Friday, February 29, 2008

Balls, cars and displacement activity

Marian had to pick me up for golf this morning, as poor Lord H's car has broken down again, so he had to take mine to work. So, much like a 1950s housewife, I was stranded in the flat and forced to wait for more powerful people to pick me up and take me places. Mind you, it hasn't seemed to have done my golf any harm - I played like a dream today, though I say it myself and shouldn't. I even got to the green in one on the 9th and had the long swagger down the fairway waving my putter and looking smug, aha! And yes, I did par it. Double aha! I was amazed Marian gave me a lift back at all really.

Back home, I did more PR and marketing for Thorn in the Flesh and indulged in shedloads of displacement activity in order to avoid tackling the next section of The Gifting. Well, sometimes it just happens that way. I did manage - eventually and at the very end of my afternoon - to get the next small section done. It's the minor victories that count, you know ...

And I've tackled the RAC to get them to mend Lord H's car. It needed a new battery as the old one was completely dead, apparently. The RAC man's advice - once he got the old battery going - was to keep the car ticking over and drive to the nearest battery mending place and on no account was I to turn the engine off as it wouldn't get going again. Luckily, we have an ATS in Godalming and I managed to drive it there without stalling and the lovely engineers gave me a new battery in five minutes (so thank you to ATS!). However, I was distinctly unimpressed with the fact that the RAC man didn't even bother to follow me to the garage - I'd heard such good reports about the fact that they would do that sort of thing, but no. Not for me, missus. And I was way too traumatised at the break in my Friday routine to argue the case. Honestly, it's almost like being with the AA, except the RAC don't leave you in abandoned carparks at midnight for three hours before they bother to tell you they've lost your call. Yet ... I am obviously the Kiss of Death for the road rescue business. Sigh.

Tonight, I might do a little more to The Gifting, depending on my ability to focus - or not. And I think I'll treat myself to a glass of wine - oh we do know how to enjoy ourselves here in the south.

And I've finished Sarah Salway's short story collection, Leading the Dance. Utterly fabulous - sharp, humane, deep, and very, very focused. Just how I like my men really.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. Writing something - eventually
3. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Launch over & out!

Had great fun at the launch of Thorn in the Flesh yesterday - in spite of being so hyper I could probably have crawled across the ceiling without the aid of suction pads. Even Jennifer of Goldenford asked me if I'd been on the coffee. Caffeine?? Ye gods no! - can you imagine what I'd be like with that?!? Alas, the hyperactivity factor is entirely my own ...

Anyway, it was a lovely party - the catering was amazing (huge thank you to Ruth's husband who deserves a medal. Possibly two), the conversation was scintillating and people seemed to enjoy the reading (hurrah!). And Jackie's introduction was ... well .. entirely in a class of its own and far funnier than anything I could ever write! Thank you, Jackie!

Ooh, and we sold 20 books, plus a few of our others, so that was nice. And I signed them all with my special naked lady fluffy pen bought as a launch gift by the glorious Cathy (thanks, Cathy!). I am going to sign everything in sight with it from now on. Might even use it for work meetings - that will certainly shorten them ...

Naturally, I was so on the qui vive when I got back home that I didn't actually get to sleep till 2am and was up and super-alert at 6am. Dammit. Ah, the reckoning will come soon, you know ... I shall be collapsing in a gibbering heap by 7pm tonight, I'm sure. Hmm, no change there.

Anyway, this morning, I have been in my ultimate chill-down zone having a wonderful Clarins facial and back massage. Bliss. And there's more good news! - the thirst-quenching Clarins cream they'd discontinued the last time I went has been brought back in a new and zappy format. Double hurrahs! I have therefore stocked up on the darn stuff before they change their minds again ... You never know, you see.

Afterwards, I ate lunch at Waterstone's and wrote a poem (as you do, ho ho!):

Second Horizon

It starts in shades of grey and blue,
a life held steady,
no notion of change.

Move rightwards
and the patterning begins:
black strands

dance, swirl,
bleak punches of memory
exploding outwards

until the grey, the blue
are gone. Only the dark,
the unknown horizon


Ooh and I bumped into Jane H in town - hello, Jane! Lovely to see you again so soon after ... um ... yesterday. Which somehow leads me nicely into an afternoon's visiting: popped in to see my sick friend who's doing surprisingly well and quite chirpy, which is marvellous. We managed to do a lot of grumbling and setting the world to rights - really, there's nothing like a good moan. After that, I paid a brief visit to Gladys in hospital - who was sleepy and not quite sure what was going on in the moments of being awake. Much like myself to be honest, so I didn't stay long. I'm sure the hospital doesn't want the visitors collapsing on the beds in exhaustion. They surely have enough to do with the patients.

For the rest of the day, I've been doing some PR on Thorn and even selling a few more copies. Gosh, thanks, people! I'd best stock up on Jiffy bags then. And tonight, it's "Ashes to Ashes" on TV, so the ideal way to end the day indeed.

Today's nice things:

1. Clarins treatments
2. Chatting to friends
3. People buying Thorn - well, gosh!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thorn in the Flesh launch day

Well, it's finally here - the launch day for Thorn in the Flesh which you can buy, if you'd like to, from Goldenford (which is better for us!) or even from Amazon UK - though naturally they haven't changed the status from "Pre-order" yet. Sigh. Don't wait up then ...

Here is the blurb, to whet your feminist, criminal appetites:

Kate Harris, a lecturer in her late thirties, is attacked in her Surrey home and left for dead. Continuing threats hinder her recovery, and these life changing events force her to journey into her past to search for the child she gave away. Can she overcome the demons of her own personal history before time runs out?

“a novel about the elusive nature of memory, and about truth” (Marsha Rowe, Co-founder of Spare Rib)

Naturally, at (at the moment of typing) 1.5 hours from the time I have to be at the launch venue, I'm as nervous and jittery as a mayfly on speed. Though - one hopes - with rather more than a few remaining hours to live. I'm also rather pleased that, once again, a moment of personal celebration has coincided with an event of national significance: I held my first ever housewarming party for my first ever house the day after the great 1987 October hurricane; now I hold my launch the day after the great British earthquake. Honour is satisfied, I think ...

And, much to my astonishment, I've actually managed to do some other stuff in my day beyond just hyperventilating and wrapping myself in my cloak of panicky event self-obsession. Well, almost. I've done some more to The Gifting and have now got Simon through the first of his battles, hurrah. Will he survive the next three? Ach, it's anyone's guess.

I've also finished reading Alex Beecroft's Captain's Surrender - which is a male romance on the high seas. I'm not usually a fan of naval novels, but Beecroft does write extremely well. In fact, I was totally gripped by the sea routines and battles - very "Hornblower" - and I fell passionately in love with Peter (though I was less taken with Josh). I would have liked to see more adventure stuff and with a lot more in Peter's view - a very interesting character indeed!

And I've finished Keith Please's poetry collection, Firestrikes. An arresting combination of passion and intellect, with a marvellous focus on the relationship of nature and man. I particularly enjoyed "The Coldest Day", about a friend's funeral, "Some Days", which points out with great wryness that some days simply don't count and "The Bee House, Steep", about Edward Thomas. Certainly much there to mull over. Well worth a read.

