Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The prodigal earring and another review

The earring has returned! Double hurrah! The spirit of the quivery old earring man has obviously done its work. Either that or St Anthony (patron saint of lost things) has been busy, Gawd bless 'im. Anyway, I was sitting at the computer last night, Lord H said something, I turned round to answer him and I saw it lying next to the chair. Rejoice and kill the fatted calf indeed! Well, I had a whisky & ginger to celebrate, so honour is satisfied. Thank goodness we don't Hoover on a regular basis. Oh, all right. The sound of your mocking laughter is deafening me. We rarely Hoover at all with any sense of commitment.

And Irene ( from Goldenford ( and author of the stunning romantic Indian thriller, "The Moon's Complexion" (available from Goldenford and Amazon and why on earth haven't you bought it yet you're missing a treat ...) has given me a lovely review of "A Dangerous Man" (ooh and while you're buying "Moon", you may as well pop across to and buy this one too, tee hee ...), as follows:

“You sure don't pull your punches, do you? That's some novel! Where does it all come from? My mind's been blown to smithereens - I'm awestruck! If you haven't read Anne's book yet, I thoroughly recommend you to do so. You will be totally amazed and left breathless and blinking!”

Oo-err, thanks, Irene, hugely! Michael's quite touched too, but then again he's like that ... Thank you!

So, after reading Irene's review six million times and smiling a lot (okay, okay, and then reading it another few million times ... I know I'm an egomaniac, I know ...), I leapt into some kind of action and submitted my monthly offering of poetry, this time to Staple magazine. Phew. Literary honour is satisfied. I popped a couple of leaflets in for ADM and "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" (also from Goldenford) as well, on the grounds that if they can't stand my poetry, then they might soften towards my prose instead. You never know.

And lunch with Robin, who is planning another shopping trip soon, depending on whether I might be able to afford it or not. She's bought ADM (thanks, Robin) but I know her pile of books is huge so suspect she might not reach it until at least 2008. We went to the Harrow in Compton as always, but they've taken their baguettes range off the menu (surprise!! I know I shouldn't have said that they were my favourite ever lunch item - the curse of Brooke's Discontinued Items strikes again - deeeep deeeep sigh). We had to have sandwiches instead. It just wasn't the same.

Oh, and I've been looking through the University 101-page document on the restructuring (thank God only 4 pages actually seem to relate to me, or I might implode entirely) and was highly amused by the throwaway comment in the first page which tells me that the reason for the current restructuring is the fact that the last restructuring was just too expensive and we can't afford it. So, basically, we're restructuring because we can't afford the restructuring. Hmm. As I said in a reply on my last blog, I'm starting to think I'm in the middle of a particularly bizarre Monty Python sketch. Higher Education is indeed a wonderful thing ...

Then again, if I ask St Anthony nicely, perhaps he'll deal with my job the same way he managed the earring? There's always hope.

Still, life goes on - I've written a couple of hundred words more of "The Gifting" and hope to scribble some more later on. But my main plans this evening are slump, slump and (you've guessed it) slump again.

Today's nice things:

1. The return of the earring - hurrah!
2. Irene's lovely review of ADM - double hurrah!
3. Lunch out - but bring back my ruddy baguette, you bastards!!

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The “at risk” writer, an earring crisis and another review

Sent round the poetry review email for “A Stranger’s Table” ( this morning to the usual suspects and have had one promise to buy (hurrah!) but no actual sales as yet (groan). But the University Arts Office want to have a picture and some blurb for their summer calendar, so I’d better make sure my parting is straight and my teeth are in. Talking of looking nice, as a special treat, I have put new pictures of happy, cared-for students on the Student Care Services site as I was bored with the same old faces. Ha! That’ll fool ’em …

And at lunchtime, we had our special Vice-Chancellor chat (warning to those not in Education – never, ever attend a V-C’s chat expecting good news; it’s like being in the army in a war zone in the ’90s and seeing Kate Adie reporting. You know you’re in deep shit …). Anyway, he told us we were all basically “at risk” and even those who hadn’t yet got their gloom & misery letters (ie me) would be getting them shortly, probably. So it looks like I might be a “Phase Two” loser and have to reapply for my job sometime next academic year. But it’s hard to tell – as his delivery was so fast he could probably have taken off and reached Mars without the aid of a touch-paper or a naked flame – especially as in one breath he said that Student Care Services would have very few changes and then in the next breath he said all admin staff were pretty risky. Hell, we knew that anyway. In so many ways. Anyway, it does beg the question whether the Government will one day introduce a system where somewhere between the ages of 40 and 50, you actually have to take time out and reapply for your own life. Hmm, such a measure would certainly give many pause for thought indeed. Ah well, in the meantime, I shall lie low and wait for my letter. Or the Great White Hunter. One of the two. But where, oh where, will I find another part-time job that pays so nicely and keeps me in floppy disks? Lord, how I hate change!

Ooh, and it’s also interesting that the V-C gave his spiel whilst flanked by the entire membership of the Executive Board. Did he think we would riot and tear him limb from limb? Hmm, perhaps we should have... And I’ve never seen such a terrifyingly similar contingent of middle-aged, middle-class, white-haired, grey-suited gents all at one table. Don’t they offer executive posts to women at all? Or to men without M&S expense accounts? Just as the University is about to embark on the Gender Equality survey too. The mind boggles …

But, far and away today’s worst news is the fact that I have LOST AN EARRING. This, for those of you keeping up with my psychotic earring traumas, is one of my gold hoop ones that I was given when I had my ears pierced on my 16th birthday – a present from my mother whom I’d been nagging for years about it. On the day, she’d even arranged specially to bring out of retirement the man who’d pierced her ears when she first moved south to marry my father. Which basically meant that my ears were pierced by a silver-haired, trembling-handed 120-year-old corpse who could barely see the chair he was sitting on, let alone my ear. My mother’s always been such a romantic at heart. I of course was terrified. Still, I have to say that he did do an ace job, and I’m extremely sorry to have lost one of those earrings now, over 26 years after getting them. And I’m especially traumatised as it now means I will have to wear other earrings which aren’t them – and I’ve (for reasons I still can’t explain) been wearing these gold hoop ones for months now as I can’t bear the thought of putting others in. I shall definitely get some replacements though as they’re the ones I also sleep in, as they don’t prick my neck like dangly earrings or studs, and I can’t not wear any overnight as the hole is then in danger of closing up, particularly if I’m ill. And how Lord H hates the sight of me rejabbing my ears if the piercings ever do close up – he has to leave the room and sit groaning quietly in a corner for a while. Still, at least I have the unlost earring, so I should be able to match it fairly well.

Ooh, and at home, the lovely Andrew Taylor (, award-winning crime writer, has kindly given me a few words on “A Dangerous Man” ( “The novel was very interesting and unusual, a dark and chilling parable about art, love and murder.”

Thanks, Andrew – I really appreciate that. Hugely.

Tonight, I’m planning to watch the second half of the wonderful “Instinct” on TV. I was utterly gripped by it yesterday and am desperate to know what happens. Love the two main characters too – can’t imagine what the critics meant about them not being likeable. Utter tripe – they’re great!

Today’s nice things:

1. Nearly selling a copy of “A Stranger’s Table”
2. Laughing at the Executive Board clones
3. Andrew Taylor’s review of ADM.

Anne Brooke

Monday, February 26, 2007

Admin, flashes, a review and the vampire student

A morning spent clearing up the admin from last week, and an unexpectedly clear day due to the cancelled lunchtime steering group meeting. I am therefore frighteningly up-to-date, with the time to enjoy some wonderful pieces of satire in the student newspaper, “Barefacts”. The non-news section was a riot – one skit on branding (and the ridiculous amount of money the university spends on it to no apparent purpose) and one on equality for vampire students (why should the undead get all the fun?). But I suspect that both Lord H and I will struggle with the sudokus. Honestly, don’t these students have work to do rather than setting difficult puzzles for us intellectually-challenged staff?...

Had a walk round campus at lunchtime and spent some time by the lake staring at the swans and dreaming of fame & fortune. Heck, don’t tell me: I should have stuck to the swans …

And I’ve written another piece of flash fiction for this week’s Writewords ( challenge, which carries the theme found in the title:

Another time, another place
Her eyes met his. He smiled, the burden of his day lifting just a little. She smiled back. Three steps, and then they’d passed each other, heading in different directions, into their different lives. He felt once more the weight of his wedding band. Another time, another place, he thought.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to be a fly-by-night committer too and on 15 March (which is a Thursday), instead of going to my dance lesson – when Keith W will allegedly be back for it, but hmm, I’m not holding my breath … – I’m going to go on a Writeworder night out in London instead. Well, there’s certainly a higher chance of some of them actually being able to go, and heck I shall enjoy it.

At home, I discover that Keith Please (a quite well-known poet who lives locally and is a very, very nice man) has kindly given me my first review of “A Stranger’s Table" (

“The smart – in the best sense – title paves the way for the variety of voice and subject matter to come. There is throughout a refreshing lack of inhibition in the use of language, yet not a single piece is overwritten. A fine collection.”

Heck, I'm still smiling!

Tonight, Lord H is out at his theology class and I’m hoping to get some more of “The Gifting” done. Might even get Simon and Johan out there on the ocean, you never know. And there’s also some ace TV on – a thriller called “Instinct” looks particularly good, so I imagine I’ll be watching that. I’m such a TV tart ...

