News, Ideas, & the Weekly Prompt

BSB News

Have you gotten your copies of our two new February releases yet? Cinderelleper and An Elemental Earth are both available now – grab a copy for yourself, gift one to a special friend, maybe even write a review at your favorite retailer or book-centric website…

Last week’s free download was the first Ardraci Elementals book – An Elemental Wind. Hopefully you got your copy! This week’s download is live now, you just have to go find it in our Available Books pages.

You may have noticed that our writing prompt story didn’t quite make it to the blog this week. The elements of the prompt were a bit disjointed, and in the end, every attempt we made at a flash story wanted to be a longer story, and ended up being folded into a current novel-length draft. No one else sent in attempts, so we’ll just call that one a “miss” as far as flash fiction is concerned. There’s a new, hopefully easier prompt at the end of this post for this coming Saturday.

Topic of the Week: Ideas

Last week’s prompt was actually inspired by true events. I was out walking my dogs, and I did find a nearly empty roll of duct tape in the mud, an empty pink envelope, and half of a torn cigarette box all within the span of about half a block. The three items tickled my brain enough that I’ve been thinking about them ever since, and…well, you’ll eventually find out where that writing prompt took me when I finish writing the story.

Beginning writers always ask variations of, “Where do you get your ideas from?” My glib-sounding but utterly serious response to that is “everywhere”. I’ve written three short stories all based on a very odd conversation I overheard at a bar, and another full novel based on a very odd couple I observed at another bar (lest you think I’m a lush – my husband plays in a pool league, so I’ve spent a lot of nights at various local bars for many, many years now). One of my drafts-in-progress is based on one of my tattoos…three days after I got it, the story idea popped into my head and would not let go.

Finding ideas for stories is as simple as looking around you. A clock or picture on the wall that is suddenly askew, an urn on a mantle, a cache of candy wrappers hidden under a bush in a yard, or an odd coin found on the sidewalk (or a hundred dollar bill, perhaps?). Part of honing the writer’s brain is training yourself to always look for the story behind things – even the most mundane of objects. Ideas come from your mind – you simply use the things you see and experience to trigger them.

And with that in mind (so to speak), here’s this week’s writing prompt:


Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a large water fountain in the middle of a park surrounded by beautifully carved stone benches. There’s a stone frog attached to the edge of the fountain, and a few carved stone fish attached to the inside of the fountain under the water. Local teen girls love to take pictures of themselves kissing the frog…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Contest Results & Writing Prompt

BSB News & Contest Results

First, congratulations to Carol R. Ward, who’s latest release, An Elemental Earth, is now available for purchase in both digital and print. It’s not quite available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo just yet, but it should be in a week or so. If you aren’t reading this series, then you should be!

As far as the contest on her Author Interview post goes, since there were only two people who entered, both Leanne Young and Ann Partridge will receive a prize package from me that includes a print copy of An Elemental Earth.  I’ll be emailing you for your addresses in the next few days. Congratulations!

The free download last week was Heart Knocks, by Jamie DeBree. Don’t forget to look through our Available Books and find the free download for this week!

And of course, if you missed it, feel free to go back and this week’s writing prompt story: The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven.

We’ll skip the topic of the week for this particular week since this post is late already. But check below for this week’s writing prompt!


Writing Prompt of the Week: A woman is out walking her dog, and finds a mostly-used roll of duct tape tossed into the mud. A little farther along, she spots a pink envelope, and a little farther from that, half of an empty cigarette box.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Release Day: An Elemental Earth by Carol R. Ward

It’s here! An Elemental Earth – Book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series by Carol R. Ward is now available for purchase!

An Elemental Earth Cover

If you’re not reading this series, you really should be! Available now in both digital and print formats – get your copy today:

Digital: Amazon | Smashwords (other retailers coming soon!)
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Did you know you can win a print copy plus a surprise gift basket with related items? Go read our Author Interview with Carol R. Ward, and just follow the directions to enter the contest!

