Retribution by Carol R. Ward

Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

Once again, a single entry by Carol R. Ward! Here’s her story – enjoy!


Retribution
by Carol R. Ward

“What d’ya think?” Tyler said in a loud whisper as the group of boys paused on the sidewalk.

“I think you’re nuts,” Matthew said.

“Well I sure ain’t doing it,” Greg put in. Allen nodded his head in agreement.

The white lace curtains at one of the windows of the dilapidated Victoria house behind the wrought iron fence twitched.

“C’mon!” George said, plucking at Tyler’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here!”

The five boys ran in pretend fear, but only as far as the edge of the park on the corner. There they collapsed on the grass, still able to see the house they found so interesting.

“My brother James says the old lady who lives there is a witch,” Matthew informed the others importantly.

“There ain’t no such thing as witches,” Tyler scoffed.

“Is too!” Greg and Allen chorused.

“Only babies believe in witches.” At twelve, Tyler was the oldest of the group and by virtue of his age the leader.

“Nuh uh,” Matthew insisted. “James is older than you and he says she casts spells and rides a broom when the moon is full.”

“She’s just a plain old lady,” Tyler said. “Probably fifty years old.”

“She’s a witch! And if you mess with her she’ll cast a spell on you.” Matthew stuck his jaw out stubbornly.

Tyler rolled his eyes. “You and your brother are stupid, and I’ll prove it.” He started back the way they’d come.

“What are you gonna do?” George asked as he followed along, giving Tyler a lead of a few feet. The others trailed behind.

“Same thing as we were going to do to old man Krantz.”

Tyler’s bravado lasted until he was standing at the gate in the wrought iron fence. Looking up at the spooky old house he swallowed hard, but with the other boys just a few yards away he couldn’t back down now. The house was dark and silent, which made the creaking of the gate as he pushed through it seem all the louder. His eyes shot to the lace covered window, but there was no sign of the old woman.

After a quick glance at his friends to make sure they were watching, Tyler resolutely stepped through the gate. Slowly he made his way up the cracked sidewalk. A cold wind sprang up, making him shiver, but he didn’t hesitate when he reached the wooden stairs leading up to the veranda. He tried to step as lightly as possible, but the porch still groaned under his weight. Taking a deep breath, he rapped as hard as he could on the wooden door, then turned and ran back the way he’d come.

The old lady must have seen him coming because he hadn’t even reached the gate when the door opened.

“You darned whippersnappers!” the old woman yelled, shaking her fist at the boys as they fled down the street. “Go get ‘em Chauncy!”

A dachshund raced down the steps and chased after them, barking ferociously. It chased them all the way back to the park and when they finally stopped to catch their breath it began to run in circles around them.

Greg and Allen thought it was funny, such a little dog acting so fierce. Matthew didn’t like dogs and threw a snowball at it, trying to chase it off but the dog just dodged it and kept circling.

“Oh, go to hell, you stupid dog!” Tyler said, repeating the phrase he’d so often heard his father use.

Chauncy stopped circling them and raced over to the base of the oak tree the boys liked to climb in the summer time.

“What’s he doing?” George asked.

“Well duh, he’s digging a hole,” Greg answered.

“Stupid dog,” said Allen.

The boys watched as the tiny dog dug furiously, dirt and snow flying everywhere, and then to their great astonishment, he disappeared.

“Where’d he go?” Matthew asked.

“Must be a rabbit’s burrow,” Tyler said. “Stupid dog’s gone inside.”

“This I gotta see,” Matthew said, starting forward.

The other boys looked at each other. Tyler and George shrugged. Curiosity getting the better of them, they followed in Matthew’s wake.

“Whew! What’s that stink?” Allen said.

They reeled back from the rotten egg smell emanating from the hole.

“Pee-yew!” George said, wrinkling his nose. “Dogs like the grossest things!”

“What’s that light?” Tyler wondered.

The boys moved closer to get a better look.

“It’s really bright,” Matthew said.

“I don’t like this,” Greg said nervously. “I think we should get out of here.”

But it was too late. The light seemed to surround them, drawing them in.

“What’s going on?” Tyler demanded, but there was no answer.

They were unable to move as they were sucked into the impossibly small hole. It was hot and bright and the sulfuric smell made them gag. After what seemed like forever they reached the bottom and went sprawling on the dirt floor.

“Well, Chauncy,” a booming voice said. “What manner of mischief makers have you brought me this time?”

