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.

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….

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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.

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