Sunday, December 18, 2011

Everyone needs a little #WriteMotivation

If you follow me on Twitter, you may occasionally see requests for some #writemotivation or me cheering on some other writer who needs a boost. We all have our downs sometimes. We get in a funk. We just don't want to do it anymore. Or we find ourselves second guessing our ability or determination or whatever.

Writing is a very solitary activity. We all know this. Granted, you may have your local critique groups, or write-in sessions at Panera Bread or Starbucks, but you can't call on them 24/7, because we all know we have these negative moments when we are alone, at home, by ourselves, at all hours of the day or night. Our real-life friends, our writing buddies, are not there for our every whim, to respond to our every beck and call, any time we need them.

However, with the dawn of the internet and social media, writers can connect with other writers whenever the need arises. My Twitter feed is always streaming. And, generally, when I call for help, someone will answer it. It may not be right away, but I can always count on a few good Tweeps to come through for me.

With that said, my friend, @KTHanna, decided to put together a blog and Twitter fest for the month of January. This is where we set achievable goals and cheer each other on throughout the month. We are to write a blog post every Monday to update our progress on those goals, and solicit some #writemotivation. Whenever and where ever we some encouragement, our participants will be there to cheer us on. I'm hoping this will continue on throughout the year, but we'll start small at first and see where it goes. If you want to join, please visit KT's site and sign up there. I'm sure you will find it well worth the efforts.

Here's my January goals:

1) By Jan, 20th I need to complete and submit the 713 Challenge entry @ KazkaPress
2) work a bit more on my novel. No particular goal really as I just need to write some more, and work out more of the plot. (How’s that for ambiguous?)
3) By the end of January I’d like to have completed the beta read for a certain someone.
4) complete the blog posts for this challenge. I suck at blogging :)

So, how’s that for goals. Realistic? Let’s hope so! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What do you get your parents for Christmas?

Ok, so it's only ten days left until Christmas and I still have no idea what to get my parents. It's the same thing every year when I ask:

I don't know. Get whatever. Your father likes golf.

So, yeah, that's helpful. But seriously, what do you get your parents? They've been married 45 years so they have everything.. They aren't rich but they have everything they need. They want for nothing.

They aren't geeky (I don't know where I get that from).
They don't read. (again, I don't know where I get that from)
They don't have any special interests, hobbies or anything!

My mom sells Mary Kay. My dad is retired. Mom loves to clean. Dad loves to golf. Mom loves to exercise at her exercise place. Dad loves the Steelers.
That's about it.

Boring, aren't they?!

Each year gets harder and harder to buy for them. And their answer is always the same.

I don't know. Get whatever. Your father likes golf.

Most all my money has been tied up getting my son his presents. I have about $100 to spend on my parents. It's not about the money. It's about the love put behind it, I know. But daggum it, why can't I think of something original?

Anyone have any suggestions?




Monday, December 12, 2011

Your Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism -- Book Review

Your Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on CapitalismYour Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism by Joe Kernen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a parent with a child in the public school system, I found this a book a wonderful read. I've pretty much got a handle on the topics here but Joe Kernen breaks it down in a very easy to understand manner for any level. Blake's questions and ideas are very thought provoking and it really does show you just how a child's brain works. As adults, we are trapped within our own mind and seldom think on a lower level. We take for granted our knowledge and sometimes expect our children to understand without question. This book really does open your eyes as to how the school system is teaching our children.

If you are unfamiliar with the topics, this book explains it on a level anyone can understand. If you are familiar with the topics, it is a great recap of them. The book is not condescending, nor is it "just another text book". Joe makes it real by throwing in his own conversations with his daughter. Parents can certainly empathize when reading.

I highly recommend this read to anyone who is sending their children to school--pre-k to college, it matters not. These questions will eventually come up sometime in your conversations with your children. It's better to be prepared with the proper answers, not something you just guess at. Education is the key to success. It's never too late to learn. Arm yourself with knowledge and make the world a better place.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Skeleton Lake, by Angela Kulig -- Review

Skeleton Lake (Skeleton Lake, #1)Skeleton Lake by Angela Kulig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

All the reviews I read made me want to read this book. I was so excited when I received my copy and couldn't wait to read it.

From the first chapter, I was completely lost. I had no clue what was being said. Maybe this was deliberate since Marlow was "drowning". So, I kept reading. The story began to work itself out over the next few chapters and I could see it more clearly.

The characters were not very deep. Even though the story was told through the eyes of Marlow, I just couldn't get into her, deep into her, to really feel any emotion towards her. Each character presented only provided more complication to the reader's ability to keep them straight. There was nothing discerning about the characters, nothing that made them want to be loved (or hated) by you. There were hints, don't get me wrong. But there was nothing that went deeper. I felt as I was reading this, it was just being "told" to me.

The story has a great premise, overall. Although the book is an easy read and the chapters are short, I just couldn't finish reading. I wanted to finish. I tried. But with the amount of grammatical errors, typos, cliches, and "telling, not showing", I just couldn't manage to finish. I got to Chapter 42. Maybe I will, one day, plow through the rest just so I know what happens.

Even though it's a self-pubbed book, with a little work and a couple more revisions it could have been a great read! I just feel it wasn't ready.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 2, 2011

Completed Christmas Fabric Origami Postcards

My Christmas Fabric Origami Postcards are complete! YAY! I did it before Christmas. Exhausted though I may be, I still have one more thing to do on this batch--go to the post office and get them mailed!

I figured I would post a series of pictures of the process of folding all the way to the final product--just in case anyone is interested. :)

Remember, each card is unique. No two are alike, even if I tried. All are hand made--by me!

