News, Weather, & Weekly Writing Prompts

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Lucky Dog Cover

That riddle prompt was hard, wasn’t it? I’m going to take the fact that no one (including me) could get a riddle-type poem together in time. Perhaps next time, eh?

We did manage to write two stories for the prose prompt though, and pretty good ones too, methinks. Check them out at the link befloe

Prompted Prose: A Scrap, a Shirt, & a Shirtless Man

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

Topic of the Week: Weather

So…how about the weather this past few weeks? Two hurricanes terrorizing the south, dry lightening sparking fires in the northwest – we’ve got either hot and dry, or wet and windy to deal with, which makes the weather a rather popular topic lately.

This got me to thinking…how often do you notice the weather when you’re reading? If you’re a writer, how often do you mention it? I think it’s interesting that weather plays such an important role in not only our lives, but our daily moods and perspectives. Whether the sky is clear and sunny or gray or smoky or trying to rain or actually raining…and what type of rain it is, or whether it’s clear and breezy or clear and so hot you could fry an egg in the sand with no water to speak of for miles…all of that is so integral to how we live our lives that it’s kind of amazing when you actually think about it.

Most of us don’t, really. I mean, we mention it in passing as a way to connect with people, but we don’t often stop to think about just how influential daily weather is in our lives. So it goes for most characters as well – weather is mentioned, but only as a sort of secondary “setting the scene or mood” kind of thing. Or maybe I/we just don’t notice, like usual?

I was trying to think about the last few times I remember being very cognizant of the weather in books, and honestly, rain is the weather pattern I most remember. “It was a dark and stormy night…” is a cliche for a reason, but dark and stormy nights provide the backdrop for some of the scariest/intense scenes in fiction, I think. Mostly because rain, lightening and thunder just make everything seem more chaotic and tense.

What’s the last weather pattern you remember affecting the lives of characters in a book you’ve read? Did it contribute to any particular emotional feeling or sense as you were reading that particular section of the book?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write a story about a weather-person who gets fan mail from an anonymous “fan” when the weather is bad, and hate mail when the weather is good. What happens when he/she finds out who the “fan” is? 

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about the weather…include at least three different types of weather patterns. 

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 Prompt Stories: A Scrap, a Shirt, & a Shirtless Man

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Let’s solve a mystery. While walking down the street, your character finds: a scrap of fabric stuck in a rose bush, a torn shirt in the gutter ten yards away, and a shirtless man lying on a lawn several houses down the block. What happened?


They Never Listen
by Carol R. Ward

Lanie shut the front door behind her with her foot, juggling the two bags groceries in her arms and dropping her keys on the small table near the door.

“Hey, a little help here would be nice,” she called. “Gordon?”

With a sigh she continued on to the kitchen where she just made it to the counter before the heavy bags slipped from her grasp. Grumbling under her breath she put the groceries away. She folded the reusable grocery bags neatly and placed them in a drawer for next time.

“Gordon?” she called again once she was done. “What did you do, fall asleep?”

Padding out of the kitchen she checked the couch in the living room first, then went down the hall to the bed room. There was no sign of him. They were supposed to be going out to dinner. Where could he have gotten to?

As she was leaving the bedroom she glanced towards the en suite bathroom – well that didn’t look right. Going over for a closer look she gasped aloud. It looked like a war zone. The tub was partially filled with water, a few small islands of bubbles floating on the surface. Water was everywhere – the walls, the sides of the tub, the floor…

Several towels were crumpled on the floor. A couple looked like they’d just been pulled from the towel rack, but the one she picked up had blood on it.

“Oh, Gordon, you didn’t! I told you not to.”

Leaving the towels behind, Lanie followed the faint trail of water out of the bathroom and towards the back door. As she expected, the door was slightly ajar. There was no sign of Gordon in the back yard and she rounded the house towards the street. Her eye was caught by a scrap of white, fluttering in the neighbor’s rose hedge.

Plucking it free she realized it was from the shirt Gordon had been wearing earlier. “Damn it Gordon, you never listen, do you?”

Lanie glanced up and down the street. There, about ten yards further up, it looked like the rest of his shirt lying in the gutter. She went over and picked it up – it was torn up pretty badly and there was blood on it.

