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.

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

Sign Party

Hello All, Melanie here.

Have you ever had a friend who goes about things in the most contradictory, befuddling way—ways that would make anyone else look like a fool—but for the friend, it works?

Well, X has done it again. I have to say I’m surprised at the turn things are taking for her. It sounds like she has quite a bit going on to keep her mind off writing.

Which, in the scope of the writing universe, is normal.

Without further ado…


Fw: Ball’s in your court

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: May 5, 2022 at 7:03 PM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Ball’s in your court

X,

It looks like us getting together is not in the cards. As frustrating as that is, I don’t want to reschedule only to have it cancelled again so it looks like the ball is in your court.

Something you wrote in the email titled “CANCELLING!!!! CLOSET!!!!!” has had me curious. While I feel I may regret asking, what is going on with your closet?

I need you to understand that I do need my notes back. As friends, what can we work out between us so that you can at least share the contents of my notes with me?

This is the last outstanding piece of getting my life back on track since my brother locked me in my basement and impersonated me to the world. I hope you can understand that.

Let me know when you think we can get together so I can hear your side of things.

Regards,

TB


Fw: Re: Ball’s in your court

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: May 5, 2022 at 8:24 PM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Re: Ball’s in your court

X,

Sorry to hear that your closet is giving you so much grief and for so long. It sounds like something a little more intense than your average fantasy writer’s closet.

Whenever I’m getting ready to write a new book, the closet in my house become more active, too. It’s never so disruptive that disembodied voices talk in my living room or a woman shouts to be let out. It’s just your normal fantasy writer’s closet noises.

I’ve heard that keeping your closet free of storage items can help balance the portal energies that warp when you world build. Maybe you want to clean out your closet and see if that will help. But it sounds like your closet needs something more industrial. Have you tried calling the Society?

In response to your other question: Yes. I’d be happy to stop in for your sign installation ceremony tomorrow. Maybe we can talk about sharing the notes then.

Regards,

TB


Subject: CAUTION SIGN PARTY!!!!!!!

Dear Glayds,

As you can see I really have my hands full with Tod Boadkins. It’s obvious that his love for me is only deepening and becoming more impossible to deny. I told you last minute cancellations are the surefire way to take your romantic relationships to the next level!!!!!

I can’t write for long as I have to go to the glitter shop and get more purple glitter for the sign Tryxy and I are making. Purple is #bestkittens’ third favorite color. The sign has to be done by tomorrow Gladys!!!!!!

Speaking of tomorrow, I don’t know what to tell Tod Boadkins other than he’s never going to get his notes back. I was walking through the kitchen to take the notes down to Tryxy’s new photocopier in the basement when #bestkitten meowed and I jumped and the notes slipped out of my hand and slid under the fridge before I could stop them and this is just how life is now.

ANyways, I’m writing to invite you to our “Caution: Deaf Kitten at Play” Sign Installation Ceremony and Housewarming Party for #bestkitten tomorrow. Please come out and support #bestkitten!!!!! (And Tryxy!!!! He’s just now figuring out that he didn’t make #bestkitten deaf and that she’s supposed to be that way!!!!!) The event is semi-formal and we’re asking that you bring anchovies to pass.

Don’t wear pink!!!! I don’t want Tod Boadkins to get confused!!!!!!!

xox,
X


Subject: MAUVE IS NOT YOUR COLOR!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

It was nice to see you at #bestkitten’s party last night even though you WERE wearing a very slight shade of mauve. As you were saying, yes, we DO have a lot to get caught up on. For one, it was good to have the OLD Gladys back instead of this horrible Melanie that I’ve been having to deal with for the last nine months!!!!

I am a very different writer than I was when you last lived in your own body. I have seen darkness, Gladys. And hell. And Maine. I came very close to selling my first book to Random Haus before they issued the restraining order. And, as you could tell from the way Tod Boadkins was making eyes at me last night and kept trying to change to subject to talk about his missing notes, I am very close to getting married and becoming a fantasy writer POWER COUPLE!!!!!

(If it weren’t for his adorable beard I would have to give him the silent treatment for forever after mentioning The SOCIETY!!!!!!)

That all said, the darkness has definitely changed me. I really need you to look at all the versions of the story that I’ve sent you in the last year and tell me which one you like best BUT ONLY AFTER YOU’VE READ THEM ALL!!!!