Tonight - well, I'll be attempting to look like an author (whatever the bloody hell that is!), trying to read slowly and make some kind of sense and hoping that people are kind. Wish me luck, eh!...

Today's nice things:

1. Having another book out
2. Writing
3. Reading some good stuff.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pre-launch jitters, art and Goldenford

Feel very spiky today and hugely on edge – no doubt due to the all-consuming worries about tomorrow’s launch of Thorn in the Flesh. I’m now worried I might have too many people coming and am severely up to my limit of 35 in the venue. Let’s hope that none of them decide to bring an unaccounted friend, as if they do no doubt Godalming Museum will beat me with twigs and throw me out. I hope to God it goes all right and people don’t notice the joins. Of which there will be many, I’m convinced. I also really don’t know how I’m going to get everything set up and sorted out in the hour before it starts. That is, without lying down, chewing the carpet and weeping. And that’s only if I think it’s going well …

In the meantime, I’m struggling through the working day without actually feeling I’m here. Same old, same old then. Though I have managed to do something about the ongoing online booking system project – I even contacted Procurement, good grief, and contacted some suppliers (good Lord, I sound almost professional!) - though I’m not sure what sort of effect I’m having or really what the hell I'm doing … However, I attempted to raise my happiness levels by visiting the University art gallery at lunchtime – they’ve got a staff exhibition on, which is always inspirational. I particularly enjoyed “Second Horizon” – a thought-provoking study in grey-blue and black. And heck we all need a second horizon sometimes …

This afternoon, I am putting my professional secretary hat on and taking the minutes for the Student Induction Implementation Group. I think there’s going to be a lot of flipcharts and strategy, from what I can tell. Lord, what fun we have! If only I knew what it was all supposed to be about, eh? It did last a rather long time, I have to say, and I didn't have the heart to start on the writing up - I shall have to try to work out what they want me to put next week.

And we’re still thinking about where to go on holiday in May – which is actually a nice thing to think about, so I’m glad we haven’t managed to book anything yet – it gives me something else to focus on, and, Lord, how I need that! UPDATE: We've booked it, hurrah! Lord H managed to find spaces on the week-long Iberian river cruise that they told me yesterday was fully booked (the bastards!). Must be his dulcet tones eh ... But a holiday - wonderful!

Tonight, I’m off to the Goldenford meeting, but Jackie has taken pity on me and agreed to do the minutes this time – thank you, Jackie! I’ll certainly be in no fit state to concentrate, provide sensible input or write anything up afterwards, so the gesture is much appreciated.

Today’s nice things:

1. Art
2. Thinking about holidays
3. Goldenford.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Thorn response and parcel problems

All frighteningly calm on the work front today – I even managed to get through my outstanding emails before 10.30am came upon us. Well, gosh. Are people still in bed? Exhausted after half-term? It’s an enigma.

Unfortunately, it gives me time to puzzle over the possible suppliers for our proposed online booking system, which is even lower down in the “possible” stakes. Possibly. This is something of a bummer as I really have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing or which might be best. It’ll also mean having some kind of contact with the Procurement department, who are a mystery to me. I have an existential terror of having to bring some of the suppliers in to give demonstrations as it’ll mean I’ll have to take control of the whole process, and I do so hate being an office leader (however low down in the pond hierarchy I am, and believe me it’s pretty low) – I’m much better as a follower. No doubt it’ll all go wrong anyway and we’ll end up with (a) nothing, (b) the thing we first thought of, or (c) a disaster. Please take your pick …

To add to the day’s puzzlements, I have attempted to post Mother’s gifts and send off a couple of copies of Thorn in the Flesh via the campus Post Office, but have been thwarted as the damn thing is shut. Shut?!? Whatever is happening?? Such a darn nuisance. And I can’t go to town and post them either as I’m taking an extended lunch having a chat with a careers counsellor (the boss’s idea – is he trying to tell me something, do you think?...) later on. UPDATE: the careers woman was in the end not well enough to see me – so I made the most of the free time by leaping into town and posting the ruddy parcels, phew – at least you can rely on the town Post Office being open! Queues or no queues.

Ooh, and Lord H has now read Thorn and he thinks it’s his favourite so far, plus he really likes Kate – both of which responses surprised me as sections of the novel are very intense, and I had thought of it more as a “women’s issues book” – but apparently he liked the crime parts as well. Nice to have that reaction for sure, and interesting too!

Post-work, I have to drag myself round Tesco and get a few bits and pieces for the book launch on Wednesday, plus stock up on the week’s essentials. And tonight it’s “The Palace” on TV – bliss!

And I’m still mulling over how the heck I can rewrite the end of The Gifting. Hmm …

Today’s nice things:

1. Not having many emails to cope with
2. Lord H liking Thorn
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thorn cover and the last story

Spent a fair amount of time last night and this morning updating the various websites and blogs I use with the new Thorn in the Flesh cover. I must say that I'm rather pleased with the quote I've chosen to go underneath it on that page - it's one of my favourites from the book. Though it's not actually Kate who says it.

For the rest of the day, I've been busy editing Simon's last story (and his most traumatic one) in The Gifting. Which I have finally done and am therefore on page 435 of 466, hurrah! I'm now faced with a total rewrite of the final chapters to add in at least six zillion percent of drama and excitement. Frankly, I read what I have there now and I groan - what can I have been thinking of? Ye gods, when I'm bad I'm utter crap, m'dears. No wonder the agent was so pissed off with me. Can't say I blame him - I am already beating myself up with twigs. And more. My, what fun we have here in the shires ...

I have also done my daughterly duty and ordered flowers for Mothers Day - it's next week, people (if you're in the UK, that is), so do it now if you need to! I just hope the delivery firm can find the place - they do usually have trouble, which isn't helped by the fact that Mother lives in one of the few streets in the UK which actually has no name. Spooky, eh, but it explains a lot.

Not only that but I've washed the car and made another rhubarb crumble for lunch. Ye gods but sometimes I'm just so damn good that I should patent myself. Hell, it won't last long though. Never ruddy does. But at least it's taking my mind off the upcoming Thorn in the Flesh book launch - only three days to go and I am shitting the proverbial. Metaphorically of course. Must make sure I have enough calming pills to last between now and then ...

Tonight, I'm going to be glued to the TV (no change there then), watching "Lark Rise to Candleford" and the utterly glorious "Lewis". Yes, at last the ideal Sunday night viewing is upon us and I can stop being noble and watching Monty's Gardens (nice but too worthy). Phew!

This week's haiku (which I thought of while I was skipping round the Watts Chapel gravestones yesterday):

Graveyard Conundrum
It's either the moles
who shoulder up the earth, or
the escaping dead.

Today's nice things:

1. The Thorn cover - I love it!
2. Finishing the edit of Simon's last story in The Gifting
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gifting, graves and literary terror

Today's trauma has arrived early, so hey at least it's over. Every so often, the good people at the Times Literary Supplement send me a free copy in a brave but ultimately foolish attempt to get me to subscribe. Each time I open this unwanted gift, I can't help but groan. I mean call me an Essex book slapper if you must (hell, I like it), but honestly the TLS is so unutterably worthy and essentially dull that if you read as much as two sentences, you're likely to lose the ability to write altogether. And, dahlings, the font is so dreadful and there are just too many words all pressed together on one page, like the Black Hole of Calcutta. One cannot help but feel sorry for them all really. It's so exhausting.

