News, Cave Days, & the Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

Whipped Cream Cover

Did you all find the creamy, steamy free download last week: Whipped Cream by Trinity Marlow? This is not for children, dear readers (or anyone under 18, for that matter), but if you’re looking for something a little kinky and a lot hot, do go check out the excerpt we added just a couple days ago on the book page.

This week’s free download is all set…you’ll find it in our Available Books section, just like an Easter egg waiting to be cracked open!

For our writing prompts last week, we have a poem called Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree (moi), and a flash story called Grave Concerns by our own Carol R. Ward. Check them out on Saturday’s post here!

Topic of the Week: Cave Days

The Passive Voice reblogged an excerpt from an article about “Procrastination Nannies” on the Fast Company site.  The article is about a group of co-working people who started something called Cave Days, where people pay for a day of work space with others who procrastinate or are otherwise too distracted to get stuff done normally. The fee goes toward two meals, snacks, and the space, phones are confiscated at the beginning of the day and given back at the end, and the organizers tell you when to work and when to take a break. I won’t rehash the whole thing, but if you’ve got a few minutes, it’s an interesting article.

Naturally, I immediately thought of writers who have been known to pay for hotel rooms or remote cabins for time to work. Sometimes it’s as little as a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop to sort of “rent space” away from home to get stuff done. The article specifically mentions a screenwriter and someone writing short stories – both of whom took part.

I think a lot of creative people think they can’t work with that much structure, which stops them from seeking it. But those of us who crave it know that structure is actually freeing – when your brain isn’t worried about what’s going on now, or next, or tomorrow, or whatever, it’s freed up to think about what you’re actually supposed to be working on. Structure provides peace of mind, which provides room for creativity. So I can see how something like a Cave Day could be very valuable, not just for that one day, but in people learning how to create a freeing set of structures for themselves on their own.

Obviously writers need regular writing time, but we also need time for all the extraneous stuff too, like social media, synopsis-writing, promotion and marketing, and all the other little things that go with trying to sell books.  And there are definitely some days when I’d pay someone to just cut me off from the world, feed me, and tell me when to work and when to rest.

That, and my writing/business hours tend to be very late at night, because those are the only hours I have where I can be reasonably sure I’m not interrupted (it’s 12:30am as I write this). I have to say, it would be very tempting to me to pay money for a single, beautifully productive day some weeks.

What about you? Would you consider ponying up the dough for a structured, community-led “Cave Day” to short-circuit your procrastination habit?

 


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

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

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.

Spring Fever by Jamie DeBree & Grave Concerns by Carol R. Ward

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?


Spring Fever 
by Jamie DeBree

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

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

Grave Concerns
by Carol R. Ward

Stumbling drunkenly on her stiletto heels, Candice hurried as fast as she could down the path.

“C’mon Candy, don’t be like that,” a male voice called from behind her. “It didn’t mean anything, I don’t even know the chick’s name.”

Candice didn’t answer, just tightened her grip on the bottle she was carrying and tried to speed up a little more, gulping back the tears.

“You’re going in the wrong direction you know,” the voice continued.

She didn’t care, she just wanted to put as much distance between them as quickly as possible.

“Fine you stupid bitch, have it your way. I was getting tired of you anyway.” His voice faded away behind her.

Though she was pretty sure he wasn’t following, she decided to cut through the old cemetery. It meant leaving the intermittent light from the street lights behind, but there was a full moon tonight. The gate for the cemetery was open – actually it was missing – and Candice picked a direction at random once she was inside.

Graveyards never bothered her, she often went for walks in them. She actually found them interesting. Her steps slowed and she started keeping an eye out for someplace to sit. Too busy looking around to watch where she was stepping, she stumbled on a protruding rock and fell to her knees beside a grave stone that was listing to one side. Moonlight glinted off the small brass bell in a frame that was fixed to the top of it.

“Guess this is as good a place as any.”

She awkwardly sat back on her heels then moved her legs to the side. Leaning back against the grave stone Candice uncorked the bottle she’d snagged when she started looking for Travis at the party. A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Stupid jerk,” she muttered, taking a swig.

***

When Janice told her about her proposed moonlight party, she’d thought it was a cool idea. And she also thought it would be the perfect night to finally let Travis, her boyfriend of one year, pop her cherry. They’d been there about two hours before becoming separated, and in that two hours she’d managed to down several beer. But she still drank almost half a bottle of wine, for courage, before setting out to find Travis.

