News, Series Reading, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Lemon Cream Cover

 

Did you find the sweet-tart freebie for last week? Lemon Cream by Trinity Marlow is an erotic tale that explores the consequences of daring to explore an out-of-the-norm lifestyle. We’ve added an excerpt to the book page – do you dare to go check it out?

Our next freebie is daring too…in a completely different sort of way. As always, you’ll find it somewhere in the Available Books section!

I decided to split the writing prompt post into two separate posts, to ensure plenty of room for more than one poem or story at a time. The poetry posts will go up each Saturday, and the flash fiction posts on Sunday. Except this week, apparently, because even I have trouble remembering new routines sometimes (shocking, eh?).

In any case, last week’s poetry prompt was all about our favorite summer desserts, and I posted a poem this past Saturday called Just Desserts – you can read it here. I did not post a flash story on Sunday, but next week, look for that post as well.

And of course check out the writing prompts at the end of this post…if something inspires you, send in the results!

Topic of the Week: Series Reading

Unless you really are a hermit, you know that the next season of Game of Thrones premiered last week on HBO (I just watched it this past weekend – good stuff!). The TV series is now past where the last book in the series left off, and is forging its own way through the long-awaited “winter”. I’ll admit to not having read the books yet, even though I did start the first one and was intrigued enough that I wanted to keep reading, but…I didn’t.

Why? Because George R.R. Martin is a notoriously slow writer, and honestly, I don’t want to start reading the books if there’s a chance the written series will never be finished. I don’t want to get sucked into the larger overreaching book-world and then end up standing on the edge of a literary cliff, waiting forever for closure. I hate that.

There are plenty of book series I do read, of course. I wait rather impatiently for the next mass market paperback of several current series to come out (I hate hardbacks, but hubby and I both read these and he prefers print). We buy them and read them and then wait impatiently for the next one, which we know will be coming, because these authors don’t disappoint.

I haven’t released any series yet that follow the same characters through multiple books, but I’m working on a few. When I do release those, it will only be after I have the second one pretty well done and the third started, just to make sure I don’t leave readers who enjoy the first book hanging too long for the second. Because I think that’s important.

How long are you willing to wait for the next book in a series that follows the same characters from book to book? Are you the patient “I’d wait forever” sort, or do you need a somewhat more reliable schedule before you’ll jump on with a series?

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  Someone who’s never seen a dragon before is just seeing one for the first time. What do they see? Feel? Hear? What happens to them after (do they run, stay, escape, get eaten)?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Pick a piece of jewelry (watch, earrings, necklace, cuff links, whatever) and make up a legend about it. Write the legend as a poem.

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!

News, Bookstores, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

English Breakfast Cover

Cup of tea, anyone? Last week’s free download was English Breakfast – one of the short romantic suspense stories in the BeauTEAful Summer series. We’ve added an excerpt to the book page, so go check it out – we’ll wait!

The next freebie is waiting in the Available Books section…a little sweet, a little tart…

Once again, Carol and I conjured up two poems and a flash fiction story from last week’s summery writing prompts – which poem came first, I wonder? You decide – read them on the latest Saturday fiction post!

Topic of the Week: Bookstores

Do you still frequent bookstores?

My husband and I do, though we tend to binge-buy and then wait several months to go back until he’s done with that particular To-Be-Read (TBR) pile (I have less reading time, due to writing, so it takes me longer to work through the piles). We bought at Costco for awhile, but now that they’ve downsized their book section to something deplorably small and stocked mostly with hardcovers, we rarely find anything to pick up there.

Hastings was our “go-to” shop, until it closed down last year. A sad day, truly.

Now we tend to frequent Barnes & Noble, because they’re the only store in town with a large enough inventory that we can be assured of finding the next in whatever series we’re reading. We have stock in an indie bookstore/tea shop downtown (This House of Books), and I occasionally visit and buy there, but the stock just isn’t big enough (they’re just getting started, and I hope they survive long enough to build that up before Barnes & Noble goes under). It’s also on the other end of town from where I live, and while I only work three blocks away or so, I rarely go back downtown when I’m not working because it’s inconvenient. I wish we had a bookstore/tea shop in the middle of town, closer to where I’m at.

I haven’t been inside a used bookstore in a long time, but my TBR pile is big enough, and we’re always waiting on some book that’s yet to come out in mass market paperback (neither of us likes hardcovers).

I do buy digital books too…mostly romance novels or books my husband won’t be interested in, because he prefers print, while the format doesn’t matter as much to me. My kindle is always well-stocked, and I always have more books waiting in the “to-be-purchased” pile, so I never run out of those either.

