Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cars, Kindles and cash

Book News:

I'm happy to say that all my Kindle books are now available to be signed at Kindlegraph so the virtual world is really upon us indeed. Other good news this week is that I've been very pleased with my quarterly royalties from Amber Allure Press and Dreamspinner Press - so many thanks to the people who've purchased in the last three months. It's very much appreciated.

In terms of reviews this week, there's been a 4-star review of Martin and The Wolf, and another nice review of For One Night Only, both at Goodreads, so thank you, Meggie, for those. And, much to my astonishment, my blog has now received over 50,000 hits since first beginning, so a very big thank you to all visitors. I've hope you've enjoyed at least something of my semi-crazed meanderings ...

Meanwhile, The Gifting had in the end 692 entries in the recent Goodreads free giveaway competition, which was about 682 more than I was expecting. So thank you to everyone who took part and congratulations to the 5 winners, who will be receiving their prize in the very near future.

Here's the next few lines from The Gifting:

In the land of Gathandria, they have not been used to war.

Ah, but how all that will change, and rather sooner than they expect too ...

In the wonderful literary world of Vulpes Libris, we're all going on a well-earned 2-week break, but today's post will give you a few hints about what's in store when we're back.

This week's haiku is:

Leaves begin to fall
and a hint of autumn's chill
drifts across the grass.

Life News:

Sadly, my car is sick and when I took it to the garage on Friday, it didn't come back. Apparently, the coolant container has gone rather badly wrong - something to do with the temperature gauge attached to it - and they couldn't put a new one in until Monday, so I have been totally relying on K's car all weekend. Hmm, no change there then ... It's going to cost me about £260, they tell me, which isn't great but, hell, it could be a lot worse. Hey ho.

On Saturday, we spent a lovely day with Peter and Sue (hello!) at Hinton Ampner, which is fascinating and well worth a visit - although they really do need to improve the cafe - surely the bleakest National Trust cafe I've ever been to, sad to say. My advice - go anyway, admire the house and the man who last lived in it, and enjoy the gardens. They're magnificent. But take your own sandwiches ...

Today has been a catalogue of unexpected events. Our washing machine has broken so we've spent an interesting couple of hours hand-washing everything in the kitchen sink and the bath and then attempting to get it dry in the garden. Thank goodness it's been sunny. Ah, it takes me back to my holidays spent in my grandmother's house in Newcastle, you know - where's that mangle of hers when I need it?!?

And this afternoon we've been to tea at the vicar's house. Which was very enjoyable indeed until the lovely US lady with the marvellous voice decided that having a communal sing-song with her guitar for about an hour and a half was a good thing to do. And yes, of course I know it is but I just can't help it - I really do hate that sort of thing which makes me feel nothing less than edgy and totally frazzled. As if people are cutting pieces off my skin and flesh with a spoon, and not replacing them with anything. I was trapped at the far end of the table near the hedge and couldn't get away without it looking obvious so developed a no doubt desperate smile in case anyone looked my way. My dears, I was faintly hysterical by the time we left, but I don't think anyone noticed. Now I feel totally exhausted as if I've been route-marched across the Sahari without a flask of water or a map. Really, I just don't do sociable ... but the tea itself was lovely.

Finally, I must just say - and I'm probably swimming against a vast tide of fandom here - how utterly dreadful the current series of Torchwood is. The plot seems to be the same thing over and over again and we can't even begin to see how they can stretch this dull nonsense over 10 weeks. Lordy, 10 weeks!  I'm told that Episode 5 is the first good one - which begs the question as to why they didn't start there - but in all honesty you can get everything you need to know from the first 30 seconds of it when they recap the last episodes, and the final 30 seconds when they tell you what will happen next week. It's really like a haiku story put into the framework of a saga, and desperately trying to find its way. Soon, I fear, all of us will lose the will to live entirely - which may well solve their problem of finding a solution to eternal life. Yawn. Ah well, another potentially good TV drama bites the dust.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Books, Loss and Prayer

Life News:

I'm very sorry to say that my lovely former ground floor neighbour in Godalming died in his old people's home on Sunday night. It's been something of a shock, really, even though he was elderly (nearly 90 - how I wish he'd made it to that big day) and had become increasingly unwell over the last few months. I'm glad I was able to see him last Thursday for half an hour or so - I didn't know then it would be saying goodbye - and I'm glad we were able to chat, albeit briefly.

