Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009, hello 2010

Mixed feelings today at the last gasp of 2009. I've been rather upset about yet another rejection of The Gifting, this time from an e-publisher with quite a high profile. Bummer, really. They loved the writing, but hated the multiple viewpoints. Sigh. If anyone out there is keeping count (apart from me, and I have the score lines engraved on my heart like Calais, dammit), that's been a full two years of rejections for that novel, including: 11 mainstream publishers who have never had the simple decency to respond at all, not even to my ex-agent; 24 actual rejections; 3 waiting rejections. Understandably, I am now gearing up to go with Lulu as a self-publishing option next year. I just can't take the knocks. It's too damn agonising. And for that reason, I'm certainly not submitting any of the Gathandrian series to anyone else. Ever again. Best stay in a literary no-go area, self-publish quietly and have done with the damn thing. Ah well.

Anyway, thank God (who I'm not really talking to at the moment, in case anyone - or even the Good Lord himself - is interested), it's not all been weeping and wailing and OCD chocolate eating here in downtown Surrey. There has been some nice book news too this week, hurrah. The Bones of Summer was awarded Mystery Book of the Year 2009 at the Well Read Book Blog. It was also, along with A Dangerous Man, mentioned in the Guest Reviewers' 2009 choices at the Jessewave Book Blog - so many thanks, everyone, for that. In addition, Maloney's Law briefly hit the dizzy heights of Number 18 in the Amazon UK gay fiction charts - well, gosh! - and also gained a very kind 4-star review at the Goodreads site from Feliz. Thank you, Feliz - much appreciated.

And, on the birding front, we've reached the grand total of 159 birds this year - which is one more than we spotted for 2008, hurrah. I'm pleased to be able to say that our last bird spotted was the glorious Red Crested Pochard - which gave me a big thrill as, of course, you can always rely on a redhead to up the ante. Every time.

Anyway, I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and that 2010 brings as many good things to you as it possibly can. Hell, I think we all deserve it.

Anne's website - hoping 2010 will be more of a gifting (ho ho) than 2009 has been

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas List

Hope you've all had a fabulous Christmas - or as near to fabulous as possible! Lord H and I had a very relaxing day on the day itself - we paid our respects at church, ate guinea fowl and mince pies, quaffed a suitable amount of champagne, listened to the Queen (not as good as last year, I fear) and were puzzled by Doctor Who - a horrendously clunky and laughable start, but thankfully it got a bit better. Too much David T (thank goodness he's going!) and John Sims and not enough Catherine Tate is my opinion. Ah well.

Anyway, I'm thrilled to be able to present you with the cover for The Hit List which will be published in eBook version on 28 February 2010 with the paperback following about two or three weeks later by Amber Allure Press. Such a gripping cover - I really love it. The more I look at it, the more it grows on me, which can only be a good thing.

For the rest of the weekend, Lord H and I have been doing a mammoth birdwatching session. Yesterday we spent the day in the London Wetland Centre and upped our bird total by ... er ... one - the common gull, if you're interested. And, yes, we were hugely excited by that. Sad people that we are. Today we have been out to Worthing, Shoreham-by-Sea and Brighton Marina. Though I'm afraid that at no time did I look anything like those 2 blondes in that photo. Thank the Lord. They would never have survived in the weather we're having. Some wildly dramatic seas indeed - we walked along the Eastern wall between the marina and the sea and had to keep dodging the waves that crashed over our heads. Wonderful - such drama. But not enough to sweep us away entirely, which explains this blog. No definite birds, alas - though it's possible we spotted a Mediterranean gull and a shag (as it were). But, weather conditions being what they were, it was jolly hard to say.

This week's haiku:

A swan umbrella
is perfect rain equipment.
White feathers and style.

Anne's website - a veritable Christmas hit

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Here's a nice hot picture to warm you up in this chilly weather - consider it my virtual Christmas present! Not that it's that bad, weather-wise, here at the moment. Thank the Lord. I do so hate ice. At least today, we've just got the rain - though other parts of the country are still having horrendous difficulties.

And it's great to finally be on holiday as the University doesn't open again till 4 January. Is it just me or has December lasted at least 3 months by now? At least the general slowness of time has meant I've been able to get on with writing stuff fairly well. I've now gone through all the minor edits for The Gifting and have only the more major items and a good read-through to tackle. Something to get my teeth into soon, I hope. Other fun writing news is that for a while The Bones of Summer was No 5 in the Amazon UK gay romance charts and I was so astonished that I nearly fell over my own jaw. Or would have done but really my head was way too huge anyway by that time. I'm also happy to say that I've received the final version of A Stranger's Touch from the publisher and I'm really happy with the way it is now. Good editors are utter gold dust, I can tell you.

Meanwhile, I've picked up my new glasses. Um, I don't really like them. Sadly. And it's been making me rather tearful today - though that may be to do with the fact of Christmas as well. I get very shaky at Christmas. I need to put the whole concept out of my head and just think of it as a nice holiday with Lord H and all manner of thing shall be well. As Julian of Norwich would put it. Gawd bless her. Anyway, the glasses are weird - they're variefocal, like my old ones, but the reading gap seems excessively small so I have to keep moving my head or the book to fit all the words on a normal sized page in. Plus the area at the right of my right lens is really rather hazy. Should it be like that?? Plus they're hopeless for the computer, as the distance is too far away for the reading area of the lens (and anyway it's not in the right position), and too near for the distance area to kick in. I'm wearing my old glasses to type this. I think I'll give the new ones a week at home to see if anything changes, plus a week at work and then book another optician's appointment to see if anything can be done. But the thought of spending even more money on them is making me very cross and upset, sigh. I asked Lord H earlier what he'd do if I couldn't see to read or write any more - and he very sweetly said he'd read to me and would take dictation, though he'd have to shut his eyes when it came to typing up my rude stuff. Could be interesting ... Especially as he doesn't touch-type. Ah well. Still, he remains, as always, this year's super-hero.

Anyway, enough moaning from me. I hope you all have a very happy Christmas, and I'll catch up with you soon. Though you might look a bit fuzzy, depending on my specs. Happy Christmas!

Anne's website - going for the impressionistic look ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Gifts

I'm really chuffed with the title of today's blog, I must say. And for a whole variety of reasons. First off, I'm happy to say that Two Christmases has gained another four-star rating at the Goodreads site - so thank you, Devon, for that.

I'm also equally happy to see that Salt and Gold is finally up at Amazon UK and a very reasonable price it is too. Ideal Christmas reading and, astonishingly, it can actually still be with you for Christmas if you purchase today! What could be nicer?...

And, finally on the writing front, I now have the edits back for The Gifting so I'm preparing to get my teeth into those as soon as I can. Funny how I can meander along fairly happily for ages when I'm writing, but edits have to be taken by the scruff of the neck and shaken till they give in as far as I'm concerned. Good to have something to focus on and worry away at over Christmas and New Year.

Meanwhile, goodness me but it's been jolly cold here in the shires. I went up to London after work yesterday to see Jane S-D for dinner & chat (there would have been more of us, but Jane M was snookered by a severe lack of trains from the south, and poor Anne F was ill ...), and had much fun with travel arrangements. Guildford and London seem to be the only places that didn't grind to a halt completely last night - so I was lucky to make it at all! Though I was rather started to hear, as I stood on Guildford station, that Reading was cut off from civilisation in terms of trains, and no buses or taxis were running either. Then later (much later ...), as I waited on the Northern Line platform at Waterloo, the rather charming platform announcer told us that the Northern line northbound trains would run as far as they could and then stop but he couldn't tell where that might be due to adverse weather conditions, and he therefore wished us good luck and God speed. How very courteous indeed. I certainly needed all the God speed I could muster as I slid my way across Trafalgar Square, which appeared to have turned into an ice rink. And I was wearing trainers, so goodness knows how the ladies in high heels were managing. At the end of the night, I came back via the Piccadilly Line - which was lucky as the Northern Line was apparently closed by then. And, strangely, there was once again no snow in Guildford. Perhaps we have become the eye of the storm?

As a final thought for today, Lord H and I have been much amused by a recent cartoon showing the Three Wise Men at the nativity scene. One of them is saying to the other: "Yes, I do happen to think that our journey is absolutely necessary ..." How very apt, on so many levels.

Anne's website: feeling gifted

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Changing Attitude and the last dance

Have been surprised and pleased this morning to see that Maloney's Law was floating around at Number 36 in the Amazon UK gay fiction charts. It's now dropped of course, but it was lovely while it lasted.

