Discussing Books & Weekly Writing Prompts

Lucky Dog CoverDiscussing Books

Do you talk about the books you read with other people? There are only a couple of people I discuss books with on a regular basis, but my mom is in a couple different book clubs she seems to enjoy. I’ve been in book clubs before, but I don’t typically read all that much “literature”, which is what those clubs tend to discuss.

I’ve only been in a couple of clubs that discussed genre fiction, and they fizzled fairly quickly. I wonder if it’s because there just isn’t that much to discuss with genre fiction, or if it’s just that it’s sometimes harder to identify the main themes and potential discussion topics in a piece of genre fiction than it is in a more literary novel.

My husband and I discuss the books we both read, which is always interesting and sometimes turns into a much longer and more involved discussion than one might expect with a suspense/thriller type novel. It’s those discussions that really make me think that maybe more of us should try harder to share our thoughts on the stories we read, even the stories where the discussion points aren’t terribly obvious. I think most authors discover something (and subsequently reveal something) about both human nature and society in every book they write. Maybe if we looked a little deeper, we’d even discover truths that the author didn’t mean to include, but that were made apparent through the story all the same.

I’d like to see readers dive deeper into our stories, and I’m considering launching some discussion questions for the books we have out now, and every book we publish in the future. Those who want to just read the whole story at face value can, certainly, but for those who want to delve deeper, it seems like a discussion guide of sorts might be helpful.

What do you think of the idea of discussion questions/guides for genre books? Is it something you’d be interested in, or something you’d just skim over? Let us know in the comments, or wherever you’re reading on social media!


Wanna write? Here are a couple of prompts to get you started!

Prose Prompt: A book club has discovered that one of their members wrote the murder mystery they’re reading, and that they’re all victims in the story. They figure out which member is the author…does he/she get arrested, or do the members end up actual victims?

Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite day of the week.

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.

 

Bookshelves, Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

Canvas CoverBookshelves & Books

How long has it been since you organized your bookshelves?

This past weekend I spent a fair amount of time moving about a quarter of our books from the three bookcases in our home office to the living room floor and dining room table, and then back again after we replaced the cheap pressboard shelving with much nicer plywood shelving that my husband built custom for the room. I meant to go through and sort/reorganize/cull that section of books as I put them back, but it was nearly 8pm on Sunday before we got the shelves in, and I needed to get the books put back so we weren’t tripping over them all week. So I just tossed them up there, willy-nilly, and now I actually think they’re more randomly shelved than they were before.

Ironically, they still look “neater”, because there’s room, so they aren’t crammed together, and the shelve sizes fit the books better. But I definitely need to go through and reorganize/cull, and then I can go through the bookcases in our bedroom and basement and reorganize those as well. But it’s going to have to wait until the snow flies and things quiet down. A good January/February project, maybe?

I did forget to put my vintage/antique books back (they’re still on my dining room table), so I’ll have to do at least some shelf reorganization to fit those in where I want them. I’ll do that next weekend though. It’s kind of surprising how much work it is moving books around. Thank goodness I don’t care for hardbacks! We have some, but most of those live in one of the bedroom bookcases.

When was the last time you really took a look at the titles on your shelves? My husband and I were looking the new shelves over and talking about certain titles that caught our eye, and it made me wonder how many people really “look” at their bookshelves, and think about what they have, and what they’ve read in the past to shape their way of thinking.

Maybe we should all reorganize and take stock of our shelves more often…

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A person is going through his/her books and comes across one they can’t remember reading, much less buying. Opening the cover to get a refresher scan of the first page, they find a photograph that is definitely not of them or any family members. What do they do?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: A person is going through his/her books and comes across one they can’t remember reading, much less buying. Opening the cover to get a refresher scan of the first page, they find a photograph that is definitely not of them or any family members. What do they do? 

News, Reading New Authors, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

The Naughty List Cover

Like a little kink in your erotica? Last week’s freebie should have fit the bill quite nicely. Trinity Marlow’s The Naughty List is a romantic little erotic adventure that’s just 99 cents at your favorite etailer. If you missed the free download…pop over to the book page for links and an excerpt from the beginning!

The next freebie is ready to download now in the Available Books section…happy hunting!

Last week’s prompts inspired a poem posted Saturday by yours truly (it inspired prose too, but I didn’t get a chance to finish it, unfortunately). It’s a quick little read – check it out at the link below:

Prompted Poetry: About the House

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

Topic of the Week: Reading New Authors

I was out book shopping with a friend this past weekend, and picked up several books by authors I’ve never read (and a few by old favorites too). It made me think about how some people are more adventurous than others, and how I’ve heard that some people prefer to just stick with authors they know and love most of the time, rather than trying new whenever possible.

