News, Reader Perception, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

Irish Cream Cover

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: Every Story is All About You

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

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

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

Deep thoughts for a Monday.


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

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

News, Things That Are Green, & Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: Things That Are Green

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

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

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


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

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

News, Ideas, & the Weekly Prompt

BSB News

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: Ideas

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Scent of Dust by Alex Westhaven

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

Dedicated to all those ladies who got flowers this past week… 😉


The Scent of Dust
by Alex Westhaven

The purple lily in the back of the bouquet on her desk had definitely moved.

A mixture of relief and paranoia flitted through Trish’s brain as she realized two things simultaneously: she wasn’t going crazy because this time, that flower had definitely moved all by itself, and she had it on video; and since cut flowers don’t generally move by themselves, something had to be making the flower move.

“Hey Denise,” she said to the girl in the next cubicle, careful to keep her voice low. “One of my flowers just moved.”

“I get that you’re proud of those flowers, and the secret admirer who sent them, but you don’t need to rub it in every chance you get.”

Trish didn’t have to wait long for the telltale sound of plastic wheels on a plastic mat. Soon after, Denise came around the corner, her clothes pin-up tight, her long, wavy hair a fiery red halo, and a deep frown across her lipstick-laden lips.

“Prove it,” she said, staring at the bouquet. It had shown up yesterday with a note signed simply, “You’re Secret Admirer”. Trish would have been way more excited if the sender would have used the right version of ‘your’.

“I have video.” Trish held up her phone. “Come look.”

She waited until Denise bent close, and then touched the ‘play’ button on the screen. They watched, waiting, the flowers front and center in the two-minute shot.

Nothing.

“I swear,” Trish said, tapping on the button again to replay. “I saw it. I even saw it on this very video just before I told you. I don’t know what happened – maybe the player got stuck. It was right here. That flower – the purple one in the back. It moved. It turned toward the hallway.”

The look on Denise’s face was sympathetic. “You should probably just take the rest of the day off. When you start seeing flowers move…how long have you been here today? Did you take a lunch break?”

Trish nodded. “I left at lunch – walked down to that soup and sandwich place. Got some fresh air, got some food, came back and sat down. I’m not delusional. I know what I saw!”

“Shh! Larry’s due for his walk-through anytime now.” Denise peered over the cubical wall, and supposedly out over the rest of what was fondly referred to as the rabbit warren. “I don’t see him yet, but if I get caught away from my desk without a good reason again, it’s going into my file.” She touched one of the offending flower’s petals lightly. “It feels real, it looks real, and I think you need a long break.”

Trish waved half-heartedly as Denise disappeared around the wall. She’d felt the petals too, and they were silky-soft, if a little thick. She reached over and grabbed the flower by the stem, pulling it free of the bouquet. It was heavier than she’d expected, and she held it closer, peering into the center. There was no evidence of electronics, but it was definitely no ordinary flower.

Curious as to just how far whoever made it had taken the ruse, she leaned even closer, and breathed in deep.

A couple of minutes later, Larry looked into Trish’s cubicle.

“Denise, have you seen Trish?”

“Isn’t she there? I just talked to her a few minutes ago.”

Larry shook his head and took a sip of lukewarm coffee. “Well, she’s not here now. Do me a favor and email maintenance. Tell them to bring a vacuum to her cubicle. There’s some sort of white powder all over her chair and the floor. It’s a mess over here. Like something disintegrated.”

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.


Valentine’s Day, Contest & Fairy Tales

BSB News

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

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

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

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

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

Topic of the Week: Fairy Tales

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

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


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

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

Retribution by Carol R. Ward

Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

Once again, a single entry by Carol R. Ward! Here’s her story – enjoy!


Retribution
by Carol R. Ward

“What d’ya think?” Tyler said in a loud whisper as the group of boys paused on the sidewalk.

“I think you’re nuts,” Matthew said.

“Well I sure ain’t doing it,” Greg put in. Allen nodded his head in agreement.

The white lace curtains at one of the windows of the dilapidated Victoria house behind the wrought iron fence twitched.