Aside from that, I’ve been temporarily on hiatus from writing to focus on #bestkitten’s vet and therapy appointments, Tryxy’s therapy appointments, and getting enough glitter for our Caution: Deaf Kitten at Play sign. You’d be surprised to know how hard it is to find a vat of glitter, Gladys. You’d think it was something that everyone would just keep stocked but NO. People have no survival instincts!!!!! I’ve even had to temporarily postpone any Fellowship meetings until next week!!!!

Btw, (that means by the way) you’re invited to the Fellowship meeting next week even though you haven’t come to any of the other meetings. It will be on Thursday at 12 in the usual place (the Velvet Room at the Library) and we will be discussing how I’m the Chosen One.

In the meanwhile I’m going to hold off working on my story until after you read all the versions I’ve sent you and tell me which one is my story. Then, I’ll work on that version even though I probably will take a little bit from each version and blend them all together. If I had the anti-horcruxes this would all be much easier!!!!

Now that our neighborhood knows that there is a deaf kitten at play and all of #bestkitten’s noisy toys have been replaced with shiny toys, I definitely have other things to think about!!!

More importantly, what do you think of this wedding dress for when Tod Boadkins and I get married???? Are there enough ruffles???? Do you think it should be more neon????

xox,
X


Fw: Putting myself out there

I told you, Gladys!!!!!!

xox,
X

P.S. He’s not getting those notes back. I told you once they’re the fridge they’re under the fridge forever!!!!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: May 7, 2022 at 9:08 PM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Putting myself out there

X,

Alright. You got me.

I told you the ball was in your court, but I can see I might have to look like a fool on this one.

Since my ex-wife left me, I’ve tried to stay away from this kind of thing. I don’t know what it is, but I keep thinking about you. I’m not sure if I’m attracted to you, or if I’m just really confused about you staking out in my house for two to four weeks and foiling my brother’s plans while raiding my secret room. Or if I just need therapy.

It occurred to me that maybe the reason you keep finding other things to do is because I’m not putting enough on the table.

Let me take you out to dinner.

We can talk about our closets.

Best,

TB

ONE THING

ABOUT

LIVING

A HUMAN

LIFE:

YOU HAVE
TO LET GO
OF WHAT YOU
CAN’T

CONTROL.

AND YOU
CAN’T

BLAME

YOURSELF FOR
EVERYTHING.

DON’T LIKE

THAT PART.

DEMONIC

POWERS

ARE MUCH

EASIER.

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

[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 Neutral Ninja

Hello, All! Melanie here.

I could mention that I spent last week passing a kidney stone (fun fun fun) or that it’s my anniversary (yay!) But instead, I’m going to leave this here for your convenience. You may need it later.

Without further ado…


Subject: I need new friends

Dear Gladys,

As a courtesy of our friendship, I am sending you an update on all the various developments in our happy household which YOU don’t live in.

Things are REALY looking up for Demonkitty!!!! Last night the UPS machine dropped off Tryxy’s REAL TRUE DRUM KIT!!!! Now we can use our pots and pans for making apple macaroni and cheese instead of as percussion kits like NORMAL PEOPLE. Tryxy has immediately gotten to work, you should see him. It’s like he’s on a musical honeymoon, rattling off drum fills, banging on the high hatty thing, and just GLOWING although I’ve asked him to please turn down his personal wattage because I was getting tan lines.

Also you may be pleased to discover that I had a vision the other night and, as a result of my incredible creative clairvoyance, I took a sharpie and designed Demonkitty’s BAND LOGO!!!!! Tryxy loves it!!!! Here it is

Isn’t it AMAZING??????? I took #bestkitten’s face and Tryxy’s teeth and PUT THEM TOGETHER!!!!!! And while R____ is now an official member of Demonkitty and I will be an official member sometime soon I’m sure, but the ORIGINAL members are Tryxy and #bestkitten. This is something that all the REAL fans of Demonkitty will know in the future.

Hang on. Tod Boadkins just texted me to ask if he’s seeing me tonight. I have to go last minute cancel our date again!!! Have to keep this man guessing!!!!!

xox,
X


Subject: Re: I need new friends

Okay Gladys, I’m back.

While I’m very excited for Tryxy and #bestkitten, it has become apparent to me that I need new friends. I know that I am very mature and have very subtle emotions, Glayds, but I have not been happy with the way my current friends have handled the Fellowship I invited them to. Fellowships are supposed to work out perfectly. NO ONE HAS OFFICIALLY OFFERED THEIR SWORD OR THEIR AXE, GLADYS!!!!!1!

Even worse, I held another meeting at the Velvet Room in the library YESTERDAY and NO ONE CAME. Of course I sent out all the invitations by ESP five minutes before I called the meeting but you would think that someone would have made the effort!!!!!

