Friday, March 31, 2006

Number Five in You Write On's Top Ten

Some positive news today - the opening chapters of "A Dangerous Man" have made it to number 5 in the You Write On ( website Top Ten. And my most recent review there was very encouraging too. It's nice when good things happen - hell, it makes all the difference to what can be a very bleak and discouraging business.

Visited Jennifer of Goldenford Publishers ( today to help her with styles training for her novels. Am looking forward to seeing her "The Gawain Quest" in print later in the year. It's a great novel.

This afternoon, managed to get another 1000 words of "The Gifting" under my belt - it felt easier today. On Simon's mountain journey, I added in more confrontation with his rescuers and foreshadowing of tension to come. Not sure exactly what that tension might result in yet, but for me that's often the case. It'll come when it does. Also prepared to send my monthly poetry submission off tomorrow - this time, I'll try Ambit magazine - the Poetry Magazine site ( is a vital reference tool, as ever. I hope Ambit will at least be more pleasant than the wretched (damn him) 10th Muse editor was. And bliss, another nap. Where would I be without my late afternoon snooze?

Tonight, it's TV comedy night, thank goodness. How I love Fridays.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sick day

My cold has developed and I don't feel so good, so a day off today. Even though I'm unwell, I never seem able to avoid the guilt. Am taking as many Lemsips & Sinutab as possible. One good thing though - I didn't have to be up during the night with it, so it's better than it normally is.

Spent the morning staring at the TV and catching up on website reading/reviewing for Bewrite (, Writewords (, UK Authors ( and the You Write On ( site. It's about all my brain can cope with right now. There's some great stuff up there though. I was particularly pleased because my reviewing task for You Write On was a novel by David Caldo, an author I know, who also runs the useful Writers Promote ( site. I really enjoyed his opening chapters.

In the afternoon, I watched "My Beautiful Laundrette", which seemed much sharper than I remember it being. Certainly classy stuff. This evening, we were supposed to be going to the ballet - Edward Scissorhands at Woking - but I'm honestly not up to it, or anything much. It's a shame, as I was really looking forward to that. I told Lord H that he should go on his own, but I think he preferred a night in.

Oh, and some good news - our Glyndebourne tickets have finally arrived. Hurrah! We're seeing three operas later on in the season. Always great to have something to look forward to.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kinesiology and counselling

Truly a day for me. Had my second session of kinesiology ( in the morning, which was very helpful. I'm doing well on the nutritional side of things, so should carry on as I've been doing for the last month. We also looked at my energy levels and the therapist assessed my greatest need at the moment as being in the realm of emotions. That makes sense. A good job I'm doing these counselling sessions then. It all seems to be working together right now.

In the afternoon, I did another 1000 words of "The Gifting". Now I've got Simon into the mountain regions, I'm not entirely sure what to do with him. Maybe it's the journey and the struggle which count. I'll simply have to keep writing it through until I get to the "crunch zone". I'll know when it happens. And I can always cut later. He's having issues about his mother, which I think relates back to my own with my father. It's certainly proving interesting to write.

Managed a short nap before my 5pm counselling session at the university. This time I felt more "together" and, although I said a lot and went deeper into some of the things I'd already brought up, when I left I somehow felt cleansed. Yes, that is the word. And of course very tired, but that comes with the territory. I'm going to have to factor the tiredness in. Whatever happens, it's worth doing.

Oh, and I'm starting a cold. Great. Hope it doesn't go to the extremes of poor Lord H's cold earlier in the month. That was a whole two weeks.

A quiet evening. Hell, I deserve it.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lunch with Julia

A not so bad day at work today - managed to get the first draft of the Steering Group minutes out for proofreading, and also got ahead with agendas for some of my early May meetings (April being virtually written off due to Easter closure etc). Also a lovely writers' lunch with Julia, one of the UniSWriters' group. Great to talk about books, reading and writing to someone on the same wavelength. She also had some good suggestions about creative writing books, particularly with group exercises in - which is always useful for the group.

Leisurely evening - was nose-deep in the new Emily Barr - "Plan B" - which was great. I couldn't put it down and have now finished it. I love her work - light and easy to read, but the characters and situations are gripping. Why can't more people write like that? I shall look forward to her next one.

Later, it'll be the concluding part of the "Dalziel and Pascoe" Amsterdam story. They do seem to have gone a bit odd, in terms of character and plot, but it's light relief and they're still worth watching.

Also, had a couple of positive comments on my work currently on the UK Authors ( site and the Writewords site ( - which always makes me feel more positive. Goodness, how up and down this life is.

Anne Brooke

Monday, March 27, 2006

Student Care Services Steering Group

Rather a dull morning - managed to get the minutes of last week's Student Experience Group proofread and out for checking. Worked on the website and then it was the Student Care Services Steering Group over lunch. Having lunchtime meetings with no break really drains me. I can never get the energy levels up during the afternoon to get much of the minutes written up, although I did try. Thank goodness it's vacation time now and I can leave at 5pm, instead of 5.30. Somehow it makes all the difference.

