Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Forty-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.]

PANTSERS VS. PLANNERS

Hello All, Melanie here.

It seems our friends are still trapped in the closet land of Writeria and the battle continues.

Oh, did you think I meant the battle between the native Fox People and the Dark Armies? No, my friends, that’s just background for the epic battle that’s been waging between writers who write without a plan (Brandon Sanderson—may he write forever, calls these types “discovery writers) and writers who develop an outline (Brandon Sanderson—may he write forever, calls these types “architects.”)

Personally, I’m neither of the two camps. In a world of Discoverers and Architects, I’m an Archeologist.

Without further ado…


Subject: HAVE TO CHARGE MY PHONE!!!1!

Dear Gladys,

I’m sure you want to know EVERYTHING that’s going on with my writing, not to mention how we’re doing in my magical closet land called Writeria. That’s pronounced wry-TARE-ria and NOT like DIARRHEA like Tod Boadkins keeps saying!!!!

As for my newest pages, you are just going to have to wait because now I have a lot of Fox writers who are going to read my pages and give me feedback!!! My latest pages are handwritten because the battery on my laptop is dead but when I get them back from the foxes, I’ll make sure I send them to you, too. Once I figure out how to send you physical pages.

Maybe if I trap a small pigeon and feed it french fries and secretly bring it under my spell so that it flies through my closet and brings you my fresh pages…

But I’d have to tear the pages into very tiny pieces so that it could fly. It would take a TON of TRIPS. WELL, NO TIME LIKE HTE PRESENT, GLADYS!!!

Also, my battery on my phone is almost completely dead and I keep looking around in all the trees and I still haven’t found an outlet that is compatible with my phone!!!! Stupid tree outlets!!!

LOTS to catch up on!!!

Oh wait, you know what? I think I see Tod Boadkins over there in the hospital tent recovering from his arrow wound and scrolling on his phone. He still has battery!!!

Hang on, Gladys, I’ll have Tod Boadkins email you.

BTW, I’m NOT talking to him. The romance is almost definitely COMPLETELY OVER!!!! He is pushing his OUTLINING WAYS ON ME!!!!

Real writers don’t use outlines!!!!

Anyhoo, I’m going to go talk to him to tell him to email you about my writing and then I’m not talking to him again.

Off to look for a french-fry loving flying rat!!!!

xox,

X


From: Tod Boadkins

Subject: Um…hi?

Hello Gladys,

My name is Tod Boadkins. I’m the author of the dark fantasy novel, Broken Tides, published by Blood Wine Press late last year. Your friend, Writer X, has asked me to email you. She and I are currently dating, I’m not sure if she mentioned that to you.

Unfortunately, X hasn’t been clear about what I’m supposed to be emailing you about. I’m not sure how you’re going to read this email as I have no cell service out here. Every time she looks at me and sees me tapping letters into my phone she seems a little less mad at me.

I’m just going to keep typing and let X be none the wiser.

I noticed you have a Cradensburg email address. Is that where you live? I’m assuming that you’re another writer, knowing X? All of her friends that I’ve met seem to be writers of one kind or other, even Tryxy is a songwriter. Have you met Tryxy? He’s a hoot. If a hoot can also be terrifying.

I have no idea what I should be writing.

Not sure you’ve known X for very long, but I can advise one thing: don’t get her angry. It’s hard to land on the other side of her scowl. She appears to be the sort who could go to her grave holding a grudge, be dug up a thousand years later, and still have that grudge clasped in her adamantium claws.

Not complaining: I like the idea of women who don’t get over things easily. My ex-wife got over me pretty quickly. Leaves a poor taste in the mouth.

The taste doesn’t go away quickly, either.

Alright, since I seem to be typing to myself until X stops looking at me, care to hear why she’s pissed?

Outlines.

A stupid conversation about outlines. It could have been an intelligent conversation about outlines, but it became the dumbest conversation about outlines I have ever sank to the level of having.

Let me give you the background on what’s been happening as I need to contextualize this for myself.

A little over a week ago, X and I found a hole in the back of her writer’s closet. That hole led to this other land that X calls Writeria (sounds like diarrhea.) X invited myself and few of her writer friends to join her in Writeria for a weeklong vacation. Since we’ve gotten to this snow infested place, I have learned how to fly, our friend Silverfox has been captured, and we were attacked by Dark Armies.

I was also shot down by X’s fox friends. I suspect it had something to do with outlines.

Are you familiar with the writing expression “Plotters and Pantsers”? If not, here’s the rundown: plotters are writers who draw up an outline and have a sense of the structure of their book before they begin writing; pantsers are those writers who ‘fly by the seat of their pants.’ Most writers start as pants-ers and you know why?

Because writing is hard.

My mother used to embroider pillows. The side of the pillow that faces the viewer would have tchotchke rustic cottages and pictures of cranberries. The side of the pillow that I would see sitting at my mother’s knees was a hot mess.

Reading is like looking at the cottages and cranberries. Writing is living in the middle of the hot mess. For most, the process is much less intuitive than you think. We assume that, since reading is easy, the difficulty of writing should be proportional to the ease of the read.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

At some point in your writing journey, you buckle in and realize that this is always going to be hard. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes the words fly out of a secret stash in your wrists. But most times you have to liberate the words from a thousand miles of ice with a single pick axe and you think “there’s got to be an easier way.”

Young writers engage in a kind of tribalism. They divvy up across boundary lines and declare themselves Tribe Pantser or Tribe Plotter. If you suggest to the Plotter that maybe they should try free writing, they’ll smash their bottle of Moxie and glass you in the ribs. If you suggest to the Pantser—let’s call her “Writer Z” that perhaps the reason she keeps stalling out in her epic fantasy novel is because she needs get to the core of what her story structure is…

She will stop talking to you except to command you to write to her friend Gladys, even though you have no cell reception or wifi.

My mom embroidered anchors onto pillows and sold them at miserable country fairs. She also was a psychologist. I understand a few things about the human mind, thanks to her. The writer’s mind is a human mind, whatever the alien worlds we dream up.

What X is doing to me is simply denial. It’s not me she’s angry at. Denial happens when we’re confronted with a truth that makes us anxious. Writing is a daunting task and it takes many years to learn. What you don’t know is overwhelming and, if you feel too overwhelmed, you’re likely to quit. So writers wear their labels and methods as a shield against the idea that this is going to be hard and stay hard. We cling to the one thing we think we know to protect us from the reality of all we don’t know.

X wants to be famous by December. Call me weird, but I think it’s kind of adorable. At least she still has the courage to name her dreams. I know she’s terrified that I know more about writing than she does and some of it is pride. The other part of it is anxiety. But if I could just get her to see that I know a thing or two and, if she took my advice, she’d get more of her book written.

Hey.

Just caught glimpse of my own denial. I want X to accept my advice because I’m afraid I don’t know as much as I think I do about writing. That’s why I’ve been strong arming her into accepting that my way is better.

Wow, Gladys. You’re good. You should start charging people to write you emails.

Let me close this quickly. We’re camping with a tribe of fox people (I know, unreal.) We’re on our way to the kingdom capitol to rendezvous with the “royal kitten” (???). Somewhere on the other side of that, X is going to “talk to the manager” of Writeria to make her writing life easier.

To abuse a cliché, if she’s happy…I think I’m happy, too.

I should go. There’s a nasally-voiced, doe-eyed writer in pink I need to apologize to.

Regards,

TB

I

AM

A

HOOT.

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

[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.]

FOXTOPIA

Hello All, Melanie here!

First things first, we have received an email from furry fantasy writer, Silverfox. It’s great to know that he’s safe for now, but I can’t believe that he’s about to do…what he’s about to do.

I love being a writer. It’s the hardest and best thing in the world, but I don’t think I could ever make the kind of decision he’s making.

Could you?

When last Silverfox wrote us, he was off to rendezvous with a band of dangerous fox warriors with his enemy the Neutral Ninja. He had asked that Gladys (which is us, apparently) tell the others, in case of his demise, to complete his unfinished work of fantasy called The Wile of Herindor which is about “a tribe of foxes searching for a mythic fox hero lost to time.” I don’t know about you but I’m kinda upset that he hasn’t finished it because I kind of want to take a look at that story.

A lot of things can change in two weeks, or two days, as it seems that a day in the world our friends are currently lost in is a week in our own world.

I’ve taken the liberty of adding links to his email for your convenience, should you need them.

Without further ado…


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: A Goodbye

Gladys,

Several days ago, when X asked me to join her and investigate a world she discovered in her closet, I knew that if I said yes, something about my life would change. I thought maybe we would get a little closer as friends or maybe we would stop being friends altogether. I had no way of knowing that I would be writing what I am about to write, but please know that I have never felt so hopeful and so sure over a decision.

Farewell

Shortly, I shall detail the events that have led to my decision. First, I must begin with saying goodbye.

I am not returning to our world. I will stay here with the ones I have met. Know that this decision is a permanent one. When last I wrote you, I detailed that I had been rescued from the cages of the Dark Armies’ wagon train by a person who could shape-shift into a rock. That person was M I L F R E D—it’s not his real name, but it is what is now scratched on his forehead thanks to Writer X writing it on him with her signature pink pencils while he was in rock form. Painful, no doubt, but everyone calls him that now.

Milfred is the Neutral Ninja, the very soul our Fellowship has sworn to stop. It is he who has been slipping into the homes of Cradensburg residents and stealing autographed first printings of masterworks of fantasy. He has stolen an autographed copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Elfstones of Shannara, A Wizard of Earthsea, Song of Ice and Fire, The Name of the Wind, The Lord of the Rings, Interview With A Vampire, Titus Groan—so many diverse volumes of the Fantastic! He has even stolen a copy of Watership Down. I swore that I would do everything in my power to stop him and return those stolen books back to their rightful owners.

Instead, I am going to assist him.

The Unexpected Portals

You see, the Fellowship had previously believed that the Neutral Ninja was stealing these seminal works to unlock something called MAP—a device that would reveal the hidden locations of the Relics of Writing—which X calls the Anti-Horcruxes. We had also erroneously believed that the Neutral Ninja was from our world.

We were wrong on both counts.

Milfred, the Neutral Ninja, is from whatever world this is inside X’s closet. And I’m no longer sure this world is actually in X’s closet. Rather, I believe that X’s closet has a portal in it that leads to this world which X named Writeria.

In fact, it is one of many portals that have opened to this world. The snow, the Dark Armies, and the Snow Pants Wars have all come from other worlds through rifts torn in the fabric of reality. It is destroying their world. Milfred aims to take his stolen trunk of books to a place called The Grove of Dreams beyond The Waterfalls of Chasing. The books—which are portals themselves, will be used to divert the portal flows away from this world and send all foreigners and foriegn things back to their origins.

