The story-behind-the-story: Rumors of My Death

A long time ago, in a far-away land…

Oops, wrong backstory there. Let’s try this again.

Immediately out of high school (that’s where the long ago and far away fits in), my older brother went into the Marine Corps. As a result, when he got out of the Marines and went to college, he was a semester behind his pesky little sister – you guessed it, me. That really aggravated him, but his aggravation has little to do with the writing of Rumors of My Death.”

Rumors of My Death - a short story by Leigh SaundersHowever, my brother had a roommate, who had been blessed with the theoretically gender-neutral name “Kim” (I say “theoretically gender-neutral” with many apologies to everyone who has been given a gender-neutral name and experienced the startled reaction of someone who assumed, from hearing your name, that you were of the opposite gender. I run into this on a regular basis myself. Sigh.)

Anyway, the idea of playing with a gender-neutral name in a story wandered around in my head for some time before finally bumping into a character (a newspaper columnist) in a setting (Salt Lake City) with a problem (an accident on the Bonneville Salt Flats) that seemed to suit it. “Rumors” was the result. And while I could have gone very dark with the fictional Kim Taylor’s situation, I chose to keep it lighthearted. Sarcastic even.

In fact, I can almost hear my brother’s voice narrating it in my head.

Whoever’s voice you hear, I hope you enjoy the read!

“Rumors of My Death” is a  short story,
available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. $.99

Where did the year go?

It seems like I just *blinked* and the fall was over and the snow was falling, leaving me wondering what on Earth happened to the last three months.

Of course, like any good science fiction writer, I suppose I should just accept the fact that those days slipped into an alternate universe (or maybe I did), got swallowed up by a wormhole, or eaten by a Targ. As I attempt to make my living in this world, however (it was a nice alternate universe!), I must acknowledge that I blew most of the last quarter… working.

And not on the fun stuff  🙁

But have no fear! My whiteboard is now loaded with notes for the stories I’ll be writing – and posting – over the coming quarter, probably well into the new year. Some of them will be stand-alone shorts, others will be… somewhat longer (I never know how long until the word “end” miraculously appears at the bottom of a page). I’m planning additional stories in both the Synth and Rhysian universes, and have sketched the political complexities of what will probably become a set of medieval fantasies.

So even though it’s only the beginning of December, I’m looking forward to the new year I’m just starting on – after all, what’s the fun of being a SF writer if I don’t create my own calendar along with creating my own worlds!


#RandomNovelResearch – Dark Fireworks

NASA Science News - frame from ultraviolet movie of the explosion shows a 'solar tsunami' wave

You have to visit this NASA Science News page – and watch the videos.

They’re awesome, just awesome.

Trust me on this. Have I ever led you astray?



This is going into a story… not sure when or how, but wow, how could I not use it?



Run for cover!

Mount Pinatubo - photo by Alberto Garcia/CorbisWatched a fascinating video recently – In the Path of a Killer Volcano, a NOVA special about the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines. Not only was it simply spectacular to watch (safely, from a distance of many years and many thousands of miles), but it also put me in mind of the scenario I’d envisioned when writing Memory at Lascaux, and the world-altering events in that story.

We live on an amazing planet, with forces we cannot begin to control. I am in awe…

Ghost Writer #10 in Italy!

Ghost Writer is one of my favorite short stories – and, at the moment, has actually found its way to #10 on the Amazon Kindle Horror list in Italy, rubbing elbows with Stephen King and Anne Rice. I’m thrilled and honored!

I don’t often write stories about other writers, but when a writer-friend of mine developed the unsettling habit of dropping out of sight for unspecified stretches of time, looking for a little peace and quiet while working on her next story, my imagination went into overtime. Fortunately (for her), my imagined scenario hasn’t caught up with her in real life… Yet.

Ghost Writer

a short story

Thomas Browne is a writer with a problem – not writer’s block, that would be easy.

