Excerpt: Lettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven

Lettuce Pray CoverAbby tossed her apron in a garbage bag under the sink as someone knocked on the door. She checked her watch.

“Right on time,” she murmured as she went to let them in. Swinging the door wide, she smiled.

“Welcome, you two! I’m glad you came. Have a seat right over there. I’ll get drinks.” She scurried into the kitchen and checked to make sure everything was in order. Filling the stemware with a light champagne, she carried the flutes to the table.

“Thanks for having us, Abby. Damn decent of you,” Dominic said, the woman at his side nodding.

“You’re both welcome. It’s the neighborly thing to do, don’t you think?” She waited for both of them to nod, and then picked up her glass.

“I propose a toast,” she said, holding the champagne high. Dominic and the bitch did the same. “To unhappy endings that bring much happiness.”

Her guests looked at each other briefly, then shrugged. “To unhappy endings,” Dominic repeated, taking a sip, the girl mimicking him.

Abby took a sip as well, and then set her glass on the table.

“I have a lovely pork roast for you tonight, along with some cider cooked cabbage and a fabulous salad. Apple pie for dessert! Now…” she glanced back to the kitchen and decided that instead of making the decision for them as she’d planned, she’d let them do it. It was the least she could do.

Really.

“What should we start with? The main course or the salad?”

“A salad sounds nic

 

e,” the other woman said. “What kind of dressing do you have?”

Abby grinned and shook her head. “Sorry. It’s a secret recipe from the restaurant. But it’s very popular. To die for, you might say.”


See what happens next!

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Excerpt: Sleep With Me by Jamie DeBree

Ready for something summery? This one’s a definite “beach read”! Sleep With Me Cover
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“Wine me, dine me, shag me…then leave. That’s the deal.”

Katherine knew she should smile or maybe flip her hair and bat her eyes, but the man she’d approached at the bar looked experienced enough to know what she was asking for. Voices murmured around them as she waited for the answer.

“Shag you?” he repeated, the corners of his lips curving up. “Does anyone actually say that anymore?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s better than the alternative. Are you in or not? Because I have a prescription to fill and I need to find a guy to fill it by tomorrow.”

The man chuckled. “You have a prescription for sex? And any guy will do? Then why me?”

“Well…I find you physically attractive,” Katherine said with a shrug. “And you also look like the kind of guy who doesn’t mind a one-night stand, which is basically what we’re discussing. I don’t want an attachment, I don’t need to find true love, and I don’t need a guy who wants my number. I just want drinks, dinner and sex. Then we go our separate ways. But apparently I misjudged you, so I apologize for interrupting your evening.”

She turned away, scanning the room for any other potentially suitable candidates. Who would have thought this assignment would be so difficult? Candace was so going to pay when she got home. Take a vacation, she’d said. Get laid. Nothing like a good orgasm to take care of that whole not-sleeping issue.

Right. Katherine wondered when her friend-slash-therapist had tried to get laid last. After being mistaken for a call girl twice and now turned down for…well, she wasn’t exactly sure why she’d been rejected this last time…she was about ready to go back to her little bungalow on the beach and stay there for the rest of the week.

A jolt of awareness shot up her arm as warm fingers closed around her left wrist. Instinctively she pulled away, but her captor wouldn’t let go. She looked down into her most recent target’s amused emerald eyes.

“Hang on a sec,” he said, finally releasing her wrist. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it, I just wanted to know why me. When were you thinking this little date would occur? And why drinking and dinner first, if all you want is sex?”


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Friday Excerpt: Sprouted

Sprouted Cover“We were out walking, and Andrea here saw your roses. She has a question for you.” He turned to the little girl and nodded. “Go ahead.”

“I was just wondering if I could have one of your pretty flowers for my room. The pink ones remind me of my mom.” The little girl raised her eyebrows, big green eyes staring hopefully.

Amelia’s heart melted. “Of course you can, my dear. Let me just get my pruning shears and a damp paper towel to wrap the stems in while you carry them home.” She went to the kitchen and was back in two minutes, joining the girl and her father on the front sidewalk.

“The pink ones, you say?” Amelia asked. An enthusiastic nod from the little girl, and Amelia was on her knees. She cut one large, open bloom and several smaller blooms just beginning to open. Wrapping the ends, she secured the damp paper towel around them with a rubber band and presented the small bouquet to Andrea.

“There. I bet your mother will love those. Is she waiting for you at home?”

The girl’s eyes turned sad. “She doesn’t live with us anymore – she died. We’re going to visit her at the cemetery.”

Amelia blinked back tears. “I’m sorry to hear that your mother’s gone already. I hope the flowers bring you both joy. Did your mother grow roses?”

Andrea shook her head, dropping her gaze to the ground.

“We have one of her bushes left,” the dad said, putting a hand on each of the girl’s shoulders. “Unfortunately, I’m not very good with plants, so I’m afraid it’s just barely limping along. I’m sure it needs something, but I’m not sure what, exactly.”

