Monday, November 26, 2012

Life beyond the church

Thankfully (see the blog below this one), there were other things beyond the traumas associated with the Church of England that have happened in the last week, and here, in no particular order, is a brief round-up of them:

1. The Heart's Greater Silence gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, and a 5-star review at Amazon US.

2. Martin and The Wolf gained a 5-star review at Goodreads.

3. The Delaneys At Home gained a 4-star review at Goodreads.

4. Not A Shred of Evidence was briefly at No 48 in the Amazon UK Business Humour rankings.

5. The Betrayal of Birds was briefly at No 84 in the Amazon UK historical religious rankings.

6. I made a Victoria sponge cake, go me!

7. I enjoyed a lovely afternoon with L & R at Wisley Craft Fair and bought two beautiful pictures and a nice bag of chocolates. Bliss.

8. I became a Winner (hurrah!) in the National Novel Writing Month, and am now at c 58,000 words. I hope to make it to 60k by the end of the week, and I have 9 scenes to go.

9. Sadly, the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill looks set to be made law, which is horrific. I can only draw your attention to the Petition, which I urge you to sign, if you've not done so already.

10. The Origami Nun is being sold at a good discount at Amazon UK and Amazon US for today only.

11. All my books are half-price at Untreed Reads, also only for today.

12. All my books are also half-price at All Romance Ebooks for today.

Thank you.

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Lori Olding Children's Author

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Women Bishops: grief, anger and emptiness

I honestly don't know what to say at this point in the week, and it's going to be very hard to express how I feel. As most of you probably know by now, the vote for women bishops in the Church of England was lost by a narrow margin in the House of Laity on Tuesday last.

Before I heard, I hadn't realised how much it meant to me, and how devastated I would be, and indeed still am. When I heard, I cried, then I was angry at the injustice, and then I cried again. I was working late on Tuesday, and when I came home, I had another bout of tears, angry ones, and then I had two stiff gins (a rare event for me these days) and half a large bag of chocolate.

I think the worst thing was the deep sense of betrayal. I've been a Church of England Christian since I was 17 years old and I'm now 48. In spite of the bickering the C of E often indulges in, I've always at heart trusted it to do the right thing in the end. It did the right thing by women priests twenty years ago, and I assumed that, after the usual shouting matches, it would also do the right thing by women bishops. It hasn't. So I don't feel I can trust it any more.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I gave some thought to leaving the Church of England and worshipping God elsewhere. The United Reformed Church, or the Quakers came to mind. And I'm still not entirely letting those thoughts go. And, yes, I appreciate that many people are saying that the vote wasn't actually a vote against women bishops as 42 out of our 44 dioceses are for them - it was just our antiquated voting system that was at fault. The fact still remains, however, that today, women are not allowed to be in a position of spiritual or public managerial leadership in the church, and it continues to  feel like a punch in the stomach. No matter what the arguments are.

What have I done since Tuesday? A lot actually, for someone as uncommitted to action as I usually am.

I've listened to the parliamentary debate, found some good news about women bishops in Africa, joined Women and the Church's Facebook Group, and wondered what would happen if all the women who have worked so very hard for the Church of England over the years simply downed tools and didn't do anything at all for even a week. I've written a letter to the Church Times (as has my husband), and another letter to our Diocesan Bishop. His letter about the news can be found at the Diocesan website, and yes I will go to the Emergency Meeting on 11 December in Guildford to discuss the way forward. I'd like my voice to be heard too, thank you.

I have read and agreed with articles about the mess of it all, God as a lover of equality, the need to stop exempting our church from equality laws in all areas, the feminism of Jesus, been ashamed to be part of the Church of England, and rejoiced at the potential knock-on effect in the demand for the justice of same-sex marriage.

I have signed a petition asking for another vote in Synod, and another one asking for the unconditional ordination of women bishops in the C of E (which I can only encourage you to support).

And today and tomorrow, I am proud to be part of the Purple Protest for Women Bishops which is taking place on Facebook.

This morning, to crown the end of a hugely difficult spiritual week for me, I felt very hurt this morning when our vicar said nothing at all about the women bishop vote. Yes, there was a note in the pew slip drawing our attention to the Bishop's letter to the diocese (see above), but it's not the same as just a few words acknowledging the pain and praying for a way forward. It wasn't mentioned in the notices, the prayers or the sermon. As a result, I was near to tears for most of the service and - though I appreciate some people will be shocked - I'm glad that when the vicar came down into the body of the church to shake everyone's hands during the Peace, I refused, politely, to do it. I'm still glad I did that - if I'm not allowed a voice during the service and there's no opportunity to acknowledge pain at the end of a traumatic week, then, no, I'm not at peace with the man making that decision.

