Release Week, Excerpt, and February Writing Prompts

It’s release week! This Friday (Feb. 23rd), The Dry Rain by Alex Westhaven will finally be available in digital format. The print version may take a little longer, but it’s coming soon as well. Here’s the blurb:

The earth has a bug problem – one large enough to potentially threaten humanity. But in the small city of Whiskey Creek, Oklahoma, the population has only one thing on their minds: staying alive while the Dry Rain evolves into something much more sinister.

And here’s a short excerpt to wet your appetite (so to speak):
The road was still visible, but there were plenty of maggoty worms trying to answer the proverbial chicken-crossing-the-road question, which meant plenty of bug guts squishing beneath the tires and making the road slick, as if it were raining hard. Poor Bess bellowed her displeasure, and Will figured it was the smell bugging her as much as the trailer slipping back and forth despite the slow pace he was keeping.

“I think maybe we should have stayed put,” May said, one hand clinging to the door while the other held tight to the edge of the seat. “This is almost as bad as that snowstorm we drove through last winter. Except visibility is better, as long as you don’t care about dividing lines and such.”

Will tried to stay relaxed, though his neck and shoulders ached from keeping the rig on the road.

“We’ll make it,” he said, adjusting his grip on the wheel and shooting her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Shouldn’t be too much further. Just gotta keep going straight and stay away from the shoulder.”

“Look out!”

*********************
I hope you’ll pick up a copy first thing on Friday! It will be available for 99 cents next weekend only, and then on Monday the 26th, the price will go up to 2.99.

If you’re a writer – or want to be, have you checked out our monthly prompts yet? The deadline for submissions is just a week and a half away…better get writing!


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

The Heart and the Triangle, and Writing Prompts

The Minister's Maid CoverWednesday is Valentine’s Day, in case you missed the swath of pink, white and read hearts all over the place lately. I was thinking about love triangles the other day, and how there always seems to be one, even if one or two of the people in the triangle are unaware of the other’s feelings. It seems like every time two people get together, someone is left out in the cold, either unintentionally or knowingly, and I think maybe that’s why so many of us have trouble with romance stories involving love triangles and the heart-breaking choices that have to be made to get to the end of the story. It’s hard enough to live it, much less reading about it over and over in fiction.

There can be only two, to paraphrase The Highlander.

Of course three or more people can certainly form cohesive relationships, but it’s a very difficult thing, I’d imagine. It’s hard enough for two people to forge and maintain a lasting relationship, and adding even one person into that mixture of longing and emotion is far easier in fiction than it is in real life.

Maybe that’s why we like to read and write about such relationships. To understand them, and figure out how one might work, in case we’re ever in the not-so-unique position of being attracted to two people at once. I have a hard time writing threesomes, mostly because I have a hard time believing they can work long-term (for life, I mean).

In any case, hearts and triangles are nearly the same shape, and I wonder if there’s ever been a relationship that didn’t leave someone on one side or the other out in the cold. In my experience and from what I’ve observed, there’s always an odd man or woman out (sadly enough).When She Cries Cover

I do think I have written one story where there’s a threesome that works. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one it is/was (job hazard)! But in light of the holiday, I’m giving away a free download of one of my campy but fun Fantasy Ranch romance novels: The Minister’s Maid. You can download the PDF for free until Friday, and I hope you enjoy the story (which isn’t quite what it seems once you get into it)…

And for those of you who aren’t currently in a relationship, and might be feeling a bit bitter about all this lovey-dovey stuff, please enjoy a free download of When She Cries, by my somewhat more sadistic alter-ego, Alex Westhaven.


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

Love vs. Romance & February Writing Prompts

Heart Knocks CoverIt’s February, which means hearts and flowers all over the place, whether you’re into that sort of thing or not. It also generally means that if you’re in love, you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day and whether or not to celebrate, based on your personal preference. If you’re not in love, you’re probably looking at everyone else with a mixture of contempt and for some, maybe that’s mixed with a teensy bit of jealousy. Especially if you’re in love with someone who’s in love with someone else, or otherwise unable to be with the one you love.

Regardless, love almost always means conflict of some sort, which is why it makes such a great topic to read and write about.

Then there’s romance. Romance is what happens when we’re falling in love, as well as when we’re in the thick of it. Romance is that dramatic, heart-pounding place that we love and hate and dread and anticipate, often all at the same time, because it’s exhilarating and exhausting and for many of us, it makes us feel more alive than just about anything else. Romance can be actions, or words, or any number of little things that tell us someone else is attracted to and/or thinking about us, or it can be a grand gesture that declares that attraction to the world. It’s that intricate dance between two people trying to navigate feelings and decide whether it’s love, or just lust, and where to go once the determination is made.

Those of us who read and/or write romance experience those feelings over and over again, through the stories we immerse ourselves in, and the characters we fall in love with over and over again. It keeps those feelings fresh, even when the romance in our own lives might not be quite so new and dramatic.

I was thinking about love and indirect, romantic ways of expressing love while I was watching TV this weekend. I’ve always been a huge sucker for Wesley’s way of telling Buttercup he loved her in The Princess Bride, by responding to her requests with “As you wish.” Those three words, even moreso than “I Love You”, make my heart skip a beat every time I hear them. There’s so much more meaning there than a direct declaration. And the same with the now-cliche (sadly), “You complete me.” In the Jill Shalvis book I just finished (Chasing Christmas Eve, is the title, I think), there’s another great indirect declaration that is so romantic it just makes me swoon (I won’t put it here in case you want to go read it for yourself in context).

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a romance – I had to take a break for awhile and get my head out of those emotions for various reasons, but I’m working on a couple of short romances now that I want to remember this for. I want my characters to experience the same “swoon” I get when I hear one of those oh-so-personal indirect declarations, and I want readers to experience that too.

Think of how you’d like someone to indirectly declare their love for you. Would it be a certain phrase? A certain action? A combination of the two? What romantic phrase or gesture would make your heart swoon in return? Have you read any books with a good swoon-worthy declaration lately?


Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

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.

The Art of Covers & Submission Deadline Weds.

How much impact does a book’s cover have when you’re browsing the shelves (physical or digital) for something to read? We’ve all heard the old adage to “never judge a book by its cover”, and yet, we all do, even if it’s merely a subconscious note in the back of our mind.

I was thinking about this as I worked on the cover for Alex Westhaven’s new book coming out next month. I could have gone gray and white with it, which might have been lovely in print, but not so great for an ebook or audio cover set against the normal white background. And I would have had to keep all the covers in the Insecticide series within the same color scheme, so readers would know the books all go together. Due to those two things, I decided to go the opposite way, with bright, bold covers that draw the eye in and hopefully make readers interested enough to open it up and see what’s inside. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments…

Are you a newsletter subscriber? Look for the Brazen Snake Monthly in your inbox on Wednesday!

There’s still a couple days left to submit your prompt-inspired stories and poems for the February 28th newsletter and blog. Here are the details, and the prompts are below:

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.


  • Prose Prompt (1000 word max for submissions): At the end of a certain rainbow, there is a door, and beside it a black pot full of gold keys. The person guarding it is most definitely not a leprechaun…or is he/she?
  • Poetry Prompt (500 word max for submissions): In like a lion, out like a lamb? In like a lamb, out like a lion? Write a poem about a lion, a lamb, and a magical kind of breeze.

Coming Soon – Insects and Adventure

Are you ready for some new reading material? We’re ready to help you out with that! We have two new books coming out in the next two months – The Dry Rain is an Insecticide novella by Alex Westhaven, and The Time Stone is the first book in a debut young reader series called The Stone Scavengers by Marie Yoch! The two books couldn’t be more different, and that’s just the way we like it around here. If you’re into adrenaline and moths gone out of control, you’ll want to grab a copy of The Dry Rain as soon as it comes out.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a twelve-year-old girl on the hunt for a set of stone talismans that could help her find out what happened to her missing father, then you won’t want to miss The Time Stone just in time for spring reading!

