Tribute: In Memory of Sandra Seamans

I had just added the link to My Little Corner – a longstanding blog run by Sandra Seamans, where she shared information about short fiction markets for writers – when I received a text from my husband telling me Sandra had passed away.

Sandra Seamans was a force within the short fiction scene. She always seemed to have a new short story hitting the market. I was always honored to publish her, and when we launched Bronzeville Bee I had hoped I would see a story from her land in my inbox.

The truth is, she was a short fiction writer worthy of interviews, worthy of having her works taught to those seeking publication. There’s something so smooth and effortless about her stories; they draw you right into the world she’s created and the character’s dilemmas.

She was the kind of writer who never disappointed. She wrote with such insights on life and had that ability to make you connect or make you writhe in your seat. Some of her stories are of life and loss, and some are of the things you don’t even know you fear until she’s showed you that you do.

On her blog, she was a tireless champion for writers. Her site was such a valuable resource. People learned of new markets and closing markets. When ‘zines had new issues up she helped spread the word. Sandra wasn’t flashy and she didn’t seek fame or praise; she was one of those people that was loyal and consistent, who gave without asking.

Patti Abbott suggested a tribute day to Sandra, to share some thoughts about her stories. It was a joy to return to Sandra’s words. Even if you did not know her in life, her legacy lives on through her words. 

Each story title links to the story online.

A Time To Grieve

An 80-year-old man takes a walk along the beach and finds a young woman’s body. Seamans evokes the sensory details of the beach vividly; you can picture yourself there, watching this grumpy man with his cane, shooing away the birds, as he talks to the body and reflects on his own life and losses and speculates on what tragedy brought her to that place. You sense he hasn’t been able to say to anyone else what he tells her: 

“There wasn’t nobody could do that for my boy when he died over there in Kuwait, not with
his body scattered to the four winds and swallowed up by the sand.”

A Time to Grieve, Sandra Seamans

It’s a rich exploration of how the loss of a stranger can connect you to your own grief.

A Whistle and a Prayer

After governments have collapsed and structured society is a thing of the past, when cities are reduced to rubble and ruin, a woman (Gilli) survives, but her partner longs for something better. Seamans infuses a sense of hopelessness, the bleak reality of this new present, contributing to a rising sense of dread. When Christine gambles on a rumor will Gilli know a greater loss than the loss of civilization?

“A splash of white paint on the crumbling wall across the street caught Gilli’s eye. A white cross on a black locomotive. Faint hope. The promise of a preacher and a train ride out of the city. A fucking fairytale trip away from the horror that haunted the streets.”

A Whistle and a Prayer, Sandra Seamans

Best Left Buried

A man who has lost his memory sees a doctor to try to get it back. When pushed, he discovers the truth about who he really is … and what he’s done. 

“I asked him why a man can’t be responsible and still hide the monster in his heart. After all, the world itself doesn’t lean toward a black and white view, there’s plenty of grey lingering around the edges of life. “

Best Left Buried, Sandra Seamans

Once Upon a Blue Moon

A mother reflects on her two sons, what she’s done to protect them and what she must do for them to prepare for her impending death. This is as bleak as Seamans gets, and the revelation cuts to the core. She manages to invoke shock and sympathy at the same time, leaving you to wonder what you would do in this woman’s shoes.

“He’d come to her in the time before sonograms and Roe v Wade, in a time when women took on the burden of the children they birthed because it was expected of them. For more than forty years now she’d cared for Rupert and, Lord help her, she was falling-down tired of carrying the load. ” 

Once Upon a Blue Moon, Sandra Seamans

Another tribute and a link to all tribute pieces can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog here. Patti’s article has links to contributions by Paul D. Brazill and Kate Laity also.

It should be noted that my husband published a collection of Sandra’s short stories some years ago; he will be pursuing permission from the family about the possibility of making that available to readers with their consent.