But when she did find him he had his tongue down the throat of another girl. For a long moment she just stood there, staring in disbelief, her whole world crumbling down around her. Then he grabbed the girl’s ass, pulling her closer.

“You sonofabitch!” Candice shrieked.

The couple broke apart, although the girl kept ahold of Travis’s arm.

“Hey, Candy,” Travis said, looking not the least bit guilty. “Where’d you disappear to? I was looking for you.”

“Where? Down that skank’s throat?”

“Hey, who’re you calling a skank?” the girl asked.

“Don’t be like that babe,” Travis said, shaking the girl off and taking a step towards Candice. “I was just having a little fun.”

At that moment a guy holding a full plastic beer cup passed through. Without stopping to think, Candice grabbed it out of his hand and threw it at Travis.

“How’s that for fun?” she asked, and ran for the front door.

***

She sniffled in the night air. “He was supposed to be the one,” she said, taking another drink. “He was my Travy-bear and I was his Candy cane.”

Tears began to slide down her cheeks. “He was so hot, all the other girls were so jealous. That’s why I was going to let him be my first.”

Candice began to cry in earnest.

After a while her tears slowed, then stopped. She didn’t have a tissue so she swiped at her face with her sleeve. Then she leaned her head back to look up at the stars. The air was a little chilly, but not cold and she had no desire to move.

“What’s wrong with me? Better yet, what’s wrong with him?”

What was wrong was her bottle was empty. “How did that happen?”

With a sigh she tossed the empty bottle aside. “I should probably go home.” If she cut through the cemetery she could probably make it to a bus stop before they stopped running for the night.

This time her sigh turned into a groan as she got to her feet. Everything started to spin. “I guess maybe I shouldn’t have had so much to drink.” She leaned on the grave stone until the spinning stopped. “Hey, thanks for the support, whoever you are.” Leaning down, she looked for a name on the marker.

“Huh, no name but there’s something …” Candice leaned a little closer. “Ring my bell. I dare you.” She giggled. “I’ll bet that sure didn’t mean the same in your day as it does in mine.”

Unable to resist, she flicked at the little bell. Its note sounded louder than it should in the still of the night. Candice was about to leave when the earth started to tremble beneath her. She staggered, clutching at the grave stone for support, and the earth opened up at her feet.

“Thank you, my dear. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting,” said a deep, baritone voice from the gash in the earth. A dark figure began to rise. “And it does indeed mean the same thing,” it told her gleefully.

Candice’s screams went unheard by the party goers, but they went on for a very long time.


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, Handwriting & Weekly Writing Prompts

BSB News

 

Lettuce Pray Cover

Last week’s free download was Lettuce Prey a creepy little revenge story in Alex Westhaven’s Death by Veggies series. It’s getting to be salad season again, you know…

This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

There were two writing prompts last week – a poetry prompt and a prose prompt. There were no outside submissions, so both the poem and story are by me. Read Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe here – they just might make you chuckle a little.

Topic of the Week: Handwriting

Writers – do you ever write stories/poems by hand? I’ve recently been doing a lot more of that, especially with poetry and short/flash stories (though I do have a novel draft started on my cell), and I’m kind of amazed at how much I’m enjoying it. I have Samsung Notes – a Note 5 cell, and a Note 8 tablet, both with styluses and Samsung’s signature SNotes app, so I can just write on the screen (and erase when I screw up, which I do often). I feel like the writing is better somehow, more casual and fluid than when I’m typing straight into my laptop (or even my Alphasmart Neo). Plus I always have my cell with me, and often my tablet, so it’s like carrying a notebook without having to waste paper and ink.

Of course it could all be in my head, but if it is, so what? Whatever gets the words down in some form or another. Another bonus is that I have to type my handwritten notes into my laptop at some point, which means I’m automatically editing as I take the draft from one form to another.

There have been a lot of studies done recently about taking notes by hand in classes, and how the tactile experience is much better for information retention and just taking better notes. I’m becoming convinced that it’s similar for writing – that tactile experience of holding a pen (or stylus) and actively forming letters rather than just tapping keys is a different (perhaps better?) experience for drafting manuscripts/poems.

Anyone want to weigh in? What have your experiences with this been?

