As you know, Gladysm, if you go two years with insufficient occurances of haggling over a clearance item, filling up your trunk with free road-side stuff, or holding up a grocery line with four hundred coupons, your New Englander status gets revoked and you start to be able to pronounce the letter “r.” I refuse to flirt with that SHAME AND HUMILIATION!!!! In the words of Paul Revere, Give me kah keys or give me death!!!

Patrick Henry was a copycat.

Anyhoo, Tod Boadkins and I are nearly at the rendezvous point to meet the Event Coordinator and board the yacht in Portsmouth and it’s going to take us a while to unload the forty pink suitcases I’ve brought for this year’s event so I’ll have to cut this email short.

Here’s what I need from you, Gladys. Tryxy has started his first week of school and is very busy with homework. I need you to swing by my house, pick up my sleeping bag, my portable fire pit, my bluetooth speaker, and my camping futon. Then I need you to swing by Mr. Morgan’s and set up a camping spot by the front door with all of those things. Then I need you to camp there for the week to make sure NO ONE CUTS ME IN LINE for Free Samples Week!!!! Especially when YOU IS ME!!!!

Will keep you posted on our doom-free single-week cruise!!!!



Subject: First Blog Secretary Post

Dear Gladys,

To my eternal surprise, this year I have been elected to be the Blog Secretary for the Writing Boat. This is an immense honor and I have obviously been selected because of my publication history and incredible attention to dtail.

I’m quickly writing down my notes from our arrival as I remember them and sending them to you. You can give them to me when I’m back ashore and I will write them up in a blog post.

10:00 a.m. – Arrival. We were looking all over for the Event Coordinator. Tod Boadkins was sweating. He was nervous about being the presenter a second year in a row but says “my only saving grace is that I have my notes from last year.” He is going to do three seminars, one on character building, one on craft of writing, one on story structure. Asks me not to write that he is sweating or nervous.

10:05 a.m. – Found Event Coordinator. His thin hair is stiffly moussed, his round belly is slightly smaller than it was last year, his bow tie is purple, and his shoes are Italian. He still likes to use the words “God Almighty” a lot, and he still is shouty. As soon as he sees Tod Boadkins, his face lights up. As soon as he sees me, his face goes white as a sheet and he says “You again.”

Hold please.

10:14 a.m. Event Coordinator has banned me from the boat. Says that last year I passed myself off as Covid tester from the state health department and stole everyone’s clothes. I did know such thing, Gladys!!!!

Tod Boadkins gestures to my trolley of forty suitcases and says that obviously that won’t be a problem this year and besides, he needs me to take notes for the Blog. Event Coordinator squints at me, frowning for a long time then jabs his finger in my face and says “If you so much as steal a hanky, you’re OFF THE BOAT!!!!”

I tell him he must have me confused with somebody else.

10:17 a.m. Event COordinator and Tod Boadkins are discussing the seminar schedule. There will be less “private writing time” for this retreat because this year’s focus is on “The Paths of Publication” and last year’s writing schedule left too much time for “outright hedonism.” Tod Boadkins goes extremely pale and starts sweating again.

Tells me not to write down that he’s sweating.

Event Coordinator explains that this week’s schedule will be similar to the last with breakfast served on the dining deck followed by a session of private writing, a panel on some facet of publishing, followed by lunch. Then Tod Boadkins will do a seminar on paths to publication—Tod Boadkins interjects that he wasn’t expecting to talk about publication and that his specialty is on the craft of writing—but Event Coordinator says that won’t do. Tod Boadkins goes grayish-green and gives a high, tittering laugh.

Tells me not to write down that he has a high, tittering laugh.

Event Coordinator says that when Tod Boadkins’ seminar is finished, there will be a short mixer then we drop anchor in the evenings at different locations. Tonight we drop anchor in Innsmouth. Staying at the Grand Marsh Hotel again.

Other writers are arriving. It’s time to get on the boat, Gladys!!!! Will send more noats soon.



Subject: Forgot A Few Things!!!!

Dear Gladys,

After a few hang-ups in loading our luggage onto the writing boat, I’ve realized that my meticulous packing list has come up short. I have my footbath, my yoga mat, my Absolutely Necessary Library of Books, my toiletries including a facial sauna I forgot I ordered four years ago.

I have my thesaurus, my custom crocs, my vitamins and supplements, my toothbrush, toothpaste, and back up toothbrush and toothpaste. I have my wellingtons. I have my prophylactics and my lactose intolerance pills, an emergency first aid and snake bite kit, a tin of boot black—in pink—with a boot brush, and a clothes steamer.

I also have my travel iron, my writerly globe (it helps me write), my set of candles, three pairs of sunglasses in slightly differing shades of pink, my water bottle and back up water bootle, my dehumidifier, my emergency puzzles and tarot deck, my favorite bathroom spray, my campstove, 23 packets of writerly hot chocolate (the kind with cinnamon or cayenne or french vanilla), and rash cream in case we run into any poison oak while out at sea.

