Free for Halloween, NaNoWriMo, & Weekly Writing Prompts

Jack CoverBSB News

Happy Halloween! Yes, the post is a day late this week, but it’s Halloween, and it seemed like a good day to give away a free book! So, if you click on one of the links below, you can download a copy of Jack by Alex Westhaven completely free. A little something to get you in the mood for tonight’s festivities…

Download PDF file  | Download Epub file | Download Mobi file

 

National Novel Writing Month

Of course if you’re inclined to write a book like so many of us are, Halloween doubles as the night to make sure your sugar stocks are filled for the craziest writing challenge of the year, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – Na-No-rye-mo) that starts on November 1st. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days, it’s the quintessential way to get a novel draft down quickly and in a kind of kamakazie fashion. It’s also a great way to establish a daily writing habit, even if you don’t reach 50k by the end of the month.

I’ve got part of a loose outline done for my NaNo novel this year, and I’m really excited to get started on it. I’ve been planning this book since last fall, letting the story marinate in my head while I worked on other things, and it’s so ready to be written, it’s not even funny. I’m just hoping that putting so much thought/advanced planning into it won’t jinx me, and make it harder to get down on paper.

I don’t often start NaNo with much of a plan though. Normally I just stick a couple of characters in a situation, and start writing. The characters tell me the story as I write. This is the most planning I’ve ever done, so I’m curious to see if it will make it easier or harder to reach “The End”.

Do you participate in NaNo? Ever wanted to write a novel but just couldn’t get moving on it? Check out the web site at nanowrimo.org – maybe this is your year! My username there is “outofwords” – feel free to connect!

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Prompt of the Week: While walking through the woods, your character stumbles over something hidden under a pile of leaves. What is it, and what does your character do?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about trick-or-treating…from either the trick-or-treater side, or from the perspective of handing out candy.

 

Excerpt: Lettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven

Lettuce Pray CoverLettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven

He was feeding the bitch cake. Off his own fork.
Bastard.
Abby Mars peered through the small portal window in the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the dining room. Her ears burned with anger as she watched her boyfriend with another woman. Not just any woman, but a fat cow three sizes bigger than the unfortunate top she’d managed to stuff herself into. What she’d done to make Dominic fall for her was anyone’s guess, but he could have at least had the decency to tell Abby.
Who did he think he was, anyway – bringing his new fling to her restaurant? Did he think she wouldn’t notice just because she was a sous chef, and rarely made it out of the kitchen?
She looked down at the flat stomach she worked so hard for, draped in a stark white jacket. She loved food – there wasn’t a dish out there she wouldn’t try at least once. But she watched her portions, she was on her feet all day, and three times a week she went to the gym. Dominic appreciated it, or so she thought. Watching him feed the fat girl another bite of chocolate cake made her want to grab the nearest knife and slash his cheating throat.
But she wouldn’t. Not here, anyway, where anyone could see and hear. She’d bide her time, plan her revenge, and then they’d die together.
She turned away from the window and strode back to her station. Salads were her assignment today – chopping, dicing, mixing, dressing. The knife flew under her fingers, making a satisfying clunk every time it hit the cutting board. Over the next hour, she forced herself to focus on her job rather than her crumbling love life. She told herself there was no point in worrying about it just yet. Plenty of time for that when she was safely back at the apartment, flinging Dominic’s things out onto the front lawn. Her lips curved up slightly at the thought. She’d call a locksmith after work and have him meet her at the house. Then she could just relax and lick her wounds in peace.
When her shift was finished and her station cleaned, she made the call and went home, fitting her key into the lock one last time.
It wouldn’t turn.


Revenge is a dish best served lukewarm in this Death by Veggies short story from the author of When She Cries. But is getting even worth all the work and clean-up? Abby Mars is determined to find out…

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News, Spoilers, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

An Elemental Earth Cover

We posted one poem for the prompts last week – a fun little eclipse-centered piece called The Warning by Alex Westhaven. Did you read it? If not, catch it at the link below:

Prompted Poetry: The Warning

Want to join the fun next week? Scroll down, grab a prompt and write a story or poem to submit!

