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

[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.

Last week I managed to come down with the flu. I was worried that I’d missed Writer X’s emails from her writing retreat, but it turns out she was tied up with her own trouble.

Without further ado…

Subject: Everything’s FINE

Dear Gladys,

Since we were boarded by pirates a week ago, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my Writing Retreat is going. I’m happy to report that, short of that brief spout of radio silence, everything is in good working order.

It’s too bad what happened to the Memoirists. I think I hear their conch now sounding from the other side of the island. Yep. That’s their conch.

And that long, inhuman wail that has made the island’s tropical bird population go silent is probably their doing, too.

Notice, Gladys, that I haven’t asked you about how Free Sample Week went. I rest safe in the knowledge that you have received ALL my emails and, when I failed to appear in town last week, you collected abundant free samples and stored them in my fridge for my consumption when I return home from this Writing Retreat. Can you also check on Tryxy, please? I don’t want him to worry. 

What was I saying? Right! Everything is fine. Earlier today, many of the Hoity Toities were rescued from Strange Island by their agents. I’ve never seen an agent, Gladys, they have quite a wingspan!!!!

It makes sense that agents would have such enormous wings. After all, how else would they manage to ascend to the lofty towers of the world’s most well known fantasy and science fiction publishers with unsigned manuscripts clutched in their talons? Evolution is fascinating.

The Hoity Toities informed us that they will send more agents after the rest of us who are stranded on this island and no one took that news better than Tod Boadkins. This Writing Retreat has worked out splendidly for him. What with us misplacing the city of Boston and then being boarded by pirates, no one has noticed that he hasn’t delivered any lectures on the Paths to Publishing.

He’s also excited that the Hoity Toities are sending us agents. He’s been up at the top of a palm tree for the last three hours practicing his book pitch.

This is the perfect time to get you caught up on all the notes about our trip for the Blog.

…Oh wait, I think that’s one of the Memoirists scurrying on their belly toward me in the jungle brush. Hang on, Gladys, I have to go pick up my Memoirist Beating Rock.

Darn it!!!! I managed to scare off that rabid Memoirist but I lost a perfectly good rock in the process!!!!

You have to stay on your toes with those ones, and I won’t let just anybody guard my forty pounds of emergency chocolate. We have to make that chocolate last at least another few hours until the agents return!!!!

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Right. We were boarded by Publishing Pirates who tried to sell us shady publishing packages while bribing us with top tier tailgating treats. Some of the Rest of Us-es succumbed to the siren call of pirate publishers and we haven’t seen or heard from them since.

The Selfies were ALMOST completely immune to the lure of Dream Fulfilling Publishing Packages. Almost. Nearly all of them are used to the hard work and hustle of writing, editing, publishing, and promoting their own fiction and were turned off by the pirate’s demand for their life savings for the guarantee of 100,000 book sales in a non-existent eastern European country.

Unfortunately, SOME of the Selfies were inspired by the piracy itself and left our Writing Retreat to join the ranks of the pirates. Some of them were so inspired, they were already penning their own ebooks like Sell 100,000 Copies of Your Book NOW! before they were even fitted for their buccaneer boots and tricorn hats!!!!

But what no one saw coming—except maybe for me because you know that I’m clairvoyant—was the pirates’ effect on the MEMOIRISTS. I’m pretty sure the Memoirists wouldn’t be on the other side of the island beating their drums and lighting things on fire with stolen glasses, blowing their godforsaken conch in search of some mythical beast, and TRYING TO STEAL MY CHOCOLATE if it weren’t for the piratess.

There goes another one!!! Hang on, Gladys. This one’s a big one.

I would be in much lower spirits if it weren’t that I know their are agents coming to rescue us ANY MINUTE NOW.

Where was I?

