A Gift, A Break, and Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverTo help with your last minute gift-giving needs, we’re giving away three holiday stories (or the collected version) that you can keep for yourself, or copy and gift to friends and family with our best wishes. Download links for each book are below, but please remember these are adult stories, and not suitable for minors. Download and share responsibly, please!

All files are in PDF format.
Mr. Mysterious by Jamie DeBree (romantic suspense) Details
Canvas by Alex Westhaven (horror) Details
The Naughty List by Trinity Marlow (erotic romance) Details
The Holiday Pact (all three stories)

 

We’ll be taking a two-week break from the blog to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, but join us again on January 8th for some news for 2018 as well as new writing prompts to inspire you.

Happy holidays to you and yours, and thank you for reading!


Weekly Prose Prompt: A family member disappears from the annual Christmas eve party. Where did they go and what happened?
Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your hopes for the new year.  

Reader’s Report & Weekly Writing Prompts

An Elemental Earth CoverReaders Report – Watcha Reading?

On my nightstand, I’m deep into the paperback of The Seventh Plague by James Rollins at the moment. And undecided about whether I’m enjoying it a little more than I should be, given the subject matter and general state of things (as in, everyone in the world could die, in very short order). It’s rather thrilling, as all of his are, and I’m anxious to see who makes it to the end and who might not. Anxious and just a smidge worried, that is.

On the kindle app, I’m working on Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City Book 1) by Penny Reid. It’s a first person romance that took me awhile to get into, but the main character is just quirky enough that I’m still reading just to see how it’s all going to play out. Not my favorite book, or narrative style for romance by any means, and I have some issues with…things, but not enough to quit on it. We’ll see how it ends, eventually.

And in comic books, I’m finally all caught up with I Hate Fairyland, and this week while I’m off work from the day job, I’m going to catch up on Scooby Apocalypse and see how far I can get caught up on the various Harley Quinn series’ as well. I need to hit the comic shop again next weekend too.

Inquiring minds want to know – what are you reading this month? Doesn’t have to be a BSB book (obviously), just whatever’s keeping you occupied these days.


Wanna write? Grab a prompt!

  • Weekly Prose Prompt: Two strangers bump into each other on a busy street, and both apologize before moving on. Later, one finds a note in their coat pocket – addressed specifically to them. What does it say?
  • Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your favorite pen, pencil or keyboard.

Bookish Gifts & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverI think we can safely say the holiday season is well upon us now, and many of us are probably trying to figure out what to wrap up for our loved ones (or the office gift exchange). It’s not always easy to get readers a book, especially if they’re the sort (like myself) who buys books year-round. But there are lots of great book-related items out there that readers will appreciate, depending on their individual tastes.

Mugs, teacups and coffee or tea are pretty much a sure bet for a reader. Find a nice book-themed mug and fill it with the reader’s favorite bean or leaf (or cocoa, even), and you can’t go wrong.

Bookmarks are always fun for those who still read print books (which quite a few of us do). Something funny, witty or just aesthetically pleasing will be a very useful hit.

Blankets, slippers and fingerless gloves are all great choices for the cooler or cool-weather reader in your life. Cozy warmth with the ability to still turn pages easily? No brainer. When paired with a “day off” coupon so they have some time to snuggle in and read, even better!

Print book readers might appreciate a beautifully designed pack of bookplates, while digital readers might like a new cover for their ereader or phone. Speaking of e-reading, who wouldn’t like a gift certificate from their preferred online store?

Is the book always better? Almost, but no harm in seeing the movie anyway – who doesn’t like something to compare and complain about? Gift a reader the movie version of a book they like or have been meaning to see/read. Maybe even both the book and a DVD, so they can easily compare.

And of course time to read is at the top of every reader’s wish-list, so if you can figure out how to give them some of that, well, that will certainly be the best gift your reader could ever hope to receive.

There’s still plenty of time to shop, and I’ve bought several of these items as gifts for this year. What will you buy the readers in your life this Christmas?


