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 Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.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

Coming Soon – Insects and Adventure

Are you ready for some new reading material? We’re ready to help you out with that! We have two new books coming out in the next two months – The Dry Rain is an Insecticide novella by Alex Westhaven, and The Time Stone is the first book in a debut young reader series called The Stone Scavengers by Marie Yoch! The two books couldn’t be more different, and that’s just the way we like it around here. If you’re into adrenaline and moths gone out of control, you’ll want to grab a copy of The Dry Rain as soon as it comes out.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a twelve-year-old girl on the hunt for a set of stone talismans that could help her find out what happened to her missing father, then you won’t want to miss The Time Stone just in time for spring reading!

The Dry Rain will be available on Friday, February 23rd in digital and print formats.

The Time Stone will be available on Friday, March 23rd in digital and print formats.

Stay tuned for cover art, back cover copy and excerpts!


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.

New Year, New Plans, New Prompts

No Hazard Pay CoverHappy New Year! We hope yours is off to a great start so far, but if not, the Chinese New Year is still ahead, and perhaps that one will bring you more luck. Or at least more books!

We’re still working on this year’s schedule, but it will include a few new books coming out, and some fun things to go along with those releases. We’re also going to be developing discussion questions for many of the books we already have out, for those who might wish to use one of our books for a club or other group-reading experience. Look for the first of those to be coming with the first monthly newsletter on January 31st (you are a subscriber, right?).

As for our prompts, we’ll be posting monthly prompts (instead of weekly) starting today, and writers are encouraged to submit works inspired by our prompts for publication. 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.

Stories are limited to 1000 words, and poems are limited to 500 words.

So without further ado, here are this month’s prompts. Happy writing!


Prose Prompt: 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: 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.

A Gift, A Break, and Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverTo help with your last minute gift-giving needs, we’re giving away three holiday stories (or the collected version) that you can keep for yourself, or copy and gift to friends and family with our best wishes. Download links for each book are below, but please remember these are adult stories, and not suitable for minors. Download and share responsibly, please!

All files are in PDF format.
Mr. Mysterious by Jamie DeBree (romantic suspense) Details
Canvas by Alex Westhaven (horror) Details
The Naughty List by Trinity Marlow (erotic romance) Details
The Holiday Pact (all three stories)

 

We’ll be taking a two-week break from the blog to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, but join us again on January 8th for some news for 2018 as well as new writing prompts to inspire you.

Happy holidays to you and yours, and thank you for reading!


Weekly Prose Prompt: A family member disappears from the annual Christmas eve party. Where did they go and what happened?
Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your hopes for the new year.  

Reader’s Report & Weekly Writing Prompts

An Elemental Earth CoverReaders Report – Watcha Reading?

On my nightstand, I’m deep into the paperback of The Seventh Plague by James Rollins at the moment. And undecided about whether I’m enjoying it a little more than I should be, given the subject matter and general state of things (as in, everyone in the world could die, in very short order). It’s rather thrilling, as all of his are, and I’m anxious to see who makes it to the end and who might not. Anxious and just a smidge worried, that is.

On the kindle app, I’m working on Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City Book 1) by Penny Reid. It’s a first person romance that took me awhile to get into, but the main character is just quirky enough that I’m still reading just to see how it’s all going to play out. Not my favorite book, or narrative style for romance by any means, and I have some issues with…things, but not enough to quit on it. We’ll see how it ends, eventually.

And in comic books, I’m finally all caught up with I Hate Fairyland, and this week while I’m off work from the day job, I’m going to catch up on Scooby Apocalypse and see how far I can get caught up on the various Harley Quinn series’ as well. I need to hit the comic shop again next weekend too.

Inquiring minds want to know – what are you reading this month? Doesn’t have to be a BSB book (obviously), just whatever’s keeping you occupied these days.


Wanna write? Grab a prompt!

  • Weekly Prose Prompt: Two strangers bump into each other on a busy street, and both apologize before moving on. Later, one finds a note in their coat pocket – addressed specifically to them. What does it say?
  • Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your favorite pen, pencil or keyboard.

Bookish Gifts & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverI think we can safely say the holiday season is well upon us now, and many of us are probably trying to figure out what to wrap up for our loved ones (or the office gift exchange). It’s not always easy to get readers a book, especially if they’re the sort (like myself) who buys books year-round. But there are lots of great book-related items out there that readers will appreciate, depending on their individual tastes.

Mugs, teacups and coffee or tea are pretty much a sure bet for a reader. Find a nice book-themed mug and fill it with the reader’s favorite bean or leaf (or cocoa, even), and you can’t go wrong.

Bookmarks are always fun for those who still read print books (which quite a few of us do). Something funny, witty or just aesthetically pleasing will be a very useful hit.

Blankets, slippers and fingerless gloves are all great choices for the cooler or cool-weather reader in your life. Cozy warmth with the ability to still turn pages easily? No brainer. When paired with a “day off” coupon so they have some time to snuggle in and read, even better!

Print book readers might appreciate a beautifully designed pack of bookplates, while digital readers might like a new cover for their ereader or phone. Speaking of e-reading, who wouldn’t like a gift certificate from their preferred online store?

