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.

Be Careful What You Wish For by Carol R. Ward

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.


Be Careful What You Wish For
by Carol R. Ward

Wishes are chancy things. The shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….

Fiona pushed back from her desk and arched her spine. She wouldn’t have been surprised to hear her bones cracking – once again she’d spent far too much time hunched over her keyboard without a break. But this job was important to her and she needed to put in the extra hours to keep from falling behind.

“Fiona, Mr. Barton would like to see you,” Chantal, Barton’s secretary, told her as she breezed by, already done for the day.

“Thanks, Chantal,” Fiona said, but the woman was gone like a puff of smoke.

Shaking her head, Fiona saved her work and rose to her feet, wondering what the boss wanted so late in the day. Just outside Mr. Barton’s door she paused for a moment to smooth down her clothing. One last pat to her auburn hair, confined neatly in a bun, and she knocked firmly on the door.

“Come.”

Pasting a bright smile on her face, Fiona stepped into the office. “You wanted to see me Mr. Barton?”

“Have a seat, Miss O’Mally.”

Mr. Barton fiddled with some papers on his desk and pushed his glasses further up on his nose. Fiona’s smile dimmed at his serious expression when he finally looked up.

“There’s no point in beating around the bush so I’ll come right to the point. The quarterly figures have been steadily dipping and we’ve had to start cutting corners. I’m sorry, but yours is one of the jobs on the chopping block. Effective immediately.”

“But–”

“You’re a bright girl and a good worker, I know you’ll have no trouble finding a new job.”

“But–”

Mr. Barton rose to his feet and stuck out his hand. “I know this is a bit of a shock, but I’m sure you’ll find the severance package a generous one. I’m sorry we have to lose you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Fiona said faintly, rising to her feet to take his hand. Shock was too mild a word for what she was feeling.

By the time she’d cleaned out her desk and found herself standing on the sidewalk, holding a banker’s box, the shock had turned to numb resignation.

“Pretty flower for a pretty lady?”

A bright green plant with a smattering of white blossoms was thrust almost right under her nose.

“What?”

“Everyone needs a shamrock on St. Paddy’s Day,” the raggedy old woman told her.

“Oh, I don’t think–”

“These are special shamrocks. They’re fairy shamrocks, come all the way from Ireland.”

Fiona took a better look at the woman and took in her threadbare coat, unbrushed hair, and rusted shopping cart with several potted plants in it. Here was someone who had it even worse than her.

“How much?” she asked in resignation.

Beaming, the woman said, “For you, just five dollars.”

Setting her box down, Fiona dug around in her purse and came up with a crumpled five dollar bill. Handing it over, she took the plant in exchange and placed it on top of her things in the box.

“Bless you child,” the woman called after her as she started the long walk to her apartment. “And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.”

By the time Fiona reached her apartment, depression had set in. She didn’t have much in her savings account, what was she going to do? Sniffling back a few tears, she set the box on the table and retrieved the messages from her answering machine. Three calls from telemarketers, one call from her mother with a laundry list of complaints, and the fifth…

Fiona plunked down in a chair as she listened in disbelief to the fifth message, the one from her boyfriend Lyle.

“Hey babe. Look, I gotta tell you. Things just haven’t been good between us lately. You know what I mean? Anyway, I think I’m just gonna take a pass on this whole relationship thing. No hard feelings, right? And hey, if you ever want to hook up to just … you know… give me a call.”

“Asshole,” she muttered. Never mind that she’d been thinking of dumping him herself, it still stung.

With a heavy sigh she got to her feet. Picking up the plant she glanced around the apartment, trying to decide where to put it. There was a small table in front of one of the windows and she placed it there, in a ray of light from the setting sun.

“What did that woman call you?” she mused. “A fairy shamrock? Too bad you aren’t a wishing shamrock. I could wish for a new life – a nice, quiet, uncomplicated life.”

The shamrock seemed to shimmer in the light as a green mist wafted down in the empty apartment.

Wishes are chancy things. The new shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….

###


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

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.

The Blarney Frog by Jamie DeBree

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.

A little fairy/cautionary tale about kissing frogs…


The Blarney Frog
by Jamie DeBree

Once upon a time, there was a stone frog that sat on the edge of a beautiful stone water fountain. The fountain was in the center of a lovely little park, with carved stone benches and packed gravel paths, and lots of trees and wide open green space perfect for all sorts of shenanigans. Here and there, beautiful stone statues kept watch over the park, though no one knew quite where they came from.

The fountain was wide and deep, with two majestic tiers for the water to fill and flow over into the main basin, and stone fish on metal rods attached to the bottom so they appeared to be swimming through the clear current. There were no coins in the fountain, though occasionally someone would toss a penny or dime in. Legend had it that the fish came to life at night and ate the coins for food, though no one had ever actually seen it happen.

Of course everyone in town (and some from far away) had heard the legend of the frog prince. Which meant that even though they didn’t really believe the stone frog would transform into a live prince, everyone still wanted to take a ‘selfie” of themselves kissing the frog, who was eventually given the amusing yet apt name of ‘Blarney’. Unfortunately, people of a certain age tended to disappear shortly after kissing Blarney. Not the kind of disappearance where you just sort of fade away, but the kind where you find yourself somewhere completely different than where you just were.