This would include me.

But, soon, it will not.

Rendezvous with the Foxes

Gladys, up until this point I have revealed to you my decision to stay in this world forever, but I have no yet revealed to you why I have come to this decision.

When I last wrote you, I mentioned that Milfred and I were to rendezvous with a scout party of Fox Warriors who flanked us from above and below our mountain path. I had also relayed to you in confidence some days ago that I thought we were being followed by a creature that had fox ears. I had not mentioned this to the others, in part because I did not want to frighten them, but also because I did not trust myself.

You see, a part of me has wanted this place to be Narnia. It’s so close in all the grandest ways: it’s covered in snow as Narnia once had been. It is accessed through a Wardrobe—or, at least Writer X’s walk-in closet. And I had hope that we would meet talking animals or at least Mr. Tumnus.

Gladys, may I confess a little more? I’ve always been mad at other fantasy readers and even more angry at fantasy writers. Why is it that Furry Fiction is treated like it belongs in some juvenile age of interests? Why, when we fantasize and imagine worlds, do we fail to extend that imagination to the living things we share our world with? Why do we call that “growing up”?

I was talking to a Black writer some years ago about her experience as a lover of the genre and as a fantasy writer. She once said to me that it confounded and eventually hurt her when, as a child, she read glorious adventures in wondrous lands but that—of all the wonders the writers could imagine, they could never seem to imagine a hero that looked like her. She felt omitted from reality. And as the industry bit by bit published the occasional fantasy with a Black main character, she noticed that non-Black lovers of fantasy wouldn’t read it. She could read white main characters or other magical races with white features, but the favor was never returned.

This has shifted some and, hopefully, will continue to shift as we learn to live up to the visions and human ideals our genre celebrates. But—and it was not appropriate to say this to her at the time and, even if it had been appropriate, I would not have had the courage to say this out loud, this is how I feel about other animals. Stories about birds, princes trapped as frogs, lion Kings, and Animal Farms are relegated to the realm of fiction for children. It’s not serious fantasy.

If you write characters that are animals, anthropomorphic or not—and it’s not for middle grade readers, you are SOL. I’ve attended critique circles in which other fantasy writers won’t read a piece of fantasy if it’s “furry.” I won’t begin to mention some of the comments I’ve received—or the accusations. I know I’m failing to mention the furry community which boasts some of the most creative and diligent writers, but I suppose I have long been jaded by the relegation of furry fiction—fiction which imagines the very creatures with which we share our planet—off to the margins.

Why I’m Staying

Milfred and the Fox People share this world with a number of other talking species that I have just learned of but never beheld. I wish to meet and learn every one!

But what about my writing? Does leaving my old world also mean leaving behind my identity as a fantasy writer? No! It furthers it!

You see, the Fox Warriors which we have met have welcomed me. At first they were not sure what I am but now conclude that, however I present in my fur suit, I must be what fox people look like in my world. And, in so many ways, that is a correct assumption, albeit figuratively. They have called me, not so much one of their own, but one like them. It feels astonishing to be among the kinds of people I have written about— who welcome me and see me how I wish to be seen.

Yes, there is some dilemma regarding my fur suit. Namely, it’s getting quite dingy and I do not have the ability or desire to clean it with my tongue. I will have to find some way to step away from my new tribe for a day or two to clean and dry my fur suit. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to be amongst my own and maybe, by and by, they can come to accept me without my fur suit.

But before I say more, I should tell you how this decision will help my writing. The fox people are a tall, agile, and courageous race. They are true renaissance beings—fighters and bowmen, magic users (magic, Gladys!), and strategists and—though I have only met about thirty or so of their people, each and every one of them are writers.

Writers of ALL sorts of fantasy—including that fantasy which calls itself Science Fiction! At night, when the quiet feasting is done, each fox retires to their pages to add lines to their latest fantasy work. I was among the group who gathered water and do you know what we discussed while at this most banal of camp tasks? Characterization! More specifically, how to characterize species in ways that do not rob them of personhood.

My heart is singing! And beneath that I do have sadness because I will miss X and Tryxy, wise #bestkitten and Tod Boadkins and my furry critique group at home. I’ll miss my old job as a technical writer and I’ll miss my old life, but this new one will be a life of dreams.

Before I help Milfred close the rifts at the Grove of Dreams, I will visit the Waterfall of Chasing which citizens say is actually called Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls (a complicated dynamic—apparently sound bytes from streaming radio and TV in our world penetrate their reality and rob people and places of their original names. It masks the individual or place with snatches of song and phrases like Ohhhhh, Snap! and Give it To Me Baby and her consort Uh Huh, Uh Huh. After a time, no one is able to remember the original name. Yet another reason the portals must be closed lest we all end up being lyrics to a Backstreet Boys song.)

At the Waterfall of Chasing, one can pass through the magical waters and leave behind their old destiny to embrace a new one. I will pass through them to leave behind my destiny in our world and begin my destiny in this one as a Fox person. I may even discover that my fur suit is replaced by the real thing—which would be good and be quite a relief for I truly fear that they will lose trust for me if they discover what is underneath.

Gladys, it is truly wonderful to be accepted for what you really are. Tomorrow at dawn we travel with the Fox Warriors back to the hidden stash of snow pants, and then, on to Destiny!

Please send my love to the others. Perhaps it is better that they don’t know of my decision. I don’t want them to worry. And do not tell them about my WIP, the Wile of Herindor, I will finish it myself.

Now, I must go. It is writing time in the camp and I’ve agreed to give feedback on about thirty manuscripts before dawn. Know that I do treasure the others and I believe all their writing dreams will come true if they persist. This is mine.

In dreams,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

NO WORDS.

VERY UPSET.

DON’T WANT

TO LOSE FRIEND.

WHY MUST

HE GO FROM US?

HURTS. HAVE TO

BE BY MYSELF

FOR A BIT.

DON’T KNOW

WHAT TO SAY

TO OTHERS.

FILERS,

AM I A FRIEND

IF I STOP HIM?

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

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

THE FOX WARRIORS WRITERS

Hello All, Melanie here.

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

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

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

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

Without further ado…


Hello Filers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…oh. Right. Just remembered.

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

Sad demon is sad.


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

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

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

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

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

Eavesdropping.

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

FOX MAGE HAS AGREED TO LET ME OUT OF STUPID STONE IF X KEEPS ME HIDDEN FROM OTHER FOX PEOPLE!


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

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

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

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

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

#bestkitten is deep in ham nap.


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

We have met MORE WRITERS.

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

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

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

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

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

X is typing something. Now hitting send.


Subject: Beta Readers

Dear Gladys,

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

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

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

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

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

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

xox,

X


Hello Filers,

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

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

Fox mage says “we need it now.”

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

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

I think I know where Tod Boadkins is.


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

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

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

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

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

DON’T MESS WITH MY KITTEN!

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

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

Now #bestkitten is licking her paws.

They’re all saying “Awwwww. So cute!”

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

The rest of the foxes are prostrating.

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

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

MILFRED

Hello, All! Melanie here.

Let me catch you up on things.

Last week we received a correspondence from Tryxy rather than Writer X. Our friends have ventured into a world they discovered inside X’s writing closet where, unlike Narnia, time seems to move far slower than it does here. They immediately got lost, driven into the wilderness by a mob of Deadly Gaimans (Neil Gaiman lookalikes who are incredibly disgruntled, able to glue themselves to ceilings, and may be golems infiltrating the world.)

Since the world was found in the writing closet, X entered with the goal of “talking to the manager” so that the manager would fix things in her writing life. Namely, X has been struggling to write her nine-book epic fantasy saga and wants the process to be easier so that she can be famous by this December. All the writers reading this are probably laughing a high, wavering, half-crazed laugh at the thought of somebody making writing easier.

If her tactic works, I may disappear for a few weeks or months. You can find me in one of my closets crawling around with a flashlight looking for Writeria. I’ll need to speak to the manager.

That world is buried in snow—not to worry, our writer friends went looking for Mr. Tumnus but instead found a gigantic stash of snow pants in a cave. They also found a village in the distance, a road to get to that village, and a Dark Army between them and the village. Their camp has been raided by that dark army. Silverfox, the furry fantasy writer that X met on her Writing Boat Cruise, has been captured. Fantasy writer and author of the novel Broken Tides, Tod Boadkins, developed the ability to fly, but is now MIA.

Whether or not any actual writing will be done while they’re in this strange world remains to be seen.

However, this week I received a few emails from Silverfox. I tried replying to him, but my email came back undeliverable. I took the liberty of adding links. Here’s what he has to say.

Without further ado…


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Captured

Gladys,

I’m writing you from captivity. I wasn’t sure what else to do and I don’t know what will happen to me. We were traveling toward the village in the distance to take shelter and speak to the manager of Writeria, but were waylaid by the arrival of Dark Armies. Our camp was raided and, while we were able to fend off the first wave of soldiers, I became overwhelmed and was captured. If you know what has befallen the others, please reply to me or let them know that I am captured by the Dark Armies and they should not come for me.

It’s too dangerous.

In A Cage

The soldiers who have placed me in this cage confiscated my grappling hook and a banana nut muffin I happened to have in a waist pouch. But they didn’t check the pockets of my fur suit and I still have access to my phone. That is how I am able to email you now. I have sent messages to the others, but I expect they will not receive them until they have successfully escaped Writeria. If they do, it may already be too late for me.

I realize I may be writing my last email.

I also have access to a work-in-progress on my phone. It’s a piece of epic fantasy fiction about a tribe of foxes searching for a mythic fox hero lost to time. If I do not make it out of this cage, all I ask is that you tell the others. My wish is that they will collectively complete the story and try to publish it. I have a rough outline in a file titled “Outline-The Wile of Herindor.”

My battery is at 98%. I should put away my phone lest the continuous light draw the guard’s attention. The one who is closet to me appears quite—you know what? I don’t even know how to describe him. I watched him eat my banana nut muffin without removing the paper wrapper. He complained about it the whole time.

Please know that I intend to stay alive if it is in my power. But even if I do manage to escape this place, I’m not sure I will be able to find the others or my way home. Sending this now in hopes to have a word from you.

in desperation,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Locale

Gladys,

The situation has worsened. The armies which have captured me are on the move again in spite of the darkening sky. Wherever I am, I am now that much further from my friends.

