Sunday, August 29, 2010

House news and the vanishing Kindle

Life News:

Great imminent joy afoot in the House Department, you'll be glad to hear - it's possible that we may have an exchange date of next Thursday, with a completion date two weeks from that. At least that's what we're aiming for but, what with the bank holiday, we have yet to have that confirmed by the vendors. I'm hoping that will be okay though, as I'd ideally like to be in our new expanded house by the middle of September. Watch this space ...

Whilst waiting for all that to go through (we hope!), there's more exciting news on the Amazon Kindle front - they attempted to deliver it yesterday but we were out so I know it exists somewhere in the hemisphere and is attempting to reach me, hurrah. I imagine they'll try to deliver again on Tuesday, by which time I'll be at work, so I'm planning to ring them up early then and see if I can collect it from the despatch point in Guildford after work. I can't wait!

And I'm back at my Alexander Technique lessons - they've been off for the summer as my tutor broke her foot, poor thing, but she's well enough to restart now, so I hope my terribly stiff neck might be sorted out soon. Double hurrahs if that's the case indeed.

Yesterday, we spent a day at Mother's (hence the inability to receive my Kindle), and today we popped into the Benefice Communion service as Church returns to its routine after the usual C of E August shennanigans (sp?). Much amusement at the start of the service when the lady vicar forgot her glasses and was making please lend me some glasses signs behind the altar plus lots of giggling. Thankfully someone in the congregation swiped his wife's glasses (I assume he had permission but really who's to say ...!) and leapt into the breach. I think said wife then borrowed someone else's and so it went on. Heck we all know the service by now so we really don't need to see the words ...

Meanwhile, at The Bemused Gardener, I am bamboozled by compost and tomatoes. Probably not in that order.

Book News:

I'm happy to see that four of my short stories are in the Waterstone's Top 10 e-short stories list, so that's nice. And The Delaneys and Me managed to get to No 32 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, but has now dropped out entirely.

I was pleased however that Angels and Airheads gained a nice review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so thank you for that.

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 412
When preparing for war
the voice of God

sent everyone home
unbloodied and whole;

if only today
some brave politician

would stand and proclaim
a similar goal.

Meditation 413
God is so distant

that only the thought
of gold

can act as a substitute
for love.

Meditation 414
The old paths
are not the best ones

retrace your steps
another way.

This week's haiku is:

The garden rises
in my dreams: green and haunting,
whispering of leaves.

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cats, cars and creativity

Book News:

During the week, The Delaneys and Me fluttered up and down the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, managing as high as No 20 at one point, though it's not there now. It also gained a 4-star review at the I Love Books blog - many thanks, Lily.

Creative Accountancy for Beginners also briefly reached the dizzy heights of No 5 in the Omnlit Bestsellers chart but, again, it's not there now. Ah, these swift moments of writing glory make up for the dull trudging and very rain-filled days, you know ... Would that there were more of them (the moments, not the rain!) ... You can also find all my available ebooks half-price at the WH Smith's sale - you'll need to type in my name in the search field for real shopping enjoyment, ho ho.

At Vulpes Libris, you can read my review of Anne Tyler's Celestial Navigation - a magnificent and quietly lyrical novel, but oh so devastating. And, meanwhile, Amazon have sent me the leather cover for my Kindle in what they blithely call "frustration-free packaging". Arrgghh!!!! I had to rip it apart with my bare hands and a pair of scissors, whilst cursing. Weirdly another Amazon package was delivered later on without frustration-free packaging and that was far easier to open, deep deep sigh. However, the main thing is I am now the proud owner of a Kindle case, but there's no ruddy Kindle. Where's my Kindle, Mr Amazon??? You promised it at the end of August, but now the expected delivery date has vanished from my account and my friends tell me it's only going to be in the UK at the end of September. I am not happy. Really, you should have emailed me to explain ... Another sigh. I hope it's here by Christmas. Christmas 2010, that is.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 409
A cloak torn
into a perfect dozen

indicates power
of a sort

for two
and a cold winter

for one.

