News & Weekly Prompts

BSB News

The Minister's Maid Cover

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: No Topic

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


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

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

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prose prompt and/or a poem using the theme of the poetry prompt, and email it/them to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the story and poem we like best to post right here on the blog next Saturday.

News, Handwriting & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

 

Lettuce Pray Cover

Last week’s free download was Lettuce Prey a creepy little revenge story in Alex Westhaven’s Death by Veggies series. It’s getting to be salad season again, you know…

This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

There were two writing prompts last week – a poetry prompt and a prose prompt. There were no outside submissions, so both the poem and story are by me. Read Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe here – they just might make you chuckle a little.

Topic of the Week: Handwriting

Writers – do you ever write stories/poems by hand? I’ve recently been doing a lot more of that, especially with poetry and short/flash stories (though I do have a novel draft started on my cell), and I’m kind of amazed at how much I’m enjoying it. I have Samsung Notes – a Note 5 cell, and a Note 8 tablet, both with styluses and Samsung’s signature SNotes app, so I can just write on the screen (and erase when I screw up, which I do often). I feel like the writing is better somehow, more casual and fluid than when I’m typing straight into my laptop (or even my Alphasmart Neo). Plus I always have my cell with me, and often my tablet, so it’s like carrying a notebook without having to waste paper and ink.

Of course it could all be in my head, but if it is, so what? Whatever gets the words down in some form or another. Another bonus is that I have to type my handwritten notes into my laptop at some point, which means I’m automatically editing as I take the draft from one form to another.

There have been a lot of studies done recently about taking notes by hand in classes, and how the tactile experience is much better for information retention and just taking better notes. I’m becoming convinced that it’s similar for writing – that tactile experience of holding a pen (or stylus) and actively forming letters rather than just tapping keys is a different (perhaps better?) experience for drafting manuscripts/poems.

Anyone want to weigh in? What have your experiences with this been?

 


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

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.

News, National Poetry Month, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

At the Water's Edge Cover

 

Last week’s free download was At the Water’s Edge – a collection of short stories by different authors all written using the cover image as a writing prompt! There are some really excellent stories included – I hope you got your free copy! This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

We have some very exciting news to share – Ford Forkum has recently finished his next fairytale satire book! Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarves will be released later this spring. Stay tuned!

This week’s writing prompt is, of course, about an April Fool’s prank. Though it might have gone a little too far for comfort (or…life). Read April Fool by Jamie DeBree right here on the blog!

Topic of the Week: National Poetry Month

 April is National Poetry Month, and while we mainly publish prose here at BSB, one of our authors is also a poet (Carol R. Ward), and I personally love to read poetry (though I’m not terribly good at writing it). Much like prose, there are so many different kinds of poetry that there’s generally something for every taste, if you look hard enough. I personally have an affinity for the romantics like Lord Byron, Christian Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe (of course), and I’ve even been known to enjoy an e.e.cummings poem or two. Local author Craig Lancaster posts “pigku” poetry on Facebook while doing pipeline work – they always make me laugh.

One of our local writing groups is putting on a Poem-A-Day Workshop throughout the month of April that started with a free instructional kickoff workshop Saturday. They’re sending out daily poetry writing prompts, and holding weekly gatherings for those who can make it (those who can’t can do an online-only workshop for a bit less cost).

For this month, we’ll be posting two writing prompts each week – one for prose, and one for poetry. Branch out and try writing a poem or two with us…who knows what might happen?


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…

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.

News, HEAs & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Magical Misfire

Last week’s free download was Magical Misfire by Carol R. Ward. Did you get your copy of this intriguing adventure and magic-gone-wrong? This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

The writing prompt story of the week is online now as well – another cautionary fairy tale by Alex Westhaven called Beware the Tiny Doors. Since March ends this week and next Saturday marks our national celebration of pranksters, scroll to the end for a prompt on pranks to start us off right (?) in April!

