"Living Rooms" is a special story for me. Part of it is because it was my first professional sale in the hugest way possible. It won first place for its quarter in the Writers of the Future contest and went on to win the grand prize, which really does things to inspire confidence in a writer.
But I didn't write "Living Rooms" to win a contest. I actually didn't have many expectations for it at all.
I wrote it while in a local writing workshop simply because I knew I would be too embarrassed to show up empty-handed for class, which required me to come up with somewhere between 500-2000 new words a week. (Pocket change now, but it wasn't then.) I didn't have much to start with other than a dream I'd had, where I had come home to find a strange wizard in the dream's version of my living room.
It wasn't my living room, but I knew it was mine and this wizard shouldn't be there.
Anyone who's read "Living Rooms" will recognize this was the opening of the story. The villain, Morrin (then unnamed), was in the dream, as was James, the embodiment of the living room, though I changed the name of the room from "living room" to "parlor" to better fit with the time period. I left a callback to it in the to the title though.
From the basic dream fragment, I drew out the rest of the story; why the magician was there, what was this magic house where the parlor came to life?
I had a lot of fun with it, and to my surprise, so did my fellow workshoppers. It was a mixed group, not all of us were science fiction and fantasy fans, so when I realized that most of them really, really, liked the story, I realized I was on to something. I had never had such a pleasant reaction from a crowd of strangers before.
Based off the comments from the workshop, I rewrote the story and ended up pretty happy with it. I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written. Which meant that I should submit it somewhere.
I noticed that Writers of the Future was going to end its Q4 submission period soon, so I stuffed it in a manila envelope (two quarters later they would allow e-subs) and then dropped it in the mail.
As they say, the rest is history.
From now until the end of October, "Living Rooms" will be available free online in Galaxy's Edge #10. If you'd like a more permanent copy, it's also available as a stand alone ebook on Amazon, as part of Writers of the Future Vol 26, and as part of Galaxy's Edge #10, which is available both as an ebook and a very nicely printed paperback.