And no one else can find you at all.

Of course Gretchen Shoemaker found herself in that very position when she failed to read the sign, even though it was positioned in such a way that she had to touch it in order to get to the frog. One minute she was holding up her phone with one hand while pressing her lips to the cold frog-shaped stone, the next she was paralyzed.

Her vision was blurry at first, and she felt strange. Water flowed around her body, but she could still breathe, and as her eyes adjusted, she could see shapes that resolved into fish in front of her. All on metal rods, all stuck in one place. It reminded her of the fish in the fountain just under where she’d kissed the frog…

Oh no.

She heard a plink, and a coin sank through the water in front of her. A little later on, a plunk, and another coin sank further ahead. Gretchen struggled to move, but no matter how hard she tried, she was stuck, like the fish on the rods in front of her.

The light faded, and soon, the lights at the bottom of the fountain came on. Coins glinted up at her, twinkling like little stars as the water moved over them. She thought she saw one of the fish ahead of her twitch its tail, but that couldn’t be. They were stone, after all. Weren’t they?

Another fish twitched – she was sure of it this time. There was a low rumble all around, and she watched in disbelief as the metal rods holding the fish in place retracted, and suddenly all the stone fish around her were dipping down to the bottom to slurp up coins as fast as they could.

Gretchen felt herself falling, and then she could move! Only side to side, but it was something. She glided through the fountain, watching the fish eat coins as fast as they could. She wondered what they tasted like – she was kind of hungry. She dove for a penny, and was promptly bumped to the side as a fish came in and slurped it up before she could get to it. When it turned, Gretchen caught its eye.

A human eye.

Gretchen turned away, her mind not accepting what it had seen. Three more fish were feasting just ahead of her all with human-like eyes, and before she could move toward them, two disappeared. They were there one second, and just…gone the next.

She willed herself to wake up from what was clearly the worst dream she’d ever had. As she glided through the water touring the fountain, she watched the fish devour coins, and every so often, one would just disappear in front of her eyes. It was the oddest thing she’d ever seen.

Soon there were no more coins, and there was a low rumble again as metal rods came up under all of the remaining fish, fixing them in place. Once more Gretchen couldn’t move, and she wanted to cry as the fountain lights went out and she still couldn’t wake up from this horrible nightmare.

For three days, it was the same. Somehow she was a stone fish, fixed in place by a metal rod, only allowed to move at night where she had to fight with the other fish for coins dropped in the fountain. The coins weren’t especially good – they didn’t taste like anything, to be honest. But they made her feel happy, and on the third day, she slurped up a shiny quarter and suddenly the fountain and all of her stone fish companions just dissolved into…a dry, black nothingness.

Again, her vision was blurry, but she didn’t feel the water any longer, just a cool breeze. Gradually she could see stars and trees and bushes, and the dark outline of those neat gravel paths that surround the fountain in the park. But once again, she couldn’t move a muscle. Across the path she saw one of the lovely statues that everyone walked by on their way to and from the fountain, staring back at her with big, blue, frightened eyes, and suddenly she knew where they came from.

Where she had disappeared to.

But if there was a way to escape the fountain, surely there must be a way to be freed from being a statue. She had only to find it.

Night turned to day, day to night, and night to day again. People strolled by on their way to the fountain, they had picnics, they laughed, they took pictures. Gretchen watched, wishing she knew how to escape this unyielding existence. Wishing she’d never kissed that stone frog on the fountain. Wishing she could warn others not to do the same.

One day, a bunch of silly teen girls came cavorting down the path, cell phones in hand, taking pictures and laughing and being silly teen girls. One of them stood next to the statue across from Gretchen, and held up her camera to take a photo with the stone woman.

The camera flashed and the girls went on their way, pointing toward the fountain and daring each other to kiss the frog. As soon as they were out of sight, the stone statue across the path crumbled, leaving a flesh and blood woman crumpled on the ground in its place.

Gretchen wondered if she was dead – she lay there for a long time, until the park was empty and the light was low and dusky. Slowly, the woman stretched and opened her eyes as if waking from a deep slumber. She sat up and looked around, confusion lining her face. Surely she’d realize what happened any moment. Surely she’d run home, get her camera and set the rest of them free…

The woman rose on unsteady feet, and took a few tentative steps in the direction of the fountain. She stopped abruptly, putting a hand to her head, and turned around, practically running away from the park.

She never returned.

Night fell, day came, and night fell again. Gretchen waited and watched, a silent sentinel, wishing someone would take her picture and free her from her stone prison.

She waits there still.

###


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

News, Ideas, & the Weekly Prompt

BSB News

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: Ideas

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

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

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

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


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

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

Contest Results & Writing Prompt

BSB News & Contest Results

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Release Day: An Elemental Earth by Carol R. Ward

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

An Elemental Earth Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aft compartment.

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

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

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

Conceal the ship.

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

Protect the ship.

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

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

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

Check out the other Books in this series: 

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

 

The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven

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

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


The Scent of Dust
by Alex Westhaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Denise, have you seen Trish?”

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

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

###


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


Author Interview & Contest: Carol R. Ward

An Elemental Earth Cover

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

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

Now, let’s chat a bit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you working on now?

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


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

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

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