News & Weekly Prompts

BSB News

The Minister's Maid Cover

Last week’s download was the second book in the Fantasy Ranch series – The Minister’s Maid by Jamie DeBree. Not nearly so innocent as it sounds, this is a treasure-hunt style adventure novel set in the oh-so-fun (and somewhat campy, admittedly) Fantasy Ranch resort. We’ve added an excerpt to the book page so you can check out the first little bit, just click on the link above!

As always, check out our Available Books section, for this week’s free PDF download…

Last week’s writing prompts resulted in a poem called Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree (moi), and the start of a new Insecticide story tentatively called Psychic Spider by Alex Westhaven. You’ll find both on last Saturday’s blog post – check them out!

Topic of the Week: No Topic

No discussion this week – my apologies. Discussion posts will return next Saturday. Go read or write something!


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man ordering coffee is jostled by someone as he’s speaking with the barista. Who jostled him, and what does he/she say when confronted?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a “ten-things-I-hate-about” poem. Ten things you truly hate about someone, or something.

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.

News, Cave Days, & the Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Whipped Cream Cover

Did you all find the creamy, steamy free download last week: Whipped Cream by Trinity Marlow? This is not for children, dear readers (or anyone under 18, for that matter), but if you’re looking for something a little kinky and a lot hot, do go check out the excerpt we added just a couple days ago on the book page.

This week’s free download is all set…you’ll find it in our Available Books section, just like an Easter egg waiting to be cracked open!

For our writing prompts last week, we have a poem called Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree (moi), and a flash story called Grave Concerns by our own Carol R. Ward. Check them out on Saturday’s post here!

Topic of the Week: Cave Days

The Passive Voice reblogged an excerpt from an article about “Procrastination Nannies” on the Fast Company site.  The article is about a group of co-working people who started something called Cave Days, where people pay for a day of work space with others who procrastinate or are otherwise too distracted to get stuff done normally. The fee goes toward two meals, snacks, and the space, phones are confiscated at the beginning of the day and given back at the end, and the organizers tell you when to work and when to take a break. I won’t rehash the whole thing, but if you’ve got a few minutes, it’s an interesting article.

Naturally, I immediately thought of writers who have been known to pay for hotel rooms or remote cabins for time to work. Sometimes it’s as little as a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop to sort of “rent space” away from home to get stuff done. The article specifically mentions a screenwriter and someone writing short stories – both of whom took part.

I think a lot of creative people think they can’t work with that much structure, which stops them from seeking it. But those of us who crave it know that structure is actually freeing – when your brain isn’t worried about what’s going on now, or next, or tomorrow, or whatever, it’s freed up to think about what you’re actually supposed to be working on. Structure provides peace of mind, which provides room for creativity. So I can see how something like a Cave Day could be very valuable, not just for that one day, but in people learning how to create a freeing set of structures for themselves on their own.

Obviously writers need regular writing time, but we also need time for all the extraneous stuff too, like social media, synopsis-writing, promotion and marketing, and all the other little things that go with trying to sell books.  And there are definitely some days when I’d pay someone to just cut me off from the world, feed me, and tell me when to work and when to rest.

That, and my writing/business hours tend to be very late at night, because those are the only hours I have where I can be reasonably sure I’m not interrupted (it’s 12:30am as I write this). I have to say, it would be very tempting to me to pay money for a single, beautifully productive day some weeks.

What about you? Would you consider ponying up the dough for a structured, community-led “Cave Day” to short-circuit your procrastination habit?

 


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Two women are sitting at a bar having drinks. Three men are at the other end of the bar, clearly drunk and getting drunker. The women notice something small moving toward them on the bar. It’s a tarantula, but there’s a note attached to the large spider…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: It’s tax time here in the US, and many of us are parting with money, rearranging money, finagling budgets and generally annoyed with the fact that everything costs money. Write a poem about money. Love it, hate it, balance the two (and the budget while you’re at it?)…whatever comes to mind about currency.

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.

News, Handwriting & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

 

Lettuce Pray Cover

Last week’s free download was Lettuce Prey a creepy little revenge story in Alex Westhaven’s Death by Veggies series. It’s getting to be salad season again, you know…

This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

There were two writing prompts last week – a poetry prompt and a prose prompt. There were no outside submissions, so both the poem and story are by me. Read Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe here – they just might make you chuckle a little.

Topic of the Week: Handwriting

Writers – do you ever write stories/poems by hand? I’ve recently been doing a lot more of that, especially with poetry and short/flash stories (though I do have a novel draft started on my cell), and I’m kind of amazed at how much I’m enjoying it. I have Samsung Notes – a Note 5 cell, and a Note 8 tablet, both with styluses and Samsung’s signature SNotes app, so I can just write on the screen (and erase when I screw up, which I do often). I feel like the writing is better somehow, more casual and fluid than when I’m typing straight into my laptop (or even my Alphasmart Neo). Plus I always have my cell with me, and often my tablet, so it’s like carrying a notebook without having to waste paper and ink.