I have taken some time and reflected on this and have come to realize the crux of the problem. My friends are all wrong. I’m not trying to get rid of them. They can’t help it that they aren’t as visionary as I had generously assumed them to be, but I definitely need some new ones. Tryxy’s amazing as always but I get the feeling he doesn’t really want to be in the fellowship and I guess that’s okay.

Remember that little black book you had when you were a famous hollywood producer??? I need you to send me ten or twenty names and numbers of new friends and I need you to do it NOW. I’ve already lost an entire TWO WEEKS wasting my time. I am the Chosen One Gladys!!! Dream Gaiman came to ME!!! And my friends don’t even realize what’s right in front of them.

I’m not picky. Some famous actors and models will do. Especially if they look like elves.

In the meanwhile, things are heating up fast in the romance department!!! I have last minute canceled on Tod Boadkins three times so far so things are moving right along. I’ve also spent plenty of time practicing changing my Facebook profile from single to “in a relationship with Tod Boadkins.” Once I accidentally changed it to married and tagged him just to see if it worked, but since he didn’t add me as his spouse I think Facebook must have been having tech issues.

My story pages are not moving. I ordered all these pencils and I still don’t have anything new. My robes and cloaks are helping me feel more like a fantasy writer (too many fantasy writers look like ordinary people, Gladys!!!!) but I am having a small problem with all the whiplash.

Have to go, Gladys! I have an appointment at the chiropractor since I threw my neck out after my ultralong pink Galadriel robes got caught in Mr. Morgan’s automatic doors when I was grocery shopping last week!!! Me and Mr. Morgan are in a heated legal battle again!!!!!

xox,
X


Subject: My my my

Dear Gladys,

Well would you look at this???? Silverfox is finally coming to his senses. I know he SAYS he wants to talk to #bestkitten but I’m pretty sure that’s a typo.


Fw: I’ve been thinking

Oops!!!! Forgot to forward!!!!

xox,
X

Begin forwarded message:

From: Silverfox Firepaw
Date: April 27, 2022 at 11:08 AM EDT
To: Writer X
Subject: I’ve been thinking

X,

I am still considering your little offer although I don’t think you will care for my answer.

Mind if I pop by tomorrow? I need to talk to #bestkitten before I share my thoughts.

in friendship,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”


Subject: BUGRLAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I’m shaking. Something terrible has happened.

The book burglar BORKE INTO MY HOUSE!!!!!!!!

Also, just because Silverfox is coming over to apologize tomorrow, it doesn’t mean I don’t want those actors and models!!!! Please send immediately.

If it weren’t for #bestkitten coming up for her midnight wedge of ham the burglar would have gotten in without a hitch!!!! Fortunately #bestkitten wants her ham wedge when she wants her ham wedge and apparently when she saw the burglar, he failed to pet her so she meowed the loudest meow that she has ever meowed and all of the glass in the kitchen shattered!!!!!

That’s what drew my attention to the fact that there was a burglar in our kitchen!!!!!! Fortunately my closet has been acting up more than usual and I couldn’t sleep. I was only in the next room over but the burglar didn’t know I was in the next room because you see I had already shot out all the lights for the evening. I had made my way down to make my midnight kettle corn and buffalo chicken chunky dunkers and had gotten as far as the dining room when I was knocked on my coccyx from #bestkitten’s extra loud alarm meow.

I scrambled to my feet and ran after the burglar shouting for Tryxy (who had fallen asleep in his abyss listening to Lil Nas X in his head phones so didn’t hear me.) We both skidded all over the kitchen glass and several times his feet got all tripped up in my robes. I ALMOST HAD HIM GLADYS!!!!! But the slippery bugger kept appearing and disappearing!!!!! He wore this confounded beige and off-white ninja suit so he matched with EVERYTHING!!!!!!! He’s like the Yacht Rock of Thieves!!!!!! Every time I tried to see him I just heard the blue-eyed soul sounds of Spandau Ballet!!!!!

I chased him all the way out into my backyard but then he completely disappeared against all the neutral tones of my evil neighbor A____’s new pop up gazebo and he was gone!!!!!

Oh look! Tod Boadkins just texted me asking me why I listed that we were married on Facebook. I knew he couldn’t resist!!!!

ANyways Gladys, when I went back in my house and checked my safe, my award-winning autographed copy of Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown was GONE!!!!!!!!

The book burglar is now one step closer to unlocking the MAP that locates all the anti-horcruxes and my friends haven’t even formalized our FELLOWSHIP!!!!!!!!

