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.