Funny how I've known Henry for 18 years as a neighbour sharing the same house as us, and funny how it became friendship almost from the start. He was very much part of the reason we stayed in the house all that time, and odd how when he left it for the home early last year, everything changed. I'll really miss him. He was always kind and courteous, and nothing was too much trouble - in many ways, and K agrees, the fact that he's gone seems like the end of an era for us. There's no-one left in our old home now who was there when we arrived, and that feels odd.

Things I'll remember about Henry:

* His daily chopping of wood for his fire every morning at 6.30am, come sunshine or rain, or even snow - it was somehow very soothing and an excellent alarm call.

* His fascinating and very moving stories of the war, and how the terrible things he'd experienced as a young man in Germany changed his life and led to his absolute and deep-seated belief in peace, his hatred of any kind of war and his commitment to Communism.

*The time when we went on holiday and forgot to leave contact details - and when we got back our water tank had burst, flooding his flat below for a week, and he'd misplaced our keys so he couldn't get in. While I was traumatised at what happened and couldn't apologise enough, he smiled and said (in that inimitable accent of his), "Ach, Anne, it was nothing compared to the Russian front in Winter ..." No doubt very true, and there's no answer to that.

* The time when I was trying to find him at the home, and was told he was in the living room having a sing-along with the other residents. I asked the staff not to disturb him as I was happy to wait, but he came along anyway as it was me (what a gent!). He happily told me he'd been learning some wonderful English war songs which he'd really enjoyed singing and, how much he'd loved learning Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag as, "with those sort of tunes, no wonder the English won the war." Marvellous. However, he did admit, with a twinkle in his eye, that he was probably wise not to offer to teach them the war songs of the German army ...

* The marvellous fact that he was possibly the only man in the country who has been decorated both by the Third Reich (for looking after his tank which had broken down in Russia and which he managed to hang on to) and the British Government (for saving the life of a tramp who was on the railway line when he was working here as a prisoner of war). And did Henry ever tell me that himself? No - I had to find out from his daughter.

Anyway, this morning it was good to meet up with his son and daughter again over a coffee and just catch up with what happened, although we would all have preferred different circumstances could have instigated it. He was a good man and I'll miss him. RIP Henry.

Book News:

The free giveaway of The Gifting at Goodreads continues for another 16 hours only so there's still time to enter. I'm amazed that 450 people have thrown their hats in the ring (I expected 10!) and I hope the 5 winners enjoy the read. Sadly, however, I've been blooded at the hunt (as they say) with my first 1-star review from someone who really hated every word of the beast. Ouch, indeed! Though I do wonder if it might be my mother getting her own back for the fact that I almost forgot her wedding anniversary, shame on me ... In which case, I deserve all of it and more!

However, some kind of balance was achieved in the literary universe by the fact that the Los Angeles Public Library has just bought an e-copy of The Gifting, so I'm hoping some good people might borrow it once that's available. Here are the next few sentences:

In any case, this battle has been a bloody one. Even though it has been fought largely in the realm of the mind, already it has claimed too many. And destroyed too much.

Other good and unexpected news is that my spiritual novella, The Prayer Seeker, has been accepted for publication by DWP Publishing - so that's a huge thrill and I've sent the signed contract back to them today.

Along the same lines, I've finally had the courage to press the "send" button for the second in the Gathandrian Trilogy, Hallsfoot's Battle, and so it has today winged its way to Bluewood Publishing for consideration. Here's hoping ...

On a rather naughtier note, you can enter the free giveaway at Jessewave reviews today for a copy of For One Night Only, so good luck with that one! You can also read a brief 4-star review of For One Night only, and Tommy's Blind Date also gets a 4-star review at Goodreads, so thank you to both reviewers for those.

Vulpes Libris has a review of Alice Hoffman's marvellous literary and very human novel, The Story Sisters, and I do thoroughly recommend that one. It's intense but definitely worth it.

Finally, to end, here are this week's meditations:

Meditation 550
Water on your skin
and the sharp dazzle
of sunlight
through the dark curtain

wash your sins
clean away
and prepare you
to serve God one day.

Meditation 551
Music and laughter
draw you to the window –
echoes of delight,

sunshine and dancing
in this bright morning sky –
and you catch sight

of such celebration
to welcome God’s arrival.
Something right

whispers behind you
where riches and old comfort
bind you to the night.

Meditation 552
The music is already here.
It’s existed for all time
and no time.

It’s folded into the air’s
cooling molecules
and contained afresh

by the arching sky.
It whispers over your skin,
waiting to be allowed within.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hallsfoot, Hit List and free giveaway!

