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!

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.

“Roses”, “Planting Trees”, and “The Great Debate”

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.


Roses
by Carol R. Ward

Traditional symbol of love
or is that just what Hallmark
would have you believe?
They may be in cahoots
with the florists –
can’t have a rose
without a gift card.
So many colours,
so many names –
Soft velvet touch at odds
with the sharp, piercing thorns.
Much sought after fragrance
that I find too cloying –
what does that mean, anyway?
Cloying – a sweet excess
of scent and sentiment.
A rose by any other name…
still smells pungent to me.
Genus Rosa in the family of Rosaceae
Latin for pretty flower/nauseating odor.
As you may have already guessed
roses are not my favourite flower.

###

The Great Debate
by Jamie DeBree

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

The pale pink rose blooms nodded in the breeze, as if they were sympathetic to her plight. She reached down to rub a velvety petal between her fingers, releasing a bit of fragrance into the cool morning air.

“I mean, how can I? It’s such a big risk. I could end up stranded and alone. I might get lost. What if I can’t find my way back? What if I never see my family again?”

Tall sprigs of lavendar rustled as she strolled by, tiny purple blooms dancing with the fabric of her skirt. All new adventures come with risk, they seemed to say. How can you not take the chance? How can you not find out for sure? 

“I’m not really the adventurous type,” she replied to no one in particular. “I have a lovely life, a beautiful home, and parents who love me. I have this wonderful garden to enjoy. What if I never see it again?”

Tiny coral bells swayed near the base of a mightly oak tree. What if this is your destiny? Who knows what wonderous things might be waiting for you, if only you’re brave enough to seek them out? This isn’t the first chance you’ve gotten, but who knows when it will be the last? 

“Perhaps I shall only dream about it,” she mused. “Perhaps I shall write stories about what might have been, had I gone. I could imagine what it’s like without taking the risk of actually going.”

The daisies seemed to bow their white and yellow heads at that. Imagination is a very fine thing, they whispered. But it is no substitute for experience. Go, child. Find out what lays beyond, and then write about it. 

The oak leaves rattled in the breeze like a bell tolling the hour. The large knot near the base started to churn and enlarge to just the perfect size. The white rabbit appeared as he did every week, pulling his pocket watch out to check the time, wriggle his nose and motion for her to follow before darting back into the hole.

This time she did.

###

Planting Trees
by Carol R. Ward

“That one, I think,” Millicent decided, pointing out the flowering pear tree. “And the planting is included in the price?”

“Yes ma’am,” the nice young man in the green jumpsuit told her. He checked the sheet on his clip board. “We can send someone out today to dig the hole, and your tree can be delivered … let me see…” he flipped the page. “I’m sorry, but it’ll be Wednesday before we can get the tree delivered.”

“Wednesday would be fine,” Millicent said with a smile.

“Great,” the main said. “I’ll make sure you’re at the top of the list so you’re the first delivery of the day.”

“Thank you, that would be perfect.” Actually, that would be more than perfect. It would give her time to get things prepared.

Late Tuesday night, or more precisely, early Wednesday morning, there was movement in Millicent’s back yard near where the hole to her new tree had been placed. Had there been anyone around to hear, they would have heard the sound of a shovel. Had there been anyone around to see, they would have seen a shadowy figure emptying several bags into the hole and covering whatever it was with loose soil so that the hole looked undisturbed.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny.

“It looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Millicent said to the men from the nursery, motioning to the newly planted tree.

“Yes ma’am,” one of the sweaty men agreed. He held out a clip board to her. “If you’d sign here please…”

* * * * * * *

The tree was planted in the fall and the following spring Millicent had a small, circular garden placed around it. “You know,” she said as she dug another small hole, “Pansies are one of my favorite flowers.”

What’s happening? Where am I?

She looked up at the tree. “Did you know another name for a pansy is heart’s ease? Fitting for a grieving widow, don’t you think?”

Widow? No…I remember. You killed me!

“It was so fortuitous that the river near the cabin flooded the same weekend we were booked to be there.”

We were supposed to spend the weekend together to see if we could work things out.

“It saved me the trouble of having to come up with a reason for you to be out on the water by yourself.” Cocking her head to the side she surveyed her work. “A yellow one next I think.”

How could you do this to me?

“Most fortuitous, the cabin washing away like that. Such a logical reason for why there was no body.” Millicent dug another hole. “It’s not as though I could have produced your actual body now, was it? I mean there would have been an investigation with those forensics. Why they might have discovered I had something to do with your death.”

You had everything to do with it you monster! You whacked me over the head with a cast iron skillet!

“It’s really your own fault you know,” she said, looking up at the tree again. “If only you hadn’t made such a fuss over Brian, we could have been together for years.”