Today’s nice things:

1. The lake & swans
2. Writing the flash fiction piece
3. Getting my first review of “A Stranger’s Table”.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reading, writing & slumping

No church today - bliss. Or rather Lord H went as he was on server duties, so represented the household accordingly. And it was - horror of horrors - a baptism service, and I don't do those, given my deep child-hating tendencies. It's my belief that all babies/children are inherently dull and when they're born they all look like Winston Churchill but without the cigar. Though I suppose that's not entirely fair - there are some children I like, but only one or two and then only because they have real personalities and so count as small people, rather than children per se. Even so, they'll still be a hell of a lot more interesting when they hit their twenties. Thank God this is a child-free zone.

I have spent the time getting another 1000 words of "The Gifting" done, so I now have 99,006 - only 994 to go before the big 100K!! And I've finished a hell of a lot of books, including:

(a) "Wherever", a poetry anthology from Cinnamon Press ( which has a poem by ... um ... me in it. I also enjoyed the offerings from Michael Smith, one from Claudia Jessop and those by Linda Benninghof. All good stuff, but Smith was far and away the best. Though it does gall me to say it wasn't me, of course ... Hell, I'm only human.

(b) "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers - some good positive stuff in there which I shall try to remember, but it did become rather wearing towards the end. I'm not really sure I can aim for perfection, to be honest. Simple survival would be nice.

(c) "Not Dark Yet" by Nick Maes. I thought this was well-written but really didn't have much to it. Gay boy meets older straight woman. Falls in love. Woman dies. Um, haven't we heard this story before? And I do think it was really a long short story dressed up as a novel and needed rather a lot of cutting to bring it to perfection (assuming that can be achieved of course ...). But I would pick up another Maes again, if one came up.

Ooh, and the lovely Sue Haywood ( has been talking me up in her blog - so thanks hugely for that, Sue. Much appreciated. I think you're rather wonderful too. And the equally wonderful Becky ( has ordered a copy of "A Stranger's Table" so has doubled my weekend sales joy factor - thank you, Becky! I'll post it off to you on Monday. I've also discovered that the Eurocrime blog ( has included me on their new crime book listings for both "A Dangerous Man" ( and my ancient first novel, "The Hit List" (gay crime comedy) so that's nice too - though, if I were being honest, I wouldn't recommend my first novel if you've not read it before. It shrieks "first novel" whenever I open it (rarely) and demands changes (lots of them) that I frankly can't be arsed to make. Still, I know in my heart that I had to write THL (Jamie) in order to get to ADM (Michael), so I do have something to thank it for.

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the repeat of "Ugly Betty", which I do enjoy, even though it doesn't really know whether it's a comedy or a drama. I think it's starting to leap over the fence to drama now, but it should have started off there in the first place and then we'd all have known where we were.

Tonight, I will attempt to ring mother, and do some serious slumping over "Lewis" on tv. Bliss. Ooh, and a weird thing happened at lunch - we suddenly heard distant knocking and then an enormous bird flew past the window. I suspect we've been caught up in a temporal anomaly and there are now dinosaurs in the loft and pterodactyls in the garden. Ah well, we live in interesting times.

This week's haiku:

One skeleton tree
carries evening skies tonight,
sweat poured out in stars.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting caught up in "The Gifting" for a while
2. Reading
3. Nice news from Sue, Becky & Eurocrime (3 in 1, I know, but hell it is Sunday ...).

Anne Brooke

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Golf and the Great Clean

A bit of a lie-in this morning, followed by a major panic as I realised that we really had to clean the flat before our golf session & lunch with Marian & Siegi. No matter how many hours/days you leave for the cleaning trauma, there is never enough time. And I do sooo hate cleaning - it makes me long for the days of servants (though they'd probably be shocked by the sort of stuff we keep around the place, to be honest). Anyway, we managed to do it in time, thank God.

And in the middle of it all, I received another request for "A Stranger's Table" - which is now on Amazon and can be found here:

... all you ever need to know about wasps, art and lesbianism, all in one book. Marvellous. The perfect gift for Lent indeed.

So, with today's request, I have sold the grand total of five poetry books. Ah well. Not quite Poet Laureate standards, one fears, but heck it's a tricky market. Still, the good news is that Ver Poets (Gawd bless 'em) have asked to review a copy so I have sent one to them. And my old poetry tutor (who bought today's copy) has suggested I send it to the TLS' review pages as well - which just goes to show there's nothing like optimism. I do fear that will be a totally wasted copy, but he's very insistent ...

So, golf at lunchtime with Marian and Siegi - we couldn't play on our usual course though (Charterhouse, if you're asking, dahlings - Lord H is a member, but only because the downstairs neighbour is a green-keeper, so don't get too excited ...) as they were having a competition, so we went to the local one instead. Which was surprisingly empty, probably due to the amount of sport on today. Nevertheless, we were still crap - the only one playing anything remotely like the noble game of golf today was Lord H. However, we did have a laugh. Mainly at how many times I could get in the mud and shower myself with the stuff when I attempted a swing.

Post-lunch, I have put the flat back to how it should be, so it feels more like our own now - is it just me, or does people coming round feel like invasion to others too? No? Ah well, it is just me then ... Sigh.

Tonight, I'm hoping to slump like a beached whale in front of the tv and catch up on (a) Primeval, and (b) my video of Life on Mars. And I have done a few sentences to "The Gifting" - but nothing serious like actually turning the pages over to write more. Too tired for anything complicated really.

Today's nice things:

1. Selling a copy of "A Stranger's Table" - which has boosted my sales by one-fifth, hurrah!
2. Golf
3. Slumping and tv.

Anne Brooke

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nutrimetics, coffee, tongues and opera

Today I am a lady who does coffee (if not lunch) - hurrah! Spent the morning at Jane H's, catching up on the gossip, talking about "A Dangerous Man" ( - she's read it, she really enjoyed it, phew that's a relief, thanks, Jane ..., and sampling the products of Jane's wonderful shit-hot new stylish coffee machine. It was marvellous! And even did decaff, so I'm not quite as on the ceiling as I would be with a caffeine fix. Though as I'm fairly hyper anyway, I sometimes wonder if it makes any difference ... Oh, and I also restocked my essential supplies of Jane's Nutrimetics ( so perhaps I am indeed turning into a designer product junkie. Anyway, I love the stuff, and I even have two new ones to try, so I am a contented cat. Goodness, am I turning in to a Real Woman? No! Surely not ... Whatever would Michael say?

Talking of womanhood though, I actually bought £400 worth of new clothes yesterday!!! Which in Orvis ( language, translates into ... um ... only six items, including two utterly adorable jackets which I just couldn't resist. Bloody hell, what am I saying? Ye gods, I never shop. Or buy clothes. What is happening to me??? I blame it on the Sad Light, which is turning my winter depression into an overwhelming desire to spend. Or perhaps the Government is putting female hormones into the water supply after all, and I am at last getting my fair share of the little buggers? Anyway, Lord H was thrilled as he is constantly bemoaning how cheap a wife I am (or at least I think that's what he's saying ...) and used his credit card to buy the stuff. So I am indeed turning into Surrey Wife in that I am now officially Kept By My Husband. You heard it here first.

And a curious fact about Lord H (steady people, steady ...): I have known this man for 20 years and been married to him for 13-and-a-half, and yet yesterday evening he walked into the dining room, stuck his tongue out and demonstrated for the first time ever how he could roll it into a U-shape. It was horrible, really horrible. I can see I shall have to book another therapy session pretty damn quick ... In fact, I have never seen anything quite so disturbing before (which I imagine proves what a bizarrely sheltered life I have in fact led) and it also proves beyond shadow of a doubt that I am actually married to an alien. Take me to your strange tongue-rolling people ... No, on second thoughts, don't. Anyway, once I'd stopped screaming and calmed down somewhat, Lord H explained that it's part of the genetics presentation he's preparing for his theology course. Apparently, there are two types of people in the world: those who can roll their tongues into a seriously weird U-shape (dominant gene); and those who can't (recessive gene). All I can say is that, for the first time ever, I am really, really glad I'm not the dominant one. And I can see his presentation is going to be memorable.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have spent the afternoon typing up yesterday's scribblings of "The Gifting" onto the computer - it's slowly, slowly this week, with only 97,600 words in total to show. Oh to get to 98,000 before the Revolution arrives. And Sean from Flame has very kindly contacted me to see if I'm happy with the look of ADM - the answer being a resounding yes! - but lovely of him to ask. I've also had another go at a piece of flash fiction for the Writewords ( Flash Fiction II challenge (the theme being "plughole"!) and have come up with a 50-worder:

Bathtime secrets
Janine watched the water as it swirled down the plughole. When it was finished, she lifted out the matted hairs from its tiny eyes. Dark strands mixed with auburn. Such a shame then that she was blonde. Downstairs, she heard the front door open. ‘Darling, I’m home,’ her husband yelled.

