News, First Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum is now available! Have you gotten your copy yet? What are you waiting for? Get yours in print or ebook formats on Amazon.com

And then come back here and check out the excerpt from Tempest,  last week’s free download, if romantic suspense is your thing.

Then go poke around in our Available Books section and see if you can find this week’s freebie…

Or maybe go check out the poetry and prose inspired by last week’s writing prompts. There are two poems this week, Ivy by Carol R. Ward and Innocent Evil by yours truly, and also a story by Carol called Kudzu. Vines were a popular subject last week…backstory, not so much.

Topic of the Week: First Books

I was around five when I started reading books with words on my own, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the first one was. Ask me again when I’m older – I hear the closer you get to death, the more details you remember about your childhood…

As for the first book I ever wrote – it was a romance novel that I worked on every day, two hundred and fifty words at a time. I intended to submit it to Harlequin, gave it to one of their authors to critique, heard for the first time how…same-structured they had to be (I knew some, but not how strict it was), and decided to scrap it and start over (yes, I still have the draft, and yes, I may still clean it up and publish it one of these days).

The next book I wrote was Tempest, which I published myself in 2010 against the advice of nearly every other writer out there. Back then, it was still “not cool” to publish your own books, and one person even rescinded an offer to critique the first three chapters for me after finding out I’d be self-publishing, rather than submitting. Yes, I’m still a little bitter about that, especially since nearly everyone, including said person is publishing their own books now. But, whatever. That was my start, and I’m glad I did it. Tempest is still one of my favorites out of those I’ve written, and it probably always will be.

Do you remember the first book you ever read? What about the first one you wrote? Or the first one you published?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about a fictional first job interview.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a (yours, or someone else’s) first kiss.

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.

“Ivy” and “Kudzu” by Carol R. Ward, “Innocent Evil” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

Our prose prompt was a bit too obscure it seems, but we have two poems and a story that work with the poetry prompt, so all is not lost! Enjoy!


Ivy 
by Carol R. Ward

Twisting, turning, growing fast
up the trellis next to the glass
of the kitchen’s south window –
so big you need replanting now.

Of all the plants who’ve graced that spot
you’re the best one that I’ve bought
you love the sun, need little care
sometimes I almost forget you’re there.

You forgive me if I forget to water –
I don’t do it as often as I oughter
yet you thrive, I must be blest.
English ivy you’re the best!

###

Innocent Evil
by Jamie DeBree

How innocent you look,
all pale yellow flowers
and plain oblong leaves.
Even your particular green
is unremarkable.

Such an evil tease,
enticing innocents to feed
on your boring, poisonous leaves,
and maim themselves on your
tack-like seeds.

So defensive, little vine.
Why do you attack so mercilessly?
What did my dog’s paws, bike
tires, a lowly sheep,
ever do to you?

###

Kudzu
by Carol R. Ward

It’s not so bad, being buried alive. You don’t even realize that’s what has happened at first, where you are. There’s no up, nor down, no sense of ‘self’. There’s nothing to see, no vibration of sound…just cool moist darkness all around you.

Awareness comes slowly. Gradually you become conscious of the earth pressing in around you. Or more precisely it is you that is expanding, swelling, trying to stretch outwards. There’s an undeniable urge to move. Through instinct a sense of direction is formed. Up. Push up. That way is up. Expand upwards while at the same time creating an anchor that pushes downwards.

It’s not easy in the beginning, moving through the mixture of rock and sand and clay, and the organic matter mixed with water and air. But these things feed you, give you the strength to continue on. You must continue on, no matter what.

As you near the surface you become aware of a new sensation – heat. You feel the warmth of the sun even before you break through the outer layer, and when you do – oh, when you do the feeling is like nothing you could have ever imagined. It’s…rapturous.