At home, I had another review on "A Dangerous Man" from the YouWriteOn website ( - this time they enjoyed it but didn't find Michael, my main character, very attractive. Funny, but I find him fascinating and poignant. He's always been the strongest voice of them all in my head and, to be honest, I'm not changing him now. But I can see he - and indeed my writing - is an acquired taste. Also had a brief comment on my poem, "Still Life by Jo Baker", from the UK Authors website (, but it wasn't very helpful - just asking for a copy of the picture. It's not really turning out to be a real critique website, not in the same, useful way as the Writewords site ( is. Still, any comments are always happily received - as for all desperately needy authors.

And the edited version of Chapter Five of "Thorn in the Flesh" has turned up from the JBWB website ( - goodness, it's taking an age. I hope I can get it finalised by the summer but at this rate I'm not holding out much hope. All useful stuff, but they must be very busy over there, which doesn't help me much.

Have - thank the Lord! - finally finished the amazingly dull "The Crimson Petal and the White" by Michel Faber. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea why on earth everyone raves about it - or perhaps he just has a lot of literary contacts who owe him favours? To my mind, the first third of it is the only good thing and the rest is excrutiatingly meaningless and should have been cut by the first decent editor who saw it. I like the quirky authorial voice (the best thing about it) but it doesn't appear after the first few pages until the end, as far as I can tell. Then again, I was skipping vast chunks due to life being too short, having no interest in any of the character by then etc etc. I'd rather watch grass grow.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lent 4: the AGM

Church today was dull, but at least it was more bearable than last week. Our new churchwarden kindly asked me how things were going, so I told her, as honestly as possible. She was very supportive, which was nice. Also much needed. Our Annual General Meeting followed, but not much to say about that. Nothing we didn't know about anyway.

Afterwards, Lord H and I visited Clandon Park (National Trust). It's the first day of being open and, my goodness, you can tell. The stewards were terribly keen to tell us all about it, while we were terribly keen to get away. Why do the NT always have to have stewards who want to talk to you? I wish they'd just leave us alone. We like to wander by ourselves. If I need to know anything, I'll ask. Bought some jam, a wonderful lavender stressball and two chocolate mice in the shop, the latter two items being quickly consumed.

Attempted to video "Monk" while we were out, but failed due to not having taken the change in the hour into account. Damn it. Lord H has corrected it for tonight, as I simply have to video "Mayo" whilst watching "Invasion".

As it's Mothers Day, will ring Mum later on, though I always do on a Sunday - hope her flowers have arrived by now. I can be Good Daughter for a while. Am working on an edit of my current Writewords ( story, "A Serious Business", as it's felt not to be deep/serious enough. Too much dialogue, apparently. Will have to squeeze in some more narrative. Still, they seem to like my poem, "Still Life by Jo Baker", so it's not all bad news.

And this week's haiku is:

I unpeel my skin
and let the dark layers breathe:
a cold mountain top.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Coffee Cake

Baked a coffee cake this morning - an ongoing part of my Lenten obligations, and hey it worked. Very light and tasty. Lord H was over the moon. I had a slight moment of panic when I added the flour first instead of the sugar, but managed to overcome the crisis, and the results are great. I might get used to this. Hmm. Maybe I should buy an apron?

Had a wonderful two hour nap this afternoon, catching up on the week's lost sleep, and then wrote a poem as part of the UniSWriters' homework from last week. Decided to use one of our UniS artists, Jo Baker, as my picture inspiration, so the poem has the same title as her piece - "Still Life by Jo Baker". As she also attends UniSWriters, I hope she likes it. Have posted it onto the Writewords ( site for comment, and also sent it to UK Authors ( for online publication for Monday.

On the advice of the Bewrite site people (, I decided to have another go at the PR Link Tiles site ( and managed to set up three tiles - a personal one, a blog one and a prose one for my first novel, "The Hit List". If it works out, I'll probably set up another for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" when it comes out in June. We'll see.

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the pub for dinner, and hope to be back in time for "New Tricks" on TV. Lovely.

Anne Brooke

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lunch in South Harrow

Spent the morning finalising and sending off my edited entry to the "Life" competition for BBC Southern Counties Radio. This five-minute piece should be broadcast sometime over the summer, and I get paid. Goodness, that will be nice. Also did more work on "The Gifting", and by the end of the day had written another 2000 words. I was getting quite emotionally involved in it too, which I think always helps the clarity. And some overdramatisation is bound to creep in - but I can cut that on the edit, as I can never tell till later.

Lunch with a friend in South Harrow. It's good to have one-to-one chats. I much prefer this to the group stuff we tend to do, as I can be more honest without having to play to the gallery. Good to see Jane again too.

Shopped briefly this afternoon in rainy Godalming, and then back home for solid work on "The Gifting". Whoever said writing had glamour? Hard slog and those wonderful moments of connected joy make up my day.

