News, Library Cataloging, and Weekly Prompts

BSB News

MacKenzie Saves the World Cover

First up…the newsletter is going to be a week late this quarter. So instead of it going out tomorrow, it will hit your inboxes next Monday, July 3rd. Which is just in time to announce an Independence Day sale, so watch that inbox!

Did you find last week’s freebie download? MacKenzie Saves the World would make a great beach read, methinks. If you like comic books, chocolate fountains, cookies, drama and romance, this is the book for you!

This week’s free download is waiting for you to find it our Available Books section. Happy hunting…

Don’t forget to pop over and check out this week’s writing prompt poem and story: First Kiss and Skills by yours truly.

Topic of the Week: Library Organization

*Note: All links below are for Android, as that’s what I use for mobile. 

My husband is building me new bookshelves for my office, and as you might guess, I’m quite excited about it. We have a rather substantial library (even with new shelves, it will never all fit in the office – there are books all over the house), and we still buy most books in print, plus I have both a stamp collection and a comic book collection that are currently stored in binders.

Naturally, the thought of moving all those books is exhausting, but there’s also one other thing that kind of bugs me…and that is, we don’t have any sort of inventory for our books. There are far too many to type all the information in by hand, and the last time I tried the Goodreads barcode scanner, it was less than impressive and unable to find a good chunk of what I tried to scan. So I gave up.

As I was thinking about the new shelves the other night, I got an email from LibraryThing that mentioned their new Android app, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to go try it out, and see if it worked any better than the Goodreads app. Of course I haven’t used the Goodreads app in forever, so I decided to try that one again too, just in case it’s improved over the years.

I have to say…I was extremely impressed with the LibraryThing app. The barcode scanner worked great and easily, and even found Ford Forkum’s latest book with no trouble (just recently released). Shelving the book in categories was very easy as well, and I can definitely see myself cataloging my entire library in just a few days using their app.

I’m sorry to say that the Goodreads barcode scanner still didn’t work very well, and still couldn’t find several barcodes I tried to scan (including Ford’s new book). I’m not a huge fan of Goodreads anyway (too much drama, not very author-friendly), so no biggie for me.

At that point, I was happy with the LibraryThing app, and figured I’d just use that. I figured then that I’d look at comic book collector apps, because I need to index that collection as well, but I don’t really want my comic books in the same place as my non-comic books (just for clarity and ease of searching…there are so many of each!).

That’s when I found CLZ Comics – an amazing app that seems to have no trouble scanning barcodes, and automatically “shelves” books into series, and in order while allowing you to pick which cover you have if there are more than one available. It’s free for the first 100 issues, and $15 for a lifetime unlimited license, which includes cloud storage. This is a no-brainer for me…Comixology is confusing (or was) and most of the apps out there are geared more toward digital comic books rather than physical (which is what I prefer). So $15 for a database to store all of my comic books for life, where I can access the catalog anytime (I believe it’s downloadable too, so easy to backup/use offline)? Easy decision.

Naturally, when I saw they had a book catalog app as well, I downloaded that too, and I think that’s going to be my go-to cataloging app for books, though I may use the LibraryThing app concurrently for awhile and just see which one seems more intuitive/robust.

I didn’t try cataloging ebooks at all…I tend to buy ebooks through Amazon most of the time, and categorize them on my Kindle. But according to the play store descriptions, CLZ apps will store ebooks just as easily as physical copies, so I may start adding my ebooks too, depending on how difficult it is to do.

I’m quite pleased with finding CLZ for cataloging, and am really looking forward to scanning in as many books as possible over the rest of the summer. If only I could find a similar program for my other collections.

Do you use a library catalog program to keep track of your books? Which one, and what are your likes/dislikes about it?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  It’s the time of year when gardens everywhere are just begging to hear people’s private thoughts. Write about a character sharing his or her inner monologue with the flowers…and whether or not the garden (or a garden eavesdropper) replies…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Roses are blooming everywhere, and are always a popular theme/subject in poetry. Write a poem about roses – love them, hate them, or use them as a metaphor.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prose prompt and/or a poem using the theme of the poetry prompt, and email it/them to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the story and poem we like best to post right here on the blog next Saturday.

“First Kiss” and “Skills” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about a fictional first job interview.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a (yours, or someone else’s) first kiss.