The key is, my husband prefers print, and I have to admit, I like having a new paperback to crack open – it really is a different experience than reading on the kindle for me. For comic books, I tried really hard to love digital comics, but I really prefer print for those, and I have a standing pull list at our local comic book shop for my fix there.

It seems like there’s always a lot of talk about whether bookstores are still relevant, and what they need to do in order to be/stay relevant, and whether they will eventually just die out. People seem to be either pro or anti-bookstore…either they never visit one and so they have no empathy/sympathy for those who do and can’t fathom why those people don’t just always shop online; or they stridently defend the bookstore as a “pillar of society” that we can’t afford to lose.

Personally, I’m in the middle on that. I think bookstores are important – I think print is still important, and a different experience than reading on any digital screen. I also think there’s something to be said for quieting the mind long enough to browse physical shelves and read book blurbs and just generally “relax” when going into a bookstore. And of course bookstores provide a great venue for author readings/signings, writing events, poetry readings and the like.

I think it’s important to support local businesses, and help small businesses stay open. Because community is important. Community connections are important, and regardless of what the naysayers posit, the relationships you can build with a small shop owner can make you feel more connected and rooted to a place.

On the other hand, I’m also all for digital shopping and online ordering, because it’s quick, convenient, and ensures easy access to a bunch of books that might not otherwise be available.

I don’t think this has to be an either-or thing…online vs. offline bookshops. I think both can and will coexist for quite some time yet, and I’ll continue supporting both venues for as long as I buy books.

Do you shop for your books online, offline or both? Do you have a preference of reading material format? When was the last time you visited your local bookshop?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  Someone is standing in line at the grocery store with a few items in a basket. The person behind them compliments the shirt they’re wearing, and when the first person turns around, they realize they know the other person from long ago. Who is it, and how did the original relationship end (badly, well, something else)?

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

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.

Of Grasshoppers & Spats in the Park

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a grasshopper/grasshoppers.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: 
 A fight breaks out at a picnic in the park. Passing by when it happens are a woman jogging with a stroller, a man with ear buds connected to his cell having a loud discussion with someone, and a teen on a skateboard with an army-style canvas backpack. Which of the passers by breaks up the fight, and how?


Grasshopper
by Carol R. Ward

Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen
a subtle kick, not strong at all
but lots of flavour for a drink so small.

Philip Guichet, he knew your worth
in New Orleans he gave you birth –
a splash of this and a splash of that
shaken with ice in a minute flat.

Use crème de menthe, a quarter ounce
and crème de cacao to give it bounce,
and don’t forget to include the cream
for a drink that tastes just like a dream.

You taste like mint but chocolate too
like a liquid thin mint in a brew.
Grasshopper, grasshopper, creamy green
you’re the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen.

***

Lovely Weather
by Alex Westhaven

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bee.
It is indeed, replied the bee,
and buzzed off toward his hive.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the ant.
Can’t stop to chat, replied the ant,
carrying a leaf on his back.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the fly.
Putrid scents are the best, replied the fly,
and the garbage is perfectly ripe.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the frog.
Hop along or I’ll eat you, replied the frog.
You’re just the right size for a bite.

Isn’t the weather lovely?
Said the grasshopper to the bird.
In one bold, heartless crunch,
the bird got himself lunch.

Lovely weather, indeed, said the bird.

***

Best Game Ever
by Carol R. Ward

It started out innocently enough. Jeffrey and Alex were friends, best friends as a matter of fact. It was a beautiful summer’s day and they found themselves with some unexpected time on their hands. But what to do with it? They were easily bored and after much consideration they’d come to the park to play ball…

Even those who witnessed the altercation couldn’t say what started it. One minute the park was calm and quiet, the next the two had resorted to name calling and insults at the top of their lungs.

Sandra Covington was jogging by with the stroller and saw them, but she was hesitant to get involved. She knew both Jeffrey and Alex but her time was limited. There was a stirring from the stroller and she shook her head and continued on. Whatever had set the two off she was sure they’d work it out themselves. She had one more mile to go and didn’t want to take the chance on the baby waking up before she was done.

Though cutting through the park was a quicker way to the office, Lawrence Thompson hadn’t expected it to be so … busy. He attached the ear buds to his cell phone and tucked the phone in his pocket, using the blue tooth feature for his conference call. He shot the combatants a glare. This was an important call and he could hardly hear over their noise.

