San Juan Island Stories

Fatty Patty Poll

I did not attend my five-year or my ten-year high school reunions, and those of you who subscribe to my newsletter know why. I’ll probably talk about it more in a later post because it’s a shame that I still struggle with, a shame shared by every dreamer who keeps their gaze focused at the starry sky. I loved that Pepper grew her wings and managed to hold onto them through the adversity of facing down her cruel former classmates. Someday, that’ll be me too.

So, how about you? Did you attend your high school reunion? What happened or didn’t? Please share in the comments!

P.S. Even though I didn’t attend my reunion, I did work in my small town nine years later and I ran into an old crush. Something extremely unexpected happened, and I will tell you about that later!

Excerpts San Juan Island Stories

Excerpts – Fatty Patty

Fatty Patty by Wendy Clark

Fatty Patty” is the cruel nickname that followed Pepper to high school graduation. Five years later, she’s back at her reunion to prove it hasn’t defined her. In her slim Kate Spades, she’ll show them all — her underachieving classmates and especially the boy who broke her heart.

But Pepper’s not the only one who’s changed in five years. She’s not the only one who has regrets about the things that were, and especially weren’t, said.

And she’s not the only one who plans to use this chance to rewrite history…

Fatty Patty is a new short story available now.


Pepper McKay lived fabulously.

It was the best revenge.

She was no longer the fat klutz who couldn’t walk a mile in PE. She was no longer the sad blob who overheard the other girls whisper about body odor—which she never had—and sweat stains, which were unavoidable in the humid coastal classrooms. She was no longer the victim of the unknown bully who kicked her wobbly seat at the start of assembly. The plastic had given way with a sickening crack, and everyone had watched her fall. Her four-inch Kate Spade Licorice heels, size-five Ella Moss strapless mini, and Sixth Sense chocolate Burberry satchel all proclaimed that refined adulthood had arrived. Five years too late, maybe, but sophistication had arrived, in her life and at the sultry Bellingham, Washington marina. She was thin now. Thin like a Thin Mint. And tonight, everyone would finally know it.

Pepper waved her boarding pass before the attentive, muscular dock hand, curved her lips in a confident smile coated with Yves Saint Laurent iced plum Sheer Candy, and strutted up the gangplank onto the Island Spiriter, a hundred-foot cruise ship decorated in the purple and gold of Friday Harbor High School. Welcome, class of the Millennium, the sign at the top step proclaimed. She mentally capitalized the “C” of “class” as she continued onto the deck, to the table manned by the reunion officer.

Time had not been universally fabulous. Allison Payne, who had once lit up the stage as Rizzo of Grease and taken the over-excited athletics department to the state championships in Cross-Country, licked a swelled finger and squinted up at Pepper. “Who are you with? I don’t—” Her jowls flattened. “Oh my god. Patty?”

The name hit her like curse, burning a hot flush onto her cheeks. She cleared her throat. “It’s Pepper.”

Allison’s lips dropped further and her neck rolls gobbled up her silver “Mother” necklace. She grabbed Pepper’s nametag and a thick black Sharpie. “I wondered! When did you change your name?”

Pepper gripped her satchel and struggled to maintain her iced smile.

In high school the woman had been one of them, the blade-slim girls who sprawled in patches across the sunlit cafeteria, waving flirty fingers at the hottest boys, pushing ugly people like her to the cold retreat of study rooms.

She coughed. “Actually, it’s always been Pepper.”

Allison uncapped the Sharpie. “Nobody will recognize you unless I fix this.”

Dread uncoiled in Pepper’s stomach.

The Sharpie touched the laminate.

Pepper snatched her tag away, black ink drawing a long, wobbly line across the top. She tried to wipe it off, smudging her fingers. The line smeared like the grease of an old food stain.

Allison reached for her nametag. “But no one will know—”

“I want to be myself now. Thanks.” Pepper pinned the badge above her left breast. A smudge was still better than what was about to be written. Her heart beat, hard and regular, in her chest and she shifted her handbag higher on her shoulder.

The waning sun seared her pale shoulders. Pale slim shoulders.