First Kiss
by Jamie DeBree

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Smooth, slimy skin mashing my lips,
like a snail spreading awkward wetness.

His energy and eagerness overpower
my need for slow, gentle seduction.
Too much, too fast, too hard, just…

Stop.

Maybe we’ll try this again later,
when the newness wears off and
I’ve caught my breath again. Dried off.

###

Skills
by Jamie DeBree

“I must admit, while your resume is very impressive, we’re a little confused about the lack of previous job history included. Can you tell us a little about where you’ve worked before, and what kind of experience you have?”

You knew this was coming, Tracy silently coached herself while forcing a smile at the man across the table. Keep it vague, but relevant. All he needs to know is that you can do the job he needs you to do. That’s it.

“I’ve been employed privately by someone who wishes to remain anonymous for most of my life,” she began, pleased that the words sounded far smoother than she felt. “I’ve been performing fuctions that included the same type of tasks you’re looking for. I’m excellent at keeping a calendar, scheduling meetings, and organizing files, and I’m also very good at research and creating documents when needed. I’ve also successfully planned several large-scale events that went off without any problems whatsoever, and I can arrange and organized trips if needed.”

Mr. Englebrecht sat back in his chair, a confused look on his face.

“You’ve only had the one employer then? How many years were you in his or her employ?

Tracy considered that for a moment. “I’d say probably thirty-two years or so. Ever sincel I turned twelve.”

Mr. Englebrecht tapped a pen on the dark, cherry surface of his desk.

“There are laws against chid labor in this country. I’m surprised your anonymous boss was able to get away with that.”

“And much more.” Tracy nodded, wishimg they could end this line of questioning. “I’m sorry I can’t give you details, but I promise I’m good at everything you need me to be, and possibly more. I won’t let you down, Sir.”

“Well, this is highly unusual. Normally we would never even consider an application like this, but I’m inclined to believe you, and we’re desperate to fill this position. Do you think that in lieu of your job history you’d be willing to give us a day’s worth of work, and then we’ll make a decision.”

Tracy nodded. “Of course. Just tell me when, and where. I won’t let you down.”

He smiled. “No time like the present, unless you have something else to do today.” When she shook her head, he went on.  “I’ll have you work in the business office with Stephanie Thomas today. My secretary is just outside the door, and he’ll show you how to get there.”

Tracy worked hard all day, smoothly following her assigned mentor and grateful that she could. At the end, she found herself back in Mr. Englebrecht’s office.

“You really must tell me who trained you,” he said, looking over a form she’d created. “Your work is exquisite. You’re hired, of course. Can you start tomorrow?”

Tracy nodded. “Thank you, Sir. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“And the person who trained you to do all of this? A hint, even?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. He’s dead.”

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

News, First Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum is now available! Have you gotten your copy yet? What are you waiting for? Get yours in print or ebook formats on Amazon.com

And then come back here and check out the excerpt from Tempest,  last week’s free download, if romantic suspense is your thing.

Then go poke around in our Available Books section and see if you can find this week’s freebie…

Or maybe go check out the poetry and prose inspired by last week’s writing prompts. There are two poems this week, Ivy by Carol R. Ward and Innocent Evil by yours truly, and also a story by Carol called Kudzu. Vines were a popular subject last week…backstory, not so much.

Topic of the Week: First Books

I was around five when I started reading books with words on my own, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the first one was. Ask me again when I’m older – I hear the closer you get to death, the more details you remember about your childhood…

As for the first book I ever wrote – it was a romance novel that I worked on every day, two hundred and fifty words at a time. I intended to submit it to Harlequin, gave it to one of their authors to critique, heard for the first time how…same-structured they had to be (I knew some, but not how strict it was), and decided to scrap it and start over (yes, I still have the draft, and yes, I may still clean it up and publish it one of these days).

The next book I wrote was Tempest, which I published myself in 2010 against the advice of nearly every other writer out there. Back then, it was still “not cool” to publish your own books, and one person even rescinded an offer to critique the first three chapters for me after finding out I’d be self-publishing, rather than submitting. Yes, I’m still a little bitter about that, especially since nearly everyone, including said person is publishing their own books now. But, whatever. That was my start, and I’m glad I did it. Tempest is still one of my favorites out of those I’ve written, and it probably always will be.