“If this is how bad his shirt is, I hate to see what Gordon looks like.” She felt a flash of sympathy, after all he’d probably thought he was doing her a favour.

She continued up the street, a little worried about what she might find. There didn’t seem to be any blood on the sidewalk and she took that as a good sign. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as she thought. There, several houses up, was that a body laying face down on the lawn?

Lanie hurried over. “Gordon?”

With a grown he rolled over onto his back. She winced at the bloody furrows on his chest and arms.

“Are you all right?”

“No,” he said.

She looked around. “Where’s Princess?”

Gordon slowly pointed upwards.

Lanie looked up into the tree above them. There, looking down at them, tail swishing angrily, was a small white cat, wet fur making her seem even smaller.

“There’s mommy’s little angel,” Lanie cooed. “Come to momma.”

The cat moved closer until she was able to reach up and pluck her from the tree. Lanie cradled her in her arms and turned back to Gordon.

“Don’t think this gets you out of taking me out to dinner,” she told him.

“But I’m injured!” he protested, making an attempt to sit up.

“It’s your own fault,” she sniffed. “I told you not to try and bathe Princess. You never listen.”

###

Headlights
by Jamie DeBree

Karen took a deep breath as she stepped out of her apartment expecting a whiff of fresh morning air. Instead she got a big, choking taste of her new city-life: cigarette smoke, skunk, sewer gas and open dumpsters. Chasing it quickly with a sip of hot coffee, she noticed a bit of white fabric stuck fluttering in her new neighbor’s rose bush. It shined in the sun, and she frowned, reaching down to feel it.

As she suspected, the satin was smooth and cool, and certainly not something one would expect to find torn as it was. Had a bride run this way last night, tearing her beautiful gown? A prom queen or debutante, perhaps? White satin wasn’t really an everyday kind of thing, and she carefully detached the piece from it’s prison, wondering if she’d ever find out what happened.

A few houses down, she caught another glimpse of white fluttering in the breeze, only this time it was fluttering in the gutter. Frowning, she looked down, and saw that it was more of the same white satin, but not a dress or skirt. It was a button-down shirt, almost certainly custom-made and not cheaply at that. The bead work on the front suggested a female wearer, but that wasn’t terribly surprising. Karen couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen a man wearing satin, aside from the ubiquitous suit-pocket handkerchief.

The shirt seemed special and she picked it up carefully, checking for any mysterious stains before committing more than two fingers to the task. When she finally stood and held the shirt up in front of her, she could see where a piece had torn from the bottom right side – and the swatch she’d freed from the rose bush matched perfectly.

She would bet money that somewhere nearby there was a very unhappy woman trying to remember what happened to her very expensive custom shirt, and she tucked it over her arm. She’d post it online after work and see if anyone recognized it. It was a long shot, but maybe the owner would see it and want it back.

Her heels clicked heavily on the sidewalk as she continued toward work, and considered what could possibly have happened to get the shirt off the woman with only a small tear. Thank goodness there was no blood, but was the woman possibly in trouble? Maybe she should alert the police. There was no evidence of anything aside from a woman losing her shirt though. And that wasn’t necessarily a crime – although with a shirt like this, it kind of was.

Coming up on the left just before her bus stop, she spied a man laying face down on his lawn, wearing only a pair of jeans with rhinestones on the pockets and a large snake tattoo that covered the majority of his back. He was just starting to stir as she drew near, and pushed off the ground with a groan.

“That was some night,” he mumbled, shaking his head as if to clear the cobwebs. Karen kept walking, figuring it was smarter not to engage, but when he saw her, he called out.

“Hey! Just because you tore that off me last night doesn’t mean you can just take it! I paid good money for that shirt!”

Karen stopped and turned to look at him. “This is your shirt?”

He nodded, pushing to his feet and stumbling toward her. “You should know. That was some party last night, wasn’t it? I was so wasted. Thanks for letting me snooze on your lawn. I hope I didn’t get too crazy after…you know.” He reached out and took the shirt from her – she was too shocked to resist. Pulling it on over those broad shoulders, he quickly buttoned it across his chest, and Karen wondered why she’d barely noticed his nipples when he was bare-chested, but now that they showed through the light fabric, they seemed…more ‘out there’, so to speak.

