Writing Prompt Deadlines, Release Date/Preorders, April Newsletter

Happy Spring!

Here in Montana, the bulbs are coming up, the snow is melting, and everyone’s swapping out heavy coats for jackets and getting those bikes back out of the garage. Some afternoons, it’s even nice enough to go out on the porch with a notebook or laptop and do a little writing…maybe using one of our writing prompts for inspiration.

On that note, if you’re planning to submit a story or poem this month, submissions are due on Saturday, March 31st (by midnight).

The monthly newsletter normally comes out on the first of the month, but since April 1st is next Sunday, and also Easter, the April newsletter will be out on Monday the 2nd instead. Watch your inboxes!

One more bit of news regarding The Time Stone. Due to a few things that I’d really like to have set up and done in conjunction with the release of this first young reader adventure series, I’ve decided to push the release date back one more time. This will allow me make sure the print copy is available at the same time as the ebook, and also that a special web site to go with the series is online and ready for visitors with some extra content that I think might be interesting/fun for readers of the series.

Everything will be ready to go by April 20th, so that will be the new release date. That date is firm, and in the meantime, I’ll be setting up preorders at all the distributors that will allow it this week, so you can preorder at a discounted price before the book goes on sale. Look for preorder details in the newsletter and blog post next week! This will be our first preorder offering, so we’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy the nicer weather, and don’t forget to take a book (or two) with you on your adventures!


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 Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.

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.

Shamrocks, Luck, & Things That Are Green

Irish Cream CoverAre you Irish? Or more importantly, are you Irish once a year, on St. Patrick’s Day (which is this coming Saturday, if you haven’t been paying attention to the calendar)?

I was thinking about this holiday, and how though I am partially Irish (and a lot of other things – read: garden variety “mutt”), I don’t really “claim” that particular heritage more than any other. And I don’t really feel like I can claim it on St. Patrick’s Day, just because I’m so…diluted. But I do enjoy watching everyone celebrate, and sporting green nails and a shamrock or two. I’ll pass on the haggis, but I do love a good corned beef that isn’t green (though it’s liable to make my allergies act up…stupid allergies).

In any case, shamrocks are green, lucky clovers (which are not Jasmine Betrayal Covershamrocks or part of St. Patrick’s Day, obviously) are also green, and green seems to be not just the color of the Irish, but a lucky color overall. Personally, I love the color green, and it does seem to bring with it a certain…lucky vibe. Why is that, I wonder? Is it just that it’s a very calm, peaceful, neutral color? Is it that it’s a main color in nature for things that grow and give life?

Are the Irish actually the luckiest people on earth?

Deep thoughts for a Monday.

In any case, I also got to thinking about “green” book covers in our offerings, and came up with a little something for pretty much everyone. And *that* got me thinking that maybe those three books with predominantly green covers/themes should be on sale for Saturday. Which would make green a lucky Sprouted Covercolor for all of our readers!

So, if you check your favorite online retailer on Saturday, March 17th, you’ll find these three books for just 99 cents:

Jasmine Betrayal by Jamie DeBree
Irish Cream by Trinity Marlow
Sprouted by Alex Westhaven

Enjoy the holiday, and grab yourself a “green read” while you’re at it!


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.

 

The Time Stone Release Date & March Writing Prompts

Happy March!

Just a couple of things today – the first of which is to announce that the release date for The Time Stone will be delayed to April 6th. This will give us a little more time to get the cover art and formatting all ship-shape, and hopefully be able to release both the digital and print versions at the same time. If possible, we’ll make it available it early, but the “official” release date will be April 6th.

The second matter of business for today is our new writing prompts for March, which you’ll find below, as usual. Something to get us in the mood for spring. I hope they’ll inspire you!

That’s all for this time…until next week, happy reading/writing.


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.

Moths, Stones, & Writing Prompt Deadline

In case you missed it, the latest by Alex Westhaven, The Dry Rain, is out and available now in digital format! You’ll find links and a long excerpt over on the book page – and because yours truly had a very busy weekend, the story is just 99 cents for one more day. Around 11pm (MST), it will go up to its regular price of $2.99. Or if you happen to live in the Netherlands and are a Kobo Plus member, you can borrow the book for free!

The print version will be available within the next couple of weeks or so. Sooner, rather than later, if all goes well.

I’ll be adding more BSB books to the Kobo Plus program within the next week or two, so if you are currently a Kobo Plus member, look for many of our books to be available for borrowing very soon.

Next up is next month’s release of The Time Stone by Marie Yoch! I’m currently working on cover art and getting the manuscript scheduled for formatting. Release day isn’t until March 23rd, but there’s still much to be done before that day. It’s a fun little novel, and the start of a whole series that will be set up in the first book. More on that as release day gets closer.

