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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. [Wired.com]
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!!!)