He grinned, noting the direction of her stare. “All the ladies seem to like that. Headlights out – gets ’em every time. I’d let you have another lick, but I’ve got to get to work. Sorry darlin’. Call me for your next party?”

Karen couldn’t think of a single thing to say, so she just stood there as the strange man leaned in, kissed her on the cheek, grinned and walked away.

Her parents might have been right, she thought as she forced her legs to move toward the bus stop again. The big city just might be too much for her to handle.

Later that day, she reached into her purse for something and her fingers brushed the bit of satin she’d found stuck to the bush that morning. She remembered the man and his ‘headlights’.

###



Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! 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, Multi-Media Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

It was a busy week for our writing prompts last week! Two poems, and two flash fiction stories were posted this past weekend. If you missed them, check them out at the links below!

Prompted Poetry: Dream Desk & Waning of the Green
Prompted Prose: The Fortune & All in the Cards

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

Topic of the Week: Multi-Media Ebooks

Recently I had the opportunity to beta “read” a different kind of book by author J.A. Konrath. It was a mystery of sorts, wherein the author imparted puzzles from the antagonist and beseeched his readers to help him solve the mystery by solving the puzzles, entering the answers into a web site, and recieving more pieces to the main puzzle with each one they reported correctly.

Yes, he did say we could talk about it, or I wouldn’t…uh…be talking about it.

The puzzles could be solved however the reader required, so I used google, and pen/paper, and my husband. Aside from the puzzles which required a lot of time away from the book, I enjoyed the back and forth. The bigger puzzles I had to wait until I had time to find several answers at once, so I couldn’t just solve the puzzle and move on during a break at work or whatever, I had to wait until I had time, which was kind of annoying. Luckily there were only a couple of those though.

I used to really like Choose Your Own Adventure stories too, which are not the same at all, but still employ the concept of making the reader stop and take action in some way before they can continue the story. It’s kind of an abrupt way to read, with the starting/stopping, but both formats work when done well (I think this is the first time the puzzle/riddle concept has been done in book form, but I could be wrong), and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Konrath’s mystery series when I can.

What do you think of that kind of book? Definitely something more interactive than your normal reading experience. Is it something that catches your interest, or would you choose to stick with the more immersive “normal” reading experience?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Let’s solve a mystery. While walking down the street, your character finds: a scrap of fabric stuck in a rose bush, a torn shirt in the gutter ten yards away, and a shirtless man lying on a lawn several houses down the block. What happened?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a rhyming riddle that when solved, tells the reader where to find a secret hiding spot. 

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 Prompt Stories: The Fortune & All in the Cards

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…


The Fortune
by Jamie DeBree

In six years exactly, love will find you.

Mandy looked out at the sunrise reflected in the still lake as she sipped her coffee, remembering the words of the woman who’d read their fortunes so long ago. She and Jeremy had laughed it off at the time, making note of the date so they could be together and make the fortune come true.

That was before the accident. Before he’d died and left her all alone. It had been two of the hardest years of her life since, and she’d come out here and rented a cabin far away from civilization in the hopes of finding herself again.

She’d made a certain peace with his death, as people do when they loose the person they love most in the world. The hole in her heart was still there, and would always be there, but this morning, as a gentle breeze rustled through the aspens and small animals skittered through the underbrush, she could almost stomach the thought of letting someone else in. Not someone to fill the hole, but someone to talk to, to laugh with, to keep her company on lonely nights.

A gentle smile played across her lips as she took another sip off her cooling cup. Love was going to have to work awfully hard to find her up here.

Sliding off the boulder she’d been using as a seat, she drained the last of her mug and headed back to the cabin. Some breakfast, maybe, and then a hike to the berry patch she’d spotted yesterday on the other side of the lake. A bear and her cubs had been feeding then, so she’d left quietly, but perhaps if she beat them today, she could help herself to some fruit for dinner. If not, maybe some good pictures of that furry little family instead.

She’d just finished a bowl of oatmeal when she heard a noise on the front porch. Moving carefully to avoid making noise, she went to the door and peeked out the side window, expecting to see something fuzzy, four-footed and hopefully not too big.