A Description of My Predicament

Friends. What a word. I used to hate the word, mostly because I never really had any. When I found the furry community, I met like-minded and accepting souls; truthfully, I never counted them as friends though I used the word all the time. How close do you let a friend? I never let anyone close enough for them to hurt me or for me to need them. O-Inari forbid that I ever need someone.

But what I’m thinking about now? As I sit here in this cold cage with every second getting colder still, I’m wondering if my friends need me right now. If they’re safe. Or if they’re trapped in their own cages somewhere down this comfortless procession of horses, beasts, and grizzled men. No one ever mentions the smell of an army. Maybe I haven’t been reading the right books.

Nightfall

I’m wrong. There is some comfort. The stars are bright above me. A smear of white fire across a black and mauve firmament. I don’t think I’ve seen them brighter anywhere else.

That’s funny. The wagon that holds my cage (a cubicle of blackened iron bars in a row of three) just rolled past a person-shaped rock standing inconspicuously along the road.

Muffin Guard just spat on it.

And now his nose has sprung a leak and is gushing blood down his boiled leather breastplate. He swears the rock punched him.

I faintly here the melody of Christopher Cross’ 1979 hit Sailing.

I should go, Gladys. Muffin Man is furious and has his sights set on me.

in a wagon,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: New Information/Snurch

Gladys,

Please pass the following onto my friends. They may need what I am about to disclose.

What I’ve Learned While Captured

I have managed to placate Muffin Man. He had been intent on sawing off my thumbs but I convinced him that, without any thumbs, I would not be able to conjure the “delicious papery cakes” he confiscated from me. He is under the belief that, come dawn, I will summon him a mountain of banana nut muffins.

Muffin Man’s name is Snurch. Snurch says that this army marches under the crest of Give It To Me Baby and her noble consort, Uh-huh Uh-huh. They are set to make war on the kingdom of Well I Guess That Could Work. We are currently headed to the boundary village of Ohhhhhhh, Snap! which is situated on the banks of the river Mostly Mud. Once they destroy the village—which they will no-doubt do in a matter of hours, they will take the river Mostly Mud straight through to the heart of the kingdom’s capital, I Blame Jeffrey. They will sally through the watery gates of the palace Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls. There, they will capture and imprison the royal kitten who is bravely battling these invaders but whose people are not suited for the heavy snows and who are waiting for a much needed supply of smuggled snow pants so that they can hold out against these wicked invaders.

Furthermore, I have managed to discover two critical things: the snow is NOT natural to this land but has come from another world, and the Dark Armies (and Snurch), like me, are not from this world either. They have traveled through a portal and arrived here.

The reason they have not killed me is because they think I am a Fox Person. Since their arrival a year ago, they have waged war on the Fox people—another race of people native to Writeria. They have killed many but never managed to capture one alive.

Little do they know, they still haven’t managed to capture on alive.

Apparently the Fox People have clever warriors and fearsome magicians. They think I am the latter, thanks to my improvising the muffins at dawn thing. Once they discover that I can’t summon muffins—or anything—out of thin air, I’m sure to lose my thumbs. That will make writing you and writing my story that much harder.

Do you know how many hours I’ve wasted not writing? I’ve had The Wile of Herindor in my head since I was eight. At first I was afraid to write it. Afraid that what was on the page would not live up to what was in my head. Then I would work on it here and there, always thinking there would be a better time to write it.

You always think there’ll be a better time to write your fantasy novel. And then, you get trapped in a cage, guarded by a muffin eating guard named Snurch who currently has his right index finger embedded deeply—and I mean deeply—up his nose, and you realize that you’d be a lot farther in your story if you hadn’t been waiting for a…

Better. Time.

That’s strange. Every time I look along the side of the road, I think I hear Yacht Rock. I see that person-shaped rock, and then I think I see a person in a beige ninja suit with the word Milfred scratched into his forehead in X’s handwriting. The minute I focus on him, he disappears.

Gladys, I don’t think we’re the only visitors here from other worlds. If I’m not mistaken, that person-shaped rock is none other than The Neutral Ninja!

That’s the person who has been stealing autographed first printings of fantasy masterworks.

What is he doing here? And what does he want from me?

Tell the others.

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: In The Hands of an Old Enemy

Gladys,

I only have a few minutes to write you.

Out of the Frying Pan…

Milfred, the Neutral Ninja, suspects we are being followed and has turned back to investigate. By misdirection, subterfuge, and a chameleon-like ability, he was able to unlock the bars of my cage and distract Snurch long enough for me to clear the wagon and the road. He acted quickly: we were only stopped for a handful of minutes in this tireless march for the village of Ohhhhhhh, Snap!

I know that he is The Neutral Ninja, the one who has been breaking into the homes of Cradensburg residents and stealing autographed fantasy masterworks. Months ago, we created a secret Fellowship whose sole purpose was to discover who the Neutral Ninja is an stop them from activating a portal called MAP.

This portal would reveal the secret location of powerful and arcane magic relics of Writing. Those relics, if found, become a part of the wielder’s soul, allowing them to write the GREATEST FANTASY NOVELS OF ALL CREATION. X calls these relics the Anti-Horcruxes. She wishes to gain access to them to jump start her writing career. I think they’re too dangerous for any one person to own and that includes the Neutral Ninja.

And he is neutral. There is something about his ninja suit that allows him to simply blend into his environment in ways that Duck Dynasty fans would sell their left bum to achieve. He is also able to turn into a rock—which has left him permanently marked by X. She has scratched the name Milfred onto his forehead with her signature pink pencils and it’s the one place that isn’t neutral. If you suspect you are followed by the Neutral Ninja, simply look for the letters M-I-L-F-R-E-D at about forehead height.

He also seems to have the ability to project Yacht Rock into the observer’s mind, thus relaxing and confusing them.

Gladys, I do not know why he has rescued me but I DO know that he is able to enter our world somehow. I intend to go with him to wherever his lair is, retrieve the stolen books and stop him from activating MAP, whatever it takes. I cannot help but feel that this is the only way for my friends to return home safe and alive.

I must go. If I can write again, I will. I hear the dulcet sounds of Toto’s Africa, which means he’s drawing near.

in determination,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Re: In The Hands of an Old Enemy

Milfred returned. Says we are flanked above and below by a band of fox warriors. Has made barking sounds into the night. High above us, a volley of barks returns the hail. Milfred is doubling his pace. We are rendezvousing with the foxes.

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

SILVERFOX

IS EXACTLY

WHERE HE

NEEDS TO BE.

I CAN SENSE

HE IS

CHANGING.

SOMEHOW,

IT WILL ALL

WORK OUT.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

CHASE SCENE. BUT IN A YURT.

Hello Filers.

It’s Tryxy.

We are currently in the land inside Writer X’s Writing Closet that isn’t Quite Narnia. We were headed to the village to go to a real Old Timey Fantasy Tavern so that X could talk to the manager of her writing but we have been waylaid by the presence of MYSTERIOUS DARK ARMIES who are headed for the village using the same road.

IN THE MEANWHILE TWO THINGS HAVE HAPPENED:

  1. Tod Boadkins, X, and Silverfox have been arguing about whether writers do better work with outlines. Everyone is actually just trying to soothe their insecurities by making themselves believe that their current method is the method that will give them the breakthrough they secretly hope for, but what do I know about writing? Silverfox pointed out that Brandon Sanderson likely works with outlines and Writer X looks both surprised and queasy. Tod Boadkins is gloating.
  2. X is holding a meeting for us each to vote on whether we should approach the dark armies. she has requested that i take the meeting minutes which is why I am writing you now.

In early polling, X is losing her bid to approach the dark armies and “hitch a ride.” This has put her in a foul mood. As a result, she has been very explicit about how i am supposed to take these minutes. She has insisted that i stop everything and take “VERY THOROUGH NOTES” of everything that is said during the meeting and that I don’t miss anything as she suspects #bestkitten is a swing voter. I am not allowed to do anything else until X says that the meeting is adjourned. Currently, I have had to freeze time so that I could fill you in on the other details.

We are presently pitched in a small camp about 100 yards from the road where the dark armies are marching. This place has great acoustics. Should record Demonkitty’s first album here. It is getting dark. It is July where you are. It is still May for us. There is snow everywhere.

UNFREEZING TIME NOW.

MEETING MINUTES

RECORDED BY TRYXY THE HIGH LEVEL DEMON FROM THE VOID OF ASHIPUT AND DRUMMER FOR DEMON KITTY

Writer X: Calling this meeting to order! Is everyone present?

Silverfox: We just finished our hotdogs. Where were we meant to have gone?

Writer X: Oh wait a minute, i should have a gavel. And my recorder for some meeting mood music. Where is my bag of holding? Tryxy, have you seen my bag of—oh, there it is!

Silverfox: What were you saying, Tod?

Tod Boadkins: Flying’s great, but, let’s face it. None of us want to live in our story worlds. We’d much rather live in the real world.

Silverfox: What, with all the bullies?

Writer X: Nope. That’s not my gavel. that’s my parakeet stand for when I get a parakeet.

Tod Boadkins: What bullies? We’re not in high school anymore.

Silverfox: Um, have you seen the internet? And—you know, everywhere else?

Tod Boadkins: Have you seen that army?

Writer X: Whoa. That’s sharp. I should just place that claymore right…over…here.

Silverfox: Point taken.

Tod Boadkins: Wait a minute. So you’re saying there’s a real chance that you’d rather live here than in the real world? If you’re a fantasy writer when you live in the real world, what kind of writer are you if you live in a fantasy world? Non fiction?

Silverfox: I’m not saying I would want to live in…Well. I guess I’m not exactly saying that I would want to leave the other world for this one. But I never felt accepted in the real world. Could you be blamed for looking for a place that accepts you as you are?

Writer X: So THAT’S where i put my exercise ball! Hang on, guys, we’ll take our vote in just another minute. I’m just looking for my gavel. I’ll just use my exercise ball as a seat here by the fire. GOTTA WORK OUT YOUR CORE, GLADYS!!!!

Silverfox: Why are you talking to Gladys? Are you making a recording?

Writer X: Sorry. It’s a habit.

Tod Boadkins: I dunno man, no one is ever going to fully accept you. Not even if you marry them.

Silverfox: Couldn’t say. I’ve never been married.

Tod Boadkins: Take it from me.

Writer X: I’m getting closer to finding my gavel! Oh. Wait. No. That’s just more of those stinky eggs. How did these stinky eggs get in here, Tryxy?

FREEZING TIME.

Between you and me, I thought her bag of holding was a garbage bag. It looks like a garbage bag. I threw out those eggs in the garbage bag. Don’t think I’m going to tell her. Wait ’til she finds what else I threw away. Let’s hope she doesn’t get that deep. I hope she doesn’t need an epipen.

