03 June 2019

Loss and Gratitude


by Travis Richardson

On May 23 crime fiction lost an angel when author and short story advocate Sandra Seamans passed away. For short story writers with a criminal slant, her website, humbly titled "My Little Corner", was one the best resources anywhere. At least once a week I would check out her site to see if there were any writing opportunities. Several of my publications came from her listings as were many other writers. She selflessly searched and vetted opportunities for genre writers. Many of us are eternally grateful to her.


Sandra's contributions were enormous. I touted her site on panels and to everybody I'd meet who was interested in writing short stories. But I don't know if she knew how much she meant to me. I believe I said thank you on her blog once or twice but that was it. I hope she realized how much she was appreciated even if she didn’t hear it from us often enough.

This got me thinking about other contributors who take time out of their daily schedules to either help writers or tout crime fiction. Last year at Left Coast Crime in Reno I put together a list of sites that promoted crime fiction. You can find it here: http://www.tsrichardson.com/mystery-and-crime-fiction-blogs-and-reviews/. There are several more that are not on the list and it woefully needs to be updated. (If you have any suggestions let me know and I’ll update the list.)

In the spirit of saying thank you to those who do, I’d like to give a few shout-outs of those not on my list, including Jesse Rawlins, Mick Rose, Jason Beech, Gabriel Valjean, Kevin Tipple, Angel Luis Colon, and Frank Zaffiro. They have promoted me and many others this year. Thank you for the time and energy you’ve given in this crazy, distractible world. I hope to return the favor soon.

There are many people who are promoting others and it is awesome. I often feel inadequate in promoting others (and myself at times.) Between work and a 4-year-old, I seem to have only a few scant hours to write and read each week. At one point, pre-child, I had a minimum daily writing goal of 700 words that I often exceeded…until I didn’t. After a couple of years of not achieving this goal, I dropped the word count to 250 a day and have mostly managed to hit it. (You can use and modify my writing spreadsheet here if interested: http://www.tsrichardson.com/2019/01/01/2019-writing-and-tracking-spreadsheet/) But as often as I intend to comment on blogs or interesting things that I run across, I never seem to have the bandwidth (or courage?) to say or promote like I’d like to. I hope to break out of this frozen carbonite of silence.

And what are my plans to help fellow writers and promote writing in general? A couple of years ago I bought the domain names storyjockey.com and storyjockeys.com with the idea of creating a portal of short story recommendations. Each week, dozens of reviewers/jockeys would provide a reading list of 5-10 stories. Kind of like a DJ playing a list of songs. Perhaps a little background or quick anecdote about how that story made the jockey feel with a link to the story. The majority of the recommendations would be contemporary and a few might be classics, or whatever they want. Readers could follow the jockeys who fit their taste the best. There would also be the best stories of the month, the season and the year by each jockey. I hope something like this would be a good way to direct readers to amazing short stories as well as create a new audience for those who didn’t know that they like short fiction. But, I haven’t found the bandwidth to do much more than buying the domain and dream about it occasionally. Perhaps “going public” on SleuthSayers might make this happen sooner than later. Who knows.

A final thought about Sandra's passing. When the great and kind short story writer BK Stevens suddenly passed away, Art Taylor stepped up took over her First Two Pages blog, letting writers show their first two pages of a short story or novel and the reasons why they wrote. I'm not sure if anybody wants to take Sandra's mantel, but the spot is open.

On a personal note, I had two stories come out last week. "I'll Be You" came out in THE DESPERATE AND THE DAMNED and "The Fatal Flaw of Those Who Listened" in Maintenant 13: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art.

8 comments:

janice law said...

I am very sorry to hear about Sandra Seamans' passing. I had recently started to use her blog and realize now I never told her how useful it was. Your column was a nice tribute and a timely reminder to appreciate the people who help make writing easier- and more profitable.

Steve Liskow said...

I noticed a few days ago that the blog hadn't been updated in about two weeks, which was unusual. Then I read of Sandra's passing last week and was stunned. Like Janice, I feel sad that I never thanked her for her help and support.

I'm not sure, but I may have first learned of her blog from someone else on this site (John Floyd? Michael Bracken?). At any rate, several of my most recent sales have been to markets I learned about through her selfless efforts.

Thanks for posting this.

Art Taylor said...

Travis, this says so well what I've felt myself--as someone else who's championed Sandra's blog in workshops and classes and everywhere I can. Thanks for the additional resources here, and thanks too for the shout-out for The First Two Pages--I've been honored to carry on Bonnie's work.

Eve Fisher said...

I know that I will sorely miss her - I checked her blogpost at least weekly to see what the latest was. Sandra's blog was a major source of information, help, solace - she's already sorely missed.

Leigh Lundin said...

Travis, as I was reading your opening paragraphs, I was thinking about Bonnie Stevens… and then there was her name. It's good to reflect from time to time those who've helped us out.

What an opportunity My Little Corner would be for the right person. I hope someone takes up the mantle.

Lovely post, Travis.

Jason said...

That seemed to come out of nowhere. I’ll always remember Sandra’s short story in Beat to a Pulp’s Superhero anthology. Great stuff. The market list will be a big miss. So sorry that she’s gone.

Jeff Baker said...

Thank you for this tribute. I read on Facebook that Sandra had passed away. I found "My Little Corner" to be an invaluable resource for writers. I hadn't thought of anybody taking it over, but that might be a good idea! (It couldn't be me!)

Sati Chock said...

This was very nice, Travis. I think about her all the time. There is still such a void. Hope someone does carry forward her beautiful legacy--she would have loved that.