I'm also pleased to say that Two Christmases gained another five-star rating at the Goodreads site, which has been another boost. Much-needed as I do find this last run-up to Christmas rather depressing. Echoes of the year is nearly over and what the heck have I done with it?? are flying round my head, dammit. Ah well.

However, keeping on the writing front, I was thrilled to receive a lovely email from my independent editor, Sarah Abel, who is currently editing The Gifting for me ready for self-publication next year. She wrote: "I've read through your manuscript twice now and I just wanted to tell you that I think your story is Amazing! A real page-turner, I didn't want to put it down (the second time through as well!) and I want to know what happens next!! This is a grand tale, richly embroidered with tons of action. Plenty of material for the reader's imagination to work with."

Well, gosh, honestly those few kind words have been making me cry, I have to say. I know I do joke about it to anyone (very few!) who asks, both face to face and online, but that novel and the whole fantasy series I'm currently writing still that stem from it has given me some of my worst and best moments of the last couple of years. There have been moments of writing when I've really been enjoying the whole process of it, but on the other hand the unanimous rejections or complete blanking I've received from both the mainstream fantasy press and the small independent press in the UK and US has been absolutely killing. It's been that, really, which prompted me to give up my agent and to give up any hopes of attempting to get it published in paperback commercially (though there are 2 small epublishers who have as yet not rejected it). I simply couldn't take the knock-backs any more. Especially as I'd hoped all along that this novel might just be the one to bring me somewhere in the orbits of the mainstream press. Well, it hasn't been and that's been an excruciatingly hard lesson to take in. And, yes, I am bitter about it. Very bitter. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. When I started writing fiction in 2000, I gave myself 10 years to try to make some kind of career out of it, and that hasn't happened. Or at least, not in the manner or to the extent I'd hoped for. A bitter pill to swallow indeed. And, in the end, it's been that which has set me back on the self-publication route again. Honestly, it's been as if I'm the only person in the universe who felt there was some glimmer of good writing and good story in The Gifting, and it's lovely that now someone else has bothered to write and tell me it's not crap after all. Thank you, Sarah. It's much appreciated.

Anyway, enough existential sobbing from this particular failing writer - other things in life are just as important as me and my career issues (no! surely not, we cry!). So I've finally had enough with the whole Ugandan anti-LGBT people nightmare and have joined Changing Attitude, a group that exists to support LBGT members of the Anglican church. They are also being proactive in condemning the new Ugandan bill - and it was interesting to see last week the Church Times (a better paper than one would ever expect) in one of their articles liken the Ugandan rhetoric used to support the new anti-homosexuality bill and condemn LGBT people as similar to the language Hitler used to condemn the Jews. They're right too. It's all very worrying. Just because one may not agree with someone's lifestyle or attitude is surely no excuse to sentence them to death or fling them in jail. It's bloody ridiculous. Sigh.

Still, on a less political and serious note, I'm utterly thrilled to see that the lovely Chris & Ola won Strictly Come Dancing. Fab-u-lous, as Craig R-H might say. Double huzzahs and hang out the bunting! I recorded it last night as we were out for dinner with friends (and had a fantastic time, thank you, Liz & John!), so will look forward to basking in the glory later. It will, I hope, ease the incredible pain of losing Terry Wogan on the radio, who broadcast his final breakfast programme on Friday, sob! I'll really, really miss his ease and wit in the mornings. I will, in the interests of fairness, give Chris Evans a try, but I don't think I'm going to like him at all - I never have before ... A lighter sigh.

However, the good news is that the very kind Elly from our poetry course sent me the sound of the closing/opening doors in Star Trek - after I'd said that when I hear them it never fails to make me smile. What a star, thank you, Elly! Here they are. Lovely - what could be nicer?

This week's haiku:

In the snowy wood
a deer carves a graceful way
through mist and bare trees.

Anne's website - let's face the music and dance ...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snow and the mysteries of teeth

A flurry of terror and dread arrived with the flurry of snow this week. How I hate snow. Ye gods, it's what I moved to the south to avoid, isn't it? It was made rather worse yesterday as we had to walk into town in the snow and slush in order to partake of our office Christmas lunch - which was very nice indeed, but I could have done without the chilly journey. And that sense of doom and misery when one's foot starts to slip. And I was the only one wearing trainers too, dammit. Not only that but it was soooo cold when we started the cars in the morning - and foolishly I'd only worn my fingerless gloves so got a telling-off from Lord H - that I lost all sensation in my fingers when I came to finish the ice scraping and actually drive off. Which was fine once I'd worked out how to put on my seatbelt using my teeth and my elbow, but it did mean that every time I tried to put the radio up I just ended up punching the knob with my fist (as it were) and switching it off, as I couldn't make my fingers turn the dial. Double dammit.

Keeping to the subject (sort of) of work, I had a lovely surprise in my last ever session of the University Writers' Group when they presented me with an anthology of their work over the year dedicated to me. I was so touched that I felt quite tearful. It's a great booklet and I think they've all done amazingly well. Hindered and held back by me, that is. So thank you, gang, for that - really appreciated. You've been a wonderful group. Next year, I'm taking a well-earned break and they're sharing the chairing duties between them. I think the shake-up in the format for them all will be fabulous, but I'll still be in the background if they do need any help. Which, I suspect, they won't.

Other exciting writing news is that The Bones of Summer seems to have had a small boost from its recent Rainbow Fiction award placing and gained a rating on Amazon UK for a while. Which was very nice. At the same time, Maloney's Law had a brief flirtation with an Amazon rating, so I'm glad to see the first Paul Maloney book venturing out of its cave, albeit temporarily. And on the subject of Amazon, I complained to them once more this morning about the lack of stock of A Dangerous Man, which has been going on for two months now, and this time I queried whether they're not stocking it because it has gay characters in it, along the lines of the GLBT Amazon PR disaster earlier in the year. This time, I received a nice email back (which for once wasn't the standard response) saying it should be in stock shortly, so we wait and see, eh. I live in hope, but faint hope.

Ooh and I had my first reader response from the lovely Elly from my online poetry group saying she'd read Salt and Gold and had really enjoyed it - so that absolutely made my day. Thank you, Elly! It's lovely to have sold a copy and therefore have a 100% enjoyment response. What could be nicer? And I'm also greatly heartened by the growing number of good reviews and ratings for Two Christmases, both on the Goodreads and the Well Read Bookblog sites. That's been nice too.

Meanwhile I mustn't forget the glorious good news from my online writing friend, Vicki Tyley, whose wonderful novel, Thin Blood, was rated as being a Top 10 E-read recently. Well done, Vicki! It is indeed a great mystery/thriller and I can thoroughly recommend it to you all.

In non-writing news this week, I have - sad to say - finally collected my mouth guard from the dentist, an act that ages me indefinitely (am I really turning into my grandmother? God forbid ...), I fear. I have to wear it at night to stop me from grinding my teeth down to the point of non-existence. Well, I never said I was a relaxed person ... Dentist's classic comment: Anne, you have the strongest jaw I've ever had to treat - which is good news in one way as if you ever fall off a cliff you'll be able to hang onto the rope with your teeth and wait for the helicopter to arrive. Hmm, I'll try to remember that if I'm ever in that position. Anyway, I was hugely embarrassed when I got it home, opened it up and attempted for some considerable time to put the mould in my mouth. Nobody told me I should in fact be wearing the plastic thing that's on the mould - I nearly threw it away!! And at £85, that would be some throw, I can tell you. Lordy, I'm in the wrong job. Anyway, after much tears and grief, I finally resorted to the Internet thingy and realised I should be wearing the plastic, NOT the mould. Doh!! I am so definitely in the running for Idjit of the Year 2009. Sigh. And, yes, the plastic fits perfectly. Slinks away in shame ...

Oh and I only have 3 working days left until the holidays, hurrah, hurrah!

Anne's website - biting off more than she can safely chew, every damn time

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slow Sunday

Not much to report this weekend, I must say. I've spent the whole time indoors, attempting to get well. I think I feel marginally better today, so that's something, hurrah. I've spent a lot of the afternoons over the last three days asleep. Obviously the team awayday on Thursday was rather more traumatic than I'd anticipated, ah well - I blame it for everything, you know ...

However, the good news is that I've reached the 10,000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane and vaguely know where I might be heading in the scene I'm in. Vaguely.

I enjoyed Strictly Come Dancing yesterday - lovely to see Chris & Ola in the final, though I have to admit that actually for the first time I did vote for Ricky & Natalie. On the grounds that it would be supremely unfair if Ricky didn't make the final. I am indeed a Voting Tart.