You were cheating on me, you gold-digging tramp!

“How could you not have realized what a bore in bed you were?” She shook her head and planted another pansy. “A woman like me needs a little passion in life, and if you weren’t up for it who could blame me for looking elsewhere?”

I could! I could blame you!

“But then you had to go and spoil it all by having that detective take pictures. You made me so mad in the kitchen, threatening to divorce me – I just grabbed up the frying pan without even thinking twice.”

No, you just kept whacking until my head was a bloody pulp.

“I guess we both just overreacted. It’s not as if Brian was the first you know. Just like you weren’t my first husband.”

Not your first…No, I didn’t know!

“I guess I’m just unlucky in love,” she said, sitting back on her heels to survey her work. She glanced around the back yard, at the tulip poplar, the sycamore, and the red maple trees, all with their circular gardens.

Just how many others were there?

“You were my favorite, Larry,” she said, climbing to her feet. “Really,” she laid a palm on the trunk of the tree. “So delightfully naive.”

Not as naive as you, my dear. Especially when it comes to trees. This species of pear tree has a poor branch structure prone to breaking apart. All I have to do is wait until my tree matures – accidents happen all the time, accidents like getting killed by a falling tree branch.

###


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!

“First Kiss” and “Skills” by Jamie DeBree

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.


First Kiss
by Jamie DeBree

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Smooth, slimy skin mashing my lips,
like a snail spreading awkward wetness.

His energy and eagerness overpower
my need for slow, gentle seduction.
Too much, too fast, too hard, just…

Stop.

Maybe we’ll try this again later,
when the newness wears off and
I’ve caught my breath again. Dried off.

###

Skills
by Jamie DeBree

“I must admit, while your resume is very impressive, we’re a little confused about the lack of previous job history included. Can you tell us a little about where you’ve worked before, and what kind of experience you have?”

You knew this was coming, Tracy silently coached herself while forcing a smile at the man across the table. Keep it vague, but relevant. All he needs to know is that you can do the job he needs you to do. That’s it.

“I’ve been employed privately by someone who wishes to remain anonymous for most of my life,” she began, pleased that the words sounded far smoother than she felt. “I’ve been performing fuctions that included the same type of tasks you’re looking for. I’m excellent at keeping a calendar, scheduling meetings, and organizing files, and I’m also very good at research and creating documents when needed. I’ve also successfully planned several large-scale events that went off without any problems whatsoever, and I can arrange and organized trips if needed.”

Mr. Englebrecht sat back in his chair, a confused look on his face.

“You’ve only had the one employer then? How many years were you in his or her employ?

Tracy considered that for a moment. “I’d say probably thirty-two years or so. Ever sincel I turned twelve.”

Mr. Englebrecht tapped a pen on the dark, cherry surface of his desk.

“There are laws against chid labor in this country. I’m surprised your anonymous boss was able to get away with that.”

“And much more.” Tracy nodded, wishimg they could end this line of questioning. “I’m sorry I can’t give you details, but I promise I’m good at everything you need me to be, and possibly more. I won’t let you down, Sir.”

“Well, this is highly unusual. Normally we would never even consider an application like this, but I’m inclined to believe you, and we’re desperate to fill this position. Do you think that in lieu of your job history you’d be willing to give us a day’s worth of work, and then we’ll make a decision.”

Tracy nodded. “Of course. Just tell me when, and where. I won’t let you down.”

He smiled. “No time like the present, unless you have something else to do today.” When she shook her head, he went on.  “I’ll have you work in the business office with Stephanie Thomas today. My secretary is just outside the door, and he’ll show you how to get there.”

Tracy worked hard all day, smoothly following her assigned mentor and grateful that she could. At the end, she found herself back in Mr. Englebrecht’s office.

“You really must tell me who trained you,” he said, looking over a form she’d created. “Your work is exquisite. You’re hired, of course. Can you start tomorrow?”

Tracy nodded. “Thank you, Sir. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“And the person who trained you to do all of this? A hint, even?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it really doesn’t matter anymore. He’s dead.”

###


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, 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.

“Ivy” and “Kudzu” by Carol R. Ward, “Innocent Evil” by Jamie DeBree

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

Our prose prompt was a bit too obscure it seems, but we have two poems and a story that work with the poetry prompt, so all is not lost! Enjoy!


Ivy 
by Carol R. Ward

Twisting, turning, growing fast
up the trellis next to the glass
of the kitchen’s south window –
so big you need replanting now.

Of all the plants who’ve graced that spot
you’re the best one that I’ve bought
you love the sun, need little care
sometimes I almost forget you’re there.