She’s trusted him with her secret, but can she trust him with her heart?

Chloe has spent her whole life feeling like an outsider because of her unique gifts. Now she has met someone whose gifts rival her own and it’s both thrilling and terrifying.

Zephryn never expected to meet anyone like Chloe when he came to this world. But he has a hidden agenda, an agenda that changes drastically once the Ilezie Da’nat discovers something about Chloe that shouldn’t be possible.

Excerpt:
The night air was cold, but the two moons provided enough light for Chloe to see where she was going. There was no danger of running into any search party Gannon might send out. He’d be working with sensors and radar maps, while she followed the path provided by the land itself.

It did not take her long to find the place where the object had struck. There was a long gash in the earth ending in a smoking hollow. Within the hollow was a ship – a ship unlike any Chloe had ever seen before. This was no mining vessel!

Filled with a sense of urgency she did not understand, she scrambled down into the hollow and located the hatch of the vessel. It opened easily beneath her touch and she hesitated before entering.

“Hello?” she called. “Are you all right in there?”

There was no answer, but the sense of urgency increased. Catching her bottom lip between her teeth, she cautiously entered. Dim lights came on as the door slid shut behind her, making her jump.

“Hello?” she called again. There was still no answer and she moved slowly towards the front of the craft. The short passage had several doors, but instinctively she knew what she sought was behind the door at its end.

It slid open automatically and she found the pilot, unconscious and still strapped into his seat. Chloe cursed under her breath. It was obvious he was larger than she was, how was she supposed to get him out of the ship, let alone away from here before Gannon arrived?

Anti-grav sled, a voice whispered in her mind.

Startled, she glanced around. “Who said that?”

Aft compartment.

The sense of urgency was almost unbearable. Chloe quickly left the cockpit and hurried to the aft compartment where she found the anti-grav sled that was used for moving heavy cargo. Towing it behind her, she returned to the front where she managed to free the pilot from his restraints and push him out of his seat and onto the sled.

“Sorry,” she said, wincing in sympathy as he hit the sled hard. There wasn’t a sound out of him. She really hoped she hadn’t added to his injuries.

The sled moved easily behind her, although she had to take an angled path out of the hollow to keep her passenger from sliding off. The sense of urgency increased as she saw lights tracing a grid like pattern in the distance. As she topped the rise just above the crash site, Chloe heard the voice again.

Conceal the ship.

“Mother?” she asked in a whisper, remembering Tierra telling her that Gannon must not find either the pilot or the ship.

Protect the ship.

Chloe turned to face the ship. Moonlight reflected in her eyes as they changed from brown to green and back again as she concentrated. The earth around the ship shivered and the ship slowly sank downwards. Once it was several feet below the surface, the gash in the earth repaired itself.

As Chloe faced forward and began dragging the sled behind her towards home, grass and weeds began growing in the bare earth where the gash had been. Plants sprang up behind her, covering her tracks away from the site.

Digital: Amazon | Smashwords (other retailers coming soon!)
Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Check out the other Books in this series: 

An Elemental Wind (Book 1)
An Elemental Fire (Book 2)
An Elemental Water (Book 3)

 

The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven

Writing Prompt of the Week: A bouquet of flowers is delivered to the desk of a young woman at work. There’s no card, only a dozen purple and yellow lilies amidst an abundance of greenery. Later that afternoon she noticed something moving in the bouquet. She looked closer, and nearly knocked her coffee off her desk. One of the purple blossoms was rotating…

Dedicated to all those ladies who got flowers this past week… 😉


The Scent of Dust
by Alex Westhaven

The purple lily in the back of the bouquet on her desk had definitely moved.

A mixture of relief and paranoia flitted through Trish’s brain as she realized two things simultaneously: she wasn’t going crazy because this time, that flower had definitely moved all by itself, and she had it on video; and since cut flowers don’t generally move by themselves, something had to be making the flower move.