In fact, if he could just stop writing, it might save his life…

Available on KindleNook, and Smashwords. $0.99

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away, a short story by Leigh SaundersI must admit, I’ve never done research for a story in quite the same way as I did for this one – actually sitting down to dinner and taking notes of the flavors as I went along! But it was worth it – or at least Nereus, the sea-god who is the central figure in this story seems to think so!

The One That Got Away

a short story

The search for an exiled sea goddess leads Nereus, Warden of the Outcasts, to a small restaurant in the Pacific Northwest, and a broken fishing float.

Available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. $0.99

Missing WorldCon

Sadly, I’m not going to make it to Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. Much as I’d like to be there – both to see old friends and meet new ones – real life demands are keeping me at home.

Fortunately, my publisher, Camden Park Press, came up with an idea I hope will catch on – during the WorldCon weekend (Aug 17-21), we’re discounting the price of my novel, Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record to just $2.99 (using Smashwords coupon code PG94B).

"Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record," a novel by Leigh SaundersSo if you’re looking for a good science fiction novel to while away the hours and distract you from the WorldCon events you’re missing – or if you’re at WorldCon and want to take a book home to read that doesn’t add any weight to your luggage – I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Memoirs of a Synth: Gold Record this weekend!

And [shameless plug here] if you enjoy it, please post a review and tell your friends!

End of an Era

The last space shuttle blasted off today.

I’m sad about that, and not just because I’m a science fiction writer. I know there are those who complain about the cost of sending people out into space, and who will argue about the overall ROI until the sun goes nova, but I see our reach for the stars as something more than just a scientific/economic/military/political venture.

In ancient days, we looked up at the night sky and created stories to explain those pinpricks of light; today we still look into the sky, only now we’re trying to understand the stars, to go out and learn more about what they’re about, discover who or what else might be out there, grasp our role in an ever-changing universe.

The space shuttle program is ending. I hope something equally filled with the hope and wonder of that program will soon take its place.

Shuttle launch banner - KUED.ORG

To The Stars: Utah and the Space Shuttle -

The best-laid plans…

Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan, how thoroughly you examine your strategy, things just don’t turn out as you expect.

Writing is that way – at least for me. Of course, I don’t generally strategize all that much before I sit down to write. I usually start with a general idea in mind, something like “I think I’ll travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” but I don’t plan out the route in much detail, other than identifying a vague desire to pass through a few major cities along the way. Then I close my eyes, throw a rock and write my way to wherever it landed. When I get there, I pick up the rock, close my eyes, throw it again, and write my way to the next event/destination, even if it was someplace I’d never imagined going.

What does that do for me? It keeps the story from becoming so pre-planned and overly-thought-0ut that I’m not interested in it any more. It gives me a sense of discovering the events along with my characters – hopefully, in much the same way my readers will.

I love this job!


I put the paper in the typewriter…and I bleed

In 1972, Rod Serling sat down with a small group of students and talked with them, on-camera, about writing for television. Portions of these conversations are currently up on YouTube. Much of what he was saying then is just as true today for those of us writing fiction – whether that’s for television, the stage, or print. It’s worth taking the time to watch the entire series.

“It’s story that counts…it’s heart, it’s feeling, it’s reality, it’s legitimacy, it’s authenticity, it’s honesty, it’s the capacity for the printed word or the spoken word to move you. These are the key things.”
          – Rod Serling

Rod Serling talks about Writing for Television

part 1 – Where do ideas come from? 
part 2 – Writing to please an audience
part 3 – Does espousing a cause lose character credibility?
part 4 – Discussing “The Silence”
part 5 – Would you inject your philosophy into a piece of work?
part 6 – Do you just take off and write?
part 7 – Is there any kind of therapy that helps characterization?
part 8 – All writers are born
part 9 – I wish more good writers would put themselves to the test
part 10 – On time travel
part 11 – On story climaxes
part 12 – On government versus the individual
part 13 – I was traumatized into writing by war events
part 14 – The instinct of creativity must be followed by the act
part 15 – On character motivation
part 16 – On creativity