Think I understand Silverfox but am afraid might be wrong. He doesn’t feel like he is accepted. I know how that feels. The last time felt accepted was by my friends in Ninevah. Not even my parents accept me. X accepts me. #bestkitten accepts me. Should say something?

UNFREEZING TIME.

Tryxy: My friends accept me.

Silverfox: …I guess my friends do, too. The few I have.

Tryxy: You’re my friend.

Silverfox: …I suppose I am. Yeah. I suppose we are friends.

Tryxy: Home is where your friends are.

Silverfox: …Wow. Yeah. I mean, maybe that’s why I like this place even though I’m pretty certain it’s going to kill all of us. …Listen, I wasn’t going to talk about this but—

FREEZING TIME.

WE HAD A MOMENT. Warm fuzzy feelings are in my heart. I want to squeeze something. Was scared to say something then said something and it went good. No ancient cities were burned down.

Wonder if I should tell everyone about the armed creatures who are rapidly approaching this camp as we sit around the fire completely oblivious to what is happening in the dark.

Maybe not. It would spoil the mood.

UNFREEZING TIME.

Writer X: I GOT IT!!!! I FOUND MY RECORDER!!!! Get ready for a special treat!!! I’m going to open this meeting by playing the bluebells of scotland.

FREEZING TIME.

Someone playing the bluebells of scotland on a recorder was exactly how the ancient city of ninevah burned. Wonder if it would be unfriendly to zap X’s recorder out of this realm and into the nine hells of Baator.

Moral dilemma.

UNFREEZING TIME.

Tod Boadkins: Stop, stop, stop! Stop playing! You hear that?

Silverfox: Those weird noises are back.

Tod Boadkins: And the army’s halted.

Silverfox: That’s…not good.

Writer X: Wait. I messed up the song. Let me start again.

Soldier: WHO GOES THERE?

Tod Boadkins & Silverfox: BELGIUM!

Soldier: UNHAND THOSE SNOW PANTS IN THE NAME OF THE GREAT GIVE-IT-TO-ME-BABY AND HER CONSORT UH-HUH-UH-HUH!

Writer X: Don’t worry! I have a claymore somewhere in the dark here!!!! I’m just going to hit this person with this claymore and keep my snow pants!!! Got it!!!!

Not the Claymore: CLANK

Soldier: OW! Son of a—Did you just hit me with a parakeet stand?

Silverfox: Throw the exercise ball at him! Quick!

Tod Boadkins: There’s too many of them!

Silverfox: Tryxy! Little help here!

Tryxy: I can’t. Have to take the minutes!

Tod Boadkins: We have to get away!

Writer X: Everybody into the yurt!!!!!

New Soldier: Men! Follow them into that yurt!!!!

Newer Soldier: Agggggggggghhhhhhhh!!! It’s the bouncing ball of death!

FREEZING TIME.

That’s exactly how I felt about the exercise ball when X and I did the Beachbody Hammer & Chisel Workout DVD.

UNFREEZING TIME.

One-Eyed Soldier: SLAY THE BOUNCY BALL OF DEATH! PIERCE IT’S FLANK!

Writer X: Tryxy! Can you google whether Brandon Sanderson uses outlines? Don’t tell Tod Boadkins!

Silverfox: Tryxy! How are you typing and running?! Where did Tod Boadkins go? Oh my god, I nearly fell down the yurt stairs! What is X doing?

Writer X: Duck. Duck. Duck. GOOSE!

Soldier: I’m it!

Writer X: Can’t catch me!!!!

Soldier: I’m it! I’m it! I’ll catch you! Aggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh! I’m falling down the staaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrsssssss.

Writer X: Quick! Silverfox! Hit that other soldier with this space heater!

Ill-Fated Soldier: It Burrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnsssss and is milllddddly concusssssssiivvvvvvveeeee!!!!

Silverfox: We’ve gotten away from those five but they keep coming! I can’t find Tod Boadkins! And now we’re in the middle of a chase scene in a yurt and I have no idea how we’re going to esc—

Writer X: Oh no! They just captured Silverfox!!!! TRYXY!!!! HELP US!!!! MEETING ADJOURNED!!!!

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

AUTHOR BIO

Hello All, Melanie here.

Author bios are tricky things. And if you don’t have published work to include in your bio, it’s even more challenging to come up with relevant information that will resonate with readers.

In fact, it quickly becomes a chicken or the Void Egg problem. If you publish something, you have a readership and something to include in your author bio. And if you have not yet published something, you have little to include in your bio, but that’s fine because likely no one is reading that bio anyway. Writer X, however, seems to have found a way around this conundrum.

Without further ado…


Subject: Vote on whether or not to hide from the dark armies!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m sure you are wondering how we are doing since we ran from those dark armies about five minutes ago. Silverfox and Tod Boadkins say that it’s too dangerous to send you a voice memo right now so I have resorted to taking off my mittens and sending you an email!!!!

We are currently about 100 yards from the road watching a bunch of armored people on horses and other strange beasts march along endlessly toward OUR VILLAGE!!! WE FOUND IT FIRST, GLADYS!!!! I was sitting here waiting perfectly patiently for my OLD TIMEY TAVERN EXPERIENCE and then this ARMY comes along with perfectly good BEASTIE FRIENDS and now they’re probably going to burn down OUR VILLAGE!!!

Quite honestly, I think all of this couldn’t have happened at a better time. Everybody says we should stay clear of the armies but I think we should hitch a ride on one of their beast-friends since we’re all going in the same direction and my feet are starting to hurt!!!

We are currently taking a vote to see if we’ll keep hiding from the dark armies or flag them down and GET SOME MUCH NEEDED PODIATRY RELIEF.

I need you to EMAIL ME with your vote but PLEASE VOTE YEA ON THE “APPROACH THE DARK ARMIES” in the following form or I won’t include your vote Gladys because YOU ARE NOT HELPING:

  • HIDE FROM THE DARK ARMIES
  • APPROACH THE DARK ARMIES

Need your response, Gladys!!!! In the meanwhile, we are making a small fire to eat those s’mores you still haven’t brought and I’m going to work on my author bio (that means author biography.)

xox,

X


Subject: AUTHOR BIO

Dear Gladys,

You are stuck with ordinary emails until you get back to me with your DARK ARMY VOTE. In the meanwhile, I thought you would like an update on MY AUTHOR BIO.

Well I’ve gotten about as far as I can go on my biography for now. It took me three pages to cover my birth and it’s solid stuff!!!! I’m sure people are going to love my bio. It may even help to make me famous before I finish my book!!! Right now, Silverfox is reading it and is going to give me feedback and then I will send it to you and you can tell me how much you like it. Wait till you read the parts about KINDERGARTEN!!!!

Gladys, this author bio is really giving me some much needed energy in this UPHILL bATTLE that is WRITING THE NEXT BIG EPIC FANTASY SAGA OF ALL TIME!!! I wonder if I could release my bio as a prequel????

DON’T TELL ANYBODY. I DON’T WANT THEM SQUOORROLING AWAY WITH MY IDEA!!!!

xox,

X


Subject: A LEGEND IN THE MAKING

Dear Gladys,

I have come up with an amazing title for my author bio!!!!

Ready??

A LEGEND IN THE MAKING!!!!

That way, when I release my author bio first everyone will be excited about my still unfinished EPIC FANTASY SAGA. Releasing my author bio will give me the energy I need to break through the wall that I’ve been struggling with in finishing this book!!!!

That, and after I TALK TO THE MANAGER, things will be MUCH EASIER and I will get A LOT MORE WRITING DONE!!! Tod Boadkins told me that Tolstoy (not sure who that is) suffered from writer’s block when he was working on Anna Karen Something and that he couldn’t write the book for THIRTY WHOLE MONTHS!!!! I told HIM that if TOLSTOY had SPOKEN TO THE MANAGER then he would have gotten it done a lot faster!!!! He also would have probably written a better book!!!! After all, I’ve never heard of him or his Anna Karen Something.

On a completely unrelated note, I think Tod Boadkins keeps getting bit in the forehead by mosquitoes. It’s the only explanation for how often he smacks himself in the face!!!

Another great thing is that I’ve talked Tryxy into writing his own AUTHOR BIO but it’s a MUSIC BIO. I think #bestkitten is going to work on her bio, too, as soon as she learns how to write and how to hold a pencil. However, if she doesn’t mind, Tryxy and I are willing to help her write it.

ANywoots Gladys, please let me know what you think of my AUTHOR BIO TITLE and RETURN YOUR VOTING BALLOT FOR APPROACHING THE DARK ARMIES.

xox,

X


Subject: SETTING UP CAMP

Dear Gladys,

We are currently setting up camp about 100 yards from the road and are getting ready for our meeting in which we will each officially vote on whether or not we will approach the dark armies. Currently I suspect that I can count on a YEA vote from Tryxy but I know that TWO CERTAIN WRITERS are going to vote that we HIDE FROM THE DARK ARMIES and #bestkitten is a swing vote. SO ME AND MY PINKY TOES ARE COUNTING ON YOU!!!!

xox,

X


Melanie again, here.

This graphic came without comment or subject line.

BIO FEEDBACK

APPRECIATED.

“TRYXY IS A

YOUNG DEMON

DRUMMER

WHO SPENT

4,000 YEARS

IN THE VOID

OF ASHIPUT.

HE IS ONE HALF

OF THE MUSICAL

DUO DEMONKITTY

AND COUNTS

LIL NAS X AS

ONE OF HIS

MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS.

HE IS CURRENTLY

LIVING HIS

BEST LIFE WHILE

HIDING FROM

THE DEMONIC

AUTHORITIES.

HIS FIRST SINGLE

NINEVAH BURNS

IN MY SOUL

IS DUE OUT

WINTER 2023.”

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

FROM THE DESK OF SILVERFOX

Hello all, Melanie here.

Hope your Juneteenth and Father’s Day was as great as you needed it to be! I had some tech trouble last week. I decided to completely erase my entire computer.

Yep.

As a result, I wasn’t able to forward my emails to Mike in time. That’s okay because I haven’t yet received another email and—I know, I know, I’ve been needlessly anxious before, but I’m definitely wondering what’s going on.

This week we have another voice memo. And, as specially, we have a letter directly from Silverfox, the furry fiction writer, friend of X and Tryxy, and member of the Fellowship of the Things.

Without further ado…


Subject: Ready for action!!!

Dear Gladys,

Well, it’s six a.m. and I am ready to talk to the manager of Writeria and fix my writing life!!!!!

