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

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

PIRATES!!! Pt. 2

Hello, All. Melanie here!

In case you missed last week, Writer X and Tod Boadkins decided to give the New Hampshire Writer’s Retreat another whirl. The retreat takes place in January. On a boat. That travels up and down the New England coast line for a week.

Or, as in the case of last year’s retreat, two weeks. But a malignant undersea Lovecraftian society were to blame for the extension.

I didn’t know they did winter cruises in New England. I’m sure it’s a lovely, scenic time to be sitting on a boat trying to write.

Here’s a link to last week’s fit for your convenience.

Without further ado…


Subject: Still No Doom in Sight!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

By now you should be set up to camp for the week outside Mr. Morgan’s Food Emporium and Things Nicely Priced. Maybe you think that I’m being too dramatic about asking you to camp out a week in advance for Free Samples Week, but you can’t be too careful.

Cradensburg residents take savings seriously!!!! They will try to cut you in line!!!!

I decided to give you a run down of a few additional things you’ll need. These will see you through the rest of the week in terms of personal defense!!!

Bob and Barbara Elfwitz throw the best tailgate parties and are your singlemost top threat!!! How do you think they’re so successful at such splendid tailgates, Gladys????

EVERY YEAR THEY CORNER THE COUPONS FOR SWEDISH MEATBALLS at Free Samples Week!!!! Every winter, Bob cashes in those coupons, clears out Mr. Morgan’s stock, and sculpts a tower of delectable jam-glazed meats in the shape of Tom Brady.

NOT THIS YEAR!!!!!

Now, Bob is pretty much a pacifist, but he’ll still try to con you out of your spot by chucking a molotov cocktail through your car window.

Once you run to put out the flames of your smoldering car, he will scoot into first place and then they win!!!!! Whatever you do, LET YOUR CAR INCINERATE INTO A CHARRED WRECKAGE!!!! Show them what you’re made of, Gladys!!!!

But once you stare down Bob, you’ll have Barbara to face. Barbara is a much more serious foe. Do not underestimate her.

When you look into her warm brown eyes, you are staring into the eyes of a woman who has twelve continual years of excellent tailgate parties, each one outdoing the last.

Oh yes, Bob serves the swedish meatballs, Gladys, but BARBARA serves the Jalapeno poppers, the chicken nachos, the lemon-dill-beer dip, the macaroni salad, the hot mexican corn, the coca cola chicken wings, the buffalo chicken fingers, a seven-layer dip, and the ham and cheese sliders with the little slices of pickle pinned to the tops with a festive toothpick.

And she won’t accept a lick o’help from ANYONE, lest the GLORY BE SHARED!!!!! They throw the only tailgate party I know of that strictly forbids anyone from bringing a dish to pass!!!!

Gladys, I don’t have any other way of preparing you for this, but Barbara will use her very teeth to get past you to the coupons. She will bite off your ear if she has to. Have you noticed that Josh Nichols-Buttercop has stopped going out of the house without a beanie covering his ears???? He was in front of the Elfwitzs in the Free Samples Week of ’14. Those were dark times, Gladys.

Don’t you worry, though!!!! I have outsmarted her before!!!!! The sure-fire way to beat the Elfwitz’s to the Swedish meatballs is to

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Re: Still No Doom in Sight!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m writing you from the Grand Marsh Hotel in Innsmouth, Massachusetts and our power keeps going out.

Anyhoo, I need to get you caught up on our retreat notes, so be sure to do EVERYTHING I SAID PRECISELY the way I SAID IT and I’m sure you’ll be just fine with the Elfwitz’s.

As I was saying, we have one day under our belt on our Writer’s retreat and there is still no doom in sight. There is an electrical outage, a strange wall of black storm clouds that have rolled into the harbor and enveloped the yacht, and some pirates on the horizon, but NO DOOM.

Absolutely nothing is going to make this retreat run longer than a week and put me at risk of missing those free samples!!!!

Sorry for keeping you waiting Gladys, I’m back. I had to throw myself beneath a hissing fiddle leaf fig because the Event Coordinator is out on the prowl looking for a thief and he’s wearing his shouty face. Someone mysteriously stole one of the Memoirists formal evening gowns last night and I’m still wearing it because I love the sequins and forgot to pack my pajamas.

The Event Coordinator has been in a rotten mood. He chewed out my boyfriend, award nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins for the lecture he did on publishing paths yesterday and says he expects “a lot more from him.” I’ll be ready to take notes when Tod Boadkins delivers that “lot more”, we both can’t wait to see what that will be!!!!

Sending you my notes for the BLOG next!!!!

xox,

X


Day Two on The Writing Boat

One hour delay on launch of the boat. A Memoirist had gone missing but someone found him on the roof of the Grand Marsh Hotel sharpening the talons of an ancient aquatic creature into spear heads. He says his name isn’t John anymore, that we now have to call him The Vessel and pour him glasses of cow’s blood, but this is fine because no one liked John and The Vessel is much more tolerable.

Skipped private writing session for the morning thanks to The Vessel.

The Hoity Toities hosted a panel on finding an agent. The biggest takeaway was that you should immediately inject your agent with an iridium tracking device to prevent your agent from getting lost in the first place. The Rest of Us-es took careful notes. The Selfies said they never have this problem.

Lunch was cancelled due to the captain sailing the yacht at 28 knots to outpace the brigantine and fleet of sloops that are coincidentally going in the same direction we are, no matter how many evasive maneuvers we take.

Fortunately, I brought forty pounds of emergency chocolate so I made do with a few nibbles of that. Imagine how hungry I would be if I had packed clothes instead of chocolate, Gladys!!!! Good thing I think ahead!!!!

I’m sure it’s fine.

Memoirist keeps eyeing me asking me where I got my jeans from. I said “down south.” By south I mean her suitcase in the hold.

Tod Boadkins is just glad he didn’t have to do another lecture on the path to publishing. I think he’s running out of different kinds of pavements to talk about.

Tells me not to write that. Says yesterday’s lecture was all part of a bigger plan. Sticks his nose in a corner and stares into the shadows while swaying catatonically.

Says he’s not catatonic. 

Another Memoirist created a kerfuffle when her black star agate necklace seemed to go missing but mysteriously returned to her neck just as the strange mist overtook our ship.

The Vessel says he is the chosen one and will let in the Ancient Jackal through the Eye that Devours the Worlds.

Way nicer than John.


Day Three on The Writing Boat

Dropped anchor for the night on the island that appeared in the middle of that mist. Took shelter in a desolate stone village that has every modern amenity but looks as though it was abandoned with cook pots still on stove and shovels stabbed into snow piles.

No footprints anywhere to indicate where the inhabitants may have gone.

Everyone’s surprised that all of the Memoirists are alive and cordial this far into the trip!

The sea is free of mist so its clear sailing back to Boston. Were supposed to stay there last night but there was only that island where Boston should have been so the captain says he’s just gonna loop around the island and Boston should reappear, no problem, so long as no one crosses their fingers.

Tod Boadkins has his fingers crossed. 

Tells me not to write that he’s crossing his fingers.

Tells me to erase that.

Says “Why do you keep writing down everything I tell you in confidence?”

Facepalms himself and says nevermind.

Hoity Toities host a morning panel on Getting An Agent. Agree that they probably should have started with this one. Give us a recipe for an arcane, agent-summoning spice.

At lunch, the Rest-of-Us-es make a commotion and say that maybe we should call for help. The captian says “why?” The Rest of Us-es point at the pirate ships with unfurled black flags that have encircled our boat. The flags have books with crossbones on them.

Tod Boadkins suddenly becomes light-hearted and happy, like he senses he won’t have to do another lecture.

Starts to open his mouth to tell me something, then shuts it.


Day Four on The Writing Boat The Dark Ship of Vanity

Were boarded by pirates yesterday so spent the rest of the night on the commandeered ship swabbing the decks and setting up chairs for the presentation.

Pirates have hoisted their black flag with book and crossbones on our yacht. They have asked how many of us are completely satisfied with our book sales.

The former captain raises his hand.

He is pushed overboard. 

They have informed us no one needs to die, but that everything will go well if everyone is published and headed for the bestsellers list by the end of the presentation. But if we aren’t, they’ll make us walk the plank. Everyone agrees this seems reasonable.

Pirates inform us that they help writers dreams come true. For a small fee of only a quarter of your life’s savings, they will partner with every writer here and publish their latest manuscript and guarantee over 100,000 book sales in a small, nonexistent Eastern European country.

Selfies push back on the pirates. Say there should be more markets. Pirates explain that they have an additional publishing package that they offer of 50,000 additional book sales in a small, nonexistent West African country.

Selfies push back on this too and ask if the pirates have any packages in the States. Pirates explain that they include that in the standard package. They send the book out to all fifty non-existent States.

Hoity Toities say something smells fishy about this.

Pirates say that’s just the fish tacos. Tell us that if we don’t care for the fish tacos, we’re welcome to try the jalapeno poppers, the chicken nachos, the lemon-dill-beer dip, the macaroni salad, the hot mexican corn, the coca cola chicken wings, the buffalo chicken fingers, a seven-layer dip, or the ham and cheese sliders with the little slices of pickle pinned to the tops with a festive toothpick.

sent from my iPhone

PASSED MY

FIRST TEST

OF THE

SEMESTER!

IT WAS ON

THE FIFTH

DIRECTION.

GOT EXTRA

CREDIT

ON THE

SECTION

ABOUT HOW

TO TRIGGER

THE FIFTH

DIRECTION

AND OPEN

A PORTAL.

EASY.

HOLD A

BLACK STAR

AGATE OVER

SALT WATER.

HOW WAS

YOUR WEEK?

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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

PIRATES!!! PT. 1

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!!!!

xox,

X


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.

xox,

X


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!!!!

xox,

X

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!!!!

xox,

X

SO. MUCH.

HOMEWORK.