The Dry Rain will be available on Friday, February 23rd in digital and print formats.

The Time Stone will be available on Friday, March 23rd in digital and print formats.

Stay tuned for cover art, back cover copy and excerpts!


January Writing Prompts

Prose Prompt (1000 word max for submissions): At the end of a certain rainbow, there is a door, and beside it a black pot full of gold keys. The person guarding it is most definitely not a leprechaun…or is he/she?

Poetry Prompt (500 word max for submissions): In like a lion, out like a lamb? In like a lamb, out like a lion? Write a poem about a lion, a lamb, and a magical kind of breeze.

Submit your work to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com by January 31st, and your story or poem could be published right here on the Snake Bites blog and in our February newsletter! Flat fee of $10 paid to the author for non-exclusive publishing rights.

New Year, New Plans, New Prompts

No Hazard Pay CoverHappy New Year! We hope yours is off to a great start so far, but if not, the Chinese New Year is still ahead, and perhaps that one will bring you more luck. Or at least more books!

We’re still working on this year’s schedule, but it will include a few new books coming out, and some fun things to go along with those releases. We’re also going to be developing discussion questions for many of the books we already have out, for those who might wish to use one of our books for a club or other group-reading experience. Look for the first of those to be coming with the first monthly newsletter on January 31st (you are a subscriber, right?).

As for our prompts, we’ll be posting monthly prompts (instead of weekly) starting today, and writers are encouraged to submit works inspired by our prompts for publication. 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.

Stories are limited to 1000 words, and poems are limited to 500 words.

So without further ado, here are this month’s prompts. Happy writing!


Prose Prompt: At the end of a certain rainbow, there is a door, and beside it a black pot full of gold keys. The person guarding it is most definitely not a leprechaun…or is he/she?

Poetry Prompt: In like a lion, out like a lamb? In like a lamb, out like a lion? Write a poem about a lion, a lamb, and a magical kind of breeze.

A Gift, A Break, and Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverTo help with your last minute gift-giving needs, we’re giving away three holiday stories (or the collected version) that you can keep for yourself, or copy and gift to friends and family with our best wishes. Download links for each book are below, but please remember these are adult stories, and not suitable for minors. Download and share responsibly, please!

All files are in PDF format.
Mr. Mysterious by Jamie DeBree (romantic suspense) Details
Canvas by Alex Westhaven (horror) Details
The Naughty List by Trinity Marlow (erotic romance) Details
The Holiday Pact (all three stories)

 

We’ll be taking a two-week break from the blog to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, but join us again on January 8th for some news for 2018 as well as new writing prompts to inspire you.

Happy holidays to you and yours, and thank you for reading!


Weekly Prose Prompt: A family member disappears from the annual Christmas eve party. Where did they go and what happened?
Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about your hopes for the new year.  

Bookish Gifts & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Holiday Pact CoverI think we can safely say the holiday season is well upon us now, and many of us are probably trying to figure out what to wrap up for our loved ones (or the office gift exchange). It’s not always easy to get readers a book, especially if they’re the sort (like myself) who buys books year-round. But there are lots of great book-related items out there that readers will appreciate, depending on their individual tastes.

Mugs, teacups and coffee or tea are pretty much a sure bet for a reader. Find a nice book-themed mug and fill it with the reader’s favorite bean or leaf (or cocoa, even), and you can’t go wrong.

Bookmarks are always fun for those who still read print books (which quite a few of us do). Something funny, witty or just aesthetically pleasing will be a very useful hit.

Blankets, slippers and fingerless gloves are all great choices for the cooler or cool-weather reader in your life. Cozy warmth with the ability to still turn pages easily? No brainer. When paired with a “day off” coupon so they have some time to snuggle in and read, even better!

Print book readers might appreciate a beautifully designed pack of bookplates, while digital readers might like a new cover for their ereader or phone. Speaking of e-reading, who wouldn’t like a gift certificate from their preferred online store?