You forgive me if I forget to water –
I don’t do it as often as I oughter
yet you thrive, I must be blest.
English ivy you’re the best!

###

Innocent Evil
by Jamie DeBree

How innocent you look,
all pale yellow flowers
and plain oblong leaves.
Even your particular green
is unremarkable.

Such an evil tease,
enticing innocents to feed
on your boring, poisonous leaves,
and maim themselves on your
tack-like seeds.

So defensive, little vine.
Why do you attack so mercilessly?
What did my dog’s paws, bike
tires, a lowly sheep,
ever do to you?

###

Kudzu
by Carol R. Ward

It’s not so bad, being buried alive. You don’t even realize that’s what has happened at first, where you are. There’s no up, nor down, no sense of ‘self’. There’s nothing to see, no vibration of sound…just cool moist darkness all around you.

Awareness comes slowly. Gradually you become conscious of the earth pressing in around you. Or more precisely it is you that is expanding, swelling, trying to stretch outwards. There’s an undeniable urge to move. Through instinct a sense of direction is formed. Up. Push up. That way is up. Expand upwards while at the same time creating an anchor that pushes downwards.

It’s not easy in the beginning, moving through the mixture of rock and sand and clay, and the organic matter mixed with water and air. But these things feed you, give you the strength to continue on. You must continue on, no matter what.

As you near the surface you become aware of a new sensation – heat. You feel the warmth of the sun even before you break through the outer layer, and when you do – oh, when you do the feeling is like nothing you could have ever imagined. It’s…rapturous.

You rest for a time, basking in the heat of the sun, absorbing its energy. But it’s not enough. You need more. You must have more. Straining upwards, your leaves unfurl like solar collectors which is, in part, what they are. As you elongate, spreading above the earth, you also spread below, roots feathering outwards to better inhale the moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Dimly you’re aware you are not alone, there are others. Some, like you, are just making their way out of the soil. Others are well established. You do not care that they are called ‘trees’ or ‘fences’ or ‘rocks’, you care only that they can be used as a stepping stone towards the sun and you cover them indiscriminately. You choke and strangle your neighbors, you smother the inanimate objects. You have one purpose now, to reach the sun.

Even during the times of cold darkness, when the pale light of the moon and stars are inadequate to your needs, you strive towards your goal. The energy you gathered during the day is able to sustain your efforts – just barely.

It is, perhaps, an impossible goal, to reach the sun, but you’re helpless to do anything else. This is your purpose – to grow, to expand, to let nothing prevent you from your quest. You cover everything in your path, creating first a blanket then a wall of green, wrapping around the sharp wire of fences, curling up posts and poles and trees, trailing over rocks and walls. Seeking ever upwards.

There are those that call you noxious, nothing more than an intrusive weed. You don’t care. There are those that try to stop you – pulling you up, setting fire to you, spraying with chemicals – but you are nothing if not tenacious.

You’re a true survivor and you will be here forever.


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, Backstory, & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Snow White

Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarfs by Ford Forkum releases this Wednesday, June 14th – Flag Day! If you’ve read Cinderelleper, you know just how much fun is in store with this latest book, and you can even pre-order it now on Amazon for just 99 cents!

Last week’s free download was The Old Sofa – did you find it? One of our short story anthologies, it includes some very intriguing tales all based on the cover art photo. Go check out the picture and an excerpt from one of the stories we added to the page this week!

This week’s free PDF download is ready to go in our Available Books section – all you have to do is find it!

Did you catch the two prompt pieces from last week this past Saturday? The prompts were all about cliffhangers, and we posted a poem by myself called Falling and a flash story by Carol R. Ward called Rare Books. If you haven’t, go check ’em out…

Topic of the Week: Backstory

Writers, how much of the “story behind the story” do you know about your characters? I normally don’t discover backstory until I’m writing a draft and the character reveals bits and pieces, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “story behind the story”, so to speak. How it reveals itself (or is revealed by the character), how much pertains to the story at hand, and how certain actions and decisions made a long time ago can really affect the direction of a character’s story well into the future (just as it works in “real life”, of course).

I have trouble writing if I know too much of the story before I write, so I doubt I’ll ever be the writer that knows all of her character’s secrets before I start drafting a novel. I get bored if I know too much about the story before I start writing and I’m less likely to finish it.  I’m kind of in awe of those writers who can plan out the majority of a book before they start writing – I’d totally lose interest. But I do think it would be really handy to know at least the bit of a character’s backstory that directly affects the front-story of the main character before writing anything.

Do you know your character’s backstory before you write? Or do you find out with your characters as you’re writing like I do?


Wanna write? Pick a prompt!

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about an incident that ends up being the backstory for another incident in the character’s current timeline.

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a vine, doing its vine-y thing…

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.