DID YOU KNOW

THEREARE FIVE

CARDINAL

DIRECTIONS,

NOT FOUR?

FIFTH DIRECTION’S

ASTROLOGICAL

SIGN IS

THE PEEPHOLE.

ITS PLANT,

THE GLOWING

JUNIPER. ITS

SEMI-PRECIOUS

STONE IS THE

BLACK STAR

AGATE. THE CITIES

OF SAN FRANCISCO,

NEW ORLEANS,

AND HIBBING

ALL HAVE

FIFTH DIRECTION

COORDINATES.

PLEASE KEEP

AN EYE ON

X FOR ME.

HAVE TO

STUDY MORE

FIFTH DIRECTION.

TEST NEXT

WEEK.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Sixtieth

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

MARK TWAIN’S EDITOR

Hello All, Melanie here!

If a ghost offered to haunt your house, would you accept? I think I’d need to see a resume.

Whatever her latest choices, I’m happy for Writer X!

Without further ado…


Subject: A New Year’s Ghost Story

Dear Gladys,

I know I was supposed to pick you up for THE BIG PLAN, but the local advisory said that the ghost weather was too bad to go out of the house.

I looked out my living room window and there was a tide of souls pouring out of the cemetery and down my street. It was a ghastly sight, tall skeletal men with beards and top hats, prim skeletal children in chort pantrs with shriveled eyes in shriveled sockets wandering through the melting snow.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going! Honestly it wasn’t looking good until this ghost parade showed up after that unfortunate explosion outside the Horn Hill cemetery by the New Hampshire DOT. Whatever the mayor said about “the ghosts merely passing through to eternity” there are A LOT of them that are knocking on people’s doors to offer haunting services.

I’ve turned nearly ALL. of them away. If the health department or ghost immigration services calls you, I turned all the ghosts that knocked on my door away and THAT IS MY OFFICIAL STANCE ON THE SITUATION.

With the HOA sending me letters about TRyxy’s new leopard, I don’t need any more officials breathing down my neck!!! I PUT UP A SIGN!!! The leopard should surprise NO ONE!!!!

Where was I? I was on my way to pick you up so that we could drive to the houses of EVERY short story publication that rejected the chapters of my novel last week. I was determined to be published and become famous before the New Year!!!

Nothing would fix that situation like some good old fashioned CONFRONTATION. I still have half a mind to talk sense into these publishers. But then there was the cemetery explosion and the outpouring of ghosts and I didn’t want to get ghosts in my car’s air intake system again.  

That’s when the ghost in the green Stratford hat and the parrot shaped cane showed up at my front door. She fixed my crooked Beware of the Leopard sign that some HOA member had angrily strangled and asked me if I could use an editorial haunting as she was sick of “living in the underworld and wasn’t hastened to return.”

I don’t need an editor galsdy, my words are BRILALNT the minute they hit the page!!! I started to turn her away except she slid in another scintillating detail.

She said, “I was Mark Twain’s editor.”

I siad, “Prove it.”

“Are you familiar with Mark Twain’s quote Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest?

I told her that OBVIOUSLY I was. (I wasn’t.)

“Originally it went: Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish most of the rest. Speaking plain, that version lacks the vigor of the latter. If needing further evidence of my skill, I editorially haunted Ernest Hemingway while he wrote The Sun Also Rises. Prior to my assistance, it will surprise that Hemingway’s prose was flabby.” She raised her mostly missing nose high, daring me to contradict her.

While I don’t NEED an editor, I would challenge an editor of a short story magazine to turn down the chapters of my novel WHEN THEY’VE BEEN EDITED BY NONE OTHER THAN MARK TWAIN’S EDITOR!!!!! Of course I invited her in.

She hung her hat and parrot cane by the door, I handed over my incredible chapters, and she began editorially haunting me.

Mark Twain’s editor read the pages quickly. She looked more pale and bloodless than she had when she left the graveyard.

Occasionally she would get to a particularly genius paragraph and she was BLOWN AWAY, galdys!!! She had a tell. Whenever she ran into my genius—which was FREQUENTLY, she would lean her head to the left and blink her shriveled eyes rapidly while pursing what was left of her lips.

Did you know that ghosts can sweat, Gladys? Because this one did. As she got further in, she sweat in buckets and kept making that blinking face at my pages. Pretty soon the first floor smelled like earthy ghost sweat and Tryxy had to come up from his abyss in the basement and discretely place som apple cinnamon air fresheners around the room. Then it smelled like apple cinnamon ghost sweat.

Finally, the ghost said, “Young lady, if you desire my advice, consider throwing out—”

“The adverbs?” I asked.

“No,” said she.

Remembering some of the writing books I’d read when I was stalking Tod Boadkins’ house I said: “Oh! I know! Get rid of multiple gerunds in a sentence!!!!!”

The ghost flashed the two gaping nostrils in her skull and peered down what was left of her nose. “I was going to say consider throwing out everything that is not chapter four and five.”

“Oh,” said I and I began to think of throwing this ghost out of my house because OBVIOUSLY she’d lost her editing knowledge when her brains rotted away, but you know I like to be polite, Gladys, soe I watied until she was done editing chapters four and five.

At last, she handed me the pages. “These read as a short story.”

She collected her hat and cane from by the door. The new short story looked pretty good so I asked her if she wanted to take a look at my True Blood fan fiction and she said that, on second thought, the underworld hadn’t been half bad.

HER LOSS!!!!

Anyhoo Gladsy, I sent chapters four and five off to a publisher I found online, paid the $25 publishing fee and…

I’M A PUBLISHED WRITER, GALDYSA!!!!!!

You can find my new short story at We Publish Anything dot com later this week!!!!! What a way to bring in the NEw year!!!!! This is right on time for the New Hampshire Writer’s Retreat that my boyfirend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins, invited me on!!!! Now I’ll sit on the PUBLISHED writer’s deck when we sail away. They invited him back a second year because his evil doppelganger did a horrible job last year.

I’m in high spirits. I think I’ll go write!!!!

Pages next week, Gladys!!!

xox,

X

SCHOOL STARTS

NEXT WEEK

BUT DON’T

WORRY, FILERS.

EVEN WITH

A LOT OF

HOMEWORK,

WILL STILL

MAKE TIME

FOR YOU.

HAPPY

NEW

YEAR.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fifty-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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

The PERFECT Hogswatch

Hello All, Melanie here!

I’m writing you from New Jersey this week as I’m here visiting my sister for the holidays. I hope that you each enjoyed your holidays and had uninterrupted power.

Without further ado…


Subject: This will be the end of those juggling, caroling gnomes!!!

Dear Gladys,

I need you to convene at my house IMMEDIATELY. I am traveling from the Magical Market and should be there in TWNETY MINUTES. Nothing less than My Perfect Writerly Hogswatch is on the line!!!!

Drop whatever holiday shopping you’re in the throws of and bring me your extra long extention cord. I have something to plug in. Please.

By the way, sorry that I didn’t email you last week, as you will see from my lawn I was BUSY handling this GNOME situation!!!!

This Hogswatch I could have wished for world peace, a renewable energy source for humanity, or an end to hunger but did I do that? NO.

I set my sights on a reasonable list of Hogswatch demands: to be a famous writer (currently in the works!!!), to find the perfect present for Tryxy (this is his official first celebrated Hogswatch), to give my boyfriend—award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins, a present that reveals I am the superior giftgiver.

And to lose ten pounds.

With all my wishes on the verge of coming true except that last one, I was set to have the Perfect Writerly Hogswatch. Hogswatch morning would begin with a light snowfall, some writing and reviewing all the hundreds of acceptance letters that SHOULD BE IN MY INBOX BY THEN, popping a scrumptious three course Hogswatch feast in the oven, and then quietly opening presents together.

Two weeks ago, Tryxy and I even put together A VERY TASTEFUL Hogswatch themed animatronic display in our front yard. At sunset on Hogswatch, we planned to switch on the animatronic display as the HOGSWATCHY WONDERMENT of animatronics doing the robot delights all.

Everything was great until my neighbor, Mr. D___, hired those STUPID juggling MLM gnomes to set up Magical Hogswatch Village in his front yard. Since then, it’s been non stop juggling, chorus line kicks, and barbershop quartets singing saccharine carols until FOUR A.M.

How is my Hogswatch display supposed to inspire HOSGWATCHY WONDERMENT with those stupid barbershop gnomes singing a doo-wappy “It Happened On A Hogswatch Night”???????

Of course this forced me to delay shopping for Tod Boadkins and Tryxy UNTIL HOGSWATCH EVE and prioritze buying ALL of the Hogswatch lights and lawn ornaments in a fifty mile radious. (Ialready got #bestkitten a ham and a cute little snoopy doll.)

I covered EVERY inch of front acreage in wattage and gtinsel!!!! It took ALL of my attention.

You know what those miserable gnomes did??? They exchanged juggling metallic balls for CANDLESTICKS. And now Mr. D___’s lawn is bucolicly lit with the warm glow of juggling candle flames THUS DIMINISHING my overall animatronic HOGSWATCHY WONDERMENT by AT LEAST 18%!!!!

So I started anti-gnome whisper campaign. Gnomes are the most pedestrian of Hogswatch symbols. But you didn’t hear that from me!!!!!

AND THEN I FOUND THE ULTIMATE HOGSWATCH.

Down at the magical market, I bought a one-of-a-kind BEHEMOTH  XRAY VISION LUMINANCE HOLIDAY BEACON 10000.

I signed the safety waver and promised to reserve its use for Emergencies. Such as if planet earth needs to signal extra terrestrials for help. But that’s just like those tags people tell you not to tear off pillows. 

On Hogswatch, if those melodic gnomes so much as whistle a single bar of “Silent Night, Hogswatch Night” I’m gonna light those suckers up with SO MUCH HOGSWATCH CHEER IT WILL WAKE THE DEAD!!!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: SEcond OPINion

Dear Gladys,

I’m hear in the Magical Market scouting last minute presents for Tryxy and my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. I think I found the perfect presents but I want your opinion.