Apart from that, there's been a hell of a lot of snorting and groaning, and a hell of a lot of Lemsips, Sudafed, Beecham's Flu Plus and my anti-allergy range of tablets have been taken. Shake me and I'd rattle.

Only six more days of work before the Christmas break, hey ho.

Here's this week's haiku:

The dull threat of snow
fills my throat with heaviness.
Winter in the skin.

Anne's website - down but not quite out ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Bones of Summer - prize winning news!

Sorry, it's very rare for me to post two blogs in one day, but I just have to pop in with the news that The Bones of Summer has just been awarded third prize in the Rainbow Mystery Fiction 2009 awards. Well, gosh! That's really made my day - and a big thank you to organiser, Elisa Rolle, and all the judges. Who can probably hear the sound of exciting screaming all the way from Surrey ...

Anne's website - extraordinarily happy today!

Christmas fizz!

I'm really pleased to say that the new version of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice, with its totally lovely new cover (thanks, Nell!), is now available at Amazon UK.

You can also find it at Amazon US and - if you're so inclined - in Kindle version also.

What could be nicer? Enjoy!

Anne's website - totally in the pink

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Intermittent torch mysteries and the joys of Sky

Having another rough day, my dears - where the hell are those smelling salts?? I think half the world's catarrh is actually living in my throat, dammit (sorry, too much information. Way, way too much ...). Sorry. Suffice it to say that I am smearing my throat with castor oil and snorting for Britain. Mmm, lovely.

All of which probably isn't helped by having spent today at the departmental away day. I was dreading it, I have to admit, but it wasn't so bad really. Such events always make me feel exceptionally bitter and twisted, and I snipe bitterly at anyone who endeavours to drag me kicking and screaming to the Waters of Strategic Thinking - in fact I probably over-sniped at the start of the day and secretly wrote myself out a big yellow post-it saying Remember: Keep My Mouth Shut, which I stuck to the front of my file. I don't think anyone noticed. And it's better than being sacked, ho hum. However, I think I did actually manage to say a couple of things that sounded vaguely strategic and might even have been useful - the boss looked quite impressed at one point - so I had a chocolate cake at teatime to reward myself. Plus I've probably infected the whole of the student care team with my current disease, so apologies in advance ... And I seem to have come away with a hell of a lot of post-it notes and marker pens, so my evening will no doubt fly by.

Yesterday's excitement, mind you, has been the highlight of our week - a nice little man came by and installed a satellite dish on our flat roof that you actually can't see (thank the Lord), so we now have digital channels, non-fuzzy TV and Channel 5. Channel 5, my dears - the thrill of it all! And we appear to be able to watch one thing and record another, and we also have the ability to stop time by turning back real-life TV. How the hell does that work, eh???! It's all too much for us really, but is making us feel wonderfully modern. Though Lord H did say that, now we have everything in super-sharp focus, he did notice that the cast of Friends weren't quite as gorgeous as we've all been thinking they were. Ah well - perhaps a little impressionism is good for us all.

Talking of technology, we are having great trouble with our new torch, which we bought at the weekend. We couldn't make the dang thing work, so I took it back to the shop yesterday and of course the bloke behind the services desk switches it on and it all works perfectly. So I rush home in acute embarrassment at my complete failure to make a torch work and ... yes, you've guessed it ... it doesn't work any more. Deep deep sigh. Perhaps it doesn't like our new satellite dish? Or it doesn't work in blocks of flats which have more than three floors?? The mystery thickens, and we are indeed still in the dark. Or we would be if Lord H hadn't found the old torch we thought we'd lost (are you keeping up with this?) in the car yesterday. That's working. Or maybe we'll just switch a light on. There's a solution.

Oh, and I've had my first reflexology session with a new therapist in Godalming as unfortunately the University aren't providing that any more (shame, we cry!) - however, Alison (the new girl) seems to be lovely and I've booked another appointment for the New Year. I was so relaxed at yesterday's session that I even fell asleep. Bliss.

In terms of writing news, my review of Damon Galgut's magnificent novel, The Impostor, is now up at Vulpes Libris - I can thoroughly recommend anything that Galgut writes really. If he published his shopping list, I'd probably buy it. I'm also very happy to say that Two Christmases is getting good ratings and reviews at the Goodreads site, so thank you for that. It's really cheering me up in between snorting sessions.

And I've sent back the first round of edits for A Stranger's Touch to the editor and am waiting for the second round to come back. It's all go here in the shires, you know!

Anne's website - getting the Christmas illness over with now, I hope ...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Free short story - Two Christmases!

Just popping in to say that you can win a free copy of my m/m short story Two Christmases here as long as you make a comment in the comments field today! Go for it ... and may the best man or woman win!

Anne's website - full of surprises

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Book of the Year and Sick Sunday

Once again a busy few days to catch up on. I'm pleased to say that I'm now at the 8,000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane, and already in the middle of a death scene (whose, I'm not saying) - though I must admit I'm not writing in linear order. Linear writing is so last year, ho ho ...

In other writing news, I'm pleased to say that my first reader for short story, Two Christmases, has enjoyed it (thank you, Sarah!) and particularly commented on the voice of my main character, Danny. I fear Danny's voice is still echoing in my head so there may be more to come from him. You never know. It's also great that Elly, one of my poetry course colleagues, has bought the first copy of Salt and Gold, so I'm hugely grateful for that. Thank you, Elly! I was starting to worry that the sum total of my sales for that one would be zero. Arrgghh!! Now, only another 10 copies to sell and I'll have beaten my run for previous poetry book, A Stranger's Table - though I fear if I get to double figures a second time in my poetry sales, my place as Worst Selling Poet in the History of Time will, alas, be irretrievably lost. Ah well.

And Amazon US are finally selling copies of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice in its brand-new cover, which you can find here. And I was equally happy to see The Bones of Summer was for a short time at Number 82 in the Amazon US gay fiction charts this morning (sadly, now no more ...), well gosh. Thank you, kind buyer, whoever you are - and I do hope you enjoy the read!

Finally, to cap all this literary excitement, you can find my personal Book of the Year choice here. It's a damn classy read, so do pop in, find out what it is and give it a go. I can thoroughly recommend it!

Ooh and I mustn't forget that the lovely Shanta Everington has an article on the pleasures and pains of writing (with some input from me - thanks, Shanta - but let's hope none of my church contacts are reading this!) which you can find here. Another read I'm sure you'll enjoy.

In the non-writing world (which still exists somewhere in my head, I'm sure), I played some rather chilly and very bad golf on Friday - so bad that Marian actually won, shock horror! The only high point for me was chipping in from off the green on the 4th. Result! Sadly downhill from there, I fear - my attempts at second shots were just shameful. Still, at least while I was playing, the boys from the club cleaned my car inside and out so I am now wonderfully sparkly and new, hurrah.

Yesterday, we spent a wonderful day with Peter & Sue - a surprise visitation for Peter's birthday - happy birthday, Peter! - and had a lovely time wandering around Polesdon Lacey, plus an excellent lunch. We also managed to squeeze in a smidgeon of birdwatching and caught sight of a fieldfare - our first of this year, double hurrahs. I was starting to wonder if we'd see any at all, so am glad to be proved wrong.

Sadly though, Lord H was as sick as a dog yesterday, and has passed on the marital illness to me today, so we are all snorting like dying horses and and quaffing the Lemsips and Lucozade. What a jolly Sunday indeed - I just hope we didn't infect anyone yesterday ... Not a birthday gift anyone would want, I fear. Keep taking the Vitamin C is what I advise.

This week's haiku is:

Grey heron rises,
legs trailing slow promises
and one dancing fish.

Anne Brooke - where books are guaranteed infection-free

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Herons and poetry

Having something of a down day today, so bear with me. I've taken two calming pills and am hoping it's the hormones. I keep getting all tearful for no real reason, sigh ... Ah well, no change there then. I blame it on the flow writing I started doing today - which is basically when you start writing and just jot down whatever comes up without thinking about it. Actually I found the whole exercise quite upsetting really - perhaps you have to be strong to do this kind of thing? Or maybe it just needs getting used to. I'm doing it as preparation that's been suggested in my new online poetry course that starts in January. They've also given us a sneak preview of the homework for Weeks 1 and 2, so I've been fiddling around with surreal poetry games and childhood memories. Something of a tricksy combination then ...

Oh, and here's the poem I've been discussing in this week's poetry group. It's a series of linked haikus:


First of all, seek this:
absence in your outward breath,
a folded wingtip

waiting for the sun.
The silken silence of air
dances on your skin

and you fall, dreaming,
into soft pathway shadows.
Stars and still music.