So the pirates were the LEAST interested in the Memoirists. They prefer to sell piracy publishing packages to genre writers who can “write to market” and produce a series. The packages simply weren’t priced to make sense for a memoir about someone’s—and I quote “crappy little life” and, apparently, memoirs don’t sell well in non-existent eastern European countries, non-existent West African countries, or even in the non-existent states of the Unite\d States.

I beg to differ with the “crappy little life” comment. What with that ghost leak we had a couple weeks ago, I know quite a few undead who would be thrilled to get their hands on a “crappy little life”!!!!!!! The pirate who said this now has a broken toe.

As you know, Gladys, nothing breaks a writer’s brain like learning that no one wants to read their story. Combine that trauma with the stress of us misplacing the city of Boston and the Memoirists were really doomed from the start.

By the time I thwarted the pirate’s tailgate party with that secret move I told you about the other week (made much easier after having already broken one of their toes) and what with the captain having walked the plank, when we hit that storm and became shipwrecked on Strange Island, the Memoirist had already reverted to a feral state.

Thats when my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins explained to me that all writers actually live in a state that is very close to—but not quite feral and that usually feral conditions aren’t observed in writers until they’re about two-thirds of their way through a novel. Or when a publisher has sent their finished manuscript back to them and asks them to turn on “track changes” for information on their next steps.

Wait Gladys!!! I think that’s the agents!!!! I think I see the shadows of their glorious wings passing over the makeshift miserable little shanties we’ve cobbled together. You should see these agents, Gladys!!! They are magical and rare beasts.

They have jeweled, multifaceted eyes capable of evaluating your manuscript for mysterious and arcane qualities only they are aware of. They possess extremely refined and highly sensitive senses—so sensitive that they can be driven off by A SINGLE IMPERFECT WORD in your query letter.

You have to approach them carefully and perform a special dance known as a soft-shoe shuffle and always keep your hands where they can see them.


That wasn’t the agents. From the size of the storm clouds gathering like bunched fists off the coastline, that was the monsoon blowing clouds in and the stooping tree shadows waving over the miserable little shanties.

Hang on. I think I see another good rock for beating memoirists with and just in time, too. I smell one approaching, licking its chops either at the size of my chocolate pile, or the tenderness of my chocolate-filled thighs.

When will those agents get here???? They’re taking forever!!!! I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out. That last Memoirist grunted at me when I walloped it with that rock and fled back to the others, whining and holding its head. I’m pretty sure he means to get back up.

What have I told you so far? Tailgate party. Check. Lost Boston. Check. Chocolate. Check. Feral Writers. Check. Broken toe. Check. Shipwrecked.

Right! We became shipwrecked on Strange Island. Maybe becoming shipwrecked would break the spirits of any other passengers on a glorified booze cruise through the New England coast line in the middle of winter, but WE ARE WRITERS Gladys, and that means we have read a LOT of books and done enough obscure research on things like survival and broken bones and how fast you die from drinking ocean water that we can bore any party-goer to tears telling them how to land on a no-fly list with book research alone.

The first thing we set down to do is to try and figure out what book we were in in order to prioritize the necessary survival skills and predict the next plot twist. Of course, the more literary writers among us prickled that we were skipping over characterization and theme, but we found a way to bring them on board and after much deliberation, we collectively decided that we’re OBVIOUSLY in

GLADYS!!!!!! The agents are coming!!!!! The agents are coming!!!!! We’re going to be published!!!!! We’re going to be RICH!!!!!

We’re going to be saved!!!! I can hear their angelic calls and see their magnificent wings gliding through the cloud cover. I can spy their messenger bags hanging upon their sides and their skinny mocha frappacinos clasped in their divine talons.

Please let Tryxy know that we’re on our way back home!!!! This has been the most productive writing retreat I’ve ever been on!!!! I’m coming home with an agent!!!!!! I’m going to be FAMOUS BY DECEMBER!!!!!

…Oh wait.

The agents have clarified that they’re currently only accepting QUERIES for Rescue and will let us know of their decision in three to six months.





















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