Anyway, I asked Lord H if he might like to look at it and perhaps subscribe (though please God not in my name!), bearing in mind that it might help his OU degree. He looked almost interested for about two seconds but then he tried to read the first paragraph of an article (which was, I think, so dull that we've both forgotten what it was supposed to be about) and all but collapsed screaming for mercy on his computer. So I think that's a no then ...

It does however rile me that a newspaper which is supposed to encourage writing and reading in all its forms - and let's not forget that writing and reading are amongst the most exciting things on the planet - manages to kill it with ennui. It's a mystery. But how I long for the day when a literary newspaper will be created which doesn't lose or deaden the thrill of the genre it's focused on. One day, eh.

This morning, Lord H and I paid a quick visit to the gorgeous Watts Gallery and rediscovered our inner chill-zone by wandering round the paintings. I do enjoy some of the portraits Watts did of his wife, and what a thing he had about necks too. All very interesting. Afterwards, we had a walk round the Watts Chapel and attached graveyard. Well, we do like to get ideas for the decor of our future abode, you know. I rather fancy the book carvings on the gravestones, where one half of a couple goes on one page and the other on the second - but I do understand Lord H's comment that it's rather creepy if you're waiting around for a long time for the 2nd page to be filled. Hmm, is he planning something?... Anyway, the snowdrops, crocuses and forget-me-nots (I think!) were nice.

For the rest of the day, I've been struggling with Annyeke's last main section in The Gifting but I think I've got it, by George! Or most of it anyway. So I'm now on page 412 of 465. And the next chapter - Simon's last story - will be easier to edit as there'll be no new stuff to write. Well, that's the hope anyway.

Tonight, it's the last episode of "Primeval" and then there's a repeat of "Have I Got News for You" later on. So I'm looking forward to a lovely chilled evening. Well, apart from the dinosaurs of course.

Today's nice things:

1. Screaming in horror at the TLS
2. Watts
3. Finishing Annyeke's section in The Gifting.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, February 22, 2008

Torchwood oddities, girly golfers and a long slow edit

Finally Lord H and I managed to solve this week's "Torchwood" mission last night - but only by dint of Googling the answer, which made us groan when we saw it. Honestly we should have thought of that! I appreciate we may well now stand accused of cheating, m'dears, but if the TV Torchwood team can call up the great Martha Jones when they're stuck then I don't see why we can't ask the audience either, ha! The utterly strange thing is that the codeword we needed is the same as the codeword I use in Maloney's Law for a minor but essentially very key character. Weird indeed ... Lord H remains unsurprised that my head is full of aliens.

And talking of Lord H, he has just read the first page of Thorn in the Flesh and has had to put the book in the fridge and lie in a darkened room for a while. I fear to tell him that scarier fare is ahead ...

Anyway, this morning, I popped into Godalming to stock up on local essentials, including buying books for Mothers Day and bumped into my former churchwarden. There was a cowardly moment when I wondered if I should scarper before she saw me but, in the end, I screwed my courage to the proverbial and tapped her on the shoulder. Actually, we had quite a decent, non-judgemental conversation so I was glad I'd done it.

I've also played golf with Marian - lovely to get back to it after all the editing panics and holidays I've been having. Though I have to say it was a game of two halves for me. I basically phoned in a performance until the sixth hole when I finally got my act together. Phew! Still, I couldn't make up for the appalling nature of the first five so Marian still won. Darn it. Not something that happens often - I can see I shall never live that one down! At least not for a good long while.

For the rest of the day, I have been wending my slow but purposeful way through the edit to The Gifting - on page 397 now, so only about 60 or 70 pages left. Ye gods, there's hope, somewhere out there.

And the lovely Sharon Maria Bidwell has put a review of A Dangerous Man up on her website under today's date which you can access ... well ... by clicking on the lovely Sharon Bidwell. Thanks, Sharon - you can probably still hear the screams of delight from here!

Tonight, I was supposed to be seeing Jane W in London, but she's not very well, so we've postponed for a couple of weeks. Which means I'll be doing more to the Great Edit as there's sod all on TV. Oh, scrap that though - BBC2 has a ten-minute programme at 8.50pm about the beautiful parakeet - which is an amazing bird and you get them in the UK, hurrah, so do watch!

I must also say that I've just read Susannah Dunn's The Sixth Wife - which is the most inappropriate title ever as it's not about the wife; it's about her best friend. It's written in an incredibly calm and formal, though rhythmic manner, and for the first few pages I must admit I was groaning and wondering if I was going to finish it. But something really odd happened and I suddenly found I couldn't put the bloody thing down. At all. It's marvellous - and I suspect that most of the poor Amazon reviews for this just don't get it. It's a wholly unique style of writing but I loved it - it entirely suits the character, Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk. Whom I also grew to love over the course of the book. Not because she's nice. She ain't. But she knows her own mind, she goes for the burn and she's got balls galore. That I like. I am now desperate to read another Dunn. Definitely an author for my list.

Today's nice things:

1. Sharon's review of ADM
2. Editing
3. Golf.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Into the last quarter!...

Ye gods, but I'm actually into the last quarter of The Gifting edit. Sound those ruddy trumpets indeed. And I'm really pleased with the scene I rewrote at the end of Part 3 as well - it somehow makes far more sense now. It gave me that glorious feeling of yes when I finished it - which isn't something that happens often. Dammit. Still a long section to tackle now though, and I fear that the rewrite of Quarter 4 will be deep and painful. Nurse, the screens ...

I've also collected the copies of Thorn in the Flesh from the Goldenford office, so at least I have them ready for next week's launch. I must admit I'm now at that stage of worrying, beyond all argument, that the novel is hopeless - which is usually the stage I reach about a month or so after I've finished anything and the feeling stays around ... well ... forever really. Double dammit. Lurking in the background like an unwanted visitor who won't bloody well go home. Still, I'm told by other writers that this is fairly common, so I suppose I just have to go with it. Mind you, that said, I did have the courage (I rarely look at books I've written after they're published - I just can't bear it ...) to flick through Thorn earlier on just to see what was in it (no - don't laugh. I really don't know - selective memory syndrome, I suppose). And I think it might be okay - it made some kind of sense anyway, and I think the ending fits with who Kate is. The trouble is she's rather more subtle than I am, so I've worried more about the ending to her story than any other I've written. I also think she's a tricky, rather hard-to-know woman and - in a totally, totally different genre context - I begin to understand Jane Austen's comments on Emma: I think I may have written a woman no-one will much like.

Still, that's who Kate is and actually I rather admire her balls. If you see what I mean.

Anyway, I've also visited my sick friend this afternoon - very tired today but holding up, so I didn't stay as long as usual. The treatment starts tomorrow, and we're hoping for the best. I think booking a holiday later in the year will be good - it's important to have something nice to look forward to when you're well again. Or at any other time really.