You rest for a time, basking in the heat of the sun, absorbing its energy. But it’s not enough. You need more. You must have more. Straining upwards, your leaves unfurl like solar collectors which is, in part, what they are. As you elongate, spreading above the earth, you also spread below, roots feathering outwards to better inhale the moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Dimly you’re aware you are not alone, there are others. Some, like you, are just making their way out of the soil. Others are well established. You do not care that they are called ‘trees’ or ‘fences’ or ‘rocks’, you care only that they can be used as a stepping stone towards the sun and you cover them indiscriminately. You choke and strangle your neighbors, you smother the inanimate objects. You have one purpose now, to reach the sun.

Even during the times of cold darkness, when the pale light of the moon and stars are inadequate to your needs, you strive towards your goal. The energy you gathered during the day is able to sustain your efforts – just barely.

It is, perhaps, an impossible goal, to reach the sun, but you’re helpless to do anything else. This is your purpose – to grow, to expand, to let nothing prevent you from your quest. You cover everything in your path, creating first a blanket then a wall of green, wrapping around the sharp wire of fences, curling up posts and poles and trees, trailing over rocks and walls. Seeking ever upwards.

There are those that call you noxious, nothing more than an intrusive weed. You don’t care. There are those that try to stop you – pulling you up, setting fire to you, spraying with chemicals – but you are nothing if not tenacious.

You’re a true survivor and you will be here forever.


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, Backstory, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum releases this Wednesday, June 14th – Flag Day! If you’ve read Cinderelleper, you know just how much fun is in store with this latest book, and you can even pre-order it now on Amazon for just 99 cents!

Last week’s free download was The Old Sofa – did you find it? One of our short story anthologies, it includes some very intriguing tales all based on the cover art photo. Go check out the picture and an excerpt from one of the stories we added to the page this week!

This week’s free PDF download is ready to go in our Available Books section – all you have to do is find it!

Did you catch the two prompt pieces from last week this past Saturday? The prompts were all about cliffhangers, and we posted a poem by myself called Falling and a flash story by Carol R. Ward called Rare Books. If you haven’t, go check ’em out…

Topic of the Week: Backstory

Writers, how much of the “story behind the story” do you know about your characters? I normally don’t discover backstory until I’m writing a draft and the character reveals bits and pieces, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “story behind the story”, so to speak. How it reveals itself (or is revealed by the character), how much pertains to the story at hand, and how certain actions and decisions made a long time ago can really affect the direction of a character’s story well into the future (just as it works in “real life”, of course).

I have trouble writing if I know too much of the story before I write, so I doubt I’ll ever be the writer that knows all of her character’s secrets before I start drafting a novel. I get bored if I know too much about the story before I start writing and I’m less likely to finish it.  I’m kind of in awe of those writers who can plan out the majority of a book before they start writing – I’d totally lose interest. But I do think it would be really handy to know at least the bit of a character’s backstory that directly affects the front-story of the main character before writing anything.

Do you know your character’s backstory before you write? Or do you find out with your characters as you’re writing like I do?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

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.

Falling by Jamie DeBree & Rare Books by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about falling off a cliff.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about something that really happened to you in the style of a fiction novel. Give it a cliffhanger ending.


Falling 
by Jamie DeBree

It’s always a little bit scary
at first.
A glance, a look, a flush of
blushing awareness.

The danger still out of sight
lies quietly,
at the foot of a hidden cliff and
gravity waits.

Stomach butterflies flit happily,
a touch
on tender skin brings joy, anticipation,
and longing.

A warm smile, a tender hug, a
slow kiss,
a step off the ledge and sometimes it’s absolute
weightless bliss.

Sometimes gravity wins.

######################

Rare Books
by Carol R. Ward

“Please, Mrs. Andrews,” Elise begged. “I’ll be ever so careful.”

Mrs. Andrews heaved a long suffering sigh. Elise was a familiar face around the library, a precocious child with a sophisticated taste in reading. “All right, but you must promise you won’t touch anything.”

“I promise, Mrs. Andrews! I promise!” Excitement danced in the twelve-year-old girl’s eyes. To finally be allowed in the rare book room was a dream come true.

Elise had known it would only be a matter of time before she wore Mrs. Andrews down. She was used to getting her own way after all. Shortly after Elise was born her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone felt sorry for the poor little girl who was destined to lose her mother and she had grown up rather spoiled..