Book News:

In case any of you out there are confused by the amount of information that's gone missing on my recent posts, it's not the gremlins (whoever they may be!), but, as part of the continuing legal negotiations with my US publisher, my lawyer has asked me to remove sections mentioning their name and in the interests of working towards an amicable agreement I have been happy so to do. As they say. Just so you know then ... But a heartfelt thank you to all those of you out there who have been and continue to be so supportive throughout, and indeed those of you who've challenged me - I really appreciate it.

Turning to more straightforward literary matters, I'm happy to say that I've finished the final read-through of Hallsfoot's Battle (the second in the Gathandrian Trilogy) and that artist Penelope Cline has agreed to draft a book cover for it. Once that's sorted, then I'm planning to submit Book Two to Bluewood Publishing, and I really hope they like it ...

Meanwhile, The Hit List continues to have a 25% discount direct from the publisher during July - so buy early while there's still time. And I'm equally happy to announce that from Monday 25 to Friday 29 July, I'm giving away 5 copies of The Gifting at Goodreads - so if you'd like to win a copy of this cutting-edge fantasy novel (if I can say it myself at all ..), then please do enter, and best of luck to you all.

As a taster, here's The Gifting's next couple of lines:

They have all failed; it is not simply himself. At least, he prays it is not.

Not to be outdone, For One Night Only gained a review at Brief Encounter Reviews and was also mentioned at the I Love Books Blogspot - many thanks, both! And, equally not to be forgotten, though possibly rather unseasonal, Two Christmases gained a 4-star review at Goodreads - thank you, Lucy.

The Sunday haiku is:

When I sweep the floor
a history not my own
rises with the dust.

Life News:

After building my new website on Sandvox, you can now find out more of the whys and wherefores behind that at the Sandvox site - they're really very nice people, you know.

As you know, I've been having trouble with my car - and we've now worked out that my coolant container is gradually leaking, dammit. So I'm carrying round several bottles of water and coolant in the car just in case of more disasters and I've booked an appointment at the garage next Friday for them to sort it out. Here's hoping I can make it relatively unscathed through the week till then, hey ho.

During the week we also watched The Only Gay on The Estate - well, I watched it while K kept me company and played on the iPad. He must have been paying some kind of attention though as at the end he snorted and complained that Michael, the film-maker and subject of the short documentary, was really not a very nice man at all, but was somehow surrounded by incredibly nice and forgiving friends, boyfriend and family who could, to a man (or woman), do a lot better than Michael. Indeed, I could only agree - Michael's boyfriend was being hugely tolerant and also had some very wise words to say about whether his man's search into his past wasn't about making it right for others, but was only making it right for himself (not a great reason to go digging about in the past, to my mind). And I have to say that the very lovely girlfriend Michael messed around with for 5 years before ditching and fleeing to a gay life in London was a damn sight nicer about it than I would ever be in such circumstances (though her mother, understandably, looked as if she might grab Michael's hand-held camera at any moment and shove it where the sun don't shine ...) and could certainly do a whole lot better for herself. Hell, I'd snap her up in a second myself, if I was that way inclined - though it would have surely been a perfect ending if Michael's current boyfriend decided he wasn't quite so gay after all and went off with her. Or perhaps with the charming and very cute bloke Michael was so incredibly nasty to at school. Either would do. Sigh.

However, I cast aside all irritations on Friday and thoroughly enjoyed a game of golf with Marian - it's ages since we've played due to illness (mine) and holiday (hers), and it was great to get out in the sunshine. Sunshine, my dears - whatever next! I even made a stonkingly good putt at the eighth which I aimed away from the hole to take some kind advantage of the sharp incline it was at the bottom of, and the bloody thing actually went in!! Professional golfers treat this kind of gift from the golfing gods with a nonchalant shrug and a half-smile. I screamed, waved my putter in the air and danced (carefully - you don't want to ruin the grass) around the green, yelling yes, yes yes! Goodness, I am just so classy. And I didn't even win the overall game and I was still smiling when K came home.

Anyway, yesterday K and I went from the ridiculous to the sublime at a thoroughly enjoyable and utterly magical performance of Rusalka at Glyndebourne - it's the second time we've seen it and it's even more perfect and magical than before. A definite recommendation there. Not only that, but whilst in the restaurant, we were treated to a visit by their new chef, the very wonderful Albert Roux, who actually spoke to us at our table, well gosh. Honestly, I went all giggly and girly and gurgled on about how wonderful his starter of veal sweetbreads had been (which it was, totally) - although I was so busy being starstruck and gushy (much to K's shame) that I said sweetmeats instead of sweetbreads - which is of course an entirely different concept. Ah, the humiliation - I shall never be able to look M. Roux in the face again, although no doubt he just thinks it nothing more than the strange food combinations endured by unfortunate British women, poor man. Ah well.