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to see Opera South's performance of Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" in Haslemere - Ruth from work sings in the chorus, so there's a personal connection, but it's a great opera too. The only problem I'm having (apart from Haslemere's parking hell) is that I hate, hate, hate going out on a Friday (when Lord H and I should be slumping in front of the telly with pizza and icecream - that's what Friday's are for, for goodness sake), and we're not really going to catch up on our usual psychotic-hermit time until Sunday, as we're doing golf & lunch at ours tomorrow. All nice stuff of course, but the amount of social interaction I'm going to have to do with the outside world is already making me twitchy. I think it's time for a calming pill ...

Today's nice things:

1. Jane liking ADM - thanks, Jane!
2. Jane's great coffee machine
3. Opera.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fluffy slippers and submissions

Hmm, I suspect that title might give people the wrong idea, but what the hell. Into Guildford first thing for a spot of shopping before my counselling appointment (at last! I've missed it over the three weeks of not going) - mainly to buy those utterly gorgeous, silky, fluffy slippers I promised myself yesterday. But shock! horror! There are no pink ones left in my size (7 if you're asking ...), so, suitably traumatised, I had to settle for a mauve pair. But actually I've warmed to them as they still do look adorable. And will tone beautifully with my fluffy pink-and-white striped dressing-gown. I am indeed a Goddess of Style ... Cruelly, I have placed them on the bed, standing guard over Lord H's post - as I know how much he hates my fluffy slipper collection and has, in the past, been found bending over a pair wielding a knife. The household excitements never stop, you know. Um. Did I say "collection"? Um, well, ye-es ... I do already have fluffy cow slippers and fluffy sheep slippers (with horns, so they must be mountain sheep), both of which I love and wear constantly. Even in summer. I'd love to have a fluffy kitten pair too, but have never seen any. Sigh.

Sound of door banging - whoops! I think Michael has just left, disgusted by my lack of gay style understanding. Ah well, I'm hopeful he'll be back shortly, as otherwise where will his next line come from? And thinking of Michael, I spent a long time talking about him in today's counselling session with Kunu. I think I've got to the point where, because "A Dangerous Man" ( is now published, the link with Michael has become/is becoming slightly less obsessive. I feel as if I've spent five years in a small room with this man and have been unable to move on at all as no publisher before Flame would take it. No matter how many other books I began (and in three cases finished) writing. I think, of them all, he's the most important one, and probably always will be. Now, it's as if I've stepped back, closed the door so I can no longer see him and am preparing to move away. It's not that I don't want to see him again - believe me, I do - but I don't think we're living together any more in quite the same way. Part of me feels sad about this, but I wouldn't want to change it. And, weirdly but not quite as weirdly as I thought it would be, Kunu is planning to read ADM. Which I think will help, as it's hard to explain all that stuff - at least for me. I'm always more honest in the written medium. She also asked me what Michael thought of the book - the question brought me up short, but did make me think. My response is he's pleased. Maybe there are one or two things he'd alter, so he doesn't have to lay himself open at quite so much depth, but on the whole he's pleased. In fact - more weirdness alert - in the car, I think I heard him say thank you. And that meant something.

On the way home, I popped into see Gladys, but she seemed to be in the middle of a nap, so I left a note and tiptoed out quietly, hoping not to confuse her. I'll try for a conversation next week and see how she is. For the rest of the afternoon, I've been ploughing through my usual monthly submissions to poetry competitions. Maybe I'm getting jaded and cynical in my post-Michael (no! God! I can't quite mean that yet; it's too soon, it's too soon ...) years as there were a couple of entries I abandoned entirely on the grounds that I really couldn't be arsed to check if my postcards were the right size, or put an envelope inside another envelope and seal it before using another envelope to post it. Much like those medieval feasts where you put a duck in a swan and then put the whole lot in a hog's head and eat it. Ye gods!! What are these competition people on? All I bloody well want to do is pop it in the ruddy envelope and post it. Life's too short to fiddle about with stationery. Talking of which, the flyers for ADM have turned up (small publishers' syndrome, which I expected - so I did them myself) so I've sent a load out to friends/contacts who don't have computers in the hope of bringing in a little extra trade. Ever hopeful - that's me.

Oh, and the Lovely Caroline ( - Caroline: this is now your official title ... - says she's getting even more into ADM and thinks it gets better and better. In spite of the rudery. Huge thanks again, Caroline - much appreciated. Michael sends thanks too. Or would if the fluffy slippers hadn't driven the poor bloke away. And Penelope Cline/Nell Grey ( or - the artist who did the ADM cover - has finally received the copies I sent her (hurrah! - and heartfelt thanks again, Nell - glad they turned up all right, after all this time!). I've also asked if she'll draft some ideas for Jacquelynn Luben's ( next novel, "Tainted Tree", on behalf of Goldenford ( so we're looking forward to getting the roughs of those. "Tainted Tree" is a great novel which I hope we'll be able to publish in the not too distant future - the story of one woman's search for her family roots. A very readable saga indeed.

Think I might scribble down some more stuff on "The Gifting" later - see how Simon is getting on now he's in the country of water. I don't think he's a great swimmer but hell he's going to have to learn pretty damn quick.

And, generally, I'm planning a quiet evening - once Lord H has got over the shock of the slippers, aha!...

Today's nice things:

1. Fluffy mauve slippers
2. Counselling
3. Thinking about Michael
4. Ye gods - four! - Caroline's generous comments about ADM.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Readers and reflexology

Gulp. My boss has bought “A Dangerous Man” ( and I have signed it for him. From me and Michael. Double gulp. That should make for an interesting review this summer ... I did think about giving him a note of the pages to avoid as he’s a nice, straightforward man, but thought the list would be too long and confusing. Gulp. Again. But, hey, lovely that it’s another sale – I hope Flame are pleased with me. And the equally lovely Caroline from MySpace ( has already started her copy and tells me that she’s really enjoying it, though is shocked by the number of rude words I know. Sorry, Caroline … I’m afraid it will probably get worse before it gets better. And thank you for letting me know it’s arrived!

I am taking it to the wire, work-wise, as I still haven’t sent out papers for Monday’s Steering Group but I’m waiting on a response about a report before we decide whether we have a meeting at all. And, being a part-timer, today is my last day of the week … Update: relief! They've cancelled it. Phew. Still, will have to do a report to email round, otherwise the members will forget I exist at all.

Reflexology at lunchtime, as no back exercise class this week, or at least none that I can make. So all my toxins are flowing nicely, thank you. And Emily (reflexologist) is keen to buy the book – hurrah! – so I’ve made a note to bring a copy to my next session – that is, if Flame have sent me the ones I ordered by then … Back at my desk, the lady who borrowed “A Stranger’s Table” ( yesterday has now, sadly, returned it without the compulsion to buy. Groan. Still, at least she left me a note to say she’d enjoyed the poems. Buy them then, darn it, buy them – how difficult can it be??!!! Oh. Sorry. My normality head slipped a little there – but it’s safely in place once more, you’ll be relieved to hear. Lord, but I’m soooo borderline psychotic. Somebody book me a therapy session.

This afternoon I’ve done a VDU assessment for one of the Counselling staff, so have had to sound professional and competent. When in fact I know nothing and tend to slouch at my computer when no-one is looking like an old hippy. A drunk one. Oh, and I rushed around like the proverbial juggling meetings and agendas and minutes until my brain imploded. So no changes there then.

Tonight, I’m shopping and doing normal stuff. If I can manage it. Update: I managed it. Hurrah. And I forgot to say that Carol at work has bought a gorgeous silky pair of blue fluffy slippers, so I intend to go into town tomorrow to buy a pink pair. Never say I'm not cool ...

And, finally, one of my colleagues asked me if it's actually Lord H on the front cover of "A Dangerous Man" ... Of course not, I cry - Lord H is even more attractive, in every way! Naturally.

Today’s nice things:

1. My boss buying ADM
2. Caroline saying she was enjoying the book
3. Reflexology.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Dangerous Man - he's here!

Finally managed to proofread the changes to the mentoring handbook today and also to put some pretty pictures in so there aren’t too many scary words to beat people with. I’m sure Carol will have more changes though, as first handbooks always take a lifetime, but I’ll have to wait and see.

I then spent some time dragging myself through the utterly boring Perspectives mag (the mag for university administrators). I don’t know how they manage to make it as dull as it is, but I’m sure each edition is worse. Could definitely do with a few colour pictures in there. In fact, I’m sure that when I was ploughing through the last dreadful article – and I can’t now even remember what it was supposed to be about – a third of my brain cells packed their suitcases and left home. Thank the Lord it only comes out about three times a year (or perhaps it’s more and I’ve blanked it?). I only read it when there’s nothing else to do, to be honest.

Oh and I had a message from a friend (thanks, Liz) who seems keen not to miss out on any of my recent successes, (gosh, a fan, a fan – I’m astounded!) so I sent her the books info by email – though actually I’d already done this, so maybe I’m seen as Spam on everyone’s systems now? It wouldn’t surprise me, and would explain the lack of responses from elsewhere (see below) … - and I also left a message on her ansaphone to say what I’d done. As you can see, I am indeed a desperately needy writer. But then you knew that.

We had our monthly UniSWriters meeting at lunchtime today. As I’d received a request from one of our members (thanks, Alan!...), I brought along some chocolates to celebrate my astonishing week of publications and attempted to sell some of the “A Stranger’s Table” ( collection. No takers, though I did have one borrower, which was nice. And we had a great meeting – lots of interesting writing and some good discussions. Indeed, we were rocking.