 


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: There’s a grave in the local cemetery so old that the headstone is tilting to one side. Permanently affixed to the top of the headstone is a small brass bell in a brass frame. The headstone reads simply: “Ring my bell. I dare you.” What happens when someone does?

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Write a poem about a puppy (or puppies) playing in a field of tulips…without mentioning either puppies or tulips specifically.

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.

Ode to Bindweed and A Night With Poe by Jamie DeBree

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…

Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…


Ode to Bindweed
by Jamie DeBree

Solemn and quiet the brown earth lays,
newly exposed after winter abed,
waiting patiently for nutrients and UV rays,
to warm the dark soil and summon the dead.

Deep underneath, where no light penetrates,
the tiniest microbes wiggle and churn,
tough twisted roots begin to replicate
preparing for their evil master’s return.

The rake turns the soil, pulls back the top
tiny seeds scattered wide, a last ditch hope.
The rake cuts the roots, but they don’t ever stop
indeed they grow into stronger, deeper rope.

Those arrow-shaped leaves, the bell-shaped flowers
would surely be pretty at some other abode.
In this place the sight is one quite sour
akin to licking the back of a toad.

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

A Night With Poe
by Jamie DeBree

Carrie twitched as the sound of thunder rattled the windows and lightening flashed outside the semi-sheer curtains almost immediately after.

“Gotta get blinds,” she mumbled to herself, glancing at her grandparent’s old anniversary clock on the mantle. Nine at night, and the storm had already been brewing for nearly an hour. Surely it would pass by and be over soon.

Another loud boom, another bolt of lightening that she thought might have been at least a smidgen farther behind than the last one.

Then something hit her front door with a solid, unmistakable thump.

Setting the worn copy of Poe and her favorite afghan aside, she rose from the couch and tip-toed toward the door. The front light was on, but she didn’t see any shadows or silhouettes through the window at the top of the door, nor through either of the long windows on either side.

Somewhat relieved, she moved closer. Maybe a tree branch had been knocked down. Using one of the side windows, she peered out into the night, her gaze panning what little of the water-logged world her light illuminated. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she looked down, down, down until she found herself face-to-face with the biggest pair of glowing yellow eyes she’d ever seen.

Instinctively she knew the animal on her step was a cat, but it almost looked like an otter with its soaking wet, slicked-back fur. She would have expected a somewhat downtrodden look from an animal in such a predicament, but it actually looked rather angry.

She supposed she’d probably be a bit angry too, if she were locked out in this storm.

A somewhat muted thunder rolled overhead, and the cat came alive, raking its claws down a good chunk of Carrie’s front door and looking at her with a mixture of longing and murderous intent. The thought that the cat might be rabid crossed her mind, but it seemed inhuman not to offer shelter to someone…or thing, who so clearly needed it.

Reaching up, she flicked the deadbolt and pulled the door open. In two seconds flat, the black beast was inside and deep under her couch. Carrie closed and bolted the door, and then went to the living room and stood in front of his much drier hiding place, hands on her hips.

“It seems only polite to offer you a towel,” she said, squatting down for a better look. He blended in with the shadows so well, all she could see were his glowing eyes. “Maybe some food? Something to drink? Do cats really like milk, or is that just a romantic myth?”

And now she was talking to a cat. Shaking her head at herself, she rose and went to the kitchen. Yesterday’s grilled chicken might do, she thought, and she trimmed and cut it into tiny cat-sized pieces. Tossing a big towel over her shoulder, she got a small bowl of water and the chicken, and went back to the living room.

Spreading the towel on the floor, she set the water bowl close to the couch, and then sprinkled chicken right at the edge of the towel.

“There now. That smells pretty good, right? Wouldn’t you like to come out, dry off and put some food in your little belly?”

The cat hissed.

She took that as a ‘no’.

“Okay then. Well, it’s the proverbial dark and stormy night, which is the perfect night to curl up with Poe, and since you are black and somewhat of an oddity, I do believe I’ll call you Poe while you’re here. Any objections?”

The cat hissed again. Tiny curmudgeon.

“Too bad. He’s really a fascinating character in his own right, and he wrote some marvelous stories. Here, I’ll show you. We can read together.”

There was no response from the cat, and she got her book and blanket and curled up on the couch again. Opening the book, she began to read Poe to his namesake. She started with the famous raven, and moved on to the Telltale Heart.