To make matters worse, when Tryxy DID wake up he called DETECTIVE FISCHER AND NOW SHE’S ON THE WAY TO INVESTIGATE. This is bad, bad, bad!!!!!

Oh. There are all the red and blue lights.

I have to go gladys.

This is awful.

xox,
X


Subject: YET ANOTHER BETRAYAL

Dear Gladys,

As you know from my midnight email last night, the Neutral Ninja has stolen my award-winning autographed copy of The Hero and the Crown.

He is now one critical step closer to beating me to all the anti-horcruxes and becoming the most famous and powerful fantasy writer in all of time and I haven’t even gotten ten new words written in my epic fantasy saga in spite of all the branded pencils I now own.

But fate has taken up her cruel baseball bat and banged on the lids of all my metal trashcans YET AGAIN.

The fellowship has betrayed me.

Silverfox came to talk to #bestkitten today and then he very quietly and respectfully came to see me and told me that he had spoken with Marjorie and also now with #bestkitten and they all agree that they will help me but not in the way I was asking. They are willing to combine our powers to locate the Neutral Ninja and return all the stolen autographed copies of the Pillars of Fantasy to their rightful owners. But they aren’t yet sold on helping with the anti-horcruxes especially since they may have deadly guardians, or not exist, OR finding them will give all of the power of writing fantasy to just one person, and putting a stop to the crime wave SEEMS MORE IMPORTANT.

SURE. GREAT!!!! JUST GET YOUR PRIORITIES OUT OF WACK WHY DON’T YOU?????

THIS ISN’T HOW FELLOWSHIPS WORK. WHAT DO THEY THINK THIS IS, A DEMOCRACY?

He then asked me very quietly and respectfully what my thoughts and feelings were on the matter and I couldn’t help it, Gladys. I had to tell him about how Dream Gaiman has come to me and has been helping me and that means that I’m the Chosen ONe and you know what he said?

He said, “Oh. Yeah, Dream Gaiman always comes to writers and helps them. It’s just how he is.”

DREAM GAIMAN HAS BEEN VISITING ALL THESE OTHER PEOPLE’S DREAMS?????? He’s only supposed to visit mine!!!!! How else am I supposed to muster an inflated feeling of superiority that helps me battle through the hardship that is writing the NEXT BIG EPIC FANTASY SAGA OF ALL TIME!!!!!

And now I’m completely out of popcorn kernels because my kettle corn needs have gone THROUGH THE ROOF since last night!!!!

Oh would you look at that? My copy of The Hero and the Crown was behind the bottles of popcorn oil. I forgot I put it there!!!!!

I’ve foiled the Neutral Ninja this time, Gladys!!!!!! I can do this!!!!

And Tod Boadkins just texted me about our hot date tonight (although he keeps calling it a “meeting”, he’ll wake up, Gadys!!!!)

Oh, the wheels are turning yet again!!! Another email from Silverfox just came in. The Fellowship is gonna be ONNNNN!!!!!!

BRB. (That means be right back.)

xox,
X


Fw: Meant to ask

OH NO GLADYS!!!!! WHAT DO I TELL TRYXY??????

I have to cancel with Tod Boadkins and take her to the vet IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Silverfox Firepaw

Date: April 28, 2022 at 2:17 PM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Meant to ask

X,

I meant to ask you when I was there earlier. Were you aware that #bestkitten is deaf? That may be why she has such a powerful set of lungs.

Have you given any thought to our proposal?

in friendship,

fox

“writing is weaving real worlds from invisible threads”

NOOOOOOOOOOO

OOOOOOOOOOOO

OOOOOOOOOOOO

FIRST I BURNED

DOWN NINEVAH

AND NOW MY

DRUMMING HAS

MADE MY BEST

KITTEN DEAF

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

DEBATE: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE THINGS

Hello all! Melanie here.

Hope you’re off to the start of a great day and a great week. Not to give anything in the following emails away but I’ve been reflecting on the flawed process that is storytelling, that is art.

I spent a couple summers doing traditional beadwork with one of my aunts as a teen. I remember her telling me that, no matter how much you work at making the perfect sunburst pattern or earrings or traditional fan, we always leave in one mistake on purpose because that’s where “the medicine gets in.” It always captivated me, this idea that our flawed nature is the very thing through which healing and magic enter the world.

However it enters your day, I wish you magic.