For Tryxy I went to Mungawo’s Misfit Marvels and I found a chartreuse fur-trimmed unitard. or a  lifelike immense sculpture of a malevolent purple leopard with opulescent bared fangs and black eyes that follow you when you move. It also throbs with a cold dread whenever you touch it.

I’m leaning towards the leopard but you can change my mind.

Tod Boadkins is against the commercialization of Hogswatch. He prefers recycled gifts so I popped by Sigmund Sigirsson’s Second Chance Showroom and found a watch that’s entirely out of time.

I also found this nifty little lamp with a writer’s soul trapped inside. It’s the ultimate upcycled gift. That could be cool, too.

Whatever you do, let me know fast because I went to Mr. Morgan’s before I came back here and I bought some grapes, a vat of eggnog, and a rack of lamb for our three course holiday feast and there are wolves circling my car. Oh! And I saw some stuff that looked like parsley growing on the side of the road so I picked some to flavor the eggnog.

You know everyone loves my cocktails, Gladys!!!!!

Oh my goodness Gladys!!!!! I WAS JUST THE VICTIM OF A DRIVE BY TAUNTING!!!!

A hand trolley full of half drunk MLM gnomes just jockeyed by while shouting “HEY LADY, WHO YOU CALLING PEDESTRIAN? WE’LL SHOW YOU WHO’S MORE HOGSWATCHY OH YEAH, TAKE THAT, SO THERE!!!!!” Then they pumped away on their hand trolley. 

This is incorrigible!!! What’s this town coming to??? I’m so mad I could write an email to those gnome’s upline!!!!

I’m gonna be the bigger person, Gladys!!!! I’m going to turn up my nose, buy that leopard, and walk with dignity to my car to carry on knowing TWO THINGS:

1.) With all the chapters of my novel submitted as short stories, I will be a famous fantasy writer VERY SOON and THOSE GNOMES WILL WANT MY AUTOGRAPH and

2.) I HAVE THE BEHEMOTH XRAY VISION LUMINENCE HOLIDAY BEACON 10000 so who’s laughing????

Always be the bigger, more well-equipped person, Galduys!!! And when given the option, always buying the econo sized bottle of cheap rum on Hogswatch eve!!!! I’m so shaken from that taunting, I need to calm my nerves!!!

xox,

X

P.S. Why didn’t I think of sending out my chapters as short stories before???? It’s BRILLIANT!!! I could have been famous last year!!!!!

sent from my iPhone


Subject: i’m SO CLEVER GLADys

Dear Gladys,

No. I have not been drinking. Much, Do you still have that tarp? Need to borrow it.

I was checking my emails for short story acceptances and I thought well Gladys has a tarp maybe she can assijst with this scenario.

After I snuck the giant malevolent leopard into the backyard before Tryxy could see it, I festooned it with tinsel but I don’t think the leopard liked it. Let’s cover it with a giant tarp so that Tryxy can unwrap it tomorrow and I don’t have to regret ny deciusions.

I must havetaken my Great Thinking Pills today Gladys because I narrowly avoided a crisis!!!!!

Potato.

As you know the HOA loves to skulk around my backyard. With this leopard here, one of them is sure to have a heart attack. So I painted a little sign that says “Beware of the Leopard” and hung it on my front door.

so quaint!

Anyhoo,

I need you to get here before Tryxy gets back!!!! Those blasted gnomes across the street have started to roast their sugar pigs and hurl their Hogswatch sausages at passers-by. I’m going into the house before I’m

tempted to BREAK OUT THE BEHEMOTH. It’s HOGSWATFCH TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: HogSWatch!!!!! EMERGENVY!!

Dear Gladys

For some reason I overslept buyt hagve no idea why and i seem to be in a bit of a picl;e. Pickle.

How do you cook a perfcewct hogswatch feast in…twenty three minutes???

BEcause my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins will soon walk through my door and the lamb is raw, the grapes are warm, the eggnog is half gone, and the parsley is growling at me.

What would Rachel Ray do? Oh!! We’ll make this a one pot hogswatch [email protected]@!!! We’ll put it all= in one pot  and turn  on the dinner. No.

Turn the OVEN up to 500 degrees and that should get things smelling like HoSSGwatchy Wonderfment!!!!

This is going to be the Most perfect Hogswqarch ever.

 I still haven’t gotten those accaptence letters but they’re coming, I can feel it.

Waitaminute Gladys, waht if I put the dinner in front of the BEHEMOTH XRAY VISION LUMINENCE HOLIDAY BEACON?????? If it can XRay a distant planet, IT CAN SEAR A LEG oF LAMB!!!!!

Hang on cladys, I’m just pouring the eggnog in with the lamb and hauling it in front of behemoth.

Ready Gladys??? Get ready for some Hogswatch WONDERmENT in

3

2

sent from my iPhone


Subject:

Dear Gladys,

Now that power has been restored across the region, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going. Things are excellent. Those acceptances for my chapters will come any minute now that publishers once again have electricity with which to send them.

The four of us had to adjust holiday plans due to that mysterious regional power outage but we had an equally atmospheric supper of ketchup on ritz crackers.

The light from that lamp crafted from a writer’s soul came in handy. It runs on hindsight and so didn’t need to be plugged into the grid. It leant a haunting, if not a little anguished, atmosphere to the meal as the gnomes angelic’ and plaintive voices called out to each other for directions because they were temporarily blinded by BEHEMOTH.

It’s a Hogswatch miracle.

I hope you had a happy Hogswagtch Gladys!!!!

xox,

X

LOVE MY

LEOPARD!

I GOT X

A GOAT

POSTER

BECAUSE

SHE’S THE

G.O.A.T.

HAVE TO GO

ENTERTAIN

OUR ALIEN

VISITORS.

HAPPY

HOGSWATCH,

FILERS!

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

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

ALL I WANT FOR HOGSWATCH IS A SHORT STORY SOLD

Hello All, Melanie here!

Every year my partner and I try to make holiday plans a little more manageable. A few years ago we got tired of being tired for the holidays. Our families live in very different locales, none of them are in New Hampshire so figuring out who we see which year is a balancing act. Some years we elect to stay home. It’s a Christmas present to us to not have to drive.

Unfortunately, today, we both learned that neither of us are mind-readers. Somehow we have managed to guarantee two different sides of our families that we will be at their house for Christmas, hot dishes in tow. In two different states. On the same day.

This is going to be interesting to pull off!

Without further ado…


Subject: List of Hogswatch Gift Demands

Dear Gladys,

It’s December, and the signs of Hogswatch are everywhere. The snow has not only started to fall, it’s started to stick. The neighbors have put glowing pigs in jingling harnesses out on their roofs. Tryxy and I almost landed in traction stringing red and green fairy lights around the gutters in a windstorm. Mr. Morgan’s egg nog prices have suddenly tripled. And the magical market is appearing in random places around town. I’ve spent the last several days tripping over knee-high gnomes trying to sign me up for Amway!!! The spirit of Hogswatch is slipping into the littlest things, you start to get the feeling that giving is more important than receiving.

And since you are getting that feeling, Gladys, here is my list of what I want for Hogswatch this year!!!

1.) To become immediately famous as the greatest epic fantasy writer of all time.

1 b.) To lose another ten pounds (December is the PERFECT month for weight loss, everybody knows this!!)

1 c.) To get Tryxy the MOST ASTOUNDING UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING HOGSWATCH PRESENT EVER!!!!

1 d.) To make it clear to my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod BOadkins, which one of us is the superior gift giver.

There are a few things that I would like but haven’t put onto this list yet but will need you to read my mind Gladys!!!!

Speaking of mind-reading, I need you to immediately start spying on my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. We are having a small crisis, mostly because he hasn’t dropped any hints about what he wants for Hogswatch and I need to prove to him that I am the Clearly Superior Romantic Partner by getting him something that BLOWS HIS MIND!!!! AND I need to do it without him knowing that I know what he wants!!!! This Hogswatch, Tod Boadkins is going to not only LOVE his present, he’s going to be floored by my ability to know his innermost desires!!! I’m in the PERFECT position to prove this to him but with one tiny itty bitty oroblem.

I don’t have any idea what he wants.

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN GLADYS!!!! Since Tod Boadkins and I have been dating for some months now, I’m not as able to stalk him because he’s familiar with most of my disguises. I tried dressing up as my 80s power suit wearing business executive when I went through his garbage last week but he caught me and I had to pretend I was looking for some granola I accidentally threw out.

Well, he’s not familiar with the Panda Suit disguise but, as you know, that’s been pretty scorched through after NaNo…that thing writers do in November.

I’ll need you to stalk Tod Boadkins night and day and comb his computer for clues about what he might want!!! The best way to break into his house is through the basement bulkhead. He put new locks on it since I broke into it earlier this year, but last week I dropped by and quietly broke them all again when he was stuck on the toilet. You and anyone looking to burgle the house around the holidays should have no trouble getting in!!!!

If you fail to come through on this Gladys I might be forced to get Tod Boadkins one of those plastic license plates that says “Man Cave” for Hogswatch!!!! Don’t let that happen!!!!

Anyways Gladys, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going. As you know, I may not have gotten any words written last month, but that doesn’t mean I’m not one step ahead in achieving my dreams!!!! Before I explain, I need you to understand something about writing fantasy. Fantasy isn’t only written in novels. Sometimes it is written in SHORT STORIES. I am a very special writer Gladys because apparently while writing my epic fantasy saga I ALSO managed to write a SHORT STORY!!!!

Or at least that’s what Bevvy Hart told me. Maybe I better just copy and paste what she said.

> particularly interesting magic system. Is it all based
> on that specific variety of broccoli or will
> any cruciferous vegetable do? Chapters 4 and 5 sort
> of read as a standalone short story. Have you
> considered editing those sections and submitting
> them to a publication? You could do worse than
> what Patrick Rothfuss did with an excerpt from
> The Name of the Wind!