Tonight, I'm planning further editing and then there's "Ashes to Ashes" later on. I must say I really do find Keeley Hawes very irritating. I think the show would be better without her. And I've just finished Jo Gambi's account of her mountain climbing expeditions with her cancer-survivor husband, Holding On. Inspirational stuff to be sure, but I'm not really a great fan of mountains or climbing or snow - so I appreciate I'm not the best reader for it. But it is well written, Jo's a lovely woman and if you're into extreme sports and the triumph of hope over adversity, then it could be the book for you!

Today's nice things:

1. A pleasing editing experience
2. Thinking about Thorn
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pensions, Pilates, Poems and Panics

Ye gods, but it’s chilly today. It’s the third time this week I’ve opted for a jumper rather than a jacket in the office. Ah, we’re all downgrading now, you know. Soon I shall be rolling in wearing my pink fluffy dressing gown and bedsocks. That’ll get rid of the campus population for sure.

Anyway, the first night of Ruth being the backstage queen at “The Bohemian Girl” apparently went well. In spite of the fact that during the aria, “I dreamt I lived in marble halls”, some woman walked off the street and attempted to go on stage in search of a shower. Ruth had to forcibly stop her before the scene was ruined – lordy, but they’re a rum lot in Haslemere, you know.

One of the singers was also apparently chatting about the gun props and let slip that she was a dab hand with pistols, having had three ex-husbands. Really, m’dears, sometimes it’s better not to ask too much …

This morning, we have had a pensions talk – is there no end to the excitement? The new system will apparently mean we get more take-home pay and it doesn’t affect our pensions so hey I’ve no problem with it. And Lord H is happy too, so that’s good. One of the best moves I’ve made really – marrying my accountant!

This lunchtime, I am chilling out for an hour in the Pilates class, but I will be way behind, what with other meetings crowding it out and being away over the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure I can remember if I even have any core muscles, never mind where they are. Ho hum. Tonight, I am attempting again to tackle more of the edit for The Gifting and – joy! – there’s “Torchwood”.

And I’ve been thinking about soap – I have a lot of different soaps in the flat and can never find the perfect one. Sigh:

A longing for soap

The older I get
the more I long
for the perfect soap;

something soft
that smells of lemon
or perhaps vanilla,

a bar which lathers up
to a glamorous froth
at the touch

of a finger. Or maybe two.
I yearn for flowers,
spices, ravishment;

a shedding of the skin
to discover perhaps
the woman within.

Oh and it’s exactly one week to the launch of Thorn in the Flesh. Am I nervous? Petrified, m’dears, petrified. What if nobody turns up? What if too many people turn up and the Museum representative won’t let them in? What if I panic during the reading and sound like a squirrel? What if I’m sick? I swear I have the confidence of a gnat. A gnat that’s had a particularly disheartening day. Oh Lordy, time for a calming pill or two, I feel. And there’s still a week to go!...

Today’s nice things:

1. Opera amusements
2. Pilates
3. Torchwood.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Writers galore, army commissions and a big clear-out

We’ve spent a lot of the day clearing out the office in order to find space for new people to sit. New people, m’dears – what fun! It’s astonishing the rubbish we’ve – well, I’ve – managed to collect over four years. Really, I’m quite ashamed. I’ve also had to move my paper cut-out altar from my cabinets onto the wall – ah, it won’t be the same … Maybe I should colour it in? Might encourage a tad more divine intervention – you never know. Anyway, we all feel cleansed after our big clear-out. And we’re waiting with great anticipation for the recycling man. What fun we have here on campus.

Lord H has also saved the day for Ruth’s first night of her opera tonight – she’s doing the props for Opera South’s version of “The Bohemian Girl” and has suddenly had to come up with a 1914 Army Commission paper. Lord H managed to find something suitable on Google Images and also mocked something of his own up which he sent to us. Fab! The show can go on then … The boss (still in today but still ill, darnit!) was duly impressed with our dedication to our roles. Naturally. Well, I told him it was transformational networking and the University could only benefit from our increased happiness levels. Hmm, not sure that one will work again …

Oh and one of Ruth's old friends turned up for a chat and then announced she was ill too. Damn it, people, I am doomed, I tell you - doomed ... Somebody send me a mask to live in for the next week and I may just survive till launch day ... Lord, I hope so!

This lunchtime, I’ve got the University Writers Group, so I’m hoping people turn up with stuff to look at. I’m kind of winging it in the games area today, but I do have cut-out words for them to choose and take back for homework. So I feel I’ve achieved something. Possibly. UPDATE: actually, it went quite well and we even had one or two more new faces, so that’s looking positive. Hurrah!

Tonight, it’s Guildford Writers – it’ll be nice to see what everyone else is doing as I haven’t been able to go for a while. Goodness me, what a literary day I’m having. I’ve even got something to take along, in spite of being neck-deep in my editing project. It’s the start of a short story about how to eat fruit and a strange man called Jacob. At least that’s what I think it is – I’ll have to see. It's something I started in the lunchtime group anyway, so it’s nice that occasionally the two things link up. Also it feels quite liberating even to be thinking about a short story and doing it just for fun too – it’s a long time since I’ve done either of those. Hmm, food for thought, maybe?

Today’s nice things:

1. The big tidy
2. Army commissions
3. Writers groups

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, February 18, 2008

Slow machines and cancellations

Ah the existential pain of getting back to work. It’s taken me at least four hours to get my working head on again. If I even have such a thing. Groan. Added to that, my computer is playing up big-time and I have to have one of the IT technicians come and sort it out for me before I can even get onto the web. Excel’s rather dodgy too. At least I think they’re coming to sort it out – perhaps they’re just going to shoot me and hire someone who understands the computer? It may yet be the cheaper option …

Still, nobody seems very inspired today – our lunchtime Steering Group was cancelled as everyone is away, so it meant I could pop in to see Gladys in hospital over lunch rather than this evening – when I so desperately want to be at home. And talking of home, this morning Lord H and I were both longing to give up work and retire to a life of leisure, so it’s amazing we’ve managed to reach our offices at all. We just have so much more fun – and are far more relaxed – on our holidays. Really, retirement is wasted on the old. Poor Gladys though – not at her best again today, although at least she did vaguely recognise me. Lordy but she hates being in hospital so much. Can’t say I blame her either.

Anyway, the lunchtime cancellations have left me with a job-lot of sandwiches and very few people to eat them. Even the sabbaticals are all away, darn it. Though I can’t say I blame them – our boss is sick and has actually come in to do work. Double groan. If I’m sick for next week’s Thorn in the Flesh launch because I’ve picked something up from him, trust me: I will not be happy!!! Big time.

Oh and here's a poem which sums up my day. Basically.

My head

is full of soup
so there's no chance
of connection

with the mother-ship

if you're asking.

Tonight Lord H is at the shops as I just can’t bear the thought of them. And I’m intending to try to get my head together (don’t wait up then …) and, when I fail at that, watch “The Palace”. Not sure I’m up to working out what Annyeke’s going to get up to next in The Gifting but I might dabble a little. Ooh, and some kind person might even have looked at Thorn in the Flesh on Amazon as I actually have a rating now. Of sorts. Well, gosh!

Today’s nice things:

1. Surviving the day
2. Poetry
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Air today ...

... gone tomorrow. Sorry, just couldn't resist. Due to feeling much better today (hurrah!), I have been editing for Britain and have actually finished the Air Kingdom section in The Gifting. Well, huzzahs all round and somebody crack open the caviare. As it were. Now all I have to do is think about what the bloody hell Annyeke does next. I think she may nearly have cracked the mystery, by George. She'd better have as she only really has two sections of her story left before the finale.