Instead, she saw a six-foot-not-so-hairy biped complete with hiking pack and fishing cap who looked oddly familiar, despite the tribalish tattoo on the side of his lower left leg.

Who knew Ray Ellis had a tattoo? Or anything other than expensive tailored suits in his closet?

More importantly, what the hell was he doing here? He knocked on the door, the sound making her jump and the fortune teller’s words flitted through her mind.

“No, no, no,” she mumbled as she straightened and reached for the door. “So not him. Anyone on earth but him.”

Pulling the door open, she didn’t bother smiling. He knew she wasn’t fond of him, and the way he treated her at work, she figured he felt the same.

“Oh good – you are here. Allison said you would be. Can I come in?”

It was the same serious expression he always wore, the same intense stare. But there was something odd about his voice – softer than she remembered. If she didn’t know better, she’d describe it as vulnerable, but Ray didn’t do vulnerable. Ever.

“Uh, sure, I guess.” Mandy moved aside, making a mental note to have a very serious talk with her best friend about sharing sensitive information. “Why are you here?”

He put his pack on the floor, and stood again, looking more uncomfortable than she’d ever seen him look.

“I wanted to talk to you – away from work. I know you don’t like me, and I promise I’ll leave as soon as I’m done, but I need you to know something.”

She took a deep breath, let it out slow. “Okay. Let’s sit down. I’ll listen.” She gestured to the worn green paisley couch and waited for him to take a seat before situating herself in the matching armchair. Neither were comfortable, but hopefully this wouldn’t take long.

“I know I keep you at arm’s length at work, but it’s only because I have to. I…have always been attracted to you, Mandy. The way you deal with people and keep your department running without alienating your co-workers is pretty amazing, and your creative problem-solving skills are the reason our company is where it is today.”

She gave him a sideways look. “So are you attracted to me, or to my work ethic?”

He gave a nervous chuckle. “I…uh…think you’re beautiful too. I just thought it would be better to lead with the intelligent stuff.”

Mandy smiled, surprising herself. “Definitely a good plan.” She wasn’t sure what else to say, but she had noticed how good-looking Ray was. He filled out a suit very nicely, though she had to say, this casual look was definitely working for him too.

She tried to remember why she didn’t like him, other than his standoffish, professional-to-the-point-of-boring persona. It’s not like she even worked very closely with him. He always seemed so dismissive though. Like he was “above” interacting with her.

“You know it’s juvenile to treat someone badly because you like them, right? Not to mention un-PC.” As soon as she said it, she knew it wasn’t really fair. He hadn’t done anything to her, really, aside from not exactly being friendly. This was quite possibly the strangest conversation she’d ever had. “I guess not being friendly isn’t the same as treating someone badly though.”

“I knew you were married, and I didn’t want to be…more attracted to you, I guess. I was protecting myself, at the expense of your feelings, and I want to apologize for that.” He looked down at the floor, over at the window, down at his hands. Everywhere but at her, and she felt herself softening. So many things made sense now – so many little actions, little withdrawals, unexpected bits of help that she wouldn’t expect to come from him, but did over the years.

She thought about what this meant. About him trekking all the way up to this cabin in the middle of nowhere, just to explain himself. About how long it had been since her husband’s death, and how he might have wanted to say something sooner, but didn’t.

There was no way he could have known about the fortune teller – she hadn’t told a soul, not even Allison. Hell, she didn’t even really believe in fortune tellers. Surely this was just a coincidence. Right?

“…coffee sometime. Mandy?”

She looked up, realizing he’d been talking while she was thinking. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“I asked if you might want to get a cup of coffee sometime. With me, I mean. No pressure.”

She nodded, slowly. “Yeah. I think that would be a good idea.” He nodded, apparently not really sure what to do next. She looked at the door, and looked back at him. “We can do that later. But I was just getting ready to go pick berries when you got here. Want to hike over to the meadow with me? We’ll have to watch for bears…”

He grinned. “I’d love to. Lead the way.”

###

All in the Cards
by Carol R. Ward

Now that it’s too late I can remember the day clearly, almost six years ago. Bruno and I had just started dating. He was always trying to come up with something different for our dates and he thought it would be fun to go to the county fair.