Meditation 410
After the drama
and crowded muddle
of forty powerful years

the cool simplicity
and spacious places
of death.

Meditation 411
So many arguments,
threats, violence,
demand and counter-demand,

death and shouting
and only God
is silent.

Life News:

Well, this appears to be the week when everyone gets bizarrely riled up by the video footage of a woman putting a cat in a wheelie bin. Um, sorry but it really doesn't bother me that much. It's a cat. Not a baby or a small child or indeed any kind of human, which would of course be terrible. But I can't really get excited about a cat. I hasten to add I do like cats (though not dogs) and have in the past had two of my own, one of whom I would happily on occasions have put into a bin if I'd ever been able to catch up with the beast, Gawd bless 'er. And I suspect my neighbours might have helped me! But really, it's just an animal, and (again, sorry ...) not as important as a person, to my mind. Then again, I was brought up in a farming community and animals are what you eventually kill to eat, aren't they? I do however think it's truly despicable that the unfortunate woman's pesky neighbours were stupid (or cruel) enough to put the video on the Internet. How mean and over-the-top (and anyway, what sort of people actually video their neighbours on a security camera??? Hell, I wouldn't want them to live near me - God knows what they'd find out!!). They should simply have spoken privately to the cat-in-bin woman, asked for an apology, received one graciously, plus a promise for her not to do it again, and that would have been fine. Perhaps though they should have been added to the bin with their wretched cat? Which apparently isn't that bright, but probably brighter than its owners who, to my mind, come out of this far worse.

Anyway, apart from thinking cat-in-bin woman should not have apologised to the general public for what isn't after all a crime, and should in fact have brazened it out with threats to put more irritating animals in bins for each death-threat(!) she's received, here's my list of what I'd put in a wheelie bin if given the chance. Feel free to think of your own!

1. Dogs (especially golden labradors - I can't stand 'em)
2. Junket (look it up if you need to but, trust me, it's vile)
3. The evil person who invented a phone system where you have to go through a series of hoops and pressing of numbers before you can even speak to someone.
4. Call centres.
5. The really horrible and downright vicious Satan-kitten I looked after once in Kent for a work colleague on hols during an utterly hellish week, and which terrified me, my two cats, the postman, my lodger, and the friend who came round to laugh at us all, and which I would gladly give to cat-in-bin woman to dispose of as she wished. Even now.
6. The person who abandoned their really ugly car outside our flat four months ago (unlocked if anyone would like to steal it - please?) and which has been messing up our parking arrangements ever since.
7. JRR Tolkien (behold the Land of Tosh ...)
8. Lloyds Bank.
9. People who fail to spell my name correctly no matter how much I say it's Anne-with-an-e. Anne. How hard is it to remember, people??
10. Mondays.

Gosh, that was cathartic - I feel cleansed, my dears, cleansed. Thank goodness the house only has three wheelie bins to its name. Though I suspect they're all full now ...

But, to put all this media-hype and lunacy into perspective, let's not forget that there are a million other things other than poor cat-in-bin woman to get angry or upset about, such as the poor miners in Chile, God bless them, and the flooding in Pakistan. Not to mention the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and the genuine slavery and sex-trafficking going on every ruddy second in this country. Now that's real news, deserving of our censure and action ...

However, to end on a brighter note (hurrah!), I have thoroughly enjoyed my Clarins massage today and I am now chilled, calm and normal. Well, almost, eh. And I mustn't forget that at The Bemused Gardener blogspot I have been discovering new plants where I least expected them, the joys of tea on the lawn and poisons from Portugal. What fun!

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Teas and twins

Book News:

The Delaneys and Me has had a good week, with being back in the Amazon charts at No 56, though it's dropped a little now. At Goodreads, it also gained a 4-star review from Lily (thanks, Lily), and a 5-star review from Ken (thanks, Ken).