Topic of the Week: Spoilers

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks doing my level best to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers online. I can’t watch on Sunday nights (due to getting ready for the work week and an unpredictable schedule), so I’ve been a week behind this whole season (if you can call so few episodes a “season”). I’m still a week behind, the season finale was last night, and I tell you what…it’s getting really hard to avoid having the show “spoiled” even when I’m just scrolling through headlines on my feed reader.

I mean…headlines. People seriously can’t write those things so as not to give spoilers? Lazy writing, I say.

Which brings me back to books. How do you feel about book spoilers? Whether revealed accidentially by an over-excited friend or reviewer, or by the author or publishing company in a blurb, trailer or whatever…do spoilers ruin the book for you, or are you still able to enjoy the story when you know what happens next or even how it ends?

I’m of two minds on spoilers (of any kind). I’ll still read/watch the full book or show even if I know what’s going to happen, because the story is in the journey, not the destination. But there’s definitely a missing tension when you already know the punchline that will flatten the funniest joke, and I think the same holds true of spoilers.

As to how spoilers spread…I think everyone should agree not to speak publicly about a show, movie, or book until at least one week after it’s been released. They can talk in private conversations or groups, of course, but no headlines, no public convos, nothing until a week later, to give everyone like me a chance to catch up without having to be all stressed out when we scroll our feeds. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A character went to get his/her fortune read six years ago. Today, that fortune is coming true in the most unexpected way. Tell us about it…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about something (anything) that is quickly going bad.

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. Poems will be posted on Saturdays, Prose on Sundays. Happy writing!

Weekly Poetry Prompt Stories: The Warning

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about how ancient civilizations might have viewed/perceived an eclipse.


The Warning by Alex Westhaven

The air is strange today, my dear,
the sky is growing dim,
I’m not sure what to do, my dear,
and neither is the wind.

Night is falling quickly now,
though we’ve hours yet ‘til dusk,
We must join the others, quickly now,
and find out what to do.

The sun is black and ringed with fire,
the world must surely end,
the gods are angry and play with fire,
we’ll sacrifice to appease.

But wait — the world grows brighter now,
and darkness fades away,
we rise and smile, brighter now,
relieved to be alive.

A sacrifice still must be made, my dear,
to keep the gods at bay,
an honor to be the Chosen, my dear,
a lovely fire-god’s bride.

When you’re gone, we’ll think of you,
and the day the sun went black,
we’ll send our thanks and sing of you,
goddess of eternal night.


Check back next Saturday for more poetry! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

News, Named Houses & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

The Handyman's Harem Girl Cover

Did you get last week’s free download of The Handyman’s Harem Girl? The third book in the Fantasy Ranch series, it includes a deeper look into “ranch life”, and a mystery that includes doll heads, of all things. Intense in places, campy in others (as per the series), it’s a good read, if we do say so ourselves. Check out the excerpt added to the book page this past weekend…

And then go looking for the next freebie, waiting now in the Available Books section!

In keeping with our rather spontaneous prompt-posting history, we didn’t have any poetry to share, but we do have a flash fiction piece posted yesterday by yours truly. Did you miss it? Go check it out here:

Prompted Prose: Metamorphosis

Want to join the fun next week? Scroll down, grab a prompt and write a story or poem to submit!

Topic of the Week: Named Houses

Have you ever noticed that houses with names seem more like another character in a book? Even if it’s just “Last Name Manor/Mansion/House”, it always seems like a name gives what is normally just an inanimate object/setting a life-like quality that your average house on the street just doesn’t have.

For instance, if I tell you my house is green, and ranch-style, built in the 1950s with not nearly enough electrical outlets and a large yard that needs a lot of work, you get the idea, but you really don’t need or want any further details, because it’s boring, frankly. It’s just like so many other houses that meet the same exact criteria.

