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