Is the book always better? Almost, but no harm in seeing the movie anyway – who doesn’t like something to compare and complain about? Gift a reader the movie version of a book they like or have been meaning to see/read. Maybe even both the book and a DVD, so they can easily compare.

And of course time to read is at the top of every reader’s wish-list, so if you can figure out how to give them some of that, well, that will certainly be the best gift your reader could ever hope to receive.

There’s still plenty of time to shop, and I’ve bought several of these items as gifts for this year. What will you buy the readers in your life this Christmas?


Want to write? Pick a prompt!

  • Weekly Prose Prompt: Pick one of the ornaments on your tree (or another object, for those who don’t celebrate Christmas), and write a story about how it changed hands at one point. Was it handed down? Stolen? Gifted? Re-gifted? Found? Be creative.
  • Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about an ornament or object that reminds you of someone now gone.

Movies First & Weekly Writing Prompts

An Elemental Wind CoverMovies First

I think most readers will agree that it’s rare when a movie based on a book is better than the book. It’s because a movie has to condense so much story into such a relatively short amount of time that scenes have to be cut or abridged, and a lot of the detail that is spelled out (so to speak) in the book has to be shown as background or mood music in the film. It’s too bad, of course, but if directors didn’t do that, movies based on books would be epic films many hours long. I know a lot of people don’t mind sitting through longer movies like The Titanic and the Lord of the Rings films, but I don’t like to sit for that long, especially not in a theater where there’s no pausing the movie for a restroom/pop refill break.

But, I’ve discovered that if I read the book first, I’m almost always disappointed in the movie, because I come into it with a set of pre-determined expectations. If I watch the movie first, however, I almost always enjoy both the book and the movie, because the movie sets expectations that are always exceeded by the book. A little trick of the mind, so to speak.

When you know there’s a movie coming out based on a book you haven’t read yet, do you read the book first, or see the film first? Does the order influence your enjoyment of either story medium?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt! 

Prose Prompt: A character walks into a movie theater where only one other person is waiting to see that particular film. The other person is reading a book of the movie about to be shown, and the first person strikes up a conversation with the question, “Why?”

Poetry prompt: Write a poem about your favorite or least favorite part of going to the movies.

Reading Westerns & Weekly Writing Prompts

The Biker's Wench Cover BSB News

I know the quarterly newsletter is late – my apologies. What with NaNoWriMo and trying to get things organized for potential holiday releases, I kind of got a little behind. Look for this quarter’s newsletter sometime in December, and hopefully there will be some fun announcements included!

Reading Westerns with Grandpa

When I was a kid, my parents would send my sister and I to my grandparent’s house for a week or two every summer. We also spent a lot of Thanksgivings and Christmases there and Grandma & Gramps were early-to-bed/early-to-rise rural sorts, which meant a lot of reading time for moi after they were sleeping. Still being young and not having my own money yet, I often didn’t pack enough books to get me through my whole time there.

Which is how I discovered Westerns. My grandpa was an avid reader, and his favorites were old western dime-store style novels. I worked my way through most of the books on his shelf, and became intimately acquainted with the likes of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. I’m still not all that fond of L’Amour – he’s a bit too wordy/descriptive for my taste, but I can still pick up a Zane Grey and enjoy reading about small-town drama and romance in the romanticized old west.

Gramps died just recently, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to honor him and my memories of what he shared with me. I think it might be fun to write a story or series of Westerns that draw loosely from his own life experiences, or the ones I know about, anyway. Not old west stories, but modern stories to share the lifestyle and values he loved – modern westerns, as it were, with a bit of added flair (he would have liked that).

Have you read a western, old or new? What kind of books did your grandparents share with you – anything you wouldn’t normally have read?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Weekly Prose Prompt: It’s high-noon in your fictional town, and there’s gonna be a duel over the boundary line between two nearby ranches. The town has outlawed traditional weapons like guns/knives, so what will your characters duel with? And who wins?

Weekly Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about a cowboy on a cattle drive.