Release Week, Excerpt, and February Writing Prompts

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Look out!”

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

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


Monthly Writing Prompts:

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

Stories and poems for each month should be submitted by the last day of that month to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. The following month, one poem and one story from the previous month will be chosen for publication here on the blog, and also in our monthly newsletter. Authors will receive a flat fee of $10 per poem or story we choose to publish. Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.

The Heart and the Triangle, and Writing Prompts

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

There can be only two, to paraphrase The Highlander.

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

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

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

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

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


Monthly Writing Prompts:

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

Stories and poems for each month should be submitted by the last day of that month to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. The following month, one poem and one story from the previous month will be chosen for publication here on the blog, and also in our monthly newsletter. Authors will receive a flat fee of $10 per poem or story we choose to publish. Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.

The Art of Covers & Submission Deadline Weds.

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

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

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

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

Stories and poems for each month should be submitted by the last day of that month to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. The following month, one poem and one story from the previous month will be chosen for publication here on the blog, and also in our monthly newsletter. Authors will receive a flat fee of $10 per poem or story we choose to publish. Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.


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

Coming Soon – Insects and Adventure

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

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

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

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

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


January Writing Prompts

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

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

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

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…

Buy Digital: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | iBooks | Kobo
Buy Print: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Buy Audio: Amazon | Audible | iTunes

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…