Want to write? Pick a prompt!

  • Weekly Prose Prompt: Pick one of the ornaments on your tree (or another object, for those who don’t celebrate Christmas), and write a story about how it changed hands at one point. Was it handed down? Stolen? Gifted? Re-gifted? Found? Be creative.
  • Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about an ornament or object that reminds you of someone now gone.

Movies First & Weekly Writing Prompts

An Elemental Wind CoverMovies First

I think most readers will agree that it’s rare when a movie based on a book is better than the book. It’s because a movie has to condense so much story into such a relatively short amount of time that scenes have to be cut or abridged, and a lot of the detail that is spelled out (so to speak) in the book has to be shown as background or mood music in the film. It’s too bad, of course, but if directors didn’t do that, movies based on books would be epic films many hours long. I know a lot of people don’t mind sitting through longer movies like The Titanic and the Lord of the Rings films, but I don’t like to sit for that long, especially not in a theater where there’s no pausing the movie for a restroom/pop refill break.

But, I’ve discovered that if I read the book first, I’m almost always disappointed in the movie, because I come into it with a set of pre-determined expectations. If I watch the movie first, however, I almost always enjoy both the book and the movie, because the movie sets expectations that are always exceeded by the book. A little trick of the mind, so to speak.

When you know there’s a movie coming out based on a book you haven’t read yet, do you read the book first, or see the film first? Does the order influence your enjoyment of either story medium?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt! 

Prose Prompt: A character walks into a movie theater where only one other person is waiting to see that particular film. The other person is reading a book of the movie about to be shown, and the first person strikes up a conversation with the question, “Why?”

Poetry prompt: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite part of going to the movies.

Reading Westerns & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Biker's Wench Cover BSB News

I know the quarterly newsletter is late – my apologies. What with NaNoWriMo and trying to get things organized for potential holiday releases, I kind of got a little behind. Look for this quarter’s newsletter sometime in December, and hopefully there will be some fun announcements included!

Reading Westerns with Grandpa

When I was a kid, my parents would send my sister and I to my grandparent’s house for a week or two every summer. We also spent a lot of Thanksgivings and Christmases there and Grandma & Gramps were early-to-bed/early-to-rise rural sorts, which meant a lot of reading time for moi after they were sleeping. Still being young and not having my own money yet, I often didn’t pack enough books to get me through my whole time there.

Which is how I discovered Westerns. My grandpa was an avid reader, and his favorites were old western dime-store style novels. I worked my way through most of the books on his shelf, and became intimately acquainted with the likes of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I’m still not all that fond of L’Amour – he’s a bit too wordy/descriptive for my taste, but I can still pick up a Zane Grey and enjoy reading about small-town drama and romance in the romanticized old west.

Gramps died just recently, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to honor him and my memories of what he shared with me. I think it might be fun to write a story or series of Westerns that draw loosely from his own life experiences, or the ones I know about, anyway. Not old west stories, but modern stories to share the lifestyle and values he loved – modern westerns, as it were, with a bit of added flair (he would have liked that).

Have you read a western, old or new? What kind of books did your grandparents share with you – anything you wouldn’t normally have read?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Weekly Prose Prompt: It’s high-noon in your fictional town, and there’s gonna be a duel over the boundary line between two nearby ranches. The town has outlawed traditional weapons like guns/knives, so what will your characters duel with? And who wins?

Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about a cowboy on a cattle drive.

Reading Habits & Weekly Writing Prompts

Listen to the Leaves CoverDon’t you just love fall? I just love to see the yellows and browns and reds take over, flittering to the ground and then crunching so deliciously underfoot as you wade through them on your way to…wherever. The crisp autumn air, the cooler nights and moderate days, the hint of snow on the breeze if you sniff in just the right direction…it’s easily my favorite season.

