Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rain stops play ...

It was nice getting back into the swing of the Glyndebourne (http://www.glyndebourne.com) season last night, but I have to say that Lord H and I were rather disappointed in their production of "Macbeth". Though, whatever they do, the play will of course be more powerful and more human than anything in the known universe ... The singing was first-class, as ever (as far as I can tell anyway - the singer playing Lady Macbeth was particularly good, and Macduff had his moments), but the settings were rubbish and the use of the chorus more than inane in some respects. And everything was so irritatingly Scottish. I mean, if you're going to insist on using 101 different tartans, at least divide people into recognisable clans to give the audience a fighting chance to work out who's on whose side. But, over and above anything else, if you're going to do "Macbeth", you really, absolutely, utterly have to choose a man to act/sing the title role who has overflowing charisma and an NVQ level 5 in sexiness & power. Otherwise - and trust me on this one - it just doesn't work. The audience has to fall in love with him and want him to succeed somehow even though you know he doesn't, and you have to have a shit-hot physical passion between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Last night's man could sing - no disputing that - but had no charisma or sexiness or power at all, and seemed to look on Lady M as some kind of distant half-sister he'd had no contact with for several years. Therefore, in dramatic terms, it just didn't work.

Ah well. Mind you, dinner was nice. And I asked the waitress to bring me extra pouring cream for my chocolate slab of joy (I don't think that was the official dessert title, but it might as well have been) which already came with its own great dollop of clotted cream. She did too, Gawd bless 'er. Well, it's the healthy option, you know ...

Today, Lord H and I were supposed to be going to see a polo match we had free tickets for (no, don't laugh - I've been practising my posh-git County Class accent for weeks, dammit), but decided to give it a miss as the weather is such shit. It's rained so much even the wasps haven't come out today - so, hey, there's always a silver lining (to every rain-filled cloud).

Instead, Lord H has been busy with his next theology essay, and I - sound the trumpets and open the nearest wine-bar! - have made a start on my next novel, The Bones of Summer. Honestly, the start of a novel is one of the best, most exciting things in the world and I feel tingly now just thinking of it. I love this stage in the game - where I can see the scenes in my head and am just scrabbling around like a mad woman in the attic (oh, sorry, I am the mad woman in the attic ...) trying to get the stuff down. Before the heat fades into obscurity sometime around the 20,000 word mark and I'm thrown back to the snarling wolves and my own meagre resources. Hey ho, what a life.

Ooh, and we watched our video of last night's "Dr Who" (oh, perr-lease, not the doctor falling in love again - just get over it already, can't he??), and I then watched the wonderful, gripping double bill of "Ugly Betty". How I love that programme. What the hell am I going to do when it's not on any more?? Only two more episodes to go before the end, and my life with be bereft of the glorious B. Groan!

And I've been noble and rung Mother. And I didn't mention anything about Mr Perfect Cousin either (not that I'm bitter and twisted, ho ho ...) - so I should really be showered with Daughter Points galore. Hmm, don't wait up then, eh. She also asked about church (she knows something of the fiasco - but as little as I can get away with really), so I told her we'd left in April, and we're not looking for a replacement for a while. Possibly longer. Think she was surprised, but didn't make a fuss - so also gains Mother Points. My, what an award-winning pair we are today indeed.

Tonight, we've having Chinese - as we're into holiday mode now (see below) - and beer, and lounging like slobby lizards in front of our "The Last Detective" video. Bliss. And I've packed, though of course Lord H won't pack until two minutes before we're due to set off tomorrow, and will still remember everything. Dammit. Sound of wife grinding teeth due to marital packing injustices ...

So, have a great week, people - we're off for a week's (rainy??) golfing, and we'll be back on Saturday. Probably quite late. Hope the weather is good for us all ...

This week's haiku is:

The rain starts slowly,
easing the wires in my flesh,
silencing the wasps.

Today's nice things:

1. Starting The Bones of Summer
2. TV
3. Chinese & beer.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Eyebrows and operas

Had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday, who'd been to a Chinese healer and had had a face reading. Apparently, he'd spent one-and-a-half hours reading her eyebrows. One-and-a-half hours!!! I mean: weird, or what?? Especially as the friend in question has eyebrows that are barely visible, even though she doesn't pluck them. It appears that such eyebrows mean that you're the sort of person who only does one thing at a time and can't multi-task well. Bloody hell, I could have told her that in one-and-a-half minutes, and done it for free too. Is New Age healing disappearing up its own arse or am I in the twilight zone??

And I'm sure if I had an eyebrow reading, they'd have to spend one-and-a-half days on me as my eyebrows are of the Dennis Healey/Helena Bonham-Carter variety and have to be smoothed down every morning with water and a strong comb. I'm constantly plucking the damn things too - it's amazing I can see at all really. But at least I know where to place the blame for my obsessive multi-tasking orientation - it's all in my bloody eyebrows. Allegedly ...

This morning, I've not done much - though Lord H has nipped into Godalming to ransack the shops and bring the buffalo home. I've watched my video of "New Tricks" - which was great, especially as it had a truly sexy guest actor in, who was Sandra Pullman's love interest. Ye gods, but that was some seriously hot totty - I hope to God it's the start of a long-term relationship. That'll put a smile on my face for sure.

Oh, and I've just finished reading Tomas Transtromer's latest poetry collection, The Deleted World. It was okay, I suppose, though not a patch on his utterly marvellous prose poems - he's a master of that genre. Still, it did have two poems, in particular, which made me stop breathing for a moment or two, so I'm glad I bought it for those alone.

This afternoon, Lord H and I are off to the first of our Glyndebourne (http://www.glyndebourne.com) operas - we're seeing Verdi's "Macbeth", which we haven't seen before, so that should be interesting. I have to say that "Macbeth" is one of my all-time favourite plays. I love all that evil and trauma and a good man gone wrong stuff - just my sort of thing, really. So it will be good to see the opera version. We're not taking a picnic, but have booked a table in one of the restaurants instead - which is lucky as it's the rainy season once more here in the shires. Then again, when is it not?...

Oh, and I've had another rejection for Maloney's Law - from Waywiser Press, which didn't surprise me much as they never ever take anything I offer them. Bastards. I won't bother again. They're obviously too much up their own bottoms to know good stuff when they see it. I always see them as being rather mealy-mouthed too - something in the tone of their letters, I think.

And I fear the wasps might be back - I think we have a nest developing on the flat roof above the bedroom. Deep, deep sigh. We can see them flying in and out just over the window, the little stripy beasts. I'm hoping Lord H will go up and have a look sometime, so we can see how big a machete we might need. Honestly, if I ever ruled the world, I'd take every single wasp and destroy it. Without the use of an anaesthetic. That'd show the buggers! I am indeed so full of the milk of human kindness, not - I'm sure I would have got on with the Macbeths ...

Today's nice things:

1. Hot totty on "New Tricks"
2. Laughing at eyebrows
3. The Glyndebourne season - here at last!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Surrey woman ...

Today, I have been very "Surrey". Played golf this morning - much better than last week, thank the Lord (I couldn't have stood the shame ...) and I even sunk a hugely long putt to get four - hurrah! I know that won't mean anything if you don't play golf but, believe me, it's pretty hot! And I beat Marian, aha!, so honour has been satisfied. Not that I'm a competitive stressed-out bitch at all of course ...

Back home for my haircut, and Lynda arrived early, just as I was considering doing the cleaning, so phew what a relief! And, bless her, she's taking A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com) on holiday with her next week (she likes the dark stuff, though she is making noises now about buying Pink Champagne and Apple Juice (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) sometime) - so hope Michael enjoys his quick trip to a Greek island. I'm sure he will - lots of hot men for him to check out, so I'm sure he'll be smiling.

And the article I sent to the Surrey Advertiser (http://www.surreyadvertiser.co.uk) about Goldenford has appeared in The Guildford Times - hurrah! It may not be quite what I intended, but hey any publicity at all is pretty good, as far as I'm concerned. We need all the help we can get!

Later on, I'll pop into Godalming to pick up a few bits and pieces - tea tree oil, Jiffy bags, Epsom salts - bloody hell, I am turning into my grandmother ... Anyway, it's all the things today's Harrassed Woman (great magazine title - I'd buy it ...) could possibly want. Naturally. Tonight, I'll be glued to the TV, sipping my wine (chilling nicely in the fridge even now, as you're asking) and thinking about doing the cleaning. Maybe ...

Today's nice things:

1. The Guildford Times article
2. Haircut
3. Golf.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Counselling and competitions

Got into town early today and posted the first completed version of The Gifting, plus synopsis (hurrah! hurrah!) to The Literary Consultancy (http://www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk), where it can fester away for a while waiting for a report to be done. It's such a relief to get it away onto the next part of its journey. Which is ironic really, as Simon does a great deal of journeying of his own.

Also good to get back into counselling with Kunu - who unfortunately has broken her wrist whilst on holiday and will have to have it in plaster for six weeks. At least it was the end of the hols rather than the beginning though - but it just goes to show that holidays are dangerous places ... Anyway, this week, we talked about my family and childhood stuff - which seemed fitting bearing in mind my cousin's mealy-mouthed email last Sunday. Bah we say to him (still), bah! It struck me (indeed, I think it struck us both) that I've probably spent the first twenty years of my life trying to fit in with what the family wanted and hiding as much as possible so they couldn't find me out. Not a great scenario for much development as an individual there then ... And, since leaving home, I've spent the last twenty years trying to work out who I actually am. So I'm probably up to the teenage years round about now then - all over again, dammit! And also I don't think church has helped much - it's just another traditional environment I can try to conform to and hide in. Hmm, so that one didn't work that well either. So here I am now, putting myself firmly outside the bosom of the family and the all-encompassing arms of the church, feeling the wind whistling through the gaps (wherever they may be), but thinking like I might know myself a little better for the first time in ... well ... forever. Hey, it may be chilly here in the twilight zone, but the view's nice. There's still just enough light to see it by ...