If you want to see more of my quilting endeavors, check out the gallery of pictures. I've just not done much over the last couple of years. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Second Published Story

Source: KazkaPress.Net

KazkaPress.Net selected my story for publication for a second month in a row! KazkaPress does offer some amazing prompts for their speculative flash fiction requests. I've enjoyed it immensely! And, have reveled in the fact I've been published...TWICE!

Drake's Hoard is now live!

Here's what KazkaPress wanted for the November Contest:

The November 2011 issue of National Geographic featured an article on the Staffordshire Gold Hoard. If you don’t know, this hoard of gold is an treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon…well, treasures…from 1,300 years ago. It was discovered in 2009 by a bloke with a metal detector. However, no one knows why it was buried in this ground 1,300 years ago. Here’s a tidbit from the article, which you really want to read all of: 
Much plunder was carried away—possibly down the old Roman road Watling Street, which leads past the site where the Staffordshire Hoard was found. Event and place are commemorated in the Welsh poem “Marwnad Cynddylan—The Death Song of Cynddylan”:
Grandeur in battle! Extensive spoils
Morial bore off from in front of Lichfield.
Fifteen hundred cattle from the front of battle;
four twenties of stallions and equal harness.
The chief bishop wretched in his four-cornered
house, the book-keeping monks did not protect.
A retinue of 80 horses and spoils from a “wretched” bishop (a detail that conjures the gold inscription and crosses): The poem offers a tempting explanation for the hoard, an explanation, alas, built from slender, circumstantial evidence that has happened to survive from an era from which most evidence was lost. We can conjure other teasing theories. Our unknown travelers may have chosen the burial spot because it was obscure—or because it was conspicuous. The burial might have had a marker for rediscovery, or it might have been intended as an offering hidden forever to all but their gods. The hoard may have been ransom, or booty, or a votive thanks. It may have been a collection of Anglo-Saxon heirlooms buried at a later time. [by Caroline Alexander in NatGeo] 

We at Kazka Press want to know: What’s the story of this treasure? Why was it buried? In 713 words exactly, excluding title, write a piece of flash fiction that tells the story of this treasure. And your story must have a speculative fiction backbone to it–fantasy, sci-fi, slipstream, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc. We’ll be especially pleased to see a strong, fantastical historical fiction element to this month’s entries. 
That’s the theme, the whole sum and total of it.
You can read the whole Staffordshire Gold Hoard story if you wish, and then my published speculative fictional piece about it. Let me know what you think. I hope you like it! If you do, please vote for it as well! The ones with the most votes get a chance to be published in their print anthology! Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vacation Is Supposed To Be Relaxation, Right?

Vacation is supposed to be relaxation, right? Especially when you don't go anywhere. At least that's what I thought.

I took off of work from November 18th through the 27th. I really haven't had any time to relax except this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I am utterly exhausted coming back to work.

Friday, the 18th we were getting ready for our son's birthday party. His birthday is not until the 26th but we decided to have it before everyone went on their Thanksgiving vacation. I decided to have it a Jump!Zone rather than our house. I just could not handle other people's kids in my house. We've already had to deal with our son's friends in the house and they just don't seem to respect our stuff and/or their behavior is just atrocious. Besides, we spoke with other families who recently had birthday parties at their house. They thought they could save some money that way, but in actuality they spent about the same, if not more plus they had to do PRE and POST cleaning. No thank you! We'll let someone else do all that. :)

So, Saturday morning was our son's party. We were concerned no one would show up, despite the RSVPs. That's the way my parties went, as well as my husband's, when we were growing up. The closer to noon it got, the more our tummies roiled!

It all worked out in the end, and we had 20 kids show up. Some didn't RSVP. Everything worked out, except the fact I didn't have enough pizza. But at least everyone got one piece.

He made out like a bandit too! So the next couple of days were spent going from store to store to buy his birthday presents he got with the cash and gift cards. We didn't stop for two days until the money burnt completely through his pants pocket. :) We did make him take half and put it in his savings account though.

After all the birthday festivities were done and the presents bought, I needed to clean the house for Thanksgiving, which included moving my sewing machine back upstairs. I've been putting off making my curtains for two and a half years so I broke it all out in hopes to get it done before Thanksgiving. HUGE TASK! Anyway, I quickly found out that I did not have the room to cut my curtain fabric, but my local Jo-Anne's was AWESOME and let me "borrow" their cutting table. I had to go when their first opened and they let me use their table. How I WISH I had one of these in my house...and the room! LOL I got half my curtain's done: the biggest half! I only have the small window left.

I also have plans on making my own Christmas postcards this year and only slightly touched on that. Well, I had a couple of days, so I started sewing those up. They were going to be origami poinsettia's attached to the fabric postcard so sewing took less time than I thought. It's the folding that takes so much time. And then it will be back to sewing, to finish off the edges of the postcard. So, before Thanksgiving, I completed half what I intended to do on that sewing machine--which I am proud of, actually! :D

We did have one unexpected thing happen. Two days before Thanksgiving we had to rush my DH to the ER. With the type of medication he's on he's more susceptible to stroke and heart attacks and the pain medications he uses tend to mask a lot of pain. He was complaining of chest pain--deep within his chest. It wasn't radiating down his left arm or going into his jaw. But like I said, the pain medication he takes tends to dull and mask. We didn't want to risk it so we went to the ER. His heart checked out fine and his blood work came back fine as well. So, this is the biggest THANKS for this Thanksgiving.