The monthly newsletter should be in your inbox this Thursday, March 1st. The day before that is the last day of February (28th), which is the deadline for this month’s writing prompt submissions. Did this month’s prompts inspire you? Send in your stories by Wednesday for a chance at $10 and publication on our blog and in the April Newsletter!

Until next time, happy reading and writing…


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

Release Week, Excerpt, and February Writing Prompts

It’s release week! This Friday (Feb. 23rd), The Dry Rain by Alex Westhaven will finally be available in digital format. The print version may take a little longer, but it’s coming soon as well. Here’s the blurb:

The earth has a bug problem – one large enough to potentially threaten humanity. But in the small city of Whiskey Creek, Oklahoma, the population has only one thing on their minds: staying alive while the Dry Rain evolves into something much more sinister.

And here’s a short excerpt to wet your appetite (so to speak):
The road was still visible, but there were plenty of maggoty worms trying to answer the proverbial chicken-crossing-the-road question, which meant plenty of bug guts squishing beneath the tires and making the road slick, as if it were raining hard. Poor Bess bellowed her displeasure, and Will figured it was the smell bugging her as much as the trailer slipping back and forth despite the slow pace he was keeping.

“I think maybe we should have stayed put,” May said, one hand clinging to the door while the other held tight to the edge of the seat. “This is almost as bad as that snowstorm we drove through last winter. Except visibility is better, as long as you don’t care about dividing lines and such.”

Will tried to stay relaxed, though his neck and shoulders ached from keeping the rig on the road.

“We’ll make it,” he said, adjusting his grip on the wheel and shooting her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Shouldn’t be too much further. Just gotta keep going straight and stay away from the shoulder.”

“Look out!”

*********************
I hope you’ll pick up a copy first thing on Friday! It will be available for 99 cents next weekend only, and then on Monday the 26th, the price will go up to 2.99.

If you’re a writer – or want to be, have you checked out our monthly prompts yet? The deadline for submissions is just a week and a half away…better get writing!


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

The Heart and the Triangle, and Writing Prompts

The Minister's Maid CoverWednesday is Valentine’s Day, in case you missed the swath of pink, white and read hearts all over the place lately. I was thinking about love triangles the other day, and how there always seems to be one, even if one or two of the people in the triangle are unaware of the other’s feelings. It seems like every time two people get together, someone is left out in the cold, either unintentionally or knowingly, and I think maybe that’s why so many of us have trouble with romance stories involving love triangles and the heart-breaking choices that have to be made to get to the end of the story. It’s hard enough to live it, much less reading about it over and over in fiction.

There can be only two, to paraphrase The Highlander.

Of course three or more people can certainly form cohesive relationships, but it’s a very difficult thing, I’d imagine. It’s hard enough for two people to forge and maintain a lasting relationship, and adding even one person into that mixture of longing and emotion is far easier in fiction than it is in real life.

Maybe that’s why we like to read and write about such relationships. To understand them, and figure out how one might work, in case we’re ever in the not-so-unique position of being attracted to two people at once. I have a hard time writing threesomes, mostly because I have a hard time believing they can work long-term (for life, I mean).

In any case, hearts and triangles are nearly the same shape, and I wonder if there’s ever been a relationship that didn’t leave someone on one side or the other out in the cold. In my experience and from what I’ve observed, there’s always an odd man or woman out (sadly enough).When She Cries Cover

I do think I have written one story where there’s a threesome that works. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one it is/was (job hazard)! But in light of the holiday, I’m giving away a free download of one of my campy but fun Fantasy Ranch romance novels: The Minister’s Maid. You can download the PDF for free until Friday, and I hope you enjoy the story (which isn’t quite what it seems once you get into it)…

And for those of you who aren’t currently in a relationship, and might be feeling a bit bitter about all this lovey-dovey stuff, please enjoy a free download of When She Cries, by my somewhat more sadistic alter-ego, Alex Westhaven.


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

Love vs. Romance & February Writing Prompts

Heart Knocks CoverIt’s February, which means hearts and flowers all over the place, whether you’re into that sort of thing or not. It also generally means that if you’re in love, you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day and whether or not to celebrate, based on your personal preference. If you’re not in love, you’re probably looking at everyone else with a mixture of contempt and for some, maybe that’s mixed with a teensy bit of jealousy. Especially if you’re in love with someone who’s in love with someone else, or otherwise unable to be with the one you love.

Regardless, love almost always means conflict of some sort, which is why it makes such a great topic to read and write about.

Then there’s romance. Romance is what happens when we’re falling in love, as well as when we’re in the thick of it. Romance is that dramatic, heart-pounding place that we love and hate and dread and anticipate, often all at the same time, because it’s exhilarating and exhausting and for many of us, it makes us feel more alive than just about anything else. Romance can be actions, or words, or any number of little things that tell us someone else is attracted to and/or thinking about us, or it can be a grand gesture that declares that attraction to the world. It’s that intricate dance between two people trying to navigate feelings and decide whether it’s love, or just lust, and where to go once the determination is made.