Well, I always did say that Kunu was a woman who relished a challenge.

Anyway, on the way home, I popped into see Gladys, who's looking perky but has obviously forgotten everything I told her two weeks ago about leaving church. Ah well, at least she remembered for a while. And she's enjoying the new poetry book her niece has just bought her - Matthew Arnold, which brought back some happy memories for me. Gladys does love her poetry. I left when the Meals-on-Wheels lady turned up - but not without making a brave attempt (thwarted cunningly by Gladys) to steal the food to save me making lunch. Ah, foiled again, eh ...

At home, I've prepared my monthly poetry competition entries and also a submission to the next poetry magazine on my list. I'll get them posted tomorrow, so expect the rejection back by COP Saturday. Knowing my luck! And I've fleshed out the outline for The Bones of Summer - bloody hell! I've done an outline without starting the novel first. That's a first for sure! The change in writing practice is just too much for me and I shall have to go and have a lie-down soon.

Tonight, Lord H and I are at the theatre, seeing Priestley's "Dangerous Corner". We can't be arsed to cook so we're eating there - I've ordered smoked salmon, which is my utter favourite. Honestly, I could eat smoked salmon every day and never have enough.

And I've just finished reading Joanne Harris' "The Lollipop Shoes", which is a sequel to the adorable "Chocolat". Hmm. Have to say I was sorely disappointed with it - the beginning and ending were good (though the ending was rather cliched), but the middle needed the stern hand of an experienced editor to cut the flab. It really could have done with being slashed by a quarter. And, to be honest, I had real trouble differentiating the voices of the three main (female) characters - I kept having to go back and work out who on earth was speaking, which was tremendously irritating. I'm actually really sorry to have to write all this, as I count Harris as one of the best novelists of this generation, so I hope she's back on form for her next one ... In the meantime, if you haven't read any, I recommend "Five Quarters of the Orange" (her absolute best, in my opinion) or "Gentlemen and Players".

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Sorting out my writing admin
3. The theatre.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The secret life of shops

Shops are strange places indeed. Lord H came home last night with a pack of kiwi fruit emblazoned with the legend “Wash Before Eating”. Well, I have yet to find anyone who actually eats the skin of a kiwi fruit, but there you go. Lord H thought they’d be better off adding a label saying “Open This End” for the hard of thinking. Could be useful for eggs too.

Waving goodbye to Lord H this morning was something of a shock actually. I’d said goodbye at the front door and then rushed to the bedroom window in the usual way to wave as he goes down the path but, instead of his tall figure and elegant charm, I saw a grey-haired, elderly figure limping along. Goodness me, I thought, Lord H has aged since I last set eyes on him – are we in a temporal anomaly here in downtown Godalming? Luckily, I recognised the neighbour just before ringing the Husband Shop to see if they have a newer model …

Managed to get some more synopsising/timelining done to The Gifting last night. Am now about to start Chapter Thirteen (of Seventeen) and, with about 100 pages to go, the end is surely in sight.

Oh, and at work I’ve finally met the wonderful and supremely efficient Helen from Catering – whom I have been emailing at least every five seconds for about two years now and who is actually only in the office opposite (though it’s a secure office so we can’t just walk in …). We are indeed already in the virtual society – in so many ways! Anyway, she’s just as lovely in real life, so great to meet you at last, Helen.

Being the end of term, there’s a big 3-day bash on at the Students’ Union, which is just next door to our offices, and the Estates guys are already preparing for it. This seems to involve caging us in completely, supposedly so that students can form an orderly queue to get into the Union, but my theory is that they’re trapping us inside the block so we’ll never be able to go to the loo again at all. Legs crossed, gals!...

Sneaked out at lunchtime to do some shopping – it’s the end of term this week so the car park is easier to get back into as the lecturers are beginning to flee to the hills, and it will save time this evening – when I’ll only have to get the chilled goods – as I want to crack on with The Gifting. That is, if I can stop Lord H from being a Super-Husband and secretly doing shopping when it’s not his week for doing it. Sigh! Not that we’re a super-regimented household of course – after all, I’ve long since discontinued the enforced dawn get-up time and the morning salute. I like to think of myself as a benign dictator. Ho ho …

Oh, and I’ve scribbled a poem:

Summer madness

I don’t do
beaches,
tanning
and certainly not bikinis –
perish the thought! –
and I’m not that partial
to lazy afternoons by the pool
or in the garden –
if we had one.

No.
Summer madness
will find me
scouring the shelves
for sun-cream,
hiding out under trees
or lurking indoors
until the autumn chill.

Oh to be blonde
or brunette and be free!
It’s different for redheads
you see.


And at last the office has found a use for the ball of string that Ruth ordered three years ago and which we’ve been teasing her about ever since – so more fool us then! The mentors will be using it today in their Fun Day for the races, so we have been silenced and Ruth is cultivating her Smug Look, aha!

I’ve also drafted a brief synopsis (more of an outline really …) for my next novel (assuming nobody wants The Gifting of course, as in that case, there’s little point in writing a sequel straight away) – working title: The Bones of Summer. As you can no doubt tell, it’s in the crime genre. Better give it to my agent (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk) sometime then to see what he thinks. I’ve taken the basis of it from a short story I wrote last year – which is something I usually hate doing as I think short stories are what they are and shouldn’t be stretched into novels. But for this one, I’ve put the character into a different situation six years on and he’s also reacting with Paul Maloney from Maloney’s Law – so it a quasi-sequel … almost. Anyway, we’ll see.

I've just finished reading Martin Seligman's "Authentic Happiness". Hmm. Started off well enough but got very flabby in the middle, to my mind. And his quasi-theological ending lost me entirely. I think he might have needed a reality check pill there ... But at least I do now know what my key signature strengths are - love of learning, and humour apparently - so I must remember to use them every day to achieve quality of life. Ho ho. Somebody pass the encyclopedia ...

Tonight, I’ll be working my way through Simon’s life again and attempting to act like a normal human being. Is it just me, or do all writers get this obsessive need to complete when fiddling around at the end of a novel? Thank goodness it’s counselling tomorrow, eh? Heck, I obviously need it …

Today’s nice things:

1. Laughing at kiwi fruit
2. Realising that my husband hasn’t suddenly shapeshifted into a frail eighty-year-old
3. Sorting out The Gifting.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writing City and the sins of the Church

Got so involved with The Gifting synopsis & timeline last night that I decided to miss “New Tricks”, though I have videoed it instead for later. This part of the process is taking longer than I thought, probably as it’s a longer novel, I imagine, and I’ve put a lot of different strands in it. The timeline is helping sort out a few oddities too – as I knew it would. I’m keen to finish by the end of this week before Lord H and I go on holiday – being a true OCD (Obsessive Completion Disorder …), I can’t stand the thought of it hanging over me while I’m away. It’s making me quite twitchy indeed.

Lord H enjoyed the theology last night, but when I asked him (not for the first time …) if he’d received his last two essays back yet, admitted that he thinks the Diocese might have lost them. Honestly! They’re sooo hopeless!! I of course was at once up in arms, and keen to confront the course tutors, demanding that they return my husband’s work to him – he works hard enough to get them done after all! And if they can’t be arsed to give them back, well then they’ll have me to deal with … Not a pretty thought then. Lord H, being the sweet person that he is, doesn’t want to make the tutors feel uncomfortable (ha! So what? is what I say – let ’em suffer!!), but I hope I’ve managed to persuade him at least to email them so they can get their proverbial fingers out before the hols come upon them. In my experience of educational admin, once a lecturer is let loose for the summer, you’ll be whistling in the wind for any left-over work.

Hmm, I wonder if it’s because the Diocese can’t be bothered as he’s the only one not on the vocational training part of the course? That would be typical … though I do understand, that under the current circumstances of my uneasy relationship with the Church, I might be seeing Reds under the Bed where there are none. Again. We’ll see …

Anyway, this morning, I managed to squeeze in 10 minutes of synopsising/timelining (ooh look! A new verb – hurrah!) in a stressed, obsessive way before going to work. As you do. And the car started – what a relief!

Have been doing more to the mentoring handbook over the last couple of days – am having fun with front and back covers, and spine templates. Actually, I really enjoy this – there’s nothing like fiddling around with fonts to put a smile on a secretary’s face. At lunchtime, we had our next meeting of UniSWriters – the “homework” was to write something on Easter and/or children. Naturally, being the anti-child person that I am, I have done something cynical and twisted on Easter festivities. Ho ho. A very good meeting too – lots of people and most had brought something to read, hurrah!

I even had a meeting today that wasn’t cancelled, so that cheered me up. I tempted them all by ordering muffins – aha! – and we discussed possible online booking systems for students for Student Advice, Counselling etc – the Health Centre already do it anyway so we really should follow suit soon. We’re hoping we manage it by September. You never know! Anyway, we were all quite inspired by the thought of lots of fun buttons for the students to press – which may well prove what a strange bunch we are. Strange, but happy.