Topic of the Week: Happily Ever Afters…Really? 

I was chatting with a writer friend this past week about books and writing, and the topic of HEAs (Happily ever after endings) came up. It made me think about happily ever after endings, and why they’re so popular in fiction (even though there are certainly readers and writers who find them trite and overdone, among other things). The obvious answer, of course, is that everyone (almost) loves them. We love to see that two people can overcome every challenge thrown their way and still come out on top in the end.

I was thinking about why that is, and I think it’s probably because in real life, love and relationships are messy, complicated things that, even when they do work out for two people, they almost always leave at least one broken heart in their wake. There’s almost always a third person (or more), almost always someone who gets left behind or remains completely unnoticed, always at least one “what if” or ” why not me” that go hand in hand with that happily-ever-after. It’s never simple, or easy, and even after that pivotal point where you choose one person or they choose you, there are still days when everything doesn’t go smoothly, and someone needs a break.

I think in fiction, we like our neat, tidy HEAs simply because they give us hope and motivate us to stick it out, to keep trying, to work toward that non-existent fairy-tale ending that doesn’t really exist, but it’s something we *want* to believe in, and fiction is all about giving us what we want, not necessarily what is real.

Are you a fan of HEAs in fiction? Or do you prefer your bookish relationships to be more…realistic in terms of how the story ends?


Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone has left small, brightly wrapped packages tied up with ribbon on everyone’s desk at the office. Everyone is afraid to open them though, or even touch one for fear that one of them will explode…or worse.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

News, Reader Perception, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Irish Cream Cover

Last week’s free download was Irish Cream – a very steamy green number sure to warm up your night! This week’s free download is up and running now – find it in the Available Books section, and it’s all yours!

The BSB Quarterly newsletter should be in subscriber mailboxes this morning. No big surprises in this first one, but the next one will include some subscriber-only specials, so if that sort of thing interests you, be sure to put your name on the list!

If you haven’t read the latest writing prompt story, go check out Be Careful What You Wish For by Carol R. Ward. It’s a quick, somewhat ominous little fairy tale that leaves much to the imagination…

Topic of the Week: Every Story is All About You

Reading and writing books seem like such different things, don’t they? But really, writing is just telling a story to yourself, and writing it down as you go. Then an absolutely fascinating thing happens when someone other than the person who wrote the book reads it: the book often becomes an entirely different story.

When writers tell a story, it’s being filtered through whatever years they have of experiences, sensations, perceptions, and beliefs. No matter how easily the story comes or how much it feels like it’s just “telling itself”, the writer is still perceiving it as something no other reader ever will. And in the same way, every reader who opens that book will have at least a slightly different experience due to their own years of experience and perceptions and beliefs. We all will identify just a little differently with the main characters, or maybe even different characters altogether. And we’ll all have at least slightly different reactions to certain things in every story, whether it be a piece of the setting or a disagreement that the characters need to work through.

It’s so interesting, I think, that the book an author writes will never be perceived exactly like he or she wrote it, and no two people will ever actually read that book as the same exact story. A completely static medium that is completely dynamic on interpretation.

Deep thoughts for a Monday.


Writing Prompt of the Week: A little girl goes out in the garden to play one day, and spies a tiny door at the base of a tree. She imagines that a family of fairies live there…or is it just her imagination? And if they do exist, are they as benignly charming as the little girl perceives them to be?

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

News, Things That Are Green, & Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Last week’s free download was The Biker’s Wench – a somewhat campy romantic suspense novel with some pretty serious undertones in the overall plot. This week’s free download is up and running now – find it in the Available Books section, and it’s yours for the taking! Until next Friday night, anyway.

Don’t forget about the BSB Quarterly – the newsletter goes out a week from today, and you don’t want to miss it!

I’m about 400 words into my “mushroom fairy” story based on last week’s prompt, but not close enough to the end to post it. Anyone else start a story about our little mushroom fairy? I’ll finish mine this next week and it will be included in the fairy tale short story collection I’ll publish around Christmas.