Of course it could all be in my head, but if it is, so what? Whatever gets the words down in some form or another. Another bonus is that I have to type my handwritten notes into my laptop at some point, which means I’m automatically editing as I take the draft from one form to another.

There have been a lot of studies done recently about taking notes by hand in classes, and how the tactile experience is much better for information retention and just taking better notes. I’m becoming convinced that it’s similar for writing – that tactile experience of holding a pen (or stylus) and actively forming letters rather than just tapping keys is a different (perhaps better?) experience for drafting manuscripts/poems.

Anyone want to weigh in? What have your experiences with this been?

 


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

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.

News, National Poetry Month, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

At the Water's Edge Cover

 

Last week’s free download was At the Water’s Edge – a collection of short stories by different authors all written using the cover image as a writing prompt! There are some really excellent stories included – I hope you got your free copy! This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

We have some very exciting news to share – Ford Forkum has recently finished his next fairytale satire book! Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarves will be released later this spring. Stay tuned!

This week’s writing prompt is, of course, about an April Fool’s prank. Though it might have gone a little too far for comfort (or…life). Read April Fool by Jamie DeBree right here on the blog!

Topic of the Week: National Poetry Month

 April is National Poetry Month, and while we mainly publish prose here at BSB, one of our authors is also a poet (Carol R. Ward), and I personally love to read poetry (though I’m not terribly good at writing it). Much like prose, there are so many different kinds of poetry that there’s generally something for every taste, if you look hard enough. I personally have an affinity for the romantics like Lord Byron, Christian Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe (of course), and I’ve even been known to enjoy an e.e.cummings poem or two. Local author Craig Lancaster posts “pigku” poetry on Facebook while doing pipeline work – they always make me laugh.

One of our local writing groups is putting on a Poem-A-Day Workshop throughout the month of April that started with a free instructional kickoff workshop Saturday. They’re sending out daily poetry writing prompts, and holding weekly gatherings for those who can make it (those who can’t can do an online-only workshop for a bit less cost).

For this month, we’ll be posting two writing prompts each week – one for prose, and one for poetry. Branch out and try writing a poem or two with us…who knows what might happen?


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…

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.

News, HEAs & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Magical Misfire

Last week’s free download was Magical Misfire by Carol R. Ward. Did you get your copy of this intriguing adventure and magic-gone-wrong? This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

The writing prompt story of the week is online now as well – another cautionary fairy tale by Alex Westhaven called Beware the Tiny Doors. Since March ends this week and next Saturday marks our national celebration of pranksters, scroll to the end for a prompt on pranks to start us off right (?) in April!

Topic of the Week: Happily Ever Afters…Really? 

I was chatting with a writer friend this past week about books and writing, and the topic of HEAs (Happily ever after endings) came up. It made me think about happily ever after endings, and why they’re so popular in fiction (even though there are certainly readers and writers who find them trite and overdone, among other things). The obvious answer, of course, is that everyone (almost) loves them. We love to see that two people can overcome every challenge thrown their way and still come out on top in the end.

I was thinking about why that is, and I think it’s probably because in real life, love and relationships are messy, complicated things that, even when they do work out for two people, they almost always leave at least one broken heart in their wake. There’s almost always a third person (or more), almost always someone who gets left behind or remains completely unnoticed, always at least one “what if” or ” why not me” that go hand in hand with that happily-ever-after. It’s never simple, or easy, and even after that pivotal point where you choose one person or they choose you, there are still days when everything doesn’t go smoothly, and someone needs a break.

I think in fiction, we like our neat, tidy HEAs simply because they give us hope and motivate us to stick it out, to keep trying, to work toward that non-existent fairy-tale ending that doesn’t really exist, but it’s something we *want* to believe in, and fiction is all about giving us what we want, not necessarily what is real.

Are you a fan of HEAs in fiction? Or do you prefer your bookish relationships to be more…realistic in terms of how the story ends?


Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone has left small, brightly wrapped packages tied up with ribbon on everyone’s desk at the office. Everyone is afraid to open them though, or even touch one for fear that one of them will explode…or worse.

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.

News, Reader Perception, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Irish Cream Cover

Last week’s free download was Irish Cream – a very steamy green number sure to warm up your night! This week’s free download is up and running now – find it in the Available Books section, and it’s all yours!

The BSB Quarterly newsletter should be in subscriber mailboxes this morning. No big surprises in this first one, but the next one will include some subscriber-only specials, so if that sort of thing interests you, be sure to put your name on the list!

If you haven’t read the latest writing prompt story, go check out Be Careful What You Wish For by Carol R. Ward. It’s a quick, somewhat ominous little fairy tale that leaves much to the imagination…

Topic of the Week: Every Story is All About You

Reading and writing books seem like such different things, don’t they? But really, writing is just telling a story to yourself, and writing it down as you go. Then an absolutely fascinating thing happens when someone other than the person who wrote the book reads it: the book often becomes an entirely different story.