She had been in blissful ignorance of the dark cloud hanging over her mother. Cancer treatments were scheduled to coincide with visits to relatives, aunts and uncles who were more than happy to have poor little Elise to themselves for a week or two.

Despite having twin brothers seven years older than her and a sister ten years older, she was a solitary child, happier in her own company than anyone else’s. Her older sister went through a phase where she wanted to be a teacher and taught Elise how to read before she even started kindergarten. Books opened up whole new worlds to Elise, they became her best friends.

Elise’s mother had no time or energy to worry about her youngest child and let her do as she would. If she wanted to read the set of dusty, old, encyclopaedias instead of playing tag out in the streets, so be it. At least she was staying out of trouble, unlike her older brothers. When Elise began to nag her for new books to read, she introduced her to the library, and Mrs. Andrews.

“You can do anything, with the right book,” Mrs. Andrews told her. “Solve any problem. Reading is without a doubt the most valuable skill a person can possess.”

Elise was a girl after her own heart. She blazed through the children’s section by the time she was eight and was working her way through the non-fiction section of the adult area. If her choices were somewhat unusual, eclectic even, it just made her all the more interesting.

Of course Mrs. Andrews had no idea of Elise’s home life, the boisterous siblings, the sick mother, the father who coped with everything by putting in extra hours at work. So when Elise began to work her way through the biology and medical sections, she had no idea it was brought about by the fact the girl’s parents had finally sat her down and told her about her mother’s cancer.

Whatever Elise had been looking for in those books, she didn’t find it and it was then that she began questioning Mrs. Andrews about the rare book room.

“I don’t think there’s much to interest you in there, dear,” Mrs. Andrews told her, not unkindly. “Most of the books are so old they’re ready to crumble and are kept behind glass.”

“But what kinds of books are in there?”

“Old journals and texts, books about witches and demons, illuminated texts … just last year we received a donation of paranormal texts – all first editions – from a private library.”

If Mrs. Andrews thought she’d discourage Elise by such a revelation, she was sadly mistaken. This was the exact kind of book Elise was looking for. She kept her hands clasped behind her back as she followed Mrs. Andrews through the room. The musty smell of old books was more pronounced in her, despite its sophisticated climate control. She admired the Gutenberg Bible on its stand, and nodded along as Mrs. Andrews explained how one page was turned carefully each day to keep the dust from settling on it.

Under Mrs. Andrew’s watchful eye, Elise was allowed in the rare book room once a week after that, on Saturday mornings. She kept a respectful distance from the books, looking but not touching. Looking, had Mrs. Andrews only known, for a specific book.

Her mother was running out of time. Modern medicine was ineffective and Elise had faith that there was another way – magic. Not the airy fairy magic in children’s tales, but real, grown up magic. The kind of magic locked away in the rare books room of the library.

Six months after she was allowed inside, Elise found the text she was looking for. Not by word or gesture did she show the excitement she was feeling. But this was the easy part, finding it. Now came the hard part.

As though in answer to her prayers, a young man, probably a college student, appeared at the circulation desk with a stack of books. Alice, the under librarian, had called in sick today leaving Mrs. Andrews on her own.

Elise and Mrs. Andrews had only been in the rare books room a few minutes. The librarian hesitated a moment, then, “I think I can trust you here on your own,” Mrs. Andrews said. “Make sure you pull the door shut again when you leave.”

Nodding dumbly, Elise could hardly believe her luck. Keeping one eye on Mrs. Andrews, she circled slowly through the room until she was back in front of the coveted book. Without stopping to think, Elise snatched the volume from the shelf, stashing it in her book bag, then spread the other books so there was no gap in the shelf.

She stood there for a moment, breathing heavily, astonished at her own audacity. Taking a deep breath, she left the rare books room, making sure the door was shut firmly, and waved to Mrs. Andrews who was still dealing with the young man.

When Elise went home she went straight to her room. The book was hand written, the letters small and messy. It took her a while to find what she was looking for, but after a couple of hours she had a short list of things she needed to gather.