“Hey! Can you keep it down? I’m on a call here,” he yelled at them.

They didn’t even so much as spare him a glance. Whatever they were arguing over threatened to become an epic battle. Lawrence raised the volume on his phone and turned away. The nerve of some people. Just because this was a public park didn’t mean he should have to put up with this crap.

Teenaged Kevin Masters thought the crowds were great as he wove back and forth around the people. He narrowly missed Sandra with her stroller, but was forced off the path by Lawrence, who was taking his half of the walkway out of the middle. He landed in an ungraceful heap near some long grass, all scrawny elbows and knees.

“The path is for everyone you know!” he yelled after Lawrence, who was practically yelling into his phone, gesturing with both hands. Lawrence was too focused on his call to pay any attention to one skinny teenager.

“You rich old farts think you own the world,” Kevin said, voice raised so the businessman could hear him. “You’re lucky I don’t sue for reckless endangerment or something.” Okay, so maybe he didn’t know the first thing about suing someone, but it sounded good anyway.

Shaking his head, Kevin picked himself up and dusted his hands over his low slung pants. Picking up his ball cap he smacked it on his thigh a couple of times and put it back on his head, bill turned firmly backwards.

As he picked up his skateboard he noticed a flash of red in the long grass. It was a ball.

“Hey little dudes,” he called over to Jeffrey and Alex. “Did one of you drop your ball?”

“It’s mine!” Alex yelled first.

“Is not, it’s mine!” Jeffrey insisted.

As Kevin stood there watching, the two six-year-olds fell to arguing again, the assertions of “mine” flying back and forth like a ping pong ball. The truth of the matter was it belonged to neither of them. They’d found it when they were at the park three weeks ago and had been taking turns taking it home.

He watched them for a few minutes but what started out as kind of funny turned boring after a few minutes. With a shrug Kevin tossed the ball in their general direction. It landed several feet away, in plain sight, but the two didn’t pause in their arguing. Setting his skate board on the pavement again, he pushed off with his foot and was on his way again, weaving in and out through the passersby.

The prize lay forgotten on the ground as Jeffrey and Alex fell to pushing each other back and forth, which then led to wrestling. As they were thus occupied, a stray dog happened by.

He was a nondescript brown with the gangliness of a very young dog. He sniffed at the bright red ball and his tail began to wag. He showed his sophistication by executing a perfect downward dog pose, then his exuberance by barking at it. As quick as lightning his head shot forward and he snatched it up in his jaws, flinging it upwards then scampering after it with a joyful bark.

The boys stopped their wrestling and stared in disbelief.

“Hey!” one of them called out. “That’s ours!”

They raced towards their ball and the dog barked again, snatching it out of the grass and leaping away, tail waving madly. Yelling and laughing the boys gave chase as the dog bounded away.

This was the best game ever.

###


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!

“Fireworks”, “Boom, Fizzle, Pop”, & “The Decision”

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about fireworks or firecrackers.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  ‘Tis the season for fireworks! A couple is sitting outside on a blanket, watching fireworks go off. They’re making a major decision – what is it?


Boom, Fizzle, Pop 
by Jamie DeBree

Hiss, crackle, fizzle & pop,
all so much noise.
When will it stop?

Bang, boom, sizzle & smoke,
so close and so loud.
The dead are all woke.

Red, blue, pink, white & green,
light up the sky
like some magic machine.

Explosions so bright to celebrate war,
nothing like the bombs
used centuries before.

Ohs and ahs mask screams of pain,
bright pretty patterns
mask reality again.

Don’t whine, please don’t cry,
let us have our
war-themed fun.

Hide from the crackle, bang-boom & pop,
come out when the show
finally fizzles to a stop.

###

Fireworks
by Carol R. Ward

Twinkle, twinkle little star…
That’s not really what you are
You burst into a vibrant light
Stark against the blackest night
Like the lightning in the sky
Followed by the thunder’s cry.
With colours of a rainbow hue
Each time the starburst is brand new.
You thrill the crowds with oohs, and ahhs,
Shooting sparks without a pause.
But all too soon the show must end
Just wisps of smoke left to descend.

###

The Decision
 by Jamie DeBree

Bright colors exploded over the lake in a bouquet of stars that slowly melted back to earth, and Dani couldn’t help but wonder if it would be the last time she’d ever see fireworks.

“It’s really dangerous,” she said, as another pop filled the air with a thousand shimmering white lights. “There’s a good chance I’d end up completely blind, or worse.”