The boys struggled to their feet and stared in disbelief at the creature seated on a black shiny throne. Chauncy sat at its feet and if ever a dog looked smug it was now.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s not nice to play pranks on people?” the devil asked. “And you should really know better than to swear.”

###


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

Author Interview & Contest: Meet Ford Forkum

Cinderelleper Cover

Cinderelleper releases on Valentine’s Day (next Tuesday!), and today, we’re pleased to interview the author himself, Mr. Ford Forkum! You’ll want to pay close attention to his answers, because our dear Mr. Forkum has *lied* on a few of his interview questions (tsk, tsk!). If you spot one of these lies, and can tell us at least one question he lied on, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a gift basket that will include your very own print copy of Cinderelleper!

Without further ado – let’s have a chat with our less-than-truthful scribe:

Ford, the number one question on everyone’s mind after they read the blurb for your book is probably: why on earth would you take a well-loved fairy tale character who already goes through hell and give her leprosy on top of everything else?

Apparently, it’s because I have a sick mind. Seriously, though, I wanted to contrast the Disney Cinderella, which is the familiar rendition of the story, with the original Brother’s Grimm tale, which is appallingly gruesome in places. But I wanted to take it a step further and go even darker than the Brother’s Grimm while staying true to the conventions that the Disney version popularized.

I think it’s important to point out to potential readers that every awful thing that happens to Cinderella is still in the context of the sanitized Disney version. So, even though she gets leprosy, it’s a cartoonish version. It’s “body horror” on the level of The Simpsons. There’s no gross-out humor involved. In fact, though the leprosy element is a primary twist in the story, it was really just a place to begin. The real fun is in the mashup and mockery of the original story and the Disney elements to the extreme.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? What do they look like? How long have you had them?

I don’t have a favorite pair of shoes. Or a favorite shirt or tie or anything. As long as what I’m wearing is reasonably comfortable and appropriate to the situation, it’s all good.

Have you ever found a lost shoe (with or without a foot inside)? What did it look like? What did you do?

I have never found a lost shoe. I have, however seen a pair of sneakers that were tied together and intentionally thrown in the air to get caught on utility wires. I saw this once when I was working “on location.” I asked my coworker, rhetorically, why someone would do such a thing. My coworker replied, in a very matter-of-fact tone: “It lets you know you’re in the hood.” My only response was a somewhat delayed, “Oh.”

Have you ever lost a shoe? Was it ever found/returned?

I have never lost a shoe. I did, however, lose a pair of pants. I have no idea what happened to them. But I was miffed because they were new pants and, last I knew, I was wearing them at the time. I don’t want to get into the specifics of how I could “lose” a pair of pants I happened to be wearing. But I think any possible conjecture might have an element of truth to it. And that’s enough said about that.

If you had to pick a theme song or playlist for Cinderelleper, what would it be?

The playlist would include the following songs: “Nobody’s Fool” by ‘80s hair band Cinderella, the 1993 song “Hey Cinderella” by Suzy Bogguss, Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) by the ‘80s hair band Cinderella, the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and “Gypsy Road” by 80’s hair band Cinderella. Also “Cinderella Man” by Rush, just because it has the name “Cinderella” in the title. Also because Rush rocks (but not as much as ‘80s hair band Cinderella.)

Have you ever shared your home with a mouse (intentionally or not)? What was his name?

I once lived in Boston in a rented apartment. And let me tell you, there are three primary animal life forms you will encounter if you spend any time in Boston: mice, pigeons, and cockroaches. The mice and cockroaches are your roommates and the pigeons are your travel companions if you’re walking anywhere.

Those frigging pigeons will crowd around your feet as you walk and you’ll get the illusion that you’re walking on a moving patch of land that are controlled by the pigeons moving at your exact pace. It’s totally disorienting and you literally can’t “watch your step” as you step up from the street to the sidewalk because every step you take disappears into a flowing mob of pigeons. If you kick at them to try to scare them away, they’ll just dodge you like it’s nothing.

It’s just as bad as the mice that won’t stop coming no matter how many of them you trap or how diligently you clean. Eventually, you just give up. The only name I’d ever give a mouse is “Filthy.” Mice suck Except, of course, for the main mouse in Cinderelleper. As far as fictional mice go, he’s a stand up kind of mouse.

Have you ever smashed a pumpkin?

You’re posing the question as though that’s something I don’t do whenever possible

Can you tell us a little about the last time you stayed out past midnight?