Without further ado…


Subject: Secret secret SECRET meeting at the Velvet Room

Dear Gladys,

As you know, I am now home from jail having won my battle against Detective Fischer and her trumped up JAYWALKING charges. I’m sure she didn’t know what hit her!!!! I am far more cleaver than people like her imagine!!! AFter all, I AM A WRITER AND WRITERS ARE SAMRT!!!!

AFter I was emailing you last week, I had an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IDEA about how to stop Tod Boadkins’ stupid council from getting to the writing anti-horcruxes before I do!!!!

While you didn’t send me Elrond’s new phone number which was very untimely of you and is one strike against you, I’ve decided that I don’t need Elrond’s help until later. Remember how, in The Lord of the Rings, everyone gets together and decides to throw the one ring into the fires of mount doom? Well it has become ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT I AM FRODO and I need my own group to overthrow Tod Boadkins’ stupid council of the most boringly boring bores.

I am also Elrond.

No, I’m Liv Tyler.

I’m Frodo if Frodo was Elrond and Elrond was Liv Tyler. FInal Answer.

No. I’m Katniss if Katniss was Leia and Leia was Dana Scully who was Beyonce!!!!

What was I saying??? Oh! You are cordially invited to a very secret, super secret gathering at the Velvet Room at the Cradensburg Town Library right NOW to discuss nothing less than the FUTURE of MIDDLE CRADENSBURG!!!

I picked the Velvet Room because it feels a lot more epic than my living room.

Please bring your notebook as I need you to take the minutes. Wear your best robe looking things or maybe a cloak. We’re going for impact here!!!! But don’t draw any attention to yourself!!!!!!

xox,
X

P.S. Could you pick up one of those meat and cheese platters from Mr. Morgan’s.

P.P.S. Oh! And some of those olives that come with the little pickle forks?

P.P.P.S. And some elegant looking goblets for us to drink out of when we’re talking???? I’ll pay youback after I’m famous.

P.P.P.P.S. This is going to break Tod Boadkins’ heart since he is in love with me, but maybe this is the wake up call he needs, Gladys!!!!!


Subject: Still waiting!!!!

Dear Gladys,

My secret secret SECRET meeting is going to start in a little over an hour and I still don’t see you here at the library with or without a cloack and that meat and cheese platter!!!!

But you know who I DO see here???? DETECTIVE FISCHER!!!!!!!!!

She’s poking around in the ancient maps of Cradensburg section!!!!! That’s where I went to look up where the possible locations are for the anti-horcruxes!!!!!!

WHAT IS SHE DOING HERE GLADYS!!!!!

Oh! Gotta go! The shelf I was hiding on top of just dropped a dusty old encyclopedia volume onto the desk that Fischer is reading at below my sleuthing spot!!!!!

xox,
X

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Minutes from the Fellowship

Dear Gladys,

I know you are probably a new version of Gladys and you are still getting used to being a timeshare entity and all, but I am saying this because I care about you.

CHECK YOUR EMAILS MORE FREQUENTLY!!!! We are BEST FRIENDS!!!!! YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN I AM GOING TO DEMAND THINGS FROM YOU THAT ARE URGENT!!!!!

Since you are not here I am stuck doing your job. Please keep these minutes in a very secret secret place.

The Fellowship Meeting Minutes
Date – April 23
Location – The Velvet Room at the Cradensburg Town Library
Objective – The FELLOWSHIP
Present:

Writer X – the next big epic fantasy writer
#bestkitten – the best kitten, vocalist for band DemonKitty
eventually Tryxy – showed up late but is the drummer for band DemonKitty (get the strange feeling that Tryxy does not want to be here. So weird.)
Marjorie – receptionist at The House of Nine Gables. Writes but never shows it to anyone.
Silverfox – incredible Furry Fiction writer, makes good harpoons in a pinch

Absent:

GLADYS!!!!!!

Refreshment provided: Donuts by Marjorie

Writer X has sworn everyone to secrecy.

Meeting is paused to kick out high schooler that wandered in because we have donuts.

Writer X has very elegantly explained the existence of an unknown number of ancient hidden writing anit-horcruxes that will endow the bearer with unspeakable mastery over that element of writing so that they can rule all of the writing world and become the most epic of epic fantasy writers of all times. Writer X looks a lot like Beyonce if Beyonce were Dana Scully who was Leia and Leia was Katniss.

Marjorie says wait, what.

Silverfox says you’re kidding me right.

Marjorie says she never kids.

Silverfox says how are they anti-horcruxes, what does harry potter have to do with all this? I mean are we talking about killing people to cut off pieces of our souls or something?

Marjorie says possibly, knowing X.

eventually Tryxy says do you even know where these anti-horcruxes are.