I've also finished editing The Prayer Seeker and have added an extract to its new webpage. I'm now going to get it professionally edited as usual and see what happens from there. As a result, that particular online journal has now been removed. In its place are The Bemused Gardener journals where the plot (ho ho) thickens as we struggle to identify our mystery tree ...

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 407
When finding an excuse
for abandoning God

foreigners and women
get the blame.

Odd how today
when things go wrong

our choice of scapegoat
is just the same.

Meditation 408
A passing impression
of burying the dead
he helped to kill

then a cloud of words,
a hint of evil
and the air is still.

This week's haiku is:

Beyond the dark clouds
of midnight and silent skies,
the stars still glimmer.

Life News:

We had great fun at Glyndebourne last night and thoroughly enjoyed our revisiting of The Rake's Progress - the black-and-white sepia scene was stunning, and Anne Trulove was very very good indeed. This time we had a proper tea first and then wandered round the garden for ideas during the long interval instead of eating then, but I must say that the tea was fabulous. They're using a new local tea company called Pure Fresh Tea and the choices were great. Lord K had Black Lavender (a palatable version of Earl Grey that even I liked) and I revelled in Golden Flowers (peppermint, chamomile and marigold) - will definitely be buying some of that in the very near future. Oh look, I've ordered already! Really, I have no control, but hey you knew that.

Thinking of our potential garden (see above), we've measured it more thoroughly today and it's 52' wide and 40' long, which is larger than we anticipated really, well gosh.

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Of beetles and bemusement

Book News:

I've sent the final edits for Tommy's Blind Date back to the publisher, so am now waiting for the galley proofs to come back for a look through. At the same time, I'm continuing the edits of The Prayer Seeker's Journal so will be adding no more to that blog as it stands. I will also be taking it down at the weekend, I think.

Meanwhile, my review of Ned Beauman's novel, Boxer, Beetle, is now up at Vulpes Libris. It's a brilliant and bizarre book let down by a bumblingly bad blurb. Which is a shame, but I hope you enjoyed the alliteration in my last sentence anyway. I certainly did.

Here's this week's meditation poetry:

Meditation 405
Spices, jewels,
gold and the beginnings
of wisdom

warm the air
and bring forth truth
from the heart tonight.

Meditation 406
If I had
all the money
in the world

I probably wouldn’t buy
weapons, spices,
horses or mules

but for wisdom’s taste
and song
there’s no true accounting.

Life News:

I've started a new gardening blog, called The Bemused Gardener, which will explain the joys and horrors faced by Lord K and myself, beginner gardeners extraordinaire. Or potentially so at least. Nope, we've no real idea what we're doing either, but that's never stopped us before, hey ho. It's probably a consolation prize for myself for ending the prayer blog (see above), as I am after all a glutton for punishment.

While I'm on the subject of nature's bounty, it's glorious to see that the first of the English apples are in the shops at last, hurrah! How the smell of them takes me right back to my father's apple farm in rural Essex and that enormous cold-store. Astonishingly, it's Tesco who's won the battle to bring the firstfruits in this time, as usually it's Waitrose, so well done, Mr Tesco. They're great stuff too - Discoveries and they smell like heaven, just like an apple should.

I'm also feeling much better, health-wise, and actually like a real person, rather than simply a huge and sniffly nose on legs. Hmm, nice image, eh. That said, the doctor has just rung up today to check that I do want the referral to the Guildford specialist, and yes I do, as per the other consultant, so at least that's going forward now, hurrah.

I must also say how much Lord K and I have enjoyed the lamentably few episodes of Sherlock which have graced our TV screens for the last three Sundays. Bliss - more please, and soon. I particularly loved the portrayal of Moriarty, but Lord K says that's because I simply can't resist a depiction of male psychotic lunacy contained by intellectual strength. My response was only to agree, and it's precisely why I married him in the first place. He muttered something in turn about me being the female version of that (which is no doubt why we're so well suited), but I fear I am in fact far worse: the lovely Ruth G (formerly of the University chaplaincy but now moved on to bigger and better things) told me only yesterday that she did realise I wasn't actually the Anti-christ, but if I chose to be she thought I'm make a really really good job of it. My, how we laughed, slightly hysterically I admit, but we did laugh. Good to know I may at last have found my ideal career path after all these years - I wonder what the vicar will say ...