“Hey Denise,” she said to the girl in the next cubicle, careful to keep her voice low. “One of my flowers just moved.”

“I get that you’re proud of those flowers, and the secret admirer who sent them, but you don’t need to rub it in every chance you get.”

Trish didn’t have to wait long for the telltale sound of plastic wheels on a plastic mat. Soon after, Denise came around the corner, her clothes pin-up tight, her long, wavy hair a fiery red halo, and a deep frown across her lipstick-laden lips.

“Prove it,” she said, staring at the bouquet. It had shown up yesterday with a note signed simply, “You’re Secret Admirer”. Trish would have been way more excited if the sender would have used the right version of ‘your’.

“I have video.” Trish held up her phone. “Come look.”

She waited until Denise bent close, and then touched the ‘play’ button on the screen. They watched, waiting, the flowers front and center in the two-minute shot.

Nothing.

“I swear,” Trish said, tapping on the button again to replay. “I saw it. I even saw it on this very video just before I told you. I don’t know what happened – maybe the player got stuck. It was right here. That flower – the purple one in the back. It moved. It turned toward the hallway.”

The look on Denise’s face was sympathetic. “You should probably just take the rest of the day off. When you start seeing flowers move…how long have you been here today? Did you take a lunch break?”

Trish nodded. “I left at lunch – walked down to that soup and sandwich place. Got some fresh air, got some food, came back and sat down. I’m not delusional. I know what I saw!”

“Shh! Larry’s due for his walk-through anytime now.” Denise peered over the cubical wall, and supposedly out over the rest of what was fondly referred to as the rabbit warren. “I don’t see him yet, but if I get caught away from my desk without a good reason again, it’s going into my file.” She touched one of the offending flower’s petals lightly. “It feels real, it looks real, and I think you need a long break.”

Trish waved half-heartedly as Denise disappeared around the wall. She’d felt the petals too, and they were silky-soft, if a little thick. She reached over and grabbed the flower by the stem, pulling it free of the bouquet. It was heavier than she’d expected, and she held it closer, peering into the center. There was no evidence of electronics, but it was definitely no ordinary flower.

Curious as to just how far whoever made it had taken the ruse, she leaned even closer, and breathed in deep.

A couple of minutes later, Larry looked into Trish’s cubicle.

“Denise, have you seen Trish?”

“Isn’t she there? I just talked to her a few minutes ago.”

Larry shook his head and took a sip of lukewarm coffee. “Well, she’s not here now. Do me a favor and email maintenance. Tell them to bring a vacuum to her cubicle. There’s some sort of white powder all over her chair and the floor. It’s a mess over here. Like something disintegrated.”

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.


Author Interview & Contest: Carol R. Ward

An Elemental Earth Cover

If you haven’t read one of Carol R. Ward’s books, you should start now, because An Elemental Earth, the fourth book in her Ardraci Elementals series will be available this coming Monday! You can read the books out of order and not get too lost, but there’s a whole weekend between now and release day. What better way to spend it than catching up on the first three books!

Today, Carol’s agreed to have a little chat with us about her books, and cats in space. Pull up a comfy chair and get a nice cuppa! While you’re reading, consider what flower might spontaneously pop up (so to speak) if you were makin’ out with your main squeeze surrounded by nature.

Now, let’s chat a bit:

Wind, Fire, Water and now Earth. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write this sweeping “elemental” space opera series?

Uh, actually, you did. LOL You talked me into doing a serial story for my blog, so I dipped into my well of story ideas and came up with one that started out as kind of a revenge thing on another world. The resulting novel was An Elemental Wind and bore only a passing resemblance to the original idea. The elemental aspect of it took me by surprise, and once I was finished I figured I might as well continue the underlying story using the other elements.

If you could have one of the Elemental powers, which one would you choose, and why?