I was trying to remember if there was ever a time I didn’t want to try new authors, but I can’t. I’m always looking for the next great book, no matter who wrote it. My main criteria for book shopping is whether or not the random page I turn to when I open the book in the store engages me or not. Though I admit I do give more shopping “weight” to authors I love…and if my budget is limited, the known author gets my cash (if he/she has something new out, anyway).

Do you stick with authors you know, or do you actively seek out “new-to-you” authors to potentially love? Why?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt! Our local county fair is this week, so we have a pair of fair-themed prompts to work with:

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone figures out how to beat the carnival games and wins a big stuffed monkey. He/she gives it to a stranger – what happens?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite carnival ride.

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!

News, Library Cataloging, and Weekly Prompts

BSB News

MacKenzie Saves the World Cover

First up…the newsletter is going to be a week late this quarter. So instead of it going out tomorrow, it will hit your inboxes next Monday, July 3rd. Which is just in time to announce an Independence Day sale, so watch that inbox!

Did you find last week’s freebie download? MacKenzie Saves the World would make a great beach read, methinks. If you like comic books, chocolate fountains, cookies, drama and romance, this is the book for you!

This week’s free download is waiting for you to find it our Available Books section. Happy hunting…

Don’t forget to pop over and check out this week’s writing prompt poem and story: First Kiss and Skills by yours truly.

Topic of the Week: Library Organization

*Note: All links below are for Android, as that’s what I use for mobile. 

My husband is building me new bookshelves for my office, and as you might guess, I’m quite excited about it. We have a rather substantial library (even with new shelves, it will never all fit in the office – there are books all over the house), and we still buy most books in print, plus I have both a stamp collection and a comic book collection that are currently stored in binders.

Naturally, the thought of moving all those books is exhausting, but there’s also one other thing that kind of bugs me…and that is, we don’t have any sort of inventory for our books. There are far too many to type all the information in by hand, and the last time I tried the Goodreads barcode scanner, it was less than impressive and unable to find a good chunk of what I tried to scan. So I gave up.

As I was thinking about the new shelves the other night, I got an email from LibraryThing that mentioned their new Android app, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to go try it out, and see if it worked any better than the Goodreads app. Of course I haven’t used the Goodreads app in forever, so I decided to try that one again too, just in case it’s improved over the years.

I have to say…I was extremely impressed with the LibraryThing app. The barcode scanner worked great and easily, and even found Ford Forkum’s latest book with no trouble (just recently released). Shelving the book in categories was very easy as well, and I can definitely see myself cataloging my entire library in just a few days using their app.

I’m sorry to say that the Goodreads barcode scanner still didn’t work very well, and still couldn’t find several barcodes I tried to scan (including Ford’s new book). I’m not a huge fan of Goodreads anyway (too much drama, not very author-friendly), so no biggie for me.

At that point, I was happy with the LibraryThing app, and figured I’d just use that. I figured then that I’d look at comic book collector apps, because I need to index that collection as well, but I don’t really want my comic books in the same place as my non-comic books (just for clarity and ease of searching…there are so many of each!).

That’s when I found CLZ Comics – an amazing app that seems to have no trouble scanning barcodes, and automatically “shelves” books into series, and in order while allowing you to pick which cover you have if there are more than one available. It’s free for the first 100 issues, and $15 for a lifetime unlimited license, which includes cloud storage. This is a no-brainer for me…Comixology is confusing (or was) and most of the apps out there are geared more toward digital comic books rather than physical (which is what I prefer). So $15 for a database to store all of my comic books for life, where I can access the catalog anytime (I believe it’s downloadable too, so easy to backup/use offline)? Easy decision.

Naturally, when I saw they had a book catalog app as well, I downloaded that too, and I think that’s going to be my go-to cataloging app for books, though I may use the LibraryThing app concurrently for awhile and just see which one seems more intuitive/robust.

I didn’t try cataloging ebooks at all…I tend to buy ebooks through Amazon most of the time, and categorize them on my Kindle. But according to the play store descriptions, CLZ apps will store ebooks just as easily as physical copies, so I may start adding my ebooks too, depending on how difficult it is to do.

I’m quite pleased with finding CLZ for cataloging, and am really looking forward to scanning in as many books as possible over the rest of the summer. If only I could find a similar program for my other collections.

Do you use a library catalog program to keep track of your books? Which one, and what are your likes/dislikes about it?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  It’s the time of year when gardens everywhere are just begging to hear people’s private thoughts. Write about a character sharing his or her inner monologue with the flowers…and whether or not the garden (or a garden eavesdropper) replies…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Roses are blooming everywhere, and are always a popular theme/subject in poetry. Write a poem about roses – love them, hate them, or use them as a metaphor.

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.