From what I can recall of the fair itself it was fun. We went on a few rides and ate cotton candy and greasy fair food while wandering through the crowd. Bruno was amazing at the games and won me a giant pink elephant that sits on the chair in my bedroom.

The fortune teller’s covered booth was sitting between a chip truck and a vendor peddling handmade jewelry. I had actually stopped to have a look at the jewelry. Bruno got bored pretty quickly and moved on, but then called me away.

“Hey Jeanie, look! A fortune teller.”

“Which one do you think I should get?” I asked, holding up two necklaces for his inspection.

“Get ‘em both,” he said impatiently. “We really gotta get our fortunes told.”

“C’mon Bruno, I don’t believe in that stuff.”

“Me either. Who cares, it’ll be fun. Now hurry up.”

I made my purchase and joined Bruno where he was going over the fortune teller’s list of services.

“Look, she’s having a two for one special. Two readings for the price of one.”

“Bruno, I don’t think–”

But he was already turning to the woman standing at the entrance to the booth. “If we get the special, can we split the readings – I can take the palm reading and my girl can have the Tarot reading?”

I clearly remember the flash of pleasure I had at being called his girl. More the fool me.

“Of course,” the woman said smoothly. “Right this way.” She held the flap to the inner part of the booth open and we went in.

To be honest, it felt kind of creepy to me in there. It was dark inside and she had some kind of incense burning. Bruno was so busy looking at all the crap she had hanging up that he missed the start she gave when she took his hand. She almost seemed to go into a trance, she was so still, and for a long time she never spoke a word.

“Well?” Bruno asked impatiently.

She gave herself a little shake. “Forgive me,” she said. “I see that you are a man of strength – strong passions and desires.”

“You got that right,” he chuckled, nudging my knee with his.

She babbled some more generic stuff about life and work and money, and then hesitated before adding, “I must warn you I see darkness in your future, you will be faced with a choice. The darkness calls…” She shivered and let go of his hand again.

Bruno looked startled for a second and then laughed. “That was great. You really had me going for a minute there. Now do her.”

She handed me a deck of brightly coloured cards.”Think of a question you wish answered while you shuffle.”

“I don’t know what to ask.”

“That’s easy enough babe, ask about our future together.”

I smiled at him as I shuffled. When I was done I handed them over and the fortune teller cut them and then laid them out in a pattern. If I hadn’t been paying such close attention I might have missed the quick inhalation she made when she looked at the spread.

“I see that you have not been together long,” she began. “But your relationship is already … intense.”

“Hear that, Jeanie? We’re intense.” Bruno nudged me again.

Again she made several generic predictions before saying, “The many swords in your reading suggest conflict.”

“Is that in the past or in the future?” I asked.

Before she could answer, Bruno jumped it. “Cut to the chase, will we make it as a couple?”

She looked down at the cards, a troubled look on her face, then up again. “I see that you will be together until the end.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear,” Bruno said with a smirk.

After paying her, he lead the way out of the booth. I rose too, but as Bruno cleared the canvas the fortune teller grabbed my arm. “There is a great darkness in that one,” she hissed. “He is not what he seems.”

“What are you talking about?” I tried to pull away but she held me fast.

“He has a dark soul.”

“You’re crazy. Let go of me.” I pulled free and hurried after Bruno.

“If you stay with him you will die,” she called after me. “It is all in cards, they do not lie.”

By the time Bruno and I left the fair I’d forgotten about the fortune teller. And for the next five years Bruno and I were happy together. It wasn’t all hearts and flowers, Bruno did have a bit of a dark side but he never took it out on me.

I read the news reports of the missing girls, of course, but I had no reason to connect them to Bruno. At least not until his birthday when I decided to surprise him at the old warehouse he called home. In all the time we’d been together I’d only been there a handful of times. He was more comfortable at my place.

But I wanted to make his birthday special. His favorite take-out, a Black Forest cake, champagne, and me. It was going to be such a great surprise.

Only I was the one who was surprised when I got there and he wasn’t home. He wasn’t, but there was a girl chained to a metal frame in the center of the space below his loft. She was barely alive, cuts and bruises all over her. I had just about gotten her loose when Bruno arrived.