Do you see that, Gladys???? Greatness is before you!!!! You know who else has published short stories??? NEIL GAIMAN!!!! That’s why he shows up to me in dreams!!!! Little did I know I was a short story writer ALL ALONG. I wish he just told me. If all you have to do is cut your unfinished novel into pieces and send it to publishers I COULD HAVE BEEN FAMOUS AGES AGO!!!!!

Since you’re going to be busy with my Hogswatch demands, I decided to get to work and I looked up some places to send my chapters to. I found this little known science fiction magazine called Markesworld and I think I’ll gift them with a submission from my first chapter.

My short story career isn’t the only greatness we’ve got going on at our house, Gladys!!! Tryxy is getting ready to start his first semester at Miskatonic Online University this January and he’s starting to get the jitters. He’s afraid his professors won’t like him and that he won’t be able to handle the homework load. He’s being very brave right now so if you see him, make sure you tell him that he’s got this!!!! I’m going to order him a sweatshirt with his school’s name on it. Not for Hogswatch, just as a pick-me-up for his self esteem.

Anyhoo Gladys I have to go!!! Gotta send that first chapter off to Markesworld. I briefly went to their website and saw that they mostly publish science fiction but when they see my first chapter they’re gonna change their ways!!!!

If Tod Boadkins catches you spying on him I”m going to deny deny deny. And that’s exactly what you should do, too.

xox,

X


Subject: DONE!!! SUBMITTED TO MARKESWORLD!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Brace yourself!!!! A new short story senstion Is about to hit the market!!!! Is the world ready for Writer X???? NOBODY’S READY FOR WRITER X!!!!!

Mark your calendar, because about three minutes ago I jumped through all the hoops and managed to get my first chapter of my novel copied and pasted into the Markesworld online submission system. Word on the street is they can take up to 3 days for them to accept a story so in just three days I’m going to be a published writer!!!!!! The only thing more poetic would be if they accepted my story on Hogswatch!!!!

Huh. That’s weird.

It’s only been three minutes since I submitted and just got the following email:

> Dear X,
> Thank you for the opportunity to read “Chapter
> One-Fenchin.” Unfortunately, your story isn’t
> quite what we’re looking for right now.

There must be some mistake, Gladys!!! There’s no way they could have possibly given that chapter the time they need to know that it’s the perfect short story!!!! It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen!!! I’m going to submit it again. Hang on, BRB (that means Be Right Back.)

Okay, I’m back. Clearly they’re having some technical difficulties at Markesworld. I just recopied and pasted everything into their system and the clock has been

What?? They’re definitely having some problems, Gladys!!!! I just got this email:

> Dear X,
> Thank you for the opportunity to read “Chapter
> One-Fenchin” again. Unfortunately, your story still
> isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now.

Third time’s a charm, Gladys!!!! The plus side is that I’m getting faster at submitting!!!! This time I changed my name so that their algorhithms don’t catch it!!!! You’ve got to wake up pretty early in th

OH NOW THIS IS JUST GETTING RIDICULOUS

> Dear “Ekks”,
> Thank you for the opportunity to read “Chapter
> One-Fenchin” a third time. Unfortunately, your
> story still isn’t remotely close to what we’re looking
> for right now. Please read through our guidelines
> and try again with a different story.

Gotta go, Gladys!!!! I need to send an email to that editor Michael Marke. I’m sure he’ll be very interested to know that his system is broken!!!!

Next stop, FAME!!!!

xox,

X

ORDERED

ALL THE

BOOKS

LISTED ON

MY COURSE

LIST FOR

NEXT

SEMESTER.

GOOD THING

I GOT A

SCHOLARSHIP.

MIGHT HAVE

HAD TO

SELL OFF

WHAT’S LEFT

OF X’S

SOUL TO

PAY FOR

THEM. 

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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

SABOTAGE PT. 2

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!!!!!

xox,

X


Subject: THE RETIREES

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.

Uh-oh.

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!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: GLADYS I AM IN HORRORER

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
qe

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.”

GLadys…BOOTS DONOVAN WRITES BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE INTERosidofoinow

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!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: I NEED TO BORROW YOUR SURVEILLANCE VEHICLE

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!!!!

xox,

X

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!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: STOP WHAT YOUR DOING GLADYS SOYLENT GREEN IS MIMES!!!!!

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????

xox,

X

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.

EVERYONE WINS!!!!

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.

xox,

X

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!!!

xox,

X


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.

Warmly,
Bevvy

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

WOW. THAT

T-BONE IS AN

EXCELLENT

WORDSMITH.

WONDER IF

HE’D CONSIDER

JOINING

MY BAND.

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

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

SABOTAGE PT. 1

Hello All, Melanie here!

This week’s emails from Writer X has me thinking about productivity. I think NaNoWriMo is a positive thing and what I’m about to say has no reflection on its value. But it brings me back to thinking about something Stephen King detailed in his book On Writing.

Forgive me if I butcher this summary.

King tells the story of his writing desk which was once set in the middle of his office, a metaphor for the way he tailored—and sometimes shoehorned, his life to revolve around writing. Following a low time, he moved the desk to a new spot against the wall, no longer in the center, but against the structural supports of the room. Because writing should support life, and not the other way around.

Maybe the correlation will become apparent after reading, but all I’ll say now is that not everything that takes a writer away from writing is bad. Go figure.

Without further ado…


Subject: I see you Gladys!!!

Dear Gladys,

Look downhill!! We’re both in Brokenheap today!!!! Tryxy and I are in the algae covered taco truck about a quarter mile down Spying Spy Hill. You probably can’t recognize us as we’re in matching panda suits, but I can see you!!! Hi!!!!!! I’m waving but you’re not waving back. You and those other people in the surveillance van are too concentrated on whatever’s going on in that armed enclosure in the valley.

Anyways, I’m sure you’re dying to know how our writing contest against the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap is going. Despite my best efforts, it is going terrribly. What I am about to tell you needs to remain in utmost secrecy!!!!! Don’t put this anywhere on the internet!!!!

The only way the Fantasy Writer’s Dream Team of Ink Black Coffee Club is going to pull ahead and win this thing before November is over is if…

THE FANTASY WRITER’S MEETUP OF BROKENHEAP STOP WRITING!!!!!!

Tryxy and I have taken the day to gather intel on the various writers here in Brokenheap to find their achilles heel and stop them from writing so that our group has a chance to catch up.

Don’t worry, Glayds, everything we’re doing is ETHICAL and entirely mostly sort-of legal. But I can’t vouch for anything we’re about to do because THESE WRITERS ARE SERIOUS!!!! The only writer who has dedication even remotely close to the Brokenheap writers is my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins!!!! And me.

Brokenheap can’t win this contest!!! They don’t even have a broken heap!!!!

In spite of all this stress, I’m glad the Ink Black Coffee Club writers forgot they banned me. I think I found something I’m good at!!!

Anyhoo, gotta go Gladys, I think I feel an email from Bevvy Hart incoming. Besides, it looks like you’re busy downloading satellite images which I’m sure is way less important than whatever it is I’m doing but that’s okay, I support your hobbies.

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: You’re not replying to my emails

Dear Gladys,

EMERGENCY REQUEST: I need you to create another Writer X out there to take the fall for this!!!! If I go down I’m taking the whole town with me!!!

xox,

X

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

It’s November 20th and it looks like it’s over for us. I can’t see how we have any path forward to beat the fantasy writers in Brokenheap. I blame myself. I should not have saddled you with so much responsibility.

Since you have not replied to my emails in the last week, I was forced to do a word search for your name in IBCC’s group emails. I was distressed to discover that we banned a writer with your same name because they plagiarized J.R.R. Tolkien. Is this you?

Let this uncertainty inspire you to reach out to me for insight. Affirmations are critical to every writer’s success.

I will be generating words later today after I realign my chakras.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
141,091 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
72,832 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 45,056 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 8,436 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 19,340 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

With concern,

Bevvy

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


Subject: The Curious Case of Malcom Lin

Dear Gladys,

Tryxy and I are writing you from behind one of the big rocks near Malcom Lin’s apartment over the garage of a sprawling sheep farm and knitting cooperative. I need you to pause whatever it is you are doing in that surveillance van and put your eyes on this, please. The last two weeks I’ve had an entire week to get two writers writing. This week I have to get FIVE WRITERS TO STOP WRITING!!!!

I need a diversion so that I can climb into this guy’s apartment!!!

Target #1: Malcom Lin
Age: 24 year old
Occupation: MA program at Local College
Fantasy subgenre: Epic Portal Fantasy

Oh, would you look at that!! Guns are going off over at that armed commune and people are scurrying everywhere!!! That’s just the distraction I needed.

Hang on, Gladys, I have to put my phone in my pocket while I’ll shimmy up this drainpipe!!!

Okay, I’m back Gladys and this is WORSE THAN I IMAGINED.

Malcom Lin lives in a one bedroom apartment. It’s kind of bleak in here. There’s no television and he has a desktop computer left on in his bedroom. His bed stand is stacked with books on Russian Formalism and a highlighted and much-marked up copy of Chekhov’s collected short-fiction.

Hold me, Gladys!!!! I’m scard!!!! Could it be that I’ve found a fantasy writer THAT HAS ACTUALLY READ CHEKHOV?????

I did a quick sweep of his computer and he has files open for each one of his characters. He’s got their backstory, their motivations, defining moments, notes on their physicality and comportment.

GLADYS!!!! He even has a file with the outline for A FULL EPIC PORTAL FANTASY TRILOGY!!!!!

I checked his draft and he’s in the top three producers for Brokenheap’s team. I should just tuck my panda tail between my legs and trudge away. Kiss the John Deere mousepads that the winners get goodbye. This guy is too good to stop.

Thanks a lot, Gladys. You can stop that firefight you started as a diversion. I need to get out of Malcom Lin’s apartment without getting shot.

