News, Why Read? & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Sleep With Me Cover

Did you find last week’s free download of Sleep With Me? It’s a great beach read, or “anytime” contemporary romance. The main character has a bit of a sleeping problem, and the prescription to take care of it is…somewhat unconventional….

Make sure to go look for this week’s free PDF download in our Available Books section!

The prompts were inspiring last week, but in different ways to different people. Carol R. Ward and I took a little creative license with the prompts, and ended up with a poem to match the prose prompt titled Call Me Edward, and a story to match the poetry prompt called Consequences. I hope you’ll go check them out and let us know what you think!

Topic of the Week: Why Read?

Why do we read? I know for me, reading is how I learn new things, how I experience different perspectives, how I understand people and cultures, and the way I escape and relax after a busy day. It’s such an integral part of my life that I can barely imagine a world where people don’t read – where written words/letters/symbols don’t exist.

Considering we as a species have been at least attempting to document speech in written form (by which I include cuneiform, cave paintings & hieroglyphics) almost since we developed language, it seems like it’s almost an instinctual act to try to record and expand our internal monologue. Fascinating, don’t you think?

I’ve heard people who learn to read later in life claim that reading has opened up their world. Expanded their vocabulary. Brought so many things into focus. And it’s not that they didn’t have language before – they did. But somehow, the act of writing that language and being able to interpret what others write is a special sort of magic that opens all sorts of doors in the brain.

It would seem that a lot of the “magic” of reading is done on a subconscious level. But consciously, those of us who read books generally choose to do so. I think my own reasons for reading say a lot about me, personally. Do your reasons do the same for you?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

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?

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

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!

News, Bookmarks & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Indelibly Inked Cover

Have you ever had someone’s name or initials tattooed on your body? If you did, do they know? If not, what would you do if they found out? That’s the theme of last week’s free PDF download: Indelibly Inked. There’s an excerpt on the book page where you can meet Claire and Adam…

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

Have you peeked in the “Coming Soon” link section recently? Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs is coming soon from your favorite satirist, Ford Forkum! Stay tuned…

Carol R. Ward stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park with both poetry and prose from last week’s prompts. Check out Keepsake and Finders Keepers on Saturday’s post. I have it on good authority that we may be seeing a longer, more detailed form of Finders Keepers eventually!

Topic of the Week: Bookmarks

It’s time to separate the monsters from the civilized, or so someone out there has undoubtedly said. So today, we’re talking about bookmarks. Print or digital, every reader needs a way to find the page they last read, assuming they had to put the book down for some tragic reason during the reading of said book. Like sleep. Or work. Or family clamboring for your attention (Why? What did we ever do to you people?!).

In any case, in the unfortunate event that you’re separated from your book while reading it, do you use a bookmark? Dog-ear the print pages? Make a notation in the digital book? Just remember the page number from a print book (yes, my husband used to do this)?  Use a digital bookmark (does anyone actually do that, since most readers/apps will automatically save your page for you)?

If you use a bookmark in a print book, is it a conventional type bookmark, something sentimental (ticket stubs, a piece of ribbon from an old dress, etc), or something entirely mundane like a business card or shopping receipt?

Inquiring minds, and all that. I’m a dog-ear-the-pages heathen when it comes to print books. I can’t seem to help myself. Even if I have a perfectly good bookmark within reach, I will reflexively dog-ear the page before I can even think about what I’m about to do.

No, I don’t borrow books.

Digital books, I don’t bother. My kindle saves the page I leave off on, so I don’t bother with digital bookmarks either.

Ironically enough, I *love* bookmarks though. Love the artwork, love all different styles and shapes, love the concept. And I do have some bookmarks in books. But I rarely take them back out unless forced to. So I guess in that respect, I should always use a bookmark that matches the book, eh?

What about you? Comment below, or on this post when you see it on social media. We want to hear from you!

 


I’ve decided to keep both prompts, at least for the time being, so if you’re feeling writerly, pick one (or both), and write us a story!

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

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

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.

Eleven Things & Mugged by Jamie DeBree

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


Eleven Things
by Jamie DeBree

I see you standing there
judging me silently.
What is it this time?
My lack of forced smile,
my bare face,
my disregard for titles and accomplishments?

Maybe it’s my tattoos, but
that seems so cliche.
My non-designer clothes,
my metal-filled ears?
Or just my
general distain for the endless small-talk loop.

I laugh too loud,
or not enough,
snicker at all the
wrong things but
I just take
everything far too serious, too literal, too thoughtful.

I know where I
fall short, why I
don’t fit in, how I
could change.
But I am who I am. Like who I am. Just gotta be me.

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

Mugged
by Jamie DeBree

“I asked for no foam.” Charlie tried not to sound as frustrated as he was, but it was late, and so was he, and he really needed caffeine.