Anne Brooke
The Bemused Gardener

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Holidays and haikus

Life News:

We had a totally lovely time with the Egypt Gang oop north (hello, all, and thank you again!) and catching up was as grand as ever. The only problem was that I spent the whole weekend and indeed the rest of this week being not very well at all, so I hope nobody else has caught what I've had - keep taking the tablets ... Lord K and I then moved a little further south to County Durham and spent a few days at a hotel before coming home. I must say the hotel was rather too Fawlty Towers than was good for it but the food was good and the staff meant well so all was not lost. I did spent a lot of time asleep and/or using up the whole of the UK tissue supply blowing my nose so I can't really say it was the best holiday ever but the weekend with The Gang made it all worthwhile, hurrah! Am definitely not looking forward to the return to work though - I could do with another week's holiday, sickness-free indeed.

Book News:

I have a new webpage for upcoming gay short story, Tommy's Blind Date, which is due out from Amber Allure Press on 12 September.

Meanwhile, the guns are pointing in my directions with tricky reviews here and here - obviously no-one like male hookers or wolves, but sorry for the trauma, Hayley ... Martin and The Wolf did slightly redeem itself however with a 4-star review at Goodreads - many thanks, Ami. In addition, Painting from Life gained its second 5-star review at Amazon US.

I'm also happy to note that during the week (though they're not there now), Maloney's Law unexpectedly found itself in the Top 100 Gay Books at Amazon UK, whilst The Bones of Summer was No 74 in the Amazon UK Gay Erotica charts, well gosh. Not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me came back in at No 39 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts and, to my astonishment, three of my Untreed Reads stories were in the Waterstone's Short Stories Top 10 chart, although one of them got a 1-star review (which is much like being blooded at the hunt ...), but you'll have to click on the link to find out which one. I do rather enjoy these 1-star ratings - it's always better to be hated than tolerated, as my grandmother used to say.

There's been one new poem this week:

The thing seen
stands for absence
in grey and blue:

part blemish
part blessing
understood by you.

And two haikus:

The north swallows us:
skies of brindled blue and grey,
the woodlands' dark song.

Alnwick Garden
Poison infiltrates
my skin: henbane, rosemary,
wormwood and willow.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bitchy women and difficult men

Book News:

Angels and Airheads is now available for sale at All Romance Ebooks and, talking of sales, Untreed Reads are offering a 29% discount on ALL their titles for today only if you put HAPPYBIRTHDAYPC in as a discount code at checkout, so click here for a fabulous shopping experience.

I'm happy to note that Creative Accountancy for Beginners is No 10 on the Omnilit ebooks bestseller charts, well gosh, so a big thank you to those of you who've bought that one. Speaking of chart placings, The Delaneys and Me is back, after a brief holiday, into the Amazon Gay Fiction charts and is currently lying at No 59. I'm also thrilled to say that Martin and The Wolf has been chosen as one of the Recommended July Reads at Jessewave Reviews, so thank you, Wave, for that!

Also, to my surprise as at heart I'm a glass-half-empty sort of person, The Girl in the Painting appears to be selling well in the UK, so that's lovely to know. Another thank you to those readers out there. And yet another thank you, this time to Charles for his mention of Sunday Haiku at the ever-popular and very classy Ink Sweat & Tears webzine. (Apologies if that last link doesn't work, as Blogger doesn't seem to like it no matter what I do, sigh, but it is there, honest!...)