She tucked her salon-relaxed walnut hair behind her silver-pierced ears. “Is Julian here?”

“He’s already inside.” Allison leaned forward. “You won’t recognize him. He’s changed so much. It’s huge.”

No way. “He’s fat?”

Allison’s brows knit. “Huh? No, he’s turned into … well, you’ll see.” And then her brows lifted, as though she had solved a problem. She heaved herself to her feet, crossed the deck to the main cabin, and threw open the doors.

The other members of their class stood in cliques—the same ones as in high school, it seemed—an odd mix of optometrists, seafood vendors, and hair dressers milling around under long swathes of purple and gold decorations. She knew from their Facebook profiles, the ones who had let a few months go by and then suddenly had the guts to friend her. She had friended them back, sure, but never posted a self-portrait. Let them think she was the same, let them settle into the routine of their lives, let them post their own fattening photos as they gave up intramurals and exercise to settle into grad school, marriage, children. Things she didn’t have. Things they probably thought she never would.

Her stomach twinged again. She tightened her Pilates-toned abdominals. This was not Homecoming. She was no longer the only one stepping into a dim music-filled room without a friend or a date.

And even if she were, that wasn’t why she was here. She wasn’t here for herself.

She was here for revenge.

Read the rest!

writing life

The terror of the mass email

girl blowing leaves purple hue
I am sure this photo belongs to Pink Sherbet, the best photographer ever, and it perfectly captures how I felt putting out these two emails. Sending this out into the world…hope it goes okay…

So it turns out that sending a mass email, like announcing to all of your coworkers that you’ve started a side business selling Mary Kay or that you’ve just been talked into a questionable Time Share, is terrifying.

What if people are inconvenienced? What if they think you’re an idiot? Or annoying, and delusional, and a complete poser?

But despite all this, and Mass Email #1 locking up my computer for 2+ hours, and Hotmail requiring me to reset my password because it thought I had been hacked, I sent a second mass email.

I really did not want to send it. I wrote it and it sat on my hard drive for an extra week while I got up the mental courage. I’ve always been one of those people strongly dissuaded by negative feedback, even if it’s just a shaken head and a frown. In this case, even the electronic shaken head was enough to give me stomach pains. It’s a wonder I’ve ever been published!

But it turns out my sense of responsibility is stronger than my desire to be a good girl. Which means that I will always be a law-abiding citizen unless I make an ill-advised promise. And since I promised I was going to send a second mass email…

This second mass email locked up my computer for another 2 hours and Hotmail required me to change my password AGAIN. And just when I’d remembered the new one, too.


This is the last mass email I will ever send impersonally to all my contacts. First, because I have to learn how to use mail merge and hand-select the addresses – three times—and it is brain-numbing, finger-cramping, tedious work that has to be done in absolute silence so I don’t screw up and accidentally email one of my ex-boyfriends. (Yes, I keep those, and no, I don’t particularly want them to get an email from me. Legal reasons.) Second, because I would rather spend my time publishing stories, crafting the newsletter that so many of you have already subscribed to, and reconnecting on Facebook. (Which is so awesome! I was scared to send out that first email. I’ve been down the rabbit hole for several years, plugging away at the keyboard in social-life silence, and what if, in the meantime, you decided you didn’t want to know me anymore? I am so grateful to get back in touch!)

I just wanted to tell you that the first newsletter has already gone out.

If you haven’t signed up due to newsletter fatigue, I completely understand. I recently unsubscribed from several productivity blogs because – ha! – stressing about when I would have time to read them made me less productive.

(I can be confident this time because I’ve already deleted the 122 expired emails plus the one guy I don’t even know who asked to be ‘unsubscribed’. There is no subscription here. How did you get in my personal contacts??? You are so deleted.)

Anyway, I am publishing 4 stories in a row + an extra in the print anthology – and that’s all I know about so far. There will be future promotions, comment-and-win bonuses, and buy-one-get-one-frees. You are not one of the people who has to wait for me to hold a raffle to get a free book. You get whatever I have, whenever I have it, just for reading this email. And you get it free.

That’s it!

If you forgot to subscribe at my website before, I’ll still send you the first newsletter until mid-end July, when the second one will go out. And then the one after that. And after that again. You get how that goes.