Hmm. According to the Chinese zodiac my element is earth, and I have to say that would probably be my first choice. I love plants and could only imagine what my garden would look like if I was able to help it grow. And I could avoid the winter doldrums by making it stay green all year round. My second choice would be fire because, you know, fire!

There are rumors that Gra’anna kept a journal much like Wynne Ignitus did in An Elemental Fire. Will we get a peek into that in the next book?

Man, you and your journals! LOL If Gra’anna kept a journal, it’s news to me. Plus, considering she’s ancient, even by Illezie standards, it would span many, many volumes. The journals in Fire and Water served a purpose – they told the back story and a little foreshadowing without bogging the story down with unnecessary detail. While it might be interesting to have someone recording the events that take place in An Elemental Spirit, I’m not quite sure how I’d work that in, nor who would be writing said journal. I could see starting each chapter of Spirit with a couple of lines from the prophecy Gra’anna was talking about in Earth, but of course first I’d have to come up with the whole prophecy.

Well, it was worth a try, anyways. *sigh* For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about here…go read the first three books! 

What’s the first thing you would order from the food replicator system if you’d just come out of a decades-long stasis?

That’s a hard question to answer! I love food, especially food that’s bad for me. If, during my time in stasis, I was cured of both my diabetes and IBS, then I’d go for a Canadian pizza and a side of New York fries with the works and honey garlic chicken wings, with a strawberry daiquiri to wash it down with, and coconut cream pie for desert. Or maybe an apple dumpling with caramel sauce. Or that mile high chocolate desert thing they have at Montana’s. Or maybe just bring me the desert sampler. And then you’d better have a bucket handy for when I’m sick after eating all that junk food. LOL

The Illezie are quite the enigmatic bunch. Will we ever learn more about them and their end-game?

I’ve given you hints about the Illezie throughout the first four books and seeing as a lot of the action of the final book takes place on their home world you’ll be learning a lot more about them. There are two possible end games, and I haven’t quite figured out which one it will be. This is one of the pitfalls of writing an unplanned series – I’ve been setting things up for the end to be one thing, but I’m actually leaning towards a different end than the one I first envisioned. I might have to *gulp* plot it out.

I know you’re a cat person – why do you think we never see cats on spaceships in fiction? Would you ever consider writing about a “spaceship cat” or cats?

Seriously? Not a Star Trek fan, are you? Data had an orange tabby named Spot on the Enterprise and it even made an appearance in the movie Nemesis. Don’t make me recite Data’s poem, Ode to Spot. And wasn’t there a cat (also an orange tabby) on Ripley’s ship in Alien? In literature we have The Hani in the Chanur books by C.J. Cherryh who are a race of space faring cats; Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough created the “Barque Cats”, who were bred to live on spaceships; George R.R. Martin features genetically engineered cats on his space ship in Tuf Voyaging; there’s Tales of a Starship’s Cat by Judith R. Conly – I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. 😉

As to the second part of your question, yes, I have considered writing about a cat on a spaceship. It might be a novel, or it might be a series of stories, I haven’t quite decided yet.

Note: I am a Star Trek fan. Not so much a cat fan, so I tend not to notice cats. Yours truly is a dog person, of course…

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on overcoming my addiction to on-line solitaire and hidden objects games so I can move forward with Wandering Wizards (the half-written third installment of the Moonstone Chronicles) and get started on the fifth and final elemental book, An Elemental Spirit.


Thanks for chatting with us, Carol! I can’t wait to see how Wandering Wizards turns out…

Everyone remember that question I asked you at the beginning – the one about which flower might spontaneously grow when you’re getting all hot and bothered out under the stars? Great! Comment either here, on Facebook or on Twitter with your answer – just the name of that flower – and you’ll be entered to win a print copy of Carol’s new book, along with a surprise gift basket! 

Entries will be accepted until noon next Monday (February 20, 2017). Must be 18 yrs old or over, no purchase necessary to win. The winner will be announced here on the blog first thing next Tuesday morning (Feb. 21st)! 