That evening, after the house was quiet, Elise rose from her bed and went up to the attic where she had everything ready. You could solve any problem with the right book. Maybe even cure cancer. Having nothing to lose, she turned the page.


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!

“Pouty the Walrus” and “Table for Two” by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a favorite childhood toy, and how you enjoyed playing with it.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone walks into a coffee shop/bar/tea shop/ice cream parlor and all the tables have at least one person sitting at them. Pick a person for your to sit and have a drink or snack with. What can you learn about a stranger in just 20-30 minutes?


Pouty the Walrus
by Carol R. Ward

You had a hard plastic face
with a hard plastic tear
and a black and white body
with a peanut butter smear.
I carried you with me
no mean trick to do
‘cause you were almost big as me
and I was only two.
I don’t know where you came from
or where you went in the end
but you were Pouty the Walrus
my very bestest friend.

*****

Table for Two
by Carol R. Ward

Jonathan stood just inside the door of the small cafe scanning the room for a table. Though the cafe’s menu wasn’t large, the food was delicious and he was in the mood for one of their signature soups. Unfortunately, it looked like every table was occupied. He started towards one of the tables for four that had only an elderly gentleman sitting there, but then the man coughed wetly into a handkerchief, stopping Jonathan in his tracks.

Looking around, he saw that the other table for four was also occupied, this time by a pair of middle-aged women who were arguing loudly, hands flying for emphasis. The tables for two seemed to be filled with couples.

He’d almost resigned himself to getting his soup to go when he spotted her, a young woman sitting alone at his favorite table, the small round one flanked by two wing-backed chairs. She was paying more attention to the book she was reading than the sandwich on her plate. Then he noticed the cover of the book and he couldn’t hold back his grin. It was fate.

Quickly he ordered his soup, along with a coffee and a couple of tea biscuits. Carrying his coffee, he went over to the table and hesitated, suddenly reluctant to disturb her. Then he heard his mother’s voice in his head. “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life if you don’t start taking a chance once in awhile.”

Jonathan cleared his throat. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you but all the seats except this one appear to be taken. Would you mind terribly if I joined you?”

“Sit,” the woman said, not looking up from her book. “No talking – just one more chapter.”

Shooting her a smile she never saw, Jonathan made himself comfortable the blue wingchair.

The woman made a noise of frustration, her brow furrowed, and turned the page. If she was on the last chapter then Jonathan knew the scene she was reading and couldn’t help wondering what she thought. Another page turned – she was a fast reader.

Jonathan drank his coffee but didn’t speak. He knew there was nothing worse than someone trying to make conversation when you were just at the good part of a book. A moment later his soup was delivered and he quietly started in on it.

“No!” she exclaimed. “He can’t do that!”

Oh, but he can, Jonathan thought. And he does. But he’ll redeem himself in the next book in the series.

He found himself fascinated by her. She had a very expressive face, framed beautifully by her short dark hair. He judged her to be only a year or two younger than his own thirty years. A quick glance at her ring finger told him she wasn’t married, unless she didn’t wear her wedding ring.

“Argh!” She slammed the book shut and then onto the table, causing his soup to shudder in the bowl.

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said with what he hoped was an engaging smile. “I’ve been known to get caught up in a book a time or two myself.”

“It was just so frustrating! Just when I thought I had it all worked out, there was this twist I never saw coming.” She huffed a sigh and picked up her sandwich to take a bite.

“Isn’t that what a mystery is supposed to do?”

“Well, yes. But there’s this romantic thread in there too and the main character … I can’t believe he could be such a jerk! Or maybe it’s J.D. Parker who’s the jerk – he’s the one who wrote it.”

Jonathan wasn’t sure how to respond to that, or even if he should.

“Even if he is my favorite author,” she added. She kept her focus on her sandwich, as though embarrassed. “You must think I’m crazy, getting so emotionally invested in a book like this.”

“On the contrary,” Jonathan said. “I think the best books are the ones that provoke a strong response. I’m Jonathan, by the way.”

“I’m Emma.” She glanced up and quickly away. He found her shyness cute.

She took a sip from her own coffee cup and grimaced. “Cold.”