Without foam on top.

It wasn’t the young barista’s fault he was having a bad day, but it was her fault that his latte was piled high with foam. A few bubbles, no problem. Half an inch of the stuff? She needed more training.

“I’m sorry, Sir. It says ‘foam’ here on the order sheet. I can make a new one for you if you have time to wait.”

He shook his head and set the cup down. “I’m already late. Why don’t you just pour me a black coffee — whatever you have back there, and refund me the difference. We’ll call that good.”

The girl gnawed at her bottom lip, her eyes going glassy.

Oh no. She was not going to cry on him. Not today. Not now.

“I’m sorry Sir, but I don’t know how to do refunds. Let me get my superviser to do that while I get your coffee.” Before he could say anything, she’d disappeared into a door on the opposite wall.

Mentally making note for the five billionth time to buy a damn coffee pot and make the stuff at home, he picked up the cup, fastened the lid and turned to go.

Right at the same time someone else was passing too close behind him.

Hot, milky-caramel liquid splashed across the front of his shirt and pants. He stared down at himself in disbelief, and then looked up to find a woman around his age with brown eyes and chestnut hair staring back, and apparently trying not to laugh.

“Something funny about spilling coffee all over someone?” he asked.

She shrugged, and gave a slight nod. “Actually, when they’re being as big of an asshole as you, yes. Admit it or not, you deserved that.

Unbelievable. He raised an eyebrow. “So now just ordering coffee the way I want it, and asking for it to be fixed when it isn’t is asshole behavior? Since when?”

“Since foam is not going to kill you and is pretty much just air bubbles. Do you realize how ridiculous it is to request no air bubbles in a drink with steamed milk?”

Charlie sighed. He was so not in the mood for this or any other conversation, and now he had to go home and change clothes before he could actually make it to work.

“It doesn’t have to make sense to you. I just has to make sense to me, and I just don’t see why that’s such a difficult thing, or why that makes me the bad guy.” She started to speak, but he held a hand up just as the door behind the counter opened. He turned to see the young barista, apparently still sans supervisor.

“Oh! There you are, Margaret,” she said, looking directly at the woman who’d spilled coffee on him. “This gentleman needs a partial refund and I’m not sure how to do it. Can you help me?

Margaret shook her head. “Nope. This gentleman will be leaving, and he’s not getting a refund or a replacement. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.” She reached toward a shelf of coffee mugs and took one, re-reading the front before holding it out to him.

“There. Now you can’t say I didn’t try to compensate you for this one last mistake. Get out of my shop and don’t come back.” She shoved the mug into his cooling but still wet stomach and walked away.

He looked down at the mug, and very nearly chuckled when he read the saying on the front.

“You’ve been mugged!”

Charlie sighed, took his mug, and walked out the door. On his way home, he called the office and quit his job.

Then he went to the store to buy a coffee pot.

###


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!

Bookkeeping by Jamie DeBree & Psychic Spider Excerpt by Alex Westhaven

Poetry Prompt of the Week: It’s tax time here in the US, and many of us are parting with money, rearranging money, finagling budgets and generally annoyed with the fact that everything costs money. Write a poem about money. Love it, hate it, balance the two (and the budget while you’re at it?)…whatever comes to mind about currency.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Two women are sitting at a bar having drinks. Three men are at the other end of the bar, clearly drunk and getting drunker. The women notice something small moving toward them on the bar. It’s a tarantula, but there’s a note attached to the large spider…


Bookkeeping
by Jamie DeBree

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

###

Psychic Spider (excerpt)
by Alex Westhaven

*Author’s note: This feels like it wants to be at least a decent-sized short story, not just a novel. So here’s how it starts. Stay tuned for the rest later this year…

“What is that? There’s something on the bar. It’s coming this way — Hannah, you have to move now! Like, right now!”

Hannah put her glass down on the napkin in front of her and calmly turned to look in the direction Beth was pointing. Sure enough, there was a big tarantula crawling toward them on the bar. And the poor thing looked like it had been given a mission, judging from the small piece of white paper laying on it’s back.

Glancing at Beth, who now stood a good five feet away from her bar stool, Hannah shook her head.

“It’s not going to hurt you — tarantulas are normally pretty gentle. Though it might shoot you with a leg hair if it feels threatened, but there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Beth shook her head and held both hands up, palms out.

“You can go right ahead and be spider-bait if you want. I’m find over here. Watching. I’ll be a witness. Until I run out, anyways.”

Hannah sighed. The spider was nearly in front of her now, and she slowly reached over to pick up the note. Unfolding it, she read the single sentence to herself.

First one to leave dies, second one is the killer.

###


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, 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.