Cinderelleper – Contest Results!

Cinderelleper Cover

The results are in! Three people entered the contest to win a print copy of Ford Forkum’s new book, and after many folded slips of paper (had to fill the container to make it random), we have a winner!

Lia Londen-Gubelin!

Your surprise gift basket will be in the mail this weekend! Congratulations!

For  Carol and Kit, our other two entrants, I have smaller prize packages for you, and you’ll be hearing from me shortly as well. 🙂

I hope you’re all enjoying Cinderelleper!

Cinderelleper Release Day & Contest Update

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cinderelleper Cover

It’s finally here…the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Cinderelleper is now available for purchase in both ebook and paperback format! The ebook is exclusive to Amazon for now, but you can order the paperback online, or at your favorite bookstore.

Buy Digital: Amazon
Buy Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

There are currently three eligible entrants to the contest for a print copy of Cinderelleper and gift basket. The entrants so far are:

Lia
Carol
Kit

The contest entry period has been extended to 7pm (MST) tonight, so there’s still time to read the interview with Ford, guess which question(s) he’s lying about, and get entered to win!

Buy the book. You won’t regret it!

Excerpt:
In the days leading up to the ball, Cinderelleper was mostly left alone by the other women of the house. They were too preoccupied with the ball to bother her despite their curiosity as to which part of her was going to fall off first.

But just before they left on the night of the ball, they made sure to parade themselves before her in their glorious ballroom attire. “Well, Cinderelleper,” the stepmother said. “We’re off to spend the evening at the palace for the royal ball in honor of his majesty, the prince.”

Cinderelleper remained motionless on her straw mat on the floor. “Have fun,” she replied, without a hint of enthusiasm. “I’ll just stay here and rot.”

“Well, after tonight, you can have the house to yourself, because your stepsisters and I are moving into the palace! Come on, girls! Let’s bag ourselves a horny prince!” They went up the basement stairs and out the front door.

The house was dark, save for the fireplace, and all was quiet. Cinderelleper sat up on her straw mat and looked up through the window at the starry night sky. Staring deep into space, she thought about her mother. “Soon, mother,” she whispered. “Soon we’ll be together again. If you’re with father, please punch him in the face for me. I miss you.”

As she stared, a cloud blocking the moon drifted slowly away, and the full moon shone down a beam of light so intense it made her squint and turn away. She rubbed her eyes for a few seconds and opened them to see a kindly old woman standing in front of her. “Hello, Ella,” the old woman said soothingly.

Cinderelleper rubbed her eyes again, but the old woman was either no hallucination or a very persistent one. She backed away until her back hit the wall. “Who are you?” she asked. “How did you get here?”

“I’m your fairy godmother,” the old woman replied. “And I’ve come from Fairy Godmotherland to help you save the kingdom!”

“Me? Save the kingdom?” Cinderelleper asked. “But I’m on death’s doorstep!”

“Ah, but there’s still time for you to fulfill a great destiny!”

“What destiny?”

“You see, dear, tonight the prince will choose a woman outside the royal family to be the princess. Your stepmother will stop at nothing to gain access to the royal family’s power. And if she succeeds in marrying off either of your stepsisters to the prince, the entire kingdom will fall to ruin!”

Valentine’s Day, Contest & Fairy Tales

BSB News

Did you read our author interview with Ford Forkum last week? His new book, Cinderelleper releases *tomorrow*, and if you guess which interview question he lied on, you could win a print copy along with a gift basket of fun related goodies! Get your guess in now!

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Tuesday, we’ve put nine of our titles on sale for just 99 cents each. And did I mention that Cinderelleper will also be available for a 99 cent introductory price too? Here’s a list and links for the titles we have on sale – starting today, and running through Friday. It’s a great chance to sample what we have on offer!

Thanks once again to Carol R. Ward for writing our writing prompt story this week! If you haven’t already, go check out her short story, Retribution.