“Let me buy you a fresh one.”

“Oh, that’s really not necessary,” Emma protested.

“No, but I’d like to just the same. I could use another one too.” Jonathan signaled to Edward, the owner of the cafe and then motioned towards their cups. Edward nodded in understanding.

Emma finished her sandwich while they waited for their coffee. “What do you do for a living?” she asked.

He could tell she was just being polite, but he answered honestly. “I’m a writer.”

She opened her mouth, probably to ask what kind of writer, then squinted at him and paled. “You-you-you’re–“

“I’m afraid so.”

“I am so sorry!” she sputtered, face going red. “I am really sorry.”

She made as if to leave and he put his hand on her arm. “No, don’t go. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Really?” she asked dubiously, still poised to flee.

“Really. The truth is, I knew fans would be upset when I wrote that ending, but it was the only way to make it work for the next book.”

Emma slid back into her seat. “Please tell me Derek and Jen work things out in the next book.”

Jonathan grinned. “And spoil the surprise? Not a chance.”

She smiled back, a little shyly. “Do you think…” Emma took a deep breath. “Could I have your autograph?”

His smile was as sincere as it was blinding. “It would be my pleasure.”

He signed her book with a flourish, but held onto it when she reached to take it back. Screwing up his courage he added, “But it would be my even greater pleasure if you’d have dinner with me.”

Emma’s smile widened. “How could I say no to my favorite author?”


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, Giving Up, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Lucky Dog Cover

Lucky Dog was our freebie of the week last week – did you find it? If not, be sure to go check out the excerpt recently added to the book page! While this book can be read alone, it is Book 2 of The Moonstone Chronicles, and you’re going to want to read the first one anyway (they’re that good!), so might as well pick up a copy of each!

Don’t forget to look for this week’s free PDF download in our Available Books section!

Are you anxiously awaiting the next fairy tale satire from Ford Forkum?! It’s getting closer! Check out the blurb on the Coming Soon page for Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs!

Last week’s prose prompt got a little out of hand for at least two of us who do not need more novel-length stories festering in our heads, unfortunately. But Carol R. Ward wrote an Ode to Books that I’m quite sure we can all agree is…well, pretty much perfect. Go! Read!

Topic of the Week: Giving Up

A lot of readers I know absolutely will not put a book down once they pick it up. Once they read that first page, they’re either enslaved or entranced, and no matter which it is, they’re in for the duration. Even if the book is the most horrible thing they’ve ever written, they keep dragging themselves through the mud.

I am not such a devoted reader, I’m afraid. If  book doesn’t hook me in the first chapter or two, that’s it. I have no qualms about closing the book and shelving it indefinitely (either for later culling, or for discovering it later once I’ve completely forgotten about it, and wondering why I never read it).

Life is short, and there are a zillion books I want to read now, and another zillion I haven’t even been made aware of yet that I’m sure I will want to read at some point in time. Why should I waste my precious reading time on a book that hasn’t grabbed me and isn’t pulling me along to the next page/chapter?

Are you a “read the whole thing no matter what” type, or are you a “don’t waste my time” type like me? How long to you give an author to “hook” you into the story?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone walks into a coffee shop/bar/tea shop/ice cream parlor and all the tables have at least one person sitting at them. Pick a person for your to sit and have a drink or snack with. What can you learn about a stranger in just 20-30 minutes?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a favorite childhood toy, and how you enjoyed playing with it.

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.

Ode to Books by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write an ode to books.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A character stumbles upon an ancient civilization that has no written language. What would it be like? How would you describe their lives? How would they? Could they?

Looks like none of us got moving on the prose prompt this week (I do have a story started, but it’s going to run a lot longer than prompt-length), but Carol wrote a most excellent ode to books. Enjoy! 


Ode to Books
by Carol R. Ward

Hard back, paperback, big or small
it makes no difference I love them all.
Used books, new books, electronic too
and especially the books I get to preview.
Board books, comic books, rare or not,
self-published, free books, ones I’ve bought.
Slick cover, leather cover, no cover at all
hand bound, perfect bound, sewn real small.
Science fiction, romance, mystery as well,
fantasy, horror, or a western tall tale.
My house is full, almost ready to burst
but I just need a couple more books first.