“C’mon!” George said, plucking at Tyler’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here!”

The five boys ran in pretend fear, but only as far as the edge of the park on the corner. There they collapsed on the grass, still able to see the house they found so interesting.

“My brother James says the old lady who lives there is a witch,” Matthew informed the others importantly.

“There ain’t no such thing as witches,” Tyler scoffed.

“Is too!” Greg and Allen chorused.

“Only babies believe in witches.” At twelve, Tyler was the oldest of the group and by virtue of his age the leader.

“Nuh uh,” Matthew insisted. “James is older than you and he says she casts spells and rides a broom when the moon is full.”

“She’s just a plain old lady,” Tyler said. “Probably fifty years old.”

“She’s a witch! And if you mess with her she’ll cast a spell on you.” Matthew stuck his jaw out stubbornly.

Tyler rolled his eyes. “You and your brother are stupid, and I’ll prove it.” He started back the way they’d come.

“What are you gonna do?” George asked as he followed along, giving Tyler a lead of a few feet. The others trailed behind.

“Same thing as we were going to do to old man Krantz.”

Tyler’s bravado lasted until he was standing at the gate in the wrought iron fence. Looking up at the spooky old house he swallowed hard, but with the other boys just a few yards away he couldn’t back down now. The house was dark and silent, which made the creaking of the gate as he pushed through it seem all the louder. His eyes shot to the lace covered window, but there was no sign of the old woman.

After a quick glance at his friends to make sure they were watching, Tyler resolutely stepped through the gate. Slowly he made his way up the cracked sidewalk. A cold wind sprang up, making him shiver, but he didn’t hesitate when he reached the wooden stairs leading up to the veranda. He tried to step as lightly as possible, but the porch still groaned under his weight. Taking a deep breath, he rapped as hard as he could on the wooden door, then turned and ran back the way he’d come.

The old lady must have seen him coming because he hadn’t even reached the gate when the door opened.

“You darned whippersnappers!” the old woman yelled, shaking her fist at the boys as they fled down the street. “Go get ‘em Chauncy!”

A dachshund raced down the steps and chased after them, barking ferociously. It chased them all the way back to the park and when they finally stopped to catch their breath it began to run in circles around them.

Greg and Allen thought it was funny, such a little dog acting so fierce. Matthew didn’t like dogs and threw a snowball at it, trying to chase it off but the dog just dodged it and kept circling.

“Oh, go to hell, you stupid dog!” Tyler said, repeating the phrase he’d so often heard his father use.

Chauncy stopped circling them and raced over to the base of the oak tree the boys liked to climb in the summer time.

“What’s he doing?” George asked.

“Well duh, he’s digging a hole,” Greg answered.

“Stupid dog,” said Allen.

The boys watched as the tiny dog dug furiously, dirt and snow flying everywhere, and then to their great astonishment, he disappeared.

“Where’d he go?” Matthew asked.

“Must be a rabbit’s burrow,” Tyler said. “Stupid dog’s gone inside.”

“This I gotta see,” Matthew said, starting forward.

The other boys looked at each other. Tyler and George shrugged. Curiosity getting the better of them, they followed in Matthew’s wake.

“Whew! What’s that stink?” Allen said.

They reeled back from the rotten egg smell emanating from the hole.

“Pee-yew!” George said, wrinkling his nose. “Dogs like the grossest things!”

“What’s that light?” Tyler wondered.

The boys moved closer to get a better look.

“It’s really bright,” Matthew said.

“I don’t like this,” Greg said nervously. “I think we should get out of here.”

But it was too late. The light seemed to surround them, drawing them in.

“What’s going on?” Tyler demanded, but there was no answer.

They were unable to move as they were sucked into the impossibly small hole. It was hot and bright and the sulfuric smell made them gag. After what seemed like forever they reached the bottom and went sprawling on the dirt floor.

“Well, Chauncy,” a booming voice said. “What manner of mischief makers have you brought me this time?”

The boys struggled to their feet and stared in disbelief at the creature seated on a black shiny throne. Chauncy sat at its feet and if ever a dog looked smug it was now.