My brain turned into a pickle. I had to summon the Ibuprofen Fairy to change it back.

Can you tell us anything about the next story you’re working on?

It’s actually a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs parody that I put aside when I got the idea for Cinderelleper. One of the twists in the story is that the dwarfs are all different from the originals and there are more than seven of them. When I started writing it, it hadn’t occurred to me what great source material it is to have fun with. Now that I’ve picked it up again, I’m on a roll, and, if I do say so myself, it’s coming together in amazing ways, conceptually and in readability and humor. As long as I don’t get carried away and screw it up, it should end up a very tight and funny read with ample content to leave the reader nicely satisfied. I’m excited about it, and it will be a great follow-up to Cinderelleper.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Ford! I know I’m looking forward to your next fairy tale parody…

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

Readers, do you know which question(s) Ford lied on? Leave a comment here on the blog, on the BSB Facebook page, or on our BSB Twitter stream. Be sure to tag us so we see your answer! Everyone who guesses at least one lie correctly by 5pm (MST) Monday, February 13th will be entered into a drawing to be held next Tuesday evening (February 14th). A list of qualified entrants will be posted in the early morning, February 14th. Good luck!

***Contest Extended! Entries will be accepted all day Tuesday until 7pm Mountain Standard Time. Post your guesses! Drawing winner will be announced Wednesday morning, February 15th! ***

Must be 18 or over to win, no purchase necessary. 

 

Weekly News & Audio Books

BSB News

Did you catch our first writing prompt story on Saturday? If not, go read Broken by C.R. Ward (opens in a new tab)! This week’s prompt is below – don’t forget to send in your stories!

Last week’s free download was Cold Feet, a Brazen Bites anthology. This week’s download is live now – peruse the Available Books section to find it…

Next week, Cinderelleper by Ford Forkum will be released on Valentine’s Day, and this Wednesday – Feb. 8th, we’ll post an interview with the author himself, along with a contest to win your very own print copy of his new book. It’ll be fun and funny, so remember to check back! And don’t forget to pre-order the ebook, so it’s delivered right to your kindle (or that of someone you love) in time for Valentine’s Day!

Topic of the Week: Audio Books – Yay or Nay?
Did you know we have several of our books available in audio formats from Audible? There’s a little something for everyone – a little romantic suspense, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, some horror, and some erotic romance (that is very steamy when read aloud!). I’ve never been much of an audio person – it’s more work for me to process audio than text. But I’ve listened to all of the audio books we have available, and I have to say, they’re all very well done. We really got lucky with attracting exactly the right narrators, in my opinion.

I know a couple people who don’t read text books at all, but prefer audio books exclusively. They listen while driving or doing household chores, and it works very well for them. They still get to discover the story, just in a different way. It’s actually more like one would hear stories in an older culture, where traditions and history were passed down through the ages.

Do you listen to audio books? Are you an audio-only fan, or do you read text as well?


Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

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.

Broken by C.R. Ward

The writing prompt this week was: Sitting on a round table in the entry of an expensive home are a half-empty pitcher of milk, a whisk, a bowl of three raw eggs, a small mirror in a picture frame and a vase of dead flowers. There’s one broken eggshell on the floor.

We received one entry this week by our own Carol R. Ward. Here is her story. Enjoy!


Broken
by C.R. Ward

“Please? Pleasepleasepleaseplease pretty please can I practice riding my bike?” Lori was dancing in place, her blonde pony tail bouncing up and down.

“Not right now,” Janice said absently, contemplating the empty pie shell centered on the counter. Pastry wasn’t her forte, but even Edwin’s mother would have a hard time finding fault with this one.

“But Mom…”

Knowing if she so much as glanced in her daughter’s direction she’d be snared by her patented blue puppy dog eyes, she said, “Lori, I don’t have time to watch you. I have to get dinner started, your grandmother is coming tonight.”

Specifically, her grandmother was coming for a light repast not something heavy and hard to digest. The salad was already made, just awaiting its sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

“Can’t you mix the egg pie stuff on the front hall table? You can watch me from there.”

“The proper name is quiche.” Edwin was a big fan of proper names for things.

“Mommm…”

Janice sighed in exasperation. “All right. Fine! But I want you to promise to stay on the driveway where I can see you.”

“Yay!” Lori was off like a shot, racing through the house and out the front door, leaving it wide open.