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!

Call Me Edward by Jamie DeBree & Consequences by Carol R. Ward

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man doesn’t feel like his name suits him, so he wants it changed. What does he change it to, and does it solve his problem?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Describe a person with one name, and then reveal at the end of the poem that their name is actually something quite different.

We flipped the script a bit this week! Carol wrote a piece of prose to match the poetry prompt, and I wrote a poem to match the prose prompt. Either way, we were both inspired, and that’s what matters, right? Enjoy!


Call Me Edward
by Jamie DeBree

There’s always a party at Mikey’s, they’d say.
Always more fun to be had.
Mike’s not a thinker, he’s a-okay,
a guy who knows how to be bad.

Party for years, and that’s what he gets,
a herd that just can’t see the change.
The boy’s now a man, the compass reset,
but his friends can’t see anything strange.

Mike knows it can’t last, it can’t stay the same,
knows his friends won’t let him advance,
Call me Edward, he says, pulling out his first name,
can’t hurt just to give it a chance.

The parties are smaller, with quieter guests,
but still enough fun to be had,
Edward’s a thinker and one of the best,
who’s name always makes him quite glad.

***

Consequences
by Carol R. Ward

Most people who saw her agreed that even if Bella wasn’t her real name, it suited her. With her pale skin and hair, big blue eyes in a heart-shaped face, it would have been no surprise had she spread a pair of great, white angel’s wings.

But she didn’t, of course.

No one knew exactly where she came from, she just began appearing at the lawn parties and social gatherings that summer. They were young and rich and entitled, none more so than Bobby Greyson. Bobby was the undisputed leader of wealthy youth of the area, not just because of his money and the fact that most of the parties took place at his parents’ estate on the river, but he had a natural charisma.

The fact that this charisma didn’t always work on the, shall we say, less fortunate young women of the area mattered not at all. What Bobby Greyson wanted, Bobby Greyson got. And if it took a couple of his cronies to hold a girl down while he took his pleasure, well that just made it all the more thrilling. And if those same cronies wanted a turn or two themselves, what did he care? He’d already lost interest.

Bella appeared like a vision at the soiree held at the country club. By the time Bobby had worked his way over to her, she had disappeared again. For a time he thought she might have been a vision, and then she appeared at the Van Houten’s cotillion. She floated through the dancers like a dream, and like a dream she was gone before he could even ask for a dance.

It was not until he caught sight of her at one of his own parties that he was able to actually speak to her.

“I am familiar with everyone on the guest list,” he said, offering her a glass of champagne. “How is it I have never met you before?”

“The friends I’m staying with insisted I accompany them,” she said demurely. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“How could I? But please, tell me the name of these friends so I may thank them.”

But she would not. “I would not wish you to learn my secrets too soon – the mystery would fade and take with it your interest.”

“At least tell me your name.”

“You may call me Bella.”

“Of course, how could it be anything else? You are truly bellissima. A beautiful gift.”

Bella smiled and took a step towards him. “Perhaps I am your gift,” she said, and leaned closer.

Bobby closed his eyes, expecting a kiss, but felt nothing more than a whisper of air on his cheek. When he opened his eyes, she was gone.

He asked all his friends, but no one would admit to hosting the mysterious Bella. In fact, only a few remembered seeing her at all. In desperation he threw another garden party, and his efforts were rewarded.

“I was afraid you an angel returned to heaven,” he murmured in her ear, coming up behind her as she stood in the gazebo.

“My place is not in heaven,” she told him.

“Then it is here by my side,” he declared.

“Perhaps.” She smiled enigmatically at him.

There was a shout behind them and he turned. When he turned back she was gone.

The next time Bobby saw her was at the Anderson’s during their croquet party. She was smiling at old man Anderson as he tried to show her how the game was played and Bobby was filled with a murderous rage. Bella was his! No one else was allowed to touch her.