We had my parents over, as we do every year now since we bought our house. On Christmas, we always go to my parents house, so this kind of gives my mom a break. I could have really used it this year! But, no bust. We made it through. Everyone was happy. And, I was able to rest a little before I had to go back to work.

The only thing I was sad about was that I didn't get a chance to do any writing. Although, I did manage to get some more "back story" and possible mapping out of my WIP with my husband! He was such a great help! I just need to record him when he starts talking! LOL

For those who are in the US, or American's living abroad, I do hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For those who do not celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful time while I was doing all this!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Campaigner Challenge E-book Anthology Benefiting Help Harry Help Others

Interested in reading Flash Fiction? Here is a collection of 176 stories to peruse through. While everything may not fit your taste, there is bound to be something in this anthology that you will like. 

Based off Rachael Harrie's 3rd Writer's Platform Building Campaign, this is a collection of participant's flash fiction pieces for each of Rachael's three challenges. The reader will not only be supporting a good cause, but can determine if the writer met the challenges presented. 

All proceeds from the sale of this Anthology go to Help Harry Help Others. It's a wonderful charity started by one little boy. Diagnosed with brain cancer, Harry "single handedly raised over £85,000 (roughly $137,000) for brain cancer research by fundraising and selling hand-made bracelets." You can read more about this cause by visiting Help Harry's Website. I could not do it justice. 

Please consider purchasing this e-Book anthology. You can find purchase details here:

Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):
Amazon (DE):
Amazon (France):
Barnes & Nobel: [To be Announced]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Everyone Should Have A Pet

Everyone should have a pet.

I grew up with dogs. We didn't always have them, due to our living circumstances. But, when we had the opportunity for a pet, we had dogs. I like dogs as much as the next person. But what I always found fascinating were cats.

Both my parents hated cats.

My mother had a dog when she was pregnant with me--a little miniature Dauchsund. I don't remember anything of it but my mom tells me I would always pull it's tail as a toddler. I don't know whatever happened to that dog when my father received orders for Germany. But I could warrant a guess based on my history with him and dogs.

We had to give him away. 

After we returned to the states, we got another dog. Although my dad surprised me with it, Dusty became his hunting dog--his tool. Although he was never allowed in the house, I spent a lot of time with him. I loved him like he was part of the family.

And then, my father came down on orders for England.

The military would not pay to move a pet, and the amount of time and money we would have to pay to keep him in quarantine--my father would have none of it. My father has only ever considered animals as just that--animals. They have their purpose but it's never a part of the family. Mom, well, she just sees more of a mess she has to clean up. Me, my heart always attached to them. Dusty was really the first one. I hated leaving him behind with one of my father's friends. And spending 4 years without a pet ended up being lonely.

Maybe it's because I am an only child I grow attached to them so easily.

When we got back to the states again, my parents decided to get a Cocker Spaniel AND a Cockatiel. Again, our dog was a tool. She was sent out for breeding purposes. But at least she was allowed in the house now; although Mom confined her to a certain part of the house. And, again I went out of my way to include her in my life.

The bird, was just a bird. He remained in the cage most of the time, with occasional outs. But I think he grew on my parents more than any of our previous pets. After I left home, my parents gave away the dog but kept the bird.

He lasted nearly 20 years.

As for me, the day I moved out of my parents house, my husband and I went to the SPCA and got our first pet--an 8 week old kitten!

GoofyKat was our first child (he had the wrong name nearly the whole time, until our son renamed him). We saved him a couple of days after we were married. We happened to go to the SPCA and just as we did, someone brought in a box of kittens. Jamie wandered over and took a peek. She opened up the door, and the first one to wander out was the one we took home. Jamie said he was the bravest of them all. Boy, were we surprised! StupidKat is black with a white belly and all four paws. So, his name started out to be Mittens. But, as time progressed and he did all the silly little things a kitten did, we kept saying "Man, what a stupid cat!" And it just stuck. He will NOT answer to mittens. He only comes when we call him by his name--StupidKat. He learned to play fetch. He loved to climb up people. But the silliest thing of all--he played, what we called puss-n-boots. StupidKat has foam golf balls. He used to put them in Anthony's Army boots. Then he would stick his head all the way in the boots and bat at the out side of the boot like he was playing with the ball. Then, he would pull his head out and put his paw in the boot. And the whole process would repeat. Every time we witnessed this all we could hear was StupidKat saying to himself "I can see the ball, but can't feel it. Then, I can feel it and not see it. What's going on!" You tell me that's not a stupid cat!

After a couple years, we decided he needed a "friend". We went back to the SPCA and brought home another cat we completely fell in love with.

MikeyKat got his name in about an hour from the time we got him home! It was about lunch time and Anthony made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The grey cat just looked at him crooked and begged. So, Anthony offered it to him. The grey cat not only sniffed and nibbled it; but, once he caught a whiff of that peanut butter, he snatched the entire sandwich out of Anthony's hand and RAN! About an hour later, we had chocolate cake and the cat did the same thing. So we set up an experiment to see what he DID NOT eat. Wasn't much! He seems to like peanut butter the best, then chocolate. He eats vegetable oil, pickles and coffee grounds (found one morning when the trash was knocked over and the grounds were nearly gone), he practically eats everything (hence the name--Mikey) We discovered he will not eat anything he cannot smell--i.e. plain yogurt and sour cream. So, needless to say, he has gained quite a few pounds since we first got him.