When writers tell a story, it’s being filtered through whatever years they have of experiences, sensations, perceptions, and beliefs. No matter how easily the story comes or how much it feels like it’s just “telling itself”, the writer is still perceiving it as something no other reader ever will. And in the same way, every reader who opens that book will have at least a slightly different experience due to their own years of experience and perceptions and beliefs. We all will identify just a little differently with the main characters, or maybe even different characters altogether. And we’ll all have at least slightly different reactions to certain things in every story, whether it be a piece of the setting or a disagreement that the characters need to work through.

It’s so interesting, I think, that the book an author writes will never be perceived exactly like he or she wrote it, and no two people will ever actually read that book as the same exact story. A completely static medium that is completely dynamic on interpretation.

Deep thoughts for a Monday.


Writing Prompt of the Week: A little girl goes out in the garden to play one day, and spies a tiny door at the base of a tree. She imagines that a family of fairies live there…or is it just her imagination? And if they do exist, are they as benignly charming as the little girl perceives them to be?

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.

News, Things That Are Green, & Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Last week’s free download was The Biker’s Wench – a somewhat campy romantic suspense novel with some pretty serious undertones in the overall plot. This week’s free download is up and running now – find it in the Available Books section, and it’s yours for the taking! Until next Friday night, anyway.

Don’t forget about the BSB Quarterly – the newsletter goes out a week from today, and you don’t want to miss it!

I’m about 400 words into my “mushroom fairy” story based on last week’s prompt, but not close enough to the end to post it. Anyone else start a story about our little mushroom fairy? I’ll finish mine this next week and it will be included in the fairy tale short story collection I’ll publish around Christmas.

Topic of the Week: Things That Are Green

St. Patrick’s Day is on Friday – are you gettin’ your green on? If you don’t, you risk being pinched by those pesky little leprechauns, who supposedly can’t see you if you’re wearing green (which kind of makes one wonder why leprechauns tend to wear green, doesn’t it?). I don’t have much in the way of “true green” clothing, but I’ll be decked out in shamrock earrings and green nails with shamrock stickers, for sure!

Speaking of shamrocks, I think we need to read about a character who successfully manages to rest and rebloom a shamrock plant. It’s a task that requires a lot of patience and dedication…or luck and fairy dust.

We have several books with green in the cover, but only one that I can think of that is distinctly suited to this particular holiday, both in cover and name. Can you guess which one it is?


Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone buys a shamrock plant on a whim while grocery shopping. Little do they know that a fairy lives in the pot and the shamrock is her forest.

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.

News, Fairy Tales & Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Last week’s free download was Sprouted by Alex Westhaven (a very creepy little story, if I do say so myself). This week’s free download is ready for you to grab – just go find it in the Available Books section of the site!

Not much news for this week, though if you’ve checked out our events calendar, you’ll see that the quarterly newsletter will be going out on March 20th. If you’re not on the mailing list, might want to join up! There’s a quick form to fill out here.

And if you have a few minutes, go check out this week’s writing prompt inspired story by yours truly – The Blarney Frog. A fun little cautionary fairy tale that inspired this week’s discussion topic below. As always, keep scrolling to find this week’s writing prompt – maybe it will inspire you too!

Topic of the Week: Fairy Tales

March seems like a good month to talk about fairy tales, considering it’s also the time we think most about one of the grumpiest fairies out there – the Leprechaun. Diminutive people who are impeccably dressed, they hide gold at the end of rainbows, will disappear if you blink while they’re in your company, and must tell you where their treasure is if you ask them (they are not generally happy about this, as I understand it).

Of course there are plenty of fairy tales that aren’t about fairies, like (*shameless plug*) Ford Forkum’s Cinderelleper, and my own mashup tale from last week’s prompt, The Blarney Frog. The basic definition of a fairy tale is a short story that cannot possibly be true, because it includes magical elements (pumpkin coach, fairy godmother & talking mice, anyone?) and/or fantasy beings (goblins, fairies, mermaids, trolls, leprechauns, etc). They’re part of the larger folklore genre, and unlike a fable, they don’t always have to include a moral “lesson” (though many do). Fairy tale endings are generally thought to be “happy”, though they certainly don’t have to be (and often weren’t in earlier times).

I love fairy tales, personally. It’s the quintessential short story, generally a fast read with engaging characters and some sort of magic happening to keep things interesting. And as a writer, it’s fun to see just how far you can twist these little stories too – they’re versatile writing prompts all in a neat little package, and most of the popular ones are in the public domain now (check to be sure before you publish your own version, please!), so we can write and publish variations with wild abandon.

I do believe the original fairy tale tellers would approve.


Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a tiny winged fairy weeping on a mushroom deep in the woods. The mushroom is surrounded by a large clump of four-leaf clovers, which is the source of her despair…

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.

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.

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.