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.