Topic of the Week: Things That Are Green

St. Patrick’s Day is on Friday – are you gettin’ your green on? If you don’t, you risk being pinched by those pesky little leprechauns, who supposedly can’t see you if you’re wearing green (which kind of makes one wonder why leprechauns tend to wear green, doesn’t it?). I don’t have much in the way of “true green” clothing, but I’ll be decked out in shamrock earrings and green nails with shamrock stickers, for sure!

Speaking of shamrocks, I think we need to read about a character who successfully manages to rest and rebloom a shamrock plant. It’s a task that requires a lot of patience and dedication…or luck and fairy dust.

We have several books with green in the cover, but only one that I can think of that is distinctly suited to this particular holiday, both in cover and name. Can you guess which one it is?


Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone buys a shamrock plant on a whim while grocery shopping. Little do they know that a fairy lives in the pot and the shamrock is her forest.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

News, Ideas, & the Weekly Prompt

BSB News

Have you gotten your copies of our two new February releases yet? Cinderelleper and An Elemental Earth are both available now – grab a copy for yourself, gift one to a special friend, maybe even write a review at your favorite retailer or book-centric website…

Last week’s free download was the first Ardraci Elementals book – An Elemental Wind. Hopefully you got your copy! This week’s download is live now, you just have to go find it in our Available Books pages.

You may have noticed that our writing prompt story didn’t quite make it to the blog this week. The elements of the prompt were a bit disjointed, and in the end, every attempt we made at a flash story wanted to be a longer story, and ended up being folded into a current novel-length draft. No one else sent in attempts, so we’ll just call that one a “miss” as far as flash fiction is concerned. There’s a new, hopefully easier prompt at the end of this post for this coming Saturday.

Topic of the Week: Ideas

Last week’s prompt was actually inspired by true events. I was out walking my dogs, and I did find a nearly empty roll of duct tape in the mud, an empty pink envelope, and half of a torn cigarette box all within the span of about half a block. The three items tickled my brain enough that I’ve been thinking about them ever since, and…well, you’ll eventually find out where that writing prompt took me when I finish writing the story.

Beginning writers always ask variations of, “Where do you get your ideas from?” My glib-sounding but utterly serious response to that is “everywhere”. I’ve written three short stories all based on a very odd conversation I overheard at a bar, and another full novel based on a very odd couple I observed at another bar (lest you think I’m a lush – my husband plays in a pool league, so I’ve spent a lot of nights at various local bars for many, many years now). One of my drafts-in-progress is based on one of my tattoos…three days after I got it, the story idea popped into my head and would not let go.

Finding ideas for stories is as simple as looking around you. A clock or picture on the wall that is suddenly askew, an urn on a mantle, a cache of candy wrappers hidden under a bush in a yard, or an odd coin found on the sidewalk (or a hundred dollar bill, perhaps?). Part of honing the writer’s brain is training yourself to always look for the story behind things – even the most mundane of objects. Ideas come from your mind – you simply use the things you see and experience to trigger them.

And with that in mind (so to speak), here’s this week’s writing prompt:


Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a large water fountain in the middle of a park surrounded by beautifully carved stone benches. There’s a stone frog attached to the edge of the fountain, and a few carved stone fish attached to the inside of the fountain under the water. Local teen girls love to take pictures of themselves kissing the frog…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Contest Results & Writing Prompt

BSB News & Contest Results

First, congratulations to Carol R. Ward, who’s latest release, An Elemental Earth, is now available for purchase in both digital and print. It’s not quite available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo just yet, but it should be in a week or so. If you aren’t reading this series, then you should be!

As far as the contest on her Author Interview post goes, since there were only two people who entered, both Leanne Young and Ann Partridge will receive a prize package from me that includes a print copy of An Elemental Earth.  I’ll be emailing you for your addresses in the next few days. Congratulations!