Do you remember the first book you ever read? What about the first one you wrote? Or the first one you published?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about a fictional first job interview.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a (yours, or someone else’s) first kiss.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prose prompt and/or a poem using the theme of the poetry prompt, and email it/them to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the story and poem we like best to post right here on the blog next Saturday.

“Ivy” and “Kudzu” by Carol R. Ward, “Innocent Evil” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

Our prose prompt was a bit too obscure it seems, but we have two poems and a story that work with the poetry prompt, so all is not lost! Enjoy!


Ivy 
by Carol R. Ward

Twisting, turning, growing fast
up the trellis next to the glass
of the kitchen’s south window –
so big you need replanting now.

Of all the plants who’ve graced that spot
you’re the best one that I’ve bought
you love the sun, need little care
sometimes I almost forget you’re there.

You forgive me if I forget to water –
I don’t do it as often as I oughter
yet you thrive, I must be blest.
English ivy you’re the best!

###

Innocent Evil
by Jamie DeBree

How innocent you look,
all pale yellow flowers
and plain oblong leaves.
Even your particular green
is unremarkable.

Such an evil tease,
enticing innocents to feed
on your boring, poisonous leaves,
and maim themselves on your
tack-like seeds.

So defensive, little vine.
Why do you attack so mercilessly?
What did my dog’s paws, bike
tires, a lowly sheep,
ever do to you?

###

Kudzu
by Carol R. Ward

It’s not so bad, being buried alive. You don’t even realize that’s what has happened at first, where you are. There’s no up, nor down, no sense of ‘self’. There’s nothing to see, no vibration of sound…just cool moist darkness all around you.

Awareness comes slowly. Gradually you become conscious of the earth pressing in around you. Or more precisely it is you that is expanding, swelling, trying to stretch outwards. There’s an undeniable urge to move. Through instinct a sense of direction is formed. Up. Push up. That way is up. Expand upwards while at the same time creating an anchor that pushes downwards.

It’s not easy in the beginning, moving through the mixture of rock and sand and clay, and the organic matter mixed with water and air. But these things feed you, give you the strength to continue on. You must continue on, no matter what.

As you near the surface you become aware of a new sensation – heat. You feel the warmth of the sun even before you break through the outer layer, and when you do – oh, when you do the feeling is like nothing you could have ever imagined. It’s…rapturous.

You rest for a time, basking in the heat of the sun, absorbing its energy. But it’s not enough. You need more. You must have more. Straining upwards, your leaves unfurl like solar collectors which is, in part, what they are. As you elongate, spreading above the earth, you also spread below, roots feathering outwards to better inhale the moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Dimly you’re aware you are not alone, there are others. Some, like you, are just making their way out of the soil. Others are well established. You do not care that they are called ‘trees’ or ‘fences’ or ‘rocks’, you care only that they can be used as a stepping stone towards the sun and you cover them indiscriminately. You choke and strangle your neighbors, you smother the inanimate objects. You have one purpose now, to reach the sun.

Even during the times of cold darkness, when the pale light of the moon and stars are inadequate to your needs, you strive towards your goal. The energy you gathered during the day is able to sustain your efforts – just barely.

It is, perhaps, an impossible goal, to reach the sun, but you’re helpless to do anything else. This is your purpose – to grow, to expand, to let nothing prevent you from your quest. You cover everything in your path, creating first a blanket then a wall of green, wrapping around the sharp wire of fences, curling up posts and poles and trees, trailing over rocks and walls. Seeking ever upwards.

There are those that call you noxious, nothing more than an intrusive weed. You don’t care. There are those that try to stop you – pulling you up, setting fire to you, spraying with chemicals – but you are nothing if not tenacious.

You’re a true survivor and you will be here forever.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

Release Day Interview: Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum

Get your ebook now on Amazon for 99 cents! 

Snow White

Happy Flag Day and Release Day to our resident satirist, Ford Forkum! To celebrate his new book, we’re interviewing Ford here on the blog today.

Well Ford, it looks like you’ve done it again! Another fairy tale falls under your pen, so to speak, and we’re left with a few questions for our favorite satirist:

First off, what kind of relationship do you have with your mirror? Does it tell you how stunningly handsome (or pretty – if you’d prefer) you are every day?