In the meanwhile, we’ve spent our first full night here in Writeria without getting killed. I slept in snow pants but that’s okay because I think they accentuate my figure.

Tod Boadkins saw what he thinks are houses somewhere away from here so we’re going to start walking in that direction with lots of stops for snacks. The manager will be there, I can just feel it!!!!

I hope you don’t mind, but I gave Silverfox your email. He’s been chronicling our travels and driving me a LITTLE crazy so I told him he should send it to you for proofreading.

Please make sure all of his descriptions of me are flattering!!!!!

xox,

X


From: Silverfox Firepaw

Subject: Notes from the Wilderness

Gladys,

My name is Silverfox Firepaw. I’m a writer friend of Writer X. She informed me that you would be highly interested in what I’ve observed here and gave me your contact info to send you my insights. At this point, I’m not sure what insights I have.

Since you are our only connection to the world outside Writer X’s closet, I hope I’m not imposing. If you have any thoughts on what is happening here, I know at least three or four of us would be happy to hear them. The other one wants to talk to the manager.

I would advise that you not risk entry into the closet to share those thoughts. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Where We Are And What Danger We Have Faced

We are lost in a snowy, forested wilderness without notion on how to find our way back to our entry point. This is partly due to the thirty or forty creatures which resemble the fantasy author Neil Gaiman which we ran into shortly after our emergence into this world. They cut off our path and forced us to scatter before we could clearly perceive our entry point.

They are aggressive. Tryxy used a vorpal machete to fight off a handful of them. The snicker-snacking made by the blade was ghastly, but the creatures continued to swarm and overwhelm us. If it weren’t for the lungs on #bestkitten, which brought down the snow in the canopy on all of us (and trapped about ten of the creatures), I have no doubt that we would have been overcome.

Shortly after we regrouped, there was a snow squall which forced us to take cover. It also erased our tracks. What few tracks remained could have as easily been the tracks of the Deadly Gaiman creatures. It became too dangerous and too cold for us to follow any trail back to our entry point lest we come upon the Deadly Gaimans.

A Little Cave Which Mr. Tumnus Was Not In.

We headed in the direction that would be easier for those of us who don’t have the same outdoors skills as the characters we write about—which is all of us, and which meant, whenever we came to a fork, we took the down hill option. As we descended, I had the idea of jamming some of X’s pink pencils into trees to track our path. Hopefully it doesn’t lead the wrong sort of people straight to us.

Following an hour’s descent, we found a little path—well, path is debatable. We found a bunch of places with fewer trees and rocks in them. And they all happened to go in a straight-ish line so we called it a “path.”

By this time we were all cold and distressed and began to joke among ourselves that we needed to find Mr. Tumnus and his warm cave. I’m including this detail because I have no way of knowing whether our discussion had any impact on our discovery. Within a few moments of my mentioning Mr. Tumnus, we found a cave. The cave resembled caves you see in illustrations—the perfectly rounded doorway, the perfectly smoothed walls with a floor of reddish stone. It was dry, clear of roots and bugs.

And the length and breadth of it was packed with snow pants.

This was a little disappointing. Although I still hold out that we may actually run into Mr. Tumnus. He, of course, wouldn’t be the real Mr. Tumnus being that thousands of years must have passed in Narnia since the time of the Pevensies. But he’d be the Mr. Tumnus of Here. I don’t know. I’m not thinking logically. Reality and fiction are blending together. I should get back to my observations.

Each member of our party found a pair of snow pants that fit them, including an adorable little four-legged pair that fit #bestkitten and including a pair for myself although I have little need for snow pants thanks to the investments I made in my fur suit last year for Few-chah Furry Con. Sometime following our donning snow pants, unearthly noises filled the valley. X has informed me that she’s already sent you recordings of the sounds so I will spare you the description. I can’t help but feel that the noises mean something.

My Original Thoughts and How This World Affects Our Technologies

Prior to agreeing to come with X on her vacation, I had spent some time theorizing what the strange world in her closet could have been. I know of no other instances of other writers finding worlds inside their writing closets. I could not rule out the idea that she had found Narnia, nor have I yet ruled out that possibility.

My second thought was that we might be entering a world that X created, particularly since it was accessed through her writer’s closet. If this were true, then in is likely that X would have insights on our location and what sort of creatures we could find here. Currently, she does not. I might also expect a lot more pink. Instead, X insists that Fenchin’s world does not have snow or nearly as many “confounded rocks.”

As well, I suspect that we would not have run into so many Deadly Gaiman creatures if it were her story world. It makes me wonder if they’re of the same make as the Neil Gaiman that has been spotted around Cradensburg. If this is true, I fear for our world.

Cell coverage does not work on any of our phones. Writer X’s household wi-fi continues to work here but, so far, we’ve only been able to use it to send emails. None of our inbound emails will update past Saturday morning. For those of us who have location sharing turned on, our devices all show that we’re on X’s street on Horn Hill. X insists that it shows us all in her closet. Our phones and laptops all report that it’s June 5th. That cannot be. We have been here only a day which means, for us, it is Sunday, May 29th. It’s possible that our passage through the tunnel did something to our electronics. If you look away from your screen for just a minute, it will state that hours have passed.

The Effects of This World Upon One of Our Party

I know X better than I know Tryxy, but I think this world is having a strange affect on him. Tryxy has mentioned that his demonic abilities “feel diminished.” He said it reminds him of another place he has visited. I forget the name of the place, but he said it was a Void.

He is the only member of our party who has location services turned off and has suggested we all do the same because “that’s how they get you.” I’m not certain which they, but he said he learned about it on YouTube.

The Appearance of the Topography

I’m aware that this next detail may sound strange considering that I have established that I don’t have any working theories about where or how we are. The landscape reminds me of New Hampshire if you made a painting of New Hampshire’s topographical characteristics with a watery ink brush and exaggerated everything. In fact, it almost looks like Cradensburg if you squint at the lines of mountains which surround us. Only the mountains here seem much higher, much closer, and—like they might disappear if you look away too long.

There are dense forests. There are giant rocks jutting out of the soil at every turn. That’s all normal.

Strange New Powers and Stranger Sights

Following his getting struck in a tree full of mittens (not normal), the local fantasy author of Broken Tides, Tod Boadkins, has somehow developed the ability to fly, although he has not yet developed enough skill for it to pose less danger to him. He went up as high as he could go and has reported a similar observation: it looks like New Hampshire and like Not New Hampshire and some things feel more real and permanent than other things.

He also reported a strange black stain in the sky beyond the hill we think we descended. In the opposite direction—the direction we think the town of Bleakwood would be in our world, he spied what he thinks is a village which X expects has “the manager.” There’s also a large road that passes from south to north and heads toward that village.

Our Current Dilemma and My Private Fears

It’s cold. Snow has fallen twice since we went to sleep and continues to accumulate. Tryxy has rummaged a few space heaters from the basement of his yurt and X has them all set to “tropical.” It was so hot that Tod had to sleep with his head stuck out into the cold. I’m currently concerned that, if we don’t find some other shelter soon, we’re at risk of burning down the yurt, dying from heat stroke, or getting crushed by another storm of lamp posts. 

We have five days left to explore this place and find our way back into the closet. I’ve considered staying behind in the snow pants cave to see if I could scout a path back to our entry point but I would quickly fall out of contact with the others. My hope is that, when we do reach the village, we can find some sort of transport that might help us circumvent the Deadly Gaimans and re-enter X’s closet. Although I’m not sure what they would accept as currency.

There’s something I feel I need to share with you. I fear the world may be playing tricks with our minds. I feel like I’m being watched. The other night I thought I saw a head looking out from behind a tree. It had ears like a fox. I’m afraid of speaking about this with the others, especially Tryxy whom I fear may attack them to protect X and #bestkitten—and maybe even to protect Tod and myself. It’s a feeling I have which I won’t go into now but I don’t know if his power is as diminished as he says it is.

As you know, #bestkitten in the wisest among us. So far she has kept her own counsel regarding all of this. We may be able to bribe her with ham into enlightening us.

Maybe, in the end, all of this will contribute something to my writing. I can now say I’ve done one thing my characters have done: I have gotten lost in a strange new world.

I have to end this note. The wind has picked up. We have to pack the yurt and try and make our way down to that wide road which leads to the village before snow falls again.

in friendship,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


From: Writer X

Subject: Dark Armies

[Writeria-Voice-Memo-3]

xox,

X

TRANSCRIPT FROM WRITER X VOICE MEMO 3

#bestkitten: loud meow

Tod Boadkins: You’re right. I think it’s too early for a rest. We’ve got to be closing in on the road and, if we keep on it, we could beat another snow storm.

Silverfox: Did you want to fly up and look again? Or [knowingly]…your hands

Tod Boadkins: Yeah, my hands. Fell out of a mitten tree and still came up empty-handed. Fingers are pretty red from my last flight. It’s cold up there. Then there’s that dark stain. Don’t want to cross it.

Silverfox: Right. On the ground it is then! If only we had binoculars. I can’t believe Tryxy has space heaters but not binoculars.

Tod Boadkins: I would have thought you’d have had binoculars. You seem more prepared for stuff like this. Is that a grappling hook you’ve got on your shoulder there?

Silverfox: oh this?

(they both grunt appreciatively and murmur “Yeah”)

Tod Boadkins: (speaking of writer X) What’s she doing?

Silverfox: I think she’s recording another voice memo? (isn’t certain, it’s as though X mystifies him)

Tod Boadkins: [rubbing hands together and blowing into them for warmth] honestly, I can’t wait till we get to that village. I don’t care if it smells like piss. You?

Silverfox: (apprehensive noise) mmmm

Tod Boadkins: You think it’ll be hostile?

Silverfox: I’m just not certain what to expect. This isn’t one of our stories. But if it was one of my stories, something bad would happen right about now.

Tod Boadkins: Yeah, but if it’s anyone’s story, it’s X’s and she doesn’t believe in an outline so we could just wander around for forty years in snow pants.

Silverfox: Some people are pantsers. It’s a valid way to write.

Tod Boadkins: I know. I used to do it. Then I got sick of cutting out fifty to sixty pages of meandering plot… Hey. She’s recording but she’s not talking. (calls to X)…X you alright?

Writer X: Hmmm? Oh yes, I’m just… I’m just looking at this other person shaped rock. There seems to be a lot of person shaped rocks in this closet place. I feel like this one should be named Milfred.

Silverfox: That is another person shaped rock.