Jan 16 2006, we took our oldest cat (GoofyKat, 16) to the vet. His insulin will be discontinued and we wanted to get a new prescription. Well, before the blood work came back, the vet offered us a new insulin along with a diet of prescription food (much like the Atkins diet). We would have to make the transition over the next couple of months. After the blood work came back, however, things didn't look so good. His blood sugar levels were actually quite good (212). But there were about 5 or 6 different things that came back very wrong in his blood. He had kidney failure. The vet gave us some options, but had little hope. Because he's diabetic most of the treatment for liver failure would actually end up hurting his sugar levels. And, if we continued with the new insulin and diet, it could aggravate and speed up his kidney failure. We could also do dialysis and clean out his kidney. Nothing is guaranteed and the added diabetes complicates things even more. The vet also said we could just take him home, change nothing, and spoil the heck out of him these next few months. He's 16. He was our first baby. We got him a few days after we got married. This is so hard. It's going to be even harder when he gets so sick we cannot help him and will have to put him down.

GoofyKat passed over the Rainbow Bridge, 19 Apr 2006 at 2:30pm.

He crashed hard on that Monday. He refused to eat or drink. He couldn't walk anymore. He had been hiding. And when he did come out, he would not move, raise his head or anything. We knew it was time. We tried everything that night to bring him back. We've had him refuse to eat before and brought him back with canned tuna, salmon and chicken. But not this time. This time he refused all the good stuff. We knew. We went to go take him in to end his suffering, but it was after-hours and it was an additional $100. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford this so we tried to make him as comfortable as possible on Monday night. We stayed up with him most of the night. We had to break the needle off his insulin needles to force water in his mouth. He was so dehydrated. I had to go to work, which was really hard being up most of the night. I had a hard time driving. DH, took a nap. And then, later, he took GoofyKat to our Vet, who agreed it was time.

When I came home from work, there Anthony sat on the couch, next to the cat carrier. GoofyKat was inside, wrapped in his quilt I made him when he was a kitten. He is buried in that too. It is so sad. We had him for 16.5 years. He was our first baby. And Joshua didn't understand. How can you expect a 3 year old to understand?! Though, he did try to comfort us. The words out of his mouth last night were amazing. "It's ok. He's safe with God now".

It wasn't even a year later when it was Mikey's turn.

Within 3 weeks, MikeyKat went from 17 lbs to 11lbs. He wasn't eating, he couldn't walk. He was sleeping too much, hiding and such. At first we contributed it to his hearing loss. But, when he stopped eating....and Mikey never turned down food....that's when we knew something was horribly wrong. When I took him to the vet yesterday, his temp was 96 and the vet did the blood work. His test came back renal failure. The vet said with his temperature the way it was and how he was acting, he didn't have much longer. I brought him home and spent one last night with MikeyKat....and now, I don't have him anymore. He loved everyone, unconditionally.

To this day, I still call out for him. On occasion, I call one of my other cat's his name, sort of a Freudian slip. Little things Theo does reminds me of him. I still cry for him.

Both of these cats were a part of the family. They were our first children. So much so, they went on vacation with us and even moved when we moved. They went from Virginia, to Germany, to Texas, and finally Florida. They were worldly. And they were loved. 

I refuse to come home to an empty house, with no cats! We now have 3 more!

Sofius-Katus Ear-NonFoldus

We knew we wanted to get a Scottish Fold. We had seen them so much at Cat Shows, researching their personality and their character. Besides a true folded fold is so adorable! After much research we had determined that MikeyKat was really a non-folded Fold. When we decided to get another cat, after GoofyKat passed, we looked around for a Scottish Fold Breeder in our area. There was a breeder about 80 miles from us that we see each year at the Cat Show. Luckily, we found on closer, in our home town. Ironically, she and Linnea (the one 80 miles from us) were corroborating together.  Lizz did not have a litter at this time, but she was working with Linnea . She had paired up one of her girls to one of Linnea's boys and was hoping within a few months to be expecting. It didn't take long, thankfully, and on May 10th, a litter was born. Of course, the breeder gets first pick and Liz wanted to see how many, if any, folded back down. Nine weeks went by and unfortunately,   not a single kitten's ears folded.

When we went to visit Lizz and her kittens, it was amazing. Joshua was trying to get all the kittens to play with him with string and balls. It was only Sofie who pounced out from her hiding place to attack the little pop pom Joshua has just threw. It scared him so bad he squealed. Lizz was so flabbergasted. She said Sofie was the only one in the litter who did not have a personality. Apparently, she was waiting until her human came so she could shine! She picked Joshua that day. And every night she watches over him from somewhere in his room. When she thinks he needs to be awake, she will head butt him or stuff her whiskers up his nose. She puts up with so much from such a rambunctious little boy. She is definitely his kitty, and he is definitely her human. But now, she's come around to Anthony! He is now her favorite pillow! :)

They are our Oxymoron Cats. :) Non-Folded Scottish Folds.

Theo-Katus Ear Non-Foldus
Theo came from the same litter as Sofie. He is our tender soul.  It was such a sweet gesture when Lizz said we could take him along with his sister. But when we came to pick them both up, Theo freaked so bad he tore Lizz up. We were so afraid he would not work out. But we were determined to make it work. We met on neutral ground the second time. Lizz brought him to the cat show with her and he stayed in his carrier. We met her there and did a quick change up and brought him home. It wasn't as bad as the last time. When we got home, we just opened the door to the carrier and let him come out on his own terms. He had been without his sister for a week or so. Lizz had said when she left, he cried for her every night. But when he saw her at our house, it was like he didn't remember her. After a few hours, Theo had ventured out and made his way to his "safe spot" in our room. It didn't take too long for him to get used to us, but he freaked at any sudden movement. I don't think he really likes Joshua much. :) 

It's been a few years now, and Theo has warmed nicely to us. He's not a lap cat, he doesn't like to be picked up much, and he still freaks at any loud noise. But he is such a loving cat. He has such a tender soul. We love him and will take care of him forever.