If, however, I tell you that my husband and I refer to our house as “Scaryview”, and that we put on a rather elaborate Halloween display most years, there are several lizards buried in the back yard, and that whenever either of us is alone, but never when we’re together, we tend to hear strange noises coming from the attic late at night…well then. You may not want to visit, but it’s at least a little more interesting, don’t you think?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and noticing more that when authors refer to buildings by name, I tend to give them more of my attention than when a building is just a nameless part of the setting.

Incidentally, Alex Westhaven (one of my alter-egos) just published a blog post “introducing” us to the main setting of a book she’s starting soon, which happens to be a large estate with an old, indestructible, seemingly out-of-place-and-time mansion. Go check it out, and let us know what you think about the Mysterious Mardeaux Mansion

Do you have a favorite named fictional house? Tell us in the comments!


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write a story about someone who has just picked up the keys to their new house, and they’ve just unlocked the door and stepped inside for the first time.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about your house (or a house you want). Do you like it? Love it? Hate it? Does it hate you?

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. Poems will be posted on Saturdays, Prose on Sundays. Happy writing!

Poetry Prompt: Jewelry Legends

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Pick a piece of jewelry (watch, earrings, necklace, cuff links, whatever) and make up a legend about it. Write the legend as a poem.

We have two similar legends this week…necklaces/pendents really do lend themselves well to legends, don’t you think? 


The Witch’s Daughters by Carol R. Ward

 

The legend:
Once there was a witch who had three daughters. A wizard, claiming they were evil, killed the witch, but as she died she sent her power into her children to protect them. Unable to kill the daughters, the wizard cursed them into feline form and then trapped them in a pendant. Legend has it that should the daughters ever be released from their prison, great evil would befall the world.

 

 

The poem: 

“I see the piece that’s caught your eye,”
the jeweler said to me.
“A special piece, to be sure,
the witch cats in a tree.”
He plucked the pendant from the case
and laid it in my palm;
it had a warmth all of its own,
yet radiated calm.
“Perhaps you’d find it interesting
the story of this piece,
the legend of the wizard’s curse
and how it brought us peace.”
I told him that was quite all right,
I’d heard it once before.
I paid the price he asked for it
and then I left the store.
The legend has been changed by time,
though parts of it are true;
I was there when the spell was cast,
this curse I now un-do.
The witch was not the evil one
nor her daughters three,
the ones cursed into feline form
to sit upon the tree.
And that was not enough for him
he cursed them further still
a living death trapped in the disk
from which the moonlight spills.
The wizard knew there was another
daughter to the witch
but she was just a tiny babe –
easily dismissed.
He left the babe alone within
the witch’s humble home
thinking that she’d surely die
while he was left to roam.
But she will be the wizard’s bane
as he will surely see.
Now that I am fully grown
I’ll set my sisters free.


The Blue Rose by Alex Westhaven

White pearls form a frame
’round a blue ‘namel rose,
a cheater of death, so
the old story goes.

Made for his firstborn
a match to his blood,
immortality its gift from
a sinister love.

As long as it hangs round
her neck her youth stays,
if the pendent’s removed
She’ll quickly show age.

Two more sisters make three,
but not really the same.
Experimental like her, all
pawns in his game.

Once immortal, now free,
she takes baby away,
leaving Misty alone
to make her own way.

Misty roams the dark halls
a soul with dark arts,
There’s a dagger to find,
poison-tipped for his heart.

When a stranger moves in
hiding from her worst woes,
she’ll find the pearl and blue pendant
in the shape of a rose.

###


Check back next Saturday for more poetry! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…

 

Of Grasshoppers & Spats in the Park

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a grasshopper/grasshoppers.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: 
 A fight breaks out at a picnic in the park. Passing by when it happens are a woman jogging with a stroller, a man with ear buds connected to his cell having a loud discussion with someone, and a teen on a skateboard with an army-style canvas backpack. Which of the passers by breaks up the fight, and how?


