Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Loose ends and holidays

First off, here’s this morning’s meditation poem:

Meditation 79

Every curtain, every lampstand,
every peg and post
has its keeper:

an army of men
whose lives are immersed
in the utensils of God.

You have lived so long
amongst fabric
that the beauty is lost

like the far-off words
of a prophet
or a priest.

At work, I’m trying to tie up the loose ends before the holiday begins (hurrah!). Looks like I might even be on track for succeeding in that aim too – you never know. I even managed to have time to walk round the campus at lunchtime. We’re still admiring the deer statue, though we don’t know how long it will survive unscathed in these difficult times … I also popped into the latest exhibition at the gallery – Jo from the Arts Office warned me it was hard-hitting and it certainly is. Very strong though. It’s an exhibition focusing on the sexualisation of children’s clothing, even from birth – and it’s an eye-opener to me for sure and has certainly made me think. So well done to the Arts Office for being brave, and far-sighted, enough to put it on. Mind you, these days, sexualisation of people isn’t just a problem for children – I suspect we all do it too much and in a variety of ways. Something to do with the world’s obsession with appearance, no doubt.

This afternoon, I’ve had my first Starbucks decaff cappuccino of the week, and my last for the next week or so for sure. It’s been bliss – one of the highlights of my day, I can tell you.

In terms of literary life, I’ve started work on a short story about a trip to the moon, courtesy of yesterday’s Writers’ Group game. I’m quite enjoying it and I have some inkling of how it might end, which is nice. And rare. I just have to work out how to get there, ho ho.

Oh and, bearing in mind it’s the first day of Lent, I’ll be beginning my Lent reading tonight, which will be Rowan Williams’ Silence and Honey Cakes. Well, I liked the title and it’s relatively short, so I should be able to manage at least some of it in the next forty days. Maybe I could have done with more (or indeed any) pictures though … My, how I do love jolly holiday reading.

I managed to do some packing last night, and will finish it off tonight as quickly as possible – I have to have an early night as we have to get up at 3.30am tomorrow in order to leave the flat by 5am and be at Heathrow by 6am ready for the 7.55am flight. Have you followed all that? Gosh. Well done indeed. If I can get my eyes open at some stage during it all, I’ll be grateful We’re off to Istanbul where we’ll be staying at the Avicenna Hotel, which looks lovely, though I’m not entirely sure what an evaporated mirror is (see the room description). I suspect I might well have need of it however … Especially as the weather forecast is high winds and rain.

And I’m not even thinking about the Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul that crashed in Amsterdam this morning. No, don’t tell me about it. I simply don’t want to know, my dears …

Will be back on Monday (assuming Turkish Airlines manage to keep the plane up in the sky, that is), quite late, so will catch up with blogging on Tuesday. I hope you all have a good weekend and don’t work too hard. I don’t intend to. Honestly, it hasn’t been a bad day after all – it’s amazing how relatively normal I am when my hormones stop fighting me …

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Lunchtime walks
3. Decaff cappuccino
4. Short stories
5. Looking at the hotel website
6. Holidays.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - heading for the ... um ... rain ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A day for lying low

Feel utterly numb after the rollercoaster ride of yesterday, which is probably a good thing. Here’s this morning’s meditation anyway (I’m a stickler for routine):

Meditation 78

If I’d had to match my pace
to that of my family

I’d never have seen
half the sights

I’ve seen now
so this strange commandment

finds no resting place
on my skin.

Sometimes you have to leave behind
what is expected, familiar,

in order to find
a place for yourself at all.

Am lying low at work today – I think I’m calmer if I just say as little as possible and get my head into the minutes. The De-Stress pills I took this morning seem to be helping too, thank goodness. Oh and on the way in, I saw they’ve finally unveiled the stag sculpture which has been standing at the University entrance for a good few days now, covered in blue wrapping and looking suspiciously like a rather tacky Bambi. We’ve all been worried about what this might say about us … However, I’m glad to report that now it’s been fully revealed it’s actually rather more attractive than anticipated. And not tacky at all. A nice shape of silver with a good use of space. Pleasingly modern in fact.

At lunchtime, I took the University Writers’ Group for our monthly scribbling session, which was something of a light relief after yesterday’s traumas, and the general numbness of today. I think they liked the writing game too – in the end. It was rather challenging though ...

This afternoon, I felt a bit better – more human really though I’m still keeping my head down. I think I’m calmer if I don’t try too hard to be sociable, really. Human engagement – it’s the great mystery indeed. And quietness is all, as they (probably don’t) say. At least it means I’ve finished those minutes though – always a good thing. Tonight, I’ll pop into see Gladys, and then tonight I really must start packing for Istanbul as we’re off horrendously early on Thursday morning, and I like to get ahead. Ooh, and it’s pancake day so that means pancakes and ice cream. Mmm …

Other news of today – a further rejection of one of my poetry submissions, but hey it’s like water off the duck’s proverbial at the moment. Hey ho.

Today’s nice things:

1. The stag statue being okay after all
2. Poetry
3. Writers’ Group
4. Pancakes.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - lying low for Britain ...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Monday from hell …

Lordy, but it’s been another absolute bummer of a day today. Most of it I’ve hated. To be honest. I’m most definitely not in either a people or a things mood. Which narrows my options big-time, deep sigh … Anyway, before the rot sets in, here’s this morning’s meditation poem. We’re at the start of Numbers now, so best get your calculators out:

Meditation 77

So much accounting
of the menfolk:

those who are leaders,
those who are soldiers

and those who are priests.
It makes you wonder

what the womenfolk
are doing

all this time.

At work, I’ve barely had time to breathe. I’ve spent the whole morning catching up on emails, arranging meetings, rearranging meetings I’d already arranged and then arranging some more. Just in case people aren’t sick of each other by then. As for me, I have no chance as I’m sick of everyone already – including myself.

I just about managed to get on top of the thick of it by the time I had to do the lunchtime minutes of the Steering Group. Another meeting I was soooo not in the mood for. And, the moment I got there, much to my horror I saw there were no sandwiches, or drink. God, but it’s horrendous enough without fainting with hunger or dying of thirst in the middle of our two-hour meeting sessions. So I went off in a strop attempting to make contact with Catering, who weren’t anywhere to be seen, dammit. Apparently I went off in so much of a strop that the lovely Steph from Health followed me out to see if she could be of any help – but I was going so fast that I didn’t notice her and she couldn’t keep up. Sorry, Steph – though thanks for the thought … I am indeed just a bear with a very sore head today (though I do have to say that, with a very few honourable exceptions, other people are being peculiarly unhelpful too). Anyway, by the time I came back, still huffing and puffing, the sandwiches were arriving so at least we could keep body and soul together. However, the meeting itself seemed to last for days, if not weeeeks, and I felt quite tearful with it all, but time was obviously rechanneled in some way at the end of it as it was in fact only 2.40pm when I got back to the office. I didn’t really have much idea of what on earth was going on at the end of it all either, so Lord alone knows how I’m supposed to write up those minutes. Not that I have any enthusiasm for doing it, sigh …

Mind you, the afternoon was slightly lighter (but only slightly) in the gloomy stakes – one of my friends (thanks, Sue!) sent me a lovely clip of a cat fighting a photocopier machine which kept us all amused for hours, and the Arts Office lady (thank you, Jo!) has sent round another note to the Book Group confirming that A Dangerous Man is commercially published. Phew – Flame Books will be relieved to hear that, I’m sure …

Oh God and I have to go to the wretched shops on my way home to stock up our food cupboards. Sound of even more desperate sighing … Is there no end to the delights of this day??? I shall be glad to collapse in a quivering heap in front of the TV tonight, I can tell you. Who gives a monkey’s what’s actually on …

UPDATE: Tesco was crap. They don't even have any proper bloody bags any more and instead were giving out bags the size of postage stamps which might as well have been made of lace for all the good they did. Two of mine collapsed while I was packing them and sent everything crashing to the floor, which I was distinctly not happy about and let them know it too. Sod 'em, eh. The buggers! And when I got home, I find I have yet another flash fiction story rejection which seems like the last proverbial straw today, I can tell you. Mind you, the universe is being faintly kind to me as I've also got the proofs back for two of my meditation poems which are to be published at some point, so that's put a small smile back on my face, hurrah ...

And I'm thinking, what with all this depression which might or might not be caused by the new HRT, about trying out St John's Wort to see if I feel any happier on that. After all, if I know doctors, they'll insist on at least trying the new drugs regime for three months and, really my dears, I can't be doing with feeling like this until June. God forbid! Anyway it sounds like a plan ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Steph
3. Funny cats
4. The second Arts Office note
5. Poetry proofs.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - hanging on in there in an increasingly spiky world ...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Submissions Sunday and the killer sudoku

A day focused on words today, or at least writing or thinking about them. Which has to be a good thing. First off, I've written a poem about magpies and coathangers today - always a challenging combination, but I think I've managed to say approximately what I wanted to. One hopes. Plus I've managed the morning's meditation piece:

Meditation 76

Silver can set you free,
its seductive glitter

whispering liberty
over your skin.

Wait for your measure
to be taken

according to the ability
to pay,

the measure you make
of yourself

being only your prayer’s
deep secret.