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: ONE DOWN FOUR TO GO!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

There is no dour mood that eight root beer floats can’t fix!!!!!! I consumed those root bear floats yesterday afternoon and I still have the might of a thousand fields of sugar cane crackling through my brains!!!!!

This morning when I saw the latest numbers from Brokenheap come in, I noticed they were significantly decreased by exactly one fifth of their usual progress. My sugar-fueled idea worked, GALdsy!!!!

I’m writing to you now in a significantly better mood. Whcih is good becaue it’s cramped here behind the fridge of my next quarry. Who happens to live next to the quarry here in Brokenheap. It was great seeing you this morning, btw. Glad I could help with that little stand off you’re caught up in. I forgot I had all that ammunition laying around in my trunk. Where did you get that little FBI jacket? It’s cute on you!!! I’d like one but only if you can get it in pink.

I’m sure you’re dying to know who my next quarry is. Well it is none other than David Wash—wait.

I didn’t tell you how I solved our Malcom Lin problem, did I???? I have to admit, it was pretty genius. Before I flung myself out the window and into the firefight, terrifying everyone below, I sat down and read some of Malcom Lin’s story and it is REALLY good. SO GOOD in fact I thought “Wow, this is almost like a published book!!!” How do you get someone who is writing a really good book to pause writing that good book for—oh, I dunno, the next EIGHT DAYS????

Easy. GET THEM AN AGENT!!!!!! It’s the golden rule of writing. Once I had that in mind, I called Tryxy who immediately began searching Publishers Marketplace for the perfect match. Tryxy telepathically planted the urge to get Malcom Lin’s slugline, synopsis, and book marketing plan in that agent’s brain ALONG WITH MALCOM’S EMAIL ADDRESS and all I can say is that I saw Malcom Lin excitedly wringing his hands this morning while googling how to write a Book Marketing Plan!!!! He’ll be puzzling over that for at least a WEEK!!!!

This next writer is going to require a different strategy.

Target #2: David Washington
Age: 36 years old
Occupation: Blaster at Brokenheap Quarry
Fantasy subgenre: Fantasy Steampunk

At least David has the good New Hampshirely habit of leaving his doors unlocked. It has saved me a lot of trouble replacing the doors after I kick them in.

I had the opportunity to observe David a little last night when I was running off those floats and I noticed that he came home from a twelve hour shift at the quarry and put a bag of carrots in the microwave, planted himself in front of his computer and wrote at least eight pages in a steampunk adventure. But when he got to the end, his face looked long and sad. He trudged to his bathroom and glumly brushed his teeth. Tryxy has been tracking his limited online activity and David regularly googles articles about burnout.

I just so happen to have a solution. Theeee Perfect Solution, a solution that’s been drastically reducing writer’s word counts since 2004!!!!!

World.

Of.

Warcraft.

I AM ON FIRE, GLADYS!!!!!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Burn kit

Dear Gladys,

Can I borrow your burn kit??? I thought I saw one in your surveillance van. I also need to borrow your sewing kit so I can patch up this panda suit or else I won’t get my deposit back on it. Who knew it was so flammable????

If I had thought my panda suit could catch on fire while behind David Washington’s fridge, I wouldn’t have lit all that calming incense around me. It detoxifies your blood stream after excess sugar consumption. Tryxy told me about it. He’s very into smells lately.

…Is that fire trucks I hear in the distance?

Nah, couldn’t be.

Anyways, I’m sure you’re dying to know how I’m going to take on the next of Brokenheap’s fantasy writers. I am too!!!!

I’m sitting here in Arlene Perry’s living room and I have no idea how to crack this nut!!!!

First of all, in order to get to her computer, I have to climb over all of her himalayan pink salt lamps and some of them are VERY HOT Gladys!!! If I’m not careful, I could catch on fire again.

Target #3: Arlene Perry
Age: 48 years old
Occupation: Bus Driver for Brokenheap Homeschooling Cooperative
Fantasy subgenre: YA Fantasy

Well that’s interesting. I made it to Arlene’s computer (she’s out right now picking up the kids from the homeschooling cooperative) and she’s got an article on home remedies for tooth aches and a stack of books about natural cures for rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve also gone into her kitchen to see what she has for snacks and there’s an overwhelming number of colloidal silver bottles where she should be keeping ranch-flavored corn nuts.

Since you’re busy with that whole stand off, I’ll have to text Tryxy and ask him to bring me some corn nuts.

I’m mystified on what it will take to get Arlene Perry to slow down her word count for the next week!!!!

Wow, those fire trucks are getting louder. Do you smell that, Gladys???

I’VE GOT IT!!!!!! I was going through Arlene Perry’s medicine cabinet to borrow her dental floss and I noticed it was FULL of Oregano Oil!!!!

I know exactly what to do for her!!!! Gotta go, Gladys!!!! I have to call Tryxy!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Have fun at the stand off!!!

Dear Gladys,

Don’t worry, that noise in the valley is just me being carried away by the fire department. They took away my panda suit which is probably for the best as it was very flammable and, once they figured out that I wasn’t an arsonist, are taking me to the clinic in Cradensburg to get these blisters treated.

I was also able to call Tryxy re: The Arlene Perry Plan and he was able to get everything set up faster than you could snap your fingers and say “Toot-Toot-Malaroot-Snoot” we’ve got Arlene Perry’s week WRITING FREE!!!!!

I bet you’re wondering how we did it. A little known thing called EXCELLENT HEALTH INSURANCE!!!! Tryxy got her grandfathered in to his demonic health insurance plan complete with dental, vision, the WORKS with ZERO COPAY AND ZERO SPENDDOWN!!! Then, he called her to let her know and Arlene was over the moon!!!! She’s fallen into our wicked devices, Gladys!!!! Everything is going to plan!!!! This evening, an emergency trip to the dentist, tomorrow, an internal medicine specialist and three whole days of physical therapy!!!!!

I’m on FIRE!!!! Not literally, Gladys. Just figuratively.

By the way, on the way to the paramedic van, I noticed that the armed commune has taken out a rocket launcher so, you know, you might want to watch out for that. But before you do that, could you please get that other Writer X identity crafted??? I NEED SOMEONE TO FRAME!!!!

I feel another email incoming!!!!

xox

X

sent from my iPhone


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: I’m coming to your house to face you

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

I’ve looked everywhere and it’s becoming clear to me that you are the Writer X that we banned last year.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m willing to let this stay between us if you get us to the finish line and secure the winning spot in our contest against Brokenheap. There are the dreams of non-plagiarizing fantasy writers to think of, if that matters to you, not to mention the John Deere mousepads and free book of stamps. Those books of stamps represent a twelve dollar savings in your postal needs. To win, we need a heart to heart, so I am coming over to your house now.

I will be generating words later today after I instruct you how to be a write team coordinator that wins.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
151,238 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
91,690 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 52,634 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 13,887 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 25,169 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

With a clear set of chakras,

Bevvy

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

X THINKS

I AM INTO

SMELLS

LATELY BUT

AM JUST

TRYING

TO GET THE

STINKING

ALGAE

TACO

TRUCK

SMELL

OUT OF

EVERYTHING.

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

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

PAVLOV’S BACKSPACE

Hello All, Melanie here!

There’s a time for a writer’s self-editor to scrutinize their manuscript. The first draft is not the time. Especially not when NaNoWriMo is on the line. Hey. That rhymes.

Without further ado…


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: I’m afraid we’re too behind

Dear Gladys,

Can you please respond to this, I’m in the middle of seeing a guy about a taco truck!!!!!!!

xox,

X

P.S. If she thinks I’m going to roll over and let the Fantasy Writer’s Meet Up win our November Writing Competition she’s got another thought coming!!!! What is keeping these fantasy writers from writing?????

P.P.S. Brokenheap can’t win. They don’t even have a corn maze!!!!

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

It’s November 13th. While you have definitely made progress with Ravenhair’s word count last week, looking at these numbers, I can’t help but think our team is terminally behind. I don’t mean to make you feel that you are unappreciated, but what are your plans to address this? Edwina is LOSING words.

I’m available at any time if you would like some guidance on how to get us back on track.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
88,766 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
30,405.15 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 23,760 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 6.15 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 6639 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

I am confident my word count will catch up when I write today. I’ll start my story just as soon as I decide on what font I should write it in. Georgia? Times New Roman? Comic Sans?

With Concern,

Bevvy

Bevvy Madison Hart she/her

Wandering Spirit Small Press, CEO
A Vegan Owned and Operated Press


Subject: Sasquatch Repellent

Dear Gladys,

I’m sure you’re dying to know how my Poison Oak rash is doing. Whatever Tryxy tells you, I think it’s definitely playing a role in how effective my latest disguise is!!!!

This situation with the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap New Hampshire is really starting to stress me out. I also haven’t gotten ANY words written so far and you know I’m usually a WRITING MACHINE, Gladsy!!!

Right now I have to focus on cracking the case on Edwina’s disappearing word count. Now that I have all the necessary equipment I can see myself wrapping this up today as neat as a burrito and then getting to work on Bevvy Hart.

THIS IS GOING TO BE EASY!!!!

…that was an affirmation. But I didn’t feel it deep down in my spleen. And just as I typed that, dark storm clouds rolled over the horizon and blackened the sky and an ill wind began to blow.

Hmmm.

While I have you, you once told me that there’s something you can put in your yard to keep the sasquatch away but now I can’t remember what is was? Mothballs? Deer urine?? Drakkar Noir???

Could you bring me some of whatever it is? I need it ASAP. The sasquatch situation on this side of town is out of control. Johnny Chicken had a whole display of decorative gourds on his front porch and it was taken by sasquatch. I’m worried that they’re going to get meat from my freezer like they did to my protege R___’s house!!!