Grasshopper
by Carol R. Ward

Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen
a subtle kick, not strong at all
but lots of flavour for a drink so small.

Philip Guichet, he knew your worth
in New Orleans he gave you birth –
a splash of this and a splash of that
shaken with ice in a minute flat.

Use crème de menthe, a quarter ounce
and crème de cacao to give it bounce,
and don’t forget to include the cream
for a drink that tastes just like a dream.

You taste like mint but chocolate too
like a liquid thin mint in a brew.
Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen.

***

Lovely Weather
by Alex Westhaven

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bee.
It is indeed, replied the bee,
and buzzed off toward his hive.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the ant.
Can’t stop to chat, replied the ant,
carrying a leaf on his back.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the fly.
Putrid scents are the best, replied the fly,
and the garbage is perfectly ripe.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the frog.
Hop along or I’ll eat you, replied the frog.
You’re just the right size for a bite.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bird.
In one bold, heartless crunch,
the bird got himself lunch.

Lovely weather, indeed, said the bird.

***

Best Game Ever
by Carol R. Ward

It started out innocently enough. Jeffrey and Alex were friends, best friends as a matter of fact. It was a beautiful summer’s day and they found themselves with some unexpected time on their hands. But what to do with it? They were easily bored and after much consideration they’d come to the park to play ball…

Even those who witnessed the altercation couldn’t say what started it. One minute the park was calm and quiet, the next the two had resorted to name calling and insults at the top of their lungs.

Sandra Covington was jogging by with the stroller and saw them, but she was hesitant to get involved. She knew both Jeffrey and Alex but her time was limited. There was a stirring from the stroller and she shook her head and continued on. Whatever had set the two off she was sure they’d work it out themselves. She had one more mile to go and didn’t want to take the chance on the baby waking up before she was done.

Though cutting through the park was a quicker way to the office, Lawrence Thompson hadn’t expected it to be so … busy. He attached the ear buds to his cell phone and tucked the phone in his pocket, using the blue tooth feature for his conference call. He shot the combatants a glare. This was an important call and he could hardly hear over their noise.

“Hey! Can you keep it down? I’m on a call here,” he yelled at them.

They didn’t even so much as spare him a glance. Whatever they were arguing over threatened to become an epic battle. Lawrence raised the volume on his phone and turned away. The nerve of some people. Just because this was a public park didn’t mean he should have to put up with this crap.

Teenaged Kevin Masters thought the crowds were great as he wove back and forth around the people. He narrowly missed Sandra with her stroller, but was forced off the path by Lawrence, who was taking his half of the walkway out of the middle. He landed in an ungraceful heap near some long grass, all scrawny elbows and knees.

“The path is for everyone you know!” he yelled after Lawrence, who was practically yelling into his phone, gesturing with both hands. Lawrence was too focused on his call to pay any attention to one skinny teenager.

“You rich old farts think you own the world,” Kevin said, voice raised so the businessman could hear him. “You’re lucky I don’t sue for reckless endangerment or something.” Okay, so maybe he didn’t know the first thing about suing someone, but it sounded good anyway.

Shaking his head, Kevin picked himself up and dusted his hands over his low slung pants. Picking up his ball cap he smacked it on his thigh a couple of times and put it back on his head, bill turned firmly backwards.

As he picked up his skateboard he noticed a flash of red in the long grass. It was a ball.

“Hey little dudes,” he called over to Jeffrey and Alex. “Did one of you drop your ball?”

“It’s mine!” Alex yelled first.

“Is not, it’s mine!” Jeffrey insisted.

As Kevin stood there watching, the two six-year-olds fell to arguing again, the assertions of “mine” flying back and forth like a ping pong ball. The truth of the matter was it belonged to neither of them. They’d found it when they were at the park three weeks ago and had been taking turns taking it home.