Tod Boadkins: Looks like a rock to me. One more reason to get to the village, eh? They’ll have people instead of rocks, right? And no wicked scary dark stain in the sky. Why don’t we just push on? We get to a village. There’ll be a tavern with roast beast on the fire, some old-timey fiddle music. Romantic, right? No falling lamp posts. No weird noises. And we won’t have to sleep in a sweaty yurt. No offense, Tryxy.

Tryxy: None taken.

[pencil scratching sounds]

Tod Boadkins: What are you doing?

Writer X: I’m writing Milfred on this rock with my signature pink pencils.

Silverfox: …errrr…Why?

Writer X: How else will we know that it’s Milfred? (into recorder) Anywoot, Gladys, I’m just sending you this memo so that you know where we are now. We’re under some trees near a person shaped rock and those awful noises have finally stopped. We’re going to take this road that we’re almost at into the village and find the manager so that’s where you’ll find us, okay?

Tod Boadkins: X! Stop!

Writer X: What is it?

Silverfox: (whispers) Quiet!

Writer X: What is it? (echoes)

Tod Boadkins: (hisses, comes close) Holy Zarquon’s Singing Fish, it’s an army. 

[sound of horse hooves approach]

Writer X: It must be a very small army because they’re quiet.

Tod Boadkins: Whaat?

Writer X: You know. They have to be like this big…

Tod Boadkins: (audibly sighs) Either that, or it’s a normal sized army and they’re far away.

Writer X: OR, it’s a very small army with very tiny horses close to us and a bigger army behind it.

Silverfox: (whispers) that’s a lot of horses.

Tod Boadkins: (whispers) you think they’re headed for the village?

Silverfox: (whispers) No idea. But it’s not like there are exit ramps on this road, right?

Tod Boadkins: (whispers) This is not good.

[hooves get close and then pass by]

Silverfox: (normal speaking voice) THAT. Was a very small army.

Tod Boadkins: those horses were little bigger than mice!

[MUCH LOUDER hooves approach]

Silverfox: And there’s the much bigger army right behind them

[CRAZY ANIMAL SOUNDS]

Writer X: Gotta go Gladys! Watch out for the armies and pack your holy hand grenade. Hey! Where’d Milfred go??

ALREADY

KNOW

ABOUT THE

FOX WARRIOR

FOLLOWING

US. DON’T

WORRY,

FILERS.

#BESTKITTEN

AND TRYXY

WILL KEEP

FRIENDS

SAFE FROM

ALL HARM.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

EXPEDITION INTO NARNIA WRITERIA

Hello, All! Melanie here.

NOW… WITH SOUND!

Can you help me figure this out?

This week’s emails feature TWO voice memos from Writer X in Narnia Writeria.

I received six emails and each were more or less a day apart. Despite this, they all seem to have been written in quick sequence and I think that notion is supported by a time reference Writer X makes in her latter emails.

Do we have an alternate universe time issue here? Or is this something that a simple tech issue explains? (I’m admittedly an IT-twit.)

I understand that not everyone is able to listen to or hear the content of the audio. If this is the case for you, I’ve done my best to transcribe what is heard in the audio clips, identifying the individual speaker’s identities by what we can gather from the emails.

I’m including the transcripts beneath the emails the audio appears in.

Without further ado…


Subject: PINK BANDAGE EMERGENCY

Dear Gladys,

Can you bring me my neon pink Bandaid™ brand bandages? They’re back in my closet and as of right now I can’t find my way back to my closet.

Shouldn’t take you more than a couple minutes to bring them. You’ll just have to crawl on your belly about twenty yards in the dark through a tunnel at the back right hand corner of my wardrobe. Then you’ll come to the part that feels like you’re wriggling through sand (also in the dark) and then you’ll feel wet, cold pine trees smushing into your face and then there’ll be a butt ton of snow and a few miles on the other side of that you’ll find me somewhere and you can give me the pink bandages. I scraped my knee in the tunnel and all I have for my boo boo are these ugly tan bandages that Tod Boadkins had in his wallet and I really can’t be vacationing here with an ugly tan bandage underneath my new snow pants!!!

Watch out for your knees in the tunnel!!! We don’t need two boo boos!!!!

I’m still VERY upset with Tod Boadkins about the whole outline mania he seems to have. You would think that now that we have been temporarily lost in the world inside my closet that he would give up on things like outlines but he HASN’T. He seems to think that an outline would have saved us from getting lost. Little does he know I got lost just to show him I DIDN’T NEED AN OUTLINE!!!!

OUTLINES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GETTING LOST, GLADYS!!!!

…But don’t worry, you won’t get lost as long as you follow my instructions.

Anyhoo, please bring me my bandages and also my favorite pair of pink mittens. I’m currently standing near…a rock. I should be here for at least five minutes longer. Can’t miss me!!!

xox,
X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: CAVE

Gladys,

There is also a cave. We thought it would have Mr. Tumnus in it but it was just full of snow pants. That’s how I got my snow pants.

Need those bandages, post haste!!!!

xox,
X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: FORKS

Gladys,

We also forgot forks. Right now we’re all using my pink writing pencils as both chopsticks and kindling for the fire. Some forks would be nice. Also, some ingredients for s’mores. Why let a perfectly good fire go to waste????

xox,
X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Noises

[Voice Memo 1]

xox,
X

sent from my iPhone

TRANSCRIPT FROM WRITER X VOICE MEMO 1

[ghostly, atmospheric chaos can be heard in Writer X’s immediate background]

Writer X: Hello gladys, I’ve been standing here for at least two or three minutes by this rock and I still don’t see you. you should probably bring your snowmobile so that you don’t keep me waiting. You’ll have to push it through the tunnel but with some real elbow grease it could fit! You’ll have to kiss your new paint job goodbye though but friends are worth it Gladys! Anywiggle, I thought I should give you some more directions. We’re surrounded by noises. So if you find the noises, you’ll know you’re in the right place. These are the noises.

[creaking trees and strange, disembodied wailing sounds]

Writer X: …Yeah, still don’t know what they are.

Tod Boadkins (?) : X! Are you coming? We need a hand!

[footsteps crunching in snow]

Writer X: Sorry, Gladys, I’ve got to go. Silverfox and Tod Boadkins are urgently building a defensive wall with all the snow pants we found in that cave to keep whatever’s making the noises out and someone has to help color coordinate them.

Tod Boadkins (?) : X! Did you hear me?

X: Calm down! I’m coming. My bandaid is making me slow. Don’t forget the s’mores, Gladys!

[more footsteps crunching in snow]


Subject: Author Bio

DFaer Glkdyts,

FortunQtely I found a mitten trwee with a popair uv pink spaerkjly mittens groerwing

Ghang IOn gLadys!!!!

Okay. I had to take off my mittens. They were getting in the way of typing.

As I was saying. Fortunately I found a mitten tree with a pair of pink sparkly mittens growing all the way at the top and, after Tod Boadkins shimmied up there and GOT STUCK, I finally have some mittens although we still haven’t figured out how to get Tod Boadkins down from the tree.

For the record, I am STILL ignoring Tod Boadkins but I have temporarily paused ignoration until I’m done not ignoring him. I can start ignoring him again AT ANY SECOND. ESPECIALLY IF HE STARTS TALKING ABOUT OUTLINES!!!!!!

REAL EPIC FANTASY WRITERS DON’T USE OUTLINES!!!!!

ACTUALLY I HAVE found a way to get Tod Boadkins down from the tree and that’s by using one of my PROPRIETARY PATENTED PEP TALKS!!! However, my patented pep talks don’t work if you don’t WANT them to work and Tod Boadkins simply has no FAITH. I keep telling him that if he thinks he can fly, then he can and all he has to do is TAKE THE LEEP but will he listen????

All he does is yell at me about “gravity” and “blah blah blah neck would break” and tell me that I should just fly up there and help him down if it works like that BUT I’M NOT THE ONE WHO LACKS FAITH, GLADYS!!!!

At some point he’ll freeze and he’ll have to come down or he’ll fall down and maybe then he’ll appreciate the power of positive thinkig!!!!!

With the exception of Tod Boadkins’ lack of faith and getting lost and some other dangerous things which I shall put off mentioning for no reason, this is shaping up to be a pretty nice vacation so far even though we have no idea how long we’ve been lost and were expecting something much more tropical.

Tryxy has set up his demonic yurt near the cave and it has wall outlets (the yurt not the cave. A cave with wall outlets? That would be silly!!) Anyways, we all can plug in our phones and laptops and scroll through our instagrams for the entire vacation WITHOUT having to worry about low batteries or seeing anything new or having pictures that we don’t have attractive filters for!!!! Except that instagram doesn’t seem to be working and neither does the rest of the internet so now we’re stuck ACTUALLY BEING HERE.

But at least I can still send you these emails.

These creepy noises are the only thing that is harshing my mellow. It sounds like giants yawning all the time.

Tryxy would say hi right now but he’s down in the basement of the yurt rummaging around looking for a ladder to help Mr. NO FAITH.

Anyways I’m sure what you’re dying to know is how my writing is going. Well, it’s shaping up pretty nicely, too!!!

Whoops, sorry! Font went kinda crazy there.

After we built the pants fort, I sat down and opened up my story and re-read all of the stuff that I wrote so far and I asked myself “Is this story everything to all people?” and the answer is YES!!!!!! It just needs some more things in it. Like, a plot, and a setting, and enough stuff to actually finish the book and eight more after it. If only I could figure out what happens next!!!! Good thing we’re here to talk to the manager!!!!

Writing is not supposed to be this hard, GladysQ!!!!! I should know!!!! I’m a WRTIER!!!!

In the meanwhile, what you may not know is that there are other things that a VERY IMPORTANT to writing one of the greatest epic fantasy sagas of all time that doesn’t have to do with ACTUALLY WRITING THE SAGA. I’ve decided to save time and work on those things now. Forf example, I’m currently writing my AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY and am taking a small break to email you.

I would share what I have so far but I can’t really understnd any of it since I was still wearing my mittens.

To be honest, it’s not my best quality work but it’s the best I could do since I have to write while wearing this awful TAN bandaid on my knee!!! It doesn’t match my snow pants!!!! I can’t write if I’m not color coordinatedQ!!!!!

While I have you, I need to talk to you about Silverfox. As you know, Silverfox is a furry and is one of the best fiction writers I know. Well he was also under the impression that we were going to be on a beach vacation but when he got here and we hit all this snow I think his hopes really got up that we were actually in Narnia and not Writeria. It’s a good thing he brought his full fur suit!!!!