This morning, I've also added more to Hallsfoot's Battle and thank goodness it's proved rather more amenable to being written than it was yesterday. I'm now at well over 94,000 words and I've finally got Simon, Ralph and the mind-executioner all in the same place at the same time. About time really then. In this novel at least. Lord only knows what I'm going to do with them now, but I'm hoping it will prove explosive. In some measure or other ...

I've also added to my regular submissions file, and have sent off five more poems and a short story into the Great Beyond. They may well return to me unloved and (like Noah's dove) unable to find a place to set their feet, but at least I'll have tried, eh. After all that, I think I may well deserve a nap - I have to have something to prepare me for the week indeed.

Oh and there's good sudoku news, hurrah! For the first time ever and of course under Lord H's watchful eye, I have completed a diabolical killer sudoku in the Telegraph. And there weren't that many tears or bleatings (mine ...) either, so I feel I've done well there, Carruthers. Definitely time for a lie-down then - I don't want to strain something. Not so near to our holiday at least.

Tonight, we have a range of exciting programmes to look forward to on TV - what with The History of Christianity (though I can't say I'm much taken with the whole science/religion subject - it's so achingly last century ...), then Lark Rise for a spot of light relief, rounded off nicely with Jeremy Paxman's hearty helping of The Victorians. I'll be a better woman after all that, I can guarantee it.

And, talking of better women, I saw the first couple of hours of Love on a Branch Line yesterday - it's all very quaint and cute but rather dated. And I must admit that, being a country gal born and bred, it does bring on a large and irritated yawn when I see a programme based solely on the concept of a young man going to stay for a while in the country and having all the squire's three daughters stripping their clothes off and throwing themselves at him. Well, yawn and pass me the cliche monitor ... Obviously written by a heterosexual man with not much imagination then. Sigh. Speaking as someone who was born in the countryside - and worse than that, the Essex countryside! - it would be far more realistic if the daughters had simply torn him limb from limb and fed him to the pigs. After all, they'll eat anything, and a well-rounded pig will fetch a good sum at the market, thus allowing you to attract a suitable gentleman farmer with a large estate and several nubile young employees to pass your time with while your loved one is off fiddling his EU quotas. Which at least is a better cliche than the Branch Line one.

This week's haiku (inspired by yesterday's National Trust visit):

The winter garden:
a dazzle of crocuses
and lilting snowdrops.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Writing Hallsfoot
3. Submissions
4. Napping
5. Sudokus
6. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a killer instinct all of its own

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dictionary delights and a stroll in the sun

Woke up feeling somewhat calmer today, thank the Lord - maybe the happy pills are kicking in? A relief to us all, I'm sure. Have been further cheered also by the good news that The Oddville Press will be publishing my short story, Candy and Catharsis, in March, hurrah! I'm particularly pleased with that one as (a) it's my attempt at a literary comic short, which I've been told by "those in the know" is something that cannot be done, and (b) how can you not be pleased with a short story about one dictionary word's (Catharsis) overarching love for another (Candy) and his brave, dramatic, traumatic and ultimately peculiarly satisfying pursuit of the Word of His Dreams, aided and abetted by his close friend, Categorical Imperative (don't call me Imp)? All of which takes place in the magical mystical world of the New Concise Oxford English Dictionary 2004 edition. Oh, and I can guarantee you'll learn a few new C words on the journey (of the pleasant kind, of course - this is a high-class dictionary, after all ...). I certainly did. Bet you can't wait for that one, eh ...

Other good writing news is that my short story, Painting from Life, is scheduled for a May publication date by Eternal Press, where I'm concentrating on my more customary themes of art, obsession and the sinister. Always play to your strengths is what I say. After all, I'm probably the most sinister and obsessive woman in Godalming. If not Surrey.

Mind you, against all this excitement, the universe has not abandoned its sense of balance, as I've also had a 55-word fiction rejected by a publisher I thought might take it. Ah well. I might let that one be for a while - I seem to be doing better on the longer fiction after all.

Anyway, today Lord H has whisked me off for a calming and soothing walk at Polesden Lacey, which has been really wonderful. The sunshine and unexpected warmth has been glorious, the sky was a deep rich blue, the grounds were awash with snowdrops and crocuses and we even spotted our first bee and butterfly of the year. Astonishing really how February this year has given us our most vicious experience of winter and also the onset of spring. A month of two halves indeed. We also found that Polesden has been given something of a make-over and now has new toilets and a new restaurant. Being something of a toilet fetishist (a civilisation can be judged purely and simply on the state of its loos, to my mind), I naturally had to try them out. Three times. I was fairly impressed - particularly with the no-touch taps and the fact that one of the basins was lower than the rest to cater for small people or wheelchairs. The down side was that on my final visit I did get rather confused about where the exit was (well, I'm not good with directions, even when I've been to a place before ...) and ended up trying to exit the building by way of the disabled toilet. Which was especially annoying as a small group of women were watching me struggle - couldn't they have simply put me right and pointed at the way out?? No, too much to ask, I suppose - and probably more amusing to see if I worked it out at all. Sigh!

And while I'm in a more soothed frame of mind, here's this morning's meditation, which start off in gloomy fashion but is redeemed by a more tongue-in-cheek ending, I hope:

Meditation 75

Everything is seven times worse
than you thought it would be:

fevers blind you;
the rich land crumbles to dust;

your children are snatched by wolves;
great cities fall to nothing;

and the sound of a leaf on the wind
makes you run trembling away.

All in all,
it seems a lot of fuss

about a few false gods.

Tonight, there's not much on that we desperately want to watch, so Lord H and I are planning to make inroads into our DVD of the Love on a Branch Line series - not something I've seen before, but Lord H is keen and says it's weird and comic - so probably really rather us ...

Today's nice things (more than yesterday, thank the Lord ...!):

1. Short story acceptance
2. A publication date for Painting from Life
3. The National Trust (Gawd bless it ...)
4. Poetry
5. DVDs.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - trying not to swallow a whole dictionary, at least not all at once ...

Friday, February 20, 2009

The invisible writer and putting the boot in

God, what a day. It's really been one moment of crap followed closely by another moment of crap. On the whole. And ooh look another will be joining it shortly. Oh what joy. I am seriously pissed off. I don't know but people have been getting on my wick today, and irritating me beyond measure. Is it Let's Piss Anne Off Day and I missed the national email telling me so?? Deeep sigh ...

Anyway, first off, the ruddy hospital send me another letter telling me to come for a scan in March. Well, I've only just had a ruddy scan last week - what do they want me to buy? A season ticket?? Are my bits just so incredibly fascinating that they must scan them on a monthly basis? Naturally I rang up to sort it out first thing this morning, and the woman on the other end of the line told me there must be something wrong for them to want to bring me in again so soon. Well, that made me feel cheerful, I can tell you. However, after a few moments of hyperventilating and wondering how many days (nay minutes) I might have left to live, she came back and said there was nothing untoward on my notes and it must just be an error. Well, phew. All's well that ends proverbially, but I could have done without the ride. To be honest.

I then attempted to squeeze out some words for Hallsfoot's Battle but Lordy it's a total struggle today and I can't seem to raise any interest in it at all, let alone inspiration. Whatever that is. I've stretched it out to just (barely) over 94,000 words but that's quite a stretch and I suspect what I've attempted to add will have to be ditched in the eventual edit. And some. Sigh.

My headache really began to build up when I hot-footed it to golf and of course it's half-term so (reasonably enough) there is a plethora of young people on the course. So it took so much longer to trudge round. Added to that the fact that I can no longer open my car boot and therefore cannot get to my golf trolley, which meant I had to lug the damn bag round myself. Totally exhausting, my dears, and my arm aches like anything now. It was gone 1pm before we actually finished.

I then leapt desperately into Godalming to do some shopping I've been putting off for weeks, and then found when I got back that I only had half an hour to eat lunch before going to my Alexander Technique lesson. This gave me just enough time to (a) eat, (b) add another 100 sorry-looking words to poor old Hallsfoot, and (c) ring the garage to ask if I could bring the car round so they could look at my boot lock problem. To which the answer was: yes, anytime up till 6pm and they'd be sure to look at it for me.

I then went and had my AT lesson - which was okay but I wasn't sure I was relaxed enough to take anything in. Let alone how to be relaxed. Even the two calming pills I've taken today aren't helping me there. After that, I got to the garage (Lord, but Guildford traffic is serious crap) at just before 4pm. Only to be told that all the technical people leave at 4pm and can't look at my car until next week anyway. Then why the hell didn't they tell me that on the bloody phone when I rang???!!? God, but sometimes I think I'm totally invisible and nobody pays me a blind bit of notice. Are my perfectly valid questions simply the distant sound of soft bleating to them?? But fear not - I expressed my disappointment in reasonable yet firm terms and did not (as I longed to do) fall screaming to the floor in the ruddy showroom and start biting the tyres of the nearest sales car. Maybe I should have done. The upshot is that I've booked an appointment for the car to have its boot opened in a couple of weeks' time when we're back from holiday - on a day that Lord H can take me in as I couldn't have hired an alternative car apparently until the end of March. God, but it's so bloody complicated. Till then, at least I know the bloody things in the bloody boot are safe, even if the ruddy car gets stolen. Deeeep sigh.