To give him credit, he was pretty upset at seeing me. But that didn’t stop him from tying me up and leaving me in a corner while he finished off the girl. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize he was behind the girls being mutilated and killed across the city. Dark soul indeed.

I hear him coming. This is it. Guess the psychic was right.

###


Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! 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…

Weekly Prompt Poems: Dream Desk & Waning of the Green

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


Dream Desk by Carol R. Ward

For oh, so long, I’ve had a dream
Since I first began to write –
it’s of the perfect writing desk –
I dreamed of it last night.

It’s not too big and not too small
but just the perfect size,
with pigeon holes for all my pens
and a roll top on the rise.

It’s made of aged, not antique wood
that’s polished to a sheen
I can see it sitting over there
at least within my dream.

And so I did a search online
to see what I could find –
lo and behold I saw it there
page listing ninety-nine.

I sent an email to the one
who had my desk for sale –
yes it was still available –
I thought my heart would fail.

But as my hopes were quickly raised
just as quickly were they dashed,
another party saw my desk
and visited with cash.

So just like that the bubble burst
upon my dream so fair
I vow to keep on searching
I’ll find that desk somewhere.

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

Waning of the Green by Jamie DeBree

Firm and oblong
I gently squeeze
looking for signs of give.

Every week it’s
a new challenge
‘twixt this ripening fiend and myself.

Will I catch
it in time,
before green turns to black?

Or will it
go mockingly mushy
while I wait for perfection.

###


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, Darkness, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Listen to the Leaves CoverLast week’s freebie (and our last one for awhile) was a nice fall-themed collection of stories by several different authors called Listen to the Leaves. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s a great way to usher in the new school year and fall!

Did you catch the prompt poems and prose this week? Two poems and one story with a carnival theme – if you haven’t read them, here are links (they’re short):

Prompted Poetry: Carnival and Swingin’
Prompted Prose: Monkey Shines

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

 

Topic of the Week: When Darkness Falls

Today, at least partial darkness falls for quite a few of us as the moon passes between us and the sun out there in space. Where I am, we won’t see a 100% eclipse, but it will be around 93%, which is good enough for a darn good show (and a lot of darkness too). 11:39am is the magic time here, and while I’ll be working, I dare say my co-worker and I will slip out for a few minutes around that time to see the show. Not like this happens every few years…

I’m a night person, so it seems to me that the most interesting things always happen in the dark. Fiction seems to support this, in my opinion. Nighttime makes everything either just a little spookier or a little more romantic, depending on who you’re with and where you are. Exciting things happen in caves, in bedrooms, in basements, in darkrooms.

I was trying to think of what my favorite night scene would be from a book, but there are so many! I’m not really sure how to choose. Sherlock and Watson going out onto the moors in The Hound of the Baskervilles definitely ranks near the top for me….

Do you have a favorite fictional “in the dark” scene?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A family has passed down a box or talisman for generations that only opens when it is under the apex of a total solar eclipse. Now it’s finally going to be opened for the first time in a century. What is the item, and what does it do when the moon blocks the sun?

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

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: Just Desserts

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about your favorite summer dessert.

We’re trying something new this week. Poetry from the poetry prompt writings will be posted on Saturdays (the best five poems will be posted), and stories for the prose prompt will be posted on Sundays. Check back tomorrow for this week’s story! In the meantime, here’s this week’s poem. 


The Coolest Treat
by Jamie DeBree

Red and blue berries all
shiny and sweet,
tucked in a glass for
a cool summer’s treat.

White cream whipped airy all
fluffy and light,
spooned over the top for
a cloud with each bite.

Ice cream and sorbet are both
yummy it’s true,
but nothing beats the taste
of ol’ red, white and blue.

###


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…

“Roses”, “Planting Trees”, and “The Great Debate”

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.


Roses
by Carol R. Ward

Traditional symbol of love
or is that just what Hallmark
would have you believe?
They may be in cahoots
with the florists –
can’t have a rose
without a gift card.
So many colours,
so many names –
Soft velvet touch at odds
with the sharp, piercing thorns.
Much sought after fragrance
that I find too cloying –
what does that mean, anyway?
Cloying – a sweet excess
of scent and sentiment.
A rose by any other name…
still smells pungent to me.
Genus Rosa in the family of Rosaceae
Latin for pretty flower/nauseating odor.
As you may have already guessed
roses are not my favourite flower.