Today, we have popped in to church to pay our respects to the Almighty - some great hymns and ah the incense. You can never go wrong with incense and processions - it's what the CofE does best. Much to my joy there was a cake sale after the service (heaven indeed) and I bought four brownies for tea. Can't wait really until tea-time rolls round. Rather delightfully, the vicar also invited us round for tea and scones in the vicarage next Sunday afternoon (which is very civilised and somehow so very Midsomer ...) so we're looking forward to that, whilst wondering if any murders will actually take place. We'll have to wait and see ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cars, contracts and cash

Book News:

You'll be pleased to hear that my US lawyer and I have agreed a wording for the new termination contract, so we've sent that off and await to hear a response ...

In the meantime, I'm carrying on with the final pre-submission read-through of Hallsfoot's Battle, the second in my Gathandrian trilogy. There are only about 100 pages to go now, so I'm hoping to get that done by the weekend (though it does depend on whether or not I have another day like today - see below ...). Once that's done, I'll send it to Bluewood Publishing and see what they think about it. Keeping with Bluewood, I've sent back the final proofs of literary short story, Dido's Tale, to them and that should be coming out soon, hurrah.

I'm also happy to say that The Hit List gained a lovely 5-star review at Amazon - many thanks, Sharon! It's especially pleasing as I know my main character, Jamie, isn't easy and people either love him or hate him, with nothing in between. Hmm, there's a lot of me in that bloke, you know - which probably says it all really. And For One Night Only gained a 4-star review at Goodreads - so many thanks, Enny.

Here's the next line of the prologue in The Gifting:

Neither is she the only one who weeps, but he cannot admit the full reasons for this now.

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 547
When even touching
God’s covenant box
in order to save it
is a mortal sin

then best to let
your treasures die
than use a box
to keep them in.

Meditation 548
Of all the gifts
in all the world
my first choice
would never have been
cedars and stonemasons;

the quiet dignity
of stone
and the gnarled depths
of this ancient tree
all but bypassed me.

Meditation 549
A sound in the trees
that is neither the wind
nor the cries of some night bird

but something absurd:
a reminder for we who have sinned
that somebody still sees.

Life News:

The mortgage survey for our Elstead house has finally come through and looks okay. Our new conveyancer has also contacted us to say she's going over the land searches now and has contacted the vendor's solicitors to ask for the necessary information from them. At the same time, the estate agents have rung us to say it's possible that we could exchange in three weeks' time and complete two weeks after that - which would bring us near enough to the end of August/start of September - and this is the first break point in our rental contract, so that would be convenient. However, I'm now never convinced by the optimism of estate agents, so I'm maintaining a wary approach to it all. But I have rung our moving company and so far that timing is good for them, although obviously dates disappear the nearer we get to any potential move day. Lordy, it's all go here in the shires, you know.

I've also fitted in a regular visit to the doctor (I was too ill to go last week ...) and everything with the anti-depressants looks good for another two months, so that's a relief. I really do think they're brilliant - I could probably never cope with all this hassle coming our way without them, and they certainly do make me feel more like I think I should, that's for sure. Never scorn the joys of normality, eh ...

Mind you, I've certainly needed their calming effects today. This morning, I popped in to see a good friend of mine in one of the local old people's homes, and on the way back, the alarm on my car dashboard went off and lots of red lights started flashing at me to say that the car engine was overheating. When I looked at the dial, it was way past 120 degrees centigrade and well into the red-light zone. I was panicking like a trooper (a wimpy, panicky trooper ...) so drove the few minutes to the nearest supermarket (where I was intending to go anyway to pick up some lunch) and waited for the engine to cool down while I phoned K and sobbed down the line at him like a 1950s teenager. My, I'm so dignified, you know. As if. Anyway, K suggested ringing the RAC for help, but I thought if it was just a coolant problem, then I could get some more coolant and put it in without disturbing our Knights of the Road too much. The supermarket unfortunately had no coolant so I drove to the garage attached to it whilst keeping a close eye on my dashboard and they had no coolant either. So there was no option but to drive home, at which point the dashboard went crazy again and the alarms sounded. It was only a couple of minutes to get home but honestly every traffic light was against me and every cyclist in Woking today insisted on getting ahead of me and not letting me pass, so I was praying and swearing in equal measure as I limped home.