Any weather is good reading weather, but there’s something about looking out the window at a pile of leaves (or sitting under a tree and letting them rain around you) that puts me in the mood for a good suspense novel. Of course we’ve had snow here lately (though it’s melting off as I type), but white is just as good a backdrop for a story or two (or more), in my opinion. But I really wouldn’t want to sit under a tree and try to read while it’s snowing on me. Wet glasses and cold fingers are quite a bit less romantic than falling leaves, sadly enough.

But rarely as I get to do so these days, being snuggled under a lovely afghan with a warm cup of tea and say…a collection of short stories by some excellent authors, like the ones contained in our “Listen to the Leaves” anthology is definitely a favorite way to spend a few hours.

Do you have a place you love to read? A blanket you always read with? A chair or couch that is just perfect for your bookwormy proclivities? Let us know!


Prose prompt: A woman stops under a tree to marvel at the changing leaves, and hears a voice. No one else is around but a squirrel on a branch overhead, and she realizes it’s the squirrel talking to her. What does the squirrel say?

Poetry Prompt: Write an ode to your favorite reading spot.

Discussing Books & Weekly Writing Prompts

Lucky Dog CoverDiscussing Books

Do you talk about the books you read with other people? There are only a couple of people I discuss books with on a regular basis, but my mom is in a couple different book clubs she seems to enjoy. I’ve been in book clubs before, but I don’t typically read all that much “literature”, which is what those clubs tend to discuss.

I’ve only been in a couple of clubs that discussed genre fiction, and they fizzled fairly quickly. I wonder if it’s because there just isn’t that much to discuss with genre fiction, or if it’s just that it’s sometimes harder to identify the main themes and potential discussion topics in a piece of genre fiction than it is in a more literary novel.

My husband and I discuss the books we both read, which is always interesting and sometimes turns into a much longer and more involved discussion than one might expect with a suspense/thriller type novel. It’s those discussions that really make me think that maybe more of us should try harder to share our thoughts on the stories we read, even the stories where the discussion points aren’t terribly obvious. I think most authors discover something (and subsequently reveal something) about both human nature and society in every book they write. Maybe if we looked a little deeper, we’d even discover truths that the author didn’t mean to include, but that were made apparent through the story all the same.

I’d like to see readers dive deeper into our stories, and I’m considering launching some discussion questions for the books we have out now, and every book we publish in the future. Those who want to just read the whole story at face value can, certainly, but for those who want to delve deeper, it seems like a discussion guide of sorts might be helpful.

What do you think of the idea of discussion questions/guides for genre books? Is it something you’d be interested in, or something you’d just skim over? Let us know in the comments, or wherever you’re reading on social media!


Wanna write? Here are a couple of prompts to get you started!

Prose Prompt: A book club has discovered that one of their members wrote the murder mystery they’re reading, and that they’re all victims in the story. They figure out which member is the author…does he/she get arrested, or do the members end up actual victims?

Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite day of the week.

Free for Halloween, NaNoWriMo, & Weekly Writing Prompts

Jack CoverBSB News

Happy Halloween! Yes, the post is a day late this week, but it’s Halloween, and it seemed like a good day to give away a free book! So, if you click on one of the links below, you can download a copy of Jack by Alex Westhaven completely free. A little something to get you in the mood for tonight’s festivities…

Download PDF file  | Download Epub file | Download Mobi file

 

National Novel Writing Month

Of course if you’re inclined to write a book like so many of us are, Halloween doubles as the night to make sure your sugar stocks are filled for the craziest writing challenge of the year, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – Na-No-rye-mo) that starts on November 1st. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days, it’s the quintessential way to get a novel draft down quickly and in a kind of kamakazie fashion. It’s also a great way to establish a daily writing habit, even if you don’t reach 50k by the end of the month.

I’ve got part of a loose outline done for my NaNo novel this year, and I’m really excited to get started on it. I’ve been planning this book since last fall, letting the story marinate in my head while I worked on other things, and it’s so ready to be written, it’s not even funny. I’m just hoping that putting so much thought/advanced planning into it won’t jinx me, and make it harder to get down on paper.