At least, however, I did go up for Communion - I think K was pleased that I didn't spit the wafer out onto the vicarly stole (in a Christian manner, of course ...) and I have to admit I was tempted, oh yes. In the end, K and I left during the last hymn as I couldn't face any more confrontation. Though, actually (hush my mouth), anything by the pesky Graham Kendrick doesn't really count as a hymn, does it? When I'm bishop, I'll have Kendrick stopped, as well as providing chocolate (gluten-free if desired) wafers and champagne at Communion. You heard it here first ...

However, in spite of all this, it's nice to know God isn't actually in the habit of kicking people to the side and leaving them (or indeed kicking them at all) as when I got home after church, fuming, there was some lovely words from the wonderful Revd Claire's blog which is, as always, definitely worth a read. Thank you, Claire

Finally, thank you for reading this far (if you have) and this delightful poem says it all:

When I am Ordained, I shall wear Purple

by Mia Smith 

With acknowledgement to Jenny Joseph's original poem

When I am ordained, I shall wear purple
with killer heels and bright red lipstick
And I shall go round preaching from the Bible 
...The liberating truth that Jesus calls women
and tell those who say otherwise that it is they,
not I, who are bad theologians.

I shall sit down with fellow clergy
when we are tired of fighting for equality
and going the extra mile with grace when we are put down,
And we will make up for it:
by encouraging one another as Scripture says,
and praying for those who abuse us,
and rejoicing that we are suffering
(but just a little bit) for Jesus,
And we might even eat some chocolate.

I will adopt the ordination name “Junia”,
and remind those who object,
that there may be a boy named Sue somewhere in the world,
but there probably isn’t.

But now we must face the world,
Who think we are traitors to our sex
For working for the Church
And face our brothers and sisters who think
We are being unbiblical
And face those in our Churches
who have failed to notice the pain this week has brought.
And we will go in the strength of Christ.
We will not turn our backs on our calling
Because God is not finished with the Church,
And He is faithful.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am ordained, and start to wear purple.

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Lori Olding Children's Author

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nigeria Anti-Gay law proposal and novel writing

Life News:

Some very difficult and frightening things going on in Nigeria at the moment, particularly concerning the imminent possibility of hefty gaol sentences for gay people and supporters of gay people over there, so do please consider signing the petition before such a sad measure can become law. It includes:

  • 10 years in prison for living with someone of the same sex
  • 10 years in prison for supporting the idea of a pride march
  • 14 years in prison for trying to have a wedding

I've signed it and hope some of you out there can see your way to signing it too. Thank you.

Turning to more mundane matters, it's been a very stressful week at work - I really find it challenging enough to deal with one meeting a week, and this week I've had four, so I haven't coped at all well. As I knew I wouldn't really, but it's still been tough. Plus there are one or two deadlines for projects I need to finish, or as near as, this next week, as I'm taking some days off the week after - which I greatly need! Still at least there aren't any meetings this week, which is a blessing, phew.

Some nice social outings though - on Thursday, K and I went to see Twelfth Night at Guildford theatre - and it was wonderful. One of the best productions I've seen for a long time, hurrah. And yesterday, K and I had a great pizza lunch at our friends, R&D, in Haslemere, so thank you, both, for that. On the way back, we popped into Rake Garden Centre and bought some Blackthorn with my vouchers so will need to get that planted during the week - K's job, I'm sure of it ...

Today, we've planted 50 alliums and 6 new lavender plants - the latter to replace the old scraggy lavender which needed clearing, so I feel I'm at one with the garden again, or at least my knees are. Hey ho.

And church was fun - we're thinking of prisoners this week, and the themes of belonging to God's church and the requirements to change, both ourselves and the small corner of the world we're in - so much food for thought for sure. The prayers - all written by prisoners or prison staff - were incredible.

Book News:

I'm pootling along with National Novel Writing Month and now have 48,448 words written of The Apple Picker's Daughter, with more to come. So I should get to the required 50,000 words over the next couple of days, and I think the book is going to be longer. It's a very satisfying feeling, I must say, and proves if only to myself that I can write novels fast on occasion.

Elstead Writers' Group was fantastic yesterday, with some brilliant extracts and lots of inspiration for us all - can't wait for the December meeting, which will also be our Christmas Writers' celebration, thank you, Sue!

Some nice book news this week has been that biblical collection The Betrayal of Birds was briefly at No 93 in the Amazon UK historical religious charts. And my free giveaway of lesbian erotic collection The Truth About Butterflies earlier in the week resulted in 95 copies being downloaded, so that was nice. Thank you.

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Lori Olding Children's Author

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Apples, loos and erotica

I'm ploughing on with my attempt at NaNoWriMo 2012 and I now have 35,202 words in my new novel, The Apple Picker's Daughter. So, with a bit of luck and the wind behind me, I should reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. Here's hoping.

Talking of wind (as it were) and as someone who was actually born in a toilet - a scene which appears right at the start of my NaNoWriMo novel - I'm thrilled to read about the new South Korea Toilet Park and I very much hope to pay it a call one day. Toilets are hugely important to me and I always judge a place and its inhabitants by the state of its loos. The best ones ever are in Cambio's Restaurant in Guildford and in the main square of Exeter town. Pure bliss, my dears, pure bliss.

Most of this week, I've been doing brave battle with a bit of a tricky cold, but thankfully it's not fully developed into the usual catarrh nightmare and I'm now over it, thank heavens. So I've been able to enjoy Erotica Week at Vulpes Libris, which kicked off with a rerun of my own article about The Secret Life of Sex Writing, before moving on to a surprisingly erotic British film, our take on Fifty Shades of Grey (which, in my view, is actually Jane Eyre with sex - innocent yet determined young gal meets older sexually powerful man and changes his life, anyone?...), and going for the big finish with robot porn. Yes, you heard it here, or rather there, first. Could be the next big thing, you know ...

All this has taken my mind off the disappointing news of the appointment of the next Archbishop, sigh, which I personally think is a real backward step for the cause of women's and gay marriage rights in the church, even deeper sigh. Mind you, as the Anglican church has been - dare I say it? - institutionally homophobic and sexist for many a long year, I'm not really sure what else I expected, hey ho. Despite all that, and putting the minefield of church politics to one side for a moment or two, it's good to be part of Remembrance Sunday today, and to think about our heritage and how we got here for a while. The Anglican Church may not be a terribly worthy example to follow at the current moment, but we do know how to do ritual damn well. Which is at least something.

Finally, a lovely trip to Wisley cheered both K and me up yesterday - the autumn trees were glorious, and I bought a new shrub - a cowberry - for the garden. The red berries are lovely.

Anne Brooke
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Lori Olding Children's Author

Sunday, November 04, 2012

National Novel Writing Month

Book News

Well, it's National Novel Writing Month in November and for the first time ever, I'm having a go. I'm supposed to produce 50,000 words by 30 November, which is 1,667 per day. So far I've got about 12,000 words, but I'm storing some up as I won't be able to do that many next week. The novel I'm aiming for is a fictionalised account of my early childhood and is called The Apple Picker's Daughter. If you'd like to follow the ups and downs of my efforts or be my writing buddy if you're also taking part, my NaNoWriMo profile is here.

I'm pleased to say I've sold 80 copies of biblical short story Dancing with Lions in October, which is astonishing really. So far this welcome enthusiasm hasn't rubbed off on my self-published biblical fiction collection The Betrayal of Birds, but I'm hoping it will at some point as, to be honest, the cash would be welcome!

Meanwhile, gay short story Tommy's Blind Date gained a 4-star review at Amazon US, for which I was grateful. And my review of Anna Cheska's Drop Dead Gorgeous has recently been published at Vulpes Libris.

Life News:

Haven't been so well this week, but it's just been a cold which is still hanging on - so more annoying than totally debilitating, hurrah. I attended the church contemplative prayer course on Wednesday evening and that was actually pretty helpful - it's carrying on from the recent day course we had, and hopefully we'll be able to carry on for longer after the "official" six-week course is over. Will have to wait and see.

It's also been a week of very enjoyable social outings, which is most unlike us (have we been switched?)... We thoroughly enjoyed the ballet of Beauty and the Beast on Thursday at Woking, and had a much better time than expected at the Elstead production of Beyond A Joke. Which is a rather nifty little play really. I've also managed a haircut (goodness, so soon after the last one too), and K and I had a very enjoyable coffee & chat on Saturday morning with L&J, and also with R&G - so great to catch up all round.

This afternoon, we've planted the rest of the tulips and daffodils for spring, as well as sorting out the spare wallflowers and keeping the dahlias warm. Mostly I think the garden is "put to bed" now, so roll on spring for lots of lovely colour.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK