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.

Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree & Psychic Spider Excerpt by Alex Westhaven

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.

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…


Bookkeeping
by Jamie DeBree

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

###

Psychic Spider (excerpt)
by Alex Westhaven

*Author’s note: This feels like it wants to be at least a decent-sized short story, not just a novel. So here’s how it starts. Stay tuned for the rest later this year…

“What is that? There’s something on the bar. It’s coming this way — Hannah, you have to move now! Like, right now!”

Hannah put her glass down on the napkin in front of her and calmly turned to look in the direction Beth was pointing. Sure enough, there was a big tarantula crawling toward them on the bar. And the poor thing looked like it had been given a mission, judging from the small piece of white paper laying on it’s back.

Glancing at Beth, who now stood a good five feet away from her bar stool, Hannah shook her head.

“It’s not going to hurt you — tarantulas are normally pretty gentle. Though it might shoot you with a leg hair if it feels threatened, but there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Beth shook her head and held both hands up, palms out.

“You can go right ahead and be spider-bait if you want. I’m find over here. Watching. I’ll be a witness. Until I run out, anyways.”

Hannah sighed. The spider was nearly in front of her now, and she slowly reached over to pick up the note. Unfolding it, she read the single sentence to herself.

First one to leave dies, second one is the killer.

###


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, 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.

Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree & Grave Concerns by Carol R. Ward

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.

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?


Spring Fever 
by Jamie DeBree

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

***********************************

Grave Concerns
by Carol R. Ward

Stumbling drunkenly on her stiletto heels, Candice hurried as fast as she could down the path.

“C’mon Candy, don’t be like that,” a male voice called from behind her. “It didn’t mean anything, I don’t even know the chick’s name.”

Candice didn’t answer, just tightened her grip on the bottle she was carrying and tried to speed up a little more, gulping back the tears.

“You’re going in the wrong direction you know,” the voice continued.

She didn’t care, she just wanted to put as much distance between them as quickly as possible.

“Fine you stupid bitch, have it your way. I was getting tired of you anyway.” His voice faded away behind her.

Though she was pretty sure he wasn’t following, she decided to cut through the old cemetery. It meant leaving the intermittent light from the street lights behind, but there was a full moon tonight. The gate for the cemetery was open – actually it was missing – and Candice picked a direction at random once she was inside.

Graveyards never bothered her, she often went for walks in them. She actually found them interesting. Her steps slowed and she started keeping an eye out for someplace to sit. Too busy looking around to watch where she was stepping, she stumbled on a protruding rock and fell to her knees beside a grave stone that was listing to one side. Moonlight glinted off the small brass bell in a frame that was fixed to the top of it.

“Guess this is as good a place as any.”

She awkwardly sat back on her heels then moved her legs to the side. Leaning back against the grave stone Candice uncorked the bottle she’d snagged when she started looking for Travis at the party. A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Stupid jerk,” she muttered, taking a swig.

***

When Janice told her about her proposed moonlight party, she’d thought it was a cool idea. And she also thought it would be the perfect night to finally let Travis, her boyfriend of one year, pop her cherry. They’d been there about two hours before becoming separated, and in that two hours she’d managed to down several beer. But she still drank almost half a bottle of wine, for courage, before setting out to find Travis.

But when she did find him he had his tongue down the throat of another girl. For a long moment she just stood there, staring in disbelief, her whole world crumbling down around her. Then he grabbed the girl’s ass, pulling her closer.

“You sonofabitch!” Candice shrieked.

The couple broke apart, although the girl kept ahold of Travis’s arm.

“Hey, Candy,” Travis said, looking not the least bit guilty. “Where’d you disappear to? I was looking for you.”

“Where? Down that skank’s throat?”

“Hey, who’re you calling a skank?” the girl asked.

“Don’t be like that babe,” Travis said, shaking the girl off and taking a step towards Candice. “I was just having a little fun.”

At that moment a guy holding a full plastic beer cup passed through. Without stopping to think, Candice grabbed it out of his hand and threw it at Travis.

“How’s that for fun?” she asked, and ran for the front door.

***

She sniffled in the night air. “He was supposed to be the one,” she said, taking another drink. “He was my Travy-bear and I was his Candy cane.”

Tears began to slide down her cheeks. “He was so hot, all the other girls were so jealous. That’s why I was going to let him be my first.”

Candice began to cry in earnest.

After a while her tears slowed, then stopped. She didn’t have a tissue so she swiped at her face with her sleeve. Then she leaned her head back to look up at the stars. The air was a little chilly, but not cold and she had no desire to move.

“What’s wrong with me? Better yet, what’s wrong with him?”

What was wrong was her bottle was empty. “How did that happen?”

With a sigh she tossed the empty bottle aside. “I should probably go home.” If she cut through the cemetery she could probably make it to a bus stop before they stopped running for the night.

This time her sigh turned into a groan as she got to her feet. Everything started to spin. “I guess maybe I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” She leaned on the grave stone until the spinning stopped. “Hey, thanks for the support, whoever you are.” Leaning down, she looked for a name on the marker.

“Huh, no name but there’s something …” Candice leaned a little closer. “Ring my bell. I dare you.” She giggled. “I’ll bet that sure didn’t mean the same in your day as it does in mine.”

Unable to resist, she flicked at the little bell. Its note sounded louder than it should in the still of the night. Candice was about to leave when the earth started to tremble beneath her. She staggered, clutching at the grave stone for support, and the earth opened up at her feet.

“Thank you, my dear. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting,” said a deep, baritone voice from the gash in the earth. A dark figure began to rise. “And it does indeed mean the same thing,” it told her gleefully.

Candice’s screams went unheard by the party goers, but they went on for a very long time.


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, 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.

Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe by Jamie DeBree

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

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…


Ode to Bindweed
by Jamie DeBree

Solemn and quiet the brown earth lays,
newly exposed after winter abed,
waiting patiently for nutrients and UV rays,
to warm the dark soil and summon the dead.

Deep underneath, where no light penetrates,
the tiniest microbes wiggle and churn,
tough twisted roots begin to replicate
preparing for their evil master’s return.

The rake turns the soil, pulls back the top
tiny seeds scattered wide, a last ditch hope.
The rake cuts the roots, but they don’t ever stop
indeed they grow into stronger, deeper rope.

Those arrow-shaped leaves, the bell-shaped flowers
would surely be pretty at some other abode.
In this place the sight is one quite sour
akin to licking the back of a toad.

*******************************

A Night With Poe
by Jamie DeBree

Carrie twitched as the sound of thunder rattled the windows and lightening flashed outside the semi-sheer curtains almost immediately after.

“Gotta get blinds,” she mumbled to herself, glancing at her grandparent’s old anniversary clock on the mantle. Nine at night, and the storm had already been brewing for nearly an hour. Surely it would pass by and be over soon.

Another loud boom, another bolt of lightening that she thought might have been at least a smidgen farther behind than the last one.

Then something hit her front door with a solid, unmistakable thump.

Setting the worn copy of Poe and her favorite afghan aside, she rose from the couch and tip-toed toward the door. The front light was on, but she didn’t see any shadows or silhouettes through the window at the top of the door, nor through either of the long windows on either side.

Somewhat relieved, she moved closer. Maybe a tree branch had been knocked down. Using one of the side windows, she peered out into the night, her gaze panning what little of the water-logged world her light illuminated. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she looked down, down, down until she found herself face-to-face with the biggest pair of glowing yellow eyes she’d ever seen.

Instinctively she knew the animal on her step was a cat, but it almost looked like an otter with its soaking wet, slicked-back fur. She would have expected a somewhat downtrodden look from an animal in such a predicament, but it actually looked rather angry.

She supposed she’d probably be a bit angry too, if she were locked out in this storm.

A somewhat muted thunder rolled overhead, and the cat came alive, raking its claws down a good chunk of Carrie’s front door and looking at her with a mixture of longing and murderous intent. The thought that the cat might be rabid crossed her mind, but it seemed inhuman not to offer shelter to someone…or thing, who so clearly needed it.

Reaching up, she flicked the deadbolt and pulled the door open. In two seconds flat, the black beast was inside and deep under her couch. Carrie closed and bolted the door, and then went to the living room and stood in front of his much drier hiding place, hands on her hips.

“It seems only polite to offer you a towel,” she said, squatting down for a better look. He blended in with the shadows so well, all she could see were his glowing eyes. “Maybe some food? Something to drink? Do cats really like milk, or is that just a romantic myth?”