At the last minute I also grabbed my sweater Charles de-Linter that I bought when we went on that trip to Newford, my desalination tablets, my favorite curling irons, my pommade, my roadside flares, my back up battery packs, my box of Paris themed postcards, and forty pounds of emergency chocolate.

But I seem to have completely forgotten my clothes. I must have been distracted when I was busy checking our trip for DOOM. 

Please bring me some clothes GLadys!!! You have about 45 minutes to get here before we head off for Innsmouth!!!!! If you don’t get here, I’m going to be stuck borrowing clothes from people again and the Event Coordinator is already on to me!!!!



sent from my iPhone

Subject: Writing, the Gathering

Dear Gladys,

COntinuing my notes for the blog!!!! Keep track of these!!! Also, where are you with my clothes, we’re about to set sail!!!!

Day One on The Writing Boat

This year offers a very different set of writers. Which is good. Because last year most of the writers never made it home thanks to that murder mystery.

The writers have once again segmented into different groups on the dining deck.

  • There are five writers with hard cover copies of their books who all seem to recognize each other and pepper their conversation with the phrase “my agent said” or “the such-and-such award.” They’re looking at the other writers with a mixture of curiosity and alarm but keep a distance. Let’s call them The Hoity Toities.
  • I’m calling the fifteen writers who keep talking about KDP, self-publishing hacks, and “writing to market” the Selfies. They seem to congregate into three sub-tribes. Five who can’t tell their elbow from an astronaut, five who speak a dialect of Marketing-ese so only talk in three-letter acronyms and hurl free ebooks at every passer-by, and five who look extremely stinking rich.
  • Then there are the eleven writers who don’t seem to know where they belong. They look longingly at The Hoity-Toities but also curiously at the Selfies. Their auras are conspicuously free of Agents. I’m going to call them the Rest of Us.
  • Lastly, there are twenty-five people with long fancy scarves and the kind of jewelry made from bent up spoons or irregularly shaped semi-precious stones who keep interrupting each other to talk about THEIR memoir. I’m calling these the Memoirists. Where do these folks come from???
  • Noting that there are no Furries this year. That’s because Furries, unlike other writers, actually learn their lessons.

Ah well, this cruise will be doom-free so those Memoirists have nothing to worry about!!!! I’m sure they’ll be fine, Gladys!!!!

The sea is fine and clear and cold and gray. The dining deck is warm. People are supposed to be doing private writing. No one is but Tod Boadkins.

The Selfies are talking about rapid releasing long books in two volumes, getting on the Amazon bestseller’s list, and how 18.6 books will bring you $49,000 a year in royalties.

The Hoity Toities are trying to look like they’re writing, but really they’re each covertly listening to the Selfies and looking at each other, eyes like saucers as they question their publishing path.

The Rest of Us-es are also listening to the Selfies but are trying to mimick the Hoity Toities.

Tod Boadkins has the precise look of someone who is trying to magically pull a seminar about publishing out of his hindquarters.

Tells me not to write hindquarters.

The Memoirists have spotted a dark ship trailing us on the horizon. They point out that it looks like it’s dropped out of the 18th century.

The Event Coordinator tells them not to worry. “It’s probably just re-enactors on their way to Boston to re-enact the Boston Tea Party.”

One of the Memoirists says “On a Brigantine?” The other memoirists ask how he knew it was a Brigantine. First memoirist explains that he has a memory of his grandfather polishing a small brigantine in a bottle and that he once necked with his best friend under the brigantine and that he hadn’t been aware at the time that he was in love with a girl from Nantucket that he had spied on a beach one July while hunting lobsters…with a bucket. Everyone clasps their hands over their mouths and give a hushed “Ohhhhh, such imagery! Is that in your memoir?”

Lunch is pumpkin soup with filet de soul (not sure whose) followed by Tod Boadkins’ first seminar. He spends thirty minutes talking about how paths to publication are indeed paths and that there are many kinds of paths. Some are paved. Some are gravel. Some have solar lights. Some are man made. Some have mulch. Some are made by boy scouts. I’m sure he’s going somewhere with this.

Memoirists aren’t listening. They say that the Brigantine is gaining on us, followed by a fleet of sloops.

The Hoity Toities point out that the black flags flapping in the breeze all have books and crossbones.

The Rest of Us-es have nothing to contribute to the conversation until one of them says “You don’t think they are pirates and that they’re after us, do you?”

Everyone on the dining deck gives a high, tittering laugh.

We dock at Innsmouth soon. Gotta go Gladys, we’re having a formal dinner and I need to sneak into the hold and see if someone thought to pack me an evening gown!!!!! More notes soon!!!!



































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2 thoughts on “Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-First

  1. Cardinal directions come in pairs; north-south; east-west; up-down. Is there a sixth direction, I wonder….?

  2. Pingback: Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixty-Second | File 770

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