On the plus side, I've been contacted by my editor for A Stranger's Touch so I'm looking forward to working with her to get that story ready for publication. At the same time - deep, deep sigh - the contract for The Hit List that I sent off on Monday has been delivered back to me as the ruddy UK post office can't understand the concept of "To" and "From" on the address label. When I've stopped being upset and tearful about it, I imagine I'll find it funny. I'm just odd about contracts - once I've signed them, I want them to wing their way back to the publisher, not come limping home to me. I shall ask Lord H to take it in tomorrow and see if they'll try delivering it to the correct people this time. Hey ho.

Yesterday, I walked round campus and was treated to the magical sight of a grey heron on the side of the pond. Quite close too. As it was raining, I was the only person there, which was great. I watched it for a while and, after it flew off, a rather large fish began to jump out of the pond almost as if it was dancing. All very strange. There are sharks in them thar waters, you know.

Meanwhile, today I've had a glorious Clarins massage from the stand-in therapist (my usual one is off sick, poor thing). All incredibly relaxing. I even tried to do some clothes shopping afterwards, but just couldn't bear it once I'd walked into a shop. So had to walk out again. I don't know what it is - but I can't seem to buy any new clothes at the moment. Every time I try, I am overcome by despair and panic. Lord knows what's going on in my head - but if you see a spaced-out woman wandering round the streets looking distinctly threadbare, that'll be me. Please offer me a blanket and send me home.

Anne's website - envious of fish and herons who don't need clothes ...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Two Christmases

I'm very pleased to say that my GLBT short story, Two Christmases is now published and can be purchased at Dreamspinner Press. You can find out more and even view a brief slideshow at my website.

I hope you enjoy the read!

Other good news today is that at work the Personal Tutors' Handbooks (now renamed to be Supporting Students: a Handbook for Staff) have finally been delivered, hurrah! So we are living surrounded by boxes and the only job I have left to do is send them out. Anyone got any envelopes?

Anne's website - where one Christmas may well be enough ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mistletoe Madness and the joys of serin

A veritable sack of goodies to catch up on as we finally arrive at Advent (well, it starts officially today, really). First off, Dreamspinner Press have the last couple of days of huge discounts on the Mistletoe Madness Christmas Anthology, so now is the time to buy if you were planning to. You can find out more about the included stories here, one of which is my own Two Christmases. These will be available for individual purchase from December too, so I'm looking forward to that.

Keeping to the writing news for a while, I'm very happy that The Bones of Summer managed an Amazon UK placing in GLBT fiction which it even held onto for a day or so, so that was very satisfying. At the same time it gained a five-star review at Goodreads, so thanks for that, Kassa! Much appreciated.

Meanwhile, Maloney's Law also managed to get into the giddy heights of an Amazon UK placement for a while, and if you've forgotten what the main themes of that one are, here's the book trailer to remind you. An advent gift indeed. At the same time, I've passed the 5000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane so am, as they say, on the road to somewhere. My new character there is Jemelda, the Lammas Lord's cook and she certainly packs a punch. I'm loving her.

Out in the real world, I'm thrilled to say that Lord H and I have finally spotted a serin and what a gorgeous little bird it is too. Here's a lovely picture of one which was kindly sent to me in celebration of our wonderful birding achievement by Elly. Thanks, Elly!

Oh, and wasn't Chris & Ola's Charleston on Strictly just the best dance of the night? I loved it! In case you missed it or want to revisit its utter delights, here it is again. Just wonderful. And so very them.

This week's haiku:

When considering
Christmas, I find I prefer
Advent's subtlety.

Anne Brooke - creating some mistletoe madness of her own

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The pain of thanksgiving

First of all, I must wish all our US friends and contacts a very happy Thanksgiving Day - hope it's all going swimmingly for you. Here at the other side of the water, however, I fear I have been overtaken by a determined wave of period pain (garrrgggghhh ....) so my day of pootling about and novel-writing has turned into a day of rolling around on the bed clutching a hot water bottle, groaning and blinking myopically at the TV. Loose Women was much-needed - aren't they always?... It's a long while since I've had a bout like that - I hope it doesn't mean I'm going back to the old and rather nasty days, as I thought my various operations, pill cocktails and New Age remedies had got the whole dang thing under control. Deep sigh. Or maybe it's the onset of those menopausal years? Ah, Lordy, even deeper sigh. Hey ho, what fun life is.

Anyway, the good news is that I'm feeling much better now and have even eaten some lunch. Still feel utterly shattered and as if I've been put through a mangle twice, but hell that's how I usually feel after a normal day, so no difference there then. I really must get rid of that pesky mangle.

More interesting things that have happened this week are that I've sent in Thorn in the Flesh to Lulu Books ready for republishing that one. I hope it will be fully on the online markets again next year, but really with Amazon, who can tell? They're not known for speed. Have also enjoyed my online poetry course on Wednesday. We had to write a poem which included the Ted Hughes' line: Not a leaf flinched, nobody smiled. Here's my effort:


I carried the darkness on my skin
down to the lake where the air was still.
Not a leaf flinched, nobody smiled
and the swans sailed by as I took my fill

of the deepest blue in the water’s calm.
I gazed at the point where the elements meet –
the pond and the breeze, the flood and the wind,
decisions that lapped at the path by my feet.

When the sky darkened, I drifted away
back to the place where the people are bright.
But a smile is only one kind of truth
and I hold in my heart the knowledge of night.

It's amazing what a depressed lunch-hour slumped on a bench at the University lake will do for you really, and Lordy but some days are like that. I'm also surprised by how much I enjoyed working with a rhyme scheme. Not something I do often, but the course is taking me to places I hadn't anticipated on visiting, and that can only be a good thing.

I've also finally finished my book trailer for A Stranger's Touch, but I've decided not to upload it anywhere until after Christmas, as the book isn't due to be published till the middle of January. So I fear you'll have to wait. All I can say is I'm very pleased with the pictures and music I've managed to find, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

I've also been musing on the terrible scenarios in flood-devastated Cumbria - I can't imagine what people must be going through up there and - though it's useless to say - really my every good wish goes out to them. I'm also shocked by the fact that the Government isn't going to be able to mend any of the ruined bridges until Christmas. What the hell sort of a country are we living in??? Lord H says why on earth don't they ask the army to fix the bridges - after all the Royal Engineers can run one up in 18 minutes in a warzone whilst under fire, and their bridges can take the weight of several tanks. It seems like the ideal solution to me, but perhaps the ruddy red tape is just too much for us all these days?? Bureaucracy is truly the death of action.

Meanwhile, back on safer land, I fear that Strictly Come Dancing is buckling under the weight of all those leg & foot injuries. Is it something they're putting in their coffee? Really, this series - despite the joys of the lovely Chris & Ola - is becoming something of a disaster zone in itself ...

Anne Brooke - mangled, mean and magnificent

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Stranger's Touch and The Executioner's Cane

Well, gosh, it's been a wild weekend for writing news, I can tell you! Where do I start?? First off, I have a brand-new web page for my upcoming short story, A Stranger's Touch, plus an extract from the beginning. It's due out in eBook version on 24 January 2010, so should warm the chilly New Year, I hope. Here's the glorious cover art provided by Amber Quill Press:

Ain't it grand? I am soooo pleased with it I am virtually frothing at the mouth (hell, what an unpleasant image ...). Huge thanks to Trace Edward Zaber who produced it! Here's the blurb:

Male prostitute, Red, is given an assignment by his pimp and lover, Robbie, with a very unusual client. Red meets the stranger in a darkened house in London and, during their sessions, he learns more than he ever knew about lust, love and his own personal history. How will his curious and life-enhancing encounters with the stranger affect his relationship with Robbie and his clients, and can love ever be part of a hooker's life at all?

Equally fabulous news is that Amber Quill Press have accepted The Hit List for eBook and paperback publication in Spring 2010, hurrah! Still frothing at the mouth then - sorry ... So I've updated my web page here. No cover art as yet, but I'm very much looking forward to what Trace will come up with.

Finally, on the writing front, I've added in a new web page for The Executioner's Cane, together with an extract, so I'm on the way with that one at last. Hurrah!

Phew! Can the weekend actually get any better? All I really need is for someone to say yes to The Gifting, for Waterstone's to ring me up begging me to do a signing for them (as if ...), and for Mondays to be cancelled everywhere, and my happiness would be complete. Keep wishing, eh.

Earlier in the week, Lord H and I also popped over to the dreaded Car Parking Hell that is Woking and saw Matthew Bourne's latest ballet, Dorian Gray. Hmm. All very clever, but not a patch on the joys and heartfelt emotions of the male Swan Lake, which has to be Bourne's best ballet yet. Heck, I could watch that one loads of times and never get bored. For this one, I thought there wasn't enough colour on the stage or indeed plot, though the dancing was magnificent. You can't ever emulate Wilde's magnificent prose in a non-writing format really. If you see what I mean. And I actually did find myself wishing the menfolk would put some clothes on and stop simulating sex on stage quite so much - they must have been freezing, poor things, and it was putting me off my mint choc ice. The aircon in the theatre packs one hell of a punch. Am I turning into my grandmother after all?? God forbid.

And, mixing religion with sex (as ever), Lord H and I have had great fun sorting out the post-church coffees this morning. Ah, if only they knew what I'd been up to during the week in terms of literary and dramatic eroticism, perhaps they wouldn't be quite so keen on having us smiling like little devils at the back, eh. Oh well.

Anne's website - where sex and religion meet together

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Full steam ahead and the breakfast sonnet

My review on Thomas Keneally's The People's Train (he also wrote Schindler's Ark) is now up at Vulpes Libris. A challenging journey indeed ...

In other writing news, I'm pleased to say that the lovely people on my online writing course seemed to have enjoyed my attempt at the sonnet form, though I fear it carries a hint of desperation in its innards. Here it is:

The Struggling Sonneteer

All through breakfast I try to rhyme
but cereals are not known for verse.
The sonnet mountain’s too hard to climb
and this first stanza could not be worse.

At lunch a sandwich fires the brain –
there’s much that is soothing in tuna and bread
but nothing inspires this second quatrain
and my poetic heart is full of dread.

Finally dinner arrives on the table;
pizza and ice cream’s a culinary bliss.
But the poem befits neither fact nor fable
and a glug of wine simply tells me this:

that the sonnet form is not my friend,
but look! At last we’ve reached the end.

Ah well. I fear it's not Shakespeare, but then nothing ever is, eh. I also see that the Poetry School are doing another online course starting in January which looks very interesting, so I might well sign up for that if there's space, even though it's on a Monday. And, as you know, Mondays are Not My Best Day.

I'm also pleased to say that my contract for A Stranger's Touch from Amber Quill Press arrived yesterday, so I've signed a copy and sent it back to them today (or at least Lord H is doing the actual sending, Gawd bless him). And I've even remembered to include a copy of my US tax form details in the package - Lordy, how efficient I am, ho ho. I must also say I'm hugely impressed with their professionalism and efficiency - they even included an addressed envelope for me to use, which has never happened before. I felt bizarrely touched by that. Which probably just goes to show what a Sad Desperate Writer I really am. But, hell, you knew that.

Other hot news is that I've written the first 1000 words of The Executioner's Cane (Part Three in the Gathandrian Trilogy, for those at the back not paying attention) and am happy with the current direction it's travelling in. So far. I think this one's going to have a fair amount about fathers in it - both Ralph and Simon have difficult relationships with their absent fathers. Of course I can sympathise with that issue (though one cannot blame one's parent for dying, I suppose), which is why I imagine quite a few of my novels have fathers in them. There you go. I am just writing myself over and over again. Dammit.

Oh, and the big excitement of the day is that I scored 10 out of 10 in the Strictly Come Dancing quiz. 10 out of 10!!! I can't believe how very very happy I am about it. It's the best thing that's happened all week! Lordy but I'm sad.

Anne's sad life can be found in all its glory here

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fashionable, sporty or chilled?

Amidst a rather better day at work today (and at least no-one was bitchy to me, well hurrah, captain, and put out the ruddy bunting, eh ...), I have been trying to arrange my annual eye appointment. Since last year it's all gone more modern and now the Godalming optician circles appear to be bookable via the internet. Naturally, given the chance to avoid speaking to anyone at all, I will choose that route, so I spent a relatively happy ten minutes finding my store and picking a time. However, I fear it's not that simple, oh no. Gone are the days when you could just admit your name and select a slot. Now, my dears, you have to answer questions on your lifestyle and the lifestyle of your glasses before you even get to the calendar questions. However, none of the choices relate to me at all, and I fear I had to make a decision between whether I and my specs are (a) fashionable, (b) sporty, or (c) chilled. Strangely there's no option for bag-lady with an attitude problem - so much for widening participation then. I also find it strange that the glasses have a section of their own, so you can be sporty and they can be fashionable, and so on. Perhaps it's a way of separating the misfits amongst us?

Anyway, after much consideration, my glasses and I decided we are both chilled, even though it's fairly obvious that I am probably the most strung-out person in the universe, as the other options were even more ridiculous. I wait to see now whether my appointment will be confirmed. In the meantime, Lord H wonders whether this new approach will also affect the eye test itself and whether I will have to stare myopically at smaller and smaller pictures of beer bottles, sofas and televisions and see if I recognise them (substitute Armani and Farhi designs for the Fashionable set, and football club managers for the Sporty people) until my brain explodes ... We wait and see.

In the meantime, here's a calming poetry book with a pleasingly large font (ideal for Christmas): Salt and Gold.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speaking Her Mind and other matters

Goodness me, what a stormy day it is here in southern England - I hope you're all surviving the experience and keeping dry. I was foolish enough to venture out this morning for a paper and some lunch, and everyone seemed very bad-tempered. Must be the wind. As it were. I came home all peculiar and had to have chocolate to cheer up. Not much change there then.

Anyway, to provide a moment of warmth and cheer in the midst of all this weather gloom, I'm pleased to say that my romantic short story, Speaking Her Mind, can now be read at the Chick Lit Review. Which just goes to show that I do have lighter moods on occasions.

Also, much to my surprise, I've written the first 500 words (including an ending I might even be happy with when I finally arrive there ...) of the final part in my Gathandrian trilogy. The working title is The Executioner's Cane, but I'll have to see if that stays or not. It's hard to tell at this stage. Anyway, it's a surprise to have started as I was planning not to even touch the beast until January, but Simon and Ralph have been snipping away at my head and I have finally given in to them. Never say I'm in control of the writing game, because I am most definitely not.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday delights and sandpiper porn

The holiday was great - the weather was kind and I loved it. The only slight problem was that for some reason I was sick as a dog the first night so was up for most of it. Unfamiliar bathrooms are never pleasant when you're ill. Still, at least I got a lot of the puzzles in my Puzzler magazine done. How I love puzzles.

We also managed to see several new birds including a glorious great white egret which was absolutely stunning, twite, Dartford warblers (which we've been chasing for a while) and bearded tits (firsts for this year only). Ooh, and today we popped over to Staines and caught a brief glimpse of the brown shrike currently staying there, so that was fun. Less fun was the appalling amounts of mud there is all over the place - thank the Lord for Wellington boots, eh ...

Quirky thing of the week: Lord H was reading through the latest copy of one of the birding magazines, who are having a big focus on encouraging sandpipers to breed more effectively. Husband is therefore now musing on what, exactly, sandpiper porn might be. Best not to go there really.

And on my return, I see that my short story, Speaking Her Mind, has been accepted for publication by the Chick Lit Review, and new e-publisher, Untreed Reads, is very interested in my literary short, How to Eat Fruit. So that all looks hopeful. Less hopeful is I've had my first rejection for the much-revised version of The Hit List, from a publisher who says my hero Jamie isn't terribly nice at the start. Well, he's a hell of a lot nicer than he was in the original, I can tell you, and with the amount of personal stress he's under at the beginning, I'm rather surprised he hasn't lost his temper with a lot more people, really. Is it just me or are GLBT heroes getting way too wimpy for words these days?? Anyone who'd like a kick-ass but basically kind-hearted GLBT hero with balls (as it were), please apply here. In the meantime, I've submitted it to a couple of other places, and we wait and see.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Champagne and Gold

I'm really pleased to say that Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is now available with its brand-new cover at Lulu Books. It should fairly shortly be available at Amazon and other online book stores too, so I'll let you know when that happens.

In the meantime, I'm also very happy to say that Salt and Gold - which is a collection of the first forty of my meditation poems - is now available at Amazon US as well as at Lulu Books. Ideal Christmas presents for all the family indeed ...

I've also finished the final read-through of Thorn in the Flesh, ready for Lulu Books, but I'll worry about that when we're back from our holiday, I think. No point getting over-excited now.

Other news for these last few days is that Lord H and I thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful production of Jenufa at Woking last night. It's a veritable plum of an opera, and includes dead babies, domestic violence, murder, love, hate and an incredible scene of forgiveness and hope at the end which gets me every single time I see it. Plus it has the dream role of Laca, the unloved brother who's in love with Jenufa and has this astonishing journey of growth and maturity to take during the performance. He's the man in the photo in the link. He was bloody good in the role, I must say too. Wonderful. Honestly, I could see that opera every single day and there'd always be something gut-punchingly good about it.

The only problem was attempting to get out of the car park in Woking afterwards. They have this new system that means you can prepay so you don't have to queue with a million other opera-goers after the performance to get your ticket stamped. We've done this once before with no problems, but what we hadn't realised is that there are 2 pay bands depending on whether you get there before or after 7pm. It doesn't say anything on the machines about this, dammit, and neither does it give you a choice of payment. So, you've guessed it - we arrived before 7pm, and then at the barriers at 10.30pm the bloody things wouldn't let us out. There were about 12 cars behind us getting angrier and angrier, but nowhere to reverse to as there were no gaps. Groan. Added to this the fact that we were in 2 cars, so once we'd contacted the little man at the end of the Help button and persuaded him to let Lord H out, we then had to go through the whole ruddy rigmarole again in order for me to make my escape. I swear, I was within seconds of being torn limb from limb by angry car parkers. It puts poor Jenufa's problems entirely into perspective, though of course I would have been more than happy to throw a few dead babies into the baying crowds to fend them off, I can tell you ...

Oh, and some lovely person has knocked my driver's side wing mirror console off - though thankfully the glass is still intact, so that's another job to do for after the hols. £100 is what it's going to cost me - hell, I'm in the wrong business for sure. So currently, I have a car with a limp, poor thing. But hey ho and never mind - Lord H and I will be at the Westleton Crown in Suffolk for the next few days, so frankly my dears, right now, I don't give a damn. Bring on the rain and the birds! Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Unexpected Recommendation and Amazon difficulties

I was delighted to see yesterday that A Dangerous Man is one of the Recommended Reads for November on the Jessewave Review site – thank you so much. That’s cheered me greatly! Mind you, I’m rather miffed that Amazon UK are still insisting that the book is temporarily out of stock even though my publisher tells me that’s not true. Is it because it’s GLBT fiction and from a British publisher, I ask myself??... Heck, let’s not go there again, Amazon, eh. Not if we can help it … So if you do want to purchase a copy, or even find out more information, then at the moment it’s best to buy directly from Flame Books. Deep Amazon sigh.

I’m also pleased to say that Maloney’s Law and The Bones of Summer have both been given a five-star rating on Goodreads by a reader called Pushubuu. Thank you indeed!

In the meantime, I’m mulling over ideas for a review on Thomas Keneally’s new novel, The People’s Train, for Vulpes Libris. All I’ll say at the moment is goodness me, but it’s a heck of a long train journey and I’m really not sure about the quality of the stock it’s using. At the same time, I’m giving a final read through to Thorn in the Flesh to get it ready for going through the Lulu self-publication process, and the proof copy of the new Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is apparently winging its way to me even as I type. UK postal service willing, eh …

Anyway, in case you thought my life was now being consumed by books and writing (as if ...), I must say I really enjoyed yesterday’s drama on TV about Winston Churchill, “Into the Storm”. Great stuff about a great, but difficult man – which is of course the best sort of man really.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Surreal thoughts on death and other matters

Well, it's finally happened and Gladys died yesterday. An event waiting to happen for a long, long time, in my opinion. More shocking to note, possibly, is that all I can feel about it is a mild relief and the thought that I won't have to schedule in my weekly twenty minute silent visit to her any more. Which, I have to say, is more than anything a scathing revelation of my sadly lacking sense of humanity. I've been told already by well-meaning friends what a shame it was for "poor Gladys". Yes, well, it's a pitiful end to a life - I don't think dying in a nursing home in the grip of a terrible depression is anyone's idea of a good ending - but I have to say I'm glad it's over. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't.

What's focusing my mind most of all is (a) the nagging worry that in forty years' time (assuming I get that long), it's going to be me. Well, like Gladys, I'm child-free from choice and with very distant family - though in my case that's emotionally and not necessarily geographically. Frankly, I can't imagine anything worse than dying with my blood relatives around me. God forbid. I haven't been that greatly impressed with the sum of them during life, so what on earth would I want with them in the dying process? Oh, and (b) no matter how much I try to reassure myself from a Christian perspective, I have to admit I'm not at all enamoured of the thought of the afterlife. Really, I just don't want to go there. I don't like change and Heaven, should it exist, seems crowded with people - two of my worse-case scenarios indeed. I'd far rather - if I have to think about death at all - be somewhere nice and quiet with Lord H and not have to worry about anyone else. That would be Heaven indeed. Much like being at home then.

Anyway, things I remember best about Gladys and I think are important to note, both bad and good, are: (a) I have to admit I didn't like her that much, though in some respects I admired her and was also, at times, sorry for her; (b) she could be quite cutting about aspects of my appearance (never great at the best of times) when she wanted to be (hence the (a) note); (c) she and her late husband Charlie stole the frogspawn from their landlord's garden when they left the flat they were in to move to Godalming, and I thought that was hellishly stylish - it always made me smile; (d) she and Charlie used to go on a lot of serious walking holidays all over Europe when they were young and once had a sing-song with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears on a cruise ship round the ship's piano. Totally magical indeed. Oh, and (e) she generally disliked children - which, naturally, I thought was wonderful.


Friday, October 30, 2009

GLBT Rainbow fiction award

Just a quick note to say that, much to my astonishment, The Bones of Summer is a Jury's Choice finalist in the Mystery/Thriller section of the new GLBT fiction Rainbow awards and you can see me on the list here.

Well, gosh, eh! That's certainly put a smile on this screwed-up, mood-swing obsessed author's face ...

I've also managed to complete my latest GLBT short story, Airheads and Angels, and send it off to Dreamspinner Press for consideration for their upcoming A Brush of Wings anthology. Unusually, it's a comedy. I'd almost forgotten I could even do comedy. And heck, I know I'm hugely early with submissions, but that's what a secretarial background does for you. Hey ho.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Amber Quill author and a hundred uses for a milk frother

I'm very happy to say that my GLBT erotic short story, A Stranger's Touch, has been accepted for publication by Amber Quill Press, and is lined up in their schedules for next January or February, at the moment of typing. I'm hugely pleased to be a new member of the Amber Quill team, as it's so nice to have another avenue for submissions, and also lovely to get that particular story out there. It's one I'm actually quite happy with.

Other exciting news for today is that I have a brand-new milk frother, which (hurrah! hurrah!) gives me access to cappuccinos whenever I want them. And ... um ... looks fairly rude too, I have to say. Do I feel another story idea coming on?? God forbid ...

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Champers cover

Here's a sneak preview of the new Pink Champagne and Apple Juice cover:

I hope you like it. I certainly do. Huge thanks to artist Penelope Cline who created it, as she also created the covers for A Dangerous Man and Thorn in the Flesh. So a very talented woman indeed!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, October 22, 2009

India 2010 Charity Biking Event

A couple of our local Surrey businessmen are strapping their leathers on (oo-err, missus ...) and biking in India in order to raise money for charity. You can find out more about the whole enterprise here, and you can also see what Flavia of Strictly Come Dancing has donated to the 12 November Charity Auction! Will she be able to dance again, I wonder?...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

New historical fiction: A Small Betrayal

Just popping in to say that the first edition of new historical fiction journal, Lacuna, includes my story A Small Betrayal.

I do hope you enjoy the read.

On a personal note, I think I'm slowly getting back to something approaching normal (ho ho) after the horrors of early October, but I'm attempting to take it easy (as if ...).

Hope all well with everyone in the virtual world!


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Taking a break ...

A quick blog tonight to say that I'm taking a short break from blogging. Well, it's been very busy, and the year so far has been sometimes great and sometimes very difficult, so I thought I deserved a rest!

Hope you all continue well, and will catch up with you later.

Anne's Website

Monday, October 05, 2009

Information Point revisited

Up early again today as we were staffing the last Information Point for the morning as it’s the first day of term. Lots of confusion about timetables, where rooms were and also where people could get water. It’s a good question. To be honest, I didn’t feel that good, and was rather overwhelmed and shaky with it all. I’m not sure I was coping as well as last week really – the adrenalin wasn’t seeing me through, and it all felt rather hopeless and exhausting.

I was also looking forward to a much-needed reflexology appointment at lunchtime, but poor Emily’s car broke down so we’ve rearranged for next week. I just worked through lunch instead – dealing with the 53 emails in my inbox since Thursday and finally (at last!) getting the first draft of the minutes out for a meeting I had on 9 September. Which must surely be the longest ever time between a meeting and its corresponding notes. At least in Anne's World.