We saved Itty Bitty from a house full of bully cats. She's a Folded Fold, but the physical characteristics make her look more like a regular American Domestic Short Hair with mutated ears.

Itty Bitty
We got her in March, and she was so skittish--worse than Theo. Poor baby! It has taken her from March until now to finally warming up to us. Sometimes she will tolerate the others. But there are times she will  hiss at them still. I am not certain if she will ever completely accept them, even though Theo and Sofie attempt to play with her from time to time. But, she is safe from the bully cats. And she is well loved.

We love all of our cats. And they are a part of the family. Not tools. Not animals left outside.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Doctor's Lady - A Book Review

The Doctor's LadyThe Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is amazing to know what God's plan is for you. A lot of people do not know what God plans for them. They seek it their entire lives. But Priscilla White knew it from a very early age. Her only obstacle--the Mission Board. Vowed never to marry, Priscilla's rejection to Mission in India comes with a caveat--should she marry, the Board would approve her as a missionary. Her solution walked in through the Church doors.

God called Eli Ernest to medical practice--not just any medical practice, but to those of the Nez Pierce out West. His scouting mission had been paid by the Church. But his second trip would be hindered by the Mission Board as well. Faced with the same dilemma as Priscilla White, their only option was to break their vows to not marry.

This story is deeper than the love that builds between the two. It is a trial of their faith. Priscilla joins Eli and another couple to minister to the Native Americans in the Western Country. Both Priscilla and her female travelling companion become the first women to travel to the Western Country that would become the Oregon Trail. It is a long and treacherous path, and Priscilla is determined to show both Eli and herself that she is strong enough to survive it. But can she? Riddled throughout this story is tension in love, in faith, in etiquette, and in physical security. You will not want to put it down.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Flash Fiction Contest Winner & Publication with KazkaPress

Source: KazkaPress.Net
As many of you know, I recently signed my first publishing deal. If you didn't know, you may be interested to read about it here.

If you are interested in reading my piece, you can read it off KazkaPress.Net. Please understand, parts of this are real, and parts are not. We were to speculate the purpose of the numbers station, UVB-76. If you like military, spy, spooky, sci-fi, conspiracy theories, all rolled up into one,  I suggest you read this first, then read my story and what I speculated the purpose of UVB-76.

If you like it, I'd be most appreciative if you rated it. The more ratings I get, the more chance I have in this piece being selected into their 713 Anthology. Be sure to read the other stories they chose as well.

Thank you for your support and your votes! I hope you enjoy the short story.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My First Publishing Deal

Source: KazkaPress.Net

Back in September, a fellow writer friend on Twitter (@mohio73) tweeted about a flash fiction contest from @Kazkapress. Since I've been doing several Flash Fiction pieces lately, and have found them incredibly fascinating, I looked forward to the 1st of October when Kazka Press would reveal their prompt and requirements for their Flash Fiction Contest. All I knew was it would be theme based, paid 1 cent a word, and they wanted EXACTLT 713 words. Pretty cool, huh? 

So I waited.

On October 1st, as promised, KazkaPress released their prompt. Total Sci-Fi! I could do this! 713 words, easy peasy. :) 

Their prompt was the following:

The October 2011 issue of Wired magazine featured an article on UVB-76, a (supposed) numbers station located in Russia. The article begins as such (and we encourage you read the entire, sublime article):

From a lonely rusted tower in a forest north of Moscow, a mysterious shortwave radio station transmitted day and night. For at least the decade leading up to 1992, it broadcast almost nothing but beeps; after that, it switched to buzzes, generally between 21 and 34 per minute, each lasting roughly a second—a nasally foghorn blaring through a crackly ether. The signal was said to emanate from the grounds of a voyenni gorodok (mini military city) near the village of Povarovo, and very rarely, perhaps once every few weeks, the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, often strings of Russian names: “Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.” But the balance of the airtime was filled by a steady, almost maddening, series of inexplicable tones. []
The Wired article was a very interesting read. If you like military, spy, spooky, sci-fi, conspiracy theories, all rolled up into one, I suggest you read this. Once I read the article I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to present it. It is nothing you would think a "short story" would be like. Not at all. It would be military document presenting the "story". I wanted it as authentic as possible, and since I've been a part of the military all my life, living and working with, I have been exposed to the military style of writing for many years.

The problem came up with researching a specific document for this purpose. Google is an awesome tool, as are my contacts within the military. :) Researching the precise format for a military document was the easy part. Coming up with documents to back my theories was another matter altogether. Research, research, research and more research ensued over the first week or so after the prompt came out. I was beginning to think I wouldn't make it. But I kept at it. And managed most of my words over those days. And finally, it all fell into place--including my word count.

So, off it went to a few "readers" who helped me pick out the grammar errors, the military-ese errors, and the congruence issues (hey, I found an extra person in there that didn't belong! LOL) Edits, revisions, more edits and the whole while trying to keep to that 713 word requirement. It was fun and tedious all at the same time.

When it was finally done, I sent it off to KazkaPress. But that's when the doubt set in. Was my story REALLY a story? I mean it was a fictional Military document and I was beginning to wonder if it would even fit in to the "story" category. After reading some other pieces from others I've known to be submitting, self doubt and "I'm not good enough" set in. And when @kazkapress tweeted this tweet:

I was in total agony. I just KNEW I was going to get rejected, yet again! It wasn't a true story. It wasn't good enough. There are so many other people who are more talented than I was. And all the while these thoughts haunted me, my friend @KTHanna was telling me I was being silly, I was good enough, and it was a really good story, unique in its presentation as well. She had the confidence in me that I needed. She was my motivation, my support and my sanity!