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more this fantasy is becoming like a rather bizarre crime cosy. After all, think of the similarities: they're all searching for something; the people they think are on their side might actually not be; the solution is standing right in front of them but nobody can see what it is; and, if I have my way, Annyeke will get the whole ruddy lot of them in the library at the end (or she would if the Gathandrian library hadn't been dispersed for safety's sake) and tell them who the criminals really are. Aha!

In the midst of all this excitement, it's been a lovely, crisp day, and I have been out in it - briefly. I've checked the car oil and water and cleaned the lights. Well, I don't want to overdo it, you know. Too much excitement is bad for me.

Tonight, I'm going to watch "Larkrise to Candleford" and Monty's Gardens - during which I shall also cut out headlines from the paper to use as writing homework for next week's University Writers' Group. Well, we have new people - they won't realise I did that last year with them and anyway the phrases will be different. I swear I am only one half-step ahead of my class and the gap is rapidly closing ...

On the reading front, I've just finished R N Morris' A Vengeful Longing - which is yet another dark masterpiece from the great R N, featuring the sharp-eyed investigator Porfiry, and a host of steamy, seamy 19th century St Petersburg scenes. The descriptions of the city and its people are first-class, as one would expect, and I particularly loved the interplay between Porfiry and his new sidekick, Virginsky. Long may that partnership continue! - it's an excellent way of bringing out Porfiry's humour and humanity far more deeply. Mind you, I really won't look at flies in quite the same way again. And I can't stand insects to start with ... The plot is also exciting and keeps you on the edge of your chair - full of clever red herrings and the tension notches up to a serious level towards the very dramatic end. I'm certainly looking forward to more Porfiry & Virginsky outings. Great stuff indeed. Go buy it. Now!

And as a special treat, this week you have two haikus (my, how generous I am!):

As the sea rolls in,
the cliff beckons me onwards.
Mystery and steep light.

Evening by the sea.
Wait for the starlings to roost;
wing clouds darken night.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing The Gifting
2. Reading
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy anniversary ...

.... to A Dangerous Man who was published on this day last year. Well, gosh - one year old today, Michael. Who would have thought it? It's been an up and down year, to be honest - I've been thrilled with the good reviews and general positive response to the book. No, more than thrilled actually. Hugely grateful. I'm not sure I'll ever write anything quite that heartfelt and ... well ... raw again. It feels good to have done it at least once in my writing life. On the downside, I've sold (as of the end of December) 116 books, and I was hoping for more. I'm learning to cut my cloth etc etc, however, so that can only be a good thing. But hey not too much - it is after all pure ego that keeps writers going at all!

Interestingly, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice remains my bestseller, with 118 copies sold since June 2006. And I've even gained royalties for that one, though of course I haven't with ADM. I need to earn more than £100 for Flame to pay anything and I doubt I'll reach that now. We've all moved on.

In the meantime, I struggle on with the edits for The Gifting with, I admit, not much enthusiasm or inspiration for the task. God but it will be good to see the end of what today seems like pure slog. I'm now just in the Kingdom of the Desert (AKA Fire) and on page 329. So still some way to go. It's strange how taking Simon from a first-person viewpoint to the (allegedly) more desirable third-person view seems to be taking him away from the centre I write from. He feels more distant now. And I'm not convinced my handle on the multi-viewpoint novel is as confident as for a single-view novel. Anyway, we'll see.

But bloody hell I sound down. I'm not. Not really anyway - and certainly not as down as I can get! I think I must be starting a cold and battling it back is making me more thoughtful than usual. That's all. For the rest of the day, I've been catching up on my videos of "Lark Rise to Candleford" (delicious - and oh Lord let the post office auditor come back and marry Dorcas - he is seriously, seriously hot and I am salivating at the very thought of him - which is a reaction I rarely have to auditors, I must say) and "Ashes to Ashes" (okay and I'll watch it but it's not a patch on the original, sigh ...).

Tonight I'll be glued to "Primeval" and worrying about Connor. As you do. UPDATE: what a great episode! And lovely to see the A3 turnoff to Guildford being used. There's many a mammoth on there, to be sure. Another worrying thing is that I've found out there are actual "Torchwood" novels on the market - I fear if I succumb to one then an obsession will have been commenced. Oh yes another one, bugger it.

Oh and I've read the latest of the Robin & Jules crime sagas by Suzanne Brockman - All Through the Night. Um, not so good as the first two. Way, way too much soppy romance (please, does anyone really do that nowadays? Lord I hope not ...). And I missed any kind of a plot. I also got really irritated by all Jules' smug friends who popped up every five minutes to tell Robin he was not worthy to be in any kind of relationship with J. How condescending is that??! I mean, really. Not something I'd ever say to my friends' partners, under any circumstances. I trust them to make their own decisions! If I were Robin (who was incidentally the most human and likeable person in the whole book), I would have responded with a smart right hook to any advice of that nature and moved on. Never trust a man with friends like that is what I say. Maybe R would have been better off with Adam after all? Indeed I worry for him now ...

Today's nice things:

1. One year of ADM - hell, I've written at least one book I'm proud of!
2. TV
3. Champers being my bestselling novel - of sorts!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, February 15, 2008

Honey, I'm home ...

... we're back from glorious Cornwall! Have had a fabulous week staying here, which was a great place even though it turned out to be one of those hotels who only change the menu weekly. Sigh. Why are more and more hotels doing this? I appreciate the need to manage the budget, but it really discriminates against those guests who stay more than a couple of nights. Mind you, I had a serious nirvana moment when sampling the Jerusalem artichoke veloute (sorry, no accent) starter - which was an amazing mix of creamy soup, parmesan, truffle and quail eggs. Sounds disgusting, I know, but tastes like the best thing ever. I even came near to tears and was hell-bent on marrying the chef (Barnaby, if you're asking) and having his children. But for some reason Lord H wasn't too keen on that idea. Though he did like the soup.

Mind you, we both agreed that our room was wonderful - we were upgraded to the suite for some reason, but hey didn't complain. A bedroom, a living room, a bathroom and a balcony. Bliss. And bloody hell but we've been lucky with the weather. And the front of the hotel went straight down onto a rocky beach and ah the sea. I don't know - there's something about the sea and rocks which gives me a feeling of peace that nothing else can. It makes me feel I belong. I went and communed with it each day post-breakfast.

And talking of the hotel (oh, have I been?), I must say their dinner lighting, especially on the first night, was most unique. It seemed that every time the Maitresse d' went into the kitchen, the lighting grew brighter, but when she was out on the floor (as it were), things became dimmer again. We had two working theories: either (a) the kitchen was full of staff running round and round a vast hamster wheel in order to recharge the generator (well, Cornwall is another country, you know) and they missed the extra pair of feet when said Maitresse was out meeting and greeting, or (b) the Maitresse d' was an alien escapee from Torchwood who was feeding off the energy from the lights. Answers on a postcard please ...