Those of us who read and/or write romance experience those feelings over and over again, through the stories we immerse ourselves in, and the characters we fall in love with over and over again. It keeps those feelings fresh, even when the romance in our own lives might not be quite so new and dramatic.

I was thinking about love and indirect, romantic ways of expressing love while I was watching TV this weekend. I’ve always been a huge sucker for Wesley’s way of telling Buttercup he loved her in The Princess Bride, by responding to her requests with “As you wish.” Those three words, even moreso than “I Love You”, make my heart skip a beat every time I hear them. There’s so much more meaning there than a direct declaration. And the same with the now-cliche (sadly), “You complete me.” In the Jill Shalvis book I just finished (Chasing Christmas Eve, is the title, I think), there’s another great indirect declaration that is so romantic it just makes me swoon (I won’t put it here in case you want to go read it for yourself in context).

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a romance – I had to take a break for awhile and get my head out of those emotions for various reasons, but I’m working on a couple of short romances now that I want to remember this for. I want my characters to experience the same “swoon” I get when I hear one of those oh-so-personal indirect declarations, and I want readers to experience that too.

Think of how you’d like someone to indirectly declare their love for you. Would it be a certain phrase? A certain action? A combination of the two? What romantic phrase or gesture would make your heart swoon in return? Have you read any books with a good swoon-worthy declaration lately?


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

The Art of Covers & Submission Deadline Weds.

How much impact does a book’s cover have when you’re browsing the shelves (physical or digital) for something to read? We’ve all heard the old adage to “never judge a book by its cover”, and yet, we all do, even if it’s merely a subconscious note in the back of our mind.

I was thinking about this as I worked on the cover for Alex Westhaven’s new book coming out next month. I could have gone gray and white with it, which might have been lovely in print, but not so great for an ebook or audio cover set against the normal white background. And I would have had to keep all the covers in the Insecticide series within the same color scheme, so readers would know the books all go together. Due to those two things, I decided to go the opposite way, with bright, bold covers that draw the eye in and hopefully make readers interested enough to open it up and see what’s inside. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments…

Are you a newsletter subscriber? Look for the Brazen Snake Monthly in your inbox on Wednesday!

There’s still a couple days left to submit your prompt-inspired stories and poems for the February 28th newsletter and blog. Here are the details, and the prompts are below:

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.


  • Prose Prompt (1000 word max for submissions): At the end of a certain rainbow, there is a door, and beside it a black pot full of gold keys. The person guarding it is most definitely not a leprechaun…or is he/she?
  • Poetry Prompt (500 word max for submissions): In like a lion, out like a lamb? In like a lamb, out like a lion? Write a poem about a lion, a lamb, and a magical kind of breeze.

The Library

I grew up using the library, and the bookmobile that stopped outside our apartment complex once every few weeks or so. I’d check out as many books as they’d let me, and then make sure to get them all back on time so I could borrow some more. I was an avid reader even as a child, and I went through books like water. Days when we could go to the library and just browse were always my favorites. We were very poor for a good chunk of my childhood, so buying books wasn’t an option. I loved and was grateful for the books I got as Christmas and birthday presents.

When I got to be old enough to work, I started buying books. I still used the library some, but my schedule wasn’t always conducive to getting books back on time, and increasingly, the library didn’t have what I wanted to read. I hate to say I outgrew it, but that’s really kind of what happened. Aside from making extensive use of several libraries for research papers in college, I pretty much stopped checking out fiction as soon as I was making enough money to buy books for myself. I spent a lot of time in used bookstores in college, buying stacks of books for fifty cents a piece, sometimes less, occasionally splurging for more. And then when I could afford to buy paperbacks new, that was always my preference. I’m not fond of hardbacks – they’re impossible to hold with one hand in bed.

Needless to say, the last time I was at the library, it was to attend an event. And given our propensity to buy new paperbacks as soon as they’re out (or ebooks, in some cases), I don’t see myself making good use of the library anytime soon. But I’m glad it’s there, should I ever need to use it, and for countless other kids going through that manic reading phase that would be far too expensive to support with actual purchases.

When was the last time you visited your local library? Was it to check out books or were you attending an event of some sort?


January Writing Prompts

Prose Prompt (1000 word max for submissions): At the end of a certain rainbow, there is a door, and beside it a black pot full of gold keys. The person guarding it is most definitely not a leprechaun…or is he/she?

Poetry Prompt (500 word max for submissions): In like a lion, out like a lamb? In like a lamb, out like a lion? Write a poem about a lion, a lamb, and a magical kind of breeze.

Submit your work to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com by January 31st, and your story or poem could be published right here on the Snake Bites blog and in our February newsletter! Flat fee of $10 paid to the author for non-exclusive publishing rights.