An evening in. Bliss. By the way, last night's "O Go My Man" was rubbish - badly conceived, badly written and badly acted. There's a hint of a play in there somewhere, but it's hard to find. Way too bitty. In spite of the glowing review in today's "Surrey Advertiser." What on earth is their drama critic on? Or maybe she saw an entirely different play. Ho hum.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Student Experience Group

Not too bad a day. On a personal level, there's a lot to think about, so my mind kept wandering. It feels as if I've embarked on a long journey, and I'm not quite sure what the shore on the other side might look like. If that's not too dramatic. Heck, I'm dramatic. Live with it. Maybe it just is what it is.

Anyway, the morning Student Experience Group provided a welcome diversion, and wasn't too bad to take minutes for either. I've even managed to get the first draft of them done by the end of the day, though I won't proofread them till Monday, when I'm next in. Had a lovely, peaceful walk round campus at lunchtime - good to see at least one or two daffodils out now, although most are still at the green stalk stage.

This evening, Lord H and I are at the theatre to see "O Go My Man" - apparently it's an acronym for monogamy, and is very rude indeed, so that's cheered us all up. The matrons of Guildford will be pleased.

No writing joys leapt onto my plate today. And no-one has commented on my story, "A Serious Business", on the Writewords ( site yet. Still, maybe it's just early days. And I am way too needy. Sigh.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

First counselling session

Here's a new thing for me. Had my first counselling session today with one of the staff counsellors. I've taken some sessions of spiritual direction in the dim and distant past, but I think I'll be happier - or at least freer to express myself - now without the religious trappings. I said more - and different - things than I thought I would, but I think it was good, if exhausting. Feel as I've been squeezed dry tonight. It's liberating to have a safe environment to talk though, without the fear of how the other person will react or what it will mean for any relationship. I wasn't sure on the way home whether I'd tell Lord H or not, but in the end I did and he was fine about it. I'm going to have six sessions, with the possibility of more, depending how things are at the end of that. Goodness, by summer, I'll be a new woman. Or, at the very least, I'll have had one delivered.

Managed to catch up nicely with work the rest of the day and am fairly up-to-date now. At home, made a few changes to my sf story, "Creative Accountancy for Beginners", and then emailed it to our two Guildford Writers ( resident sf experts, neither of whom were able to be at last night's meeting, for any comments they might give. Incidentally, people last night seemed to enjoy the story very much, which was a relief. As I was telling a work colleague today, each time you read anything out, no matter how experienced you are or how familiar the audience, it's as if you're walking a plank stretching out from a ship over an uncertain sea. And the plank's got woodworm. It never changes.

Tonight, it's slob-out night. I'll watch the second part of the psychological drama, "The Best Man". Am desperate to see how it ends. Suspect there'll be tears.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

UniS Writers

Felt like a bear with constipation today when I first walked into the office, but tried to remember I knew I'd feel like that - and after a while it wasn't so bad. Managed, in spite of all my doubts, to get almost up to date with the meetings I have over the next week and which have been left pending over the last week. And not as many emails as I'd feared either.

Lunchtime was our UniS Writers' meeting - not as many there this time, but we had good discussions about the work produced and people's current projects. Also played one writing game which went down well and resulted in an astonishing range of high-quality work. It's amazing what you can come up with in just five minutes - which just goes to show that you don't need much time to pen a paragraph or two. After the meeting, a couple of us with websites/blogs emailed them round to the group - it will be nice to share more of that sort of information, so we can keep up with any news as and when it occurs, rather than waiting for the next month's meeting.

It's Guildford Writers ( tonight, and I've decided to take my comic SF story, which I've done for the next Writers' News ( competition - first time I've done SF, so it'll be interesting to get comments. Feel quite happy about how my writing is going at the moment - hope that feeling continues, as it's hell when it doesn't.

Anne Brooke

Monday, March 20, 2006

Competition entries

A friend of mine from my old job, Jane, visited for morning coffee and home-made flapjacks today. Good to catch up as we don't seem to have seen each other for a while. I was praising my kinesiologist ( to the skies, as she asked what all the new stuff in my kitchen was for, so I told her. She stopped laughing when she saw I was serious, and even seemed quite interested.

Also sent off my monthly writing competition entries today - or rather I sorted them out and will actually post them tomorrow. I find it easier to stockpile competitions and do them all once a month. That way I can keep tabs on how I'm doing and it saves running around doing them all the time in a bitty way. Not my favourite writing task in the world, but I have to keep trying to get my name out there somehow. It's a long, slow haul. Also decided to add the You Write On site ( to the links page on my own site, as it does seem pretty good.

Visited Gladys from church in the afternoon - she was much livelier today - and then food shopping. What a lot I can pack in to my day in lieu if I try! Lord H will be late back tonight, as he has to hold an interview at 6pm, so will try to get a few words more done on "The Gifting", and then an evening's TV viewing. Bliss.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lent 3: Church Hell

Really bad session at church today. As the boiler was broken, we held the service in the local pub. It felt as if there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. I did my sacristan duties, settled myself in a corner and kept my head down. Hell, how bad I feel about God and the whole church thing right now. It seemed as if everyone else was bright and cheery whilst I was mumbling away thinking: do I really believe all this? And what the hell does it mean if I don't? We passed round communion and I managed to palm a wafer and hide it in my pocket and not drink the wine, whilst pretending to do so. The spectre at the feast indeed.

Afterwards, one of the church ladies next to me asked me how I was, and I could see she meant it, so I told her. As much as I know myself anyway. That is, that I'm fed up with church, I don't know if it means anything any more, there's lots of things I'm trying to sort out in my life right now and church is adding to the problems, not helping to solve them. I also said that, given the choice between being a Christian (ha! as if ...) and a writer, I'd choose being a writer every time, as it feels more real and more me. Bless her, she didn't blink an eye, which at least proves some people can be angels when you need them most and when you least expect them. We had a good chat, and she said I could ring/call round to see her if I felt the need. If that happens, I may well do that. It felt okay. It also felt good to have told someone how things are, and today, right now, the burden seems a little lighter. Thank ... well, whatever.

Oh, and I sneaked the wafer back into the jar afterwards. Which probably means I've committed some cardinal sin or other, but what the hell. It's only a wafer.

Golf during the afternoon with Marian and Siegi started off well, but I soon lost any sense of my game and ended up playing average-to-bad, with the emphasis on the bad. It's just too damn cold. Lunch afterwards at our place, followed by the weekly phone call to mother - yes, I'm fine; we're all fine; how are you? - and, thank goodness, it's "Invasion" and "Mayo" tonight. Where would I be without TV?

Reviewed the chapters allocated to me and uploaded the opening chapters of "A Dangerous Man" in return. Will be interested to read any comments I might receive.

And today's haiku is:

Holiday week slips by.
I write, read, sleep and think,
dread the week to come.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Farnham lunch

A lazy start to the day, and then lunch in Farnham with Pam, a writing friend from Guildford Writers ( She's snowed under at the moment, so hasn't had time to come to our group as often, but has plenty of ideas for future work. Plenty more than I do, anyhow.

During the afternoon, I joined another writing website - - and printed off the start of another member's chapters for comment. Also posted the start of "Maloney's Law" on the forum pages, which brought some very much appreciated positive comments. It looks like an interesting site to be on, with good plans for the future, so I'll see how it goes.

Lord H sorted out my front cover for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" and I emailed it to Irene of Goldenford ( for use in emails to bookshops. Also received back the editing comments on Chapter Four of "Thorn in the Flesh" from the Jacquie Bennett site ( Shall get on with those as soon as I can. It will be good to get it finished and off to my agent (

Also did some more work with the "Reinventing my Life" book - hard but helpful, and it's the path I want to be on right now. I think, at the risk of sounding pretentious, it'll help me to be more real. This, for me, is one of the most important things at the moment.

And, finally, I asked to come off the church prayer rota list. Another weight of expectation banished. Hurrah.

Anne Brooke

Friday, March 17, 2006

One-to-One with Carole Hayman

A drive down to Brighton this morning and a very helpful and encouraging session with Carole Hayman (Ladies of Letters fame) on my "Life" piece for Southern Counties Radio. I was amazed I managed to navigate through Brighton, let alone find a suitable place to park. I'm not at my best in strange places. She was very friendly and I've been inspired to rewrite the whole piece in a much more personal, surreal and intimate style. Have managed to keep the humour as well - I hope. The rewriting took me all afternoon, and I've now emailed it for comment to the Guildford Writers ( group. A thoroughly productive and inspirational day - so a big thank you to Carole.

Goldenford Publishers ( are just finalising the text of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" before sending it to print. As far as I can see, the only issue is - as it has been for us before - the placing of the page numbers. I hope there's a way round that somehow - I'm relying on Jackie's technical expertise. As ever. It's a mystery to me.

Could do with an evening in, just chilling, but it's out for dinner with friends from church. Oh, all that glorious TV I'm missing (shame on me)! It'll be nice, I'm sure, but I hope it's not all religion talk. I really go blank after five minutes of God/church discussions. Much like religious art, which I dislike; if you've seen one Madonna and Child, you've probably seen them all. Hush my mouth and call me Herod.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Baking Flapjacks

Wrote another 1000 words of "The Gifting" - Simon's world has a star system which is very different from ours and which I'm just discovering. People are born under certain symbols in the skies and sometimes take on those characteristics - much like our astrology. It's an interesting twist I hadn't expected. Does it negate my increasingly fragile (please don't tell the vicar - I couldn't stand the prayers ...) Anglicanism? Hmm, very possibly, but, hey, it's fiction, and that's what Simon's world does. I just have to go with it - and have fun on the way.

Took a break in the middle of the day to watch my video of Matthew Bourne's male "Swan Lake." Marvellous stuff. All that longing and gay angst - it's an inspiration indeed. After this, I made some flapjacks for the weekend - with black treacle - but I suspect I may have got confused with the recipe. Oh well, I'll have to see how they turn out. I can always call them pudding and add ice cream if necessary. I'm sure Lord H won't complain.

Tonight it's off to Guildford to see "Present Laughter" with Simon Callow. I'm sure it'll be great as long as he doesn't take his kit off. Last time I saw him in a play, he seemed to spend the first half of it almost naked for no apparent reason. I'm not sure Simon has the best physique these days to play that kind of role, to be honest - but, then again, nobody's perfect. Least of all me. The play was so soul-destroyingly dull we left at half-time. I hope tonight is better.

Am feeling low today due to severe lack of publisher news - of any kind, though the positive is to be hoped-for - and everyone else's successes - damn it. Am consumed with hatred and pen envy. Hell, sometimes that's the only thing keeping me going. So much for love and peace for all, eh?

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Serious Business

Spent a large part of the day editing and adding to my gay short story for the Writers' News ( competition. I'm calling it "A Serious Business" and at last, by early afternoon, I was happy with it. Will post on the Writewords ( site in a week or so to get responses.

Then a quick lunch and out to see Gladys from church. Seemed quite lively, but still very frail. As ever, we set the world to rights. Mum rang to see how Lord H is - answer: improving but still not quite there. I told her when the launch event for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" is likely to be - either 20, 21 or 22 June, with a publication date of 19 June - but unfortunately she'll be on holiday. Still, that's the way it falls sometimes, and at least I can be sure she'll buy a copy.

Updated the Goldenford ( website with author links (including mine), and also made a start on the minutes of last night's meeting. Hope to finish them later, or tomorrow. Also started on a draft launch invite - to include my book and also Jackie's - "A Bottle of Plonk." Alcoholic theme there, for sure!

Bad news when I got home - Tonto Press have rejected "A Dangerous Man". Narrow-minded buggers. That's them off my favourites list. I've given up on ever hearing anything from Flame Books or LBF, so only 2 more publishers to go, and then I'll see if Goldenford might like to take it on next year or the even the year after, depending on schedules and other people's work. Otherwise I'll do it myself. I feel very strongly about "ADM" and I certainly don't want to abandon it. To my mind, it's too good for that.

Watched the last half of "Dalziel and Pascoe" this evening - good story, but please, please can't they cut the end melodrama. We don't need it and it's embarrassing to watch. Glad the woman got away with it though - she deserved it.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Road Rage Story Day

Nurse's appointment today - to do the annual blood test, blood pressure and diabetes testing. Blood pressure's fine but they'll contact me if there's any problem with the rest. Always good to get that job over.

Completed my road rage short story and have called it "Speaking Her Mind" - now posted on Writewords ( with one positive comment already. Nice to have a boost so early on! After that, I watched a recorded episode of "Never Mind the Buzzcocks", and started on the beginning of a love story, also for Writers' News ( - but I think it's too fluffy. I'll darken it up tomorrow, with a bit of luck. I'm making it gay, as that seems to be where I write best, and I always do that genre better if I write dark. I should have remembered!

Another afternoon nap, then tonight I'm out minuting the monthly meeting of Goldenford ( Hope there aren't too many notes to take down! Antony Rowe ( have received the CD of the "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" cover, so I hope they can make something of it. Also hope that after tonight we can send the text to them, and start printing the book. Something to look forward to ...

Anne Brooke

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lazy Day

A week's holiday stretches ahead. Bliss. Had arranged for a friend to pop round for coffee at 10, but her son is unwell, so we've rearranged for next Monday, when I have a day in lieu. Instead, I did another 500 words of "The Gifting" - still haven't quite got Simon to the mountain yet! Then I watched the film, "Priest", which I ordered last week and which, surprisingly I've never seen. I thought it was actually very good - interesting focus on religion vs humanity, faith vs love, and the sex scenes were great (always the icing on the cake!). Didn't like the over-melodramatic ending though - the content there was marvellous, but I think they should have cut the music.

A nap this afternoon, and then I've started a story on road rage for one of the Writers' News ( competitions. No title yet, and I haven't got very far with the text either, but there's always tomorrow.

Lord H is shopping tonight, so will be late home. And later there's another episode of "Dalziel and Pascoe". Please let it not be yet another story of Dalziel falling for an unsuitable woman while poor Pascoe does the actual detecting. And less over-the-top emoting than last week, please! It's in danger of turning into a cross between "EastEnders" and "Morse." Lord help us.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lent 2

Up at the crack of dawn today (5.45am) in order to be at church in time to prepare for the 8am service (I really need to be there by 7, but managed 7.20 today ...). The place is freezing, since the boiler broke, so I kept my refugee hat and fingerless gloves on. This in spite of the fact that we had three portable heaters in the choir area, which gave the church a charming, hellish glow. The service wasn't too bad - a short sermon on seeing coming to God with our needs as an integral part of worship (suits me, sir - have you time for the full list?) and wholeness. The latter is at the moment a particular focus of mine. We're getting there ...

Lord H and I have finally booked our flights to Belfast in April (short holiday plus, for me, the AUA conference) and are enquiring about a hotel. Apparently the city will be filled with Irish national folkdancing champions, so hope we can find a room somewhere - footloose and fancy free.

Astonishing, I cooked lunch today and so far we haven't dropped dead, though Lord H is still sick. Will have to restock supplies of Lemsip soon. An afternoon nap (much-needed) and an evening of "Invasion" and "Midsomer Murders" will round off my Sunday nicely. Oh, and I've washed the car in the freezing cold, so I deserve my evening slump even more than usual.

Have given up with my attempt at reading Patricia Highsmith's "The Talented Mr Ripley". Goodness it's slow, and so old-fashioned. I couldn't bear it - to me, the main character had a minus charm factor. One hopes the film (though I've never seen it) is better - surely it has to be!

Today's haiku is:

Soft amber clouds watch
the skylark sing the morning.
I take the day slow.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Clarins Facial Day

Bliss. How I love Clarins facial days. Can't imagine life without them. Today was an age-defying day, so hopefully I will look like a twenty-one year old for the next week or so. Or possibly two twenty-one year olds. Did some mad shopping before my precious Clarins moment, and bought a pair of white glittery bedsocks and an utterly gorgeous fluffy pink-and-white striped dressing gown (thanks goodness for Per Una at M&S), one fine-meshed sieve and two tupperware containers. That's going to be a grand night out.

After my chilled-out facial, went to the Harvey Gallery in Guildford to see an exhibition in which a friend of mine, Jo Baker from UniS, has several of her paintings included. I love her work - her still life paintings have a kind of vibrant peace all of their own, and today there was also one nude which I also particularly liked. But, goodness, I had trouble finding the wretched gallery - even though I've been before. The fluffy pink dressing gown must have been bringing out my girly side, as I had to ring Lord H (at home, still sick) for directions. When I arrived, I had so many bags, the meet-and-greet lady thought I was bringing stuff for the next exhibition. She too was particularly taken with the dressing gown but I managed to get away still with it afterwards.

This afternoon, Lord H put the finishing touches to my "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" cover and burnt it onto CD. I shall post it to Antony Rowe ( on Monday, and Jackie from Goldenford ( will send the text later in the week. Being almost there is so satisfying.

A long nap later in the afternoon, and then up and out for tonight's Guildford Choral Society concert. They're singing Bach's St John Passion, which should be good. Lord H has decided not to go, and is very upset at having to miss it. Will come home straight afterwards, rather than going to the post-concert party (which we always seem to be invited to, as friends of a number of people who sing in the choir).

Anne Brooke

Friday, March 10, 2006

Haircut Day

Rushed round Farnham this morning, collecting mother's (or is that: mothers'?) day cards, soap and the local paper, and depositing parcels as I went. Then back home for a much-needed haircut. How I love that post-haircut "hey-I-look-stylish" moment. Shame it's wasted as soon as I wash my hair.

Completed the end pages of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" and sent the final version back to Jackie in Goldenford ( so we can check the spine width. Goodness, that's the only thing left to do now - then we can send the darn thing to print. Hurrah!

Did 1,500 words of "The Gifting" - I just need to get Simon to the first of his trials (earth), but he's not quite there yet. Bless. I'd like some description of the journey they need to make before they get there, and I need to be fresher to do that. Might have another go over the weekend, but I am seeing the week off ahead as a time for some much needed relaxation, rather than writing myself into the ground.

As per my Lent promise, I made mini chocolate muffins this afternoon. It was fine until I got to the part about melting chocolate for the topping. Have discovered it's almost impossible to do if you have no glass bowl. I ended up hovering the pan over the ring and hoping for the best. Hmm. Not a great success. Burnt chocolate drops 'r' us. But the glace cherries do appear - somehow - to be staying on. Oh well, I'm sure it'll taste the same. And Lord H won't complain.

Lots of discussion on the Writewords ( forums today about self-publishing (general opinion - it and small publishing is the way forward for a lot of very good writers now) and the tendency of the big guys to publish any old tat. My feeling is: watch it, you big publishers: the real writers are a-coming. And how.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Holiday Story Shortlisting

Must be my lucky week - the Writers' News/Writing magazines ( arrived today and I've been shortlisted in the holiday story competition, along with Jennifer - also from Guildford Writers ( Something else to add to my website - hurrah!

Worked solidly on "The Gifting" and added another 2000 words. I felt happier about it this time - am trying to concentrate on the journey and not rush towards the end, and I think the result is better. Still, always hard to tell at this stage though.

Popped in to see a friend from church in the afternoon, and then back home for a much-needed nap. Ladies of leisure rule! Lord H woke me up when he came home - but at least he feels better. He wasn't terribly well when he went to work this morning, but is now Lemsipped up to the hilt. He's still keen to go out tonight to see "Festen" at Woking, so that's this evening's entertainment. Will take extra tissues in case a relapse is on the cards, poor thing.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BBC Southern Counties Radio Shortlisting

A fairly quiet day at work. Booked an appointment with one of the staff counsellors for the end of March, and a reflexology appointment for the beginning of April. I am going to be so chilled - I hope. A new woman approaches ...! Also attended the lunchtime concert which this time was hosting the Gemini Ensemble - UniS' ensemble-in-residence. They're good, but the music is rather too modern for my liking. Still, some of it reminded me of Janacek, which was nice.

Had some good news on the competition front - I've been shortlisted - along with 3 others from Guildford Writers ( - for the BBC Southern Counties Radio "Life" competition. I get a one-to-one with Carole Hayman (of "Ladies of Letters" fame) next Friday in Brighton to improve the piece, and I then have to resubmit for recording and possible prizes. That's certainly cheered me up. My first radio submission and a 100% success rate. Praise be, as Thora Hird would have said! Maybe I'd better quit while I'm ahead ...

And, in addition, there appears to have been some interest from a German publisher at the London Book Fair in "Maloney's Law" - so John ( is rushing them a copy. We'll have to wait and see. We live in hope indeed.

Now a glorious week-and-a-bit off lies ahead - I'm next at the University on Tuesday 21 March. Time for some serious relaxation.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Southern Universities' Course: Finance

A day in London at the Southern Universities' Course and today's topic was Finance. Not my best subject, but somehow I muddled through. Rang Lord H during the morning break to say I was still standing - just. The presenter was actually quite nice - informal and relaxed, plus a good sense of humour (always vital in Accountants!). And, wonder of wonders, we finished at 3pm so could get home early. Hurrah!

A brief nap before Lord H got back from work, and also caught up with my emails. It looks like Goldenford ( are just getting to the point of being ready to send off "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" to the printers. All we have to do is style the end pages showing our next novels and we're there. Am beginning to get more excited about it now.

Tonight is the second of the two-part "Dalziel and Pascoe" - I thought it was very good last night, so am looking forward to the conclusion. It seems to have been trashed in the TV press - can't imagine why.

Have just finished Annie Proulx's "Bad Dirt" - a new collection of short stories. They were okay, with one or two that were verging on good, but nothing to get excited about.

Anne Brooke

Monday, March 06, 2006

Personal Development Training: the Final Part

Managed to get the Childcare minutes done, checked and out all in the course of this morning, so that's a weight off my mind. Walked round campus at lunchtime and admired the snowdrops by the lake. They're certainly lasting a long time this year, and still no sign of daffodils. Reminded the university writers' group about the meeting in a couple of weeks' time, and had some interesting conversations about rewriting and how to get started on something with two of the members. It makes it all worthwhile.

This afternoon was taken up with the final part of our team/personal development training sessions. This time we were looking at the "self", and it certainly brought up a few things for me. Things which I knew about, but it was helpful to look at it in a different context. We had a fascinating discussion about levels of reality and how to be oneself, whatever that self may be. I'd like to take it further on a personal level, I think - once I'm back after my week off next week, I might well screw my courage to the sticking place and book a chat with the staff counsellor. It can do no harm.

Shopping this evening, so late home. Circle Magazine have decided against my set of poems (then again, what do you expect from a publication that sounds like a women's magazine, I ask - bitterly?!...), but Jenny at the JBWB Bureau ( enjoyed the third chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh", which I have now corrected along the lines of her advice. So it's swings and roundabouts indeed.

The first episode of the new "Dalziel and Pascoe" tonight, followed by "Have I got old news for you", so that's my evening sorted. Sad person that I am.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 05, 2006

London Book Fair

A day with Jennifer (CEO of Goldenford Publishers - at the London Book Fair. Lord H nobly did my church/sacristan stuff, and had great fun as today the service was held at the pub (the church boiler is broken and the church is therefore too cold for human existence). Back at the fair, we made some interesting contacts - a marketing/ideas man linked to Antony Rowe, our printer, ( who seemed quite taken with what we were trying to do, and came up with some good suggestions, such as the need for professional marketing literature (brochures, flyers etc). He also suggested contacting other publishers (such as non-fiction ones) to see if their sales reps could include our lists in their sales schedules. Sounds a good plan - if we can make it work.

We also talked to a company selling novels through vending machines at airports/hospitals etc (, and another who had a complete booksellers/publishers online accounting/marketing package. Not cheap and therefore not for now, but certainly something to think about for the future.

Jennifer drove up and it was good to talk about Goldenford and also our own current writing projects in depth. Certainly crystallises the thought processes. A worthwhile trip all round.

Back home (hurrah!) in time for "Star Trek", and later on there's "Invasion" and "Midsomer Murders". The perfect Sunday. And Lord H is baking bread - to go with my cake of yesterday, I assume!

Today's haiku is:

Your light words lightly
said tear my heart to pieces.
Smiling, I blink. Bleed.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Arms and the Man

Today I made a cake - as part of our Lent creativity focus. I decided I probably did enough writing and such like, so a more practical outlet would be better. It's the first cake I've made in years and I had to ring up Mother to get the recipe. The embarrassment! Thought I'd start off with a simple Victoria sandwich with jam and icing sugar - and goodness me it worked! And it wasn't as horrendous as I thought it would be either. It's certainly pleased Lord H, and that can only be a good thing.

Also this morning Lord H very kindly put the Goldenford ( logos onto the "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" covers, together with the price - £8.99, though I shall sell it directly for £7.00. Now we only have the end pages to go, for which we rely on our CEO to provide.

Wrote a haiku - about the rather thoughtless words of one of last night's dinner guests, which really struck me down (though I was I hope too socially aware to show it) - it's driven it a little out of my system, but still rankles. Also did a poem on the contrasting way Lord H and I use words and uploaded that one to the Writewords site ( Have already received one positive comment, so that's made me feel better.

This afternoon, we saw "Arms and the Man" by Shaw at Guildford - great play. Very witty and deep. I loved it. Being myself an "incurable romantic" though, I could have done with at least one good kiss before the main character exits with his last wonderful line. Ah well. While in town, have also restocked my book supply which was getting dangerously low. Such horrors always make me twitchy.

Anne Brooke

Friday, March 03, 2006

Dinner with Friends

A day at work - unusual for a Friday, but I had to minute the Childcare Working Group in the afternoon. Not my favourite subject (how I hate children!), but it was the last one, and not too long, thank goodness. It's now going to transmute into the Nursery Management Group (with much the same people) and I shall still be minuting that - so no peace for the wicked or the minute-takers indeed.

The morning was spent finishing off the Student Experience Group minutes and sending them out for checking. I am desperately trying to get ahead as my week's holiday is looming and I will come back to hell if I get behind on stuff.

This evening, I came home to the news that the editor of Alma Books has decided against "A Dangerous Man", damning it to oblivion with the faint praise of "nicely written, but not gripping, m'dear". Goodness, that hurts. A simple "no" would have sufficed - what is it about these chaps? And a book that's won a national competition and is currently under serious consideration by another small (but not yet small-minded ...) publisher doesn't, to my mind, deserve such comments. Even though I say it myself.

Tonight we're out at some friends of ours for dinner. Would dearly love to drown my sorrows, but unfortunately I'm driving. Curses again.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Goldenford Meeting with Farnham Maltings

A morning spent doing more to "The Gifting". By the end of the afternoon I'd done another 2000 words which felt good. Took a while to get going though, but then again it always does for me. Have decided to concentrate more on the journey of the novel and the depths of what is happening to the characters as they go through it, rather than catering to that desperate drive to get it finished and done. I think it will improve the writing and make the end editing that bit easier. I hope ...

Some of my Nutrigold ( goods arrived today - goodness they're fast! - magnesium tablets, linseed oil and flax seeds. Have started the regime of taking them immediately - will have to get into that new routine and see if it helps as soon as possible. A part of me is looking forward to it - anything that will help me feel more balanced is good news as far as I'm concerned. The man who delivered them wasn't terribly nice though - complained about our doorbell. Well, I'm not changing it for him! He found his way to us in the end, so I don't know what his problem was. If he's rude next time, I shall be ruder. Believe me, I can be.

In the afternoon, Irene and I had a Goldenford ( meeting with Farnham Maltings to see if they'd be happy for us to have some part in their upcoming Festival of Words on 29 April. They seemed keen, which was great, and will sort out the details soon and let us know. Some of their ideas are very interesting. They're also planning a Children's Festival of Words in 2007, but nobody in Goldenford writes for children. I did suggest they contact Gill James ( - a wonderful children's writer - so I hope they follow up on that.

Back home, a very rude email from 10th Muse magazine, rejecting all of the poems I'd sent the editor - possibly all of my poetry ever, since the beginning of time, from the tone of the email. So that's one outlet I won't be bothering with again and, no, I'm not going to give a web address. Why help him? It's not the rejections I mind (Lord knows I've had enough - along with, thankfully, some very pleasing acceptances), so much as his condescending, "holier than thou" attitude. There's no need for it. It's certainly not professional, and doesn't give poetry editors a good name. Thank goodness for real outfits like Envoi and Tears in the Fence, both of whose editors have, in my experience, been unfailingly polite and helpful!

Have just finished Lionel Shriver's "We need to talk about Kevin" - slow start but apart from that absolutely wonderful! I loved Kevin - great character, and those odd flashes of dark humour are great. I would definitely love a sequel - the ongoing exploits of Kevin. I'd buy it!

Tonight, Lord H and I are out to Woking Theatre to see "Private Lives." Good. I could do with some light relief.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Touch for Health Day

A day in lieu (joyful though it does mean I have to work Friday). An early start however, as I had my first Touch for Health appointment ( in Petersfield at 8.45am. Managed to find the right carpark, when I expected it to be far more tricky. I'm not at my best with strange places, or journeys. The session was very good and the practitioner was absolutely marvellous, and very easy indeed to talk to. We focused on nutrition this time, and I now have a list of changes to add in and things to think about, as well as a website to get items from ( My main aim is more oils and magnesium, and less coffee and salt. I'll see how it goes over the next month, and have made another appointment for the end of March.

On my way home, popped in to see an elderly friend from church, and chatted about poetry and the weather. And cats. Back home, I did another thousand words of "The Gifting" and got myself to the end of a chapter which was nice. For the first time ever, I'm working with a synopsis (whereas usually I write them after I've finished), and actually it's not so bad. It's a broad sweep of where I'm going, rather than a detailed analysis of plot etc, so there's still plenty of freedom in what I write.

Am also thinking about words and the way Lord H & I use them (or not) in different ways - no writing done there. It's still festering right now.

Time off this evening, and Lord H is cooking. And still some pancakes left over from yesterday. Wonderful! Think I might watch the video of "Gideon's Daughter" which I have left over from the weekend.

Anne Brooke