Oh, and we've seen some fabulous birds too. New ones spotted include a flock of cattle egrets (like the usual egrets, but with shorter, yellow bills), purple sandpipers, greenshanks and rock pipits. Oh, and today we went down to Pulborough Brooks and saw a dunnock. At last! Not to mention pintails, shovelers, hosts of widgeon, and some very lovely fallow deer. Though I suspect the latter don't count in the bird world.

Being the sad git that I am, the first thing I do when I'm back is check if Thorn in the Flesh is on Amazon yet. Gosh, well, it is, sort of. Just a picture, a publication date which is 2 days later than the actual one (25 Feb) and - Goddammit! - my bloody middle name!!!! Where the hell did they get that?!? I do sooooo hate my middle name - which you can laugh at here. Bloody hell eh!

And I've finished Suzanne Brockman's Force of Nature - which carries on the ongoing saga with Robin and Jules. I did enjoy the fact that Robin does at last come into his own, kicks ass and generally gets what he wants. Hurrah. Good dialogue too. I suspect the rest of the characters don't actually get how funny Robin is - some of his best lines appear wasted on them, deep sigh.

Oh, and can we please stop the religious allegory of "Torchwood" now? Dahlings, this sort of thing is just too obvious. We, the viewers, do get it. And it's soooo last century. We don't need to have the Last Supper analogy shoved down our throats, along with way too much emoting. Though I did like the line with the tape-measure. Talking of which, I must rush and do my Torchwood mission. Lord H has already solved it, and I am woefully behind ...

Today's nice things:

1. Birds
2. Books
3. Holidays!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Happy birthday!...

... to Lord H who is just as young and vibrant today as the day I first met him! But without the Salman Rushdie look-alike beard. My dears, it just had to go ... And what a lovely day we're having - though possibly rather bizarre. But hey that's just us, eh!

Today's favourite present is definitely the Terry Wogan book, Wogan's Twelve. It even has a picture of the delightful Fran from Sir Terry's morning show, and I think we're all now in love with her. Me included. What a babe. And she so suits her voice. Marvellous.

Lord H is enjoying himself today (careful, people, careful ...) by nipping into Godalming to make the most of the sunshine and spending this afternoon in Croydon on the first of his Open University tutorials. Well, it takes all sorts, you know. While he's away, I have been having a thoroughly good time with the edit and am now onto page 309 of 465. Hurrah! Managed to get Annyeke's discovery scene in the proverbial bag and even had time to edit one of Simon's stories. Double ruddy hurrah!

Oh, and while I think of it, I did have a very strange dream last night, which will vastly amuse Jackie and Irene, not to mention "Torchwood" fans. I was in the wonderful world of Torchwood, having various adventures, in a setting which was near the sea, with clifftops and a very big house. Lovely day it was too. In the dream, I was Ianto (there's a surprise - I so relate to the hard-pressed office bod, every time ...) and was following Captain Jack up the clifftop to see what was happening at the house. When he turned round, much to my surprise, he'd turned into Jennifer from Goldenford who was wearing a lovely grey winter coat and talking very excitedly. Weird, eh. Lord H says at least I as Ianto wasn't in the middle of kissing the good Captain before he shapeshifted - that might have been a girl-on-girl action sequence too far ...

Lordy, but I need a holiday. Obviously I am working too hard. Which is good news, as Lord H and I will be in sunny Penzance here as from tomorrow till next Thursday. So no blogging till at least Friday, I'm afraid, but I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Oh, and if you're looking for something to read, I can thoroughly recommend Patrick Gale's Notes from an Exhibition. The bloody best thing he's done so far, in my opinion. I was expecting the worst as, with Gale, you tend to get one good book followed by one rubbish one and so on - and his previous one was good. However, NFAE is a cracker - powerful story, great characters, wonderful and realistic interaction and deeply moving. Oh and the best bloody ending I've read in a long, long time. It moved me to tears. Good ones. If there is a weak point, it's Winnie, and Rachel's childhood, but I see why you need those and they're well enough done. I particularly loved Hedley, Garfield (really!) and Antony. Great stuff. More please.

Anyway, tonight it's champagne, sausages, chips & beans, followed by chocolate cheesecake and cream. Or possibly chocolate brownies - we haven't decided yet. I promise to add some salad though, but hey it is Lord H's birthday choice! Cholesterol City, here I come ...

Today's nice things:

1. Lord H's birthday
2. Editing
3. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, February 08, 2008

Exhausted of Godalming ...

... again. M'dears, I just can't take the pace. Decided to cancel golf today to focus on the editing lark, but to be honest it's been very slow. I love the scene I'm working on - another with the gorgeous Annyeke - and at least I know what it's going to be and what needs to be included. But slow, so slow. The inspiration is there (possibly) but the fingers are weak.

I did manage to drag myself to Sainsbury's and treat myself to sushi for lunch. I love sushi. Especially the salmon and the ginger strips. Mmm ... I've also remembered to wrap up Lord H's presents for his birthday tomorrow (hurrah!). So not too much of a last-minute panic there, thank the Lord.

This afternoon, I was so tired, I absolutely had to stop at 3pm and have a 1.5 hour nap. Bliss. There's nothing like being curled up on the sofa with my cuddly toy lamb and my fluffy pink dressing-gown. Hey, sometimes I can actually be a girl. Anyway, I feel slightly more energised now, so may even add some more to The Gifting before the day is over. You never know.

Oh and in the midst of all this rampant laziness, I have managed to get new business cards and flyers ordered with the Thorn in the Flesh information on. As well as sending a fact sheet to Waterstone's in Godalming about the book. Apparently they have a new crime buyer there (how exciting - a crime buyer just for Godalming. My, we are a rough lot ...) who is considering whether to stock or not. I suspect that's a "no" and we'll hear no more. Alas, the nice lady who used to be really keen on Goldenford has gone to New Zealand. Is it just me or are the bookshop avenues gradually drying up for this very small publisher and z-list author? Ah well.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing (well, the small bit actually done!)
2. Napping
3. Getting the presents wrapped.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Editing, Visiting and Mission Complete!

Have spent most of the day editing The Gifting and it seems to be flowing more easily. That will definitely be a temporary thing then!... I'm slowly coming nearer the end of Part Two as well, which is giving me a few flashes of hope in the darkness. And Lordy but how we need those. The end of the section I'm doing now though is just way too slow - I'm going to cut with the merciless determination of a surgeon on speed and shove in a bit of action instead. That'll up the drama factor - I hope.

Have also checked the quality of the Thorn in the Flesh copies at the Goldenford office. They're fine, thank goodness. And I've added to the supply of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice as we were running rather low. Can't have a panic if anyone should actually order one, m'dears! Oo-err, no.

After that, I popped in to see my sick friend at home - who's feeling rather better today, hurrah! Though there are most tests to face in the near future. But it was nice to take a turn round her garden and admire the plants to come. Which is about all you can do this time of year. Dammit. I think I am becoming a flower fetishist. Hell, there are worse things. I also took my broken reading glasses into the opticians - and they actually mended them there and then! Astonishing service - I was really taken aback, so well done, Bateman's ...

And the lovely Lisa Glass has added an article on the Vulpes Libris review site under today's date which is well worth a read. All about the link between book reviewing and blogging. It even includes some idle chatter from me - so thanks for that, Lisa! Much appreciated.