The free download last week was Heart Knocks, by Jamie DeBree. Don’t forget to look through our Available Books and find the free download for this week!

And of course, if you missed it, feel free to go back and this week’s writing prompt story: The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven.

We’ll skip the topic of the week for this particular week since this post is late already. But check below for this week’s writing prompt!


Writing Prompt of the Week: A woman is out walking her dog, and finds a mostly-used roll of duct tape tossed into the mud. A little farther along, she spots a pink envelope, and a little farther from that, half of an empty cigarette box.

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.

Author Interview & Contest: Carol R. Ward

An Elemental Earth Cover

If you haven’t read one of Carol R. Ward’s books, you should start now, because An Elemental Earth, the fourth book in her Ardraci Elementals series will be available this coming Monday! You can read the books out of order and not get too lost, but there’s a whole weekend between now and release day. What better way to spend it than catching up on the first three books!

Today, Carol’s agreed to have a little chat with us about her books, and cats in space. Pull up a comfy chair and get a nice cuppa! While you’re reading, consider what flower might spontaneously pop up (so to speak) if you were makin’ out with your main squeeze surrounded by nature.

Now, let’s chat a bit:

Wind, Fire, Water and now Earth. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write this sweeping “elemental” space opera series?

Uh, actually, you did. LOL You talked me into doing a serial story for my blog, so I dipped into my well of story ideas and came up with one that started out as kind of a revenge thing on another world. The resulting novel was An Elemental Wind and bore only a passing resemblance to the original idea. The elemental aspect of it took me by surprise, and once I was finished I figured I might as well continue the underlying story using the other elements.

If you could have one of the Elemental powers, which one would you choose, and why?

Hmm. According to the Chinese zodiac my element is earth, and I have to say that would probably be my first choice. I love plants and could only imagine what my garden would look like if I was able to help it grow. And I could avoid the winter doldrums by making it stay green all year round. My second choice would be fire because, you know, fire!

There are rumors that Gra’anna kept a journal much like Wynne Ignitus did in An Elemental Fire. Will we get a peek into that in the next book?

Man, you and your journals! LOL If Gra’anna kept a journal, it’s news to me. Plus, considering she’s ancient, even by Illezie standards, it would span many, many volumes. The journals in Fire and Water served a purpose – they told the back story and a little foreshadowing without bogging the story down with unnecessary detail. While it might be interesting to have someone recording the events that take place in An Elemental Spirit, I’m not quite sure how I’d work that in, nor who would be writing said journal. I could see starting each chapter of Spirit with a couple of lines from the prophecy Gra’anna was talking about in Earth, but of course first I’d have to come up with the whole prophecy.

Well, it was worth a try, anyways. *sigh* For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about here…go read the first three books! 

What’s the first thing you would order from the food replicator system if you’d just come out of a decades-long stasis?

That’s a hard question to answer! I love food, especially food that’s bad for me. If, during my time in stasis, I was cured of both my diabetes and IBS, then I’d go for a Canadian pizza and a side of New York fries with the works and honey garlic chicken wings, with a strawberry daiquiri to wash it down with, and coconut cream pie for desert. Or maybe an apple dumpling with caramel sauce. Or that mile high chocolate desert thing they have at Montana’s. Or maybe just bring me the desert sampler. And then you’d better have a bucket handy for when I’m sick after eating all that junk food. LOL

The Illezie are quite the enigmatic bunch. Will we ever learn more about them and their end-game?

I’ve given you hints about the Illezie throughout the first four books and seeing as a lot of the action of the final book takes place on their home world you’ll be learning a lot more about them. There are two possible end games, and I haven’t quite figured out which one it will be. This is one of the pitfalls of writing an unplanned series – I’ve been setting things up for the end to be one thing, but I’m actually leaning towards a different end than the one I first envisioned. I might have to *gulp* plot it out.