This afternoon, I fiddled around on the care services website and checked the links to the Students’ Union site, as they’ve just updated it and therefore all my original links have died. I’m sure there must be some I’ve missed though – but no doubt some bugger will let me know pretty damn sharpish if things don’t work.

Tonight, it’s Guildford Writers ( and I shall take along the end of Chapter Two of “The Gifting” for comment – just before the trial scene. I suspect drinks will be on me at the end of the evening, and, with a bit of luck, I might even sell a couple more books. You never know your luck, eh?

Oh, and I’m rather (for “rather”, read “very”) annoyed that my dancing partner for my Thursday evening classes intends to let me down for the next three weeks. Which is actually par for the course for that particular group of old college friends, I have to say, so I really don’t know if I’m going to bother that much with them any more. I think it’s time to let go of old friendships that aren’t working. After all, we have so little in common now, and I have other friends whose company I enjoy far more and who don’t let me down on such a terribly regular basis. But for now I’m really peed off about the lack of dance. Spit.

But, to raise the spirits, the wonderful David Caddy, editor of Tears in the Fence ( magazine has agreed to look at a copy of “A Stranger’s Table” for a possible review. David gave me some good comments about my first collection, “Tidal”, so I feel quite hopeful about this one. In any case, huge thanks, David. It’s much appreciated.

Other good news today is that my flash fiction piece is now on the Bird & Moon website and can be found here: But, even more thrilling than this, my author's copies of "A Dangerous Man" ( are finally here! Hey, my baby looks cool, though I'm still sorry they took the cigarette out of his mouth on the cover. But it's a book! It's a book! Hurrah! My baby's come home at last ...

Today’s nice things:

1. UniSWriters
2. Guildford Writers
3. Getting the message from Liz.
4. Ooh a 4th today – oo-err, missus: the request from David Caddy
5. And a fifth - the flash fiction publication
6. But, best of all, Michael's come home!!!

Anne Brooke

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lunch with Julia and website planning

Ye gods, but it took me all morning to sort out my emails and it wasn’t as if there were that many. They just seemed to be a rehash of the stuff I’d dealt with the week before, but obviously no-one has been paying attention to my highly-intelligent and focused (double ha!) responses. Either that or they see it’s an email from me and delete it as a reflex mechanism. Sigh.

Anyway, I sent round an email about my desperately exciting and incredibly readable poetry collection, “A Stranger’s Table” (, and got a response of … um … zilch. Poetry is obviously – at least with the University – a dying art. Though, to be fair, the Dean of Students did come out and flick through it, admiring the alcoholic cover before handing it back saying he never read poetry. Double sigh.

The only bright point was lunch with Julia (, during which we put the film, writing and University worlds to rights. Hell, somebody has to. And she has faithfully promised me that this time she has actually done her UniSWriters’ homework for tomorrow’s meeting – so please bring it, Julia!

And, nobly and doggedly, I did keep dropping the words “poetry” and “collection” into my afternoon emails and conversations, but I fear I am flogging the proverbial in the workspace. I suspect that I’ll end up doing what I usually do and forcing people to have them as birthday presents for the next few years. Thank goodness I only ordered fifty! But, aha, that'll show 'em ... Indeed the life of a poet is a weary trudge … now where’s my garret?

Tonight, Lord H is at his theology course, looking at the ethics of just wars and refugees. Hmm, certainly enough there to keep them going for a couple of hours – and really I suspect they could probably fill a couple of months with the subject … Whilst he’s out, I shall type up the poem I drafted yesterday evening on difficult grandfathers and how to get rid of them, and look at finalising character studies and planning initial blogs for the upcoming “Pink Champagne and Apple Juice” website. I’d like to get some writing on “The Gifting” done too but suspect that’ll have to wait for a while yet. Ideally I’d like to get 100,000 words done by the end of March, but whether that will happen or not is in the lap of the gods. As ever.

And I've just finished reading a couple of books:

1. Shameless by Paul Burston ( - which is a nice, frothy romp through the drug/gay dens of the city, with a hint of heat underneath. Enjoyable too.

2. Vacant Possession by Hilary Mantel. Sigh. Didn't really get on with this one, though I did (much to my surprise) finish it. Colin was a great character and I think we should have concentrated entirely on him and his marriage, and therefore ditched the highly irritating MC completely. Hmm, not a great success then ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Lunch with Julia
2. Typing up a new poem
3. Fiddling round with the new website.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Radiant faces and holy socks

Ah, deep trauma today in the Lord H/Brooke household when I discovered that Himself was wearing socks with holes so large that you could have put the entire population of Ecuador in them. And have room for their friends. Honestly! How can I hold my head up in Surrey public life if people think that I deliberately send my husband out in such garments? My middle-class credibility would be shot to pieces. So we had to perform the ritualistic removal of said socks and drop them into the rubbish bag. There was then a further official sock inspection before we were allowed to start off for church this morning. And later I shall be checking the rubbish just in case Lord H has sneaked them out without me knowing. Ha! Foolish man. I am a Wife - I know everything, even before it happens ...

Anyway, church wasn't too bad, all in all, though it was a foul choice of hymns. Does anyone actually like the soul-destroyingly dreary "Just as I am, without One Plea"? Way too many verses, and I'm sure that by the time we've dragged ourselves to the end of it, even God has got bored and gone onto better things. And I can't say I blame him. Some surprising news though - the new priest is actually not as dreadful as I had feared from the build-up. Though he is scarily high and kept singing Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia at odd moments and forcing me to think of something sad in order to stop laughing. But that's the nature of the High Church - gay without the colour awareness. And the sermon was okay - not so bollockingly awful that I felt the need to spit in the communion wine and at least I actually went to communion this time, so it really can't have been as hellishly inhumane as the old Archdeacon's sermons. Though at a full fifteen minutes, I did consider it could have been a tad shorter. This isn't the Baptists, you know.

Interestingly, we were looking at Jesus' transformation on the mountain, and linking it back to Moses' radiant face when he met with God - and afterwards, Clare (one of the saner and more cynical members of the congregation - and thank God for them ...) rushed up to me and said how wonderfully radiant I was looking. Which means the Clarins Restore Your Youthful Radiance Cream (not its real name, but I can't be arsed to get up and look) must be working, as I used it for the first time today, hurrah! Now if only Moses had had access to such beauty aids, then he would never have needed to meet with God at all, and a lot of time would have been saved for the dust-weary Israelites. A lesson for us all indeed.

I also have to say that New Priest is far better with people (and also with me - do I count as "people"? Hell, I don't know) than the bloody old one ever was. After all, Old Priest spent years completely ignoring me while I beavered around the vestry doing my essential Sacristan tasks and also blanked me on the two occasions I tried a cry for help when things were hellish last year. The bastard. Which explains why I never signed the bugger's leaving card and am totally unrepentant about that fact ... Anyway, after the service, NP - whose name is Paul, btw - came up to me in an utterly non-demanding way (God only knows how he managed that, but full marks to him for doing so), had a normal conversation, was more than open to the fact that I'm having a serious backsliding moment, and was happy for me to come along when I felt able to without making the dreaded Big Issue of it, and then we chatted about the Whitbread Prize, art (he paints), etc. And he didn't offer to pray for me, thank God. So I am more impressed than I thought I would be - and even if our lay reader still dislikes him, well, I am prepared to admit - and surprised by it - that I don't.

Oh, and I managed to sell a copy of "A Stranger's Table" to Clare and John, so I am £5 richer than I was before I went to church. Nothing like a bit of commerce behind the pews to oil the wheels of religion.

This afternoon, I have mooched around, read the papers and napped. I think I might write a poem - or the start of one - later, but I'll see how it goes. Oh, and a friend of mine emailed to say her grandfather is dying - which would be sad, if he wasn't a bastard tosser who over an unfortunately long life has messed everyone up, including said friend. Naturally, I emailed back at once to say I hoped he died in pain (considerable if there's any justice at all) and she mustn't go to the funeral if she doesn't want to (so sod the ideas of family and so-called christian duty, eh?), and well done her for outliving him and I hoped that when he was fully six feet under that she might feel able to visit the grave with me so the two of us could spit on it and dance maniacally round the graveyard whilst laughing. Never let it be said that I don't offer appropriate emotional support when necessary. Anyway, I think she was pleased as I got a reply email with huge amounts of grinning in it. Ha! That'll show the no-good loser.

And I've rung my mother, so have performed appropriate daughterly duties for the week by offering computer/internet consultancy advice for her latest computer drama. And we've agreed how important it is not to click onto a spam email that tells her she's won something. Sigh ... still, apparently the hundred or so emails per day she's been getting since are now thinning out, and she's in the process of adding a spamfilter and a firewall to her system. Phew!

Tonight, it's "Lewis" on TV (the Morse spin-off) - bliss! As it ends at 11pm, I can see that Lord H and I will have to be in our jim-jams with our big fluffy slippers and cocoa before it starts. Never let it be said that we don't know how to party.

This week's haiku (in praise of Dan Corbett who performs the weather report as if he's doing Swan Lake - it's heaven to watch, but I'm none the wiser about the weather afterwards ...):

On the screen you dance,
hands carving weather from air.
Bright storms fill my eye.