Did you know that Carol has a new book coming out next week? An Elemental Earth, Book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series will hit the virtual shelves on Monday, February 20th. You won’t want to miss it, or the interview with her this coming Thursday, Feb. 16th!

Last week’s free PDF download was MacKenzie Saves the World – did you get your copy? Don’t forget to check the Available Books section for this week’s free download! Hint: It’s short & semi-sweet.

Topic of the Week: Fairy Tales

Have you read the original version of Cinderella by the Grimm brothers? Or any of their tales, for that matter? They tend to be much darker and involve quite a bit more blood than the “Disney-fied” versions we’re used to. I like both versions, personally. Dark and matter-of-fact appeals to my logical side, while the cartoon/sanitized versions appeal to the hopeless romantic in me. Who doesn’t like a good happily ever after, right? But I dare say most of us have to work a bit harder for our happy ending than the modern tales portray.

Want to read the original Cinderella and quite a few other stories? You can read for free at Project Gutenberg. A copy of the Grimm brother’s collection is right here, just waiting for you to take a peek…


Writing Prompt of the Week: A bouquet of flowers is delivered to the desk of a young woman at work. There’s no card, only a dozen purple and yellow lilies amidst an abundance of greenery. Later that afternoon she noticed something moving in the bouquet. She looked closer, and nearly knocked her coffee off her desk. One of the purple blossoms was rotating…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Retribution by Carol R. Ward

Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

Once again, a single entry by Carol R. Ward! Here’s her story – enjoy!


Retribution
by Carol R. Ward

“What d’ya think?” Tyler said in a loud whisper as the group of boys paused on the sidewalk.

“I think you’re nuts,” Matthew said.

“Well I sure ain’t doing it,” Greg put in. Allen nodded his head in agreement.

The white lace curtains at one of the windows of the dilapidated Victoria house behind the wrought iron fence twitched.

“C’mon!” George said, plucking at Tyler’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here!”

The five boys ran in pretend fear, but only as far as the edge of the park on the corner. There they collapsed on the grass, still able to see the house they found so interesting.

“My brother James says the old lady who lives there is a witch,” Matthew informed the others importantly.

“There ain’t no such thing as witches,” Tyler scoffed.

“Is too!” Greg and Allen chorused.

“Only babies believe in witches.” At twelve, Tyler was the oldest of the group and by virtue of his age the leader.

“Nuh uh,” Matthew insisted. “James is older than you and he says she casts spells and rides a broom when the moon is full.”

“She’s just a plain old lady,” Tyler said. “Probably fifty years old.”

“She’s a witch! And if you mess with her she’ll cast a spell on you.” Matthew stuck his jaw out stubbornly.

Tyler rolled his eyes. “You and your brother are stupid, and I’ll prove it.” He started back the way they’d come.

“What are you gonna do?” George asked as he followed along, giving Tyler a lead of a few feet. The others trailed behind.

“Same thing as we were going to do to old man Krantz.”

Tyler’s bravado lasted until he was standing at the gate in the wrought iron fence. Looking up at the spooky old house he swallowed hard, but with the other boys just a few yards away he couldn’t back down now. The house was dark and silent, which made the creaking of the gate as he pushed through it seem all the louder. His eyes shot to the lace covered window, but there was no sign of the old woman.

After a quick glance at his friends to make sure they were watching, Tyler resolutely stepped through the gate. Slowly he made his way up the cracked sidewalk. A cold wind sprang up, making him shiver, but he didn’t hesitate when he reached the wooden stairs leading up to the veranda. He tried to step as lightly as possible, but the porch still groaned under his weight. Taking a deep breath, he rapped as hard as he could on the wooden door, then turned and ran back the way he’d come.

The old lady must have seen him coming because he hadn’t even reached the gate when the door opened.

“You darned whippersnappers!” the old woman yelled, shaking her fist at the boys as they fled down the street. “Go get ‘em Chauncy!”