In addition, I've finished the first draft of my online novella, The Prayer Seeker's Journal, which has come in at about 45,000 words. So I'll start editing that when we're back from our holiday. Weirdly, I've started writing a story with a child who can't speak as a main character, so Lord alone knows where that's going. I'm calling it The Origami Nun - a title inspired by Ruth G at work. I can see the whole story in my head right now, which never happens. Is it my age? Or am I being switched with my far nicer twin after all these years?? Who can tell ...

Meanwhile at Vulpes Libris, my review of Suzannah Dunn's The Confession of Katherine Howard takes a look at bitchy women and difficult men, Tudor-style. I am of course an expert in the former (from self-knowledge, naturally) and have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the latter, ho ho.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 403
All the cedar,
pine and gold
in the world

cannot ease the bitterness
of counting everything
as evil.

Meditation 404
The great temple
was built
not just by Solomon’s
godly obedience

but by the blood
and sweat
of the men he forced
to die for it.

Life News:

Work's been really tricky this week and, once again, I seem to have been at odds with the world, alas. So yes it probably is me. I am naturally angry all the time, sigh. Anyway, I ended up yesterday evening at home sobbing like a baby about it all whilst Lord K attempted to provide sustenance and support, bless him. Surely the change in my HRT regime can't have kicked in quite so soon?? Lord preserve us. Soon I will be wailing and screaming at least once a day while I wait for the menopause to arrive. Hey ho. Again.

Mind you, I think I've been leading up to another bout of nasty catarrh illness as I'm as sick as the proverbial today, a state made rather worse by being able to grab only a couple of hours' sleep last night. Why can't the TV channels have nice light comedies on during the very early mornings when we sick people of Britain actually need them? I'm thinking of writing a letter of complaint along these lines as I don't want politics, news, rampant naughtiness or murders when I'm feeling that delicate. I really don't understand why the programmers can't see that ...

What with all that, I looked like a zombie that had seen better days a long long time ago by the time the real morning was here - so thank goodness Lord K was on hand to deal with the mortgage surveyor who arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8.30am to give his verdict on the flat below. So I think we've done everything that we need to do to ease the buying process along and all we have to do now is wait for the various reports to arrive, and take stock at that point.

So far today then, I have been enjoying a diet of Lucozade, Lemsips, Sudafed, Vitamin C pills and allergy relief pills, together with lots of castor oil rubbed on to my neck to ease the breathing process - so never say I don't know how to enjoy myself. I ought to have some food later on, really, but with this old familiar monster (catarrh, not me - oh, on second thoughts, maybe me too ...) there's no point rushing it as it's over only when it says it is.

I have managed to do some packing though, trailing my boxes of tissues with me - as tomorrow Lord K and I are off to see the Egypt Group of friends (ie friends we met in Egypt - how good at titles I am!) oop north for the weekend and then we're spending a few days in Northumbria. I hope I don't spread too much disease along with southern largesse and style (if I had any), but I would advise avoiding any of the service stations on the A1 tomorrow as you are likely to meet me doing something unspeakable with castor oil on the way and looking unbearably slimy. What joy for you!

However, to take our minds off that frightening picture, Lord K has now put pictures of the Seville festival on his website, so enjoy the colour and true spectacle that only Spanish senoritas can provide.

See you next week - hope you all have a good (and healthy) one!

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Royalties, rifles and reviews

Book news:

I'm frankly astonished to find out that my royalties this quarter from Amber Allure Press are one-third up on what they were last quarter, well gosh. Perhaps I'm not doing quite so badly after all, then. Does this justify raising my status from Z-list author to Y-list author? Who can tell ...

Not only that but sales of The Bones of Summer in paperback have actually risen since last quarter also, though ebook sales are alas down. It's all something of a mystery, much like the book itself. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me reached No 12 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, a fact that caused me to have to lie down in a darkened room whilst hyperventilating for a while, though it's fallen somewhat now.