Is the book always better? Almost, but no harm in seeing the movie anyway – who doesn’t like something to compare and complain about? Gift a reader the movie version of a book they like or have been meaning to see/read. Maybe even both the book and a DVD, so they can easily compare.

And of course time to read is at the top of every reader’s wish-list, so if you can figure out how to give them some of that, well, that will certainly be the best gift your reader could ever hope to receive.

There’s still plenty of time to shop, and I’ve bought several of these items as gifts for this year. What will you buy the readers in your life this Christmas?


Want to write? Pick a prompt!

  • Weekly Prose Prompt: Pick one of the ornaments on your tree (or another object, for those who don’t celebrate Christmas), and write a story about how it changed hands at one point. Was it handed down? Stolen? Gifted? Re-gifted? Found? Be creative.
  • Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about an ornament or object that reminds you of someone now gone.

Movies First & Weekly Writing Prompts

An Elemental Wind CoverMovies First

I think most readers will agree that it’s rare when a movie based on a book is better than the book. It’s because a movie has to condense so much story into such a relatively short amount of time that scenes have to be cut or abridged, and a lot of the detail that is spelled out (so to speak) in the book has to be shown as background or mood music in the film. It’s too bad, of course, but if directors didn’t do that, movies based on books would be epic films many hours long. I know a lot of people don’t mind sitting through longer movies like The Titanic and the Lord of the Rings films, but I don’t like to sit for that long, especially not in a theater where there’s no pausing the movie for a restroom/pop refill break.

But, I’ve discovered that if I read the book first, I’m almost always disappointed in the movie, because I come into it with a set of pre-determined expectations. If I watch the movie first, however, I almost always enjoy both the book and the movie, because the movie sets expectations that are always exceeded by the book. A little trick of the mind, so to speak.

When you know there’s a movie coming out based on a book you haven’t read yet, do you read the book first, or see the film first? Does the order influence your enjoyment of either story medium?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt! 

Prose Prompt: A character walks into a movie theater where only one other person is waiting to see that particular film. The other person is reading a book of the movie about to be shown, and the first person strikes up a conversation with the question, “Why?”

Poetry prompt: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite part of going to the movies.

Reading Westerns & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Biker's Wench Cover BSB News

I know the quarterly newsletter is late – my apologies. What with NaNoWriMo and trying to get things organized for potential holiday releases, I kind of got a little behind. Look for this quarter’s newsletter sometime in December, and hopefully there will be some fun announcements included!

Reading Westerns with Grandpa

When I was a kid, my parents would send my sister and I to my grandparent’s house for a week or two every summer. We also spent a lot of Thanksgivings and Christmases there and Grandma & Gramps were early-to-bed/early-to-rise rural sorts, which meant a lot of reading time for moi after they were sleeping. Still being young and not having my own money yet, I often didn’t pack enough books to get me through my whole time there.

Which is how I discovered Westerns. My grandpa was an avid reader, and his favorites were old western dime-store style novels. I worked my way through most of the books on his shelf, and became intimately acquainted with the likes of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I’m still not all that fond of L’Amour – he’s a bit too wordy/descriptive for my taste, but I can still pick up a Zane Grey and enjoy reading about small-town drama and romance in the romanticized old west.

Gramps died just recently, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to honor him and my memories of what he shared with me. I think it might be fun to write a story or series of Westerns that draw loosely from his own life experiences, or the ones I know about, anyway. Not old west stories, but modern stories to share the lifestyle and values he loved – modern westerns, as it were, with a bit of added flair (he would have liked that).

Have you read a western, old or new? What kind of books did your grandparents share with you – anything you wouldn’t normally have read?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Weekly Prose Prompt: It’s high-noon in your fictional town, and there’s gonna be a duel over the boundary line between two nearby ranches. The town has outlawed traditional weapons like guns/knives, so what will your characters duel with? And who wins?

Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about a cowboy on a cattle drive.

Reading Habits & Weekly Writing Prompts

Listen to the Leaves CoverDon’t you just love fall? I just love to see the yellows and browns and reds take over, flittering to the ground and then crunching so deliciously underfoot as you wade through them on your way to…wherever. The crisp autumn air, the cooler nights and moderate days, the hint of snow on the breeze if you sniff in just the right direction…it’s easily my favorite season.

Any weather is good reading weather, but there’s something about looking out the window at a pile of leaves (or sitting under a tree and letting them rain around you) that puts me in the mood for a good suspense novel. Of course we’ve had snow here lately (though it’s melting off as I type), but white is just as good a backdrop for a story or two (or more), in my opinion. But I really wouldn’t want to sit under a tree and try to read while it’s snowing on me. Wet glasses and cold fingers are quite a bit less romantic than falling leaves, sadly enough.

But rarely as I get to do so these days, being snuggled under a lovely afghan with a warm cup of tea and say…a collection of short stories by some excellent authors, like the ones contained in our “Listen to the Leaves” anthology is definitely a favorite way to spend a few hours.

Do you have a place you love to read? A blanket you always read with? A chair or couch that is just perfect for your bookwormy proclivities? Let us know!


Prose prompt: A woman stops under a tree to marvel at the changing leaves, and hears a voice. No one else is around but a squirrel on a branch overhead, and she realizes it’s the squirrel talking to her. What does the squirrel say?

Poetry Prompt: Write an ode to your favorite reading spot.