A dachshund raced down the steps and chased after them, barking ferociously. It chased them all the way back to the park and when they finally stopped to catch their breath it began to run in circles around them.

Greg and Allen thought it was funny, such a little dog acting so fierce. Matthew didn’t like dogs and threw a snowball at it, trying to chase it off but the dog just dodged it and kept circling.

“Oh, go to hell, you stupid dog!” Tyler said, repeating the phrase he’d so often heard his father use.

Chauncy stopped circling them and raced over to the base of the oak tree the boys liked to climb in the summer time.

“What’s he doing?” George asked.

“Well duh, he’s digging a hole,” Greg answered.

“Stupid dog,” said Allen.

The boys watched as the tiny dog dug furiously, dirt and snow flying everywhere, and then to their great astonishment, he disappeared.

“Where’d he go?” Matthew asked.

“Must be a rabbit’s burrow,” Tyler said. “Stupid dog’s gone inside.”

“This I gotta see,” Matthew said, starting forward.

The other boys looked at each other. Tyler and George shrugged. Curiosity getting the better of them, they followed in Matthew’s wake.

“Whew! What’s that stink?” Allen said.

They reeled back from the rotten egg smell emanating from the hole.

“Pee-yew!” George said, wrinkling his nose. “Dogs like the grossest things!”

“What’s that light?” Tyler wondered.

The boys moved closer to get a better look.

“It’s really bright,” Matthew said.

“I don’t like this,” Greg said nervously. “I think we should get out of here.”

But it was too late. The light seemed to surround them, drawing them in.

“What’s going on?” Tyler demanded, but there was no answer.

They were unable to move as they were sucked into the impossibly small hole. It was hot and bright and the sulfuric smell made them gag. After what seemed like forever they reached the bottom and went sprawling on the dirt floor.

“Well, Chauncy,” a booming voice said. “What manner of mischief makers have you brought me this time?”

The boys struggled to their feet and stared in disbelief at the creature seated on a black shiny throne. Chauncy sat at its feet and if ever a dog looked smug it was now.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s not nice to play pranks on people?” the devil asked. “And you should really know better than to swear.”

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.

Author Interview & Contest: Meet Ford Forkum

Cinderelleper Cover

Cinderelleper releases on Valentine’s Day (next Tuesday!), and today, we’re pleased to interview the author himself, Mr. Ford Forkum! You’ll want to pay close attention to his answers, because our dear Mr. Forkum has *lied* on a few of his interview questions (tsk, tsk!). If you spot one of these lies, and can tell us at least one question he lied on, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a gift basket that will include your very own print copy of Cinderelleper!

Without further ado – let’s have a chat with our less-than-truthful scribe:

Ford, the number one question on everyone’s mind after they read the blurb for your book is probably: why on earth would you take a well-loved fairy tale character who already goes through hell and give her leprosy on top of everything else?

Apparently, it’s because I have a sick mind. Seriously, though, I wanted to contrast the Disney Cinderella, which is the familiar rendition of the story, with the original Brother’s Grimm tale, which is appallingly gruesome in places. But I wanted to take it a step further and go even darker than the Brother’s Grimm while staying true to the conventions that the Disney version popularized.

I think it’s important to point out to potential readers that every awful thing that happens to Cinderella is still in the context of the sanitized Disney version. So, even though she gets leprosy, it’s a cartoonish version. It’s “body horror” on the level of The Simpsons. There’s no gross-out humor involved. In fact, though the leprosy element is a primary twist in the story, it was really just a place to begin. The real fun is in the mashup and mockery of the original story and the Disney elements to the extreme.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? What do they look like? How long have you had them?

I don’t have a favorite pair of shoes. Or a favorite shirt or tie or anything. As long as what I’m wearing is reasonably comfortable and appropriate to the situation, it’s all good.