Writer X elegantly explains that the true locations are yet to be fully known but that they will reveal themselves to the worthy soul, the one who is destined to become the next big epic fantasy writer of all time if her friends would just get with it.

Silverfox says why are we continuing with this conversation without discussing the fact that these things can’t exist.

Marjorie says why do you say that?

#bestkitten says mew mew

Silverfox says awwww she’s so cute I say that because if there are (uses air quotes) anti-horcruxes that could bestow a writer with such powers, and they’re as ancient as you say they are, don’t you think others would have found them by now?

Marjorie says not necessarily

Silverfox says okay okay I’ll give you that. If they haven’t been found yet, doesn’t that tell you that maybe they’re not the easiest thing to get to and when I say easy I mean they’re probably at the top of some cliffs or guarded by some monster or something, right?

eventually Tryxy looks shiftily back and forth.

Marjorie says think about what finding something like that could mean. It could mean writing the most perfect book that isn’t problematic in any way. I mean, you could write a story that can’t be picked apart for its moral failings in any era. All of fantasy fandom would have a single book—

Writer X sexily interjects: or series of nine books

Marjorie continues: that could unite every reader in every time. Wouldn’t you want to read that book? Wouldn’t you want it to exist?

Silverfox blinks and says Ummmmm, first of all that sounds terrifying. And that also sounds like an even greater argument for the existence of monsters as guardians.

Tryxy looks even more shifty.

Someone clears their throat loudly from the doorway.

Detective Fischer: The meeting room registry said that a secret secret SECRET group was convening in the Velvet Room. With a name like that, had to check it out for myself. Hello X, how’s freedom treating you?

Silverfox says Did you ever find out who’s stealing all the fantasy books around here?

Detective Fischer once overs everyone, smirks, and leaves.

Silverfox says I’ll take that as a no.

Writer X elegantly redirects the fellowship to the situation at hand, namely her writing career. Her voice sounds like Galadriel. She says that there is already a group of pretentious established writers who are trying to use their status to get access to the anti-horcruxes, people who already have established careers and books out with their names on them and if they were to get their stuffy claws on the anti-horcruxes before I do, it means none of us will be able to get our god awful stuff published. Time is running out.

Marjorie says why are you using that weird voice.

Tryxy says How about instead of sitting here holding meetings in library rooms you go home and keep working on your novel, X. You always get started and then when things get hard you just stop writing and try to find the easy way out or the completely irrelevant way out.

Marjorie says Are you a writer?

Tryxy says I write songs

Marjorie says Songs aren’t stories. Taking a break from your writing is still writing. You can’t yell at a writer for not writing.

Silverfox is chewing his lips like he’s trying not to say something completely accurate.

Tryxy says she ordered 5000 pink personalized pencils this week to help her feel better about the middle of her book. Did you tell them that, X?

Writer X elegantly says I don’t know what that has to do with anything.

Tryxy says the pencils aren’t going to write the book for you.

Silverfox says where do you keep 5000 pink pencils.

Marjorie says even if we were to find these anti-horcruxes, how are we going to divvy them up? We haven’t talked about that at all.

Silverfox says X should divvy up the pencils. Why 5000?

#bestkitten speaks in a combination of purrs, stretches, showing her belly, and nose bumps that suggest she believes they should work together with the Tod Boadkins Circle of Abominable Bores to stop the book-burglar and return the stolen fantasy books to their rightful homes.

Silverfox says she’s so blooming cute do you keep the pencils in their own pencil boxes?

Writer X mysteriously rises from the grand meeting table as her fellowship fights among themselves and stands near the overstuffed velvet pillows, stares distantly at the painting of Mr. Ernest L. Crankweil that they keep in here for some reason even though it doesn’t go with the pillows. She draws a recorder from her flowing pink robes and as the others continue to squabble, she plays a haunting version of the blue bell of scotland or at least the parts of it she can remember. Silence falls on the companions.

The librarian is standing in the doorway clearing her throat.

Librarian says Excuse me. We don’t allow people to blow on whistles in the library. Your time has run out and the Cradensburg Living Chess Board Cosplay Club is waiting for their turn in the velvet room. Is that a cat?

Gotta go, Gladys!!!!!


Fw: Let’s Talk

GLADYS!!!!!

I am home from the library!!!!!

TOD BOADKINS HAS PROFESSED HIS LOVE!!!!

What should I do???? I can’t call off the fellowship now I just ordered more robes and cloaks!!!!!!

xox,
X

Begin forwarded message:

From: Tod Boadkins

Date: April 23, 2022 at 1:38 PM EDT

To: Writer X

Subject: Let’s Talk

Hey,

I haven’t heard from you since we visited my “friends.”