Meanwhile, back at the work ranch, I see the very sweet lady from the Arts Office has sent an email round to the University Book Group telling us that when we're making our choices of the next tranche of books to talk about, we can't choose self-published books, even though last year they looked at "Anne Brooke's self-published novel, A Dangerous Man, as she is a staff member." Self-published?? A Dangerous Man?? I don't think so. Or, at least, it's the first I've heard of it. I'm sure Flame Books would be delighted to find out that their whole company is in fact run by ... me. Even deeeeeper sigh. I sent back a (rather less reasonable, but hell it's lucky I can still put words together in any kind of calm order at all) reply saying that while half of my novels are self-published, A Dangerous Man actually isn't and so was never part of any special dispensation to the rules, and I wouldn't expect to be treated differently anyway. As I has said at the time. Though in actual fact, it's also true to say that all of my available novels bar one are now commercially published, whether by paperback or eBook, and the next one off the press will also be a commercial production. Not that any of this will matter of course, as it now appears that anything I say is disregarded as random witterings or thought not important enough to remember - good to know my invisibility continues to widen its remit - at least something is working in Anne's World then, if only in a negative way ... In the meantime, it would be terribly refreshing if the facts about something I said or produced were actually listened to or regarded as remotely memorable - just once in my ruddy life!!...

In addition to all this, I've just had to speak to the middle neighbour (always tricky at the best of times) who somehow seems rather more tricksy than usual. He said something that particularly irritated me (and believe me my irritation levels are off the scale today, as you can probably tell) and instead of saying something jolly or soothing as I usually do (which is I know what I'm expected as a woman to do and which again he doesn't listen to, as a matter of course), I just didn't reply and stared at him. I think that took him by surprise, and I managed to escape earlier than anticipated, thank goodness. Any more conversation with people of any shape or form and I might just have to punch them, scream loudly and run away. God but that seems like a plan.

And here's today's meditation - the writing of which frankly seems a damn long time ago. Really I am pissed off with the whole of this day already and I want no more of it. I'm tired, that damn headache won't let me go, nobody listens to a word I say, I have the housework to face and I can't even open a bottle of wine any more to take the edge off. Bloody hell.

Meditation 74

The land breathes riches
for six years

and sleeps across your senses
for the seventh.

What you have not planted
will nourish you

and what you release
from your hand

will lighten your weight
upon the earth,

help you to dream again.

But do not fear, people - astonishingly, all is not lost. At the end of all this sludge and existential misery, Lord H has come back from work (hurrah!) and allowed me to pummel his chest in order to get rid of some of the angst - an essential duty which really should be performed by every husband. And I do feel a bit better now. Thank the Lord. Oh and I've had my third chocolate of the day - so my insulin levels will be crap but at least it raises the happy hormones ...

Today's nice things (um ...):

1. Chocolate
2. Lord H
3. Chocolate
4. Lord H.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - if you blink you'll miss it ...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Night-time poems and the post-birthday world

Had a great time out with the gals last night, though we all agreed Edwinns in Bramley is shockingly expensive. £10 for a glass of wine?? Heck, you could buy the ruddy vineyard for those prices, especially in these credit crisis days ... That said, their treacle tart & clotted cream was to die for and I am still hyperventilating at the very thought of it. Mmm, lovely. However, I should have listened to Jane H (hello, Jane - you were right!) and stuck to the decaff coffee, as at 1am this morning, I was awake, alert and could have started a full day's work, if I ever remember what one of those is. It took me over an hour and a half to get back to sleep again. That said, it's not all bad news and grunting, as I made up a poem in my head whilst awake, managed to remember it and write it down when the real morning turned up, called it Moonflawed, submitted it to Ink Sweat & Tears webzine and they have accepted it for future publication (thank you, Charles!) - so that's put a smile on my not-fully-awake-and-unlikely-ever-to-be-so face today.

Talking of poems, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 73

On the sacred table
keep the bright lamps

let the priests’ bread

be nourished
by the light

that watches
your every step

stone-cherished, completed.
Remember the debt

you owe
and who will pay it.

Maybe there's something to be said for a good dose of caffeine once in a while then, if only for the productivity stakes ... Though these have been rather lacking for good old Hallsfoot's Battle as I have only just managed to scrape my way into the 92,000 word zone, with little chance of doing more to it before the day is over, I fear. Still at least I have ideas for what to do when I go back to it - and we're getting to the scene in the book where Ralph and Simon actually meet up for the first time since The Gifting, so that should be interesting. Particularly as the deeply wicked mind-executioner is masterminding (sorry!) it all.

And talking of plots, the lovely people at Dreamspinner Press and I have been working on a web blurb for The Bones of Summer which I hope will be finalised shortly. It's making me realise there's more to it than even I'd realised: relationships; religion; murder; memories. Lordy, where will it all end? Just like the home life of our own dear queen indeed ...

This afternoon, I am off to Guildford for my regular session of Clarins facial and back massage, and I must also post an updated contract addendum to Eternal Press for the short story publication of Painting from Life. Here's hoping the Post Office queues aren't too unbearably long.

After all that, it's a quick dash back home and turn-around as tonight Lord H and I are at the theatre seeing Pack of Lies - all about some distinctly unusual neighbours. I'm hoping it will keep us on our toes and we'll be able (at last! At last!) to admire the name plaques on the back of our seats. Lordy that's so sad it's almost psychotic, but I am really so excited I might well be sick. Which says it all about the extraordinary size of my ego ...

Meanwhile, on the reading front, I've finished Lionel Shriver's The Post-Birthday World. It's a challenging novel but, I think, a classic. It takes one moment in Irina's (the heroine) life and then spins two different, unique but cleverly mirrored stories from whether she did - or did not - succumb to the temptation of kissing her friend Ramsey. The first third is truly wonderful and I loved Irina, the second third is abysmally dull and I hated her, and the final third is miraculously clever and exciting and I came to accept her. Much like the course of one's life, I suppose. Anyway, the ending is pitch-perfect and, all in all, it's damn good, brave, human and ultimately very satisfying. Yes, that middle third needs a good seeing-to (as it were) but - much like listening to a Wagner opera - you need to go through that pain in order to comprehend the genius of the finale. You should read it.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry acceptances
2. Poems
3. Getting a little more of Hallsfoot done
4. Thinking about the Bones blurb
5. Clarins massages
6. Theatre trips
7. A genius of a book.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - pursuing its own mirror existence, several times over ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Medical lies, wildernesses and chat

A slight relapse on the health front this morning, I fear - my nose has a mind of its own, alas (and how I've always wanted to use "alas" in a blog, so that's hugely cheering ...). And I feel as if my head is full of mud. Could I have caught the cold a second time from Lord H - who is now feeling better? An image of the future stretches ahead in which the cold becomes something that never leaves us, scary thought ...

Anyway, I was determined that today we would have our holiday jabs, come what may - as we're off next week and are taking it to the wire. As it were. So when the lovely nurse prepared her syringe and asked if I was feeling well enough, I looked her straight in the eyes and lied for Britain. Well, sometimes it's best for the medical profession not to know entirely everything - if only for the stress levels of the patient.

But thank goodness I have a day off today - I don't think I could have coped with being at work, as whatever it is - the cold, the jab, me - I feel as if I could sleep for a week. And some. Despite that, however, I have bravely faced down my half-finished short story, The Wilderness Room, and I have actually finished it, hurrah! It's turned out roughly similar to what I envisaged too, so that's a miracle in itself. It feels nice to have got it down - I do so hate things floating around half-done.

I've also managed to cobble together a morning meditation:

Meditation 72

In the middle of the parties,
the poor are a shadow

at the corner of your field,
at the edge of your eye.

You remember them
when the last of the grain

is gathered, the last
of the crop cut.

Do not keep what you do not need
and let your hand be open

to the song of the wind,
to the sky’s wideness.

Exhausted by all this excitement, I then collapsed on the bed and have spent a whole three hours asleep. Three hours! What a waste of an afternoon, my grandma would say ... Still, as she's dead, I don't need to worry about her opinion, hurrah, and I so definitely needed the nap. I'd even go so far as to say I feel a little better now.

Which can only be a good thing, as tonight I'm out with some old workmates (old as in former - we're all young and glamorous, naturally ...) for dinner and chat at a local restaurant, so I'm looking forward to catching up for sure. Just hope I don't fall asleep over the pasta - that wouldn't be very Surrey.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the jabs sorted at last
2. A day off
3. Finishing my short story
4. Poetry
5. Napping - big-time!
6. Dinner out.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - just about keeping its eyes open

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Advances and retreats

It’s slightly puzzling that the snow the security people at work nobly piled up at the edges of the car park is still sitting there. Being snow. I would have thought it would have melted by now, but there is obviously a small part of Surrey that will remain forever Greenland …

Anyway, here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 71

Offer a male
without defect,
says the Lord.

The search
could take some time then,
say I.

Sorry - couldn't resist it!... At work I’m attempting to proof-read the Personal Tutors’ Handbook yet again and when that’s done, I might even be at the stage to think about printing it. You never know. I’m hoping for a summer launch, but which summer I haven’t quite decided yet.

Walked into town at lunchtime, mainly to ask the bank if they’re able to deal with a cheque in US dollars for my advance for The Bones of Summer. Well, it’s a dang sight quicker than ringing them up, as you can’t actually telephone my local branch as they don’t answer the phone, and even the Head Office isn’t able to reach them. Deeeep sigh – we’re very exclusive here in the home counties, you know … So, if I ring, I have to speak to someone in Nottingham who doesn’t know anything – or at least that’s what happened the last time, so I don’t want to go through that trauma again. And I suspect neither do they. UPDATE: As I thought, speaking face-to-face to a real person was much better, and yes they can deal with cheques. Phew, that's a relief then ... Now I have to face the traumas of working out what to do about the US tax situation - hmm, anyone who can shed some light on this will earn my undying gratitude ...

To balance this literary advance (ho ho – sorry, couldn’t resist it), I’ve had a rejection for one of my short story submissions this morning, so the universe is at peace again. After all, too much success is bad for me. Still, I’m hoping to send the story out again somewhere more discerning tonight (says she, with an unexpected influx of confidence – heck, that can’t last then). Talking of confidence, this week’s heroes are … me, me and … um … me. Because I’m worth it. Ruth thinks this is highly amusing but the boss is looking worried. Thank goodness my review isn’t soon … Do you think it’s a tad too self-obsessed?? Even for me? No, surely not ...

Meanwhile, back at the (working) ranch, I’ve started organising a small team of us gals to enter the Race for Life event in Guildford in June to help raise money for cancer research. Well, as some of you may remember, Penny from Advice died of cancer last year and we still miss her. And, as she died on my birthday, just as I was settling down to a lovely lunch out with Lord H in Wisley (which she would have enjoyed for the kick-ass coincidence of it all …), I feel strangely and humanly responsible. Nothing to do with the food, I hope! We’re thinking of having pink t-shirts made with Penny’s Pals on them actually – she’d have loved that as well for sure.

Tonight, I’ll be watching Who Do You Think You Are? And then it’s Oz & James’s drunken UK tour, which is so totally non-PC and therefore utterly gripping. Oh and I must say that I thought Whitechapel (which sadly ended last night) has been one of the best crime dramas on TV for a long, long time, and please please can they make it into a series. Those two policemen are just great.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Thinking about advances
3. This week’s heroes (my, what a spectacularly good choice)
4. Race for Life plans
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - carrying out a retreat all of its own

Monday, February 16, 2009

Contracts and meetings

First off, here’s this morning’s meditation, which is the first time I’ve had the energy for it since last week. Nice to get back into the poetic routine once more, I must say:

Meditation 70

No room for disability
or weakness
in this new world.

Let the stone
around your neck
pull you down

through salt and weed
and strange sea monsters.

What hope then
for any of us?

Back into the work fray today, though I’m wearing my scarf and sipping Lucozade – I always like to look the part of the recuperating invalid, as well as be it … And I’ve spent a lot of the morning arranging meetings for the boss. I think that’s his diary sorted till 2012 now, with absolutely no breathing room, poor chap. Here at the cutting edge of Student Care, the pace never stops, I can tell you.

I’ve also (hurrah!) posted the signed contract for The Bones of Summer back to Dreamspinner Press, so that feels like a major step forward. And it certainly takes away any existential pain resulting from this morning’s rejection of three pieces of 55-word fictions – my dears, today it’s the proverbial water off a duck’s back … Suspect that won’t last however!

This lunchtime, I had to take the minutes for the Student Experience executive group – I don’t really feel as if I know what’s going on, but I write like crazy and nod at the appropriate times. Well, I’ve never been much of a high-flier. As you can probably tell. I like to keep my head down and type. But it’s all good stuff, I'm sure – just way out of my league.

Tonight I was supposed to be discussing Jodi Picoult’s marvellous My Sister’s Keeper at the University Book Group, but I’ve cried off as I started to flag quite early on in the day. My main aim is to collapse as soon as possible onto the sofa and take a few smelling salts. So my usual evening entertainment then …

Ooh, and there’s the glorious Whitechapel on TV later – the last episode which I absolutely must watch. More please. Sad to say though, Lord H seems to have caught my cold, poor chap (which he rarely does), so I am ministering Lemsip and cooking chips. The perfect cold cure combination, I hope ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Posting the Bones contract
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - battling on gamely ...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A lazy day and good Bones news

Have spent a lot of today not doing very much and generally attempting to get better. I think things have improved since yesterday, but it's funny how the older I get the longer it takes me to get over a cold. And the more it wears me out. Ah, I'm not strong, my dears - somebody pass me the Sanatogen ... Mind you, I've managed to leave the flat (just to check if the car is working: it is) for the first time since Thursday, so that's progress at least.

However, today's top-notch Good News (with capitals) is that The Bones of Summer has been accepted for publication by Dreamspinner Press in the States, hurrah! I'd crack open another bottle of champers, but I suspect I've already had this month's alcohol supplies and it would be more than foolish. But the virtual champagne is well and truly flowing. I'll send back the signed contract tomorrow and then wait to get my teeth into the edits with them. I think it might be an autumn 2009 publication date, but that's still to be sorted. So watch this space ...

In the midst of all this excitement, I've added another 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle and am in the middle of a scene with Annyeke and the great Library. The second elder's wife, Iffenia, is also in it so I'd better make sure something dramatic happens pretty damn soon as they're both kick-ass women and won't thank me if I don't give them some real action ... Lordy, one's characters can be pretty tricksy at times, I can tell you.

I also think I'm bonding with our balloon - we're tethering it up at night on the ironing board but we've now got used to it floating free around the flat during the day and going where it wants to. Almost like having a pet really. Occasionally Lord H and I will play a kind of balloon frisby where we butt it at each other with our heads, but I do accept that is probably on the dodgy side of lunacy. But hell there's not much TV on till later, so one must make one's own entertainment here in the shires.

Talking of entertainment, we've finally got round to watching our DVD of In Bruges, with the glorious Colin Farrell. Hmm, not one of my favourite films, I must admit - I was hoping for more comedy and a nicer ending, but we enjoyed seeing Bruges once more, and Lord H particularly remarked upon the good use of religious symbolism. And there was I thinking it was just a lot of blood - shows what I know about film then ...

Tonight, we have the next update in the History of Christianity programme, then it's Lark Rise to Candleford (marry him, Dorcas, marry him!), followed by Jeremy Paxman doing Victorian art. Lordy but Sunday nights are definitely getting stranger ...

This week's haiku:

Tea and poetry:
society's last great hopes
before the night falls.

Today's nice things:

1. Bones being accepted for publication, hurrah!
2. Writing more of Hallsfoot
3. Balloon games
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - the party starts here ...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Illness, angels and a new short story site

Still sick, my dears, dammit - not a great way to spend Valentine's Day really - though between Lord H and myself, we have gathered together a satisfying collection of books, chocolates, flowers and cards, so we are doing our bit to support the great saint (who apparently is buried in Birmingham, according to the Church Times, and they're never wrong - so there's still time to rush there and pay your respects ...).

And I'm smiling as one of my outstanding publishers has requested the full manuscript for The Bones of Summer, so I've formatted that in the way they specify and sent that off to them last night. Well, gosh - something that isn't a rejection (yet) is always good news. It would be so lovely if I could get the second (and final) part of Paul & Craig's story out into the public domain. I think it deserves an airing and, if I got lucky, it would be my first ever sequel - so a new string to the bow for me.

For most of today (which we had planned to spend worshipping at the Chocolate Festival in Polesdon Lacey, but sadly that's off the menu) I've stared at the television (Friends was fun this morning - how I do love Chandler and Monica; they're so made for each other), done some sudokus and slept. Well, getting up and getting dressed is just sooo exhausting, you know.

I've also uploaded my supernatural short story, Miss Dobson's Angel, to the new Shortbread Short Stories site and you can read it here. You may have to join up but it's free and you get such stalwarts as Alexander McCall Smith strutting his literary wares there, so it has class. Although having me on it as well is probably moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, but hey ho.

Ooh, and I've eaten a small lunch of some sushi, so am just about keeping body and soul together (possibly unlike poor Miss Dobson ...). Plus in a fit of confidence, I've added champagne to the fridge in case I feel up to alcohol tonight. Bloody hell, I'd better do - no Essex Girl has ever refused alcohol except under duress, so I don't want to buck the trend now.

So, whatever you're doing, have a good Valentine's Day and don't forget the most important person to love is yourself. Hell, where did that come from???!! Somebody pass me the bucket - my personality has obviously been swopped ...

Today's nice things:

1. Presents
2. A request for the full MS of Bones
3. TV
4. Sudokus
5. A new short story being available
6. Champagne (whatever my state of health).

Anne Brooke
Anne's Website - has a few tales to tell of its own ...

Friday, February 13, 2009

A slight relapse and a novel milestone

Had a great sleep last night, but bizarrely I seem to be suffering from a slight relapse. I'm not as good as yesterday, but thankfully not as bad as the day before. Something in between then - ah, as in writing, so in life, eh. I should be used to falling between two camps by now, ho ho. And I'm drinking so much Lucozade that it's likely I'm going to be awake for months to come due to the influx of e-numbers into my system, sigh. In illness terms, I also wish I was doing more sneezing (which is at least fun and you can jump up and down and squeak a lot while you're doing it - or is that just me?...) and less coughing. What I need, my dears, is a spittoon. There's something to be said for the Wild West after all.

Anyway, as a result, I've cancelled golf with Marian and also my Alexander Technique lesson, and have spent the day drooping round the flat and staring in a puzzled fashion at the computer. So no real change there then. I haven't been entirely lazy however - I've sent out The Bones of Summer to another publisher who might like it, so that's two live submissions on that front then. Which always makes me feel somewhat happier than the existential terror of having only one submission in the field - probably something to do with the fact that it's very rare (or vastly unlucky) to get two rejections back at the same time, so if one publisher says no, then at least there's an alternative still out there. Honestly, in this game, you have to build in all the mental support tricks you can think of - as otherwise you'll go under.

I've also managed to do quite well on my planned Johan scene in Hallsfoot's Battle which has veered off in an unexpected but somehow logical direction. Lordy how I love it when that happens. And - hurrah and put out the bunting! - I've reached the milestone of 90,000 words about two weeks before my deadline of doing so. Double hurrahs and crack open the champers. Only another 30,000 or so words to go and I might even have a quivery first draft of a fantasy novel on my hands. Admittedly, one that'll need countless changes and a whole lot of remixing, but hey that's the way it is in Brooke Towers.

So, this afternoon, I'm planning a nap and a hell of a lot of sudokus - and I really ought to think about food at some point as I still haven't eaten anything since I struggled with breakfast this morning (it defeated me) so am obviously on the Food Go Slow Conveyor Belt once more. Lordy only knows what I'm going to do with the pizza I got out of the freezer for tonight. Sigh. I feel Lord H might be on his own at the dining table again. Somebody pass me the gruel and those smelling salts ...

Today's nice things:

1. Submitting Bones to another publisher - hope springs eternal, eh!
2. Getting to the 90,000 mark with Hallsfoot, hurrah
3. Napping
4. Sudokus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - anyone seen that pesky spittoon?...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hallsfoot, hospitals and mystic balloons

Hurrah, I am feeling almost human today, rather than a disease on (rather quivery) legs, so that's a huge relief. Mind you, I still stayed in the living room all night last night - as lying down flat with catarrh is a No Go Area (for reasons I am too generous to explain ...) and I even managed to tot up four hours' sleep. Which is fabulous really. Which brings me to the mystery of the balloon: I had flowers, chocolates and the said (helium) balloon delivered to Lord H for his birthday on Monday and we think the balloon has fallen in love with him. Either that or it's planning something very suspicious indeed. It floats disconsolately around the flat until it finds him and only then does it stay put - yesterday evening, for instance, Lord H brought it into the living room to cheer me up and then he decided to do some reading in the bedroom. When I looked up ten minutes later, the balloon had vanished and a quick search found it hovering above the unsuspecting husband near the curtains. Spooky ... Thinking it was a one-off, I retrieved the balloon and took it back into the living room. Keeping a close eye on it, I watched as it then moved very, very slowly towards the living room door, hovered in the landing for a moment and then turned left and drifted through the bedroom door, coming to rest by Lord H again. It's the turning left that raises the suspicions ... For now, we've tethered its string down with a book on the ironing board, but I'm sure it will find its way out of that at some stage. The plot thickens, Carruthers ...

Anyway from the ridiculous to the sublime: I'm delighted to find out that Every Day Fiction have accepted my flash fiction piece, Night Bees, for publication, so that's thrilling, and I shall look forward to getting a publication date for that. It's one I started to write at the University Writers' Group, so I'm glad it's found a home.

This morning I've trotted off to the hospital to have a post-operation scan. Which sounds easy, my dears, but trust me: it's been complicated. When I received the letter giving me the appointment, I saw they were going to do it the old-fashioned way which means you have to drink a litre of fluid during the two hours before the allotted scan time and hang on to your water (as it were). Bearing in mind my insulin problems, hanging onto the water is always a challenge, so I have to plan to eat lots of salt at the same time to give me a fighting chance of success. So from 7.30am, I've been drinking like a particularly thirsty fish and downing salted cashew nuts along with it (which isn't really that great for the insulin thing either, but needs must etc etc ...). So I arrived at the hospital, congratulating myself on my supreme self-control in the urinary department, and the nurse called me in and asked me to confirm that I was having a kidney scan. I instantly confirmed that I wasn't doing any such thing and I was actually having a uterus scan to see how things were after the op. I also said that I'd drunk my litre of liquid (Lucozade if you're asking) so it should all be okay. She then had a look at my letter, groaned and told me that in fact it was the wrong letter - I should have been sent the one saying I didn't need to drink anything, although I did need to go to the loo before they scanned, as they now have this marvellous new equipment (which I will also not explain out of the kindness of my heart ...) that means the old ways are soooo last year. Sigh ... Anyway, I then trotted off to the loo, undid all the good work I hadn't needed to do in the first place, ditched the ruddy cashews, and all was well. And the good news is she thinks everything looks fine so there's no need to worry - though I should get the results by letter over the next week. Which I have interpreted as being over the next month, naturally.

Oh and I think I'm now seen as the town lunatic (is the position up for grabs? I really must apply ...) - I was walking from the Tesco car park to the hospital (well, it's cheaper that way) when a bird flew past me and I thought in my head: ooh look, a bird! I wonder what it is! However, the words didn't actually remain in my head - they came out of my mouth just as I passed the bus-stop and the woman waiting there gave me a startled look and shrank away. Oh Lordy, do you think I've been in the flat too long? I smiled widely at her (which probably made it worse, thinking about it), decided explanations wouldn't help and carried on. Groan. What else can you do?...

On the way back from town, I also popped into the Ford garage as my windscreen washers (is it just me or is this a very liquid-orientated blog today??) aren't working and no water is coming out either at the back or the front (of the car, people, the car ...). Unfortunately, the words "windscreen washers" completely escaped me as I was trying to tell the very patient James from the Parts Department what the problem was so I just had to keep making windscreen wiper movements with my arms and repeating "no water!". Thankfully, he seemed to understand in the end and he's mended it - without charge, so he must have felt sorry for me. Perhaps they think I'm a special needs driver? Can't say I blame them if they do. Apparently my pipes have frozen up in the bad weather and I might have to have a complete overhaul at some stage although I'm all right for the time being. Hmm, I'm not sure if he was talking about the car or me at that point - it's hard to tell.

Once back home, I have been struggling away with Hallsfoot's Battle - it took ages to get back into, but towards the end I suddenly got to the point of the scene I was writing, so that's a relief really. And I now have 89,500 words under my belt, hurrah. When I go back to it next, I think I'll tackle another Johan scene - I really do have to focus on the battle training, and he's definitely the man (or rather: Gathandrian) for the job.

Tonight, Lord H and I should have been going to the theatre, but actually I think we'll probably end up staying in. I am now sneezing for Britain (always a good sign though) so that certainly wouldn't be popular in the auditorium. And I'm definitely trying for an early night and getting back into the bedroom. But not with that dang balloon.

Today's nice things:

1. Feeling better
2. Lovesick balloons
3. Night Bees being accepted for publication
4. The scan looking okay
5. Hallsfoot
6. A night in.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - don't drink the water ...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sick as the proverbial

Sorry, just a short-ish post today as I'm sick as a dog. Dammit. Woke up at 3am with horrible catarrh problems and haven't been able to eat or sleep since. There's a hell of a lot of snorting though - so if we decide to have a snorting contest in the Olympics, then I'm a front-runner. I've read all the annuals in the living-room, watched a hell of a lot of television about buying a house - which actually seems to be the same television about house-buying that I watched when I was last sick. Do they have it on a loop? I've taken all the pills and drunk all the Lemsip I can have without exploding and put my towelled head over a basin of hot water and Vick's Vapour Rub. Lordy but I know how to live.

I've also spent most of the morning wearing my dressing gown, a woolly hat and a scarf in an attempt to keep my ears and throat functioning. Thank the Lord nobody called round ... Plus I've been loaded with guilt and protestant trauma about leaving poor Carol at work doing the mentor interviews on her own. I hope she's okay. Though I have managed to do some work remotely so I don't leave the poor boss high and dry for the upcoming meeting on Monday.

The one nice thing is that I did scrape up enough energy to have a very slow bath with rose-scented bath oil at about 1.30pm so at least I feel clean. If exhausted - washing is so tiring, you know. Lordy but I'm even dressed. I suspect that's probably enough exercise for one day though ...

Have also watched the video of Larkrise to Candleford so that was nice too. Tonight, I might even stretch to the emotional energies needed for Who Do You Think You Are? But I'm not counting on it - housing programmes might indeed be my intellectual limit so far.

Oh and I've finished the latest edition of Equinox poetry magazine. I don't think it was quite as sharp as the last edition, though I did enjoy Nicola Daly's Pillow Talk (a charming snapshot of factory life), Thyrza Leyshon's The Red Dress (a model's feelings about the picture she's posing for) and John Younger's Out of True (landscape changes contrasted with emotional ones). All three stood out for me.

Best go and lie down and have some more Lucozade now, I feel. Where would I be without it?

Today's nice things:

1. Lark Rise to Candleford
2. Rose-scented baths
3. Poetry
4. Lucozade.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - keeping the Lucozade factory going in these difficult times ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reports, a quick shop and novel reading events

First off, here’s this morning’s meditation, which is possibly the one moment of calm I will get today:

Meditation 69

Before us lies
a rich and fertile land

but the way is barred
by regulations

so intricate
it is impossible

to keep them.
Easier to fall

into the sea’s warm beckoning,
let its salt embrace

cover your dreams.

I’ve spent the whole morning typing up a series of rather intricate corrections for an urgent report from the boss which he needed by lunchtime. My how I love a deadline. Though at least it does take my mind a little away from worries about tonight. I definitely do not feel at all in control right now. In fact I’m rather shaky. So shaky in fact that, when I drove in, I had an utter mental blank and couldn’t remember where I usually park my car. Even though I’ve been coming here for over four years and have never had any problems. With the result that I drove pathetically around the executive carpark trying to find the way out, then into the visitors carpark and got stuck and then finally found my way to the usual main one. Honestly, I don’t really know what was going on – I just panicked. The campus layout is a complete enemy to me today. Sigh. Really, anything could happen tonight … UPDATE: So far I’ve lost two of my helpers so am down to a stalwart two people – I hope they’re good at moving chairs … Mind you, on the plus side, we’ve managed to contact the English Society who are being wonderful too, so that's great.

Managed to pop into town at lunchtime to do a spot of shopping. Including buying more food for tonight, as I’m not sure there’s enough. Bearing in mind this morning’s geographical crisis, I also checked up on where the restaurant is tonight – and, yes you’ve guessed it, I went down the wrong street entirely and panicked again. Lordy I am a wimp to end all wimps. Still, I found it in the end without bursting into hysterical tears – just. I intend to start hyperventilating any moment now, as you can see … Mind you, it seems the first chance I’ve had for ages to go to Guildford indeed – and the walk in was nice. Did I even see sun? Ye gods and little fishes.

This afternoon, I signed off at 4.30pm to go and set up the room for the novel reading with the lovely Emma Darwin. I hope (a) there’s enough wine and nibbles; (b) people turn up but not too many people as that will be terrifying, frankly; (c) I don’t make a mess of my introduction; (d) I can keep up with the English Department intellect and at least understand one of the questions they ask (are translations available for the mentally challenged?...); (e) I don’t sound too stupid in my concluding thank yous; and (f) people apart from me buy the novels. I’m also hoping the dinner afterwards goes well and Olivo’s in Guildford remember we’re coming (and I remember where it is …). So, as you can see, I’m hugely calm and on top of it all. Ho ho. Still, I’m looking forward to Emma’s actual reading though. Can’t wait to buy the new book. UPDATE: it was fabulous and it all went very well, hurrah. I have no idea why I was in such a state - is it my hormones?? Anyway, Emma was fascinating (as ever), the English Society & the Department were fabulous and I even got chocolates (thank you, Fiona!). And dinner was great too. The only slight crisis was that I drove four of us including Emma into Guildford as taking one car from the Uni was just easier - and I actually couldn't find my way out of the ruddy carpark. Sarah had to direct me. Lordy, but I am a klutz. It's astonishing I get to the end of a normal day at all. Slinks off in embarrassment ...

Ooh, and at home I see a publisher has asked to see the full MS of The Gifting. Goodness me indeed!

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. The walk into town
3. The moment when Emma reads
4. Emma’s new book
5. Dinner out
6. A publisher requesting The Gifting.

Anne Brooke
Anne Brooke - whatever you do, don't ask me for directions ...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Birthday celebrations and story successes

Big celebrations today as it’s Lord H’s birthday! I seem to have managed to get the right sort of presents and we’re continuing to munch our happy way through the birthday cake, hurrah. I’ve even cut us a slice each for lunch too. Goodness me but my Wife Points are topping the scale. Big-time.

It’s also nice to see that my flash fiction story, Over in Five, is now published and can be found here – never trust a visit to the zoo is what I say … Additional story news is that Eternal Press have sent me the edits to my short story, Painting from Life, so I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into those for them. And, to cap it all, I’ve also started my planned short story about wildernesses at last. UPDATE: And I've just heard that Every Day Poets have accepted my poem, Old Prayers, for future publication, so that's wonderful. Heck, it’s really all go here at the literary coalface at the moment, you know. Long may it last! However, that said, I've had a rejection for The Bones of Summer today (groan), so that leaves me with only one publisher left before I start the next desperate tranche (double sighing ...). Ah well.

Meanwhile at work I’ve been organising the boss’s filing, finishing off the first draft of the minutes I started last week and attempting to sort out last minute arrangements for tomorrow’s novel reading event. I think we have enough chairs for the room – though rather sweetly it took three men from Estates to come and tell me. Goodness, but my scary reputation must indeed go before me – they obviously think there’s safety in numbers.

At lunchtime, I had my rescheduled reflexology appointment held over from last Monday (which I think must from now on be called Snowy Monday) so that was utter bliss as usual. I think I’m going to need that memory of calm to see me through the trials and tribulations of attempting to organise tomorrow’s event however. I am so definitely not a natural Mistress of Ceremonies at all – and goodness me I have to deal with people too. No doubt it will be my social inclusion quota for the month – though I’m sure when everyone’s there and it’s all got going, it’ll be most enjoyable.

Tonight, I need to pop in and see Gladys as I didn’t get to see her at all last week – shame on me. Then I’m cooking Lord H’s requested birthday meal of sausages, chips and mushrooms followed by ice cream, all washed down with champagne. Well, we like to live healthy lives, you know. But I won’t be singing him “Happy Birthday” – as he’s already had to run that gauntlet and is even now lying down in a darkened room trying to recover …

Ooh, and there’s the glorious Whitechapel on TV too, which we are both very keen to watch. A perfect evening indeed!

Today’s nice things:

1. Birthday celebrations
2. Over in Five being published
3. Starting the edits for Painting from Life
4. Starting a new short story
5. Old Prayers being accepted for publication
6. Reflexology
7. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - drinking the night away

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Poetry success, gardens and a birthday lunch

Some good news today - my poem about the litany (how perfect for a Sunday really) is now published and can be found here. You can even give it marks out of five and leave comments if you like - so go for it is what I say! I've also heard that The Battered Suitcase webzine will be publishing two of my poems in June, so I'm thrilled about that too.

And talking of poetry, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 68

We stand
in a web
of connections

that links us
to a thousand others
we do not see.

Be careful then
of the great canyon
that divides:

if you choose
to pass through it
you will be truly alone.

Still, not all good news though - I had yet another rejection from Smokelong Quarterly magazine (I fear they will soon become like Mslexia in that they take one look at my name and reach for the shredder, alas ...), so have taken a deep breath and sent that particular piece of flash fiction out to the next lucky recipient. And maybe I'll give Smokelong a rest for a while - which I'm sure will be a great relief to them!

Anyway, for the rest of the day, I've taken Lord H out for a pre-birthday lunch (it's tomorrow, if you're asking) at Wisley and a wander around the gardens - which was most enjoyable and the rain held off, hurrah. And we managed to spot nuthatches, chaffinches, green finches and a plethora of tits (as it were), including a coal tit. There were a lot of families with young children about, but the strange thing about Wisley is that there can be crowds of people and it still doesn't feel too overwhelming for we sociopaths. Lord H was musing about whether taking one's young family to Wisley is a particularly "Surrey" thing - in that it's like taking them out to the park but you have to pay to get in or be a member, so your little darlings will be safe from mixing with the poor people. Hmm, he may well be right, you know. In which case, it's a miracle they let us in at all.

I also did a very daring thing and actually walked around the new butterfly enclosures in the glass houses too. Which was very brave as the last time I did that - fifteen years ago on our honeymoon - I (foolish and innocent girl that I was!) hadn't realised they wouldn't be behind glass cages and started hyperventilating and swatting them if they got too close. Which didn't go down too well with the butterfly keepers at the time, I can tell you ... Well, they're insects - fly spray is the only answer if they dare to be inside. Anyway, this time, I am calmer and more mature (ho ho), so I just smiled and ducked if they flew towards my hair. And so I've laid that demon to rest at last - though I certainly won't be doing it again in the too near future. One act of courage per year is enough.

Tonight, I'll be watching the Christianity programme (though I'm not sure of Ann Widdecombe's skills as a presenter, to be honest) and then it's The Devil Wears Prada, which I am loathe to miss. So I'll have to video Lark Rise to Candleford and the programme on Turkey that follows it for watching later.

This week's haiku is:

Snow brings strange magic:
the world pauses, entranced by
a vast white silence.

Today's nice things:

1. Spaces being published
2. Two poems being accepted for publication
3. Meditation poetry
4. A day in Wisley
5. TV
6. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - no longer a menace to the butterfly world ...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Birds, cakes and books

Lord H and I have spent the day wandering about Warsash on the south coast today on the trail of the long-tailed duck. A pesky and elusive beast. So no, we didn't see it, dammit. However, we did see widgeon, a little egret, oystercatchers and a heron amongst other things. We then spent a happy quarter of an hour munching our sandwiches in the car (how very British ...) and enjoying the two slices of birthday cake I'd remembered to bring. Ah, my Wife Points are at an all-time high now, you know. And the cake was pretty damn good too, hurrah.

In the afternoon we had a lovely walk along Southsea (the posh part of Portsmouth) beach and saw a glaucous gull (a life tick!) and two purple sandpipers, so that was immensely satisfying. And means that our Birding Honour is not entirely obliterated by the unaccountable missing duck. Not that I'm competitive at all. As you can tell ...

Anyway, here's this morning's meditation (rather tongue in cheek, if I dare use that phrase in this context):

Meditation 67

When I read
of the strange
sexual practices

carried out by other lands
and which the Israelites
are barred from

I begin to see
the lure of a travelling life
after all.

Oh, and I've written another poem about one of the pictures I saw at the Wallace Collection last week. It's a response to The Lace Maker by Caspar Netscher which is an astonishingly still painting. I loved it and found it hard to leave. It's small and totally perfect, to my mind.

I've also finished the next University Reading Group book, which is Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper. I loved it - one of her best, I think. A fascinating story of genetic manipulation in order to save a daughter and what happens when the child in question grows up and decides she doesn't want to be her sister's lifesaver any more. There are some excellent twists and turns in the plot, and I found myself being torn this way and that as the tale progressed. I particularly loved Campbell, the lawyer with his mysterious ailment and his wisecracks, and I also loved Jesse, the much-overlooked son. He's great. The only slight issue I had with it was that I thought Picoult used her trick of making the characters come out with sudden bursts of verbal wisdom rather too heavily here. Virtually everyone had a chance at saying something meaningful and deep that turns the opinions of the other characters right round, and really I don't think people are like that. Or at least not in the UK, dahlings (if we have any wisdom here in the mother country, we tend to keep it to ourselves ...). At one point, I was worrying that the lawyer's dog might suddenly get in on the act, but thankfully not - though bizarrely he does turn out to be a dab paw with a briefcase. I also thought the ending was pitch-perfect and changed utterly how you viewed the start. Excellent stuff.

Today's nice things:

1. Birds
2. Birthday cake
3. Poetry
4. Art
5. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - has absolutely nothing wise to impart at all, thank the Lord ...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Transmutation, neighbours and cake city

Much to my delight, my flash fiction story, Transmutation, is now published and you can find it here. There's a content wanting to do with other work on the webzine, but there's no need to panic in this instance as the story is sex-free (shame!...). You can even leave comments - be as rude as you like! Hmm, maybe not too rude ...

Keeping to the writing theme, this morning's meditation is:

Meditation 66

The life
is in the blood.

When it covers the earth
dig deep

with your fingers
and scatter soil

over the last drop
so your secrets

are stored
in the ground

and the wide sky
may not harm you.

Had a lovely chat with the downstairs neighbour and his daughter today, which was great. We put the whole world to rights so everything will be perfect from now on in, in case you're wondering. Well, it would be if we were in charge, that is. I've also trudged round Waitrose attempting to stock up on drinks and nibbles for the University novel reading event next week, as well as buying ingredients to make Lord H a weekend chocolate cake (it's his birthday on Monday). I'm no Delia, but I'm going to give it my best shot tonight. Lordy, you'll probably hear the screams, and goodness only knows what state the kitchen will be in ...

I've also managed to get another 1000 words down in Hallsfoot's Battle so that takes me to just over 88,000 words. With a bit of luck and a favourable wind, I might make my 90,000 aim for the end of February then. One hopes.

Despite a rather threatening looking snow shower over lunchtime (sushi and fruit, if you're asking), I've driven at a snail's speed over to Guildford for my Alexander Technique lesson. I think she's quite pleased with progress, although my left shoulder is lower than my other apparently - she stretched my left side so I looked normal (no, don't laugh) and I could see how straight it was in the mirror but, hell, it felt really twisted. Just goes to show what dreadful alignment (or lack of alignment) habits I've been used to over the last 40 years or so. I feel this is worthwhile but it will be a long long journey, Carruthers - has anyone brought a flask?...

Today's nice things:

1. Transmutation being published
2. Poetry
3. Neighbours
4. Writing more of Hallsfoot
5. Alexander Technique.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - also answers to Quasimodo ...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hallsfoot, doctors and braving the snow ...

Ah these one day working weeks are a tough life, you know, but somebody's got to do it. Pause for the inevitable tomatoes to be thrown in my direction ... ideal for my hair colour indeed. Today I have struggled to make some kind of sense of my meditation zone and eventually came up with this:

Meditation 65

The desert is a choice
you make
when the cities, the farms,
the breathed air
cannot give you
what you seek:
a lightness in your shoulders,
a sense of acts
not taken.

What counts
and whether you return
is what you take
for the journey:
blood, guilt, shame,
memories sliding
on your skin
that might draw you back
one day.

Goodness me, that's a lot of words for a morning poem. I must be using up yesterday's ration too. Or perhaps tomorrow's. Who knows. Anyway, for the rest of the morning, I've been getting to grips with Hallsfoot's Battle and am now at just over 87,000 words. I've formed a strange kind of link between the Lammas Lands and the mind-world where Simon and the Executioner are currently gallivanting about, which I might be able to do something with. Lord knows what. Oh and the mountain-dogs have cropped up again. They do get about - frisky little beasts. And they're pretty damn hungry by now ...

Oh and I've also braved another phone call to the doctor's to attempt to find out my blood test results from 6 January (ye gods, if it had been terminal, I'd be dead before they told me ...) and to try to get myself on this new HRT the consultant wanted me to go on (the one that will make me more depressed but may save me from having to have another operation at some stage - ah what a hellish choice to offer indeed). I was a bit quivery when I rang, but the good news is that they have at last got the consultant's letter so I can pick up my new HRT prescription tomorrow. I didn't ask how long they'd had the letter and why nothing had been done about it of course - these days our health seems very much in our own hands, my dears. It may have been the case that they've only just received it, but nobody's saying.

Whilst my scrap of courage remained, I also asked about the blood test results but the receptionist said the letter didn't mention it so it was probably okay. Ye gods! Do they think that's reassuring?? At the last check, I had thought this was my body so I had some kind of right to know the facts, but evidently this is not the case ... So in the end I've rung the consultant's secretary at the hospital who spent some time finding my notes, but the good news is that my blood test results are perfectly normal and the endometriosis is under control, hurrah! Though I'll need to keep it that way with the new HRT, sigh. I still wonder though if I'd have ever found out anything if I hadn't been doing the chasing. Really, it shouldn't be like that, I think.

Anyway, this afternoon, I'm braving the threat of snow and disappearing trains and going up to London to see Jane W and wander round The Wallace Collection. Always a lovely thing to do in London and so free and so peculiarly unknown. Well worth a visit if you're ever in that area. I'm only hoping I'll be able to get back. Should I take a flask?...

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Hallsfoot's Battle
3. Good blood test results
4. Seeing Jane W
5. The Wallace Collection.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - wrapping up warm for the duration

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A plethora of novel events and a small hissy fit

Back into work today – goodness me but I’d grown too used to being off. It’s such a shock to have to wear my office head again. It’s looking a tad grimy, I fear. The fact of having to face no fewer than 90 emails was an added excitement. Goodness me, I’ve never been so popular. Mind you, 80% of it is spam, but it still takes a while to bin it. Sigh.

I also played it safe and got Lord H to take me in. The campus paths are still icy and the car park is nothing more than a skating ring, so I think it was a wise choice.

For a large part of my morning, I’ve been determinedly trying to sort out the final arrangements for the novel reading event next week. I don’t think people respond to my feeble secretarial cries for help so I flung myself on the mercy of Fiona in the English Department, whilst having a small hissy fit, and the gathered masses are now obviously responding to her higher academic kudos. Or to my sobs and groans. (We here in Admin World are usually much overlooked, you know …- perhaps they didn’t know any of us could scream?). Which is something of a relief, I have to say. So we might now just about have chairs for the event, plus books, catering and willing helpers, hurrah! I had been pondering about getting the Dean to knock up a few chairs himself over the weekend if the worst came to the worst. Well, he’s an engineer and it would have kept him out of mischief …

I’ve also finally managed (after two chases …) to get the Bookshop to let me have the copy of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper which I ordered two weeks ago (two weeks!!). It’s the next book on the University Reading Group schedule so I need to read it soon. I might save myself the existential angst and order from Amazon next time. Well, you can’t say I didn’t try to use a local supplier. But, really, I shouldn’t have to keep chasing an order like that. Perhaps I am indeed becoming invisible – is it because (a) I’m a woman; (b) I’m in my forties; or (c) I’m a Secretary? Answers on a postcard, please … Oh no, that won’t work – as nobody’s listening …

This afternoon, I had to minute a meeting planning the upcoming international students’ induction programme in September – this is a new one on us so we’re very much feeling our way. But, bearing in mind the large percentage of international students at the University, it’s a great idea. That said, preparing for not one, but two separate induction weeks is going to be interesting indeed – to say the least …

Ooh, and Andrea’s brought in cakes – fabulous chocolate ones! – to celebrate her birthday which was on Monday. And which we couldn’t celebrate then as the University was shut. Wonderful – we all need them today. Desperately. I wolfed down two before lunchtime (shame on me) …

And Sue in the Health Centre has narrowed down the dates for me to attend her book group to discuss Thorn in the Flesh which I think will now be just after my March holiday – so I’m hugely looking forward to that. It will be nice to revisit Kate again after all this while.

I’m also thinking about writing a short story about wildernesses. I have a vague idea as to how it will start, but after that it’s a mystery. Or a wilderness, ho ho. I’ll have to write it to see what happens. However, not till next week, I suspect – as I need to concentrate at least some of my energies on Hallsfoot’s Battle for a while.