Once there, I thought I'd let the beast cool down again before tackling it. However the traumas of the day weren't over yet. As I was eating my lunch, the rental agent phoned to say they hadn't received our rental for July which had been due with them on the 1st of the month. I apologised, panicked again and rang K who said he was sure he'd filled in a standing order at the start of June. The other agent I've been dealing with (the lovely Jenny) said she was sure we had as well so didn't know where it had gone and would look into it. K rang our bank and they confirmed they had no standing order instructions for rent, so after I'd tackled the car crisis and poured the whole of our one bottle of engine coolant into the vast desert wastes of my engine coolant holder, I walked into town at about 4pm and tried to pay money for July and August as a bank transfer to the rental agent's bank, the Natwest. Well, ho ho and there's a bank that obviously don't like the colour of our money. They said (even though I've done this with Santander and goodness knows they're certainly not the best bank in the market ...) that I couldn't transfer money from the Nationwide to them as I'd have to go to the Nationwide in order to do so, but in any case the Nationwide wouldn't let me do that with such a large amount of money and I'd be better off taking out as much actual cash as I could and then walking it over to them. Well, I mean to say! As if anyone could actually walk across the metropolis of downtown Woking carrying great wads of cash and expect to be alive after ten minutes ... Words failed me!... In the end, I gave up arguing my point and accepted that Natwest in Woking appears to live in the 1950s, wrote them a cheque payable to our rental agent for two months' rent, and accepted it wouldn't actually go into the agent's account until next Friday.

When I rang the rental agent to explain all this to them, they were astonished also, and couldn't believe nobody would accept a bank transfer from me. The only explanation I can think of is that unfortunately I had to deal with a staff member who didn't know her proverbial from her elbow, and wasn't going to ask any higher-up staff member for help either. Alternatively, I have a face with the words Criminal and Fraudster tattooed across my forehead and nobody has ever had the heart to tell me, deep deep sigh ...

Anyway, whilst in Woking I thought I'd shop for a few bits and pieces, including spare engine coolant, and managed to get everything apart from (of course) engine coolant. Apparently, Halfords is a twenty-minute walk (or a short drive, if you have a car you can trust ...) outside Woking, so I bit the bullet, rearranged my shopping bags (thankfully, not too much) and headed off into the sunset. Ye gods, that was further than I thought, though I did get a nice view of Woking's mosque on the way. Luckily Halford's were open until 8pm, so getting there at 5.15pm wasn't a problem, thank the Lord. Mission accomplished, I trudged back down the wearisome rainy road, wearing my woolly hat and fleece and looking like the height of fashion, I'm sure, and eventually reached home at about twenty minutes to six. I deposited the fresh bottle of coolant in the back of the car so if I get into trouble tomorrow when I'm hoping to play golf with Marian, at least I'll have something to drink if things get too bad. Hey ho.

Really, if it weren't for the magic happy pills, who the hell knows where I'd be. Has anyone got the smelling salts? Surely today - this nice quiet day I'd had planned - must be over by now ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, July 17, 2011

For One Night Only ...

Book News:


My gay erotic short story, For One Night Only is now published at Amber Allure Press - here's the blurb:

Jake Morrison's position as Dom has been deeply shaken by his unwitting role in the recent death of his sub. When he's allowed back into Langley's Pleasure House after a six-month ban, he longs to make amends in any way possible. Club-owner Langley's surprising request for an unexpected encounter, however, tests Jake's sense of purpose to the core. He's willing to learn, but the lesson might not be one he expects... 


Other nice writing news is that I've had two or three very positive responses from people who've read or are in the middle of reading my first fantasy novel, The Gifting, so that's lovely. I don't usually get quite so many responses of any kind quite so soon. Plus it's especially nice to hear with this particular novel as every fantasy publisher in the UK and US utterly ignored it, my ex-agent and me, not even bothering to grace us with a rejection letter or two during the two years we waited, and ... um ... waited. So you can imagine how downhearted I've felt about it ever since, despite the brave facade (ho ho). Lordy, in this business, I'm always astonished anyone keeps going at all ... It can be exceptionally confidence-destroying.

Anyway here's the next line from The Gifting

Over two moon cycles since the death of her lover and still he hears her weeping in the morning.

Ah, but what's the real story behind Isabella's tears - that's the mystery ...