###

The Great Debate
by Jamie DeBree

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

The pale pink rose blooms nodded in the breeze, as if they were sympathetic to her plight. She reached down to rub a velvety petal between her fingers, releasing a bit of fragrance into the cool morning air.

“I mean, how can I? It’s such a big risk. I could end up stranded and alone. I might get lost. What if I can’t find my way back? What if I never see my family again?”

Tall sprigs of lavendar rustled as she strolled by, tiny purple blooms dancing with the fabric of her skirt. All new adventures come with risk, they seemed to say. How can you not take the chance? How can you not find out for sure? 

“I’m not really the adventurous type,” she replied to no one in particular. “I have a lovely life, a beautiful home, and parents who love me. I have this wonderful garden to enjoy. What if I never see it again?”

Tiny coral bells swayed near the base of a mightly oak tree. What if this is your destiny? Who knows what wonderous things might be waiting for you, if only you’re brave enough to seek them out? This isn’t the first chance you’ve gotten, but who knows when it will be the last? 

“Perhaps I shall only dream about it,” she mused. “Perhaps I shall write stories about what might have been, had I gone. I could imagine what it’s like without taking the risk of actually going.”

The daisies seemed to bow their white and yellow heads at that. Imagination is a very fine thing, they whispered. But it is no substitute for experience. Go, child. Find out what lays beyond, and then write about it. 

The oak leaves rattled in the breeze like a bell tolling the hour. The large knot near the base started to churn and enlarge to just the perfect size. The white rabbit appeared as he did every week, pulling his pocket watch out to check the time, wriggle his nose and motion for her to follow before darting back into the hole.

This time she did.

###

Planting Trees
by Carol R. Ward

“That one, I think,” Millicent decided, pointing out the flowering pear tree. “And the planting is included in the price?”

“Yes ma’am,” the nice young man in the green jumpsuit told her. He checked the sheet on his clip board. “We can send someone out today to dig the hole, and your tree can be delivered … let me see…” he flipped the page. “I’m sorry, but it’ll be Wednesday before we can get the tree delivered.”

“Wednesday would be fine,” Millicent said with a smile.

“Great,” the main said. “I’ll make sure you’re at the top of the list so you’re the first delivery of the day.”

“Thank you, that would be perfect.” Actually, that would be more than perfect. It would give her time to get things prepared.

Late Tuesday night, or more precisely, early Wednesday morning, there was movement in Millicent’s back yard near where the hole to her new tree had been placed. Had there been anyone around to hear, they would have heard the sound of a shovel. Had there been anyone around to see, they would have seen a shadowy figure emptying several bags into the hole and covering whatever it was with loose soil so that the hole looked undisturbed.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny.

“It looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Millicent said to the men from the nursery, motioning to the newly planted tree.

“Yes ma’am,” one of the sweaty men agreed. He held out a clip board to her. “If you’d sign here please…”

* * * * * * *

The tree was planted in the fall and the following spring Millicent had a small, circular garden placed around it. “You know,” she said as she dug another small hole, “Pansies are one of my favorite flowers.”

What’s happening? Where am I?

She looked up at the tree. “Did you know another name for a pansy is heart’s ease? Fitting for a grieving widow, don’t you think?”

Widow? No…I remember. You killed me!

“It was so fortuitous that the river near the cabin flooded the same weekend we were booked to be there.”

We were supposed to spend the weekend together to see if we could work things out.

“It saved me the trouble of having to come up with a reason for you to be out on the water by yourself.” Cocking her head to the side she surveyed her work. “A yellow one next I think.”

How could you do this to me?

“Most fortuitous, the cabin washing away like that. Such a logical reason for why there was no body.” Millicent dug another hole. “It’s not as though I could have produced your actual body now, was it? I mean there would have been an investigation with those forensics. Why they might have discovered I had something to do with your death.”

You had everything to do with it you monster! You whacked me over the head with a cast iron skillet!