And now she was talking to a cat. Shaking her head at herself, she rose and went to the kitchen. Yesterday’s grilled chicken might do, she thought, and she trimmed and cut it into tiny cat-sized pieces. Tossing a big towel over her shoulder, she got a small bowl of water and the chicken, and went back to the living room.

Spreading the towel on the floor, she set the water bowl close to the couch, and then sprinkled chicken right at the edge of the towel.

“There now. That smells pretty good, right? Wouldn’t you like to come out, dry off and put some food in your little belly?”

The cat hissed.

She took that as a ‘no’.

“Okay then. Well, it’s the proverbial dark and stormy night, which is the perfect night to curl up with Poe, and since you are black and somewhat of an oddity, I do believe I’ll call you Poe while you’re here. Any objections?”

The cat hissed again. Tiny curmudgeon.

“Too bad. He’s really a fascinating character in his own right, and he wrote some marvelous stories. Here, I’ll show you. We can read together.”

There was no response from the cat, and she got her book and blanket and curled up on the couch again. Opening the book, she began to read Poe to his namesake. She started with the famous raven, and moved on to the Telltale Heart.

***

Carrie had no idea when she’d fallen asleep, but when she opened her eyes again, sun was streaming in the window and there was a heavy weight laying in the center of her stomach.

Poe had decided to join her at some point, and was curled up in a decent-sized ball on her lap, his fur finally looking more normal and fluffy.

She glanced at the towel on the floor, and noted that the chicken was all gone. The motion must have been just enough to wake the cat, and he paused just long enough to give her a pointedly dirty look and then jumped off the couch.

Rising from the couch, Carrie stretched and then followed the cat down the hall to the front door. He sat in front of it, watching her over his shoulder until she was just two feet away.

Then he reached out with a single paw and swiped it down the door, giving the inside scratch marks to match those undoubtedly gracing the front of the door as well.

“Okay, okay — no need to get all impatient.” She reached over him and unbolted the deadbolt, and then pulled the door open.

With far less urgency than the night before, Poe stalked out into a sunbeam that was so bright it blinded her eyes. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was on his way to heaven, and walking in like he owned the place.

But at the end of the day, it was just a trick of light, and he was just a cat she’d sheltered in the storm, and slept with, and like so many one-night stands, he was leaving her too.

Typical.

Carrie looked at the claw marks on the outside of the door. Nothing a little wood putty, some paint and some sealer couldn’t fix.

Tires screetched in the street just across the yard and her stomach turned over, her heart pounding a million miles an hour.

“Poe? Poe!” She ran down the sidewalk, sheilding her eyes with one hand and desperately hoping he’d been long gone. A white sedan was stopped in the middle of the road, driver’s door ajar and a very confused, though well-dressed woman standing in the road looking frantically around and under her vehicle.

“What happened?” Carrie asked, her heart slowly recovering when she realized there was no dead cat lying in the road.

“I swear I saw it. A black cat just ran out in front of my car, and then just disappeared. I was so afraid I hit it…”

The sound of metal on metal and glass being broken reached them. It was coming from the intersecton half-a-block up.

The other woman gasped. “That could have been me! It would have, if I hadn’t stopped for that cat…”

Carrie smiled. “It’s a good thing you did, then. Will you be okay now?”

She nodded and got back in her car.  Carrie looked through the window to find Poe sitting in the passenger seat.

“Looks like he’s adopted you. Will you take him home? I don’t know who belongs to, but he spent the night with me.”

The woman nodded, running a hand through the cat’s sleek fur. “I think I have to now. Do you know anything else about him?”

Carrie shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. But his name is Poe.”

She grinned at the cat, and he hissed at her as the woman drove off.


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

 

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.

April Fool by Jamie DeBree

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.


April Fool
by Jamie DeBree

“What do you think it is?”

“Does everyone have one?”

“Someone shake it.”

“No! It might explode!”

Danny sat back in his chair and stared at the tiny package on his desk as the office buzzed around him. As far as he could tell, there was one on every desk — an April Fool’s joke, no doubt.

Unfortunately, what might have been funny thirty years ago had to be seen as a potential threat now, and he was certain the police had already been called.