Today's nice things:
1. The conversation with New Priest
2. Sending an honest email to a friend
3. TV.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Champagne, Clarins and the blue-rinse brigade

A lazy morning start - hurrah! Had an email from the lovely Sue Haywood ( who is planning a special, interactive website for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" - which will have blogs from the characters, forums and a cocktail lounge amongst other delightful offers. It sounds really great, Sue - so thank you for that, and I'm looking forward to getting it sorted for the big 9 April launch date. Even if no-one drops by, we'll still have a good time!

And, sadly, I've spent some time practising Michael's signature from "A Dangerous Man" ( as it came to me last night that if I get the chance to sign any copies of the book (hell, if I even get the chance to see one!! Cue author's sad cries of: where's my baby? I want to see him now!!!...), then I'd like to sign from both of us. Pretentious bollocks maybe, but it feels right. Anyway, I think I've worked out something I can use which is more him than me, so I'll see how it goes. I was explaining this to Lord H at lunchtime today in the Waterstone's cafe and looked up to see that he was edging further and further away from the table whilst keeping a calming smile on his face and reaching for the mobile. Still, I should be used to that by now ... But I expect the men with the normality drugs will be round any day now.

Attended my regular Clarins facial late morning, which was bliss as usual. Emma (the Clarins therapist) decided to go for the radiance treatment today, and afterwards persuaded me to buy some cream that will apparently restore my youthful glow. So I suspect this may be the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. Or some such Churchillian wisdom. And, talking of ageing, much to my shame, when Jane W and I were having our curry last night I actually had to get my glasses out as I couldn't otherwise read the menu. My, how she fell about laughing. I think I shall take up knitting and swearing at the telly, as Grandma used to do.

All of which made me feel very at home at this afternoon's theatre trip with the normal Guildfordian blue-rinse brigade who attend Saturday matinee performances. Lord H and I saw Rattigan's "French Without Tears", which was spiffing, old chum, what ho. Vintage Rattigan really, so very enjoyable, particularly in the battle of the sexes, but the second half was much slicker and cleverer than the first. The old lady behind me kept missing stuff as I think her hearing aid wasn't working, but I was impressed during the interval when she said to her companion that she'd decided she really had to give up the skiiing when she turned 82. They make 'em tough in Guildford for sure. Oh, and on the way out Lord H and I were terrified by the mother one row up from us who was quizzing her son on the complexities of the Rattigan plot and demanding answers before he got an ice-cream. Ye gods, I know Surrey Parenthood is the most competitive in the UK but the poor little lad couldn't have been more than six or seven. I thought about leaning over and advising that he ring Childline, but Lord H whisked me away before I could cause any substantial damage. Surely childhood is bad enough without theatrical exams being added to the mix?

Tonight, I really have to do some cleaning before the Soap Police come round. And it'll be "Primeval" on tv later, but I shall demand that Lord H watches it with me as it apparently contains giant spiders. Ye gods. And the normal ones are frightening enough.

Oh and we're having champagne to celebrate my two book week - hurrah!

Today's nice things:

1. The plans for the Champers website
2. Practising Michael's signature - well, I got a kick out of it - sadly ...
3. The play.

Anne Brooke

Friday, February 16, 2007

Poetry, golf and the big city

Action-packed day today. I typed up the last section of "The Gifting" from my scraps of paper - which is a great relief as I finally have Simon in the last main journey section of the novel - the water section. And he's almost in one piece too. So good for him. Haven't a bloody clue what he's going to do while he's there, but I'm hoping something will turn up. Water-monsters anyone? Hmm, maybe not. I'll have to wait and see.

And I've finished my edition of "Borderlines" poetry mag - loved the offerings from Andrew Mayne and Helen Burke - absolutely stunning poems. I do sooo love it when I can read a poem, expecting nothing or not very much, and suddenly everything about it makes my skin tingle and my toes dance. You're taken out of yourself and put somewhere else - somewhere totally exciting - in those circumstances and, believe me, it's bliss. And it's not really something fiction can ever do, no matter how wonderful. Anyway, most of the rest of the collection was just dull nature poetry, which always makes me yawn. And it's a shame that they put "breast" instead of "breasts" in my own poem, "Silken", thus giving my naked female character a rather Amazonian feel. Ah well, I tend to count myself lucky if people actually spell my name right, to be honest. Life's too short to kick up a fuss when the great gift of publication has been dropped into one's lap indeed.

Lovely to see also that "A Stranger's Table" is now on the Poetry Monthly Press ( website in their bookshop ( - but again odd to see the misspelling of "novelist". Ah well, the wonderful Martin did get my name right though, so no complaints there! I'm told that it should get picked up by Amazon at some stage, so shall keep an eye out for that. And maybe "A Dangerous Man" will be on there on Amazon one day too? You never know your luck. And thank you to Irene ( who has let me know that she has just received her copy of the novel and is apparently admiring my "fantastic" language and street cred. Gosh, thanks, Irene - there's two statements I'd never expected to hear bandied about with reference to me. Mind you, my language has always been fruity. But, really, I wouldn't know street cred if it hit me in the face one dark night behind the bike sheds. It's all Michael's doing.

This lunchtime, I played golf with Marian - we had a good round, which was unexpectedly empty of other golfers even in spite of this week being half-term. Sad news about her father though, who died two weeks ago and was buried last week. Then again, he went quickly and he was 94 with a (still) very full and active life - so actually I think that's the best way to go. My own father was ill for years and died very young - only in his forties - so part of me envies Marian that she had hers for so long. Even so, not a good time for her and the family.

Tonight, I'm off to London to see Jane W (who, by the way, was the first person ever to read "A Dangerous Man" and gave me enough honest encouragement to continue beating away at publishers' doors, so I shall remain always grateful for that - thanks, Jane). We're going to visit the Gilbert & George exhibition at Tate Modern ( as we both enjoy their stuff. Naturally, a few gin & tonics are called for, plus some food somewhere. But, also sadly, one of Jane's friends died a few weeks back - very suddenly, from a heart attack, and he was only 47 - so it's obviously a difficult month in terms of personal loss. This kind of thing always seems to happen in winter, and is shit. Honestly, the older I get, the more I think how fragile life is. Pack as much as possible in now is what I say. And, as I say to Lord H at every opportunity, keep exercising ...

Ooh, and well done to Nik Perring ( for another rave review for his marvellous children's book, "I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do?", and also to Roger Morris ( for more deservedly rave reviews for his historical crime novel, "A Gentle Axe". Well done, both!

Anyway, here are today's nice things:

1. Reading two utterly gripping poems
2. Getting Simon to the last leg of his journey (ye gods, I'll have to make him more sandwiches soon - the poor bugger will be running out ...)
3. Seeing Jane.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Poetry, chocolate and grumpy women.

Not necessarily in that order though. It's very rare to meet a grumpy woman after a chocolate session. Before, of course, is another story ... Anyway, I forgot to say that Lord H came home last night, saying that the 14th Feb had been an interesting day at work, in that he'd been surrounded by 2 happy women and 20 grumpy ones. Being a boy, he hadn't liked to ask why. Probably a wise decision really. Still, at least he could safely wear his Smug Husband expression, knowing that he'd passed the marital test for that day. Ah, say I, but there are so many other days in the year ... the riotous rollercoaster that is married life continues apace, aha!

Also yesterday, but I forgot to say, my lovely colleague Ruth suddenly screeched and began to scrabble in her drawers (careful, people ... office drawers, you know. Please ...), eventually bringing out a chocolate Satan (yes, I have spelled that right) which she'd been saving up for me but had forgotten about when I was ill. And I can tell you that there really is nothing like a chocolate Satan to cheer up the general wellbeing quota. Just the sort of thing a non-church going, church going girl needs. I ate it in seconds. Maybe less. Thanks, Ruth! Though it is strange that I do know a woman who doesn't like chocolate. What is the world coming to?

And, talking of Ruth, she has once again been on her mysterious Number 19 bus, which turned up just when she wanted it to and took her to where she needed to be in the nick of time. This would ordinarily be dull news indeed - but the local timetables don't actually have a Number 19 bus and nobody else local has ever heard of it. Apparently, when she gets on, she never actually sees the driver's face and he doesn't ask for standard fares. And the bus is always virtually empty apart from her. Hmm. I'd suggest making sure she's not giving her hard-earned cash into a skeletal hand or hearing strange, maniacal laughter before she makes herself comfy next time. Still, as long as it works ... and after all stranger things have happened in Surrey, so they say. Just not to me.

Today, I've done more marketing and almost feel like a real author - if only because the sum total of my actual writing has been to (a) change one word in a poem - from "them" to "you", if you're asking - and (b) type a lot of new bumph down for "The Gifting", and then delete a whole load of old scenes, so that my total wordcount came out as significantly less than I had yesterday. God, how I hate it when that happens!! And why on earth do I write ahead when I know I'll probably change or scrap it anyway when I get to that point? It is indeed a mystery ... though if I'm honest I do enjoy dotting around like a goat on a rock when I'm stuck on a scene - it pushes me out of my "stuck" position. Sometimes. But I did get quite excited about the actual words I typed and left in today though - I think I got to the point when I was writing one thing and meaning something else about storytelling and how characters take us (um, for us, read "me" ...) over and don't let go. And, hell, I should know what that feels like (yes, yes, Michael, I can hear you, but not every novel is always about you, eh?...). Weird stuff. But fun.