Last night, I received an email from KazkaPress. My heart lept into my throat. The bile came with it. My stomach flipped and flopped and I really didn't want to read it. I was standing in Walmart after grocery shopping, waiting for my husband and son to come back with that last item we forgot.

I read it.
"Jamie Dement, Thank you for submitting to our October Flash Fiction contest."
Here it comes....
"We're delighted to inform you that your submission grabbed us by the throats and took us for a ride. A very entertaining ride. We'd be fools not to purchase and publish the work you submitted."
WHAT?!! Seriously?!! OMGOMGOMG!

 And I sat and waited for 10 minutes. 10 long. agonizing. minutes. for my husband and son to return so I could give them the news! It was all we talked about the whole way home. My son was so excited he was trying to figure out what book was going to be published. He really wants my Walter Bear published (a Picture Book I would love to publish one day). But that's going to take a bit of work. When I told him it was a short story, he then I he asked about Soul Stone. Another story that's not quite ready. Yes,  he is an alpha reader of mine. :) He's just about 9, so he's only allowed to read certain stories. And he didn't get a chance to read this one, yet. Not real sure if he would be able to comprehend this one at his age though, so we will leave that at that. (He did come home two days ago and told me that my desire is rubbing off on him and he is now writing stories and wants to be published! YAY!!!)

So, now we wait until the 1st of November. Please come back here or check out KazkaPress.Net on November 1st to read my story! Thank you all for you wonderful support!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3rd Write Campaign Challenge

And here we are wrapping up the 3rd and final Campaign Challenge. Rachael Harrie is one amazing woman to do this. I want to thank her for her hard work and dedication. This undertaking sure has made it a challenge just for her. Please stop by her blog and thank her too. 

Here are the rules for the 3rd challenge:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
  • that it’s morning,
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).


A Proposal

“Couldn’t you have found another program?” Liz rested her chin on her knees as she drew them to her chest. With her finger, she swirled the black sand at her feet. 

Patterns of chaos mimicked the pinks and purples that bled from the sky into the water. The first sun was about to peek over the horizon. Liz watched as the water swelled across the distance, gaining momentum but not height, until it tingled their feet and fizzled away her marks. A small sigh escaped past her lips. 

A BUZOT! from behind made them both jump to their feet. A thin stream of white smoke filtered through the sand dune, exposing a control panel. Salt mixed with burnt sulfur danced at the back of Liz’s throat and almost made her gag. 

“Synbatec westopaneer tacise?” Matt shook his head. 

“What?” Liz cocked her head and scrunched her brow.

“Synbatec westopaneer tacise?” Matt’s face began to flush. He fidgeted with the silver plate embedded behind his right ear. As his finger slid over the plate, the hologram squelched and flickered. He clapped both hands around his head and squeezed his eyes shut. “Fheskkha!” 

Liz knew that pain all too well. Her universal translator was always on the fritz. 

“Here, let me.” Liz scooted closer and took her tiny sonic screwdriver out of her belt. It clicked on and a blue light coursed with the high pitch whirl. She touched it to the plate behind Matt’s ear. “Now, keep talking.” 

“Synbatec westopaneer tacise? “Synbatec westopaneer tacise?” 

Liz upped the pitch of the screwdriver as Matt continued. “Synbatec westopaneer tacise? Will you westopaneer tacise?”

“Almost got it.” Liz hit the screwdriver against the palm of her hand. 

“Will you westopaneer me?” 

Liz added a second frequency and the screwdriver sung.

“Will you marry me?”


300 words, excluding the title. I think I've covered all 5 senses. Did you know they were on a beach? It was morning? Could you tell Liz was bored? At first at least? And did you notice the stench behind them? And how about that ending? Was it a surprise?

Hope you like this. If you do, please vote for #62. And if you want to read the other entries, don't forget to visit Rachael's blog post. I'm sure there will be plenty more before the challenge closes. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They Blame The 6 Year Old!

There are certain expectations parents have when our children start school. We place our children on the school bus and hope that the bus gets there in one piece, that there are no accidents, no incidents, no one gets hurt. We expect the bus driver to be attentive and respectful. Once they get off the bus, the responsibility shifts to the school and we expect that they are protected, looked after and cared about until they get back on that bus and come back to our waiting arms.

I believe we can no longer make these assumptions. We just need to hope and pray, each day, that our children are safe when they are in school. Please take a moment to read the news story and watch the accompanied video.

On October 6th, 2011 my cousin and her husband got the scare of their life. Their youngest daughter decided to leave school and go home by herself, in the middle of the day. She left her buddy and walked out the front door. No one noticed her leave. And no one noticed she was missing. The school is located on a very busy two lane road. There are no sidewalks and the trees crowd the streets, leaving very little area to walk. The traffic is constant and there are always speeders.

Her safety was threatened, not only by the traffic, but according to the 911 taped calls, by passers-by as well. She could very easily been picked up and taken, never to be seen again. Luckily, a good Samaritan stopped and helped Kiley home. When my cousin took her back to the the school, they thought she was checking her in for the day. When she told them that she had left and she was returning her, they were stunned.

When Kiley returned home, she brought with her a letter from the school office stating that "A student choose to leave the school property alone , she was helped her home by a good samaritian, the parents returned to school with her, she is safe. Please talk to you childern about NOT leaving school grounds without adult permission." In essence, they blamed a six year old. Here's the school's response to the news inquiry:

All the school wants to do is reinforce the procedures that didn't work. Why not change the procedures? When my cousin's husband tried to call the school safety officer that day. Even though they knew he was calling them, the safety officer left for the day. Just goes to show just how much they really care about the safety of our children left in their care. Another hint to how much they care is if you read the comments to the news story you will notice that someone associated with the school, or school board has made some rather nasty comments then deleted them. Very professional, eh?! I would love to know what he wrote!

Yes, she did do something wrong. She got punished for it. But it is not entirely her fault! She's six! How is it that the school can blame the child and get away with it? Where were the ADULTS? Why didn't the "buddy" say something to an adult? Why were they not supervising?  How can the front office not notice a child walk out the front door? How can a teacher not know she is missing a child? How can no one notice?

It has now been almost a week. My cousin is still heartbroken. Her oldest daughter is now having nightmares. An alternative school is an option and she is hoping the School Board will allow her to go out of her district (but we all know how bureaucratic red tape is). She has not allowed her children to return to the school until something is done--change in policy, disciplinary action of the adults involved. But what is the school doing? Nothing, not even a simple apology. They still place the blame on a six year old. The Sheriff's office is at least looking into disciplining their officers for not responding in a timely manner.

My cousin and her family do not see the sense in a lawsuit. The school board has taken enough cuts to their budget as it is, no need to add to their financial difficulty. (Still does not excuse the lack of caring and safety!)  However, I am one to believe that no action on their part will not solve the problem. Maybe a lawsuit with no compensation would be the necessary slap to the face of those in charge and get them to notice that no one seems to care about the children.

Honestly, how can you blame a six year old for the mess this is? How can no one care about a child?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Had Forgotten My Dream

My dream had always been to write. Not just write, but to write books, stories, like the ones I loved to read. But somehow along the way, I forgot that dream.

I have been reading since as long as I can remember.  I've been writing since high school. In college, my first two years, I had no clue what to major in so I bounced from Accounting, to Psychology and finally settled on English with a Writing Concentration. My junior year, I got married. I realized I was a little behind in my credits if I wanted to graduate on time and start contributing to the family finances. I had to take a double load my last year. All upper level English classes. I was reading and writing like a mad woman! At the very least, I had a five page paper due every day. Yay, go me!

I guess I got burned out. Blinded. Lost.

I began to struggle with the questions, "What is my purpose? What am I good at?" I've always said that "I am a jack of all trades, master of none." Over the years I went through spurts of doing a little of this, a little of that, and never really finding my niche. I am pretty OK at quilting. In fact, I've made some pretty good ones if you want to check them out. I've designed web pages on occasion. But, honestly, I haven't updated mine in years. I get on an xBox binge and start playing games and getting into the gaming community. I never really got into anything full time and stuck with it. My interests always go in spurts.

Now that I look back, I think I have been that way all my life. I can remember a time, I think I was 5, when my parents enrolled me in ballet. I attended a few sessions, and when I found out I couldn't wear a tutu I was done. My parents later enrolled me in swimming lessons and I was more interested in playing in the water than learning. When I first got married, I expected a lot of things. I wanted a house, a car, and all the nice things my parents had. Even later when I was all excited to try something new, if I couldn't accomplish it on the first try I became discouraged and gave up. I have a lot of unfinished projects around the house and throughout my life.

I realize now, that I have always wanted the end result before I made the journey. I'm impatient and lose site of the path.

I'm trying to learn (and remind myself). "Writing doesn't work that way."

Last year around this time, I was speaking with an artist friend of mine and remembered my "dream". THAT was my purpose. It HAD to be.

She introduced me to #NaNoWriMo. She told me I could write a book in a month. The whole idea was to "just write". Don't worry about editing. Don't worry about the book. Just write the words. "WOW!" I thought this would be really cool. I signed up for it. I thought I could do this. I thought this was a good step in the right direction, back on track with my dream. But the more I learned about it, the more I thought about writing a novel, well, the more overwhelmed I became. Eventually, I got scared and felt like the failure I always was.

Towards the end of October 2010, I found #PiBoIdMo, hosted by Tara Lazar. #PiBoIdMo is the Picture Book Idea Month, their answer to #NaNoWriMo. Instead of writing 50,000 words on a novel for the entire month of November, you come up with an idea for a Picture Book every day for the month of November. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, yeah, the ideas were easy to come up with. It got me in the mindset to get back into writing. And I thought, hey, a Picture Book might be a great stepping stone to the ultimate goal. Start small, work my way up.

It got my mind, and my fingers cranking again. In the past year I've written two and a half Picture Books. I've always jumped forward, prematurely as usual, and submitted a few queries, only to be rejected. I'm still plugging away, though, as I have learned that rejection is a part of a writer's life. However, I am now more cautious.

Over the last year, I've written picture books, poems, and short stories. I do not have any one particular genre I write in. My genres are what strikes me at the moment an idea comes to my mind and fingers. My short stories are sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, dystopia with no hopeful ending, to general. I am horrible at classifying them. And, thus, I have no idea where to submit the ones that I feel are complete. So they sit on my hard drive.


This month, I've really been mulling my idea that has haunted me for years for the novel. I just have little bits. Nothing all encompassing. But I have bits. I've been reading more and more about how to outline and I am still lost. Last week I sat down to do a character worksheet on the main character but realized I have no clue who she is. She keeps changing. Maybe next year I can start that novel. I'm still learning right now. As long as I keep writing, and never give up, never lose site of that dream, I might be able to achieve it.