But don’t bring it to my house or my work!!! You can find me down at the Gun Factory in my latest disguise as a Taco Truck Lunch lady. I’m wearing a hot pink sombrero and have a lot of calomine loation all over my face!!!!

The workday bell is ringing, gotta go infiltrate a Gun Factory!!!! Will send updates soon on Edwina!!!!!

xox,

X


Subject: THIS IS HARDER THAN I THOUGHT!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Well it’s the end of the workday and I have ZERO leads on what to do about Edwina’s word count. Hang on, I have to put down my phone, there are police lights.

Okay I’m back!!!! There was a sasquatch family crossing the road outside the gun factory and the police were slowing traffic during the migration. Had to put down my phone so that they don’t think I’m texting while driving a taco truck!!!!!

Is it just me or are the sasquatch especially bad this year???

With my taco truck safely parked in the employee lot, I was able to smuggle myself into the gun factory. I found Edwina working in the cell that makes dart guns and strategically hid myself behind the wax castings.

Edwina was working peacefully, absolutely no signs of writer’s block!!!! She was listening to Celine Dion’s 1998 Grammy-Nominated Christmas Album “These Are Special Times” when boss interrupts and starts lecturing her. I couldn’t hear what he was saying over the foundry but Edwina visibly shrunk and shut off her music.

At lunch, she ordered three chicken tacos (she didn’t recognize me thanks to the calomine loation), pulled out her laptop and started to work on what I can only describe as elven erotica. It was hard to read the screen with these binoculars, but as far as I could tell she wrote ats least THREEE single spaced pages.

I turned my head for ONE SECOND Gladys to nuke this guy’s BEAN N CHEESE BURRITO and when I looked back, her pages were gone and she had exactly SIX words!!!!!

The only thing good to come out of this is that I noticed a detoxifying foot bath in her bosses’ office. Think I’ll sneak in and treat myself to a nice simmering toe treat since I’ll be back here tomorrow. My dogs are killing me!!!!

xox,

X

P.S. Brokenheap can’t win!!!! They don’t even have a headstone salesman!!!!!

sent from my iPhone


Subject: NOTES FROM THE GUN FACTORY

Dear Gladys,

I’m going to send you my notes as soon as the whistle blows!!! Please comb them for clues on what to do about Edwina’s word count!!!!

And here are the latest word count updates, they’re getting far ahead of us. Tod Boadkins needs to up his word count!!!!!!!

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
97,161 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
34,862.85 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 26,209 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 5.85 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 8,648 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

That’s the whistle!!!!

– – – – –

9:07 a.m. Edwina makes it to her cell where they are making dart guns. Says hello to the other workers in the dart gun cell. EVEYRONE IS IN A GRATE MOOD< GLADYS!!!

9:16 a.m. Pulls a CD out of her bag. It’s Mariah Carey’s seminal 1994 holiday album “Merry Christmas” or at least I think that’s what it is. I have a lot of calomine in my eye. Well, you know what it means when people start playing christmas music gladys!!! Thanksgiving is a few weeks away!!!!

9:56 a.m. The foreman tells Edwina that she’s going to drill holes in barrels again today.

10:07 a.m. Boss comes out of his office. Maybe I can slip in and use his foot bath!!!!

10:12 a.m. Whew! That was close, Gladys!!!! Glad I didn’t take off my sneakers or I wouldn’t have escaped the office in time when the boss came back in to get his coffee mug!!!!

10:58 a.m. Edwina is putting on the Mariah Carey album again.

11:06 a.m. Boss goes out and starts yelling at Edwina. Gives her a stack of forms to fill out. Tells her she used blue ink on the last ones and she should have used navy blue ink. Tells her if she doesn’t get the forms filled out before lunch, he’s going to write her up. Edwina is very red and lloks like she might cry.

11:09 a.m. Edwina puts up picture of boss on wall. Throws darts at it. Others join in.

HANG ON!!! Have to get out to my truck, Gladys!!! IT’s getting to be TACO TIME!!!!

Edwina ordered the tostada plate with extra guacamole. Wrote five sizzling pages of elven erotica.

Oh that annoying Burrito Guy is back. I have to go tell him where to stick his pico de gallo!!!!

WHAT HAPPENED CLADYS!!!!! Edwina’s words disappeared!!!!! She’s down to FOUR WORDS!!!! I’m never going to hear the end of this from Bevvy!!!!!

xox,

X


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: We should talk soon

Dear Gladys,

ARGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHH

xox,

X

P.S. Some sasquatch broke into my meat freezer and stole all my taco meat!!!! Fortunately Tryxy is my pinchhitter. He’s off to Mr. Morgans to scrounge up some replacements for today’s lunch menu!!!!!

P.P.S. I NEED ACCESS TO THAT FOOTBATH GLADYS, My stress levels are so high my face is itching again!!!!!

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but we are at November 15th. That’s exactly halfway through NaNoWriMo and our team hasn’t even written half the words that Brokenheap has written. We have never been so catastrophically behind.

Except for last year and the year before when we were significantly more behind.

I’m particularly concerned about your word count. How are you supposed to lead a team when you’re not producing any words?

I thought you were helping Edwina, but how are her word counts shrinking? I don’t want to come down on you but I can’t help but feel that I threw you into this responsibility before you were ready for it. Please don’t be afraid to ask for my help. Have you tried sending the writers some affirmations?

Don’t worry about my word count. I usually do my best writing in the latter half of the month. I have time to write today and will start just as soon as I teach my turtle telepathy.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
107,551 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
40,252 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 29,254 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 4 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 10,994 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

Call me please. We can’t have Brokenheap win. They don’t even have a ubiquitous New Hampshire Vape shop.

Bevvy

Bevvy Madison Hart she/her

Wandering Spirit Small Press, CEO
A Vegan Owned and Operated Press


Subject: All I want for Christmas is this footbath!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Being a write team coordinator is hard work but it comes with its perks. It is afternoon and I am writing you from the boss’s office and enjoying an orange bergamot footbath. I bet you when people read fantasy novels they never ONCE think how many taco trucks had to be hijacked to make sure those words were written!!!

This little break is brought to you by Edwina’s boss’ need to MICRO MANAGE EVERYTHING. He really needs to be nicer to Edwina, if I didn’t need to use his foot bath I would march right up to him and given him a piece of my mind and a coupon for fifty percent off Taco Tuesday.

This morning Edwina’s music choice was Josh Groban’s fourth studio album, the critically acclaimed Christmas Album “Noel.” His rendition of Little Drummer Boy just SENDS ME!!!!

But this whole time Edwina’s boss has been out there telling her “not to load the drill like this, load it like that or you’ll kill someone!” and “what are you doing? TRYING TO MAKE A GUN THAT SHOOTS AROUND CORNERS?!!!” He’s very yelly.

That said, I THINK I’VE FIGURED OUT WHAT’S GOING ON WITH EDWINA!!!! She’s hitting the backspace key whenever she finishes writing for the day!!!!!! What are we going to do to break her of this habit????

At lunch, Edwina ordered a PBJ sandwich (Tryxy’s solution, he’s a genius!!!) and an horchata and wrote FIVE pages. Re-read them, looked worried, looked over her shoulder back and forth, AND THEN HIT THE BACKSPACE KEY UNTIL EVERY WORD WAS GONE!!!!!!

Oh, gotta go, Gladys!!! I better flee!!!! That’s the boss entering his offi

sent from my iPhone


Subject: ANOTHER CASE CLOSED!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Well, the sasquatches ran off with my taco truck last night and threw it in the river, but that’s okay because I won’t be needing it anymore as a cover. Let me catch you up on what I’ve been up to the last two days.

As you may have seen on the news, I was captured by the gun factory security and carried off the premise. I tried to return the next day, but they saw straight through my disguise as a dominos delivery driver. I wasn’t going to let that stop me!!!!

I went straight down to the town green, looked under a bunch of rocks and found that fugitive gnome that escaped from the Magical Marketplace a couple winters ago. It turns out he is a CODING Wizard!!!!! I described to him my problem with Edwina and he whipped up an app. All that was left was for me to break into Edwina’s locker and install it in her computer. But the question was, HOW COULD I GET INTO THE GUN FACTORY NOW THAT THEY SAW THROUGH ALL MY DISGUISES?????

Easy. Buy a gun.

I marched right into their offices and said “Would you toss out a paying customer?????” Never mind the fact that they don’t have a retail front there, I was able to wave around about $2000 cash in the boss man’s face and he let me walk out with one of Edwina’s dart guns. Was able to slip to her locker and install the gnome app.

The way it works is, every time Edwina hits the backspace key, the system seizes up and shows her a picture of her boss and gives the sound of a loud and foreboding bell. I bet you’re wondering if it worked? Well, I’ll just let these numbers speak for themselves.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
124,321 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
54,640 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 36,856 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 2756 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 15,028 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

Would you look at that success!!!!

Only Bevvy’s right. We are WAYYYY behind Brokenheap and I don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re going to have to take some EXTREME MEASURES next week, Gladys!!!! NaNoRoBots is NOTHING to play around with!!!!

Fortunately I’m especially good at extreme measures.

Sometimes you have to focus on the positives. I got a dart gun out of the deal. I dropped by the Department of Fish & Game to pick up some sasquatch tranquilizer darts. I was banned from that office last year but they didn’t even recognize me so I was able to waltz straight in and load up on narcotics!!!! I’m going to head out and try and take down some of the sasquatch in my yard.

Off to drop some squatch!!!

xox,

X


Subject: Just shot the mail man

Dear Gladys,

Edwina makes horrible guns. I just tried to hit a sasquatch standing RIGHT in front of me in my yard and the dart went sideways and hit the mail man. Your mail might be late. He’s probably going to sleep for a day or two.

I’ll just cover him with some of these leaves here.

That boss should fire Edwina!!!!

xox,

X

TOLD X SHE

SHOULD STOP

SCRATCHING.

DIDN’T LISTEN.

POISON OAK

SPREAD TO

HER FACE

NOW SHE

LOOKS LIKE

DON CORLEONE.