So, watch this space, and we'll see what happens next week. Hey ho.

Oh, and I have a lovely new website, made with the help of a wonderful website app called Sandvox. I love it - the people are just sooo helpful and it's just soooo easy - instead of fiddling about on Dreamweaver with HTML coding and getting really confused, I just drag & drop. Bliss, my dears, bliss. And it's easy to publish onto the web too - I just press a publish button instead of fiddling about with Filezilla apps. Wonderful.

This week's haiku is:

The shadowed fox waits,
eyes glistening with intent.
Somewhere a dog barks.

Life News:

Yesterday, I have indulged in another spot of Tesco online food shopping and am seriously beginning to love it. Anything that saves me from hours of actually trawling round Tesco gets my vote. I can even go back afterwards and add things in that I've forgotten, hurrah! All that set us up nicely for a lovely high tea and opera at Glyndebourne where we saw the simply magnificent and life-enhancing L'Elisir d'Amore. Really, you can't go wrong with a Donizetti opera. Bliss again.

Speaking of music, we watched the final section of the First Night of the Proms late last week and I was reminded again just how wonderful Janacek is. The Glagolitic Mass is an astonishing work - just how all masses should be, really.

And today, we've had a relaxing lunch at Wisley, wandered around in the rain admiring the roses and bought an assortment of plants for the garden. How wonderfully suburban we are here in the rural idyll of Woking.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The strange unreality of being an author ...

Book News:


Speaking of difficult literary organisations, I've been deeply saddened, not to mention frustrated, by the attitude of the Society of Authors to authors with ebooks to their name. They tell me that I can't be a full member because I haven't sold enough paperbacks and "at this time, we do separate e-publishing and physical publishing, because of the lack of costs involved in online publication." So, being a "real" author has nothing to do with the fact that a commercial e-publisher has agreed to publish your book or how well your ebooks perform, but it's all to do with how much your publisher is prepared to spend on their production. Looks like the costs of editing, creating cover art, marketing, staff time, conference attendance etc etc, which are just as much associated with ebooks as paper books, are meaningless to the SOA then. Naturally I've asked for my membership to be refunded and, at the same time, I told them I assumed the admin charges would be minimal as of course all our correspondence has been via email which according to them costs nothing, even in terms of people's time ... They have at least therefore had the grace to refund me in full. But I certainly won't be bothering to contact them again, at least not until they've caught up with the authorial world they're supposed to represent. Harrumph indeed.

I'm very pleased to say that The Gifting has received a positive comment from one of the people at the book launch last week. She's already read it (thank you, Claire!), thought it was a page-turning read, and wants to know when the next one is out. Gosh! I'd best get to grips once more with the final read-through of Hallsfoot's Battle then - which has rather ground to a halt due to this week's ongoing illness (see below).

Anyway, here's The Gifting's next line: His sister Isabella Montfort's tone is bitter, but he doesn't question it.

Ah, but you should, Johan, you should ... It would have saved so much trauma if you'd been paying more attention at the time, you know ...

And The Art of The Delaneys has gained a 4-star review at Goodreads - thanks, Clover. That's cheered me greatly.

At Vulpes Libris, you can read my review of The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard, which is a seriously classy and well-written novel and I thoroughly recommend it. Meanwhile, I'm also trying to do some major renovation on my website but, in the manner of all modern women everywhere, I need my husband to come home and press all the right buttons to make it work (um, as it were). Watch this space, possibly ...

Life News:

I've continued to be as sick as the proverbial this week. All nasty cold/catarrh stuff and, no, you really don't want to hear more. Suffice it to say I left work early on Tuesday and haven't been out from the flat since. Another sleepless night in the living room on Tuesday (with some seriously dodgy moments), but I did manage to get some real rest last night, thank the Lord. I think I may have broken the back of it now, but I'm sorry to have missed (a) seeing Jane & Ang on Tuesday night, (b) going to the Wisley roses event tonight, and (c) golf tomorrow. I'm attempting to get seriously well for another opera at Glyndebourne on Saturday. No more relapses please!

What with all this coughing and snorting and ... err ... stuff, I must have got confused today as the Virgin Media connection man turned up this morning, instead of this afternoon when I was expecting him. The poor chap - he found me unwashed, undressed and with absolutely no make-up on which, bearing in mind the kind of week I've had, was even more not a pretty sight than usual. And, yes, before you say it, I did have to open the door in my dressing gown (why has my dressing-gown got a door? Boom, boom!), sigh. Anyway, even though he was only about twelve, he was totally unperturbed by this vision of horror before him (perhaps he gets it all the time?...) and managed to fix me up in no time (again, as it were). Mind you, he was probably desperate to escape, the poor dear ...