Amelia started to stand, and the man helped her up. “If you can wait here for just another minute, I’ll be right back with something that will make your roses grow like gangbusters.” She followed the front path where it branched off toward the side of the house. Opening the cellar doors, she grabbed the flashlight that always sat just on the top step and went down into the cool dirt room. She retrieved a small jar and took it back up to the yard, handing it to the man.

“Now this is pretty potent stuff – I make it myself. Just sprinkle a third of a cup around the base of the plant once a week or even every two weeks, and water it in well. That’s all you need to do and your roses will be looking great in no time.”

Andrea smiled and clapped, as well as she could with the cut flowers in her hand, and the man smiled.

“How much do we owe you?”

Amelia shook her head with a slight laugh. “Oh nothing at all. It’s on the house.”

She waved at the man and his daughter as they walked away down the sidewalk. How lovely they’d been to chat with. Perhaps they’d stop by again some day and let her know how the rose bush was doing.

With a wistful sigh, she went back inside and started to make breakfast, hoping she would still have enough time to dispose of Number Four and replace the jar of fertilizer she’d just given away.


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Friday Excerpt: MacKenzie Saves the World

MacKenzie Saves the World CoverCall me Josh, please,” he said, leaning forward until she had no choice but to look at him. A mistake, as she knew it would be, because that handsome face of his should require some sort of license to carry. “May I call you Kenzie?”

She shrugged. “Normally only friends call me that, but I suppose since it’s on my sign…”

Well hopefully you’ll consider me a friend eventually. And yes, my sister has issues with comic books and what she calls ‘low-brow’ entertainment in general. As for girls like you…that’s my fault, I’m afraid. The women in my family are brought up to be smart, but to stay in their place. If they step outside the boundaries at all, they’re dealt with swiftly and harshly. The last time I brought a woman home who refused to respect what the family expected from women, they ate her alive – out of jealousy, I presume.”

Kenzie shook her head. “That doesn’t make any sense. They choose to put up with those constraints. It’s just…wrong, on so many levels.”

He bobbed his head noncommittally. “Technically, yes, it’s a choice. But presumably, you were raised in an environment where you were encouraged to make that choice. The women in my family – our social circle, really – are raised with the knowledge that if they step too far out of line, they’ll be ostracized from all their family and friends, and cut off from the life they know. If you think about it, it’s not an easy thing to just give all that up when you can find ways to play along and still remain in the life you’ve always known. And everyone does it, to some extent. I’ll bet even you respect some social or familial boundaries just to stay in your family’s good graces, don’t you?”

MacKenzie considered that as the car rolled to a stop outside the luxurious Fairchild mansion. The driver opened Josh’s door first, which annoyed her more than it should due to their current conversation. As she turned to get out, Josh was there, holding out a hand to help, and she took it, feeling a jolt of awareness at the touch of skin on skin.

Of course that’s why he got out first, she realized. To help the poor, helpless female who had to be kept in her place. The thought stuck with her like a grain of sand rubbing the wrong way as he crooked his arm and she took it naturally, as if she couldn’t walk herself up to the door.

I can feel you thinking,” he whispered, grinning when she frowned up at him. “And maybe you are playing right into the same old outdated patriarchal moves that smart girls such as yourself should know to avoid. Or maybe…” he stopped, pulling her to the side of the door as another couple walked past and through the door, both giving them an inquisitive look as they went past.

Maybe I just wanted you close,” he said, his penetrating stare making her weak in the knees. “Maybe I was using those social niceties to touch something forbidden, even if just for a few minutes.”

MacKenzie was speechless. She stared, trying to decide how to react if he wanted to strip off that mild-mannered-businessman persona and fly her off to his ice-caves or something. Would it make her a horrible sell-out to her gender if she did?

Did she even care?

A loud, irritating squeal sadly characteristic of said gender broke the spell, and they both turned to see Mandy flying toward them at top-speed. How she did that on four-inch heels was anyone’s guess, but MacKenzie braced for impact as her friend ran up and pulled her into a hug.

You’re finally here! Say thank you to Josh so we can go – I have about a zillion men I want you to meet so we can make fun of them later, and the caterer made some canapés that are to die for, and Mom is having a fit that they aren’t the recipe she wanted. Thank God for that, since her recipe sucks.” Mandy wiggled her fingers and grinned at Josh, grabbed MacKenzie’s hand and pulled her through the door before MacKenzie could say anything at all.


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(Coming soon to print…)

New Cover & Excerpt for The Time Stone

Did you get your green books on sale this weekend? If not, you have a couple of days yet until I get the prices changed, except at Kobo where the sale scheduling is automated.

I spent a good chunk of the weekend working on the cover for the book releasing next month – The Time Stone by Marie Yoch. It will be the first “young reader” book in our lists, and the first in a series of five or six books that will follow Sydney Pointer as she searches for certain stone talismans in an attempt to find and save her father throughout her middle and high school years. It should be quite the adventure, for young and older readers alike!

Here’s an excerpt – coming soon!

“I have something for you, Sydney.”

 

Sydney Pointer looked up at the old man in rumpled layers of dirty clothing. Her nose wrinkled all on its own at the nasty smell that accompanied him, and she tried to remember everything her mom had taught her in case a strange man ever tried to take her. She opened her mouth to yell for help and grabbed her bag as he slid into the booth across from her.