To put it bluntly, my mirror’s a jerk. No matter how much I try to convince it that I’m not getting older, it refuses to believe me. I don’t know why it insists on showing me stuff about myself I’d rather not see. One of these days, I’m going to get a hand-held mirror and hold it up to my bathroom mirror and say, “There! How do you like it?”

The satirical aspect of my writing is to “hold a mirror up to society,” and since my mirror obviously has no interest in sparing my feelings, I feel it’s only fitting to hold a mirror up to my mirror. Sauce for the gander and whatnot.

Do you like apples? When is the last time you ate one?

Fuji apples are my favorite. They’re the perfect apple; sweet, crunchy, and juicy with just the right level of tartness to yield a zip. I haven’t eaten any in a while, though.

If you happened to come across a beautiful woman lying in a glass casket and guarded by one or more dwarfs, what’s the first thing you’d think and do?

I’d probably look for signs that might indicate I’d wandered into some kind of fairground. If it turned out to be the case, I’d check out the scene, but if there was nothing else around, I would become very anxious and unable to decide whether to ask the dwarfs a ton of questions or just panic and run away.

Is there now, or has there ever been, a body behind your couch (living or dead)?

No, but that’s not to say there never will be. I’m not, you know, planning on it or anything. I’m just saying you never know. It can’t say it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility because I don’t own a crystal ball or anything that could help me predict the future. I mean, how do I really, truly know? I don’t. So it would be presumptuous of me to say to the readers, “Oh, there’s no way there would ever be a body behind my couch. That would never happen.” But I will say it’s unlikely, that is, given an ordinary set of circumstances.

Have you ever been so jealous of someone that you wanted to have their heart cut out? Do you know if anyone’s ever been that jealous of you?

Jealousy isn’t particularly a problem for me. At least not to the extent that I’d want to have someone’s heart cut out. Besides, cutting out hearts isn’t really my style. It’s too messy and doesn’t seem all that satisfying.

I can’t say for certain if anyone’s ever been jealous of me, but I couldn’t fathom why.

Bonus Question: Can you tell us what you’re working on next? Another fairy tale satire, or something entirely different?

I’m juggling a few ideas around, possibly a sequel to Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse (if five years isn’t too late for a sequel) and a Star Trek parody. It’s too early to tell which idea will find its way to being developed into a complete story but for the time being, that’s where my head’s at.

You’ll have to let us know how it goes with the whole mirroring mirrors thing. And the whole body-behind-the-couch thing too…

Available now on Amazon in
both print and digital formats!

News, Backstory, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum releases this Wednesday, June 14th – Flag Day! If you’ve read Cinderelleper, you know just how much fun is in store with this latest book, and you can even pre-order it now on Amazon for just 99 cents!

Last week’s free download was The Old Sofa – did you find it? One of our short story anthologies, it includes some very intriguing tales all based on the cover art photo. Go check out the picture and an excerpt from one of the stories we added to the page this week!

This week’s free PDF download is ready to go in our Available Books section – all you have to do is find it!

Did you catch the two prompt pieces from last week this past Saturday? The prompts were all about cliffhangers, and we posted a poem by myself called Falling and a flash story by Carol R. Ward called Rare Books. If you haven’t, go check ’em out…

Topic of the Week: Backstory

Writers, how much of the “story behind the story” do you know about your characters? I normally don’t discover backstory until I’m writing a draft and the character reveals bits and pieces, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “story behind the story”, so to speak. How it reveals itself (or is revealed by the character), how much pertains to the story at hand, and how certain actions and decisions made a long time ago can really affect the direction of a character’s story well into the future (just as it works in “real life”, of course).

I have trouble writing if I know too much of the story before I write, so I doubt I’ll ever be the writer that knows all of her character’s secrets before I start drafting a novel. I get bored if I know too much about the story before I start writing and I’m less likely to finish it.  I’m kind of in awe of those writers who can plan out the majority of a book before they start writing – I’d totally lose interest. But I do think it would be really handy to know at least the bit of a character’s backstory that directly affects the front-story of the main character before writing anything.

Do you know your character’s backstory before you write? Or do you find out with your characters as you’re writing like I do?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prose prompt and/or a poem using the theme of the poetry prompt, and email it/them to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the story and poem we like best to post right here on the blog next Saturday.