***

Carrie had no idea when she’d fallen asleep, but when she opened her eyes again, sun was streaming in the window and there was a heavy weight laying in the center of her stomach.

Poe had decided to join her at some point, and was curled up in a decent-sized ball on her lap, his fur finally looking more normal and fluffy.

She glanced at the towel on the floor, and noted that the chicken was all gone. The motion must have been just enough to wake the cat, and he paused just long enough to give her a pointedly dirty look and then jumped off the couch.

Rising from the couch, Carrie stretched and then followed the cat down the hall to the front door. He sat in front of it, watching her over his shoulder until she was just two feet away.

Then he reached out with a single paw and swiped it down the door, giving the inside scratch marks to match those undoubtedly gracing the front of the door as well.

“Okay, okay — no need to get all impatient.” She reached over him and unbolted the deadbolt, and then pulled the door open.

With far less urgency than the night before, Poe stalked out into a sunbeam that was so bright it blinded her eyes. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was on his way to heaven, and walking in like he owned the place.

But at the end of the day, it was just a trick of light, and he was just a cat she’d sheltered in the storm, and slept with, and like so many one-night stands, he was leaving her too.

Typical.

Carrie looked at the claw marks on the outside of the door. Nothing a little wood putty, some paint and some sealer couldn’t fix.

Tires screetched in the street just across the yard and her stomach turned over, her heart pounding a million miles an hour.

“Poe? Poe!” She ran down the sidewalk, sheilding her eyes with one hand and desperately hoping he’d been long gone. A white sedan was stopped in the middle of the road, driver’s door ajar and a very confused, though well-dressed woman standing in the road looking frantically around and under her vehicle.

“What happened?” Carrie asked, her heart slowly recovering when she realized there was no dead cat lying in the road.

“I swear I saw it. A black cat just ran out in front of my car, and then just disappeared. I was so afraid I hit it…”

The sound of metal on metal and glass being broken reached them. It was coming from the intersecton half-a-block up.

The other woman gasped. “That could have been me! It would have, if I hadn’t stopped for that cat…”

Carrie smiled. “It’s a good thing you did, then. Will you be okay now?”

She nodded and got back in her car.  Carrie looked through the window to find Poe sitting in the passenger seat.

“Looks like he’s adopted you. Will you take him home? I don’t know who belongs to, but he spent the night with me.”

The woman nodded, running a hand through the cat’s sleek fur. “I think I have to now. Do you know anything else about him?”

Carrie shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. But his name is Poe.”

She grinned at the cat, and he hissed at her as the woman drove off.


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

 

News, National Poetry Month, & the Weekly Writing Prompt

BSB News

At the Water's Edge Cover

 

Last week’s free download was At the Water’s Edge – a collection of short stories by different authors all written using the cover image as a writing prompt! There are some really excellent stories included – I hope you got your free copy! This week’s free download is ready to go…all you have to do is find it in our Available Books section. Happy hunting!

We have some very exciting news to share – Ford Forkum has recently finished his next fairytale satire book! Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarves will be released later this spring. Stay tuned!

This week’s writing prompt is, of course, about an April Fool’s prank. Though it might have gone a little too far for comfort (or…life). Read April Fool by Jamie DeBree right here on the blog!

Topic of the Week: National Poetry Month

 April is National Poetry Month, and while we mainly publish prose here at BSB, one of our authors is also a poet (Carol R. Ward), and I personally love to read poetry (though I’m not terribly good at writing it). Much like prose, there are so many different kinds of poetry that there’s generally something for every taste, if you look hard enough. I personally have an affinity for the romantics like Lord Byron, Christian Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe (of course), and I’ve even been known to enjoy an e.e.cummings poem or two. Local author Craig Lancaster posts “pigku” poetry on Facebook while doing pipeline work – they always make me laugh.

One of our local writing groups is putting on a Poem-A-Day Workshop throughout the month of April that started with a free instructional kickoff workshop Saturday. They’re sending out daily poetry writing prompts, and holding weekly gatherings for those who can make it (those who can’t can do an online-only workshop for a bit less cost).

For this month, we’ll be posting two writing prompts each week – one for prose, and one for poetry. Branch out and try writing a poem or two with us…who knows what might happen?


Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…

Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…

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.