I know you’re a cat person – why do you think we never see cats on spaceships in fiction? Would you ever consider writing about a “spaceship cat” or cats?

Seriously? Not a Star Trek fan, are you? Data had an orange tabby named Spot on the Enterprise and it even made an appearance in the movie Nemesis. Don’t make me recite Data’s poem, Ode to Spot. And wasn’t there a cat (also an orange tabby) on Ripley’s ship in Alien? In literature we have The Hani in the Chanur books by C.J. Cherryh who are a race of space faring cats; Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough created the “Barque Cats”, who were bred to live on spaceships; George R.R. Martin features genetically engineered cats on his space ship in Tuf Voyaging; there’s Tales of a Starship’s Cat by Judith R. Conly – I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. 😉

As to the second part of your question, yes, I have considered writing about a cat on a spaceship. It might be a novel, or it might be a series of stories, I haven’t quite decided yet.

Note: I am a Star Trek fan. Not so much a cat fan, so I tend not to notice cats. Yours truly is a dog person, of course…

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on overcoming my addiction to on-line solitaire and hidden objects games so I can move forward with Wandering Wizards (the half-written third installment of the Moonstone Chronicles) and get started on the fifth and final elemental book, An Elemental Spirit.


Thanks for chatting with us, Carol! I can’t wait to see how Wandering Wizards turns out…

Everyone remember that question I asked you at the beginning – the one about which flower might spontaneously grow when you’re getting all hot and bothered out under the stars? Great! Comment either here, on Facebook or on Twitter with your answer – just the name of that flower – and you’ll be entered to win a print copy of Carol’s new book, along with a surprise gift basket! 

Entries will be accepted until noon next Monday (February 20, 2017). Must be 18 yrs old or over, no purchase necessary to win. The winner will be announced here on the blog first thing next Tuesday morning (Feb. 21st)! 

Valentine’s Day, Contest & Fairy Tales

BSB News

Did you read our author interview with Ford Forkum last week? His new book, Cinderelleper releases *tomorrow*, and if you guess which interview question he lied on, you could win a print copy along with a gift basket of fun related goodies! Get your guess in now!

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Tuesday, we’ve put nine of our titles on sale for just 99 cents each. And did I mention that Cinderelleper will also be available for a 99 cent introductory price too? Here’s a list and links for the titles we have on sale – starting today, and running through Friday. It’s a great chance to sample what we have on offer!

Thanks once again to Carol R. Ward for writing our writing prompt story this week! If you haven’t already, go check out her short story, Retribution.

Did you know that Carol has a new book coming out next week? An Elemental Earth, Book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series will hit the virtual shelves on Monday, February 20th. You won’t want to miss it, or the interview with her this coming Thursday, Feb. 16th!

Last week’s free PDF download was MacKenzie Saves the World – did you get your copy? Don’t forget to check the Available Books section for this week’s free download! Hint: It’s short & semi-sweet.

Topic of the Week: Fairy Tales

Have you read the original version of Cinderella by the Grimm brothers? Or any of their tales, for that matter? They tend to be much darker and involve quite a bit more blood than the “Disney-fied” versions we’re used to. I like both versions, personally. Dark and matter-of-fact appeals to my logical side, while the cartoon/sanitized versions appeal to the hopeless romantic in me. Who doesn’t like a good happily ever after, right? But I dare say most of us have to work a bit harder for our happy ending than the modern tales portray.

Want to read the original Cinderella and quite a few other stories? You can read for free at Project Gutenberg. A copy of the Grimm brother’s collection is right here, just waiting for you to take a peek…


Writing Prompt of the Week: A bouquet of flowers is delivered to the desk of a young woman at work. There’s no card, only a dozen purple and yellow lilies amidst an abundance of greenery. Later that afternoon she noticed something moving in the bouquet. She looked closer, and nearly knocked her coffee off her desk. One of the purple blossoms was rotating…

Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com. We’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday.