In Memoriam: Melanie Otto

Three years ago give or take, a good friend of mine wrote a blog post describing a writer’s group she had helped form and the weeklong retreat that ensued.

Struggling to learn how to write, the next time I saw Margaret I begged her to let me join the group. I learned later she took my name to the others in the group and convinced them to let me join.

As an introvert, I began to reconsider what I’d asked for as the weeklong retreat approached. Spending a week with ten other people only one of whom I really knew was a bit daunting, but I went, learned a ton, got myself going in the right direction on my writing, and realized I had fallen in with a fantastic group.

All my fellow Roaring Writers were strong writers but more important to me they were kind, funny, caring people, each and every one willing to help answer any writing questions I threw their way.

We wrote. We talked about writing and about life. And we laughed. We laughed a great deal.

The next year, I was comfortable with everyone and the same thing happened. We wrote and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

We’re not laughing this week.

One of us is gone forever.

Melanie Otto
Photo by Judy Bienvenu

Melanie Otto was a fellow Roaring Writer with a heart of sunshine. She laughed and smiled. She encouraged me. Discussed my writing. We both loved cats and spent some time giggling over our furry pets, the way you do when you meet someone you know you can be silly with.

Melanie was recovering from a bad cold or flu that first year and had to miss some of our writing workshops, which upset her, but she still smiled and laughed her way through the week. She had an infectious enthusiasm that I envied.

A list of interests is always so much less than the sum of the person, but sometimes it’s what we have. An avid photographer, Melanie taught classes and always seemed to have a camera nearby. I met her through our mutual love of writing, and she was an excellent storyteller. She loved anime and cats, but most of all she loved Judy, her partner of twenty years.

This past Friday, Melanie succumbed to a brain hemorrhage that occurred the previous week. At dawn on Friday, she passed away, as Judy noted, “always a photographer, she went to chase the light.”

The Roaring Writers have lost a spark, a woman who was calm and happy and above all enthusiastic about life. We will miss her. I will miss her. Rest in peace, Melanie.


Melanie had an AVM, a congenital condition, that made it impossible to get affordable life insurance and which resulted in the brain hemorrhage. Donations to help Judy and Melanie’s brother, Craig, defray funeral expenses can be made at the Melanie Otto Memorial Fund by Craig Otto.

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