More positive news this week has been the fact that we harvested another two of the garden strawberries at the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed them. Perhaps we should buy a couple more with the PD royalty cheque, eh? Oh, and my rose pot plant has a second bud on it so it looks like we might be getting two flowers this year, hurrah!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sickness, singing and searching for intelligent life

Book News:


I'm also happy to say that Writers News Magazine has accepted my article for publication, and I had a nice chat with one of the editors there on Saturday. They asked to be kept updated on what happens next, so I'll certainly be doing that.

Meanwhile you can find my comic short story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, for sale at Untreed Reads for only 99 cents so now's the ideal time to buy.

The next line from The Gifting is:

‎"There is no need for us to be here, Johan. Every moment that passes means another Gathandrian dead."

Though seeing as it's Isabella speaking, who knows if she actually means it or not, eh ...

The Sunday haiku is:

Morning eases in:
the soft promise of sunlight
for my darkest thought.

Finally, in this section, I've been unable to update my writing website since we moved as Dreamweaver doesn't seem to work properly with the Dongle (as it were) so I'm really getting behind there. I'm thinking of rebuilding it from scratch on a system I can actually use, so if anyone out there has any good tips for website providers that are simple and idiot-proof, please do let me know. Thanks!

Life News:

Since the launch of The Gifting, I've fallen rather sick, alas. The usual heavy cold/catarrh thing (dammit) which has meant 2 nights of mainly sleeplessness on the living room sofa. I'm treating it with Sudafed, lemsips and Lucozade, as ever. I did manage actually to go to bed on Friday night, but in the end that just gave me something of a relapse, sigh. As a result, I had to miss my day at Hampton Court Flower Show on Friday, though we did manage to get to Glyndebourne yesterday to see Handel's Rinaldo. Gorgeous music & singing, naturally (well, it's Handel, after all), but the production was rubbish and occasionally embarrassingly laughable in the wrong places, oh dear. I can't really recommend it as a result.

Also sadly, there's bad news on the thrush nest outside the spare room window. The young foxes got them sometime during the night late last week so nature is indeed red of tooth and claw. I really miss those birds. Ah well.

Oh, and as a result of spending most of my time, day and night, on the sofa, I'm getting through a hell of a lot of puzzles. K is helping with some of the answers too by giving essential clues as to what the answers are as he's much better at them than I am, much to my shame (aren't I supposed to be good with words and he's good with numbers?!?...). This morning, he was just soooo irritatingly good that I said, with a noble sigh, that it must be so difficult for him coming as he does from an alien planet where they're all so clever with crosswords. K's answer: ah yes, how true, though we're still looking for signs of intelligent life in other races, you know ... That's me told then, ha!...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Launches, Lemsip and Lucozade

Book News:

Much to my relief, the launch party for The Gifting went surprisingly well last night. I was a total jelly beforehand, taking 2 sets of Quiet Life pills to try to achieve normality, and going to the loo at least 16 times before it began - but in the end everyone who was able to come seemed to enjoy it, hurrah. And, hey, I even sold some copies, plus a selection of my backlist - and even some poetry, well gosh! - so I think I've actually made a small profit. Gosh indeedy, that doesn't happen often! And everyone - as they always do once you can get them there - loved the quirky charm and fascination of Godalming Museum, which is one of the town's best kept and most interesting secrets. Definitely worth a visit if you're passing through at any time ...

Plus I met the lovely Hilary from Vulpes Libris for the first time, which was a delight - and Hilary very kindly bought me a puffin in a snowglobe to add to my growing collection - thank you, Hilary, and I absolutely love it!

And my evening was truly complete to find my first official review of The Gifting - many thanks, Amos - that's very much appreciated.

Here's the next line of The Gifting:

She is in mourning, but he knows it is time for her mourning to end.

Though, as it's Isabella we're talking about here, we can never really be sure ...

This week, The Art of the Delaneys also gained a review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews - thank you, Indigene. And I've finished off my edits to my literary romance, Dido's Tale, and have sent that back to Bluewood Publishing.


Talking of tricky situations, I must say I'm rather irritated by the attitude of The Society of Authors, who have decided to offer me Associate Membership only as my e-publishing and small press print-on-demand record are not deemed good enough for Full Membership. Hmm, not much reactionary nonsense there then ... Ho hum. Talk about making an author feel good (um, not)! Anyway, I've complained about this approach - which does seem to discriminate against a lot of perfectly reasonable authors just because they're not with the "mainstream" press - but I don't expect a positive response, as I suspect the modern times may not have caught up with them yet. Ah well.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 545
The Philistines
are an uncertain folk.
They decide one thing
and then another.

Firstly, King David’s
a noble bloke
and then his fame’s
not worth the bother.

So when you sit
making up your mind,
weighing the scales
of what to do

stick with the choice
you eventually find,
take a deep breath
and see it through.

Meditation 546
The people of Israel
rejoiced so much
they brought
numerous sheep to kill

which gave all the folk
a party or two
but, for the sheep,
something less of a thrill.

Life News:

Good news! The house in Elstead has accepted our revised offer (double hurrahs!) and we are back on the trail of conveyancers and mortgage surveys, the latter of which takes place today. Though I must say our initial visit to our new conveyancer was rather downbeat as the receptionist couldn't have been more disinterested in us if she'd tried - I hope the actual solicitor is rather more enthusiastic ... This is the third time we've been in this position over the last year, so I'm really hoping it's third time lucky, please God. I can't take yet another disappointment ...

We've also had a lovely coffee and chat with the neighbours upstairs whom we didn't manage to get to see at our previous party - so hello, Lesley & Kit, and we must catch up again some time.

Less good news (for me, selfishly) - though it's totally brilliant for her! - is that my lovely colleague at work, R, has been promoted in the echelons of management and will therefore be moving upstairs, in every sense. It's wonderful news, but heck I'm really going to miss her ... Selfish sob! The office begins to be a vast desert with only a faithful few left, alas ...

With my mind still on the concept of change, but on a far more trivial level, I'm sorry to see the end of the first series of the very classy crime drama Scott & Bailey on Sunday night TV. Fantastic to see three strong female leads in any programme, and I'm going to miss them hugely. There'd better be a second series or I'll have to chain myself to something at ITV, perish the thought.

Meanwhile, the thrush family outside the spare room window is thriving - we think there are two or possibly three chicks in the nest and they're making rapid progress, which is delightful. They seem to have no fear of us opening and shutting the window though we're trying to be as quiet as possible. I really hope our neighbourhood fox (lovely though he also is) doesn't get them.

Oh, and post-launch, I have a stinking cold, dammit!!! So I'm on the Lemsip, Lucozade & Sudafed run, and hoping a miracle cure arrives shortly. Still, whilst I'm snorting and snuffling into my tissues (delightful image, I know ...), I can ponder on the mysteries of why on earth my phone isn't being hacked at the moment (shocking though the facts of the matter appear to be), seeing as everyone else's apparently is - can it be that my life is really so incredibly dull?? Hmm, I must start making more interesting calls, obviously ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Houses and Harrogate

A bullet-point blog today as we're just back from a wonderful weekend away with the totally lovely and utterly glamorous Egypt Group (hello, all!).

Life News:

1. It's been great to catch up with Mike & Miriam (who have a matching pair of very wonderful dogs, btw!), and Mike & Chris. I think we have now, between us, terrified Harrogate into submission. We stayed at the extremely good and very charming Ascot House Hotel. I think we can all recommend it wholeheartedly.

2. Skipton Castle makes for a very good day out.

3. Betty's Tea Rooms, Harrogate are excellent and everyone should go there too, mmmm ....

4. We completed on our flat at 9.10am on Friday, so that burden is gone, hurrah! On the other side of the equation, over the weekend, we lost out on the Woking house, which went to the higher bidder, but the Elstead house is still in play and we should hear something next week.

Book News:

1. The first part of my interview with Reasons To Be Beautiful Magazine is now online here (many thanks, Stephanie & Madel) so I hope you enjoy browsing through that.

2. There's 30% off all my Untreed Reads books until tomorrow (4 July), so do feel free to pick yourself up a bargain.

3. Writing Magazine have asked for a copy of my article so I have sent that off to them.

4. The more helpful UK lawyer has suggested she link me up with their US counterparts next week so I've said yes to that - though I'm not convinced anything entirely helpful will come out of it, it will be good to get the US legal view.

5. The next lines of the prologue of The Gifting are:

Beside him, his sister is dressed only in black. Her fair hair catches the light from the two torches mounted on the wall.

6. And, finally, the Sunday haiku is:

After two hundred
miles, the only reviver:
a Yorkshire cream tea.

Anne Brooke