As though sensing his presence Bella looked up and it was only with a great effort of will he was able to mask his feelings. She smiled, as though she could read his thoughts, and he felt a sudden chill. Then the moment was gone.

What was she doing to him? Bobby had never felt this way about a woman before. Lust yes, that he slaked on those unfortunates that were caught unawares, but this … this was something more. This was a hunger, an obsession. If he couldn’t be with her, he’d die.

He was so caught up in his reflections that he failed to notice her approach.

“I need you,” she whispered in his ear. “Meet me tonight at the gazebo.”

And like a puff of smoke she was gone again.

Bobby was at the gazebo at sunset. It had been thoroughly cleaned by the servants earlier, and he’d brought soft pillows to recline on, a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket of ice, and a tray of delicacies to tempt any pallet. He sensed her presence and turned.

She was breath-taking, a vision in a filmy white gown – she was always dressed in white – with the last rays of the setting sun illuminating her from behind.

“You take my breath away,” Bobby said.

“Do I?”

“I…I love you. You must know that.”

She glided closer. “Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Very sure?” Her lips were just inches from his.

“Very sure,” he breathed.

Their lips met. It was like he was kissing for the very first time. She tasted sweet, like some unnamed fruit. He felt light headed, his heart raced. Bobby staggered back from her, a shaft of pain going through his head. His eyes opened as he sank to the ground, his vision blurry.

“What’s happening to me?”

“Did you think you could use those poor girls with such callous disregard with no consequences? I’m here for them.”

“Who are you?” he gasped with his last breath.

“My full name is Belladonna. My kiss is death.”

But Bobby was no longer able to hear her.

She stared down for a moment at his cooling corpse. “There are always consequences.” Spreading her dark wings, she vanished from the earthly plain.

###


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, Names & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

At the Water's Edge Cover

The cover above provided the inspiration for last week’s free flash anthology, At the Water’s Edge. Did you find the free copy? If not, you’ll find purchase links on the book page. All great stories by excellent writers, if I do say so myself.

Don’t forget to look for this week’s free PDF download in our Available Books section!

This week’s prompt poem – Lady Tea, and storyPussy Cat, Pussy Cat were once again by our own Carol R. Ward. I loved them, and if you want to know more about Jessica of Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, look no further than Carol’s Moonstone Chronicles series…

Topic of the Week: Names

What’s in a name? A famous phrase, to be sure, but I know for me, a name tends to come with all sorts of preconceived notions about how that person is. Even what their personality might be like. I think most of us are like that, whether we acknowledge it or not. We expect something different from an Edward or a Tim, and different personalities between a Tina and an Agnes, don’t you think?

I wonder where that comes from. Is it just how the name sounds? Because it happens to me even if I’ve never met another person called a name I’ve never heard before. So perhaps the sound of the letters together triggers something in the primitive part of our brains, signalling certain expectations. Maybe? Maybe not.

I know it makes me think twice or thrice when naming my characters, and I can’t ever start with a name. They have to grow into telling me their name, and what comes to mind is largely determined by their actions, speech and personalities.

How does it affect you? Do you have those preconceived notions when you meet someone with a certain name? What about characters – when you’re reading, and a character has a name that doesn’t seem to “match” their actions, does it cause a sort of disconnect in your brain?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A man doesn’t feel like his name suits him, so he wants it changed. What does he change it to, and does it solve his problem?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Describe a person with one name, and then reveal at the end of the poem that their name is actually something quite different.

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.

Lady Tea & Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Compare someone (fictional or real) to a teapot (whatever kind of teapot you’d like).

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone has invited your character for tea. Only when he/she gets there, something seems a bit “off”…


Lady Tea
by Carol R. Ward

Not a fine English porcelain
nor a modern stainless steel
not iron nor even ceramic
but something not quite real.
You’re more like a clear glass vessel
with a tea blossom trapped inside
just add a pot of hot water
and watch as you come alive.
Your anger, like steam, quickly rises
and wafts its way through the air
and like steam is quickly gone again
no sign of it anywhere.
The blush of the tea blossom mimics
the colour that’s found on your cheek
and the statuesque form of the teapot
is the same as your body so sleek.
The reddish brown of Darjeeling
is the same as the curls of your hair
but the black of the dragon pearl leaves
are the same as your eyes so fair.
I see you each time I measure
the leaves for a fresh pot of tea
perhaps you are just a tea spirit
but always you’ll be real to me.