Have you ever found a lost shoe (with or without a foot inside)? What did it look like? What did you do?

I have never found a lost shoe. I have, however seen a pair of sneakers that were tied together and intentionally thrown in the air to get caught on utility wires. I saw this once when I was working “on location.” I asked my coworker, rhetorically, why someone would do such a thing. My coworker replied, in a very matter-of-fact tone: “It lets you know you’re in the hood.” My only response was a somewhat delayed, “Oh.”

Have you ever lost a shoe? Was it ever found/returned?

I have never lost a shoe. I did, however, lose a pair of pants. I have no idea what happened to them. But I was miffed because they were new pants and, last I knew, I was wearing them at the time. I don’t want to get into the specifics of how I could “lose” a pair of pants I happened to be wearing. But I think any possible conjecture might have an element of truth to it. And that’s enough said about that.

If you had to pick a theme song or playlist for Cinderelleper, what would it be?

The playlist would include the following songs: “Nobody’s Fool” by ‘80s hair band Cinderella, the 1993 song “Hey Cinderella” by Suzy Bogguss, Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) by the ‘80s hair band Cinderella, the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and “Gypsy Road” by 80’s hair band Cinderella. Also “Cinderella Man” by Rush, just because it has the name “Cinderella” in the title. Also because Rush rocks (but not as much as ‘80s hair band Cinderella.)

Have you ever shared your home with a mouse (intentionally or not)? What was his name?

I once lived in Boston in a rented apartment. And let me tell you, there are three primary animal life forms you will encounter if you spend any time in Boston: mice, pigeons, and cockroaches. The mice and cockroaches are your roommates and the pigeons are your travel companions if you’re walking anywhere.

Those frigging pigeons will crowd around your feet as you walk and you’ll get the illusion that you’re walking on a moving patch of land that are controlled by the pigeons moving at your exact pace. It’s totally disorienting and you literally can’t “watch your step” as you step up from the street to the sidewalk because every step you take disappears into a flowing mob of pigeons. If you kick at them to try to scare them away, they’ll just dodge you like it’s nothing.

It’s just as bad as the mice that won’t stop coming no matter how many of them you trap or how diligently you clean. Eventually, you just give up. The only name I’d ever give a mouse is “Filthy.” Mice suck Except, of course, for the main mouse in Cinderelleper. As far as fictional mice go, he’s a stand up kind of mouse.

Have you ever smashed a pumpkin?

You’re posing the question as though that’s something I don’t do whenever possible

Can you tell us a little about the last time you stayed out past midnight?

My brain turned into a pickle. I had to summon the Ibuprofen Fairy to change it back.

Can you tell us anything about the next story you’re working on?

It’s actually a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs parody that I put aside when I got the idea for Cinderelleper. One of the twists in the story is that the dwarfs are all different from the originals and there are more than seven of them. When I started writing it, it hadn’t occurred to me what great source material it is to have fun with. Now that I’ve picked it up again, I’m on a roll, and, if I do say so myself, it’s coming together in amazing ways, conceptually and in readability and humor. As long as I don’t get carried away and screw it up, it should end up a very tight and funny read with ample content to leave the reader nicely satisfied. I’m excited about it, and it will be a great follow-up to Cinderelleper.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Ford! I know I’m looking forward to your next fairy tale parody…

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Readers, do you know which question(s) Ford lied on? Leave a comment here on the blog, on the BSB Facebook page, or on our BSB Twitter stream. Be sure to tag us so we see your answer! Everyone who guesses at least one lie correctly by 5pm (MST) Monday, February 13th will be entered into a drawing to be held next Tuesday evening (February 14th). A list of qualified entrants will be posted in the early morning, February 14th. Good luck!

***Contest Extended! Entries will be accepted all day Tuesday until 7pm Mountain Standard Time. Post your guesses! Drawing winner will be announced Wednesday morning, February 15th! ***

Must be 18 or over to win, no purchase necessary.