Other news of today - "A Dangerous Man" is now on the scrolling advertising section of the YouWriteOn ( site, so thank you very much to Edward for putting that up for me. And my brother-in-law ( - and now to be forever known as Lord B-I-L) has found my blog. Scary biscuits indeed! Soon, news of my oddities will spread through the whole of Lord H's family and I will be found garrotted one dark and lonely night with my hair pinned to the nearest chapel. You heard it here first ...

And I've been a good secretary and done the Goldenford ( minutes - better late than never! Sorry, gals ... I got in a muddle over a finance minute ('twas ever thus ...) but thankfully Jackie ( has corrected me. Thank goodness someone has their finger on the pulse, eh?

Oh, and "Borderlines" (the Anglo-Welsh Poetry Society's mag) has turned up. This Winter 2006 edition has one of my poems in ("Silken") - which also appears in "A Stranger's Table". It's one of my intermittent lesbian offerings (and if that doesn't scare Lord B-I-L, nothing will!! But don't worry, people - Lord H is entirely used to me by now ... cue: A lesbian moment? Super! How nice.)

Today's nice things:

1. Seeing "Silken" in Borderlines
2. Getting excited by writing - and wanting to do more: hurrah!
3. Seeing the ADM advert on the YouWriteOn site.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Champagne, roses, and my first review!

Valentines Day. Hurrah! Another chance for a small exchange of presents, so Lord H and I had fun opening ours this morning (presents, people, presents …). I bought him two books he wanted, plus chocolates, and in return I also got choccies, plus a fantastic pair of winter golf gloves so my tiny hands are not frozen when I’m swinging. As it were. I’m sure it will make all the difference to the sad state of my game. Talking of presents though, Lord H has told me that Caroline at work received a book on funerals from her husband for her fortieth birthday. Hmm, we have some seriously strange people in Surrey, don't you know ...

Oh, and the Goldenford ( Gals had a jolly time in our meeting last time – though sadly depleted by the loss of Irene (, who has broken her arm in an altercation with a Waterloo Station gate on the way to see Michael Wood perform. Bummer that it wasn’t after he’d finished his hot totty lecture though. And hope you’re on the mend soon, Irene – we missed you. At the end of the meeting, Jackie ( was telling us that friends of hers who live in Brighton and Hove have renamed “Hove” to “Hove, Actually”. Bliss – in my innocence, I hadn’t heard that one before. Which resulted in a few old chestnut Hove jokes of my own, such as “People will say we’re in Hove”. We’re a highly intellectual and focused set of publishers, as you can see.

Today at work, I’ve done all the changes to the mentoring handbook that I had to do – and now only have to shove in (technical secretarial phrase there – meaning, um, “shove in”) some pretty pictures and read the whole darn thing through again. I’ve also updated the mentoring info on the website, so I almost feel like a useful member of the university society. Almost. And at lunch, I attended the back strengthening torture class (though that isn’t its official title, I have to admit), so have grown another few inches in height. No sign of turning blonde as yet though. Will grey do?

And I am now officially a “Champing-at-the-Bit Author” – Wayne ( at Myspace has received his delivery of “A Dangerous Man” ( even before I’ve got my author’s copies. Double damn it!! Still, he kindly tells me that the book looks good and like a real book, so that’s a relief – thanks, Wayne. I’m still champing though …

And, amazingly, I even have my first comments on the book – Sarah from Writewords ( & MySpace ( has read it already and says the following: “The writing in the book is pretty special. I read it at one sitting - I can't resist books I love, couldn't put it down. I bled for poor Michael. The tale is dark and brilliant and absolutely terrifying - congratulations!” Bloody hell, Sarah, thank you so very much. Hope you don’t mind me blogging this, but I’m just so very thrilled! You don’t know how much that means to me, you really don’t. Thank you.

Oh, and Lord H sent roses to work – hurrah! – so now has huge numbers of Husband Points. And sensibly, he’s also provided a pot with them, so I don’t have to worry about our lack of vases – due to Lord H’s birthday flowers still going strong. They breed them tough these days for sure. Tonight, we’re having champagne, lasagne and ice cream. And probably a few chocolates as well – heck, I’m all for the healthy lifestyle choice.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting roses - & champagne
2. Finding out my book actually exists
3. Getting my first review – thank you, thank you, thank you.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Stranger's Table and Goldenford

Hey, had a good day at work today - ye gods, miracles can still happen. I worked like a trooper, got my minutes done, ploughed through my emails, took a walk round the lake at lunchtime and stared at the ducks, and even trogged on with my amendments to the mentoring handbook. Hell, I must eat cornflakes again for breakfast some time. Must be the E numbers.

And I think two more people might have ordered "A Dangerous Man" from Flame Books ( so I might even have sold five. You never know ... But much to my delight I discover that a lady called Maxine has commented on the Crimeficreader blog ( entry with ADM in it, saying that, of the three novels mentioned, mine looks the most interesting - - I felt really chuffed on hearing that - thank you, Maxine! - and have replied saying how happy Michael is to hear it too. Well he is, but can only convey this by means of me; he's more a man of the drawing pencil than the pen.

At home, I discover that the lovely Martin Holroyd at Poetry Monthly Press ( has sent me the copies of my latest poetry collection, "A Stranger's Table". My cup runneth over indeed! Perhaps this week is my lucky publishing week in the great mind of the universe and, after this, nothing will happen again for years? Still, it's a nice feeling, though - I'm not complaining! And it's a snip at only £5.50 for a collection full of sex, furniture and boats. Oh, and not forgetting the magic cat. What more could a poetry reader want? Once Martin has it on his website, it can be purchased from there, but otherwise, if anyone out there wants a copy, let me know and I can do the necessary. Post-free indeed. Surely no further good news can come my way this week?...

Tonight, it's Goldenford ( , so I'm looking forward to catching up with them and working our way towards the publication of Jay Margrave's "The Gawain Quest" - which is an utterly amazing novel (hell, all our Goldenford novels are amazing and I should know - I edit them, apart from mine of course ...) which should be snapped up by all and sundry the moment it appears in June. I can never resist a novel which starts with such a sharp and witty sex scene, but then that's me for you.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting my copies of "A Stranger's Table"
2. The nice comment about Michael on the blog
3. Goldenford stuff.

Anne Brooke

Monday, February 12, 2007

Days off and DVDs

A day off work today - hurrah! Well, I have to use up holiday before the end of March, as I can only take 5 days over to next year, so this is the first of my spare days. Lord only knows why I don't take my full holiday allowance each year, but I never really have. Probably the protestant work ethic or some such bollocks.

Anyway, I spent the whole morning doing more marketing/PR type stuff for "A Dangerous Man". This isn't something I enjoy - bloody hell, who am I kidding? I hate it, I hate it! It gives me a headache - but at least I can do it all by internet and not worry about actual contact with the scary outside world. The modern age is a great boon to sociopaths such as myself ... But, hey, Chevonne from Flame ( tells me she's sold one book - hurrah! So something must be getting through. And grateful thanks to whoever that was. Hell, I hope you like it ... Now, all I have to do is sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in, tee hee ...

This afternoon, I couldn't face any scribbling, so I watched "The Taming of the Shrew" from my Shakespeare Retold DVD instead. Hell, even I deserve a break sometimes! Anyway, it was marvellous. I love it - it's such a good production, and is the only thing I've ever liked Rufus Sewell in, I have to say. His irritating curly hair seemed to be under control, which made a difference - God, I am really so shallow that it's probably safe to say my reflection does a better job of being me ... Anyway, I thought he was made for that part. And the woman playing Kate was excellent too - wonderful expressions.

Ooh, and some advance publicity for "ADM" from the wonderful Rhian at Crimeficreader which can be found here: - you need to scroll down a little to see it, as it's the third & final one on the new crime fiction list. Many thanks, Rhian - I'm very grateful.

At the same time, and as promised, Charles at the Ink, Sweat and Tears blog has posted my haibun, "A Journey with my father", which you can find here: - it's the top one on that main page today, and you'll need to click "More" to read all of it. Again, thanks, Charles.

Tonight, Lord H and I are planning a slump in front of the TV, once he's brought the shopping home - "New Tricks" is on, and I do so love it. Oh, and I must say how wonderful it was last night to have "Foyle's War" on once again. It's a real class act and just what you need for a Sunday night. Actually, they filmed one of the episodes in Hascombe & Dunsfold not that long ago, but I think poor old Michael Kitchen (who is wonderful of course) found us all rather loud, scary and excitable. Perhaps he thought Surrey at least would be refined enough to give him some peace? Ah, those days are truly gone, I fear ... We're all star spotters now, m'dear.

And I've written a poem about retirement which I include below:

Changing lives

You’ve no use for him now,
all the years he gave you
in paper, ink and sandwiches
you’ve boxed up and returned
in the guise of one small clock.
Smiles and speeches too
but none of them can comfort him.

Because it’s over, and the last day
fades so soon; dusk comes early
in winter. Then handshakes, more smiles,
kind words, one last glance
at pale desks and coffee stains
and he’s gone; out of the door
and into his unimaginable life.