No wider than a deck of cards and twice again the thickness, the box was wrapped in shiny bright yellow paper with an orange ribbon crossed on top and a bow nearly larger than the package on top.

Chocolate, he’d guess. Maybe a rice crispy treat. The urge to shake it was strong, and he reached out with every intention of doing just that. If it blew up, well, he’d probably never know.

“Danny — stop! Don’t touch that!” Jessica from HR ran to his side, practically gulping air as she pointed to the little gift.

“It could explode — or worse. Didn’t you hear the loudspeaker announcement ten minutes ago?”

Danny shook his head. “Sorry. I must not have been paying attention. But if you’re so worried, why aren’t we evacuating the building?”

She looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “We don’t want to start a panic, of course. I’m sure the police will be here soon. We all just need to stay calm, and not touch these little boxes. Okay?”

Danny held up both hands in surrender. “I won’t touch a thing. Promise.”

Jessica gave him a long stare, and then hurried off, one hand in the air and that shrill voice carrying over all the other busy buzzing.

“No! Don’t touch that!”

Danny shook his head and checked his watch. It was eight forty-five, and the police station was just down the street, what in the world could be taking so long? He stood, stretched, and walked two aisles over to look out the window with a clear view of city hall.

Why were so many people huddled in the parking lot kitty-corner from the building? He thought for a moment, and realized that the last time he saw that many people in a parking lot, city hall had done a firedrill.

Which means they’d been evacuated. He wondered if they’d come in to tiny boxes on their desks too, or if their April Fool’s Day gift was a fire alarm first thing. Same result either way, he supposed. No one was getting any work done this morning.

The loudspeaker crackled, and the verbal hum died down a bit.

“Everyone please return to your workstation and check your email for further instructions. Please be careful not to touch the wrapped box, if there is one on your desk. Thank you.”

Danny wandered back to his workstation, watching as one by one, his co-workers sat down and looked confused, searching their desks for something.

When he sat back down in front of his own computer, he realized why. And then he stood up, looked at the back of the wrapped gift sitting beside his keyboard, and chuckled quietly to himself.

Holding down the control, alt and delete keys, he logged into his computer. There was a button at the top of his keyboard with the symbol of a letter, and he pushed that to bring his email program up. Using the arrow keys, he highlighted the first email from Jessica in HR, and tapped the “Enter” key to open it.

“If you are reading this, please lock your computer and immediately report to HR. You are being tracked.”

Danny locked his screen and stood to find Jessica herself standing right outside his cubicle.

“How did you access that email without a mouse?”

Danny frowned. “How do you know I don’t have a mouse?”

She put her hands on her hips and cocked her head to the side like he was some sort of special.

“No one has a mouse. They’re all missing. Haven’t you talked to other people at all?”

“Didn’t need to. No one’s missing a mouse. They’re all just wrapped up in some stupid April  Fool’s Day prank. Let me show you — ” he reached for the box on his desk again.

“No!” Jessica looked like she was about to pass out, but this time Danny ignored her. He picked up the box, mindful of the cord coming out of the back, and ripped the ribbon and paper off sideways to reveal his mouse, no worse for the wear.

“See? No harm, no foul.” He put it back on the desk and moved it around, watching the arrow move on the screen.

“We’ve been pranked.”

Jessica looked so disappointed that he felt bad for being the one to tell her. Others had been watching, and one by one they started unwrapping their own packages as Jessica trudged down the cubile row.

Danny logged in, put his hand on the mouse, and moved the curser to hover over the internet icon. He always read the news first, and it didn’t seem like today should be different. No need to disturb the normal flow any more than it already had been.

His finger moved on the mouse.

Click click.

Boom.

###


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

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.

Beware the Tiny Doors

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?


Beware the Tiny Doors
by Alex Westhaven

“I’m sorry honey. You’re two feet and ten inches too tall.”

Five-year-old Paisley Johnson pointed to the tiny door at the base of a tree in the park and looked up at her mom, her lower lip quivering. “But I want to visit the fairies! Make me shorter!”

Her mom chuckled. “I can’t make you shorter. But you really don’t want to visit the fairies. They’re mean, and if you could fit through that little door, they would kidnap you and make you their slave.”

“How do you know, Mama? Have you visited the fairies?”