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

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
by Carol R. Ward

The tea service was stunning. One would have almost expected sterling silver, given the circumstances, but this was a porcelain so thin it was almost transparent with life-like violets hand painted on it. It was almost too delicate to use. The butler poured the tea and stepped back. Actually, he poured the tea and disappeared completely.

“Cucumber sandwich my dear?”

Jessica accepted the small, square plate with her gloved hand. Gloves? Since when did she wear gloves?

“Milk or sugar?”

“Neither, thank you. I take my tea black.”

There was an autocratic sniff as the proffered creamer set was withdrawn again.

“I think you will enjoy the tea, it’s my own special blend,” the accented voice told her.

Jessica dutifully picked up the teacup, holding out her pinkie finger as she raised the cup to her lips.

“Well?”

“It’s very hot,” she said, setting the cup and saucer down to pick up the thinly sliced cucumber sandwich, hoping the cucumber would soothe her poor burnt tongue.

Again with the sniff. “That’s because you had no milk. Tea should never be served any other way but hot. It’s the addition of the milk that cools it down.”

“I’ll remember that.”

“See that you do.”

Jessica looked around the formal drawing room – the original artwork on the walls, the tastefully arranged flowers. “You have a lovely home.”

“That is a non sequitur.”

“No, that was a compliment,” Jessica told her. “This is a non-sequitur: Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the queen.”

“Indeed. I should, however, like to point out we are not in London.”

“But you are the queen.”

“So they tell me,” Elizabeth said dryly.

Jessica went to take another sip of her tea and saw to her surprise the cup was empty. She set it down carefully on the table in front of her. “Shall I get to the point?”

“Please do.”

“There’s something I’ve always wanted to know…”

The queen waited patiently as Jessica fidgeted. “And that is?” she prompted.

“Why corgis?”

“Well you see, Jessica, you have to wake up now.”

“What?”

“Wake up Jessica.”

The ground beneath her chair began to rock violently. “I think we’re having an earthquake.”

“C’mon Jessica, time to wake up.”

Jessica opened her eyes and Dominic stopped shaking her. “What’s going on?”

“Jessica,” he said, hugging her to him. “I was afraid we were too late.”

“Too late for what?” she asked, a little irritably.

“You got a dose of somnambulist dust,” Ellen said, peering over Dominic’s shoulder at her.

“What is somnambulist dust,” Jessica asked in what she hoped was a reasonable sounding tone of voice. “And how did I get dosed with it?”

Dominic loosened his grip slightly. “It comes from the somnambulist bloom–”

“Of course it does,” she muttered under her breath.

“–and you got dosed with it when you went charging ahead like you always do.”

Jessica wriggled out of Dominic’s embrace so she was sitting up herself. They were sitting on a cushion of dead leaves, a forest at their backs and a field of wildflowers in front of them. “You mean like in the Wizard of Oz?”

“The wizard of where?”

Ellen giggled. “Exactly like in the Wizard of Oz.”

Dominic shot her an angry look. “It’s no laughing matter. If we hadn’t seen where she went down we might not have got to her in time. A big enough dose and she’d have died instantly and if she’d been alone, she could have slept until she starved to death.”

“They look like ordinary wildflowers,” Jessica said with a shiver. She put a soothing hand on Dominic’s arm gave him a kiss on the cheek. “And you did get to me in time, as usual.”

“Rescuing you is starting to become a habit,” he grumbled. “Now come on.” He helped her to her feet. “We should get moving before the wind shifts.”

Jessica agreed whole-heartedly. She took his hand as they followed a game trail into the forest, but spared one wistful glance back at the meadow. Now she’d never know why Queen Elizabeth favoured corgis over every other dog.

*******

Note: Want to know who Jessica and Dominic are? Check out Carol’s Moonstone Chronicles series! 


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!