I’ve been doing some thinking.

I don’t like the way I handled things down there.

Especially considering that—even though your methods baffle me, you were the only person that suspected my brother was up to something and you tried to do something about it.

That says a lot about you.

I let my “friends” be dismissive of you.

I wanted you to understand that this is bigger than you or me.

I guess I hoped you could see yourself as part of it. My “friends” didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet. They acted with a lot of pretension.

Let’s be honest. You and I don’t have a lot in common as individuals. We’re in very different places in our respective careers but I guess we both love the craft in our own ways. I haven’t emphasized our commonality. I can be a blockhead, okay?

My ex-wife always said I didn’t listen. In the rush of trying to get my life back on track, I haven’t given you any space to have a voice in all this.

I’m not trying to be friends or anything, but I’ve tried to get through to you for weeks now and have failed. Maybe it’s time I listen. At least once.

Let me buy you a coffee.

Say… at Ink Black (Coffee Club)? Tomorrow?

Professionally,

TB

LOVING LIFE.

LOVE MY JOB.

LOVE MY FRIENDS.

LOVE #BESTKITTEN.

LOVE MY BAND.

HAVE A NEW

KEYBOARD

PLAYER.

WROTE TWO

NEW SONGS

THIS
WEEK.

BUT THERE ARE
PINK PENCILS

EVERYWHERE!

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

AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY — TO JAIL

Hello All! Melanie here. =)

I hope your Pesach and/or Easter and/or Ramadan treated/is treating you well. Do you do much for the holidays?

My kids recently commented to me that we don’t really celebrate any holidays. I was mildly perturbed. The way I see it, being multi-racial and multi-cultural, we celebrate SO many holidays that the only way to keep up with them all is to simply acknowledge that they’re a day and they exist.

My youngest’s response? “Yeah, mom. So basically because we celebrate all of them, we don’t celebrate ANY of them.”

And here I was thinking we were all festively doing nothing.

Without further ado?


Subject: ANOTHER BURGLARY GLADYS!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

I know that you are receiving this email earlier than you are used to and I technically still have three more days to wallow in despair about all these already established writers trying to steal the anti-horcruxes out of my very hands!!!! Sorry, I know that wasn’t the end of the sentence. But it should be, Gladys!!!! I get very upset!!!!

Anywoo, where was I???

RIGHT. There was another book burglarly!!!! ON HORN HILL!!!! In the middle of the day!!!!! Tryxy and #bestkitten are in band practice and R____ just came over with his keyboard because they’re auditioning keyboard players and, the next thing I know, Ms. B___ waltzes over and snootily says “Oh! I’m just checking to see if you have an alibi because someone just broke into Elvis Parkinson’s house and stole his autographed copy of The Wheel of Time and I figured it was YOU.”

NOW THEY’RE STEALING ROBERT JORDAN???? THAT’S TOO FAR, GLADYS!!!! That means the thief is ONE STEP CLOSER to being able to unlock the MAP if I can believe voices I hear in bathrooms!!!!

I’ve got to do something, Gladys. Even worse, my evil neighbor A____ is out there running a SMEAR campaign against me in the neighborhood!!!! And she sent me a bill for her broken living room window but she’s not very smart, is she Gladys???? THE WAGON WHEEL BROKE HER WINDOW. I DIDN’T!!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go!!! The police are starting to arrive. I’m going down to the scene of the crime!!! Someone has to tell these police officers what they need to do and make it clear to my neighbors that I’m not stealing their books!!!!

Have to put down the phone, need to focus on my power walk!!!!

xox,
X

P.S. I’m still going to use my three days of wallowing!!!!

sent from my iPhone


Subject: I’m much calmer now, you can go ahead and call me back

Dear Gladys,

If you are wondering who was calling you from the town jail THAT WAS ME!!!! Did you check your messages????????

NOT XOX,
X!!!!!

P.S. PLEASE TEXT TRYXY AND ASK HIM TO TURN OFF MY DEVILED EGGS!!!! They will burn while I’m in jail!!!!!

P.P.S. Can you please talk to Tryxy about letting me audition for DemonKitty. I told him I was a virtuoso recorder player in third grade but I think he needs to hear it from you!!!!!

sent from my iPhone


Subject: Checking in

Dear Gladys,

I’m now emailing you from Detective Fischer’s computer as part of the deal I am working out with her in exchange for my IMMINENT RELEASE.