So he drives home, the familiar road
an alien landscape, each second
taking him a thousand miles
from that he knew and clung to.
The car stutters to a halt, the garage door
creaks and, in the space left behind,
all the evening birds come singing in.

At last he makes his way through azaleas
to the kitchen door, his world
so soon to be bordered by its yellow welcome.
Inside, his wife smiles, her eyes a subtle mix
of empathy and love; she hugs him,
makes him sit, stirs sugar into tea;
allows him the thought of a new way to be.

So, today's nice things:

1. Finishing the initial marketing push
2. Selling a copy of ADM
3. Watching my DVD.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Dangerous Man - published!

Ye gods, it's here at last. After all these years of waiting (um, 5 to be precise, but it's a long, sad tale and you really don't want to hear it - trust me on that one ...), and well done to Flame ( for making A Dangerous Man available in advance of the 16 February publication date. Anyway, you can find out all about Michael, the man trapped in my head here:

At only £8, he's cheap at the price. Believe me. And, at the very least, you'll love the cover art - courtesy of writing friend and artist, Nell Grey (under her artist's name of Penelope Cline - Thanks hugely, Nell.

The blurb is:

"Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we witness the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how.

Within a plot thick with the flesh of individual struggle, a backbone of page-turning tension carries Mikey’s plight through the charcoal grey London which rubs itself so close to his skin, entrapping him in a dark kaleidoscope of sex and crime. Pushing him to the full expression of his haunting richness, Brooke alerts us to the psychological discourse and emotional minefield of a troubled man struggling to establish a sense of self and place in urban England."

Hmm, a slight touch of publisher's purple prose syndrome, I think. And here was I imagining it was just an everyday tale of urban folk ... But what the hell, eh? I'm still thrilled!! And I rather like being "Brooke". Makes me sound almost like a real person. Perhaps all my names are gradually disappearing though, and one day I won't be there at all? The writer formerly known as ... Anyway, it's good to have Michael out of my mental closet at last, I have to say - though part of me feels sorry he's not just mine any more. Assuming anyone actually reads him, that is. Apart from my mother and Lord H, gawd bless 'em. And, speaking of my mother, I did wonder aloud earlier on how she would take it, and Lord H's comment was that, knowing her, she'd probably want me to have written more sex scenes. Argghh!! Will the woman never be satisfied??! It just goes to show that, really, one can never please one's mother.

So, last night and this morning, I've spent a lot of time attempting to do some more marketing, and drafting potential press releases for the Surrey Advertiser and Writers' News. Once Flame send me the actual cover, I can get that done, along with those flyers I was promising myself. It's a good job that, having been self-published three times, I'm used to doing my own small thoroughly localised (and only 20% successful, sadly ...) version of PR. I gather mainstream authors are up in arms about having to sell their own stuff - well, get real, guys, the rest of us have been attempting it for years. Welcome to the real world, eh ... But I have to admit that it's still much easier via the internet though - as then I don't have to actually speak to anyone, which is a thought too terrifying to bear. For both parties.

Other good news today is that the Ink, Sweat and Tears website ( are going to publish my haibun (mixture of short prose and haikus), "A journey with my father" - many thanks for that, Charles. And what's really astonishing about it is that I had the acceptance only 20 minutes after I'd submitted it. Now that's the kind of reaction a lonely writer really warms to. Why can't more publishers be like that? Even if it's a "no", it's better to hear something than absolutely nothing. Hell, no wonder we're all in therapy. It's astonishing we're standing upright at all.

What else has happened in the midst of my self-obsessed, egotistical roll? Well, Lord H has taken to doing secret origami in the living room with his new kit while I'm reading; he'll suddenly hold up strange shapes and wait for me to guess them before we can both move on with our lives. I've done well so far with penguin, piano and coffin, but came a cropper with fox, which I thought was a dragon. So my Wife Points are on the cusp of fading away, I fear ... Marriage is so full of these charming little competitions just to prove that the other person is still awake and functioning - it's a rollercoaster of tension and excitement, don't y'know. Thank goodness for that essential lunchtime sherry to ease our delicate nerves.

And I've just finished Jessica Harman's poetry pamphlet, "My Journey as an Unharmonious Being". Um, well, I liked some of the lines, but they really didn't hang together for me. And I do get irritated by books which include drawings; I don't really understand that at all. Why not simply let the words speak as they're supposed to? I kept getting into a flow of sorts and then coming up slap-bang against some supposedly arty black and white lined thing, which then took me away from the poems. Sigh. It all became too much of an effort, to be honest.

This week's haiku (in honour of Lord H) is:

On your birthday
strange fireworks light up the sky:
unexpected gifts.

Today's nice things:

1. A Dangerous Man is published
2. A Dangerous Man is published
3. Yes! You've guessed it - A Dangerous Man is published. God, I'm obsessively dull ...

Anne Brooke

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Discontinuations, surprises and a jittery novelist

Goodness me, Lord H's birthday ended with a surprise firework display at Charterhouse School last night - no idea what they were celebrating but, seeing as the flat overlooks the grounds, we had a top-class view of the proceedings. Naturally, I told Lord H that it had taken me months to arrange, but I suspect that he thought I was being less than honest. Still, one can always hope I've gained extra Wife Points purely from chutzpah. And the display itself was grand.

This morning, a late start, and then a joint outing into Godalming, mainly so that Lord H could put in his birthday cheque from my mother (thanks, mother ...) and I could spend my £50 book tokens. But, my goodness, Waterstone's seemed to take an age working out how to help a customer spend tokens on books I wanted to order rather than those they were actually stocking. Has no-one ever asked them this before? Perhaps we are indeed becoming too much reliant on the joys of Amazon shopping. Anyway, items ordered included Nick Maes' "Not Dark Yet" , Rupert Smith's ( "Service Wash" and the two latest novels by Paul Burston ( So I can look forward to having decent reads fairly soon, hurrah! Shame I couldn't seem to get them to order any Joseph Hansen books though, as they were convinced I'd made him up, so I shall have to fall back into the arms of Amazon for those later on, no doubt.

And I attempted to restock my lovely bath/body Detox Oil at Between The Lines, only to be told (again!! What is it about me? Am I indeed to Kiss of Death to all commerce??!) that the item had been discontinued. Serious groan ... Soon there will be nothing left for me to buy at all and I will have to live in a lonely room with only empty shelves for company. So be warned - the moment I find something I like and buy it, I suggest you take your custom elsewhere as I can guarantee that, whatever it is, it won't last long.

I've been doing some more to "The Gifting" for the rest of the day - more tinkering than serious commitment though. I did make one section into a nice dark blue colour - like this - as I wasn't sure if it was in the right place, and that's what I always do in those circumstances as it makes me feel as if I'm achieving. Lord preserve me but I really am a sad git. Then I put it somewhere else, altered a few sentences and made it black typeface again. Goodness, this writing malarkey is exhausting, m'dears, I'll really have to lie down and have Lord H bring me a gin or two ... Anyway, I think it's to do with the fact that I've got to that point in the ruddy novel - which usually occurs not less than three-quarters of the way through - when I have so many bloody balls in the air and have no idea if any of them will land in the right place. It happens every bloody time, and makes me so damn jittery - terrified that (a) I've lost it entirely and will never get myself, let alone any reader, to the end in one piece, and (b) I've missed some vital piece of sub-plot - or, worse, have failed to write one - that will mean none of it will make any sense at all, and (c) all those plot balls I'm juggling like a mad circus act will come toppling down on my head and crush me into the earth. Hell, just writing this is making me as twitchy as sin. Of course I try to offer myself comfort by telling myself that if I didn't get that feeling each and every time, then maybe I wouldn't be able to find that "edge" at all - much like a clapped-out actor who knows that if he's going to get through to the curtain call then the first few lines will always be wrapped in fear. Hell. Sod the first few lines though - they're not my main problem. My main problem is this bloody three-quarters stage. Can I get Simon through to the final leg of his journey? Currently the two of us are dragging ourselves across the page hoping for a kindly hand and a glass of water, so God alone knows. I can only keep on trucking and hope that my pen knows a damn sight more than I do. Hey, somebody has to ...

But the one great thing that's cheered me up is the amount of extremely bitchy book reviews in today's "Telegraph". Utterly lovely. With some marvellous, super-bitchqueen turns of phrase from Lionel Shriver (as reviewer), amongst others. Oh, how the knocking of a major novelist can still bring a heartfelt smile to my face; I did so enjoy reading these over my lunch! Schadenfreude and chocolate is the ideal combination for any struggling writer, don't y'know. And I do understand that this only goes to show what a mean-spirited slapper I am indeed. But, hey, don't try to tell me I'm the only one ...

Tonight, Lord H and I have made a token gesture of cleaning - sometimes just glancing at the floor cloth and the Cif (Jif for us mature people, eh?...) is really more than enough. And later we're going to watch the fun new dino-adventure series, "Primeval", on TV. I do so love anything with dinosaurs and time-travel. I'm a sucker for a T-Rex in full spate. Bliss indeed. At least, it'll give my jitters something else to think about.