I don’t often start NaNo with much of a plan though. Normally I just stick a couple of characters in a situation, and start writing. The characters tell me the story as I write. This is the most planning I’ve ever done, so I’m curious to see if it will make it easier or harder to reach “The End”.

Do you participate in NaNo? Ever wanted to write a novel but just couldn’t get moving on it? Check out the web site at nanowrimo.org – maybe this is your year! My username there is “outofwords” – feel free to connect!

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Prompt of the Week: While walking through the woods, your character stumbles over something hidden under a pile of leaves. What is it, and what does your character do?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about trick-or-treating…from either the trick-or-treater side, or from the perspective of handing out candy.

 

Death by Veggies & Weekly Writing Prompts

Jack CoverHow do you like your horror? Grotesque and bloody, psychological and clean? Somewhere between the two? Alex Westhaven is our resident horror/thriller writer (also, an alter-ego of mine), and does her best to balance a little bit of the grotesque with a lot of the cerebral when it comes to getting that adrenaline rush going. Her shorter horror stories are perfect for a bright lunch hour or dark before-bed snack, which you already know if you’ve tried the Death by Veggies series.

Fun Fact: The Death by Veggies series was inspired by a conversation overheard in a bar. Several post-sober people were having a rousing (and rather loud) conversation about how much one or two of them hated vegetables, and how one was absolutely certain that if he/she ate even one, he/she would simply *die* right there on the spot. Another mentioned something to the effect of that being a great way to murder someone, but by then, Alex was already scribbling down the titles to several DBV stories (a couple of which haven’t been written…yet).

In any case, if fun little horror stories are your thing, do check out the DBV series. They’re all stand-alone stories, so you can read them in any order (though this month, we think Jack is probably the appropriate place to start), and they’re all available in print, ebook and audio, so there’s a format for every reader.

And if you have read one or more already, leave a comment and tell us your favorite!


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  Pick an obscure, non-poisonous vegetable and make it the catalyst for a murder.

Poetry Prompt of the Week:  Write a poem about your favorite vegetable.

Bookshelves, Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

Canvas CoverBookshelves & Books

How long has it been since you organized your bookshelves?

This past weekend I spent a fair amount of time moving about a quarter of our books from the three bookcases in our home office to the living room floor and dining room table, and then back again after we replaced the cheap pressboard shelving with much nicer plywood shelving that my husband built custom for the room. I meant to go through and sort/reorganize/cull that section of books as I put them back, but it was nearly 8pm on Sunday before we got the shelves in, and I needed to get the books put back so we weren’t tripping over them all week. So I just tossed them up there, willy-nilly, and now I actually think they’re more randomly shelved than they were before.

Ironically, they still look “neater”, because there’s room, so they aren’t crammed together, and the shelve sizes fit the books better. But I definitely need to go through and reorganize/cull, and then I can go through the bookcases in our bedroom and basement and reorganize those as well. But it’s going to have to wait until the snow flies and things quiet down. A good January/February project, maybe?

I did forget to put my vintage/antique books back (they’re still on my dining room table), so I’ll have to do at least some shelf reorganization to fit those in where I want them. I’ll do that next weekend though. It’s kind of surprising how much work it is moving books around. Thank goodness I don’t care for hardbacks! We have some, but most of those live in one of the bedroom bookcases.

When was the last time you really took a look at the titles on your shelves? My husband and I were looking the new shelves over and talking about certain titles that caught our eye, and it made me wonder how many people really “look” at their bookshelves, and think about what they have, and what they’ve read in the past to shape their way of thinking.

Maybe we should all reorganize and take stock of our shelves more often…

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A person is going through his/her books and comes across one they can’t remember reading, much less buying. Opening the cover to get a refresher scan of the first page, they find a photograph that is definitely not of them or any family members. What do they do?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: A person is going through his/her books and comes across one they can’t remember reading, much less buying. Opening the cover to get a refresher scan of the first page, they find a photograph that is definitely not of them or any family members. What do they do?