SIGH.

SO WHAT ARE

YOUR PLANS

FOR

THANKSGIVING?

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

[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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

THE MYSTERY OF RAVENHAIR SILKENWIND

Hello All, Melanie here!

Personally, I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo. I tried once, but forgot to upload my word counts. Has anyone given it a whirl?

Without further ado…


Subject: Current NaNoMishMash Writng Progress

Dear Gladys,

I am writing you from behind the dumpster of the Ink Black Coffee Club. I just saw you go by with your cousin Blanche. I would have said hello but I’m in the middle of stalking investigating why Ravenhair Silkenwind hasn’t gotten any words written for November Novel Writing Thing!!!!

It’s November 7th and we are in the first full week of our writing competition against the Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH!!!! These are the word count tallies as of this morning

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
61,721 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
14,204 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 14,198 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 6 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 0 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written (THIS WILL CHANGE SOON, GLADYS!!!!!)

FORTUNATELY for our Dream Team, I’M the Team Coordinator!!!! There’s NO WAY I’m going to let those writers in Brokenheap beat us. They don’t even have their own pet store!!!!

Oh! Ravenhair is headed into the coffee club now with his laptop bag in tow. Good thing I have this handy disguise on. No one will recognize me in this hot pink 80s power suit and wig!!! I look like a hot pink wedge salad!!!!

Sending intelligence in the next email, Gladys!!!! I need your eyes on this. We all have to do our part!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: Our Numbers

Dear Gladys,

Could you please respond to Bevvy for me and let her know I’m currently hiding on top of a paper maché sculpture of the Andy Warhol banana and I don’t want to give my location away??? Thx. (That means Thanks, Gladys!!!)

xox,

X

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

Did you see the latest numbers in our NaNoWriMo competition? I’m a little worried about how few words we’re producing this year. Just checking in to see if you need any direction on how to get our team’s word count up. I find soothing affirmations really do the trick.

Don’t worry about my word count. I’ve got some writing time today and, as soon as I dust my writing space, I’ll get some writing in.

Btw, I drove by Ink Black a little while ago and thought I saw someone who looked like you in a hot pink power suit but I couldn’t make out their face past the enormous shoulder pads and tangled lavender wig.

Warmly,
Bevvy

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


Subject: MONDAY INTELLIGENCE ON RAVENHAIR!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Here are my notes!!!!

11:37 a.m. – Ravenhair nervously sets up his laptop near the barista station on a low round coffee table surrounded by a bevy of stale couches even though it would make more sense for him to set up his laptop on the bar lining the back wall. They have outlets installed. Wonder what’s behind this choice of seating????

11:38-11:54 a.m. – Ravenhair is watching the rainbow haired barista with the chrome nose ring serve plain hot coffees to a group of three seniors who’ve never been here before and are asking a lot of questions about the giant banana. They’re going to blow my cover, Gladys!!!!!

12:30 – Ravenhair has had laptop open for almost an hour but has written nothing. Keeps staring at barista.

12:34 p.m. – He’s wiping his hands on his pants, Gladys!!! I think he’s gonna write!!!!

12:36 p.m. – Goes to barista, asks her if she went to school for this kind of thing. Barista just stares at him and asks if he wants to order something. Orders a biscotti and slinks to his poorly chosen table.

12:42 p.m. – Returns to barista and asks for drink recommendation to dip his biscotti in. Barista says “ANYTHING HOT.”

It’s getting uncomfortable on top of this banana, Gladys!!!! It takes a lot of inner thigh strength to hold on this long!!!!

1:14 p.m. – Still hasn’t written anything. Preoccupied with the barista. Wipes hands on his pants again and goes back up to the bar, clears his throat loudly and asks if he can base a character off the barista for a book he’s writing. Barista looks annoyed at first but then says that she didn’t know he was a writer, she always thought he was in IT. Ravenhair looks dejected but pushes on.

2:47 p.m. – He’s still talking to her about his book, Gladys. The temperature in this cafe has increased by five degrees Fahrenheit from his mouth exhaust alone. I’m starting to sweat!!! I’m going to slide down my banana!!!! I’ve got to do something!!!!

Good thing I learned how to throw my voice two summers ago when I accidentally enrolled in ventriloquist camp.

Okay Gladys, I sent my voice beneath the overstuffed couch he was sitting on and shouted “Would you ask her out already and get some darn writing done?” It startled the both of them. Ravenhair turned beat red, packed up his lap top and I just heard him gunning it down the road outside.

Gotta go, Gladys!!! This banana is chafing me and I want one of those biscotti!!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: Do you need my help?

Dear Gladys,

I’ll get some writing done just as soon as I figure out what’s keeping Ravenhair from writing!!!!

xox,

X

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

Here’s the latest numbers as of this morning, Nov. 8th. I hope you know what you’re doing. I’ve budgeted some time for writing today. I’ll start as soon as I finish picking out a pen with the right color vegan ink to write my notes in.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
70,106 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
17,068.5 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 17062 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 6.5 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 0 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

“Warmly”,
Bevvy

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


Subject: THANKS FOR LOANING ME YOUR LOCKPICKING KIT!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m off to a late start in getting to the bottom of the Ravenhair Writing Mystery. I started early this morning by dressing up in a new and totally different disguise and went back down to the Ink Black Coffee Club to climb the banana but Ravenhair never showed up. It turns out, he went to Mr. Morgan’s and did some light shopping and returned home. Unfortunately he locked his door behind him.

Fortunately for me, you have a lockpicking kit and I still have that pink ninja suit I bought last year when I was stalking my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. Worth every cent!!!!

Currently making up for lost time by hiding in Ravenhair’s murphy bed.

Ravenhair looks a bit shaken this morning, when I followed him into his bathroom he kept looking over his shoulder like he thinks someone’s after him. Maybe that’s why he isn’t getting any writing done???

Ravenhair is sitting at his kitchen table. Opens up laptop. Is staring at it. Picks up his phone and calls his mother. She’s on speaker phone.

Mother wants to know if he’ll consider going back to school for IT because it’s still “not too late.”

Ravenhair grumbles “I’m a writer, Ma.”

Mother says he should write a story about their family. His grandfather was a hamster salesman and his grandmother raised eggs. “I just think it would be an interesting story.”

Ravenhair looks like he might hang up. Snaps that he “has to get some writing done.” (I agree, Gladys!!!!) Starts to hang up but then decides to tell his mother that there is a lot of money in self-publishing and that as soon as he gets twenty books written he’ll make $50k a year. Adds “and unlike these other writers out here, I can actually write!”

I throw my voice so that it comes from behind his refrigerator and say, “I’m sure your mother would be REALLy impressed if you just shut up and got writing!”

Gotta go, Gladys!!!

xox,

X

sent from my iPhone


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: Maybe I’d better step in…

Dear Gladys,

ArggghghhhhhH!!!!!!!

xox,

X

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

It’s November 9th. I can’t help but feel we did much better last year when I was the write team coordinator. Let me know if you want some tips on how to fix this. Don’t worry about my numbers. I’m about to sit down and write. I’ll start as soon as I finish reorganizing all my doc files according to mood.

Brokenheap shouldn’t win. They don’t even have a puzzle shop.

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
79,096 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
19,014.75 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 19008 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 6.75 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 0 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

Warmly…,
Bevvy

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


Subject: POISON OAK POISONING!!!!

Dear Gladys,

Please drop everything and bring me some chamomiline lotaion!!!!! I’m currently swelling up like a blimp. I sent Tryxy to the store, but I don’t think he knows what chamomiline lotaion is because he hasn’t gotten back yet!!!!

I have made some critical progress in unravelling the mystery of why Ravenhari hasn’t gotten any wrtiogns dones (soerry Gladys mny fingers are swelling from all the scrat ching.)

Following Ravenhair was especially hard today. He seems to think he’s being followed and he kept nervously looking over his shoulder and turning his car around to see if someone was after him. He went to the park on Farm Hill Road and found an empty pavilion. Sat down at the table and opened his laptop but then just watched people go by with their dogs.

Fortunately I had Tryxy with me and we disguised ourselves as a local Frisbee Golf team.

After about twenty-eight minutes in our unseasonably warm fall weather, Ravenhair looked like he was going to finally get some writing done and then THE DOG WALKER HAPPENED.

This man with a dreadlocked dog went walking by and stopped to pick up his dog’s enormous dollop by Ravenhair’s pavilion and Ravenhair’s eyes lit up and he SPRUNG on him. With conversation. Started asking the guy about the dog breed. Dog Walker says its Hungarian. Dog Walker asked Ravenhair why he had his laptop in the park, was he in IT. (I think Ravenhair gets very sensitive about the “I” question, Galdys!!!!) Ravenhair got very upset and explained that he’s a writer. Dog Walker apologized and asked what sort of thing Ravenhair was writing and Ravenhair THEN LAUNCHED INTO A ONE HOUR DESCRIPTION OF THE WORLD THAT HE’S BUILDING.

When he got to the currency of the dark dwarves of Nomdorkin, I knew I had to act!!!! I should have done more ventriloquism but I was all hyped up on Tryxy and I’s game of Frolf and I whipped the frisbee Ravenhair’s way. It coasted, made a wide arc, and hit Ravenhair square in the ear. Ravenhair and the Dog Walker shouted and, to conceal my identity, I had to dive into the nearest bush.

Which was unfortunately poison oak. Now I have rashes all over everything that wasn’t covered by safety pads!!!!

I KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO DO GLADYS!!!!! As soon as you bring me some chamomiline loation, I’m heading down to that potion maker on Dead Mist Hill who’s fallen on hard times!!!!

WITH TRYXY AS MY WITNESS, RAVENHAIR SILVERWIND WILL WRITE AGAIN!!!!!