Shaking her head at her inability to say no to her daughter, Janice put the eggs and whisk into the bowl to make it easier to carry, picked up the milk pitcher, and followed in Lori’s wake.

It was with a kind of puerile satisfaction she saw that the vase of wilted wild flowers Lori had picked earlier in the week had left a ring on the table in the front hallway. It was carved oak, Victorian gothic in style, a gift from her mother-in-law. In no way did it fit with the casual elegance of the rest of the house but Edwin had insisted she find a place of prominence for it.

Looking on the bright side she figured that maybe mixing the quiche filling out here was a good idea after all. If she just happened to spill milk or eggs on the table… Edwin wouldn’t want a damaged table cluttering up the entranceway, would he?

“Mommy, watch this!”

Lori’s voice came faintly through the open door and Janice glanced up to see her wobbling down the brick driveway on her bicycle. At Edwin’s insistence the training wheels had been taken off last week. Janice winced as Lori’s wobbling took her to the side where she tumbled off the bike. She still had a problem when it came to stopping.

“It’s okay,” Lori called as Janice took a step towards the door. “I landed on the grass.”

Undaunted, she picked herself up and brushed herself off, making Janice smile. She wished she had half of Lori’s spirit – so brave and fearless, rising to face any challenge head on. She was the glue that held their small family together. The smile faded and she made a mental note to make sure Lori changed her clothes before her father got home. Edwin disliked untidiness.

One by one Janice began breaking eggs into the bowl. Frowning, she muttered, “I thought I had four eggs.”

Glancing out the door again she saw Lori was now walking her bike up to the top of the driveway. With any luck she’d be ready to come in as soon as she put her bike away. Holding the egg shells in one hand she headed back to the kitchen for the other egg.

Yup, it was still on the counter. Leaving it there she searched the fridge for the pre-shredded cheese, the special Tex-Mex blend that Edwin preferred. He was getting more and more picky about his food lately, almost as bad as Lori. Maybe tonight would be a good night to bring up the subject of a full time cook. It’s not like they couldn’t afford it, and it would give her more time to… well, she’d find some way of filling her time.

Scooping up the egg on the way back to the entrance hall, Janice stopped in her tracks. From where she stood she could see a reflection of the driveway in the small, gilt framed mirror on the table. Lori was speeding down the cobblestones, headed toward the road, her bike for the first time holding steady.

The screeching of brakes barely registered. There was a flash of blue, then only Lori twisted up with her bike on the pavement, as fragile as the egg that fell from Janice’s nerveless fingers, breaking as it hit the floor.

###

 


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

New Weekly Feature and Character Crushes

BSB News

Last week’s free download was Sprouted by Alex Westhaven. Be sure to browse our Available Books  section for this week’s surprise free download!

We’re starting a new feature this week called “Writing Prompt of the Week“. At the end of each Monday post, you’ll find a writing prompt. Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com along with your name/pen name, and we’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday! If there are no entries, we’ll post a “house” story based on the prompt. But we’re hoping to hear from you!

Looking for a full schedule of what’s coming up? Check out our new Calendar page, which includes book releases, sales, contests and giveaways.

Topic of the Week: Character Crushes

Have you ever had a “crush” on a book character? That romance hero who is just flawed enough to be perfect, or the heroine who performs unbelievable (but really cool) actions to get what needs to be done, done. Maybe they make you laugh or cry, but somehow they tap into those deep emotions and you wish you could reach right through the pages and hug them (for starters).

Or maybe even a villain/villainess who is so smart, so cunning that a tiny piece of you can’t help but admire him or her, even though you know they’re bad to the proverbial bone.

I get crushes on characters all the time – whether I’ve written them or not. Some good, some bad, but they all steal a piece of my heart. My personal tastes run largly toward older, mature-but-fit men who are strong-headed but still intelligent enough not to let them get them in trouble. Occasionally I find myself drawn in by an incredibly intelligent female character as well…though often, her evil side is winning the good/bad race. I wonder what that says about me? Best not to think too hard about it, methinks.

Still, it’s a harmless bit of fun, and we all could certainly use some of that right now, right?

I’ll admit that one of my favorite crush-worthy female characters Is Melanie Donner, the main character in Canvas by our own Alex Westhaven. And also Gray Pierce in James Rollins’ Sigma Series. Whew! Talk about the full package there…

Care to share your character crush? Feel free to comment below (or wherever you’re reading this at)!