“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s not nice to play pranks on people?” the devil asked. “And you should really know better than to swear.”

###


Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.

Weekly News & Audio Books

BSB News

Did you catch our first writing prompt story on Saturday? If not, go read Broken by C.R. Ward (opens in a new tab)! This week’s prompt is below – don’t forget to send in your stories!

Last week’s free download was Cold Feet, a Brazen Bites anthology. This week’s download is live now – peruse the Available Books section to find it…

Next week, Cinderelleper by Ford Forkum will be released on Valentine’s Day, and this Wednesday – Feb. 8th, we’ll post an interview with the author himself, along with a contest to win your very own print copy of his new book. It’ll be fun and funny, so remember to check back! And don’t forget to pre-order the ebook, so it’s delivered right to your kindle (or that of someone you love) in time for Valentine’s Day!

Topic of the Week: Audio Books – Yay or Nay?
Did you know we have several of our books available in audio formats from Audible? There’s a little something for everyone – a little romantic suspense, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, some horror, and some erotic romance (that is very steamy when read aloud!). I’ve never been much of an audio person – it’s more work for me to process audio than text. But I’ve listened to all of the audio books we have available, and I have to say, they’re all very well done. We really got lucky with attracting exactly the right narrators, in my opinion.

I know a couple people who don’t read text books at all, but prefer audio books exclusively. They listen while driving or doing household chores, and it works very well for them. They still get to discover the story, just in a different way. It’s actually more like one would hear stories in an older culture, where traditions and history were passed down through the ages.

Do you listen to audio books? Are you an audio-only fan, or do you read text as well?


Writing Prompt of the Week: A dachshund runs by, barking incessantly. He finally stops at the base of a tree and starts digging down into the snow and dirt, only to find something completely unexpected…

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.

New Weekly Feature and Character Crushes

BSB News

Last week’s free download was Sprouted by Alex Westhaven. Be sure to browse our Available Books  section for this week’s surprise free download!

We’re starting a new feature this week called “Writing Prompt of the Week“. At the end of each Monday post, you’ll find a writing prompt. Write a 500 – 1000 word story based on the prompt, and email it to brazensnake@brazensnakebooks.com along with your name/pen name, and we’ll pick the one we like best to post right here on the blog the following Saturday! If there are no entries, we’ll post a “house” story based on the prompt. But we’re hoping to hear from you!

Looking for a full schedule of what’s coming up? Check out our new Calendar page, which includes book releases, sales, contests and giveaways.

Topic of the Week: Character Crushes

Have you ever had a “crush” on a book character? That romance hero who is just flawed enough to be perfect, or the heroine who performs unbelievable (but really cool) actions to get what needs to be done, done. Maybe they make you laugh or cry, but somehow they tap into those deep emotions and you wish you could reach right through the pages and hug them (for starters).

Or maybe even a villain/villainess who is so smart, so cunning that a tiny piece of you can’t help but admire him or her, even though you know they’re bad to the proverbial bone.

I get crushes on characters all the time – whether I’ve written them or not. Some good, some bad, but they all steal a piece of my heart. My personal tastes run largly toward older, mature-but-fit men who are strong-headed but still intelligent enough not to let them get them in trouble. Occasionally I find myself drawn in by an incredibly intelligent female character as well…though often, her evil side is winning the good/bad race. I wonder what that says about me? Best not to think too hard about it, methinks.

Still, it’s a harmless bit of fun, and we all could certainly use some of that right now, right?

I’ll admit that one of my favorite crush-worthy female characters Is Melanie Donner, the main character in Canvas by our own Alex Westhaven. And also Gray Pierce in James Rollins’ Sigma Series. Whew! Talk about the full package there…

Care to share your character crush? Feel free to comment below (or wherever you’re reading this at)!


Writing Prompt of the Week: Sitting on a round table in the entry of an expensive home are a half-empty pitcher of milk, a whisk, a bowl of three raw eggs, a small mirror in a picture frame and a vase of dead flowers. There’s one broken eggshell on the floor.

*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.