Well, Tryxy will witness it as soon as he gets back from shopping for my chamomiline lotions.

xox,

X


Subject: CASE CLOSED!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

It’s November 12th and I may not have gotten any words written in my epic fantasy saga this week, but I have definitely done my part in whipping the Fantasy Dream Team into ShapE!!!!!!

Check out these numbers!!!!

Fantasy Writer’s Meetup of Brokenheap, NH:
79,096 total words written

Ink Black Coffee Club’s Fantasy Dream Team of Cradensburg, NH:
25,289.25 total words written

Bevvy Madison Hart: 0 total words written
Tod Boadkins: 22,936 total words written
Edwina Tómas: 6.25 total words written
Ravenhair Silkenwind: 2347 total words written
Writer X: 0 total words written

And to think, all it took was slipping a couple drops of laryngitis potion into Ravenhair’s mouth while he was sleeping. Things would have been great if it weren’t that I tripped over that forsynthia bush when I was making my escape.

BTW, can you please come and bail me out???? I have writing to catch up on!!!!

Case closed! One down, two to go, GLADYS!!!!!

xox,

X

P.S. Please bring enough bond money to cover your standard breaking and entering charges. Please and thank you.

All correspondences sent from this device are subject to review by law enforcement and can be used as evidence in a court of law.

HAVE HOPPED

THROUGH

666

DIFFERENT

PHARMACY

REALITIES

AND STILL

CAN’T FIND

CHAMOMILINE

LOATION.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Fifty-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 coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]

A NANOVEMBER MYSTERY

Hello All, Melanie here!

Sometimes when I’m typing away in my latest fantasy work-in-progress, I wonder who else in my vicinity might also be burning the midnight oil, adding pages to their own epic fantasy saga.

Then I wonder if they’re actually getting any words written. Then I realize that I’m not getting words written because I’m busy wondering if my imaginary writer neighbor is getting words written. Then somehow I spend an hour on twitter scrolling through panda videos.

Enough about me.

Without further ado…


From: Bevvy Hart

Fw: Write Team Coordinator?

Dear Gladys,

It’s happening!!!! My fantasy writing skills are being bowed before!!! I’m catapulting to stardom and recognition among my writerly peers!!! I’ve never had so much power COARSING THRU MY VAINS!!!!

xox,

X

P.S. I may have stretched my Preptober word count a ***tiny*** pinch when I last talked to my boyfriend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. DON’T TELL HIM OTHERWISE!!! A woman needs her secrets, Gladys!!!

begin forwarded message

Dear X,

Thanks for joining IBCC this year for NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure if Tod has told you, but every year we run a friendly little word count competition between our local critique group and the Fantasy Writer’s Meet Up in Brokenheap.

I know what you’re thinking. You wouldn’t believe that such a miserable little town would have a Fantasy Writer group, but they do. Unfortunately they’ve also beat us squarely four years in a row.

Most of us write regularly, but something happens in November, I’m not sure what. We never get as much writing done as we think we do.

A while ago, the group decided to appoint one of us as coordinator/coach to “rally the troops” and make sure we were each hitting our word count. Last year it was supposed to be me but I’m really busy with my press, my Etsy design shop, my yoga practice, and my pet turtle and I think it ended up cutting too much into my own precious writing time.

Tod says you’re really driven and that you’ve already written 100,000 words in your novel this last month. With you hosting a write-in this week, I thought maybe you would be up for it? It’s pretty easy. All you would have to do is touch base daily with all the writers in our group and make sure they’re getting “words on the page.” Gentle mental health checks, affirmative statements, asking us questions about our story, that sort of thing.

Is this something you would feel comfortable doing?

Welcome to the club! Have a happy NaNoWriMo. See you Friday.

Btw, is X short for something? Curious.

Warmly,

Bevvy

Bevvy Madison Hart she/her

Wandering Spirit Small Press, CEO

A Vegan Owned and Operated Press


Subject: NaNoMoMO is off with a bang!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m sorry I haven’t written earlier this week. I have been extremely busy getting ready to host my very first Write-In!!!

I’m sure you are dying to know how the progress on my novel is going. Well, as you know I am now one of the Dream Team of Fantasy Writers in the Ink Black Coffee Club’s Critique Group and that means that a LOT is riding on me. NaNoNuMnum IS THE BIG LEAGUES!!!

This year, Ink Black Coffee Club is in a competition with the Fantasy Writer’s Meet Up of Brokenheap, NH and the writing club with the most words written in November…WINS.

Something.

I think a book of stamps and a John Deere mousepad.

Not to mention an overall air of writerly superiority that extends over the exact square mile radius of the combined towns of Cradensburg and Brokenheap.

My writing group is counting on me to turn out THOUSANDS of WORDS every day. Someone has to hold the line, Gladys!!!!

Of course it’s par for the course that when you are hosting as prestigious a Write In as I am hosting, you may lose a few days of writing progress to install a special security system and to hunt down my favorite vegetarian pate and econo tubs of Cool Ranch Doritos. Only the best for my writing guests!!!!

We also did some last minute NaNo cleaning! Needed to make sure everything was spic and span so we could make a good impression. The house looks amazing. Except for the bit of lizard skin dander that Tryxy and I couldn’t get up with the shop vac. But we’ve swept most of it into the baseboards so no one will probably notice.

Let’s see, let’s see, I owe you some pages. This is also a great opportunity for me to check into my document and see how many words I’ve racked up in my future bestselling epic fantasy novel!!! BRB!! (That means be right back.)

Gladys, I think my word processor is broken. Could you swing by and take a look at it? It’s Day Four of NaNoAlligator and it’s saying I don’t have any new wodrs!!!! Everyone is supposed to check in with their word count today and my word counter is broken!!!!

Oh! Gotta go, my guests are arriving!!!

xox,

X

P.S. Brokenheap can’t win!!! They don’t even have their own library!!!!


Subject: A November Mystery

Dear Gladys,

Well if there is one thing I can tell you it’s that it’s a good thing the Ink Black Coffee Club forgot they banned me, because THEY NEED ME!!!!

I hosted my very first Write-In and it was categorically A SUCCESS. We were supposed to hit a group goal of 10,000 words written to close off WEEK ONE of NaNO…November, but we spent the two hours fiddling with the WiFi and talking about what it will feel like when we each get 50,000 words written this month and are famous by December. We all agreed that, while we didn’t get any words written, we had a lot of progress.

Except for my boyfriend award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins. He just sat through the whole night typing away on his laptop and only stopping when #bestkitten walked across his face. It was distracting from the rest of us talking. I had to send him into the next room. He and I will have a LITTLE talk about distracting our writing group with all of his WRITING.

Well, that’s not totally true. There was Edwina. She was very distracting too. Between you and me, Galdsy, I think she’s a secret Eraser. I kept hearing her type, and then she would frown at her screen for a very long time and hit the backspace key. Every time I peeked over her shoulder she was staring at a blank page. I think she erased at least 350 words, or 35 words written 10 different times 10 different ways. Do erased words count???

Then there was Bevvy. I think Bevvy would have gotten a lot done if it weren’t for all the things she had to do BEFORE she could start writing. Very important stuff. First she had to check the submissions Dropbox for her small press and make sure the slush pile hadn’t gotten bigger. Then she had to check on her turtle via her nannycam and make sure his terrarium light hadn’t gone out again. Then she had us all stop everything and listen to her because she needed to talk through some of her writing anxiety before she could figure out which of her forty-six works-in-progress she should focus on this month. It was too bad she had to stop everything to help Ravenhair with the WiFi because she was THIS close to having enough time to getting some writing done.

Do you know Ravenhair Silkenwind? Because he sounds like he thinks a lot about writing!!! He certainly talks a lot about it!!! But that’s probably because of the trouble he was having with my WiFi. He was trying to download a piece of total crap fantasy that someone had shared on Reddit so that we could see what a piece of total crap it is, but he couldn’t find it and then my WiFi got all bungled. Anyway, he spent the rest of the night talking about how he really wasn’t certain if he should make his main character a Manic Pixie Dream Girl or if it was too soon to use that trope without everyone just grumbling and saying that it’s the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. Then he went on for another hour about how everyone on his discord server hates him because he—honestly I’m not sure why they hate him, at that point I couldn’t hear over Tod Boadkins TYPING!!!

Well Gladys, I’m pretty tired after being the hostess with the mostest! I really like Bevvy, she told me about her small press and how she publishes a “little bit of everything” but she’s just looking for the right author to take a chance on her so that she could be the publisher of a NYT bestseller and get her turtle a bigger terrarium. Between you and me, I think I might be the answer to her prayers!!!!!

As soon as I write some words!!!!

She wasn’t kidding, though, I think we only got 2,674 words written tonight at our write in but it felt like there should be a lot more!!! It’s a November Mystery.

Pages next week!!

xox,

X


Subject: THIS MEANS WAR!!!!

Dear Galdys,

This is serious!!!!! I just checked on the word count that the Fantasy Writers Meet Up of Brokenheap posted for their first week and they collectively wrote 33,566 words!!!!

We wrote 8,373 and between you and me I think most of that was my boyfriend Tod Boadkins!!!

That’s it, Galdys! No More Nice Writer X!!!! I’m getting to the bottom of this mystery and with Tryxy as my witness and demonic notary, I have their addresses, I know where they live, THESE WRITERS WILL WRITE!!!!!

Oh, do you still have that medieval torture rack laying around in your basement? I need it for…things.

xox,  

X

P.S. Brokenheap can’t win!!! They don’t even have their own gas station!!!!

HI CASSY B.

THINKING OF

MAJORING IN

MAPPING

NORTH AMERICAN

PARANORMAL

GEOGRAPHICAL

LOCATIONS

WITH A MINOR

IN EARLY

CHILDHOOD

EDUCATION

BECAUSE I LOVE

CHILDREN.

AND IF THEIR

PARENTS ARE

HORRIBLE…

CAN ALWAYS

TELL THEM

WHERE TO GO.

HA HA HA HA.

THANKS FOR

ASKING.