I am still plugging away at the dream, even a year later, which makes me happy. Yes, there are days that I just want to give up and scream, "I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH! WHY DO I BOTHER?" But I have to remember that writing is all about writing. I write for me, mostly. It is my therapy session. But sometimes it's just so frustrating when I can't get it all out of my head. Eventually, I will come to the end of the stories, revise and edit. And maybe, just maybe, one day I can share them with everyone. And, maybe you'll like them.

I have to remember my dream.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Night Shade -- #FridayFlash

I was introduced to the #FridayFlash on Twitter only 2 weeks ago. I had to do some research as to what it is and how it works. But basically, you write a flash fiction (1000 words or less) and post it on Fridays. Simple as that.

If you are interested in learning more, or reading other stories, here's the official website for #FridayFlash.

This is my first attempt at something like this. In fact, I wrote this before I wrote my 2nd #WriteCampaign Challenge but I figured I would post that first.

I would love to hear your comments. Anything I could have done better? different? Anything you particularly liked?

Thank you!

Night Shade
Wisps of clouds hung in the sky in front of a full moon. Shadows etched on the ground below my open window. I leaned out over the ledge in hopes of finding a breeze in the heavy air.
            In the moonlight I could see the mountainous grooves left by the day’s travelers etched in the dusty road in front of our house. I looked down the road for comfort. Annie’s house was not that far and I could make out the lantern in the window. Annie always left it on for me, in case I woke in the middle of the night and needed her. It was her way of letting me know she was there for me.
            I never liked the night. SHE came in the night. Only Annie believed and comforted me. She understood. 
           A full moon was less chilling than a new moon, but still I shuddered. In the fields between our two houses, I watched a shadow move across the fields between our two houses. I strained to make out the shape. My heartbeat drummed in my ears and my eyes widened in realization. It was HER! She was coming!
            Frozen to my window, I watched as the shadow skimmed the tops of the grass making its way towards Annie’s house.
            No! I thought. Not Annie! Please, not her!
            Annie’s lantern dimmed.
No, Annie, No! Don’t go! I screamed in my head.
Annie’s shadow darkened her window as the Shade paced the ground below. I watched in horror, fear gripped my heart, as Annie climbed out her bedroom window. I refused to breath as Annie disappeared into the darkness that was the Night Shade. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#TuesdayTales -- The Devil's Darning Needles

I stumbled upon the #TuesdayTales hashtag on Twitter a little too late last week. I've been really getting into this flash fiction challenges. It truly is a challenge to be able to write a story in such few words. and it's so much fun! Don't forget to check out @GlitterLady's #TuesdayTales and join the fun!

Here's my entry:

The Devil's Darning Needles
The Devil’s Darning Needles hid just beneath the waters of Shoal’s Lake—always at the ready to erupt at the precise moment when the weary traveler’s eyes should close. Anticipation swept through them as a glint passed through the surface. All eyes watched the Knight remove his helm. He slipped off his gauntlets and placed them at his knees as he bent to scoop the cool water for a drink. He leaned against the willow tree and let the summer breeze lull him to sleep. The Needles swarmed out of their watery hive, weaving over and through the Knight’s eyelids.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Preacher's Bride -- A Book Review

The Preacher's BrideThe Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was not my first time reading Historical Fiction. However it was my first read of Historical Christian Fiction. Skeptical at first, I didn't quite understand the genre and half expected preaching to be involved. As I delved in, I quickly realized that this was not the case.

Pious Elizabeth Whitbread looked only to serve God and those in need, accepting what she thought was her lot in life. When God called upon her through the cry of a baby, Elizabeth put her life and marriage on hold and answered. Little did she realize that her path had now diverged.

Jon Costin, tinkerer by trade preacher by calling, never suspected God's ulterior motives.

The Preacher's Bride was a true example of God working through mysterious ways. Strong willed, quick to wit, and God serving characters perfectly matched from the beginning. Both struggled through the persecution of the Royalists and their own personal struggles with God. Their relationship between each other and with God grew throughout the entire book.

Jody Hedlund captured my heart in her first book with her perfectly executed writing. She took the true story of John Bunyan and wove her own of "the woman behind John Bunyan". It was not preachy, it was not mushy. But it sure was moving! The reader got into the head of Elizabeth from the very first moment and felt the pull of emotions throughout.

I cannot wait to read her next book, The Doctor's Lady.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Psycho Imago - 2nd Write Campaign Challenge

Rachael Harrie has done it again. Here are the guidelines:

"Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:

  • include the word "imago" in the title
  • include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.

For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!"
Completed all the above, including 200 words exactly AND used the mirror!
Here's my entry into the 2nd Campaigner Challenge if you like it, please vote for #24!


Psycho Imago

            I bashed my foot against the dresser as I moved across the bloodied room. A sharp, glorious pain seared through my ankle. A smile crept across my face.

I leaned against the edge of the dresser to get a better look in the shattered mirror. Her listless body reflected back with many angles to investigate. I licked the coolness of the glass that reflected her untouched breasts, slicing my tongue on its sharp edge.

Like the mirror, she was shattered, broken. Blood pooled in the lacuna my cleaver created. Her hair matted. Her porcelain face caved in. Exposed bones peeked through her jacket and jeans. It teased me from all directions. My daughter was now perfect.

Time had stood still in my dance. I didn’t care. I could do this forever. Shivers of pleasure pulsed in the pit of my groin and my lust got the better of me. I played the death scene out—perfect synchronicity between memory and motion. I danced with death again and again.

Her body began to decay. I drew in a deep breath. The stench of her miasma rose from her battered body. I fell on the bed in exhaustion and began to oscitate