Aaron reached out to stroke her arm, his skin hot against hers. She was always cold these days, it seemed. Colder than she’d been before the diagnosis, though the doctors brushed it off as anxiety.

“I don’t know what the right answer is,” he said, moving closer on the blanket. His arm slid around her shoulders and pulled her close, surrounding her with his heat. “If you don’t go through with it, you’ll be blind within a few weeks anyway. It’s the ‘or worse’ I’m worried about.”

The water lapped along the shore, illuminated by another burst of brilliant colors in the sky. Why her? Why now? What had she ever done so wrong to deserve this?

“How are the headaches?” he asked, when she dropped her head to his broad shoulder. “Have they gotten any worse?”

“A little better, actually,” she lied. The pain was almost constant now, but he didn’t need to know that. He saw enough of her struggle, carried enough of the burden. She wasn’t sure what she’d do without him.

“It would take twelve hours. We’d know two days after.” She wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, but she needed to hear it aloud again, for herself. “But I have to decide this week, or it will be too late.”

He nodded, hugging her tight. Stroking her arm. twitching slightly at a louder boom as the grand finale began. Fitting, she thought. Without the surgery, she had six months, max. Most of that she’d be blind. Not even enough time to learn braille.

“Would you pull the plug, if it all went wrong?” She turned her head, looked up at the face she held so dear. “Would you make sure I don’t suffer if it doesn’t work?”

He sighed, didn’t answer right away, which was comforting. It shouldn’t be an easy decision, should it?
“I would,” he acquiesced. “If that’s what you wanted me to do.”

She nodded. The sky was quiet now. The lake still lapped at the shore, bugs still buzzed, the wind still rattled through the trees. Life moving on, just as it would whether she was here or not. Just as it always did, always would.

“I can’t just sit back and accept it. I have to fight. I have to try. Even if it costs me everything.”
Aaron touched his lips to hers, gently once, then twice. Smiled.

“Good. I love you. We’ll schedule it tomorrow.”

###


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 (Sale!) & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

The quarterly newsletter should be in your inbox sometime this morning, so be sure to look for it if you’re a subscriber! If you’re not, why not? Go sign up!

When She Cries CoverLast week’s freebie download is When She Cries – a rather creepy story that will put you in just the right mood for that camping trip this summer…not! We’ve just added an excerpt to the page – go check it out, if you dare…

 

Be sure to scan through our Available Books section for this week’s holiday freebie too!

Last week’s flower/gardening writing prompts inspired a poem and not one, but two flash stories! Click over to read Roses, Planting Trees and The Great Debate on Saturday’s post here!

We’re having an Independence Day sale! This week only, select digital titles will be just 99 cents each – starting now!

Beach Reads
Sleep With Me by Jamie DeBree
MacKenzie Saves the World by Jamie DeBree
Romantic Suspense
Indelibly Inked by Jamie DeBree
The Biker’s Wench by Jamie DeBree
Desert Heat by Jamie DeBree
Erotica
Lemon Cream by Trinity Marlow
Thriller/Horror
Lettuce Prey by Alex Westhaven
Sprouted by Alex Westhaven

Topic of the Week: No Discussion – Happy Independence Day!

 


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week:  ‘Tis the season for fireworks! A couple is sitting outside on a blanket, watching fireworks go off. They’re making a major decision – what is it?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about fireworks or firecrackers.

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, Library Cataloging, and Weekly Prompts

BSB News

MacKenzie Saves the World Cover

First up…the newsletter is going to be a week late this quarter. So instead of it going out tomorrow, it will hit your inboxes next Monday, July 3rd. Which is just in time to announce an Independence Day sale, so watch that inbox!

Did you find last week’s freebie download? MacKenzie Saves the World would make a great beach read, methinks. If you like comic books, chocolate fountains, cookies, drama and romance, this is the book for you!

This week’s free download is waiting for you to find it our Available Books section. Happy hunting…

Don’t forget to pop over and check out this week’s writing prompt poem and story: First Kiss and Skills by yours truly.

Topic of the Week: Library Organization

*Note: All links below are for Android, as that’s what I use for mobile. 

My husband is building me new bookshelves for my office, and as you might guess, I’m quite excited about it. We have a rather substantial library (even with new shelves, it will never all fit in the office – there are books all over the house), and we still buy most books in print, plus I have both a stamp collection and a comic book collection that are currently stored in binders.

Naturally, the thought of moving all those books is exhausting, but there’s also one other thing that kind of bugs me…and that is, we don’t have any sort of inventory for our books. There are far too many to type all the information in by hand, and the last time I tried the Goodreads barcode scanner, it was less than impressive and unable to find a good chunk of what I tried to scan. So I gave up.

As I was thinking about the new shelves the other night, I got an email from LibraryThing that mentioned their new Android app, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to go try it out, and see if it worked any better than the Goodreads app. Of course I haven’t used the Goodreads app in forever, so I decided to try that one again too, just in case it’s improved over the years.

I have to say…I was extremely impressed with the LibraryThing app. The barcode scanner worked great and easily, and even found Ford Forkum’s latest book with no trouble (just recently released). Shelving the book in categories was very easy as well, and I can definitely see myself cataloging my entire library in just a few days using their app.

I’m sorry to say that the Goodreads barcode scanner still didn’t work very well, and still couldn’t find several barcodes I tried to scan (including Ford’s new book). I’m not a huge fan of Goodreads anyway (too much drama, not very author-friendly), so no biggie for me.

At that point, I was happy with the LibraryThing app, and figured I’d just use that. I figured then that I’d look at comic book collector apps, because I need to index that collection as well, but I don’t really want my comic books in the same place as my non-comic books (just for clarity and ease of searching…there are so many of each!).

That’s when I found CLZ Comics – an amazing app that seems to have no trouble scanning barcodes, and automatically “shelves” books into series, and in order while allowing you to pick which cover you have if there are more than one available. It’s free for the first 100 issues, and $15 for a lifetime unlimited license, which includes cloud storage. This is a no-brainer for me…Comixology is confusing (or was) and most of the apps out there are geared more toward digital comic books rather than physical (which is what I prefer). So $15 for a database to store all of my comic books for life, where I can access the catalog anytime (I believe it’s downloadable too, so easy to backup/use offline)? Easy decision.

Naturally, when I saw they had a book catalog app as well, I downloaded that too, and I think that’s going to be my go-to cataloging app for books, though I may use the LibraryThing app concurrently for awhile and just see which one seems more intuitive/robust.

I didn’t try cataloging ebooks at all…I tend to buy ebooks through Amazon most of the time, and categorize them on my Kindle. But according to the play store descriptions, CLZ apps will store ebooks just as easily as physical copies, so I may start adding my ebooks too, depending on how difficult it is to do.

I’m quite pleased with finding CLZ for cataloging, and am really looking forward to scanning in as many books as possible over the rest of the summer. If only I could find a similar program for my other collections.

Do you use a library catalog program to keep track of your books? Which one, and what are your likes/dislikes about it?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

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.

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, First Books, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

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

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: First Books

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

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

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

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


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Falling 
by Jamie DeBree

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

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

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

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

Sometimes gravity wins.

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

Rare Books
by Carol R. Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But what kinds of books are in there?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!

News, Cliffhangers, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Canvas CoverDid you find last week’s free PDF download of Canvas by Alex Westhaven? It’s a short, creepy little story featuring one of my favorite “heroines”. You can meet her in the excerpt we’ve recently added to the book page…

Have fun searching for this week’s free PDF download in our Available Books section!

Snow White

The latest from resident satirist Ford Forkum will be released on Wednesday, June 14th – Flag Day! Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs is available for pre-order on Amazon now – just 99 cents! Check out the book page in the Coming Soon section for more details and the pre-order link.

And of course don’t forget to go read the two prompt pieces from last week, both by Carol R. Ward. Pouty the Walrus and Table for Two are both so adorably cute – they’re sure to make you smile.

Topic of the Week: Cliffhangers

Everyone knows cliffhangers – where a story leaves you “hanging” until the next book, chapter, TV show or installment – are horrible, evil devices, right? They really are. Talk about the ultimate way to hold a reader/watcher hostage, eh? I mean, we don’t *have* to hang around to see what comes next…but if we’re at all invested in the characters, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth along with much grumbling until our curiosity is sated.

That said, they certainly do keep us coming back for more, and while I really, truly hate cliffhangers in books, I see the “need” in TV. After watching three season finales last week, I was so incredibly irritated by the cliffhangers that…well, toyed with my emotions, so to speak. And now I have to wait a long, long time to see what happens next. With books, that “long wait” tends to be either years or sometimes even not at all. Talk about torture!

How do you feel about cliffhangers? Do you feel differently about cliffhangers in books/movies/TV shows?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

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

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

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.

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

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

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


Pouty the Walrus
by Carol R. Ward

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

*****

Table for Two
by Carol R. Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let me buy you a fresh one.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m afraid so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your poems/stories for the week in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!