“No, I haven’t. But everyone knows fairies are mean. Now come on. We have to get home for dinner.”

Paisley looked at the little door one more time. She was sure there had been a face in the middle window just a second ago. Was it a little fairy girl like her? Was the fairy girl scared of the giant outside her door?

“Now, Paisley. It’s time to go.”

With a heavy sigh, she stood up and ran after her mom.

“How does everyone know fairies are mean, Mama?”  She climbed into the car and pulled the seat belt over her lap, making sure it clicked into place.

“Because everyone just knows that, honey. My mom told me, Grandma’s mom told her, and I’m telling you.”

Paisley thought about that on the way home. When Mama pushed the button to let the seatbelt go, she climbed out of the car.

“But how did Grandma’s mom know?” She followed her mom into the house and took off her coat.

“Don’t leave that on the floor. And I don’t know how your great grandma knew. Go wash up for dinner — your dad will be home any minute.”

Paisley went to the bathroom and washed her hands. When she came out, her dad was hanging up his coat and she ran to give him a hug. He scooped her up in his arms and kissed her cheek.

“Hello Princess. Did you do anything fun today?”

“We went to the park, and I saw a tiny fairy door. I want to visit the fairies, but Mama says fairies are mean. Do you think fairies are mean, Daddy?”

He laughed. “I think fairies are probably like people. Some are mean, and some aren’t. But I don’t think you can visit them, Princess. You have to wait for them to visit you. It’s only polite. Now let’s go see what your mom is making for dinner.”

He put her down and they went into the kitchen.

“Daddy says some fairies aren’t mean, Mama. But I can’t visit them, because they have to visit me first. It’s only polite. And we should always be polite, right Mama?”

Her mom smiled and then winked at her dad. “That’s right, honey. I put some plates on the table — why don’t you go put them at everyone’s place and set the silverware out? I’m making macaroni and cheese.”

Paisley giggled when her father kissed Mama on the cheek. She went to the table and set plates and silverware out, wondering if that little fairy girl had to help set the table too.

After dinner, Paisley played in the backyard while Mama did the dishes and Daddy watched TV. She looked at all of their trees for tiny little doors, but she didn’t find any. Why weren’t there any fairies living in her yard? Was it because Mama thought they were all mean? Or maybe the trees weren’t big enough for fairy families.

She wished she knew what would make a fairy want to visit her.

That night after her parents tucked her into bed and turned out the light, she waited until she heard her dad snoring and then went to the window. She picked out the brightest star in the sky, and made a wish.

“I wish the fairy girl from the park would come and visit me. We could have a tea party, and play with dolls, and maybe she could share some fairy dust with me.”

The next morning, Paisley woke up to see a tiny, shiny creature flitting around overhead. Not quite awake yet, she sat up and yawned.

“Are you a fairy?” she asked.

The creature fluttered in front of her face, and Paisley thought it might be saying something, but it just wasn’t loud enough. She shook her head.

“I can’t hear you. But you look like a fairy. Would you like to have a tea party with me?”

She could just barely see the fairy nod her head, and Paisley got out of bed, so excited she could hardly stand it.

“Let’s sit down at my table over here. I can have my mom make us some tea…”

The fairy fluttered in front of Paisley’s eyes so she was able to see a shake of the head. Reaching to her waist, the fairy pulled out a tiny bag and reached a hand in. When she brought her hand out and tipped it sideways, a trail of tiny, glittering particles rained down on the teapot, and steam came out of the spout.

Paisley gasped and put her hands to her cheeks.

“Wow — was that fairy dust?” At the fairy’s nod, Paisley grinned widely. “Can you make me small so I can visit you too? Daddy said I had to be polite and wait for you to visit me first, but you’re here now, so would it be polite to visit you?”

The fairy seemed to think about that for a moment, and then reached into her tiny pouch again. Flying up just a little higher, the fairy dropped the glittery substance on Paisley.

Paisley blinked, and everything around her was suddenly huge. The fairy she’d barely been able to see before was much bigger than she’d imagined now, and when it smiled, she gasped at the sharp, pointed teeth. Two more fairies flew in to join it, and they all smiled at her.

“I told you she would do it,” one of them said to the other. “Peering out the door like that was the perfect touch.”

Paisley’s lower lip started to tremble.

###


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