He watched them for a few minutes but what started out as kind of funny turned boring after a few minutes. With a shrug Kevin tossed the ball in their general direction. It landed several feet away, in plain sight, but the two didn’t pause in their arguing. Setting his skate board on the pavement again, he pushed off with his foot and was on his way again, weaving in and out through the passersby.

The prize lay forgotten on the ground as Jeffrey and Alex fell to pushing each other back and forth, which then led to wrestling. As they were thus occupied, a stray dog happened by.

He was a nondescript brown with the gangliness of a very young dog. He sniffed at the bright red ball and his tail began to wag. He showed his sophistication by executing a perfect downward dog pose, then his exuberance by barking at it. As quick as lightning his head shot forward and he snatched it up in his jaws, flinging it upwards then scampering after it with a joyful bark.

The boys stopped their wrestling and stared in disbelief.

“Hey!” one of them called out. “That’s ours!”

They raced towards their ball and the dog barked again, snatching it out of the grass and leaping away, tail waving madly. Yelling and laughing the boys gave chase as the dog bounded away.

This was the best game ever.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

News & Weekly Prompts

BSB News

The Minister's Maid Cover

Last week’s download was the second book in the Fantasy Ranch series – The Minister’s Maid by Jamie DeBree. Not nearly so innocent as it sounds, this is a treasure-hunt style adventure novel set in the oh-so-fun (and somewhat campy, admittedly) Fantasy Ranch resort. We’ve added an excerpt to the book page so you can check out the first little bit, just click on the link above!

As always, check out our Available Books section, for this week’s free PDF download…

Last week’s writing prompts resulted in a poem called Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree (moi), and the start of a new Insecticide story tentatively called Psychic Spider by Alex Westhaven. You’ll find both on last Saturday’s blog post – check them out!

Topic of the Week: No Topic

No discussion this week – my apologies. Discussion posts will return next Saturday. Go read or write something!


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man ordering coffee is jostled by someone as he’s speaking with the barista. Who jostled him, and what does he/she say when confronted?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a “ten-things-I-hate-about” poem. Ten things you truly hate about someone, or something.

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.

Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree & Psychic Spider Excerpt by Alex Westhaven

Poetry Prompt of the Week: It’s tax time here in the US, and many of us are parting with money, rearranging money, finagling budgets and generally annoyed with the fact that everything costs money. Write a poem about money. Love it, hate it, balance the two (and the budget while you’re at it?)…whatever comes to mind about currency.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Two women are sitting at a bar having drinks. Three men are at the other end of the bar, clearly drunk and getting drunker. The women notice something small moving toward them on the bar. It’s a tarantula, but there’s a note attached to the large spider…


Bookkeeping
by Jamie DeBree

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

###

Psychic Spider (excerpt)
by Alex Westhaven

*Author’s note: This feels like it wants to be at least a decent-sized short story, not just a novel. So here’s how it starts. Stay tuned for the rest later this year…

“What is that? There’s something on the bar. It’s coming this way — Hannah, you have to move now! Like, right now!”

Hannah put her glass down on the napkin in front of her and calmly turned to look in the direction Beth was pointing. Sure enough, there was a big tarantula crawling toward them on the bar. And the poor thing looked like it had been given a mission, judging from the small piece of white paper laying on it’s back.

Glancing at Beth, who now stood a good five feet away from her bar stool, Hannah shook her head.

“It’s not going to hurt you — tarantulas are normally pretty gentle. Though it might shoot you with a leg hair if it feels threatened, but there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Beth shook her head and held both hands up, palms out.

“You can go right ahead and be spider-bait if you want. I’m find over here. Watching. I’ll be a witness. Until I run out, anyways.”

Hannah sighed. The spider was nearly in front of her now, and she slowly reached over to pick up the note. Unfolding it, she read the single sentence to herself.

First one to leave dies, second one is the killer.

###


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

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.