Still, I felt I managed to sort out some actual student queries, including taking two lovely students down to the Security office for their car permits as they’d been sent all round the houses and had been wandering about for hours, poor things. I think if I’d simply pointed and sent them away again, they might well have torn me limb from limb, and who can blame them? Thankfully, they’re now on their way to getting a permit, hurrah. And were smiling when I left them. My job here is done, Carruthers …

And now we’re also plunging into the arrangements for the poetry reading event on 27 October with Charles Christian (hello, Charles!), so I must remember to get my Literature Head on at some point. Hopefully soon. Oh, and book a restaurant for that evening – provided that the English Department can work out how many people will be going, that is. Apart from me and Charles. In which case my advice is: Run, Charles, run for the hills …

Tonight, I’m shopping at Tesco so will miss Claudia on It Takes Two, groan. (Update: Lord H videoed it for me - what a hero!). And I’m hoping to see yesterday’s video of Part One of Emma at some point. Lordy, but I deserve it. I’m not sure I’m up to any editing though. Not tonight. Oh and I've cancelled a social arrangement with Pauline on Sunday as I'm doing the Open Day on Saturday and I just need to not see anyone for a day (sorry, Pauline ...) - hope to reschedule soon.

Today’s nice things:

1. Making two students happy (Lordy, but I’m good)
2. Still having a Literature Head at all, after last week
3. TV.

Anne's Website
Sexy Scavengers Book Competition

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Church, chilling and Champers

Here's today's poem:

Meditation 232

There’s an awful lot
of travel
in the early church

so it’s obvious
that sainthood
would never have suited me

at all.

Church today was okay - quite a good sermon about relationships really - but we had one of those horrid dirge-like hymns I can't stand for the third hymn. Groan. Way too many verses in "Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us" for my liking and there's no plotline to it, Carruthers. Dull, dull, dull - as Craig Revel-Horwood would say. Mind you, I had fun watching the server attempting to subtly fish a fly out of the communion cup with his special holy napkin before we all queued up for the extra protein today. Never mind swine flu - what about fly flu, eh? When it was my turn, I made a quick inspection to see if it was still there and took a sip between terrifyingly closed lips just in case. Ah, the pains and perils of church indeed. Talking of which, I have cracked and put Lord H's and my names down for coffee rota duties towards the end of November. I hope it won't be the slippery slope of commitment. Lord knows I don't want to go there again. Though I'm determined to start the Cake Wars - our cake offering will have to set a new standard that the following rota person won't be able to keep up with, and then with any luck they won't ask us again. Aha!

Oh and further communion confusion has sadly arisen as our female vicar decided to say everyone's names while giving us the bread today. Now, the First Thing they should teach you in Vicar School is never to do that, as a terrible error will no doubt ensue. Which it did - as the server who was following on with the wine (plus dead fly ...) didn't quite hear what she called Lord H and so decided to say in ringing tones, "The Blood of Christ, Peter" when Lord H came to the wine. Lord H (whose name isn't Peter, by the way) wonders if he is now taking communion on behalf of another person called Peter along the lines of ancient orthodox tradition, or if he is simply doomed always to be known as Peter in this particular church. He's also wondering whether he should take Mexican nationality and change his name to Jesus, because then the server could say with confidence and some theological accuracy, "The Blood of Christ, Jesus". Ah, decisions, decisions. Really, I'd much rather be known as Algernon and Fatima, as I've always wanted to hear the words, "The Blood of Christ, Fatima" said in church. Alas, I may have to wait some time.

Meanwhile, I'm getting on with the edits for The Hit List, which is turning out to be more strongly romantic and with less described sex than I'd anticipated. Something of a surprise then, but I have to do what the characters say and they know best. If only I'd listened to them both in the first place, The Hit List might have been rather better rather sooner. Still, at least there's some hope now that I'll get it to where I want it to be. One day.

I've also asked the lovely Penelope Cline for a new cover for Pink Champagne and Apple Juice in preparation for self-publishing it in paperback via Lulu. Penelope did the fantastic covers for A Dangerous Man and Thorn in the Flesh - so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what she will come up with. Thanks, Penelope!

Finally on the book front, I'm pleased to say that The Bones of Summer appears in the lists for the new Rainbow Awards for Mystery/Thriller Fiction - under List 4, and might even have garnered one or two votes already - so thank you for that indeed! There are some good books there so do pop along and have a browse. You can even add your own choices if you can't find anything you like.

Tonight, I'll be videoing the first part of Emma on TV, as there's something on about Pompeii on the other side, so we really must watch that. Ooh, and I caught up with a double bill of Ugly Betty this afternoon, hurrah! Here's this week's haiku:

Trio of balloons
sets the sky afloat: blue-grey
messengers of dusk.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Church
3. Editing The Hit List
4. New Champers cover
5. The Bones of Summer award listing
6. TV
7. Haikus.

Anne's website
Sexy Scavengers October book competition

Saturday, October 03, 2009

On the trail of the glossy ibis ...

Up at the crack of dawn today (lucky dawn ...) as Lord H and I were on the trail of the glossy ibis. Five of which had been spotted during the week in Dungeness RSPB reserve. We didn't manage to spot any at first, though we were compensated somewhat by a marsh harrier, black-tailed godwits and sanderlings, as well as a host of coots. Towards the end of our day, Lord H checked his iphone and apparently the ibises were being seen at the hide we'd first been into. So we hot-footed it back and were just in time to see them before they flew off. Caught in the nick of time, eh. We then attempted to follow them but the views we had the second time were much more distant. Here's a lovely view of one of them anyway. Ain't that just gorgeous?

Back home, we are preparing ourselves for the delights of Strictly Come Dancing, and I can't wait (sadly ...) for tonight's show. Ah, the glitter and the glam - we Essex Gals just can't get enough of that sort of thing.

On literary matters though, I was pleased to see that A Dangerous Man had a brief flurry of interest earlier this morning at Amazon UK and was low down in the GLBT bestsellers stakes for a while - which I think meant someone bought a copy. So thank you hugely, Mr/Ms Someone, and I do hope you enjoy the read. Since then, however, I've drifted back to the bottom of the barrel again - in oh so many ways.

I've also had a lovely email from a lady called Denise from the Philippines (hello, Denise!) saying she's been interested in my books since reading the reviews of Maloney's Law, and has now bought The Bones of Summer in eBook version, and hopes to buy the eBook of Thorn in the Flesh soon. Thanks so much, Denise - that's really made my day. Interestingly, however (and actually I'm beginning to get several similar requests from a variety of sources), she was keen for Maloney's Law and A Dangerous Man to be out in eBook as it's easier to read them in that format where she lives. I'm certainly keen for both these books to be electronically available too, and am working on it as best I can, with the help of one of my publishers. Watch this space ...

Today's nice things:

1. Birds
2. Glossy ibises
3. TV
4. Readers interested in my books - thank you!

Anne Brooke
Sexy Scavengers competition Day Three

Friday, October 02, 2009

Golf, haircuts and Hit Lists

Is it Friday already? Well golly gosh indeed. Here's today's poem:

Meditation 231

While one man
betrays his town

to a bloody death,
another is lowered

from a city wall
in a basket

and creeps away
into night.

Perhaps it’s better
to be a woman after all.

Managed to play some pretty dire golf again today, but thankfully it wasn't as bad as last week. If I could only try to remember to hit the ball with the clubhead rather than with that funny sticky thing, I think everything would be a damn sight better. Ho hum. Mind you, both Marian and I ended on a rather triumphant par, so honour was satisfied. Partially.

And there's good news on the hair length front: my hairdresser has been trying to get my hair to be the same length all the way round rather than in layers for months and months and today we feel we've finally arrived at those dizzy heights, hurrah! Right now, I look quite presentable, though I fear it will not last. Experience dictates this ...

Meanwhile, I attempted to release some of the tension I've gathered during the week at my Alexander Technique lesson - really, I do make the tutor work for the wages. This week coming I have to focus on having a floaty head and breathing with my back. Ye gods, anything could happen, but it makes some sort of sense. Honest.

And I've been busy with the edits to The Hit List. And still enjoying it too. It's odd how that novel has been the one I hate to remember, but when I actually look at it seriously it's not that bad. Yes, I need to kick the crime section into touch, and bring out the romance which is, in my opinion, what the book is really about - but in some ways it feels as if it's always been there. Waiting for me to get down to this edit, I suppose. Maybe I just didn't have the confidence before.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Golf
3. Haircuts
4. Alexander Technique
5. Editing The Hit List.

Anne Brooke
Sexy Scavengers Competition - book prizes galore!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Salt, Gold and Sexy Scavengers

I'm pleased to say that the revised version of Salt and Gold is now available from the Lulu store at a very reasonable price, if anyone is so tempted. I'm hoping it will also be available on Amazon at some point, but I'll let you know when that transpires. And if they allow it.

Speaking of which, here's today's poem:

Meditation 230

Sometimes blindness
leads to sight

and palm trees
to iron chariots.

Everything that is
contains its opposite

twin and is as fluid
as the ungraspable air.

Have had a lovely morning today - my first port of call was a glorious back and facial massage with Alice, the Clarins gal. My, how I've needed that this week - the thought of it has been keeping me going through the start of the week for sure. After that I also met Jane H (hello, Jane!) for lunch and a catch-up, which was totally lovely. Really, I should do more of this Lady of Leisure stuff - I think it suits me.

On the way back, I popped into the doctor's to pick up my latest prescriptions, but only one of them was in store - so I have a fresh supply of nasal spray (hurrah! Breathing is sooo useful ...), but have to go back tomorrow for my HRT packages. And it's such a nightmare to park at the surgery at the moment too as they appear to be rebuilding it from scratch. The poor pharmacy lady has to ply her trade from what is little more than a Portaloo.

Anyway, this afternoon, I have been updating my website with the latest poetry news, and creating mini-sites for Salt and Gold - as above - and also for A Stranger's Table. I'm pleased that both my extant poetry collections now have their own separate worlds, however tiny.

I've also been continuing the edit to The Hit List, and am now on page 200, which is about two-thirds through. It's a real slow-burn romance, that one, but I like it and it seems right for the angsts and uncertainties of the two men involved. They'll get there. They're just taking their time.

Tonight, I'm looking forward to It Takes Two, with Claudia, and - are the rumours true? - is Boris Johnson in EastEnders?? Now there's something I really have to watch. But, my goodness, soon we won't be able to tell real life and fantasy life apart at all ...

Finally, and very excitingly, I've been included in the Dark Divas Sexy Scavengers October competition and there are a multitude of book prizes to win (including one of my own books). So do pop along and enter. The deadline is (of course!) Halloween. Good luck!

Today's nice things:

1. The revised Salt and Gold collection
2. Poetry
3. Clarins massage
4. Lunch with Jane
5. Website
6. A Stranger's Table having its own small page
7. Editing The Hit List
8. TV
9. The Sexy Scavengers competition.

Anne Brooke
Sexy Scavengers - the place to be

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Freshers' Week Day Three

Shattered today, and I can't really form a reasonable sentence, so here are today's notable things in no noticeable order:

1. It was busier at the Information Point than yesterday, but not as busy as Monday (thank the Lord)
2. I should have got to bed earlier last night and I would have coped better
3. One of the students thought the Students' Union event planner was a boardgame - but he might have an idea there. Why isn't it a boardgame?
4. Halfway through the day, some of the female dance students (at least one assumes it was them ...) began to walk in very peculiar ways in very high heels in front of us. Presumably as part of their training? It was ever so slightly spooky ... Are we in the Twilight Zone?
5. We shut up shop early afternoon as Freshers' Fayre was on and nobody was interested in facts any more
6. The boss bought chocolate cake and Ruth made chocolate brownies for an afternoon party
7. The campus water supply went terribly terribly wrong and there was no water for most of the afternoon. At all.
8. One of my postgraduate talk presenters didn't turn up to a talk I'd scheduled for them as they "hadn't realised it was important". Gaarrgghh. The PG department concerned wasn't happy, understandably. I was upset as that particular department is very nice and we let them down. Groan.
9. The boss has had a promotion (well done hugely, David!) and is now Director of Student Care Services, rather than just Head of same. We are all therefore more important by proxy, hurrah. Well, one can hope, eh ...
10. I was so tired that I fell asleep the moment I got home and am now feeling extremely disorientated.
11. I'm glad my Freshers' Week is over, but I think we've done some worthwhile work.
12. I'm feeling disheartened by writing, but same old, same old, really.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Two of Freshers' Week

Slightly better today, though still busy, and questions asked at my Information Point table tended to come in waves rather than full on as yesterday. I even managed to get back to the office for an hour during the day to catch up with email, while my team of voluntary staff held the fort which was good. And the day was shorter too - in at 8.15am and ending at 5.30pm, hurrah.

Also am more able to carry on conversations with people who aren't students today as well - I had so many Fresher questions yesterday that the ability to communicate with or even think about anyone else utterly left me. Ruth found the same on her Information Point table too (in another building). Plus I fitted in two Starbucks runs for my little team, so that cheered us all greatly.

Today there were lots and lots of questions about where the University Hall was (where registration takes place) and also where the big Lecture Theatre was (known as the Griffiths Theatre), as there was a lot going on there today. I felt like an air stewardess saying over and over again (whilst pointing): to get to the University Hall, you go here, then here and then here, or to get to the Griffiths Theatre you go here and here. In case of difficulty, your oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Try to breathe normally. No, I didn't actually say that last one. Honest. After a while, those of us behind the IP table got into a routine of pointing and chanting, depending on which direction people wanted, and at one stage I got a wave of hysteria and collapsed into giggles whilst pointing. I think the student got the message though as they headed off in the right direction. Phew.

At home, I was explaining that my whole day had basically consisted of lots of smiling and saying: Turn left for the University Hall; right for the Griffiths Theatre; turn right for the Griffiths Theatre; turn left for the University Hall; turn right into the Griffiths Hall; don't be left behind in the University Theatre; have you found the Theatre Hall?; keep an eye out for the University Griffin. And so on and so on. Lord H suggested that I should have added: when you return to your room, the University Griffin will be waiting for you. Prepare to die. But I feel he might not have fully grasped the niceties of customer service. Ah well.

Anyway, it's good to be home. I popped in to see Gladys on the way but she was very tired, so I just sat with her for a while. Managed to catch It Takes Two with Claudia on TV, which makes me feel as if I'm more into a normal routine again, hurrah. And later on it's The Fixer. I might just manage to keep awake for it. You never know.

Today's nice things:

1. Two Starbucks runs
2. Air stewardess training
3. The unexpected birth of the University Griffin
4. TV.

Anne Brooke - feeling more human today
Thorn in the Flesh - for the darker secrets of University staff ...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freshers' Week Day One


Up at 6am. In office at 7.45am. At Information Point from 8am. 5 minute lunch. Packed up at 4.15pm. Back to office. Worked on admin until 6.15pm. Shattered.

That's it really.

Anne Brooke - the one with no brain left
The Bones of Summer - about two men who didn't go to University (phew!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wisley, sculpture and chilling

Am making the most of the day before the onslaught of Freshers' Week next week. Honestly it's been really great today that I haven't had to talk to anyone apart from Lord H. Bliss. Here's today's poem:

Meditation 229

Water and prayer
quench the dry land’s thirst

and wash sin away.
If only

you could bottle both.

So we've had a delightful amble through the joys of Wisley, which included the excitements of the Sculpture Trail that was today's special event. I particularly thrilled to the glorious sculpture of different sized fish on bicycles. Called Cycling School, it was utterly delightful and a work of genius perfectly placed. Wonderful. Here's a link to a photograph of it. Ain't that magical?... And here's a link to the sculptor - some fabulous pieces there too. Anyway, we had lunch out at the Wisley cafe, which was very pleasant though it did appear that the staff were on a go-slow in terms of collecting up dirty plates. We suspect the scary manager isn't on today - every other time we've been there, the clearing up has been astonishingly good and the moment a table is vacated, it's cleared and wiped down for the next people. As it should be really. Today, the system was something of a mess. Ah well.

This afternoon, I've had a much-needed nap - heck, I need all the strength I can get for the week to come, I fear. Later, we'll be looking at holidays (hurrah!) and I'll probably do some more editing to The Hit List. Robert is looking sultry and mysterious. Always get your characters to play to their strengths, eh. And there's sod-all on TV, sigh.

I've also enjoyed Mary Beard's Pompeii, which is a non-fiction study of that tragic town. Very interesting indeed, though I did feel it was rather too heavy in places. But a highly useful manual if you're intending to visit, which we are, at some point.

Here's this week's rather sparse haiku:

Nothing in my head
this week is worth the paper
I scribble it on.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Wisley
3. Sculptures
4. Napping
5. Editing The Hit List
6. Books
7. Haikus.

Anne Brooke - something of a fish on a bicycle herself
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice - ideal Sunday drinking