Speaking of Amazon, new in the Kindle this week is The Boilerman and The Bride, and good grief but some kind soul must have bought a copy as it actually has a rating - thank you, kind buyer! Also new at Kindle is Tuluscan Six and The Time Circle, and this also now appears at All Romance Ebooks. I'm also very pleased to say that The Girl in the Painting is on sale at Rainbow eBooks, and that Creative Accountancy for Beginners is mentioned at Spalding's Racket - thanks, Nick.

Turning to future and hoped-for future publications, I'm thrilled to see that A Dangerous Man is now up at the front page of Cheyenne Publishing, noted as Coming in October - so that's getting dangerously (sorry!) exciting. And I've not only written a draft ending of The Executioner's Cane, the third and final part of my Gathandrian fantasy trilogy, but I've reached the 60,000 word marker in it, which puts me at about half-way through, hurrah.

Also in this section, up at Vulpes Libris this week is (a) my review of Sara Shepard's All The Things We Didn't Say and (b) the Coming Up post for next week - in which the real name of Lord H, together with Lord H's fabulous new photographic website, is revealed for the first time. Readers paying close attention will of course notice the startling similarity in design to my own website, but hey it could be worse - we could be wearing Howard & Hilda jumpers (scroll down to view ...), ho ho. Two of my favourite ever characters, don't you know.

I'm also incredibly thrilled that the aforementioned husband (who perhaps can now be called Lord K in future ...) has also produced his very own Daily Office app for the iphone - so even on the move you need never be far from a church service or an apposite prayer for the day! Never say that as a team my husband and I don't look after your every need.

Ooh, and I am very happy indeed to see that Amazon UK will now be producing a UK-friendly Kindle, so I have already pre-ordered mine, and it should be delivered at the end of August, well gosh. How long I've waited for it indeed - so I hope it lives up to my very high expectations.

Meanwhile, I fear that sales of my e-poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, are regrettably poor - so far only 4 copies have been sold, so I am as yet a little below my best-selling poetry collection, which sold ... um ... 11 copies. My mission is to match that target by the end of August, so if there are 7 lovely readers out there who might like some nature-focused and really pretty good poetry to inspire their year, please don't be backward in coming forward - in all honesty, my sad-writer ego can't take it. Thank you!

And here's another little haiku to whet your appetite:

Sparkling green water
ripples in the wind's warm touch,
embraces the dance.

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 401
They knew how to party
back then:

seven days’ worth
of spilled blood,

the dark aroma
from burning meat

and the laughter
of men.

Meditation 402
Behind the prayer,
that sense

of strange connection,
the desert

of abandonment
stretches far away.

Life news:

I'm very happy to tell you that my old University friend, Jane, is currently captaining the Great Britain Rifle Team in Canada, and you can find out how Great Britain is doing on their blog. Go, Jane, go! And huge good luck to all. Mind you, the one time I've been lucky enough to see Jane shoot in a national competition, she spent the first 20 minutes of her alloted 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing at all except checking wind speeds and directions and seeing what her competitors were up to, and then took up her rifle and fired all her shots almost perfectly in the space of about 3 minutes. I did wonder why none of her team members bothered turning up to support her until the last 10 minutes - apparently, that is the Jane Messer way, and very good it is too.

This week, I've also popped up to London to see Jane W (another Jane!) and had a fabulous time putting the world to rights and talking houses and what to do with them. Must be my age, you know, and our current house-buying efforts, of course. I've also played some rather appalling golf, which coincided with some incredibly good golf from Marian, who won by miles, and very deservedly. Perhaps I should take a cricket bat next time? I might well do better ...

Yesterday, Lord K (ha!) and I were at Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni. Verdict: very disappointing and surprising poorly staged, although some individual performances, such as the man-servant and the bride, were very good indeed. However the big excitement was that we sat in the same row as antiques expert, Tim Wonnacott, who was extremely pleasant indeed when attempting to squeeze past me. And hey, I was good! - I didn't giggle or scream: ooh look, it's that man off The Antiques Roadshow on TV - so Lord K is very proud. I am indeed a prime example of modern dignity, well for an Essex Girl anyway.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal