Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mistletoe Madness and the joys of serin

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

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

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

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

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

This week's haiku:

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

Anne Brooke - creating some mistletoe madness of her own

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The pain of thanksgiving

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Brooke - mangled, mean and magnificent

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Stranger's Touch and The Executioner's Cane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne's website - where sex and religion meet together

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Full steam ahead and the breakfast sonnet

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

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

The Struggling Sonneteer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fashionable, sporty or chilled?

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

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

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


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speaking Her Mind and other matters

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

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

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


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday delights and sandpiper porn

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

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

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

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


Friday, November 06, 2009

Champagne and Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Unexpected Recommendation and Amazon difficulties

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

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

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

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