Falling by Jamie DeBree & Rare Books by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about falling off a cliff.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about something that really happened to you in the style of a fiction novel. Give it a cliffhanger ending.


Falling 
by Jamie DeBree

It’s always a little bit scary
at first.
A glance, a look, a flush of
blushing awareness.

The danger still out of sight
lies quietly,
at the foot of a hidden cliff and
gravity waits.

Stomach butterflies flit happily,
a touch
on tender skin brings joy, anticipation,
and longing.

A warm smile, a tender hug, a
slow kiss,
a step off the ledge and sometimes it’s absolute
weightless bliss.

Sometimes gravity wins.

######################

Rare Books
by Carol R. Ward

“Please, Mrs. Andrews,” Elise begged. “I’ll be ever so careful.”

Mrs. Andrews heaved a long suffering sigh. Elise was a familiar face around the library, a precocious child with a sophisticated taste in reading. “All right, but you must promise you won’t touch anything.”

“I promise, Mrs. Andrews! I promise!” Excitement danced in the twelve-year-old girl’s eyes. To finally be allowed in the rare book room was a dream come true.

Elise had known it would only be a matter of time before she wore Mrs. Andrews down. She was used to getting her own way after all. Shortly after Elise was born her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone felt sorry for the poor little girl who was destined to lose her mother and she had grown up rather spoiled..

She had been in blissful ignorance of the dark cloud hanging over her mother. Cancer treatments were scheduled to coincide with visits to relatives, aunts and uncles who were more than happy to have poor little Elise to themselves for a week or two.

Despite having twin brothers seven years older than her and a sister ten years older, she was a solitary child, happier in her own company than anyone else’s. Her older sister went through a phase where she wanted to be a teacher and taught Elise how to read before she even started kindergarten. Books opened up whole new worlds to Elise, they became her best friends.

Elise’s mother had no time or energy to worry about her youngest child and let her do as she would. If she wanted to read the set of dusty, old, encyclopaedias instead of playing tag out in the streets, so be it. At least she was staying out of trouble, unlike her older brothers. When Elise began to nag her for new books to read, she introduced her to the library, and Mrs. Andrews.

“You can do anything, with the right book,” Mrs. Andrews told her. “Solve any problem. Reading is without a doubt the most valuable skill a person can possess.”

Elise was a girl after her own heart. She blazed through the children’s section by the time she was eight and was working her way through the non-fiction section of the adult area. If her choices were somewhat unusual, eclectic even, it just made her all the more interesting.

Of course Mrs. Andrews had no idea of Elise’s home life, the boisterous siblings, the sick mother, the father who coped with everything by putting in extra hours at work. So when Elise began to work her way through the biology and medical sections, she had no idea it was brought about by the fact the girl’s parents had finally sat her down and told her about her mother’s cancer.

Whatever Elise had been looking for in those books, she didn’t find it and it was then that she began questioning Mrs. Andrews about the rare book room.

“I don’t think there’s much to interest you in there, dear,” Mrs. Andrews told her, not unkindly. “Most of the books are so old they’re ready to crumble and are kept behind glass.”

“But what kinds of books are in there?”

“Old journals and texts, books about witches and demons, illuminated texts … just last year we received a donation of paranormal texts – all first editions – from a private library.”

If Mrs. Andrews thought she’d discourage Elise by such a revelation, she was sadly mistaken. This was the exact kind of book Elise was looking for. She kept her hands clasped behind her back as she followed Mrs. Andrews through the room. The musty smell of old books was more pronounced in her, despite its sophisticated climate control. She admired the Gutenberg Bible on its stand, and nodded along as Mrs. Andrews explained how one page was turned carefully each day to keep the dust from settling on it.

Under Mrs. Andrew’s watchful eye, Elise was allowed in the rare book room once a week after that, on Saturday mornings. She kept a respectful distance from the books, looking but not touching. Looking, had Mrs. Andrews only known, for a specific book.

Her mother was running out of time. Modern medicine was ineffective and Elise had faith that there was another way – magic. Not the airy fairy magic in children’s tales, but real, grown up magic. The kind of magic locked away in the rare books room of the library.