<Mass email #2: Done! Mail merge and I are done forever. FOREVER.>

See you on the Internet!

Wendy Lynn Clark

…find yourself in a good story…

P.S. Here is the first mass email in case you didn’t get it. I seriously had to select the addresses 3 times. I have no idea who got lost in the Microsoft tsunami.

writing life

The email that started it all…

Wendy Lynn Clark
Me from finaling in the PNWA Literary Award – Romance Category in 2007. All the Romance Category authors looked like Glamour Shots and all of the other categories looked like whatever-I-had-on-my-hard-drive shots

So months ago (at this point) when I had written a story and decided to take the plunge with self-publishing, I decided at the same time to update my address book and send a mass email like I used to do in 1998, when there was no Facebook or MySpace or Blogger or even LiveJournal.

I’ve had my same email address since 1996, which seems like a lifetime but is in fact barely a teenager who may secretly still be playing with Barbies.

Anyway, if you try to send a mass email now, you can’t. No, you literally can’t. I had to learn how to do a Mail Merge from Word, which was actually a heck of an experience, and my 21-year-old self is extremely jealous because “Do you know how to do a Mail Merge in Word 2003?” was always the one question I did not, in fact, know how to do and yet I always put down on resumes for office positions that I did know how to do it, when in fact, I was lying. They could also tell I was lying, and I never got a single job that tested my not knowing how to do Mail Merge. Now I really do know. It is as clunky as trying to do your dishes in a washing machine, but I know how to do it. Ha.

Sending this email to 200+ people locked up my home computer for over 2 hours and caused Hotmail to require me to reset my password because I had clearly been hacked.


This is a mass email. I have sent it to everyone in my entire address book, including my mom. (Hi, Mom!) I have been saving contacts since 1996, the year that I got email. Congratulations! At one point, you became my contact.

You know how sometimes you read about a tiny business started ten years ago by an old acquaintance and now they’re famous and spend half the year in a Florida mansion and the other half saving snow leopards out of a yurt in Mongolia? Or the person who became an Elvis impersonator, or joined a cult, or started a cult? And you think, hey, wait, I remember that person. How come I didn’t hear about it ten years ago when s/he won the Powerball/designed a quantum computer chip/began an infomercial empire?

This is that email.

I am about to start a publishing adventure.

And I would like to invite you to join me.

Here’s a brief reminder of how you may know me: My name is Wendy Clark. I’m 34 this year. We attended Enumclaw High School together, or maybe Lewis & Clark College, or maybe Clark College, or I met you in AmeriCorps, or in the JET Programme, or at the University of Brighton. Was it via the Pacific Northwest Writers Association? The King County Library System? When I used to write book reviews, or trade online critiques, or published that other story?

You are receiving this email because at one time, we knew each other in Real Life. We may still know each other in Real Life. (Hi to everyone who’s last name begins with Clark!)  For some time now, I have been writing, and starting in July you will begin to see these stories appear on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. They are romantic short stories. Later there will be anthologies and longer romantic novels as well as young adult and science fiction.

If you would like to be added to a newsletter updating you on my writing adventures, please go to my website and click the “SIGN UP” link on the top right sidebar of every page.

You can also connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn. On Facebook, I have an author page as well as a personal page. The personal page is where I post updates about my fitness goals, cat population, and hot tub status. You are receiving this email because we know each other, so you’re welcome to friend both. LinkedIn is library-related at the moment because that is where I have spent my day-job hours up to now.

If you would prefer to keep our current level of contact, whatever that is, it is totally fine with me. You do not need to reply to this email. I will send one more announcement next week, and then I will never send another mass email like this, ever again. I hate spam, even if it’s breaded and fried. Also let me know if this email has expired and gone to a new person and you literally have no idea who I am. I will delete it from my contacts and you won’t even have to ignore announcement #2.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!

Wendy Lynn Clark

Find Yourself In A Good Story

P.S. Seriously tell me if you don’t want to receive mass announcement #2. Sending a mass email is way harder than it used to be. I actually had to look at every address individually and I’m still not sure how I know everybody!