It was his idea to look for Mr. Tumnus and, when we found this little cave full of snow pants, I think something in him changed. On one hand, I think he’s pretending not to be disappointed, and on the other hand, I think the reason he’s spent all this time out there in the forest listening to all the yawning giants and lashing a ladder for Tod BOadkins together from saplings is because he’s hoping he’ll find the one thing that any furry in their write mind would hope to find.

The talking animals!!!!!!

Please don’t tell him I said this, Gladys, but I kind of hope that they’re not here. Because, if they are, I’m not sure Silverfox would ever want to go back.

It’s just a feeling I have.

You know I told him earlier???? I told him you know that it’s not Narnia because, if it were Narnia, wouldn’t there be a lampost??? That seemed to make sense to him.

Anywoot, I should probably go. Tod Boadkins is screaming himself hoarse and #bestkitten has suggested that he may be ready to come down now so I’m off to give him another one of my proprietary patented pep talks!!!!!!

By the way, do you know when we should be expecting you? We might move on from the cave with the rock and all the trees and snow to another cave with a different rock and slightly different trees but the same snow. Also, do you know what day it is? My iPhone keeps saying that it’s Friday, June 3rd, but that can’t be right because we’ve only been here a day. We haven’t even gone to bed yet!!!!!!

I don’t know how I’m going to sleep through these noises!!!!!

Oh! That sounds like Tod Boadkins’ branch has finally snapped!!!!

Yep. He’s screaming.

Oh look!!!! He’s flying!!!!

See, Gladys!!!!! I told you that my pep talks work!!!!!

xox,
X


Subject: I FORGOT TO WARN YOU!!!!!!!

[Voice Memo 2]

xox,
X

TRANSCRIPT FROM WRITER X VOICE MEMO 2

[same disembodied noises, fire crackling?]

Writer X: Hi gladys, I’m sending you another voice memo so I don’t have to take off my mittens there was something I forgot to warn you about—

Tod Boadkins: (from somewhere far away) Woohoo! I’m flying! I’m really flying!

Writer X: Slow down!

Tod Boadkins: …I can’t! …How do I slow down?

Writer X: I DON’T HAVE ANY MASHED POTATOES!

Tod Boadkins: WHAT?

Writer X: I SAID I DON’T HAVE ANY MASHED POTATOES!

Tod Boadkins: (absolutely bewildered) …WHAT?!

Writer X: See! You’re slowing down!

Tod Boadkins: WHAT????

Writer X: Anywomp, Gladys, I don’t know if you’ve headed out yet, but I have to warn you that, when you get through the tunnel and the sand and into the trees, there’s about three hundred Neil Gaimans gathered there waiting to destroy you.  So you’ll want to look out for that. Okay!

[footsteps moving quickly over snow]

Silverfox: (out of breath) X! Come here!

[footsteps running through snow]

Writer X: What is it?

Silverfox: Look! In the snow there.

Writer X: Where? By that person shaped rock?

Silverfox: I…I hadn’t thought of it as person shaped. But look! A lamp post!

[far in background Tod Boadkins is shouting “Wheeeeeee!” “Woooooohooooooo!”]

Silverfox: O-Inari, bless us! It’s a lamp post!

Writer X: …But why’s it on the ground?

Silverfox: Because— [Sound of something falling from high above, crashes in trees. Metal clanking.] Whoa! Watch out! It’s another lamp post!

[more deafening crashes]

Writer X: They keep coming!

Tod Boadkins: IS IT RAINING LAMP POSTS?

[more clanging, crashing trees, Silverfox shouts]

Writer X: Gotta Go Gladys! Watch out for the Neil Gaimans and the falling lamp posts!

Tod Boadkins: I’M ARTHUR FREAKING DENT!

[another deafening crash. audio is cut]

FOUND A BOX

OF PICTOGRAMS

ON SANDSTONE

SLABS

IN BASEMENT

OF YURT.

MEMORIES FROM

VACATIONS PAST

IN NINEVAH.

MADE SAD.

WANT CLOSURE

FOR NINEVAH.

FOR ME. NINEVAH

IS HAUNTING

MY VACATIONS.

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

NARNIA VACATION PLANNING

Hello, all! Melanie here.

I spent this weekend eating more cheetos than I have any business eating, and watching ALL of the Stranger Things.

While I won’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t yet viewed the latest season, I watched the first couple episodes feeling like we were getting a “tacked on” plot. In spite of that, it felt great to get back to Hawkins and the world of the Upside Down. Even more delightful? As the plot developed, that “tacked on” feeling was all but erased. The revelation of universe mechanics that have been in place all along really tied it all together for me. It left me mentally high-five-ing the team of writers working on this, many of whom may never appear in the credits.

Writer X has reached out to me—or Gladys, or both of us, since she seems to think we are one and the same, with an invitation to join her on a…questionable vacation. Which leaves me thinking: would anyone take a vacation in the Upside Down? Who do you approach when you need to speak to the manager?

Shudder.

Without further ado…


Subject: NARNIA VACATION TO TALK TO THE MANAGER

Dear Gladys,

I have an extra coupon for a free bag of those new sardine and banana flavored kettle chips if you want one. Been meaning to tell you. Better use it before it expires!!!!

Thanks to the mysterious vortex that has appeared above the Tractor store Tryxy and I work at, we have some unexpected vacation time this next week as Mr. B___ has closed the store until the vortex “goes away.” Probably for the best as no one could hear how quiet our tractor motors are over all that apocalyptic thunder.

In unrelated news, I broke your snow blower. I found a book of spells to help me increase my word count but it accidentally backfired and instead multiplied all of my 5000 pink writing pencils into about 500,000 pink writing pencils so I’m betting you can probably figure out why I borrowed it. Good thing we won’t have snow until at least July!!!!

I could open a pencil shop selling a very specific kind of pencil.

There are two things I need you to NOT ask me about because I am VERY upset. The first thing is my rellationship with TOD BOADKINS. The second thing is MY STORY. There is simply NO WAY I want to talk about either of these after the week I’ve had!!!!

Speaking of my story, I haven’t gotten ANY writing done and I KNOW my closet is to blame. I’m still not certain HOW my closet is to blame, but it doesn’t matter. Tod Boadkins has a writing closet and HE ALREADY HAS A BOOK OUT SO WHY IS MY CLOSET SO LAME????

Tryxy had a great time housesitting for the church and watering all their plants and making sure their communion crackers didn’t go stale. Apparently the church has a drum kit and so he got to spend the week practicing without having to keep from blowing out anyone’s eardrums. He also found an old Pole Dance Workout DVD in the church office and has taken up yet another wonderful hobby!!!!

However, Gladys, between you and me, poor Tryxy is VERY AnXIOUS. He’s absolutely certain that the vortex is really the big angry demonic authorities coming to send him back into the void of Ashiput. No amount of Lil Nas X seems to be taking his mind off things so I have suggested that we take a vacation from thinking about the things that are bothering him and instead think about the things that are bothering ME.

He thought this was a good idea so we’ve decided to take a vacation in my writing closet to see if we can talk to the manager and get it to stop blocking my writing progress!!!

Do you want to come??? Silverfox has already RSVP’d. I’m still waiting to hear back from #bestkitten but I just fed her a ham cutlet so I think she’ll be coming since there’s plenty more where that came from!!! You know how she likes her ham!!!!

Anyways, let’s talk about Tod Boadkins. I am in the middle of ignoring him although I haven’t yet informed him that I’m ignoring him. While the fumigators were getting rid of all the Neil Gaimans in my house, I had to stay at Tod Boadkins and we have definitely had a FALLING OUT. I spent ALL WEEK trying to explain NICELY to him that REAL WRITERS DON’T USE OUTLINES, GLADYS!!!!! Do you think he was grateful???? NO!!!!

He EVEN said that I would probably be a lot farther in my story if I used an outline!!!!! An outline would JUST SLOW ME DOWN!!!!!!

Mark my words, Gladys, Tod Boadkins will come to see the error of his ways!!!! As you know, I’m too gracious to tell Tod BOadkins this, but he will figure it out soon enough when I figure out how to write this book and become famous and the paparazzi are chasing us down on our POWER DATES. My epic fantasy saga will have EVERYTHING in it and you know how it will have EVERYTHING in it????? BECAUSE I DON’T USE AN OUTLINE!!!!!! If you write an outline that means that your book is about SOMETHING and SOME is less than EVERY, Gladys!!!!!!!

How DARE he makes me feel like I have something to learn about writing??????

Not to worry though. We are still definitely a power couple, we’re just going through our Ce’Nedra/Garion hate each other phase which is VERY ROMANTIC!!!!

ANYWAYS!!!! Tryxy, Silverfox, and I are heading into my closet tonight so if you want to come be sure to bring a sleeping bag and a headlamp and toilet paper because we’re not sure there are any hotels in there. Or toilets. It’ll be a perfect girlfriend-vacay only most of us are not girls and it will likely be in the wilderness. At some point I will definitely need to talk to the manager.

xox,
X

P.S. I’m going to send an invitation to Tod Boadkins, too. Otherwise how will he know I’m ignoring him if I’m not ignoring him to his face??? He’ll just think I’m sitting over here not obsessing about our relationship!!!! That’s no way to launch our love life!!!!

P.P.S. I’m SO CREATIVE!!!!! I just had another idea for a name for the world inside my closet!!!!!


Fw: Re: Invitation to Writeria

What did I tell you, Gladys!!!! Can you see how much he’s OBSESSING over me?????? Look at this. You can totally tell he wants to come!!!!

Also, please bring your YURT!!!!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: May 27, 2022 at 10:14 AM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Re: Invitation to Writeria

Hi X,

Glad to see you’re still talking to me.

Call me traditional, but I liked the name Narnia better. Writeria sounds a bit like “diarrhea” on first and second readings. But, hey, it’s your closet.

That said, I have some serious misgivings about venturing any further into your closet world than we have already gone. You should talk to experts like The Society or even speak with a few other writers. This is nothing to play with.

To my knowledge, writer’s closets exist as a way of containing the more destabilizing residual world building energies that fantasy and science fiction writers create as a part of our work.

What If’s are energetically messy, after all. There are some who have argued that these closets hold our plot holes and that this is what creates the noise. Think of what falling into a plot hole could do to your life.

Even if your writing closet has mysteriously generated an actual portal to what appears to be a real world, does that mean you—a real person and not a fictional character—should go in there?

What if you can’t come back?

How does time work in your closet? Sure, in Narnia time goes faster than in our world, but it could as easily be the other way around. Keep in mind, those Neil Gaimans seemed to come OUT of your closet. There could be more.

Did you ever find out what happened to the woman who escaped from your closet? Interestingly enough, I saw this article on the town website this week. Are you the “fiancee” they mention in it?

I’m going to have to pass on Writeria. I think you should, too.

Best,

TB


Fw: Re: MY BESTIE IS A HIGH LEVEL DEMON FOM THE VOID OF ASHIPUT!!!!!

HE’S BROUGHT OUTLINES INTO THIS AGAIN, GLADYS!!!!!!!!!! WHEN WILL HE EVER LEARN????

xox,
X

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: May 27, 2022 at 11:35 AM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Re: MY BESTIE IS A HIGH LEVEL DEMON FOM THE VOID OF ASHIPUT!!!!!

X,

Apologies. I haven’t had the chance to meet Tryxy yet. I did not know he would also be in attendance although I was surprised to hear Silverfox has agreed to go. I suppose that makes it slightly safer.

I didn’t know you were ignoring me.

Your last email has raised more questions than it’s resolved. How does one “speak to the manager” of Narnia? Or Writeria, as you are now calling it. (Two emails later, still reads like diarrhea.)

I’m sorry that I have upset you so deeply regarding my use of outlines in writing. This is not meant as an attack on your creative process. Actually, wandering into an unknown world without a map or a compass is a great analogy for why I use an outline, however simple.

All said, I can see you really want me to be there for you.

I have a reading tonight here in Bleakwood at the farmer’s market so that prevents me from joining you. Consider postponing it a day, and I’ll think about coming. Although I really don’t want to drive through the Llama parade tomorrow.

Maybe after this we could talk about retrieving the artifacts. I know you don’t like it when I harp on this, but this is really important to me.

Best,

TB


Subject: NARNIA VACATION TOMORROW!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m postponing the vacation until TOMORROW which should give you plenty of time to pack your yurt.

Do you still have that bag of holding???? I need a way to bring my closet into my closet, I don’t want my fashion game to suffer just because we’re venturing into a mysterious/possibly dangerous wilderness inside my closet. Come to think of it, maybe I could put my full length mirror inside your bag of holding, too!!!!

SEE YOU TOMORROW GLADYS!!!! WATCH OUT FOR THE LLAMAS!!!!! I have a week in Writeria not only to show Tod Boadkins that I’m ignoring him, but to prove to him ONCE AND FOR ALL that he is COMPLETELY WRONG ABOUT OUOTLINEES!!!

Then, we’ll just talk to the manager and travel out of the closet again and TADAHHHH!!!! I will be able to finish my book without any trouble at all!!!!!

JUST SAY NO TO OUTLINES!!!!!

xox,

X

P.S. Do you think we need Triple A?

PACKING LIST:

#BESTKITTEN’S

FUR BRUSH

WIDE SUN HAT

GLITTER GLOW SUN

BLOCK SPF 50

LIP TRIPLE X LIP BALM

GLADIATOR

SANDALS

BEACH UMBRELLA

STRIPPER POLE

MARGARITA

GLASSES

DEMONIC YURT

WATER BOTTLE

TWO LIMES

A COCONUT

VORPAL MACHETE

AM I FORGETTING

ANYTHING?

Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me — Fit the Thirty-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.]

WARDROBE MALFUNCTION

Hello, all! Melanie here.

I’m struggling to get words written in my current WIP. I wish I had a closet to blame it on!

Without further ado…


Subject: HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Dear Gladys,

Have you seen Tod Boadkins??? He hasn’t returned my texts.

My fellowship also seems to be temporarily on hold. We met last week to talk about potentially hunting down the Neutral Ninja but so far, everything about this ninja is SO BEIGE he doesn’t leave any tracks!!!!!

But HE is definitely not the most important thing. The most important thing is my STORY.

I have finally had a breakthrough in understanding why I haven’t become a famous fantasy writer YET. FOrtunately for me, this shouldn’t take too much time to fix. I will likely be extremely famous by December. Since we have rekindled our connection, I am asking that you reach out to all the major news outlets to let them know that someone is about to shake up the fantasy writing wrold AS WE KNOW IT!!!!!

Oh!! Tryxy says Hiiiiii and #bestkitten says mrrr? Tryxy is going away this week to house-sit for a local church while their youth ministry is on a trip to Lake Winnipesaukee so it’ll just be me and #bestkitten for the next several days.

I’m sure you are dying to know how I cracked the case!!!! I’m still in the preliminary phases of this but I will share with you what I have so far.

As you know, Tod Boadkins and I have had an EXTREMELY romantic dinner this last week at FISH! FISH! FISH! We discussed our feelings for each other over the Gut-Buster Lobster and Butter Bucket, a platter of seductive spiny crab legs glistening with fat, and a bread plate full of those little lemon-smelling finger wipes.

I’m sure he will answer my last eighty texts any minute now. I need something else to text him about so that he knows it’s important to answer my texts and knows I’m not desparate or soemthing!!!!

He asked a lot of questions about the neutral ninja and my closet, but you and I both know that this was just a cover for him wanting to get to know me better because he is DEFINITELY falling in love!!!!!! Why else is not answering my last 100 text messages???? Obviously he’s afraid of saying the wrong thing!!!!

Anywoot, being the NUMBER ONE FANTASY POWER COUPLE has been the much needed inspiration to get back to work on my story. So I immediately came home and started to set up my writing space so that I will be more motivated to work on my story. I stacked all my Brandon Sanderson novels around me, purchased a new coffee pot and giant pink coffee mug, filled my pencil cup with my new personalized pink pencils, put on my pink Galadriel robes, hung a knife on the wall for old timey ambience, stenciled an inspirational quote beneath the knife, put up a picture of C___, and played some Enya.

All that was left was to call into work sick and tell Tryxy to tell our boss that the last time he saw me I was covered in small pox!!!

Then I sat down to get to writing a chapter and, the next thing I know, I’m re-papering my kitchen cupboards and all of my kitchen drawers. Once I finished that, I obviously needed to repaint my kitchen cupboards because you can’t have fresh paper on the inside and old paint on the outside, everyone knows that!!!!

And of course that led me to retiling the backsplash. Anyways, Gladys, I also need you to talk to your cousin Blanche to see if her husband can’t come over and repair the teensy-weensy hole that appeared mysteriously in my kitchen floor while I was dancing to Orinoco Flow with my sledgehammer. Enya gets me pumped!!!!!

Please let him know that he will also need some waders and possibly a small dingy to get to it as my installation of the new faucet and cat bath is undergoing some design changes and I’ve run out of small pox paid time off. Fortunately for me, we have all the raingear we need for #bestkitten since she cosplayed Coraline last month at the Neil Gaiman Gazebo Fire.

Anywizz, right about the time my sledgehammer mysteriously put a hole in my kitchen floor, I realized what HAS BEEN WRONG THIS WHOLE TIME WITH MY NOVEL.

It’s MY CLOSET GLASYD!!!!!!!!!

I haven’t figured out WHY it is to blame but I’m sure the reason is OUT THERE SOMEWHERE. The reason isn’t nearly as important as the BLAME.

Which gives me an idea. Since Tod Boadkins is so obviously nervous about answering my texts, I should drive over to his house to make it easier for him and invite him over to help me with my closet!!!!

Oops!! I’m supposed to be watching #bestkitten and she just floated by on a makeshift raft made from pink pencils and painter’s tape.

Gotta go, Gladys!!!!

xox,
X


FW: Found a Missing Person

We may have found Narnia, Gladys!!!! Also, your cousin is so fast!!!!! I’d pay him but he’d probably be happier with autographed copies of my book when it comes out!!!!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

CC: Writer X

Date: May 20, 2022 at 8:26 PM EDT

To: Detective Amanda Fischer

Subject: Found a Missing Person

Detective Fischer,

I tried calling the police non-emergency number but the voicemail connects me to the local clown college. As a result, I’m reaching out to you along with my colleague, Writer X, who shared your email address with me.

X is a writer and, as you may know, writers have some issues with closets as part of the hazards of our profession. X complained to me that she has been having issues with her writing closet since August of last year. This evening, I visited X for the purpose of helping her investigate her closet. It hasn’t been opened since September or October of 2021. We managed to get it open and a haggard young woman in tattered clothing appeared and fled the premise before we could get anything out of her.

I tried pursuing her in my car, but she seems to have disappeared the minute she got to the end of the street. I’m concerned she may need immediate medical care.

By the time I had circled the block, X had fled her house saying that “four or five Neil Gaimans” were in her living room. We have no idea where they came from.

X has informed me that you already have her phone number. You can reach either of us for follow up through that number.

Regards,

TB


Subject: I NEED TO BORROW YOUR BLUETOOTH SPEAKER!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m writing you from the warmth and dry of Tod Boadkins’ house. Even though you sent your cousin over while I was out of the house hunting down Tod Boadkins and they not only magically repaired the hole that mysteriously appeared in the floor but also somehow made all of the water disappear, too, our house is now uncomfortably full of mute Neil Gaimans so we had to call a fumigator. One or two mute Neil Gaimans is bearable, but six or seven just pushes it right over the line into awkward especially with the way they keep running into the walls. Not to mention all the horrible groaning.

In the meanwhile, Tod Boadkins has asked me and #bestkitten to stay with him until they can get all the Neil Gaimans out.

Of course you and I both know that he’s just trying to get extra time with me, but I admire the knightly gesture. HE’S IN LOVE, GLADYS!!!!!!!

That said, I need to borrow a few things!!!! First, I am definitely going through an Enya withdrawal and will need to borrow your bluetooth speaker while I’m here at Tod Boadkins so that he can be aware at all times that I am here. That way, when I go back to my own house and his house is SUDDENLY QUIET and ENYA FREE, he will miss me and get violently ill like I am currently doing until he either 1.) Sees me or 2.) Listens to The Memory of Trees. Secondly, I need your snow blower for undisclosed reasons. Thirdly, I need your cartography equipment and those ultra bright headlamps to help me with the Narnia we found at the back of my closet.  Fourth, I need you to go back to my house and get my best pink cloaks. I couldn’t fit them in my luggage when we were trying to escape from the Neil Gaimans.

Be careful of the Neil Gaimans!

Is that apocalyptic thunder???

Talk to you soon!!!!

xox,
X

THE WATER

WAS FLOODING

MY ABYSS

AND WETTING

#BESTKITTEN’S

PAWS. I

HAD TO USE

MAGIC AGAIN.

THEY’RE

GOING TO

FIND ME.

MAYBE IT’S

BETTER

IF I JUST STAY

HERE AT

CHURCH. THAT

WAY

#BESTKITTEN

NEVER HAS

TO SAY

GOODBYE.