Six months after she was allowed inside, Elise found the text she was looking for. Not by word or gesture did she show the excitement she was feeling. But this was the easy part, finding it. Now came the hard part.

As though in answer to her prayers, a young man, probably a college student, appeared at the circulation desk with a stack of books. Alice, the under librarian, had called in sick today leaving Mrs. Andrews on her own.

Elise and Mrs. Andrews had only been in the rare books room a few minutes. The librarian hesitated a moment, then, “I think I can trust you here on your own,” Mrs. Andrews said. “Make sure you pull the door shut again when you leave.”

Nodding dumbly, Elise could hardly believe her luck. Keeping one eye on Mrs. Andrews, she circled slowly through the room until she was back in front of the coveted book. Without stopping to think, Elise snatched the volume from the shelf, stashing it in her book bag, then spread the other books so there was no gap in the shelf.

She stood there for a moment, breathing heavily, astonished at her own audacity. Taking a deep breath, she left the rare books room, making sure the door was shut firmly, and waved to Mrs. Andrews who was still dealing with the young man.

When Elise went home she went straight to her room. The book was hand written, the letters small and messy. It took her a while to find what she was looking for, but after a couple of hours she had a short list of things she needed to gather.

That evening, after the house was quiet, Elise rose from her bed and went up to the attic where she had everything ready. You could solve any problem with the right book. Maybe even cure cancer. Having nothing to lose, she turned the page.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

News, Cliffhangers, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Canvas CoverDid you find last week’s free PDF download of Canvas by Alex Westhaven? It’s a short, creepy little story featuring one of my favorite “heroines”. You can meet her in the excerpt we’ve recently added to the book page…

Have fun searching for this week’s free PDF download in our Available Books section!

Snow White

The latest from resident satirist Ford Forkum will be released on Wednesday, June 14th – Flag Day! Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs is available for pre-order on Amazon now – just 99 cents! Check out the book page in the Coming Soon section for more details and the pre-order link.

And of course don’t forget to go read the two prompt pieces from last week, both by Carol R. Ward. Pouty the Walrus and Table for Two are both so adorably cute – they’re sure to make you smile.

Topic of the Week: Cliffhangers

Everyone knows cliffhangers – where a story leaves you “hanging” until the next book, chapter, TV show or installment – are horrible, evil devices, right? They really are. Talk about the ultimate way to hold a reader/watcher hostage, eh? I mean, we don’t *have* to hang around to see what comes next…but if we’re at all invested in the characters, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth along with much grumbling until our curiosity is sated.

That said, they certainly do keep us coming back for more, and while I really, truly hate cliffhangers in books, I see the “need” in TV. After watching three season finales last week, I was so incredibly irritated by the cliffhangers that…well, toyed with my emotions, so to speak. And now I have to wait a long, long time to see what happens next. With books, that “long wait” tends to be either years or sometimes even not at all. Talk about torture!

How do you feel about cliffhangers? Do you feel differently about cliffhangers in books/movies/TV shows?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about something that really happened to you in the style of a fiction novel. Give it a cliffhanger ending.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about falling off a cliff.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prose prompt and/or a poem using the theme of the poetry prompt, and email it/them to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the story and poem we like best to post right here on the blog next Saturday.

“Pouty the Walrus” and “Table for Two” by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a favorite childhood toy, and how you enjoyed playing with it.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone walks into a coffee shop/bar/tea shop/ice cream parlor and all the tables have at least one person sitting at them. Pick a person for your to sit and have a drink or snack with. What can you learn about a stranger in just 20-30 minutes?


Pouty the Walrus
by Carol R. Ward

You had a hard plastic face
with a hard plastic tear
and a black and white body
with a peanut butter smear.
I carried you with me
no mean trick to do
‘cause you were almost big as me
and I was only two.
I don’t know where you came from
or where you went in the end
but you were Pouty the Walrus
my very bestest friend.

*****

Table for Two
by Carol R. Ward

Jonathan stood just inside the door of the small cafe scanning the room for a table. Though the cafe’s menu wasn’t large, the food was delicious and he was in the mood for one of their signature soups. Unfortunately, it looked like every table was occupied. He started towards one of the tables for four that had only an elderly gentleman sitting there, but then the man coughed wetly into a handkerchief, stopping Jonathan in his tracks.

Looking around, he saw that the other table for four was also occupied, this time by a pair of middle-aged women who were arguing loudly, hands flying for emphasis. The tables for two seemed to be filled with couples.

He’d almost resigned himself to getting his soup to go when he spotted her, a young woman sitting alone at his favorite table, the small round one flanked by two wing-backed chairs. She was paying more attention to the book she was reading than the sandwich on her plate. Then he noticed the cover of the book and he couldn’t hold back his grin. It was fate.

Quickly he ordered his soup, along with a coffee and a couple of tea biscuits. Carrying his coffee, he went over to the table and hesitated, suddenly reluctant to disturb her. Then he heard his mother’s voice in his head. “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life if you don’t start taking a chance once in awhile.”

Jonathan cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but all the seats except this one appear to be taken. Would you mind terribly if I joined you?”

“Sit,” the woman said, not looking up from her book. “No talking – just one more chapter.”

Shooting her a smile she never saw, Jonathan made himself comfortable the blue wingchair.

The woman made a noise of frustration, her brow furrowed, and turned the page. If she was on the last chapter then Jonathan knew the scene she was reading and couldn’t help wondering what she thought. Another page turned – she was a fast reader.

Jonathan drank his coffee but didn’t speak. He knew there was nothing worse than someone trying to make conversation when you were just at the good part of a book. A moment later his soup was delivered and he quietly started in on it.

“No!” she exclaimed. “He can’t do that!”

Oh, but he can, Jonathan thought. And he does. But he’ll redeem himself in the next book in the series.

He found himself fascinated by her. She had a very expressive face, framed beautifully by her short dark hair. He judged her to be only a year or two younger than his own thirty years. A quick glance at her ring finger told him she wasn’t married, unless she didn’t wear her wedding ring.

“Argh!” She slammed the book shut and then onto the table, causing his soup to shudder in the bowl.

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said with what he hoped was an engaging smile. “I’ve been known to get caught up in a book a time or two myself.”

“It was just so frustrating! Just when I thought I had it all worked out, there was this twist I never saw coming.” She huffed a sigh and picked up her sandwich to take a bite.

“Isn’t that what a mystery is supposed to do?”

“Well, yes. But there’s this romantic thread in there too and the main character … I can’t believe he could be such a jerk! Or maybe it’s J.D. Parker who’s the jerk – he’s the one who wrote it.”

Jonathan wasn’t sure how to respond to that, or even if he should.

“Even if he is my favorite author,” she added. She kept her focus on her sandwich, as though embarrassed. “You must think I’m crazy, getting so emotionally invested in a book like this.”

“On the contrary,” Jonathan said. “I think the best books are the ones that provoke a strong response. I’m Jonathan, by the way.”

“I’m Emma.” She glanced up and quickly away. He found her shyness cute.

She took a sip from her own coffee cup and grimaced. “Cold.”

“Let me buy you a fresh one.”

“Oh, that’s really not necessary,” Emma protested.

“No, but I’d like to just the same. I could use another one too.” Jonathan signaled to Edward, the owner of the cafe and then motioned towards their cups. Edward nodded in understanding.

Emma finished her sandwich while they waited for their coffee. “What do you do for a living?” she asked.

He could tell she was just being polite, but he answered honestly. “I’m a writer.”

She opened her mouth, probably to ask what kind of writer, then squinted at him and paled. “You-you-you’re–“

“I’m afraid so.”

“I am so sorry!” she sputtered, face going red. “I am really sorry.”

She made as if to leave and he put his hand on her arm. “No, don’t go. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Really?” she asked dubiously, still poised to flee.

“Really. The truth is, I knew fans would be upset when I wrote that ending, but it was the only way to make it work for the next book.”

Emma slid back into her seat. “Please tell me Derek and Jen work things out in the next book.”

Jonathan grinned. “And spoil the surprise? Not a chance.”

She smiled back, a little shyly. “Do you think…” Emma took a deep breath. “Could I have your autograph?”

His smile was as sincere as it was blinding. “It would be my pleasure.”

He signed her book with a flourish, but held onto it when she reached to take it back. Screwing up his courage he added, “But it would be my even greater pleasure if you’d have dinner with me.”

Emma’s smile widened. “How could I say no to my favorite author?”


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!