Tonight, I'm hoping to haul myself a little nearer the close of Part Two of the Great Edit, but I will also be glued to "Ashes to Ashes" on TV. A sequel to the glorious "Life on Mars" with the equally glorious Philip Glennister - what could be nicer? Though I have to admit that yesterday's wonderful shouting match between Cap'n Jack and the adorable Rhys was pretty bloody fantastic. Go, Rhys, go! The self-obsessed old bugger needs taking down a peg or two (hush my mouth!). Oh and I have already completed the Torchwood mission - toute seule. I have nothing to declare except my genius, you know.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing
2. TV
3. Completing my Torchwood mission!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Coffee and launches

Rejoice! Our email seems to be working. Good grief, Carruthers, break out the gin and book the dancing girls. Or nearest equivalent. After spending yet another hour on the phone to BT last night, they finally told poor Lord H that what had been happening was that the BT Yahoo account had unilaterally decided that everything sent into our inboxes was spam and was therefore delivering none of it. Now if only they’d thought to check that before … Still the people were very nice and hey it’s always good to talk. Ho ho.

So now we have access to the Yahoo account and I have rescued my missing emails. Phew! Which apparently means that the system will relearn that they are not spam and will possibly even send them to us. You never know. In the meantime, we know how to access the basic BT system so are able to keep an eye on it. Cue evil laughter …

At work, I’m attempting to keep my head down and not have to think too much. So no change there then. And my Thorn in the Flesh launch chef, Douglas, is already planning the menu for 27 February. It suddenly makes it seem much more real and even exciting (rather than terrifying). Gosh indeed! I’ve warned him about my allergy to crab though – it gives me asthma. My, that would make the launch memorable for sure. But possibly not for the right reasons.

This lunchtime, I’m skipping my Pilates class (naughty me) to have coffee with Sally from Student Advice instead. All very civilised. And tonight, I’m off to a poetry launch for local poet Keith Please’s latest collection, Firestrikes, coincidentally enough also at the Godalming Museum – so I can be underhand and get ideas for my own launch at the same time, aha …

Though I do have to be back in time for “Torchwood” – we have to keep Surrey safe from the alien threat, don’t you know!

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting my email back
2. Coffee with Sally
3. Thinking about the launch.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Training and a scattering of poems

Still no luck on BT mending my home email problem, sigh – no matter who we speak to! Poor Lord H spent 45 minutes on the phone with them before work this morning but they couldn’t solve it. They’re going to look at it today and ring us tonight to discuss the situation. Double sigh – don’t wait up then … Mind you, I doubt that huge numbers of publishers are frantically sending me offer emails or begging me for my next book, so I’m maintaining my inner calm. Ho ho.

At work, I’ve spent the whole day on a training course learning about Embracing Cultural Awareness – sounds very management-y but actually it was really very good. The trainer was great and we had a fun time chatting over loads of issues to do with culture and asking questions and celebrating life. The most fun I’ve had in a training course for a long time, I have to say! Mind you, we were a pretty lively group, so that certainly helped.

I also surprised myself by doing a presentation in the afternoon on behalf of the group I was working with, and actually sounding like a normal human being, rather than a gibbering, blushing idiot (which is my usual presentation style). We were all so relaxed with each other by then that it didn’t feel threatening at all. We had some pretty hot points to make too, hurrah!

And the other lovely thing about these courses with external trainers is they always give you a decent lunch rather than the usual University curly sandwiches. Mmm, bliss.

I managed to write two quick poems during lunch too, one of them including something I’ve learnt today about Sikhism. So there you go – training does sink in on occasion.

Training day break

The space between sessions
is filled with sunlight,
the gliding of pens,
low conversation,
pouring of tea,
quiet breathing, contemplation,

The Five Orthodox Ks of Sikhism

Today I learn about
uncut hair, the small
wooden comb,
steel wristbands, loose
and the sharp and subtle dagger
of life.

So there you go. Tonight, I’ll be popping into see Gladys at hospital in a desperate attempt to manage my hours and then it’s home for pancakes – bliss! Hasn’t Lent come early this year? And I’m planning more editing of The Gifting of course. Last night I managed 10 pages in just under 2 hours, so it’s slowly, oh so slowly here at the coalface …

However there’s good news on the Thorn in the Flesh PR front – Writers’ News are going to add the book information to their Members’ News section in their April edition, so that’s a nice response and might, with a bit of luck, encourage one or two extra sales. You never know!

Today’s nice things:

1. Training
2. Poems
3. Editing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, February 04, 2008

Running to keep up

All hands to the proverbial today as shed-loads of gubbins hit my desk in the last week before my holiday. Bloody hell, isn’t it always the way? It was just one thing after another – actually, no, that might have been nice. It was just the fact that everything came at once which was sending my blood pressure soaring. Big time.

First of all, we’ve decided to create four different groups out of two, so there was a lot of rejigging meetings, putting others on hold, cancelling people and resurrecting them (ah, the power I have here in the workplace, m’dears …). Plus I had to collate information from one set of minutes and put it into another, with a different focus. Joy abounding, eh! Plus I needed to arrange a computer workstation assessment for a new staff member, factor in the sudden realisation that I’m on an all-day training course tomorrow so have even less time than I originally thought of, attempt to look like a normal member of the office whose head isn’t completely in her novel edit, oh and remember to breathe too.


Add to that the fact that my home email has broken and I have missed several important emails since last Wednesday at least, possibly before, and BT don’t seem to want to sort it out (damn them!) – so I am having to deal with some stuff at my work email or hack into my old address, groan. Oh, and my reading glasses broke last night – I was staring at the computer trying to do some PR for Thorn in the Flesh when the frame around my left eye suddenly snapped and the lens fell out. Luckily the rather sharp end of the frame which remained didn’t go into my eye itself. Honestly, you pay all this money and all you get is crap. At least the optician will mend them for free – they ruddy well ought to! So, for a while, I am back to being blurred. Sigh.

Mind you, the good news is that John re-sent me his response to part one of The Gifting as it was one of the emails I hadn’t received – and he appears to like it a lot better now. Double phew! So I shall trudge on with the edit and attempt to get it finished and to him by March. That being the case, I shall – as far as I can – be cancelling as many engagements as possible this week in order to get as much done before our holiday. February might well turn out to be just as busy as January was! And there was I thinking I might be able to ease off a little. Ah well.

Oh, and I really really needed my reflexology session at lunchtime – I felt about 80% more unwired afterwards, and believe me I was pretty wired up when I went in! Emily is a miracle-worker.

And bloody hell but I have to do the shopping tonight. Damn it!

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. John liking the initial stages of The Gifting rewrite
3. Editing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Candlemas and the Torchwood mission

Lord H and I popped along to the Candlemas service at St Mary's today - all very civilised and they did stuff with candles too, which was nice. It doesn't always happen. Lord H lit the one we were sharing and I blew it out the two or three times we had to do the ritualistic candle thing. Well, one has to cater to marital strengths: Lord H is an enabler and I am a destroyer. Naturally.