Today’s nice things:

1. Feeling slightly happier with the novel event admin progression (but only slightly)
2. Getting my book at last
3. Cakes.
4. The Thorn book group date
5. Thinking about a short story.

Anne Brooke
Anne's Website - one hissy fit a week gets things done ...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Poems, leaves and Sadomasochism

Now there's a title I've always wanted to use. Soooo satisfying that I can at last, hurrah. Anyway, some good poetry news today as eMuse webzine have accepted six of my meditation poems for publication in March. Well gosh. Talking of which, here's the latest:

Meditation 64

In the midst of blood,
sex, semen

you find
one small silver coin.

It glitters
like a tiny moon.

Lift it up
and press it close,

a talisman for good
while you wait

for healing.

Ah, the Bible readings are getting a little hot under the collar now, as you can see. Whoever said the Good Book was all sweetness and light? Not the chapters I'm reading for sure ...

And it's been another day at home today while the University waits to open. Which it intends to do tomorrow. Sadly though, Lord H has managed to get into work, though it took him a good hour. But that's not much compared to other people's journeys, I gather. Commiserations to all is what I say. Whilst at home, I've taken the opportunity to finish my short story on branches, which I've now retitled to be The Simple Fact of Leaves. Much more poetic, to my mind. This story has a touch of magic realism also, so that's twice I've used a hint of that genre in 44 years. Goodness me, whatever next, Carruthers.

There are also two pieces of pleasing review news. Not mine, but other people's. First off, my review of Tania Hershman's The White Road and Other Stories now appears on the HagsHarlotsHeroines website and you can read it here. In addition, the marvellous Vulpes Libris review site has posted my review of Rosy Barnes' lively and naughty novel Sadomasochism for Accountants and you can have fun with that here. Enjoy! And extra magical bonus points to Vulpes for publishing my piece the day after I submitted it - that's the quickest turnaround for a piece of writing I've ever had! Now if only novel publishers would be more like that, eh ... Dream on.

After all that excitement, I've even had time for a much-needed nap and feel hugely more rested now. Well, all this writerly activity is so exhausting, my dears. I'm not strong, you know ... Somebody pass me my smelling salts and the TV remote. Talking of which, there's a nice smattering of TV on this evening. I'm catching up with Who Do You Think You Are?, then it's the continuation of Oz & James's drunken tour, and I'm also planning to see yesterday's video of Moses Jones. Ooh, and I have to say that the new, very adult crime drama, Whitechapel, is utterly wonderful. I loved it. I loved the very spiky but gripping relationship between the posh, OCD cop and his down-to-earth & cynical sidekick, I loved the dark, grimy London setting and I loved the dark, grimy plot. More please. Much more. How I hope they make it into an ongoing series - Lord H and I would be glued.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry acceptances
2. Poetry
3. Another bonus day off
4. Finishing my short story
5. Two reviews
6. Napping
7. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - enjoying a rather satisfying day

Monday, February 02, 2009

Is that snow I see?...

Goodness me, what a terribly terribly snowy world we've woken up to today. This isn't what we pay our taxes for, you know, and it's certainly not the reason we live in Surrey. Shocking, my dears, shocking. Especially shocking was the rather foolish journey Lord H and I attempted to make in the car to get to the doctors for our 9am jabs appointment. Well, we thought that once out of our own road, the main roads would be better. Um, my, how we laughed. Or rather didn't. Actually the whole experience was really rather terrifying and I am still languishing on the sofa taking a regular dose of smelling salts ... Suffice it to say the following: at last the 4X4s here in the shires come into their own, we never made it to the doctor, we finally shuddered back into our parking space 50 minutes after we'd left it (it's a 5/10 minute journey to the surgery), and Lord H is an utter and absolute superhero for (a) not panicking, (b) not killing anyone, (c) driving like a genius - a calm one. He is definitely my Hero of the Week. Big-time.

Back in the relative safety of home, we discover that the University is in fact closed, very few people have arrived at Lord H's office and the doctor is only taking emergency appointments today due to the fact that they're not in either. My, how very jolly it all is. And strangely magical. It's like a day off for Britain. And goodness me, how we do need one of those. The magic of Candlemas Day indeed.

Anyway, once we'd sorted ourselves out and had a reviving hot chocolate, Lord H and I togged up with wellington boots and our birding jackets and went for an absolutely superb walk through Godalming woods and back along the High Street. I am usually a stalwart enemy of the evil snow beastie, but today it's like being young again. Everything is so peaceful, people are talking to each other and, hark, is that a bluebird on my shoulder perchance? Ah, I feel a song coming on, and I shall endeavour to suppress it for the sake of my habitual cynicism and the sensitivities of my reader ...

Ooh and mustn't forget this morning's meditation poem:

Meditation 63

One bird is killed
and the other flies free.
There is always a choice.

It is decided
before you know it
while the cedar wood,

blood and oil blend
over your skin.
Carry your happiness

through the fields
like a bird.
Leave the dead behind.

I've started a short story about branches and what they can do. To one particular man anyway. I've done about 500 words so far and am quite enjoying the journey. It could end up at one of two points and I'm not sure which it will be yet. Part of the excitement of writing indeed - you never know the destination when you begin. And even when you think you do, it won't be the same when you get there. I'm calling it ... um ... Branches. Hell, what style and imagination I have indeed ... I've also written a review on Rosy Barnes' upcoming new novel, Sadomasochism for Accountants, for the Vulpes Libris review site, which I hope they might publish later in the month. So, in case they do, I won't say much about the book now except that it's a vivid and fun read and I loved the S&M Club. Fabulous.

Tonight, there are about a zillion things on TV, all of which I am desperate to watch. Deep sigh. I think I'll go for the adult crime drama, video the younger looking one and wait for the repeat of Who Do You Think You Are? tomorrow. That's the plan anyway.

Meanwhile, the snow is still here and tomorrow, as they say, is another day ...

Today's nice things:

1. An unexpected holiday
2. A winter walk
3. Poetry
4. Starting a short story
5. Rosy's novel
6. A TV plethora.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - it's snow place for a lady (geddit? Sigh. Ah well ...)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The singing road, snowdrops and poetry news

A couple of good publication news items today, which are very cheering. First off, my short story, The singing road, has now been published at All Things Girl webzine and you can read it here. It's part of their Journey theme and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I haven't really played with any kind of hint of magic realism before, so it was fun to do. I might even try it again one day - who knows ...

Also, another of my meditation poems has been accepted (after a thorough and much appreciated edit!) by The Short Story Library webzine - who also take poetry, so don't be confused by the name - and will appear there in April. Always good to have something to look forward to in the spring, say I.

Talking of literary matters, here's this morning's meditation - rather stronger than usual, but it reflects the section of Leviticus that I'm currently reading - never say the Bible is all sweetness and light, eh. I wish.

Meditation 62

Sores, boils,
strange white hairs
in the skin,
raw flesh, mildew
and fire.

Too much information
makes my own skin

If salt itself
is worthless,
how can we be clean
at all?

Meanwhile, keeping with the theological theme, happy Candlemas Day. Though actually it's tomorrow, but as this is the nearest Sunday, who's counting. To celebrate, Lord H and I duly took ourselves off to church, and discovered that Shackleford do it in style. We all had personal candles that we lit, blew out and lit again so many times during the service that it's a good job any passing aeroplanes hoping to land couldn't see in. There's something about a ritual that you don't do that often that's really profoundly comforting, though it did have a certain slow-motion disco glitterball feel to it. Takes me back to my Essex days, you know ... I particularly liked the emphasis on Candlemas being the link between Christmas and Easter, where we turn from thinking about the incarnation to thinking about sacrifice. All good stuff for a chilly Sunday morning indeed. Lord H and I also got the giggles during the reading of the banns, as Jenny (officiating priest) was having such difficulties attempting to interpret John's (executive priest) handwriting. Vicars are indeed like doctors - nobody has a clue what they're writing about. Anyway, fifteen years ago, we too had quite a rocky road through the banns, so we can sympathise. Really, it's a miracle we're actually legally married at all.

Oh and I've seen my first snowdrops of the season nestling nicely in the churchyard - so hurrah for that as they're my favourite flower of all. I love them.

Back at the coalface, I've added another 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle and am now at just over 86,000 words. I've finished the first section of Ralph's encounter with the mountain dogs, though there's more to come there. But I'm leaving it unresolved for now and will be turning my attention back to Simon and the mind-executioner the next time I pick it up again. Lord alone knows what will happen but something must. I'm hoping for a battle of wills and a mind-fight to the (almost) death, but there's as ever a huge gap between idea and what actually transpires, so we'll have to see what the keyboard thinks. Really, the keyboard should stop using me as a go-between and write its own ruddy novel - it would be great, I'm sure.

Tonight, I'll be watching the next episode of the Christianity programme (the crusades, the horses, the pain ...) and then cheering myself up with Lark Rise to Candleford. Just how Sundays should be, you know.

This week's haiku is a response to a comment from the lovely Becky, which I nearly managed to do but not quite - sorry, Becky!...

Next to the dawn sky,
the coins on my palm sparkle
a far poorer gold.

Today's nice things:

1. The singing road being published
2. Another poem acceptance
3. Poetry
4. Church
5. Snowdrops
6. Writing Hallsfoot
7. TV
8. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - humming its own merry tune today