 

“I’m not going to hurt you,” the man said, sliding a tattered piece of paper to her across the table. “But I need to give you this. It’s something your father was working on until just recently. I’m sure he’d want you to have it.”

 

Sydney forgot her fear for a moment at the mention of her dad – an amateur archaeologist who could never be happy in one place. When Sydney was a toddler, he’d gone off on one of the treasure hunts he was so fond of and never come back. He’d tried, her mother told her with a wistful smile, but after a year of missed holidays and sporadic hour-long visits, they’d divorced and Sydney hadn’t seen him since, even though he still kept a house in town for the rare occasion when he wasn’t treasure-hunting.

 

“You know my dad?” Sydney let her bag fall to the bench and looked closer at the man. He looked…tired. His hair was long and knotted, his beard in serious need of a comb and wash, his teeth crooked and brown, and the lines on his face etched in deep, sunburned furrows. Something in his gaze made her relax a little more. His hunched posture and shaking bent fingers weren’t exactly the hallmarks of a kidnapper. Not that Sydney had ever met one.

 

“I know him very well, child.” He pointed to the list, but made no move to reach across the table. “Your dad was looking for these stone talismans – keys, he called them – when he disappeared six months ago. Insisted that together they would open some sort of ancient treasure trove. One that supposedly holds the secret to life-long happiness for whoever opens it.”

 

Sydney looked at the list, which consisted of six crude pencil drawings with a name scrawled in rough handwriting under each one. At the top the drawing was a circle with a triangle on top. It was labeled The Time Stone. There was also a flower, an arrowhead, a heart with a crack down the middle, and what looked like a scroll of some sort.

 

“He was trying to find these? But how did he know where to look? And if they’re made of stone, aren’t they very heavy?”

 

The old man chuckled. “A talisman is a small object believed to bring good luck to whoever holds it. Your father found the first one – The Time Stone, there at the top of the page. I’ve seen it. It’s a sundial about the size of a half-dollar coin.” He curled his gnarled thumb and forefinger into a circle to demonstrate. “Legend has it that each talisman has a clue hidden with it that leads to the next. Whoever follows the clues and finds the stones will eventually find the treasure as well.”

 

Sydney frowned. “He disappeared? What happened to him? Is someone looking for him?” She looked around the diner for her mother again, but it was strangely quiet. They had to do something. “Did you call the police?”

 

“I don’t know what happened to him, kiddo. And I suspect the police won’t be able to help.” The man hesitated, and then looked her in the eye. “He had some…trouble getting the first stone. As if there were something protecting it. The last thing he told me before he left was that I should pass this list on to you when you turn eighteen.” He coughed, a wet, phlegmy sound. “I’m afraid I’m not going to live that long, kiddo, so you’ll have to take it now.”


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about a field of sunflowers, and at least two people who meet there one day/night. 
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about the beautiful flower on a plant considered a weed.

Stories and poems for each month should be submitted by the last day of that month to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. The following month, one poem and one story from the previous month will be chosen for publication here on the blog, and also in our monthly newsletter. Authors will receive a flat fee of $10 per poem or story we choose to publish. Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.

Excerpt: Lettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven

Lettuce Pray CoverLettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven

He was feeding the bitch cake. Off his own fork.
Bastard.
Abby Mars peered through the small portal window in the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the dining room. Her ears burned with anger as she watched her boyfriend with another woman. Not just any woman, but a fat cow three sizes bigger than the unfortunate top she’d managed to stuff herself into. What she’d done to make Dominic fall for her was anyone’s guess, but he could have at least had the decency to tell Abby.
Who did he think he was, anyway – bringing his new fling to her restaurant? Did he think she wouldn’t notice just because she was a sous chef, and rarely made it out of the kitchen?
She looked down at the flat stomach she worked so hard for, draped in a stark white jacket. She loved food – there wasn’t a dish out there she wouldn’t try at least once. But she watched her portions, she was on her feet all day, and three times a week she went to the gym. Dominic appreciated it, or so she thought. Watching him feed the fat girl another bite of chocolate cake made her want to grab the nearest knife and slash his cheating throat.
But she wouldn’t. Not here, anyway, where anyone could see and hear. She’d bide her time, plan her revenge, and then they’d die together.
She turned away from the window and strode back to her station. Salads were her assignment today – chopping, dicing, mixing, dressing. The knife flew under her fingers, making a satisfying clunk every time it hit the cutting board. Over the next hour, she forced herself to focus on her job rather than her crumbling love life. She told herself there was no point in worrying about it just yet. Plenty of time for that when she was safely back at the apartment, flinging Dominic’s things out onto the front lawn. Her lips curved up slightly at the thought. She’d call a locksmith after work and have him meet her at the house. Then she could just relax and lick her wounds in peace.
When her shift was finished and her station cleaned, she made the call and went home, fitting her key into the lock one last time.
It wouldn’t turn.


Revenge is a dish best served lukewarm in this Death by Veggies short story from the author of When She Cries. But is getting even worth all the work and clean-up? Abby Mars is determined to find out…

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