Writing Prompt of the Week: Sitting on a round table in the entry of an expensive home are a half-empty pitcher of milk, a whisk, a bowl of three raw eggs, a small mirror in a picture frame and a vase of dead flowers. There’s one broken eggshell on the floor.

*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. 

February Release Dates & Time to Read

BSB News

The dates for our February releases are in! Cinderelleper by Ford Forkum will be released on February 14th – yes, Valentine’s Day. And An Elemental Earth, Book 4 in the Ardraci Elementals series by Carol R. Ward will be released on February 20th, which is President’s Day here in the states, and Family Day in Canada, where Ms. Ward lives and writes. Hooray for holiday releases!

Cinderelleper would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that not-so-romantic someone. And if you have the 20th off, what better way to spend it than with Chloe and Zephryn in a harrowing off-world adventure?

Watch for interviews with these two authors coming soon…

Topic of the Day: Reading Time

Do you set or have reading goals for the year? I know several people who set goals to read a certain number of books per year, or certain types of books, or both, though I’ve never really done that myself. I’m not really concerned with how much I read, and I read what I like or what sounds interesting, regardless of genre. The one thing I sometimes have problems with though is finding time to read.

Last year, I set a goal to quit writing early enough to be in bed by midnight at least five nights a week so I would have half an hour to read before sleeping. I ended up getting to bed around 12:15 – 12:30am most nights, but I did read for at least 15 minutes to half an hour even on the nights I made it to bed late.

I find reading to be a good transition between working and relaxing – sort of a mental palette-cleanser when shifting from one state of mind to the other. I often use other mindless activities (*coughfacebook*) in the same way, but social media is far too…communal to relax my mind the same way that getting lost in a book for a few minutes does.

This year, I’m going to try reading more for transitional periods where I would normally surf social media as well as between my writing and sleep hours. It’s kind of a dangerous swap, since I do need to *stop* reading in time to do the next thing I’m transitioning too, but the same is true of social media. Watching real people is often a bit stressful, especially in light of the current political scene, so frustrating as closing a book I want to keep reading might be, it may be a much healthier quick break than the reality shows currently online.

If you have reading goals for the year, or a tip that might be useful to others trying to carve out more reading time, leave a comment here on the blog, or connect with us at your favorite social media hangout.

And don’t forget to browse our Available Books pages to find this week’s freebie download!

State of the Snake 2017

Happy New Year from Brazen Snake Books!

If you’re reading this in an email or feed reader, you probably haven’t seen the new web site yet, so pop in when you have a few minutes to explore. It’s quite a bit nicer than the old one, if I do say so myself. If you’re reading on the site, thanks for dropping by!

Cinderelleper CoverBSB has been in a kind of hibernation state for the last year or so, but we’re starting the year off right with a new site design, and two new releases coming up in the next month or so: An Elemental Earth by Carol R. Ward (Book 4 in the Ardraci Elementals series), and Cinderelleper by Ford Forkum, a satire/humor author who is new to publishing with us. You may recognize the name from his previously published books – Beers in Heaven and Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, I assure you, you’ll want to check out his work.

Last fall we hired Angela Fitzgerald, a publicity/marketing assistant, and she’s been doing a lot of posting on our BSB facebook page and twitter accounts, as well as helping to spread the word about our books. She’s been incredibly helpful, as it’s a lot of work to keep our social media accounts active and engaging, and I’m not available during the day to keep things going on that front. Angela has been a huge help, and I really appreciate all the hard work she does for us on a daily basis.

Much like the rest of the site, I decided to completely start over with this blog, so everything’s been An Elemental Earth Covercleared out and I’ll be posting not only new releases, author interviews and special sales/freebie events, but also a weekly discussion on either reading, writing, or publishing (depends on what seems interesting in any given week). I hope it will be fun and informative, and I hope you’ll feel free to chime in on a post with your thoughts and comments as well.

For those of you who have never tried our books, I hope you will! To entice you (and reward those who’ve already sampled the goods), there is a free book download on one of the individual book pages, and there will be a different free download (in PDF format) every week of the year. You just have to find it – a literary scavenger hunt of sorts. The link for the first one is up and active now!

We will be sending out quarterly newsletters this year as well that will include new and upcoming releases, and other short articles we think you might find interesting. To get your name on the list, sign up on the BSB Quarterly page. The first one will go out in early to mid March.

Stay tuned – we have lots of great stuff coming your way!