Tonight, it’s Guildford Writers, but I don’t think I’ll take the next section of The Gifting as I’m still sorting the whole lot out – I’ll take a piece of flash fiction instead. And I think I’ll leave early as I’m just soooo tired (didn’t sleep that well last night, possibly because my head is full of Simon & synopses. Though, bizarrely, I did dream of being a bridesmaid at the wedding of a friend’s daughter and having to read something out which I hadn’t practised and where the words kept changing on the sheet of paper so I couldn’t make any sense of it. Much like life really. Hmm, must schedule in some relaxation soon, I fear, before the men in white coats come knocking …).

Today’s nice things:

1. Handbook fonts
2. UniSWriters
3. Guildford Writers

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Monday, May 21, 2007

The black sheep bites back ...

Received a charming (err, not …) email in my inbox last night from my cousin – whom incidentally I haven’t heard from in nigh on twenty years – telling me what a bad person I am to not be attending the family get-together in July and what good and holy people the rest of my family are. He also very helpfully pointed out what some of my crimes actually were (goodness, how sweet!) and, as the piece de resistance (sorry, can't be arsed with the accents ...), crowned the whole self-righteous, judgemental load of old twaddle by saying that as he was a parent then this gave him the right to say what he liked.

My, my, and I hadn’t realised that being a parent meant that your sense of humanity and simply politeness were forcibly removed and hung out to dry with the nappies … Thank goodness this household remains a child-free zone indeed!

And while he was on, he also thought it the right time to tell me that my aunt and uncle found A Dangerous Man disturbing and uncomfortable, and that in his opinion my Michael was a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Gosh, thanks, Cousin M – to be honest, I’m not that keen on you either ...

So I’m now even more determined (if such a thing were possible …) to give the family festivities a miss, on the grounds that I really don’t want to spend a single jot of my personal time with such a bunch of narrow-minded, utter twats as they appear to be. I’ve got a million better things to do with my weekend, to be frank.

Hmm. In case you hadn’t realised, I don’t like my family very much and find (as you can see above) that my emotional and physical health is probably a thousand times better without them. Honestly, I have trouble enough in my relationship with my mother (which sometimes I think I keep going purely by cracking jokes and saying as little of importance as possible) without worrying about the rest of the mob.

And then they wonder why every single one of my novels is based on a split family theme, eh?... Err, doh! Still, the good thing is that it does give me so much more material for the next one, tee hee! It would indeed be sooo refreshing if a member of my family one day actually came out in my defence. In anything really! I don’t honestly think it’s happened, with any degree of commitment, since my father died when I was thirteen. The last great champion of his daughter …– should have had that carved on his cemetery plaque, if we could only find where we’d put him, darn it …

What a family indeed! I’m so glad I made the decision to walk away. And go back as little as humanly possible.

Oh and, as you can imagine, my email response to Mr Perfect was short, sharp and ballsy. I don’t think he’ll be back.

This morning, my car was acting strangely, but I managed to get it started at last – just what I needed, eh?! Hope it’s all right for going home tonight. I’m looking forward to my Monday gin for sure.

At work, I find that it must, however, have been a “Let’s Get at Other People When They Least Expect It” weekend (did I miss the announcement somehow??) – as Carol says that she was told off by the woman behind her in the shopping queue for attempting to save plastic bags, and then her neighbour popped round and said how delighted she was to meet a Chav at last. What is wrong with people??!! So we’ve decided that we’re going to designate next weekend as a “Now It’s Our Turn to Be Nasty” weekend, and get our own back on the world, aha!

In the meantime, Ruth is struggling with the new finance system which, for some reason, is giving her all the student names in alphabetical order of first name – which she then has to rejig into surname order before she can check it against our records. Progress is indeed a wonderful thing. So we’ve decided that, in order to make the world a better place, Ruth is going to be V-C, Carol is going for the role of Prime Minister, and Andrea will be the evil mastermind with the white cat. Which leaves me in the position of tea lady. Anyone for a muffin?

Went for a walk at lunchtime, battling through the building works, and checked that my car starts. It does. But whether it will start again at the end of the day is anyone’s guess. Andrea and I have also decided that attempting to get in touch with the university chaplains is much like attempting to get in touch with God; they don’t respond for months and, when they do, their emails are incomprehensible and they’re answering something you didn’t ask in the first place. Hmm, perhaps my cousin should apply for the role of chaplain – it might be a perfect fit.

Talking of which, a huge thank you to all my Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) contacts who have been super-supportive about the trials of horrid family members today, and who have truly terrible tales of their own to share. Thank you, WW gang – you’ve been wonderful. And also thank you to my other friends who've contacted me today - hugs to you all. So yes, the newly-formed Black Sheep Club looks like it will surely be a strong voice for change and the right to say non to family twats, hurrah. Of which there are many. And the general agreement is that all such twats should be smeared in quicklime by the injured party while the rest of us hold them down. Sounds great to me, chaps!

Oh, and I’ve written a poem:

Sometimes it feels as if

in each word I say
something inside is lost
a power bled out
through flesh and bone
into unfeeling air

until one day
all words are gone
no warmth left
skin sucked dry
and when I look

I’m not there.


Cheery little number, but there you go … And the car worked - double hurrah! Tonight, Lord H is out at theology, and I’m going to crack on with doing a proper synopsis and a timeline for The Gifting. I also need to send off the next round of my poetry competition entries, but probably won’t get to that till later in the week.

And mustn’t forget there’s “New Tricks” on TV – something to look forward to indeed!

Today’s nice things:

1. Support from friends …
2. Planning a Revenge Attack Weekend (RAW for short)
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Gifting - completed!

Have worked like the proverbial today and have now done my entire first pass through the Gifting edit - hurrah! I even think it might hang together okay, but then I always think that at this stage. It doesn't mean anything. And at the same time, I think it's pants - but that's normal too. It's probably both - simultaneously. That wouldn't surprise me either. It's panned out at 124,215 words long, which is 401 double-spaced pages. Aha!

My head is now packed with ideas for the second and third in the sequel, but I'm not starting them until someone actually wants the first - so, bearing in mind that I usually struggle for about four years to get something published at all, my advice is: don't wait up. I do have an urge for another slimmer gay crime novel though and even some ideas for it, but I'm certainly not starting anything for a couple of days at least!

In the meantime, I'll send The Gifting off to the wonderful Literary Consultancy (http://www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk) people for a second opinion. Once that's back, I'll do the corrections and then send it on to an independent editor for a final trawl through before emailing it to my agent. I like to think I produce a quality product whether it's self-published or otherwise ... And, yes, it does set me back a bundle and I'll never make up the money I spend getting it right in terms of any royalties received, but at least three sets of good people get their hands on it apart from me. I need all the help I can get. And the readers (all 60 of 'em, Gawd bless 'em every one!) - I hope - gets a better end product. Bizarre, but it works for me.

Also today, Lord H & I have visited the local Farmers' Market and Spring Fair in Godalming, and stocked up on interesting cards, fruit pies, treacle tart, turkey sausages and apple juice. Oh, and a nice chocolate crunch for tea tonight. Bliss. Lord H has also been busy with his next theology essay whilst I've been editing - he's going to do a comparison between Reformation times and modern times, focusing on the issues of (a) vestments, (b) the Bible in the vernacular, and (c) the Church as a national establishment. Hmm, some quite meaty topics there.

And we've discovered that a pair of blue tits is nesting in the space left by a missing tile on the kitchen wall - cue kamikaze birds flying full-tilt at the kitchen window and then swerving at the last minute to enter their nest. It's all very exciting to watch. And sweet too. At least we're doing our bit for nature (red of tooth and claw ...). And if we're feeling peckish, we can just eat them, ho ho. After all, you have to remember I am the granddaughter of a woman who could catch birds in flight and break their necks, whilst still making stotty cake and sewing a coverlet for the poor. We didn't have much other entertainment when we were in the country ...

Ooh, and the Surrey Advertiser has produced the first of its summer wedding reports - so the wedding season is now truly upon us. Lord H and I always like to look at the photos and work out which of the couples is going to stay together and which isn't (hint: if they look alike they're more likely to stay together ... or else it's incest, which in the countryside is not as frowned on as it should be, I fear). We were however highly amused by the picture of one wedding which didn't, as far as we could make out, actually have the bridegroom in it. Unless she was really marrying her father ... Hmm, I suspect that if you don't appear in your own wedding photos, then it is definitely time to phone a lawyer and run for the hills. You have been warned, Mr GF of Surrey ...!!

Tonight, Lord H and I are going to slump like sloths in front of our video of "The Last Detective" and completely ignore the desperately dull "Kingdom". Do something else, Mr Fry - this one's a loser!

This week's haiku:

Our shared journey:
rock and air, sand and strange sea.
Finding out the truth.

Today's nice things:

1. Performing an imaginary high-five with Simon at getting to "The End". We did it, m'lad!
2. The Farmers' Market
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Editing tics and dinosaurs

Oh lord, more editing tics today - now I can't seem to stop writing words with "some" in them. Somewhat, someone, sometime and just generally some. I'm attempting to put them in the cage with all the a little phrases which I'm also finding. But don't worry - I'll put them in another novel soon, I fear. Hmm. As you can tell, I've spent a large part of the morning and early afternoon sorting out The Gifting, and I'm now at the start of Chapter Thirteen - of seventeen, though they're long chapters so I have over 100 pages to go. It's beginning to astonish me how much I've managed to pack in, and how much of Medieval life there is in it. Though I suppose that's not entirely a surprise, seeing as I read Medieval English for my undergraduate degree and Medieval Latin for my postgraduate one - but, no, I can't remember anything about it now, so please don't ask me!

I forgot to mention in my blog of yesterday how much Lord H and I enjoyed the play we saw on Thursday night. Only an hour long, "Skin Tight" nevertheless packed a powerful emotional punch and held us utterly gripped. I actually found myself in tears at one point, and laughing in sympathy the next. There's nothing like a piece of good experimental theatre to stir the blood. It's one of the best things on earth.

Oh and, during the week, I had an unexpected conversation with a former fellow church-member who turned up at Gladys' while I was visiting. Wendy wasn't one of the people I would normally talk to at St Peter's but, when she asked the question, I did try to be as honest with her as possible about why I left. It did feel like a punch in the gut though when at the end of what I was trying to say, she came back into the conversation with "Oh, you mean you've lost your faith then?" Er, thank you, but no. It doesn't feel like that at all - weren't you even listening to what I said, Wendy? Honestly, I don't know why I bothered. If I hadn't been feeling stunned by her comment, I would have liked to (a) give her a good slap - though I appreciate that's not a good response to a lady in her late 70s, and (b) say that it's my faith in the church I've lost, not - as far as I'm aware - my faith in God. Such as it is. But the moment passed and frankly I'm not going to bother explaining again.

Anyway, back to today - late afternoon, Lord H and I went into Guildford to see the film, "A Night at the Museum". It was great - we both really loved it, and it made a change from having been in the kingdom of the air and the land of the fire all day (at least for me and in literary terms). And, yes, it had a dinosaur in it - hurrah! I love dinosaurs - there can never be enough of them. Also I think Ben Stiller is ace in quirky comedies with heart. Anyway, we were back in time for "Dr Who" - which I'm sure was a rehash of a plot from a couple of seasons ago, but nice to see Martha in full action mode.

I'm not feeling so good at the moment though, I have to say - either the onset of hay fever or a cold, but I can't quite tell. Damn it. Will try to get an early night, I think.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing
2. The film
3. Dr Who - the rehash.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, May 18, 2007

The editing queen

Ye gods, but I've done so much editing today that my brain will probably explode soon - so beware of any sudden noises in the ether. Am now up to the start of Chapter 10 (they all get longer from here on in, so don't get too excited), but will start that tomorrow. I can do no more tonight.

And, yes, I know all the "experts" tell you to put the first draft away for a month before working on it but frankly, m'dears, that never works for me and I can't ever be arsed to wait that long anyway. Sometimes I think that my actual writing is done on the whole in the cool light of day and my editing takes place in the heat of the moment. Sorry about the cliches, by the way, but I haven't used any all day so need to up my quota before the onset of evening. Anyway, I've made some changes, added in some foreshadowing (aha! I can do the lingo too, you know!) for different parts and attempted to rid the work of my current recurring phrase which, this time round, appears to be "a little". (He stepped a little away; I withdrew my arm a little; the mountains were a little further than I'd thought - oh God, when will it all end? Ah, in just a little time, m'dear ...). Still at least it beats having to rid all my poetry of the word "shimmering" which was last year's literary tic.

Oh and in the middle of all that, I've managed to play golf with Marian. Very, very badly. She even won!!! Damn it - that hardly ever happens!! I am shrouded in shame. Hey, that's a good line - must use it sometime, ho ho. I've also popped into Godalming and bought a nice burgundy men's shirt (for me of course ... Lord H isn't so keen on burgundy) from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. And I've had a ten minute phone conversation with Colin from the Surrey Advertiser (http://www.surreyadvertiser.co.uk) discussing the article I sent him about the new Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) connection with Virtual Tales (http://virtualtales.com) in producing some of our books as eBooks. He's hoping to print it next week, so that'll be good. I also mentioned the Pink Champagne site (http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com) as well, so I hope he includes it. Hey, I can talk to journalists without babbling and sounding insane. Um, no, actually I can't. Damn it. But you knew that anyway.

I will have to start the cleaning soon and gain Wife Points before Lord H comes home - or at least show willing. Ah, I have so many marital points to make up after his superhuman efforts of last weekend on the domestic front. Best get down to it then (as it were).

Tonight, I'm planning on champagne (celebrating the first pass through of The Gifting) and TV. Hell, I deserve it.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing
2. Buying a shirt
3. The Surrey Ad ringing me up!

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A medley of writing thoughts

The very talented Amanda Mann (http://fessingauthor.blogspot.com) has put a fascinating series of questions on her blog today, and invited me to answer them too - which I'll try to the best of my ability. I'm not a great believer in the concept of "tagging", but if there's anyone else out there who'd like to answer them too, feel free to have a go!

1. Do you outline?
Not if I can help it would be my usual answer - but my agent (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk) made me do it for The Gifting, and actually it's helped. Probably because it's fantasy, therefore a genre I haven't tackled before and also much longer than my usual projects.

2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order?
Straight through on the whole. But I do dot about every now and again.

3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer?
Always pen for poetry. Usually straight to computer for novels (though, again, the last fifth of The Gifting has been done by pen first).

4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third?
First person for my gay male protagonists; third person for my straight or bisexual women.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?
Never. It's just too distracting.

6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters?
By guesswork and trying things out. For Maloney's Law, I did ask my husband for a good solid surname for my main character, Paul, and he suggested "Cole" - as he thought a novel entitled "Cole's Law" would be a bestseller. Hmm, so much for marital support, eh?!...

7. When you're writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie?
Sometimes. The scenes always happen in my head like a film as I write them down. Afterwards, I fantasise about which people would be best to play which parts. For more of that, see http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com and click onto the Film section!

8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn't want him/her to do?
Yes. Or, rather, they've taken the book in different directions and I'm more than happy to give them their head.

9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it?
No. I like a surprise! Sometimes, I do write a quasi-ending fairly early on (I like something to aim for ...) but I always change it when I get there.

10. Where do you write?
At the computer in the spare room; on the sofa in the living room; on holiday; at work; on trains; sometimes on the loo in the middle of the night when I've wanted some privacy! Dont' we all?

11. What do you do when you get writer's block?
Panic. Attempt to do something different in another genre to kick myself out of it.

12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of wordcount, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)?
I used to go for 2000 words on a clear day, but I've scaled that down to about 500-1000 now.

13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project?
One so far! I've just finished (hurrah! hurrah!) the first draft of The Gifting at 123,000 words and am preparing to start the edit now.

14. Have you ever changed a character's name midway through a draft?
Once only - with my first novel.

15. Do you let anyone read your book while you're working on it, or do you wait until you've completed a draft before letting someone else see it?
I take the start of my work to Guildford Writers Group (http://www.guildfordwriters.net) and also upload sections to the Writewords site (http://www.writewords.org.uk). Comments received are very helpful indeed.

16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft?
Eat chocolate. Crack open the champagne.

17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once?
Usually one novel at a time (unless they overlap towards the end of one and the start of another), but I also write flash fiction and poetry to get a writing balance and to give myself a boost during the longer projects.

18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision?
Shrink.

19. Do you have any writing or critique partners?
Not really. But see Question 15. It's a very private matter, I think.

20. Do you prefer drafting or revising?
Both can be fun, but revising is when you can really get your teeth into it. Hold on, Simon - I've got The Gifting in my sights now so you'll soon be rather more polished than you currently are!!...


So, there you go. Hope you enjoyed the brief run-through of Brooke's Writing Style. I certainly did!

Other things that have happened today (apart from finishing the first draft of The Gifting - did I mention that?...) include Sean at Flame Books (http://www.flamebooks.com) contacting me to say that he knows that A Dangerous Man needs a more proactive marketing push on their behalf and he's hoping to rectify this over the coming weeks. That'll be good (says she!) but I wait to see what plans he might come up with. Now that he's seen that I'm being proactive on the internet marketing front, I'm hoping it might be matched by Flame, so I've given him some ideas - and I'm hoping that will come to fruition.

I've also put together my novel submissions (all Thorn in the Flesh, as I think it's probably my most easily marketable work) for the Annual Writers' Conference (http://www.writersconference.co.uk) one-to-ones with publishers and will post them off later today or tomorrow - apparently I'll be seeing Alex Bonham from Hodder & Stoughton, Katie Elspiner from Transworld, and novelist and ex-Darley Anderson agent, Lucie Whitehouse. I'm hoping against hope that they'll be more pleasant than the two (very well-known) agents I saw in my first conference who told me I was unpublishable, unmarketable and unreadable. Bollocks to those two, I say - they obviously have no idea about quality! But I'm hoping that the people I see this year won't be as rude or curt as they usually are at these things - after all, we pay good money for these conferences; we deserve decent treatment at least.

Oh, and I've just finished Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith. The usual Picoult brilliance. I loved it! A great and clever ending too. More please (though as Picoult writes about a novel a month, that won't be too hard a task for her to fulfill ...)!

Tonight, Lord H and I are going to see "Skin Tight" (drama with nudity, I think - hurrah!) at the Mill Theatre in Guildford tonight, so that'll put smiles on our faces for sure. Best make sure I set the video for "The Last Detective" before we go.

Today's nice things:

1. Finishing the first draft of The Gifting (did I say that already??...)
2. Thinking about my writing methods
3. The Picoult book.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cacti and cockroaches

Another battle to circumnavigate the building cages into work today. Goodness me but my exercise quota will be overshot at this rate, what with having to walk halfway round the campus to get into the office. Well, that may be a slight poetic exaggeration, but heck I always exaggerate. Tee hee.

Oh, and Lord H and I have been chuckling at the funny test papers someone sent him yesterday which can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/5107/They-didnt-study - my personal favourite is “Find X”. The answer is right after all, as the question wasn’t “Find the Value of X”!!! And they do always tell you to answer the question …

But at least it’s stopped raining and the sun is even shining. Ye gods, must be springtime already. Again. Here in the hot seat, all my carefully planned meetings appear to be going to the wall, as nobody wants to come to them at the moment. Groan. It’s really quite disheartening. I even fear for my stalwart Steering Group on Monday as (a) we have nothing much to discuss and (b) everyone seems to have gone on holiday. Perhaps I am not ordering enough muffins and they’re beginning to vote with their feet? (The people, not the muffins). Wouldn’t surprise me. Anyway, I’m fighting a rearguard action to make it into a brief informal meeting instead of the usual two hour formal one, but we’ll see. Result: Failure. The meeting is cancelled. Groan. It’s one of the ones I like, darn it!

There’s a very strange squashed thing on the doorstep to the office today, I must say – but none of us are brave enough to do anything about it. Could be animal, vegetable or mineral, to my mind, but looks like some ghastly stag beetle thing, I fear. Or, worse, a cockroach. That’s what the students seem to think anyway. Horrible thought! Still, at least it’s dead and its friends haven’t turned up to the funeral party yet. So it could be worse. Hope the cleaner can do something with it this afternoon.

This lunchtime, I’ve done my back exercise course – but tried to take it easy as my neck’s not so good at the moment. Must be the golf on Friday, I fear. Though at least it’s better now – the neck, not (sadly) the golf. Actually, the trainer was very nice and put in extra neck exercises for me. Might try to do some of these during the week too, if I’m feeling noble. Hmm. So don’t wait up then.

Oh, and a man came to try to mend the blind I broke last week. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm to show him how I’d done it, I leaned over the desk, at which point the cactus we keep near the window attached itself to my jacket and swung itself, the pot and all the soil over the floor. My, how the window man laughed. Still, at least he said it did show him how we’d managed to trash the joint. Suspect that Estates & Facilities now think we’re all insane in here. They won’t be far wrong either. One good thing though – the cactus and the jacket both survived the encounter. Not sure about my reputation as a professional though …

On the writing front, I’m scribbling my way through the scene I left out on my way through The Gifting. I think I know where to put it, but will have to see how it feels when it’s done. ’Twas ever thus. Oh, and I’ve just finished the latest edition of poetry/short story magazine, Tears in the Fence. Must admit to enjoying the short stories more – some great stuff there. But a few of the poems were good too. And anyway it’s always a good thing to support the small poetry presses – without them we’d be forced to read a diet of only Armitage and Muldoon. Arrrgghh!! Scary thought indeed … Does anyone actually like any of the “big” poetry hitters these days? Anyone with any reading sense anyway …

Oh and the mean punters at The Intepreter's House have turned down my latest poetry submission. Buggers. Obviously don't know quality and style when they see it then. So no surprises there.

Tonight, Lord H and I are going to be glued to our video of last week’s “The Last Detective”. Might even have a sherry if I’m feeling wild. After all, Wednesday Night is Sherry Night … Perhaps I am turning into my grandmother (argghh!!) after all? Someone pass the Fruit & Nut chocolate and the support stockings then …

Today’s nice things:

1. Funny test papers
2. Writing
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rain, writing and reviews

Lordy, lordy, more rain. How I love these early UK winters we’re having. Have been forced to wear my fingerless gloves and scarf at work today, plus put my little owl-shaped desk heater on. I’m beginning to feel like something sad from a minor Dickens novel. If there are any minor Dickens novels …

It was a voyage of discovery getting into the office today – the builders who are taking over the campus have moved all their wire fences so that the stairs between the car park and where I work are totally shut off. Which meant I had to rootle around at the back of the cafĂ© block and attract the attention of a passing cleaner who was able to let me in the back way. As it were. All of us had the same problem, and we’ve all found a different route round it – honestly, they should give us a ruddy medal. People forget about our little office when they plan stuff like this – I’m sure nobody knows we’re here at all. In the past, we have actually been completely locked in one winter day and had to call Security to let us out. My, how they laughed.

Anyway, we’ve had an office delivery of new first aid boxes for the residences wardens, which has caused much excitement here. Perhaps we should get out more? If only it weren’t so wet. Anyway, the boxes are a lovely shade of green and are very soothing, so it’s cheered us all up. Even without the need for the contents.

Ooh and Sharon from MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/aonia) has given a very generous-hearted review to A Dangerous Man on her blog today, which can be found here:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=120629655&blogID=264788652&Mytoken=50358126-71AE-4164-BE326C67102904C325704694

Thank you, Sharon! I’m really glad you enjoyed the read. And, as I said in reply to your blog, I certainly think your Dean from Snow Angel and my Michael would make an interesting pair of protagonists. Now there’s a scary thought!!...

Managed to get the last major chapter of The Gifting under wraps. Hurrah! Now I’ve only got the final closing scenes to go. Plus the one extra scene I need to put in earlier in the book, and a whole lot of editing to do, and I’ll be laughing. Phew. It is beginning to feel good even to have got to this point. Lord alone knows whether (a) my agent will like it or (b) even if he does, whether any publisher will take it (seeing as I am of course invisible to them all), but I think I’ve done the best I can with it. Anyway, we’ll see.

Oh, and I’ve done a piece of flash fiction for the Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk) Flash Fiction II challenge – which was for a piece of writing of not more than 500 words set in a zoo, where a character has a life-changing experience in under five minutes. This is my attempt:

Over in five

Minute One:
I enter the zoo gates with my son. Should have taken him to the match this afternoon, but couldn’t get the tickets. Left it too late as usual. That’s what Amanda always says. Maybe she’s right. So the zoo this time and not the footie. Never mind. Amanda will be pleased it’s educational. Once she finds out. She was in a rush this morning when I picked Danny up. Couldn’t seem to get rid of us both fast enough. I was hoping to have a chat with her, maybe see if we can go out one evening this week. After all, we’re not divorced yet. There’s still time.

Minute Two:
I’ve forgotten the smell of zoos. Or how expensive they are. Should have just taken Danny to McDonald’s. Though I suppose the smell’s the same. Only difference is one meat’s dead and the other’s alive. As far as I can tell. Though with some of these animals, I’m not so sure. Danny’s enjoying it though – look at the expression on his face. At times like these, being a father’s the greatest. Only wish we were a family again. What? Yeah, sure you can have an ice-cream, love. Just the one though – don’t want to spoil your lunch.

Minute Three:
Wonder if I can think up a decent excuse to ring Amanda? Sometimes I just want to hear her voice. If I say something light about Danny, she can’t get cross. I’m trying my best after all. What? Yeah, the tigers are great. I haven’t seen one before either. Well, not for a long time. That’s right. Like cats but scarier. We’re not frightened though, are we? No, mate, I thought not. You and me, we’re two of a kind. Hey, I’m just going to give your mum a quick call. Let her know where we are. Hold onto my hand and I’ll see if she answers. What’s that? I …

Minute Four:
… Weird. I recognise that ring-tone. Sounds like your mother’s, Danny. That’s funny, isn’t it? And at the same time as I was ringing too. Hey, I wonder if she’s here. Is this where she was rushing off to this morning? Did she tell you? No? Never mind, she might have come here for a day out herself – after all, she thought we were due for the footie, but I never got to tell her. Let’s see if we can see her. She can’t be too far away.

Minute Five:
At first, I don’t know it’s her. There’s a woman. Long fair hair. Maroon raincoat. She’s in the queue for the ice-cream van. Not just waiting either. She’s kissing someone. Someone tall and slim. Wearing a Burberry jacket. Danny’s fingers are cool in my palm and I cling to them tightly. Her phone’s ringing but she’s too engrossed to answer it. My skin feels cold and everything changes. Come on, Danny, I whisper. Let’s look at the tigers again.

THE END


Oh, and during my lunchtime walk around the campus, I see the builders have completely blocked everything off again, so I will have to wait for a passing cleaner, no doubt, before I can escape for the evening. Sigh.

Tonight (if I get home at all …), Lord H & I have an evening in. Bliss. And the second part of “Holby Blue” is on. I loved Part One, which I saw on the video last night whilst doing the ironing (pause for huzzahs at build-up of Wife Points …), so will look forward to tonight’s offering very much. Great characters & great plots, with a good balance of tension and humour. What could be nicer?

Apart from the return of my website of course - thank you, UK Hosts - I'm back!!

Today’s nice things:

1. Sharon’s review
2. Getting near closure for The Gifting
3. Writing a piece of flash fiction.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com (yes, I exist!)
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rain, cunning plots and an evening in

Took an age to drag myself up this morning – must be the effect of all that weekend activity. Can’t be the bottle of wine we finished off last night, oh no, of course not. Alcohol never passes my lips (I take it intravenously …). Quite a slow day at work really, though I’ve chased a professor or two, just to keep my hand in. Can’t have the management having an easy time, you know. The boss is off today, but has emailed me, asking me to arrange a meeting for the strangely named FIG Management Group. Nobody here has a clue what that is, and neither has the boss let me know either how long he wants the meeting for or how many people are coming. Which makes it tricky when it comes to estimating room size and how many muffins they need. Still, I’ve done my best and will have to see what we can come up with, until he can enlighten me further.

Not only that, but Counselling is having trouble with their electricity supply. Ruth has emailed Estates asking them to deal with it, but they don’t seem to be keen. We think it might be a cunning university plot to electrocute us all over a period of time so that they can save money. Hmm, you heard it here first … And it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Come to Counselling and have all your problems solved – in a flash!”

I’ve also had a quite in-depth conversation with someone I met on the way to the loos – she obviously knew who I was, but I didn’t have a clue about her. Darn it – still, I did the best I could, and hope I passed muster. Knowing my luck, it’ll probably turn out to be my mother. Again.

It’s still raining, by the way. Will it ever stop? In my more optimistic days, I used to like to think of it as liquid sunshine, but I was just too cute for words then. And if you believe that, you’ll probably believe anything … Still, managed a walk around campus at lunchtime, and also popped into the new exhibition at the art gallery. Not as interesting as last time, I think, but I enjoyed the two pictures of camels at night, and the tall seascape scene. Lovely! In the loos (lots of loo stories today, I fear …) on the way back, I came across some of our dance students who’d obviously been doing something strange outdoors – caked in mud, huge amounts of giggling, and desperate to clean up before the next exam. Poor things – I’m sure they can ring Student Line for that kind of lecturer cruelty.

This afternoon, I’ve checked the (hopefully) final draft of the mentoring handbook – it will be soooo nice to get that job off my job list sometime. Time for ordering that A5 paper and presentation folders, I feel. Nice to act like a real secretary now and again!...

Oh and great news - I've reached 120,272 words in The Gifting and I'm just at the end of the final scene, with the last small chapter to sort out. Hurrah! I'm beginning to think I might just one day make it to the end now.

Tonight, Lord H is out at theology class – the Reformation in England calls him – and I’m looking forward to an evening in. Watching some videos, and then there’s “New Tricks” on TV. Lovely. Before that however, I must write to one of my pension companies (I have many and varied due to an wild job-life in my 20s ...) telling them to close me down (as it were) - they're taking out so much in standing charges that I barely have a penny left to rub together in that one. Ye gods, you'd have thought they'd have told me earlier. Sigh.

On the reading front, I've just finished Mike Smith's "Brussels, Mussels" poetry collection - it's cute and enjoyable. Ideal reading for those summer evenings to come. And excellent value if you do go to Brussels at any time of course.

Oh and there’s the ongoing mystery of where on earth has my website got to and what are UK Hosts doing with it?? Bring it back, guys! I need it, if only to remind myself what I look like now and again … Without it, I fear I will become entirely invisible and, believe me, I seem to be invisible enough as it is. Which must be the curse of the rising 43-year-old striving woman writer indeed. Heck, I could write the book on it.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting to the magic 120k words to The Gifting
2. Pictures of camels and the sea
3. An evening in.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com/ (if you can find it, that is …)
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com/
http://www.goldenford.co.uk/

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rained-off golf and some quick PR

Frightful weather today, Carruthers. Honestly, no wonder Blair is going if he can't control the weather any more. Good riddance is what I say! Spent this morning typing up the Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) minutes (at last!) and writing a press release for us. Which I have now sent off to the usual suspects. I'm hoping Writers' News (http://www.writersnews.co.uk) might take it, but I sent it off to the Surrey Advertiser as well with a heavy heart - knowing that I am always invisible to them. Sigh!

Because of the rain, we didn't bother with golf, but Marian & Siegi came to lunch instead, which was nice. If exhausting, as I am definitely socialised-out by now. Once again they're astonished we haven't been to church - get over it, people!! Why is it that the most hassle we're getting comes from people who haven't darkened a church door since their baptismal days??? Do church people provide some kind of insurance policy for the rest of the population, who can't take the shock to the system if we should dare to break the routine?? Really, sometimes you have to paddle your own Canute, as they say ... I'd be more phlegmatic about this peculiarity if I'd even been the sort of person who berates people for not being church-goers. But I've never been that, so I don't see why I should have to be berated for being a lapsed one. Double sigh!

Socially though, I can't take the pace - I'm utterly exhausted! So much so that I have flagged until later an email from one friend suggesting meeting dates, as I simply can't think about it today or possibly for the rest of this week, and ignored a phone call from another friend, who I haven't heard from for two years anyway so, to be frank, I'm not jumping to it now. The week to come stretches ahead like an oasis though - four nights in!!!! Hurrah!!! And the fifth night out is to the theatre with Lord H, so it's not like going out proper.

All this means that I have so much recorded TV to watch that I am never going to catch up with myself. I think I might have an aerial installed inside my head so I can just pick up programmes I want to see without the need for sitting in front of a television. That would be soooo convenient. I'm surprised it hasn't already been invented really.

Tonight, I'm going to fit in some historical viewing if I can, and also finish looking at the second part of the bizarre "Dalziel and Pascoe" story. And then get to bed as soon as I'm damn well able to.

This week's haiku:

From the train window:
Through grime and shadow,
two bay horses gallop, grass
and sunlight flying.

Today's nice things:

1. Staying in
2. Putting the house back the way it should be, post-lunch
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Naked men and cocktails ...

... as it were. Nice lie-in today, brought on by yesterday's social whirl. I must say how lovely it was to meet Clayton (http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) at last and to be able to have such an inspirational in-depth chat about writing and this strange world of books we find ourselves in. Thanks, Clayton - enjoyed it very much! Also lovely to meet Bryony and catch up on the last year over pizza and wine. Bliss.

Lord H very kindly picked me up from Woking station last night (I missed the train to Godalming by 3 minutes, darn it!...) and over the course of yesterday and today, I find out that he has been storing away Husband Points like nobody's business. While I'm out gallivanting and meeting nice people, Lord H has (a) cleaned the whole flat and done the hoovering (b) bought me the latest Joanne Harris book (c) glued down the broken tile in the bathroom (d) sorted out the recycling boxes (e) videod "My Family" and "Have I Got News for You? without being asked (f) done the rest of the shopping (g) solved the problem of Iraq and (h) instigated World Peace. It's astonishing what we can get up to here in the shires. So I am now married to a Husband with a Very Smug Smile. And I have absolutely no Wife Points to speak of. What a SuperHero indeed. Perhaps I should go to London more often ...!?

This morning, I have typed up more to The Gifting (119,500 words now, and onto the very last scene ...) and popped into Godalming for papers etc. We have then motored into Guildford to see "Dead Funny" at the Guildford Theatre this afternoon. Which included tasteful (the worst sort really!) male nudity, with bits concealed (sigh!) and a very funny rerun of a classic Morecambe and Wise sketch. However, the play itself wasn't great, and really lasted for 15 minutes too long, in our opinion.

Straight afterwards, we've been to a cocktail party in Godalming for an old American friend & poet - lovely to see you again, Gordon, and I still miss our Monday night poetry group ... But I have to say Gordon does have some very strange friends. One of the local rich folk was there, whom Lord H and I can't stand, but we managed to avoid him successfully, hurrah! But, just as I thought it was safe, I was cornered by a drunk old geezer with an attitude problem and a lurid green jacket who just wouldn't go away (the man and the jacket, believe me). I eventually ditched him by telling him I was a street ballet dancer and I needed to get to my next performance. Bizarrely this seemed to work, though I suspect I shan't be going into Godalming for a while ...

Some nice writing news - Crimeficreader (http://itsacrime.typepad.com) has reviewed "A Dangerous Man" (http://www.flamebooks.com) with an interesting political slant, and the full review can be found here:

http://itsacrime.typepad.com/its_a_crime_or_a_mystery/2007/05/a_dangerous_man.html#more

Thanks, Rhian - I'm very happy to be included on your blog. As is Michael! And one of my poems has been shortlisted in this month's Writing Magazine, so that's a boost for sure. And Jackie (http://freespace.virgin.net/jackie.luben/) has also been shortlisted for the Writers' News short story competition, so well done, Jackie! Guildford Writers (http://www.guildfordwriters.net) are back on form then! Ooh, and I've received my book prize for being Readers' Choice in the 55 word fiction competition in http://www.birdandmoon.com/55words/ site, so shall look forward to reading those. Thanks, guys! And thanks also to everyone who voted - I'm really grateful.

Tonight, it's the great Eurovision blitz, with the adorable cynicism of Terry Wogan, which I shall pop into now and again. What could be nicer?

Today's nice things:

1. Crimeficreader's review
2. The shortlistings
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Friday, May 11, 2007

Of humility and excellence

Was working through the personal strength questions in my "Authentic Happiness" book this morning whilst on the exercise bike (and, yes, I was peddling ...) and have found out that my humility score is excessively low (no surprises there then) but my appreciation of beauty & excellence score is rather high, thank you very much. Pause for bowing and self-congratulatory applause ... Lord H attempted to cheer me up about my appalling lack of humility by suggesting that perhaps having a low humility score is, in fact, a good thing as a high humility score would mean you could be proud about it, and then the whole point would be lost. He looked suitably smug when I told him about the beauty/excellence result and said that of course I would get a high score for that as I had been married to excellence for thirteen glorious years. Hmm. Nice to know that our humility scores may well be similar indeed.

This morning, I have played golf with Marian. Now there's a game where humility and excellence go side by side, and are sometimes experienced in the same breath. Well, in theory anyway - haven't had much of the golf excellence quota for a while now. Surely it's time for our luck to turn?

I attempted a little bit of writing, but am really fiddling around the edges of it today - am spooked by my super-active weekend and the need to keep upright and look friendly at all times. But, hey, maybe this is what Widening Participation is all about? - even sociopaths are allowed into the outside world on occasion. And I do have some fun things to look forward to: today I'm off up to London shortly to chew the writing cud over coffee with Clayton (http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) - and I'm sure Clayton's shop will be excellent, and I will be suitably humbled by the experience. Though I am trying to look neat (fashionable is only a distant dream, I fear ...) and comb my post-golf wild hair into some kind of control. I don't want to let you down, Clayton! It will also be nice to revisit some of Michael's (http://www.flamebooks.com) old hunting ground; I'm sure his voice is stronger today, and suspect he knows he's off to the big city soon. Characters are like that - they know more than you think, dammit ...

And, after that, I'm meeting Bryony (an old schoolfriend) for pizza and catch-up. My mother is very pleased about this, as she's always loved Bryony (ah, such a nice girl, dear - why can't you be more like her? ...). I am also pleased, as we can talk without having to chat, hurrah! If you see what I mean.

Oh, and I've had some communication with my agent (http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk/about.html) today. We've decided (I think) that the only way to squeeze me into any major publishers' schedules is to rename me so I sound like dubious minor royalty (is there any other kind?). So goodbye Brooke and hello Baron Blackthornton-Smythe. Ah, the Baron - a fine old gent, you know, and a dab hand at croquet. Strangely, I can picture him already - tall and lean, 50s, silvering hair, piercing green eyes, and a butler who is secretly in love with him. Bloody hell, somebody pass me the anti-psychosis pills - I think I feel a plot coming on ...

And welcome back to Wayne (http://www.myspace.com/wblackhurst) who has been missing from Myspace for way too long due to Orange problems. Welcome back, Wayne - we've missed you!

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. Meeting Clayton ...
3. ... and meeting Bryony.

Anne Brooke (AKA The Baron)
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lunch and Goldenford

Enjoyed the opera last night, but have to say it wasn’t the best production I’ve seen, and I was very tired, so found it hard to concentrate at all. The sets were nice and the singers were good – but I wasn’t convinced by the band. Not that I’m musical at all (heck, I can’t even read the stuff) but it just sounded off-key here and there to me. I was also a bit disappointed with the spectacle side of it – Ellen Kent operas usually have something exciting happening – eg real golden eagles, white stallions, whole circuses etc. Last night we had a fire eater, some pyrotechnics and a few dainty ballet dancers. Also there was a family in the row below us and along a bit with a young girl who just wouldn’t stop whispering all the way through. Really irritating behaviour. I’m sorry to sound fogey-ish, but I would never have got away with that when I was a gal. Thank goodness we were able to move along a bit after the first interval, and then they left after the second. Hurrah.

This morning, I have finished off the minutes for the Nursery Management Group, distributed the office’s P60s and had a long chat with the Head of Security about TV appearances (he’s done some in his anti-crime capacity) and strange meetings which don’t disappear from the calendar even though I’ve cancelled them. Sigh. My email system is just pants. I am also attempting to recharge my phone ready for my action-packed social weekend (which is becoming wilder by the second!) and I really must get some money out so I can actually eat.

Hmm, my legs are beginning to ache from yesterday’s exercise class too. Hope it stops there – I don’t want to be seized up like a rod over my action-packed weekend … Though I am having trouble actually walking. Groan.

Oh and someone came into the office to be introduced to everyone and find out what we do. We in the Student Care Services Central Team aren’t very good at this – we always look like we’re rabbits caught in the headlights of an oncoming Jag, and have no idea how to answer. I think this is actually my problem – my brain always goes blank if someone asks me what I do. Which can be awkward in meetings when we’re all being introduced round the table. When it comes to me, I find I have absolutely no idea. And am lucky to remember my own name. Now this is beginning to affect Ruth also, who used to be good at this kind of stuff. At least the Dean’s Office (good old Andrea!) can still sound like a professional. Perhaps the disease I appear to be spreading hasn’t caught up with her yet – she’s only been here a year. Anyway, we’ve decided that we need to practise for next time, so are hoping to persuade David to pop out of his office now and again and ask us both what we do. Not sure this will work, but at least we might know what the words should be, even if we can’t form the sentences.

Then lunch with Julia – very civilised indeed. And nice to catch up. Also amusing to watch the poor gal struggling to put a brolly up before dashing back out into our ongoing summer rain. Have you not opened a brolly before, Julia?!? Hope your finger survives, m’dear … I got cash out from the Students’ Union specially for lunch (though Julia bought – thank you!), but when I asked for a transaction slip, the machine gave me one, but with no writing on. Useful. Perhaps I should have asked for the printed version?...

Seem to have broken the blind again at work today. Hmm. I’m a demon with that window pole, I tell you. I will have to confess to Ruth when she returns from her meeting as she’s the only one of us with enough agility and courage to shin up to the top, using only a rubber band and her native wit, and fix it. We hope.

Tonight, I’m off minuting the Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) meeting – if they ever make taking minutes an Olympic sport, I’m going for gold. Heck, I’m sure I’ve said that before, but I’m a sucker for repetition. I’m a sucker for … oh, sorry, getting a bit carried away there.

And after my desperate attempts to get back to writing, I’ve managed to do another 1,000 words or so to The Gifting, which brings me to c118,500 words. It looks like I will reach the magical 120,000 for a fantasy novel after all. Hurrah! And I have a whole new twist idea for the end. Double hurrah. Funny how ideas only ever seem to come, if they come at all, when I’m actually doing the physical act of writing. Never before it.

Today’s nice things:

1. Chatting in the office
2. Lunch with Julia
3. Goldenford.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Interviews and Aida

Managed to squeeze in the first pass through my HagsHarlotsHeroines (http://www.hagsharlotsheroines.co.uk) interview today, as well as having a good look through later on and sending it to Laura (http://www.myspace.com/lauracwilkinson) for comment. I hope she likes it – or most of it – I’ve tried to be as honest as possible, but am happy to change/add stuff as need be. Anyway, I enjoyed answering the questions – it’s nice to think about why I write what I write sometimes. And, heck, being a self-obsessed egomaniac (is there any other kind?), I could talk about myself forever. Sad to say … Must get on with the darn writing though – I really wish I had a chunk of time to get stuck into the ending of The Gifting, but I’m forced to do it in dribs and drabs at the moment, which is making me very twitchy. Still, once I get the ending bashed out in some form or other, I can go back and edit. A process I do actually enjoy – hurrah!

At work, we’ve had a rather nasty email from a very unhappy person going round the university accusing us of all sorts of dubious and utterly impossible activities – it’s not nice and I really didn’t like having to look at it this morning. Suffice it to say that it’s being dealt with in the most compassionate way possible. Thank goodness. I can do with fewer of those for sure.

Lunchtime found me at my first back exercise class of the season (as I haven’t been able to do the others) – I was rather dreading it, but in the event it was fine, though I took it easier this time. Last time, I ached for aeons afterwards. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again this week, but we’ll see. This afternoon, I’ve minuted the Nursery Management Group, where we were all rather vague and charming, as our kick-ass chair has left on maternity leave. But we bumbled through somehow, though I did feel a bit guilty as I suspect I should have made sure we knew who was in charge before we began – I’d made assumptions which were proved incorrect! There’s a surprise then … not. Call myself a secretary? Bah, I say! Bah! I’ve also sorted out minutes from other meetings, fiddled around with web stuff and attempted to look like a professional. Not sure I fooled anyone though.

And at home the (German) neighbour has had problems with his email, which Lord H has now sorted. Cue cries of triumph. Bizarre though that my email now has a few spam messages - in German - on it. Spooky, eh ...

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to the opera – Aida in Woking – so am hugely looking forward to that. Opera – soaps with songs. They’re great. I can’t remember what the heck it’s about though as my brain is totally befuddled. As usual. Heck, it’s sooo good to be lifted out of oneself now and again.

Today’s nice things:

1. Interview questions
2. Back class
3. Aida.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Summer Schools and treasure hunts

Ruth was back at work today, which was great as I’d missed her last week. It was rather quiet. She brought with her tales of gorgeous weather in Mull, peculiar fishing trips and chocolate ginger biscuits. Hmm. Lovely. Good for my circulation and my hormones – what more could one want?

This morning, I have made more phone calls from work than I normally do in a year. I rang Marian (golfing partner) to give her the name of the new National Trust property that Lord H and I visited last month as she was wanting to know it; I rang Jennifer at Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk/) to confirm whether this Thursday’s meeting is on or not. Answer – it is. So I’d better do an agenda then. And I think in that case I won’t go to Guildford Writers (http://www.guildfordwriters.net/) tonight as otherwise there’ll not be an evening in till the weekend. And I can’t do that any more. Not now I’m in my Executive Years. I also rang Guildford Museum as Lord H and I are keen to go to their showing of “A Night at the Museum” plus treasure hunt in a couple of weeks’ time. Yes, we’re just 7 year olds at heart … And it gives me an excuse to get my big torch (careful!...) out and do a lot of screaming, so what could be nicer?

In the middle of all that, I’ve sorted out various Professors, their Secretaries and all my outstanding meetings, by the simple approach of putting everything which should have been in May to the end of June instead. So they can’t go on holiday, ha! Oh. Darn it – neither can I then. Ah well. It will make June top-heavy to the point of implosion with minuting, but I’m hoping the joy of my birthday will carry me through the pain of having to work.

And it looks like I can do some of the courses on at the Diocesan Summer School this year – as the boss is okay with me taking those days off. I’m particularly keen on “Finding God’s Hidden Presence” (though the cynic in me says: well, if it’s hidden, how can you find it then?), “Renewing the Bodymind” (the same tutor did a great meditation day last year – really inspirational), “Transformation: Our Work or God’s” (heck, I would say his surely – he has to have something to do in the quiet times, doesn’t he??), and “Growing Together – an Accompanied Journey” – which is about spiritual direction. Something I’ve always been very much drawn to but have never had the courage to take that step. Hmm, funny how there’s a course on it the moment I leave church. Perhaps God does have a sense of humour after all? It wouldn’t surprise me.

This lunchtime, I walked round the lake. Windy but warm enough to sit for a while. Fresh air – it’s a marvellous thing – in moderation.

And in response to the Writewords (http://www.writewords.org.uk/) Flash Fiction II challenge – theme: anything mobile – I have written this:

On the move
Algernon Culverly-Smythe had always lived his adult life on the move. He never stayed in one town more than three months. And he liked to move countries after six months. He’d discovered the value of this since being chased by his father from the family estate in the Chilterns at the age of fifteen for selling drugs to his younger brother’s friends. His father then had told him never to darken his door again, but instead of being traumatised, Algernon had actually been rather pleased. After all, he’d run out of people to corrupt and he’d needed to try new pastures. And new pastures was what he’d tried: Morocco; Africa; Canada; the Alps; Mauritius; China; and Taiwan. Oh yes, Algie had made several fortunes with his nefarious activities. And spent them too.
Funny how he’d ended up here, back in the Chilterns. Back at the old homestead. Well, he was nearing his nineties now, and a man liked to die beside his own hearth, didn’t he? And after seventy-four years, surely all his sins would have been forgotten.
He knocked at the old oak door, using the brass imp knocker which brought back so many memories. Happy and otherwise. After a long time, the door swung open. A pair of eyes glinted at him through the gloom. He recognised his brother.
‘Arthur!’ he cried out, arms open wide. ‘It’s me: Algernon. I’m back!’
His brother harrumphed. ‘Never mind that,’ he grunted. ‘Where’s them drugs you promised me?’

Oh, and Laura Wilkinson from Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/lauracwilkinson) and also from http://www.hagsharlotsheroines.com/ has sent me my interview questions for her June magazine, so I’m going to get my teeth into that fairly soon. Thanks, Laura!

Big sigh though - I've just finished Tracy Chevalier's "Burning Bright", which in my opinion should probably be retitled "Burning Dim". I couldn't really raise any interest in it, which made me feel very guilty as it was a present from Lord H. I just didn't like the plot, the characters or the style. Sorry. It strikes me that she's a writer who seems to produce one masterpiece followed by a dud followed by another masterpiece, etc etc, and this was a Dud Moment. Um, I'm looking forward to the next one then ...

Tonight, in between interview thoughts, I’m planning an evening with Lord H in front of “Midsomer Murders”. Will have to video the new crime drama, “Holby Blue”, on the other side too – as it looks surprisingly good.

Today’s nice things:

1. Thinking about interview questions
2. Planning my social/spiritual life for the summer
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com/
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com/

Monday, May 07, 2007

Aeroplanes, firemen and shopping hell

Lord H and I decided today that we've lived in Surrey for over thirteen years now, so we really had to do the Brooklands Motor Museum one day, and it might as well be today. We do quite like vintage cars but, as Lord H says, once you've seen the basic three shapes you've probably seen them all. However, it was a good day to do it as they were having a display of emergency vehicles as well - so lots of firemen and policemen wandering round looking cute. Bliss. I was desperate to ask the former how big their hoses were and the latter if I could feel their truncheons, but Lord H thought that the resulting court case would probably be too humiliating and we would be forced to leave the country, so I decided against it. Sigh. But, my goodness, the uniformed services are getting younger ...

We also had a look round the aeroplanes - from WWII planes to modern planes, plus a display on the bouncing bomb of Dambusters fame. So that was interesting. Also interesting was seeing inside the Sultan of Oman's VC10. Goodness me, but the rich people have really nice on-board bathrooms. And sofas, huge seats, bedrooms and carpets. Bliss. Even the servants' area was high-class. Brooklands also have Concorde, but we didn't buy a ticket to go inside as, daaahlings, we've already done that tour in New York, and Brooklands just doesn't have the same style. Don't y'know.

By then, we'd probably drained the motor museum excitements pretty dry, for us - though I do understand that if you're a real fan you'll probably want to spend all day there. Two hours is more than enough for this tourist. So we popped into the nearly Marks & Spencer afterwards, as I felt the need to reclaim my womanhood by shopping. And it worked! I bought three t-shirts in their 3-for-the-price-of-2 deal (or was it a 6-for-the-price-of-20? I really can't remember and I'm no good with figures ...), and then went on to buy a rather snazzy pair of black trousers and a cream & gold posh t-shirt - which looked surprisingly good on. Hey, I almost looked elegant. Ye gods, it can't last.

We should have gone home at that point, but we decided to stock up on domestic shopping in Tesco. Groan. Bad mistake. Never shop in a large Tesco on a Bank Holiday is my advice. It was hell, and Lord H lost the will to live halfway through (I could tell - I am a Wife and I therefore have telepathic rights to his brain ...) so I had to rationalise the list, pay and leave before he imploded. Never mind, I can catch up on the things we didn't get during the week, with a bit of luck.

The rest of the day has been spent typing up more to The Gifting - and I'm now at over 117,000 words. Hurrah! And tonight we'll probably watch yesterday's video of "Kingdom" and then "New Tricks". Lovely.

Oh, and I have to say I had a really lovely reply to my honest updating email from Jonathan - one of the university gang, currently in Taiwan. It's the first real reply I've had back and I found it very touching - so thanks, Jonathan, for that. I very much appreciated it. And good to know your updates too. Heck, maybe there is some kind of hope for us all - you never know. But why do we never talk properly when we all actually meet up? Maybe we're just too scared. Lordy Lordy, but people are a constant mystery indeed. No matter how long you've known them.

My blog title also reminds me - this month's fireman is Karl, who is from West Yorkshire and loves fitness and travel. And he's holding a very large hammer. Quite cute too. I do like the dark-haired ones ...

Today's nice things:

1. Firemen
2. M&S shopping
3. Jonathan's email.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.pinkchampagneandapplejuice.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A nearly lazy Sunday

Half thought about going to the Quakers again today, but didn't get round to it. Which in itself made me feel good - as hey I can go with the flow too. On occasion. Which, in my carefully planned, ultra-controlled life, is a bloody miracle in itself really. Hurrah!

Instead I cleaned the car, did more to The Gifting (I am a scene-and-a-half-ish from the end!) and wrote out my birthday list. Which has pleased Lord H no end, as strangely he does like to buy stuff for me. Normally I am an extremely cheap wife, as I rarely buy anything apart from books, so it gives him the chance to let his wallet do the talking. Double hurrah! Mind you, seeing as my list consists of ... um ... books, oh and the almost compulsory Lindor chocolates (bliss - you must try them; the milk chocolate ones are best), the wallet doesn't get much of a chance. I am also trying to persuade him to buy paperbacks only, as I really don't like hardbacks as they're such an irritant to handle - but it goes against the grain for Lord H who sees hardbacks as classier somehow. As long as the stuff inside is good, I don't mind about much else.

And I have discovered the joy of not going to church in the morning - it means I have time for an hour's nap before lunchtime. Even with writing lists, writing novels and car-cleaning! Amazing really. And I've caught up with my video viewing and TV watching - "Ugly Betty" just keeps getting better. I love all the characters now and am unable to miss my weekly fix of the goings on. My, what fun they all have in fashion.

Oh, and the lovely Becky on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/edie1964) has just finished A Dangerous Man and has given Michael a very enthusiastic review on her blog of today's date - which I also include here:

“I just finished A Dangerous Man by Anne Brooke and now I am more than ready to pick her brain about how she came to create this truly engrossing character study/crime novel. The narrator is Michael, a young, apparently very attractive, artist and sometimes hustler. His oeuvre is drawing in only pencil and charcoal – he has an aversion to paints and colors for reasons that are revealed later on. We come to learn that drawing is literally a necessity for him as his deepest, truest feelings can only be released on paper with the pencil and charcoal. In the course of trying to further his artistic career, Michael falls in love with Jack, an older but equally attractive businessman/art patron and it changes both of their lives forever. I don't want to get into much more detail here except to say that the story is very intense and descriptive, at times euphoric, violent, brutal, and always fascinating, and basically a damn good read. Anne has done such an amazing job with creating a fully three-dimensional character in the person of Michael Jones. Love him or hate him, you can't help but become interested in him, his life and how he came to be the way he is. His voice is so strong and clear like every good narrator's should be. The other main characters are equally well-developed (especially Jack) but it is Michael who really jumps off the page and captures the reader's imagination.”

I'm so pleased you liked it, Becky! Thanks so much for the mention. Michael sends thanks too, of course!

Tonight, Lord H and I are thinking of popping into Evensong (or Evensnog, as we like to call it) at the Cathedral later on, as you can come and go without being noticed and you don't have to join anything. That's the point of cathedrals really - you can view the whole show without the need to buy a ticket. I remember dropping in on Rochester Cathedral in my Kent days when I was between churches then (hmm, do I never learn?) and really enjoying the experience. Especially the day we sat in the front of the choir stalls as there were so few of us, and when the choir stood up to sing the opening anthem behind us it was like being blasted by sound. Fantastic. Say what you like about equality but I do think that an all male choir has the edge on mixed. Sorry, but that's the way it is. Girls? Girls? Ooh now, they didn't have them in them thar days, m'dear ...

Later, there's "Dalziel and Pascoe" on TV, which clashes with "Kingdom". I know which my money is on - I'll take a detective over Norfolk any day - but have yet to discuss with Lord H. Oh, and I must ring Mother and sound normal. Again.

This week's haiku (in honour of Lord H):

Amberley Working Museum
Old machines and memories:
you spot your mother's mangle
and you're five again.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing
2. Becky's review
3. Maybe Evensnog? Maybe TV? Can't tell yet ...

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
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