Today's nice things:

1. Last night's fireworks
2. Spending my book tokens
3. Reading bitchy book reviews.

Anne Brooke

Friday, February 09, 2007

Birthday boy and a bricked-up boyfriend

Hey, if that title doesn't pull you in, nothing will ... First off, it's Lord H's birthday today - hurrah! I'm not allowed to mention how old he is though; suffice it to say that I'll be 43 this year, and he's a full year older than me. 'Nuff said. Anyway, he doesn't look a day over 29, I'm sure. And any ageing that has appeared since our first ever meeting is of course entirely down to his being married to me. Or so he keeps saying.

Anyway, I performed my wifely duties first thing this morning (no, not those, people - 6.30am is way too early!!! And, besides, this is Surrey, you know ...) and provided breakfast chocolate cake and suitable presents and cards. Which included a huge tome on the history of the Book of Common Prayer, which appears to be three feet thick, with size 8 font printing. However Lord H is happy with it, so I gain Wife Points. And of course Points Mean Prizes ... I also bought him the Beginner's Guide to Origami set, so not only can we have a surfeit of small paper planes in the flat, but we can have animals and birds too. Huzzah! My cup indeed runneth over. Already he has made me an origami dog - which would have been charming and nice if I hadn't thought it was a whale. Ah well. I can only be nice in short bursts - anything else isn't natural. And, of course, I have also sent him flowers to work, so it can give him something to be embarrassed about. I asked for a mixture of orange and purple, and apparently he has ended up with blue roses. Hmm. GM crops are a wonderful thing indeed ...

This morning, I have done sod all, really - probably the fall-out from yesterday's hyped-up hive of activity. But I did pop into Guildford for lunch with a friend, Sue - I have caught up with her daughter's traumas, which include the daughter's Dreadful Boyfriend. Still, at 18, I think everyone has a Dreadful Boyfriend - except me, of course, but I did live in the country in my formative years so didn't meet a man until I was 17 (ah brave new world, etc etc ...), and anyway I like to think that I am an acquired taste, like an olive. Lord H was the only one who didn't run fast enough and was therefore unable to avoid my marital rugby tackle tactics ... Anyway, Sue and I have decided that the best way forward is to brick the DB up in her new extension and tell the daughter that he's gone to Paris. You heard it here first, people ...

On my way back, I also popped in to see Gladys, who was quite lively today and had a wasp (a wasp!! at this time of year! Lord preserve us ...) which she is keeping alive in the hallway with leaves from the garden. My personal preference would be for a gerbil, but there's no accounting for taste. And it's always good for the older folk to have a hobby. But, please, if I take to wasp-keeping in my nineties, I demand that someone pulls the plug on me. It would be a mercy killing in my case, I feel.

Tonight, I am providing Lord H with his regular birthday requests (hey, steady, people, steady! ...) of sausages, beans & crinkle-cut chips, followed by chocolate ice cream, all washed down with pink champagne. Never say we don't know how to push the boat out in downtown Godalming. And I'm determined to be extra nice to him with no teasing for a whole weekend. Well, a girl has to try. Though Lord H remains unconvinced that I will manage this great task, and is muttering darkly about whether he has the correct wife or not. We'll see, eh? I do so love a challenge.

Today's nice things:

1. Watching Lord H's joy at getting his origami set
2. Lunch and murderous talk with Sue
3. Naughty birthday food.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Broken glass and the PR queen

Sad news today - the last of my mother's enormous sherry glasses has bitten the dust. Or rather sprayed fragments of itself all over the kitchen floor when Lord H tried to persuade it to go into the cupboard last night. This is a key bridge moment, as my mother's sherry glasses were one of the things I brought from home into our marriage - much like a dowry of old, I imagine - and which have seen us through many a sticky period. Believe me, there's no row that can't look a little less fraught with a few gulps of Harvey's Bristol Cream or Waitrose best own brand down the gullet. Ah well. It was amusing watching poor Lord H teeter on his bare toes on the tiling though, as he attempted to avoid dismemberment. I had to resort to dusting the bits up round his feet before the worst could happen; he's not at his best at the sight of blood. Least of all his own. I'll have to tell mother I nicked those glasses one day too - I don't think she's noticed yet ... She's more of a wine gal.

Today it has snowed. Which means that my Counselling appointment has been cancelled, and there's no dance tonight. Groan. But I am glad I don't have to go out in the white stuff, seeing as I hate it so much. And a complete day in the flat is always welcome!

A large part of my unexpected free time has been spent being a PR queen. With a lot of help from nice people. Chevonne from Flame Books ( tells me that she's sending out 35 review copies next week of "A Dangerous Man", three of which are to authors I've met at workshops and who have therefore either seen sections of the novel or other parts of my writing. Special mention has to go to Andrew Taylor (a wonderful crime writer and a thorougly nice man -, Lesley Horton (another crime writer and a woman who tells it like it is, thank goodness - and Valerie Blumenthal (a lovely woman and a great writer of "journey" novels - ie the journeys people make - Astonishingly, they've all agreed to have a look at it and do a review, if there's time. Oh lord, I hope they like it, or at the very least it's not too much of a trauma for them. And so today I'm astonished by how generous people can be. Thank you.

It was also nice to speak to Valerie on the phone - she had some sad news, and some good news (in that order), and it was good to catch up, however briefly. By the way, Valerie regularly runs workshops in her Oxfordshire home - see the website above - and they'd be well worth attending if you're thinking about doing something like that. She's an inspiration.

In the midst of all this, I've also written two draft press releases and notified the YouWriteOn ( site and Writers' Promote ( site about ADM. It looks like I might be able to get some publicity on both (for which, thanks, Edward and David respectively ...) - I just need to persuade Chevonne to send me the front cover of ADM and I'll be rocking. Kind of. I can get flyers done too once I've got that - so at least the credit card people will get something other than the "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" flyer in my monthly missives to them. Hmm, I'm sure they'll be grateful ...

Have also written another 800 words of "The Gifting" and have taken Simon to the end of the third stage of his journey. Only one more of his traditional stories to tell, and one more stage to go through now. Though it will be the most traumatic one. Hell, how I love a big finish. Just hope I can write one.

And I've attempted to resurrect my social life, making arrangements for coffee with one friend (thanks, Jane H!), and emailing two others about lunch and a night out in London - the latter being on the 16 Feb, coincidentally enough. Bloody hell, I think I'm due for a few glasses of vino on my ruddy publication date for sure!

Oh, and I've fitted in a nap as well - as I was just too wired to sleep well last night. With this in mind, I think I'm not going to do too much this evening - wallpaper tv is called for. Otherwise I'm in danger of exploding from my own head - much like my mother's sherry glass indeed.

Today's nice things:

1. Three real authors being nice to me - ye gods, but I feel quite choked up just typing this
2. Writing more of "The Gifting"
3. Making social arrangements (and therefore looking like a normal woman - almost ...)

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Handbooks and mad professors

Busy bee today - hardly had time to go to the loo at all. Which was probably a good thing bearing in mind the extreme chill of the day. Spent the whole of the morning redoing the mentoring handbook and fiddling around with fonts. There's nothing like a good font fiddle to get the blood racing really. I do so love getting my teeth into a good secretarial task. Just like the old days when I used to do audiotyping and take letters etc. Marvellous. In fact, I was twice asked my opinion on how to do a Word task today, and found myself saying phrases like "source data" and "interactive textboxes". Goodness, how impressed we all were - me most of all. Sometimes I even sound like I know what I'm talking about, and have to lie down for half an hour in a darkened room to recover. It's what they always say - if you can spout the right language in the right context, you can fool 99% of the people. But don't worry - at heart, I still don't have a bloody clue.

Spent a happy, if exhausting, lunch-hour at my back strengthening class. I think the honeymoon period is over for sure now, as we were stretching parts of our quivering bodies that not even the trainer was sure we had. Mind you, I think we gained several inches in height afterwards, so by the time our five-week course is over, no doubt we'll all be 7 foot, blonde and ten years younger. It's amazing what the University sports centre can do for you ...

This afternoon, I minuted an extraordinary meeting of the Student Affairs Committee - which was a riot: an hour of intense conversation which included several inspirational thoughts (mainly from my boss, who's a top-class ideas man); followed by five minutes at the end when our professorial chair (bless!) told us what was in fact going to happen as, because it wouldn't be like last year anyway, he'd already decided what to do. Well, perhaps he didn't say that in so many words, but that was the gist ... My, how they all laughed. Not. Mind you, I do love a man who can run rings around everyone on the politics front, and it's always a pleasure to see a star performance, in any circumstances. And at least he can now say, hand on heart, that the discussion has ... um ... taken place. Kind of.

The delights of food shopping after work, then home to TV and collapse. Oh, and the rejection from Smith's Knoll poetry magazine has arrived - but goodness, they're slack this year; they've taken a whole six days to return my envelope. My my, dears, I'd get your act together if I were you. Anyone would think you'd actually considered the stuff ... Mind you, they did say they'd like to see more, so I can't be too scathing, I suppose. (On second thoughts, nah, being nice wouldn't be natural.) Maybe they can save me paper & money next time by sending me my poems back before I've actually written them? Now, that would impress me.

And I've had some nice comments on the section of "The Gifting", which I uploaded onto the Writewords ( site a few days ago - which is a boost, as I wasn't sure about that particular piece. Best get on with some more writing then sometime.

Today's nice things:

1. The back class
2. Doing secretarial stuff
3. Getting nice comments on Writewords.

Anne Brooke