“It’s really your own fault you know,” she said, looking up at the tree again. “If only you hadn’t made such a fuss over Brian, we could have been together for years.”

You were cheating on me, you gold-digging tramp!

“How could you not have realized what a bore in bed you were?” She shook her head and planted another pansy. “A woman like me needs a little passion in life, and if you weren’t up for it who could blame me for looking elsewhere?”

I could! I could blame you!

“But then you had to go and spoil it all by having that detective take pictures. You made me so mad in the kitchen, threatening to divorce me – I just grabbed up the frying pan without even thinking twice.”

No, you just kept whacking until my head was a bloody pulp.

“I guess we both just overreacted. It’s not as if Brian was the first you know. Just like you weren’t my first husband.”

Not your first…No, I didn’t know!

“I guess I’m just unlucky in love,” she said, sitting back on her heels to survey her work. She glanced around the back yard, at the tulip poplar, the sycamore, and the red maple trees, all with their circular gardens.

Just how many others were there?

“You were my favorite, Larry,” she said, climbing to her feet. “Really,” she laid a palm on the trunk of the tree. “So delightfully naive.”

Not as naive as you, my dear. Especially when it comes to trees. This species of pear tree has a poor branch structure prone to breaking apart. All I have to do is wait until my tree matures – accidents happen all the time, accidents like getting killed by a falling tree branch.

###


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!

“First Kiss” and “Skills” by Jamie DeBree

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.


First Kiss
by Jamie DeBree

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Smooth, slimy skin mashing my lips,
like a snail spreading awkward wetness.

His energy and eagerness overpower
my need for slow, gentle seduction.
Too much, too fast, too hard, just…

Stop.

Maybe we’ll try this again later,
when the newness wears off and
I’ve caught my breath again. Dried off.

###

Skills
by Jamie DeBree

“I must admit, while your resume is very impressive, we’re a little confused about the lack of previous job history included. Can you tell us a little about where you’ve worked before, and what kind of experience you have?”

You knew this was coming, Tracy silently coached herself while forcing a smile at the man across the table. Keep it vague, but relevant. All he needs to know is that you can do the job he needs you to do. That’s it.

“I’ve been employed privately by someone who wishes to remain anonymous for most of my life,” she began, pleased that the words sounded far smoother than she felt. “I’ve been performing fuctions that included the same type of tasks you’re looking for. I’m excellent at keeping a calendar, scheduling meetings, and organizing files, and I’m also very good at research and creating documents when needed. I’ve also successfully planned several large-scale events that went off without any problems whatsoever, and I can arrange and organized trips if needed.”

Mr. Englebrecht sat back in his chair, a confused look on his face.

“You’ve only had the one employer then? How many years were you in his or her employ?

Tracy considered that for a moment. “I’d say probably thirty-two years or so. Ever sincel I turned twelve.”

Mr. Englebrecht tapped a pen on the dark, cherry surface of his desk.

“There are laws against chid labor in this country. I’m surprised your anonymous boss was able to get away with that.”

“And much more.” Tracy nodded, wishimg they could end this line of questioning. “I’m sorry I can’t give you details, but I promise I’m good at everything you need me to be, and possibly more. I won’t let you down, Sir.”

“Well, this is highly unusual. Normally we would never even consider an application like this, but I’m inclined to believe you, and we’re desperate to fill this position. Do you think that in lieu of your job history you’d be willing to give us a day’s worth of work, and then we’ll make a decision.”

Tracy nodded. “Of course. Just tell me when, and where. I won’t let you down.”

He smiled. “No time like the present, unless you have something else to do today.” When she shook her head, he went on.  “I’ll have you work in the business office with Stephanie Thomas today. My secretary is just outside the door, and he’ll show you how to get there.”

Tracy worked hard all day, smoothly following her assigned mentor and grateful that she could. At the end, she found herself back in Mr. Englebrecht’s office.

“You really must tell me who trained you,” he said, looking over a form she’d created. “Your work is exquisite. You’re hired, of course. Can you start tomorrow?”

Tracy nodded. “Thank you, Sir. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“And the person who trained you to do all of this? A hint, even?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. He’s dead.”

###


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!

“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!