National Poetry Month, Poetry Discussion, and New Writing Prompts

Are you a poetry reader or writer? April is National Poetry Month, and there are plenty of challenges for writers out there, but I haven’t seen many for readers. So, we decided to to have one ourselves! Every week this month, I’ll be reading a poem and mentioning it here on the weekly blog post. If you comment with the title and author of a poem you’ve read recently and a book you’d like to read from our catalog, we’ll send you a free PDF – your choice of books from any category on our site except Humor/Satire.

Just make sure to include your correct email address in the comment form (email addresses will not display with your comment), so we can send your free book!

For this first week, the poem I read is The Poet’s Vow by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It’s a rather poignant, sad tale of a poet who renounces his humanity and the world in order to lock himself away as a hermit, basically. His lady love does not fare well upon his vow, and things progress about as you might expect as the poem goes on. As I was reading, the skies were darkening and a spring storm looming, which matched the mood of the poem rather nicely.

The volume of Mrs. Browning’s poems I have is very old – the copyright reads 1882 and 1886. I found it one afternoon at a local flea market, and as a collector of old books, I had to have it for the $20 they were asking. It’s beautiful and red-speckled, with soft, yellowed pages that immediately implore you to handle it with care. I think with poetry especially, reading from an old, hardbound copy helps the mind really accept and even embrace the older language and phrasing used in these poems.

I have an old volume of Tennyson as well – perhaps I’ll get that one off the shelf for next week.

In other news, the new monthly writing prompts are available below. Let’s write about roses!

Until next time, happy reading & writing….


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: A man running to catch a train/bus/cab drops a red rose. A woman picks it up, and finds a note wrapped around the stem.
  • Poetry Prompt: Using different color rose petals, write a poem in which the narrator picks a petal each stanza (sort of a “loves me, loves me not” rhythm/theme).

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

Discussing Books & Weekly Writing Prompts

Lucky Dog CoverDiscussing Books

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Death by Veggies & Weekly Writing Prompts

Jack CoverHow do you like your horror? Grotesque and bloody, psychological and clean? Somewhere between the two? Alex Westhaven is our resident horror/thriller writer (also, an alter-ego of mine), and does her best to balance a little bit of the grotesque with a lot of the cerebral when it comes to getting that adrenaline rush going. Her shorter horror stories are perfect for a bright lunch hour or dark before-bed snack, which you already know if you’ve tried the Death by Veggies series.

Fun Fact: The Death by Veggies series was inspired by a conversation overheard in a bar. Several post-sober people were having a rousing (and rather loud) conversation about how much one or two of them hated vegetables, and how one was absolutely certain that if he/she ate even one, he/she would simply *die* right there on the spot. Another mentioned something to the effect of that being a great way to murder someone, but by then, Alex was already scribbling down the titles to several DBV stories (a couple of which haven’t been written…yet).

In any case, if fun little horror stories are your thing, do check out the DBV series. They’re all stand-alone stories, so you can read them in any order (though this month, we think Jack is probably the appropriate place to start), and they’re all available in print, ebook and audio, so there’s a format for every reader.

And if you have read one or more already, leave a comment and tell us your favorite!


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  Pick an obscure, non-poisonous vegetable and make it the catalyst for a murder.

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