Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-Ninth

[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.

If you haven’t been following, Writer X and her friends have been lost in a land that isn’t Narnia. Silverfox has discovered the true identity of the Neutral Ninja and Yacht Rock will never be the same for me.

I received one scrambled email from X this week which I’m pasting below. Apparently she’s been captured by fantasy writers who are holding her hostage in exchange for beta readers and connections to Hollywood?

Wait. That sounds about right. Fantasy writing is hard in any world you might live in.

Something weird is happening. Other text keeps jumping in when I try to hit paste. I think Tryxy’s trying to talk to us.

Without further ado…

Hello Filers,

JUST as I threw off the soldiers from the Dark Armies like flies, the Fox Warriors had the hot idea to attack us. Would have been FINE if not for their magic user.

Am frozen in the magic user’s tent while X negotiates to free me and am HEATED. Almost popped off on magic user for binding me but X said losing temper wouldn’t help so should keep myself “occupied.” Decided to write you instead. Good thing don’t need phone or laptop or hands to send emails. Demons have built in wifi and speech to text. Am sure that will come up later. Could break out of this stone if really wanted to but don’t feel like dealing with more foxy magic.

Let’s see. What do you want to know? Let me read your mind. Oh!

#bestkitten is fine. Safe and warm. X doesn’t know how Fox Warriors will react to a kitten so has #bestkitten snuggled in her back pack. Lots of ham in there. You know how #bestkitten likes her ham.

Awwww. She’s so cute. Becoming less mad.

X is handling all with calmness. Her boyfriend, Tod Boadkins, has gone missing, dear friend Silverfox has been captured, BFF is trapped in a trident geode by PITA magic user and she’s “totally not freaking out.” X is always freaking out. Usually about writing. Guess that this is still easier than writing her first epic fantasy novel.

Need to get out of this stone, find Tod Boadkins and Silverfox, and find mysterious manager of X’s writing so can get back home to coziness of my basement abyss.

…oh. Right. Just remembered.

ThEY are coming for me. Will want to put me back in void thanks to Ninevah. Will be locked away from all friends.

Sad demon is sad.

K. Little calmer. Lil Nas X dropped a new single and he can do no wrong. Feeling pumped. New song idea to show #bestkitten. Will go right in her key.

X still talking to fox mage. Fox mage is very tall, very fine bones that would go crunchity-crunch. Has longer, thinner ears than other foxes. Wears long blue and red robes with gold demonic sigils embroidered on sleeves.

One of those sigils is the name of a cousin of mine, eight times removed. Her name is WMBLENXEA, Little Timmy, for short. She loves fried chicken. But don’t say her name out loud. You’ll summon her. Also loves fried people.

Lots of wizard junk around tent. Including stupid cramped stone I’m stuck in. X is sitting across from mage at thick wooden table that is strewn with scribbled parchments.

Fox mage still doesn’t trust X but is warming up. Now mage is gesturing to hot mess of parchments. X is nodding understandingly.


They are talking about their stories. Fox mage is also a writer when isn’t fighting Dark Armies and TRAPPING DEMONS.


Fox mage writes original fantasy screen plays about humans who live in desert and chase monsters. Cool. But won’t shut their yap about it. Has been blathering for FOUR HOURS. Asking X if she knows good producer to pitch it to. Mage imagines ZENDAYA as good person to play main character. Does she know ZENDAYA.

X says she may know Zendaya. Fox mage very excited. Now talking about scenes where Zendaya-main character will fly across desert canyon on magical device and trap a WHOMPNEIVER in a FIDDLETRIX. Zendaya will wear blue and red robes and have long, thin fox ears.

Fox mage shows scars from trapping a WHOMPNEIVER in a FIDDLETRIX. Explains series is partly auto-biographical. Has started a memoir. Will X read it.

X is biting her lip. Both of them. Says “sure, right after you get us out of here.”

Think I want to go back into that stone just so that they STOPS.

#bestkitten is deep in ham nap.

Oh dear lord of darkness, please just throw me back in the void now.

We have met MORE WRITERS.

Fox mage has snuck X, me, and #bestkitten to tent of Assistant to the Fox Leader to see about releasing prisoners secretly. Smells like oiled armor and rusty cans in here. Assistant to the Fox Leader is completely against setting free. Says they shouldn’t trust foreign creatures who come through portals. Fox mage says “but where would we be without Elvis? Elvis came through a portal and so did the Bee Gees and C.S. Lewis” and Assistant to the Fox Leader says “that’s a good point but it’s my neck that’s on the line and not yours and Fox Leader is in a bad mood because second draft of Sword and Sorcery novel is lumpy.”

X says “wait a minute, where’s Elvis?”

Fox mage licks lips a bunch of times. Picks words carefully. Says that X knows Zendaya and could connect to Good Hollywood Producer for streaming fantasy show. Assistant to the Fox Leader looks skeptical but curious. Fox mage says, “I’m sure she could connect you with the beta readers you’ve been looking for all these years.”

Now Assistant to the Fox Leader is still skeptical but needs this to be true. “Ordinary fantasy readers don’t want to read the kind of fantasy I write. These days it’s Brandon Sanderson this, Brandon Sanderson that. But some of us write things more nuanced and LITERARY in nature. Finding a beta reader for your 900 page masterwork of LITERARY FANTASY is harder than finding a sword in a stone that happens to want liberation. How do I know this foreign writer who has come through the portal can connect me with RIGHT beta readers, hmmm? What do they know of John Crowley’s Little, Big, hmmm? Have they read Thomas the Rhymer, hmm? What about Murakami’s 1Q84? Has their heart leapt at the immaculate yet banal details and ghostlike ambience of Kazuo Ishiuguro’s Buried Giant, hmmm? In other words, WOULD THEY KNOW THEME IF IT BIT THEM IN THE FACE????? Arf, you know what happened the last time I sent my manuscript to that beta reader you connected me with. How can you just waltz in here and tell me that this pink creature can connect me to the beta readers of my dreams? No, I tell you, NO. Return to your tent and keep watch over the prisoners.”

X is taking out phone. She says “please hold, I’m getting you your beta readers now, but you’ll have to release us with provisions and a map before I will send them copies of your manuscript.”

X is typing something. Now hitting send.

Subject: Beta Readers

Dear Gladys,

No time to go into the details but I need you to get me a couple beta readers for this SELF IMPORTANT Assistant to the Fox Leader’s LITERARY FANTASY MANUSCRIPT as part of the conditions of my release from imprisonment!!!!!

#bestkitten is fine. She is deep in a ham-induced coma of contentment. HOpefully I Can nedgotiate our release before she wakes up and starts meowing!!!!!! Although the sounds of her bellowing may temporarily deafen our captors and allow us to escape.

Anyhoo. Beta readers will need to be willing to give up ten to fifteen weeks of their life and CAREFULLY COMB THROUGH BARF LoRd’s 900 page behemoth. He is looking for feedback on every single word choice. He says its a generational tale about a family home with a window that ancestors have disappeared into and keep reappearing out of and marrying their descendants years in the future and/or past.

Don’t worry about follow through. I’m pretty sure by the time they’re done reading it, we’ll be long outta here!!!!

Also, please send me the emails for the Duffer Brothers. For a ten percent cut, I will connect them to their next STRANGER THINGS HIT!!!!!!!! This story has it all!! Romance!!! Cockroaches!!! A MAGIC ORB!!!!! Everything Except FENCHIN!!!!

I haven’t heard back from you about my Author Bio!!!!!



Hello Filers,

X has sent her email to Gladys (and, hence, to Melanie who will send it to you.)

Assistant to Fox Leader looks open to negotiation. Says that he doesn’t have a word document version of his manuscript but has written it by hand and will have to sneak into the Fox Leader’s tent and use her scanner. Should take four or five days to get it all scanned if the camp stays in the same location.

Fox mage says “we need it now.”

Assistant to the Fox Leader says “That’s not going to happen. You should consider the deal OFF. And, to think, I was going to pitch your prisoner release idea to Fox Leader in exchange for help on her blurb for an Urban Fantasy graphic novel she’s been working on and you had to be unreasonable about waiting.”

Uh oh. Commotion going on outside the tent. Assistant to the Fox Leader is being summoned by Fox Leader in loud, angry barks.  Foxes are screeching outside. Something is flying around over their heads. They are going to shoot it down.

I think I know where Tod Boadkins is.

Tod Boadkins has been shot down. An arrow skimmed his left elbow and he fell out of the sky screaming.

Fox warriors are brandishing spears and Fox mage is threatening to put me back into the stone and find a way to cram X in there next to me even if it means separating her from her body.

Might be the time to unleash hell on all of them. Just hate to think that I’d be wiping out an entire Fox tribe especially with Ninevah so fresh on mind and heart.

It’s getting bad. Assistant to the Fox Leader is saying that it was all a trick and that Tod Boadkins was a spy in the sky.

They’ve wrestled X’s phone out of her hands and someone is snatching the back pack with #bestkitten in it.


#bestkitten has leapt from the back pack and into the fray.

Fox warriors are falling away. Smitten by the cuteness of #bestkitten.

Now #bestkitten is licking her paws.

They’re all saying “Awwwww. So cute!”

Fox Leader drops to her knees and bows to the ground before #bestkitten. Is saying, “Your majesty, we had no idea these foreigners were with you. Please forgive us, we were only defending the realm.”

The rest of the foxes are prostrating.

Well, Filers. It looks like we’ve found a way out of the camp. Now to find a way to the manager and then the regular world where All Hell™ is waiting for your Tryxy.

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