I’m sure you are dying to know about my book.

MY BOOK WILL BE FINE ONCE I GET ALL THE ANTI-HORCRUXES WHICH I CAN’T DO WHILE I AM HOLED UP HERE ON TRUMPED UP JAYWALKING CHARGES!!!!

Gladys — what if my artistic soul is pointed in the wrong direction? What if instead of becoming a famous epic fantasy writer, I’m supposed to become a famous musician in the band DemonKitty???

Sitting here in jail, I just feel like I’m finally seeing the writing on the wall. What if the reason I can’t get anywhere with my writing is because the industry is TOO CROWDED???? There’s almost NO ONE trying to be famous pop stars. It’s a WAY LESS competitive field. And I still have that recorder I bought when we were in third grade.

I just feel like the right answer was in front of me all along. Or in front of me, but in a trunk full of all the crap I kept from when I was a kid.

But what I’m really writing to you about is — if Detective Fischer questions you, DON’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE ANTI-HORCRUXES!!!!! WE DON’T KNOW WHOSE SIDE SHE’S ON!!!!

Did Tryxy get back to you yet about leting me audition??? Tell him I can play greensleeves and the bluebells of scotland. Mostly. If you give me a few tries.

xox,
X

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


Subject: Proposal

Dear Gladys,

I?m still here with lame-o Detective Fischer and she is really trying to put the thumbscrews in but I think I?m wearing her down!!!!

I?m writing to offer you a proposal you can’t refuse.

What if I let you become my new music manager?????

Isn’t that exciting????

The first thing I need you to do is draw up a contract with me as the star recorder player?recordist? recordian? record player?

ANywiz, I need you to draw up a contract with me and DemonKitty and send it right back to me, okay??? This will immediately guarantee that you get at least 10 percent of whatever I get!!!! Well. Two percent. WIth possibilities of expanding to 10 percent. Or three percent. Or two point five.

xox,
X

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


Subject: LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS!!!!!!

Dear Gladys,

SOMEONE TIPPED DETECTIVE FISCHER OFF ABOUT THE ANTI-HORCRUXES AND YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON I DIDN’T TELL ABOUT THEM!!!!!!

As a result, I STILL have not been released from jail. However, on the bright side, I have got Detective Fischer RIGHT WHERE I WANT HER. She is now allowing me unlimited emails!!!!

I’m still waiting for you to send me the contract but don’t worry, I will give you a little time to go to an entertainment lawyer and make sure everything is perfect.

As I’ve been sitting there in the interrogation box, I’ve been thinking about this whole anti-horcrux thing and why I am so upset other than the fact that all of these established writers and editors are trying to sabotage my writing career!!!!! It’s been hard to put my finger on it but I think I have come down to the center of my problem.

Tod Boadkins is in love with me.

Why else would he have such an adorable beard???? And why else would I watch him stalking me from my window where he couldn?t see me for three whole hours instead of getting any writing done???? OBviously he is really in love with me and I really can’t blame him. I mean, he’s a writer and he is obviously drawn to the fact that he has spent several weeks imprisoned in his own basement in the same building as the next big epic fantasy and/or famous recorder player for DemonKitty. WE’RE A POWER COUPLE!!!!

Well, no. C____ and I were the real power couple.

But Tod Boadkins is close.

Why else is he hellbent on getting those notes about the possible location and leads of one of the anti-horcruxes??? Obviously he just wants to be close to me!!!!

How do I get him to wake up to this, Gladys????

I need you to consider being my match-maker. I could probably even talk Tod Boadkins into signing with your new management company!!!!!

Anywoot, I have to go. Detective Fischer has more questions about my ninja suit and my role in sabotaging a sea-going vessel full of memoirists.

xox,
X

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


Subject: My Secret Secret SECRET Scheme

Dear Gladys,

THIS IS MY LAST EMAIL TO YOU FROM JAIL. I’m writing to let you know that I think I have the solution to our little underground secret secret group of people trying to get the anti-horcruxes before I do!!!!

Watch for my next email which should come before Sunday of next week.

It’s time to summon a fellowship, Gladys!!!!! Don’t tell Detective Fischer!!!!!

Do you have Elrond’s phone number?

xox,
X

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

FUN FACT:

A RECORDER

WAS PLAYED

ON THE DAY

NINEVAH

BURNED

TO THE GROUND.

THERE WILL

NEVER BE

A RECORDER IN

DEMONKITTY.

THE ONE

BENEFIT OF

X IN JAIL

IS SHE’S NO

CLOSER TO

GETTING

KILLED.