And talking of marital matters (steady, people, steady ...), we have had our traditional Sunday discussions about whether the glorious liquid we put on our weekly porridge is syrup or treacle. I always say treacle, no matter what the colour, though I do prefer dark treacle (there, you see?!). And Lord H always says syrup as he prefers the golden version. Anyway we have now decided that once again taste and vocabulary simply echo character: Lord H is golden and light; I am dark and punchy. Problem solved - I think!

For the rest of the day, I have been up to my head in editing The Gifting (where for the first time ever you will actually find the edited extract on the site, hurrah. I admit I haven't put the prologue in, but it makes sense to start with Simon for extract purposes, I feel). Today I've written a whole scene for Annyeke and am about to come back to Simon's journey through the Kingdom of the Air. In so doing, I've broken the 140,000 word barrier - but I suspect I will be back below that in my tackle of Chapter Eleven as I plan cuts. Aha! Cuts, people, cuts! So very cleansing, you know. Nurse, the screens ...

You'll also be pleased to hear that Lord H and I have completed our Torchwood mission for this week and Ianto is almost beside himself with joy at our usefulness. I'm particularly chuffed as I actually managed to be of some help this time as Lord H was being way too scientific about the clue and I Googled it and went for the layman's option. Which was right, aha! So we are now on standby for next week's mission with days to spare.

In terms of books, I've just been reading and rereading (in that order) Joseph Hansen's Fadeout and Death Claims - part of his Brandstetter gay PI series. I'd forgotten how bloody good Hansen is with description and what a sharp and imaginative turn of phrase he has. It's a pleasure to read, and I'm also enjoying the general cynicism and wit of Brandstetter himself. I also must admit to having forgotten I'd already read Death Claims as a teenager (Colchester Library was extraordinarily good for gay fiction in the 1970s, for which well done them! It's also where I borrowed the whole of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time from, in completely the wrong order ... ye gods, no wonder I'm confused) - so yesterday I was reading a key scene thinking good grief, has he plagiarised someone for this?? Then it all came flooding back ... doh! I'm going to have a break with a different book though before I read the next two in the Brandstetter series - I've got the complete 12 in one volume. Bloody small print too - thank the Lord for my reading glasses.

Tonight, I'll be having a leisurely stroll through "Larkrise to Candleford" and Monty Don's Gardens (the paper says they're better this week, Irene, so might be worth another try?).

This week's haiku (as my sick friend has them in her garden) is:

Their stiff yellow peaks
push a path through winter air.
Tiny hints of spring.

Today's nice things:

1. Church
2. Writing Annyeke's scene
3. Torchwood fun & games!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Editorial high-fives and a complexity of plot

Spent this morning editing The Gifting, which went something like this:

11am (ok ok, it was really 11.30am but hell I deserve a lie-in sometimes ...): the archetypal Z-list author weeps over her keyboard, sobbing that she'll never be good enough, she doesn't understand her own plotting, she's a hopelessly bad writer and she doesn't remember anything she's written before in the ruddy book so how can she make it all come right now? Ah, same old, same old then ... Lord H stands behind her, massaging her shoulders and moaning in sympathy.

12noon: Z-list author cheers herself up by reading other people's bad reviews on Amazon (and don't tell me you've never done that if you're a writer because I simply won't believe you!).

12.30pm: Miraculously, a piece of the plot suddenly makes sense and I have an editorial high-five moment where I can end a scene on a moment of high-octane drama and action which I haven't seen how to do before. Re-sult! There was a heck of a lot of screaming and cheering going on, and that was just me. Double bloody hurrahs! Naturally I decided to stop it there for a while. I like to quit while I'm ahead.

Anyway, this afternoon, Lord H and I have gone to the Yvonne Arnaud to see Ayckbourn's "A Trip to Scarborough". Completely surreal and utterly complex but actually we thoroughly enjoyed it. Some wonderful comic moments and one or two sad ones too. Honestly, what that playwright can't do with triple and even quadruple plots, all happening at almost the same time, hasn't yet been invented. The man's a genius.

Tonight, I have been glued to "Primeval", which had the toshiest slow-motion ending in history, m'dears. Had the camera speed broken or was the director on drugs?? If not, maybe he should have been ... It's a mystery. Still, it's always a joy to watch Connor and Abby, no matter how much hammy emoting is going on.

I'm also going to squeeze a bit more editing in, but I'm hoping for a relatively early night. Ho ho.

Today's nice things:

1. The editorial high-five moment
2. The theatre
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, February 01, 2008

Exhausted of Godalming ...

Ye gods but I haven't stopped today. Played golf with Marian this morning as she's now returned from her trip to New Zealand - which sounds wonderful and I am hugely jealous! Still, it was lovely to be back on the course again, if only we could say the same about our balls (as it were). Lordy, we were rubbish, but heck we laughed a lot.

I also felt quite touched as Marian said she'd been at the hairdresser's and had overheard one of the other customers chatting about my old church, St Peter's. Marian had asked the lady if she knew me, and found out she did. Said lady (unfortunately - or possibly fortunately! - Marian can't remember the name) made the comment that it was a shame I didn't attend any more and that she didn't know what had happened. Marian replied that she actually did know the reasons but, when asked what they were, commented that it wasn't her place to say. Well, good for you, Marian! I can't exactly explain why, but that made me feel really supported. Marian's right though - if Unknown Church Lady was really so interested, she'd have (like Marian) asked me about it herself. Funny how when the chips are down, you can always rely on a non-churchgoer for friendship. At least that's been my experience.

After golf, I dashed back home for soup, and then dashed out again to visit my sick Guildford friend. She was on good form, I'm glad to say, but things aren't looking quite so rosy as they were last week. Bloody hell though, we'll get through it. It'll just take a bit of time. My next port of call was poor Gladys at the hospital. Quite debilitating today, I'm afraid, and I only stayed five minutes. She obviously didn't want me to be there and I was only making things worse - there was a great deal of shouting and shoving me away. Hell, can't say I blame her though - I often do the same myself!

On the way home, I popped into Godalming, which was strangely quiet on the car accident and abandoned baby front this week. Perhaps the townsfolk have performed all their dramas for 2008 early. One can but hope. I also signed up for the Waterstone's card as I was gathering some books into my ever-growing supply, so I am at last a Real Reader. Hurrah!

Oh, and I must say that last night's play with the adorable Felicity Kendal was most strange. Apart from the adorable F.K. of course. I don't think Coward's "The Vortex" is really one of his best offerings. But it would have been a damn sight better if he'd been bothered to write a final act. It didn't end when it ended - if you see what I mean. What it really needed to turn the damn thing around was (a) the husband and wife coming together with an amusing, sophisticated and united front about her infidelities (b) the lesbian best friend getting together with the housekeeper, and (c) the gay son being taken in hand (as it were - again!) by the old very-much-out-for-the-time friend. Then everyone would have been happy and we could all have driven home with joy in our hearts and a song on our lips. That would have been a vintage Coward indeed.

In the midst of all this, I've even managed to structure the next chapter of The Gifting so at least I know who is telling which part of the story. But I'm getting very twitchy that I haven't actually had the time to dive into it - so hope to do some tonight if I can.

And especially for Irene, I'd like to announce that it's ... um ... lettuce leaf, raw carrot and radish night. With maybe a drop or two of tap water to wash it down. Well, I don't want to get over-excited, you know.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. Novel structuring
3. Being at home this evening - hurrah!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers