Thursday, April 30, 2009

Author of the Month

Back to normal prayer time today - though it has to be said that my prayer time is rarely, if ever, normal - so here's today's meditation:

Meditation 118

When you open your eyes
you see houses

filled with good things
you did not buy,

wells you did not dig,
vineyards and olive trees

you did not plant:
all the echo and life

of another displaced people,
another lost nation.

Meanwhile, much to my surprise, the plumber actually came back yesterday and finished the job, hurrah! So I fear I must eat humble pie with cream at my earlier cynicism and despair this week. Still, I should be used to that by now, eh. And it all looks wonderful - ye gods, we even have a working thermostat, which we haven't had for 16 years so I can foresee many fun-filled evenings with me turning it up because I'm cold and Lord H turning it down because he's hot. Marriage is a wonderful thing, you know. Mind you, Lord H does have the advantage over me as he appears to understand how the funny buttony thingy with all the gadgets works, so he has complete power over when the hot water and heating come on and go off. It's all a mystery to me.

For the rest of this morning, I've continued on with the battle scenes of Hallsfoot's Battle and am now at the high levels of the 114,000 word range. Something's about to happen too (well, there's a novelty ...), but who knows what. Perhaps an idea will occur to me tomorrow - who can tell?

This afternoon, I've snoozed and chilled my way through a totally glorious Clarins back massage and facial. Mmm, bliss. There was slight confusion at the start though as they appear to have cancelled my appointment (who knows why), but luckily Hilary was free anyway and glad of something to do, so in the end everything was as if I'd never been unilaterally cancelled at all. In fact it was so blissful that I fell asleep several times - am I now officially entering the Tired Zone of Life?? It's all downhill from here, you know, but hell at least you pick up speed.

Ooh and tonight there are chips for tea, which just make everything worthwhile. I've also made an effort at marketing this week (well, gosh!) so I am now Author of the Month (though possibly not for long as it's May tomorrow!) on the LoveWriting site, and you can also find Maloney's Law and A Dangerous Man there too. With this unexpected breeze behind me, I've added Maloney's Law to the fReado book site and am planning to add A Dangerous Man up there at some point too. I hope it'll spark some kind of interest in the novels, but I'll have to see.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. A working central heating/hot water system
3. Writing Hallsfoot
4. Clarins massage
5. A marketing push.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - enjoying a brief flare of fame

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Packing panics and a London jaunt

Well, the plumber did at least turn up yesterday and has done something, though the boiler’s still not fixed up yet. It strikes me that it would be easier if he actually allocated some reasonable time to it and got it finished, rather than just keep popping in and doing a bit here and there when he can. It can’t be a great use of his time and it’s certainly doing my head in. Lord alone knows when he’s coming back as well – it’s a mystery …

Meanwhile, here at the work front, I’m in early as Lord H gave me a lift in as I’m up in London tonight, so there’s no meditation poem today – no time for prayer, alas. Lord H’s essential London travel tip in these health-conscious times: if you see someone in a big hat who’s sneezing, run like the wind … Hmm, that’ll stop me getting swine fever, I’m sure, and is it a tad too much national stereotyping?? … Ah well.

Anyway I am still labelling up the office as if there will be no tomorrow (which for me there won’t – at least not at work, part-timer that I am), and trying to get everything done before the move next week. This becomes all the more important as I am not hugely confident that we’ll have access to computers and phones as soon as we’d like once we’re in the new place, but we live in hope, eh. In this as in so many other things. The Dean and I have also had a scout round the new place and made a list of all the items that aren’t working yet or which should be removed before we start to invade. You can tell he’s an engineer, can’t you? I had to persuade him not to try to fix the radiator himself while he was there, as being not a great use of Dean time. He’s threatening to bring in his paint pot too, so goodness knows what our d├ęcor will be like this time next week. Anyway, I’ve given the list of oddities to our Estates and Facilities people, and I’m hoping they’ll work their magic before Tuesday. And great news – we have had a delivery of more crates! Plus the nice young men who delivered them have also managed to separate the two crates that were stuck, so we can now start packing things away once more. It’ll make a change from the labelling for sure.

Managed to get out for a soothing lunchtime walk and also popped into the art gallery on my way round. There are some interesting pictures there from a variety of artists as part of the run-up to Surrey Artists’ Open Studio month, so that was good to see. It’s an event I always think is a wonderful idea, but somehow I never end up attending anything – the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak indeed. Oh and we have ducklings by the lake, hurrah.

This afternoon, I’ve consoled myself for this morning’s poetry rejection (the fools! The fools! Whatever can they be thinking??...) with my last Starbucks decaff cappuccino in this office. Lord but it tasted good. And tonight I’m off to London to see the old University girls and catch up over the essential Italian (food, my dears, food …). I’m hoping it won’t be too late an evening, as I’m not sure I can take the pace any more – last night, I actually fell asleep in front of the telly, which caused Lord H much amusement. I’ve never done that before – is it the slippery slope? However he reassures me that no doubt they’ll repeat Dan Cruickshank’s programme on Kew at some point, so I can catch up on the story of rubber that I missed. Always good to have something to look forward to, eh.

Today’s nice things:

1. The appearance of more crates
2. Art
3. Ducklings
4. Starbucks
5. Pizza and chat.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - all packed up and ready to go

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Plumbers and packing

Today’s the day the plumber is supposed to turn up to do what I hope will be the final tweaks to our boiler and heating system – bearing in mind that this has been going on since last year, I have to say my patience is wearing rather thin. He may be really sweet and good at his job, but I do wish he’d put a rocket up his bottom and light the touch paper. I’ll even do that for him, if need be – no anaesthetics required. At this rate, it’ll be Christmas by the time it’s sorted out, sigh … It would be so nice to be able to turn off the heating over summer after all – which at the moment we can’t do as the hot water and heating are currently joined at the hip. So no heat equals no hot water. Still, we live in hope, eh.

Am continuing bravely on with the task of packing up the office for our move. I now have six crates full of stuff and it ain’t over yet. We desperately need more crates and the Estates men are even now going through the campus with the proverbial tooth-comb trying to find some for us. And I haven’t even started on the boss’s filing … I would make the attempt but the last two crates are stuck together and I think only prayer and fasting will prise them apart. Talking of which, here’s today’s meditation:

Meditation 117

When God had his chance,
there on the mountain

of fire and death,
you would have thought

he’d have picked
a whole lot more

than just ten commandments.


Andrea and I had a quick visit again to our new offices – in Senate House itself no less, so we are going upmarket, my dears. Soon you will have to call me madam, and mean it, you know (in a nice way) … I’ve decided, at the last minute, that I don’t like my desk being too near the window, so I’ve switched labels with one further away. I only hope Chaplaincy Ruth doesn’t mind, as that was her desk, but I’ve left an explanatory apologetic note, so I hope it’ll be okay. Lordy but how I hate moving. I won’t feel happy from now until the last crate is unpacked and I’ve bonded with my new space. And I’m already mourning the fact that Starbucks will no longer be next door. I mean how on earth am I supposed to know when the queue is short enough for me to join it?

Still, I had to get my literary head on for the writers’ group at lunchtime. Today’s writing game (and also the homework for next time) was to choose one of the ten first lines of novels I’ve gathered from my rather bizarre and unregimented book collection and then write what happens next. All they have to remember is to ditch that first line when they’re done and things should be fine. I really don’t want a plagiarism lawsuit on my hands after all … UPDATE: Well, it worked for me – I think I’ve started a piece of flash fiction about a skeleton, a man and a wood, but in a fantasy landscape, so we’ll see where that leads me. I quite like it so far.

Tonight, I’m going to gird my proverbial loins and go to visit Gladys on the way home – I’m hoping Mrs Nasty Nurse doesn’t start spitting at me again, as visiting is difficult enough without the nurses proving tricksy also, sigh … I can do without a double dose of grief coming my way for sure – really I can barely cope with a single dose. Not much on TV tonight either, though I might watch Dan Cruickshank waxing lyrical about Kew Gardens. He’s so cute. I’ll also try to get some more of my erotic short story done. It’s bubbling away nicely, but I do like getting things finished. As do the two men involved, of course.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Writers’ group
3. Short stories.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - packing away anything that doesn't breathe ...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rainy days and reflexology

Weird how I thought I’d be better today but the rain has brought with it a sense of impending doom that I just can’t shake. Sigh. Anyway here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 116

Each day brings
a blazing furnace

of its own.
You can only

walk through it,
hoping for the promised land

of night.

Roll on home time, eh. Though, dammit, but I have to go shopping before I can get to my promised (home)land, so I’m not looking forward to that. Meanwhile the changes to the parental guidelines document have come back, so I’m hoping I can make some kind of sense of it, but I don’t think it’s going to be soon. Which of course means the personal tutors’ handbook has to snuggle down into its customary position of the back-burner once more. Double sigh. UPDATE – have managed to do the first tranche of changes, hurrah, but it’s a long process and I suspect we’ll need to go through several versions before we get to a final one. We’re getting there, as they say.

Thank goodness for reflexology at lunchtime – I really, really needed it. Without it, I fear the day would be even darker. This afternoon, I struggled on with document changes, plus I began to think about sorting out my stuff for the office move next week. Lordy, how I hate change. I have to get all my general mish-mash of papers and files either thrown away or into crates by the end of Wednesday, and I’m not really confident that will be the case. Still, at least I’ve made a start – sort of.

Anyway, after shopping (which I’m trying not to think about too much right now), at least there’s Ashes to Ashes on to take my mind off my moaning. Ye gods and little fishes, but something has to. Triple sighing here from the shires. Oh, but there's cake for tea, hurrah - chocolate chip too. Suddenly the world seems brighter ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Reflexology
3. TV
4. Being at home
5. Cake.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - wondering why Mondays exist at all ...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bones cover, birds and tea

First off, I must say that I've had the first sight of what I hope will turn out to be the book cover for The Bones of Summer and I am hugely happy with it indeed. It's fabulous. I do hope it's the one Dreamspinner Press will go with. Sorry that you can't see it yet but as and when it's confirmed and up on their site I shall let you know! I love it.

Other literary news is that two of my poems are going to be published in the upcoming inaugural edition of Apparatus Magazine so that's very cheering news. Thanks, Adam!

Meanwhile, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 115

No matter
the high walls,
gates and bars

you construct
around you
to keep out God.

He’ll sweep in
nonetheless
in his own good time

which is worrying enough,
it’s true,

but more worrying still
if he doesn’t.

Good Sunday material, I think. Despite all that, we've skipped church today (shame on us!) and have spent a lovely relaxed morning in Wisley instead. Birds spotted today, I think for the first time this year, include a mistle thrush and a marsh tit, hurrah. We also spotted green finches, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, a coal tit, a jay and a great spotted woodpecker - so all the usual suspects indeed. Oh and there were some nice flowers too, you'll be pleased to hear. The rhododendrons are huge, Carruthers, huge, and very colourful. I only knew what they were because of the labelling, I'm ashamed to say. Usually I can barely tell a daisy from a daffodil (you mean there's a difference??).

Anyway, we ate out at the Wisley cafe (very nice, but really they should do a decent range of salads - surely it can't be hard?), and then sped back home as Pauline & Tony, with Darren, popped round for afternoon tea and chat. Goodness me, how very civilised we are today and how very Surrey. Lovely to see all three of them and a brilliant catch-up time. The Waitrose chocolate chip cake went down extremely well too - I can definitely recommend that one to all and sundry.

Tonight there's sod all on TV - groan ... However the exciting news is that the lovely and very talented Catherine Walter has let me have one of her OU short stories for feedback so I'm hugely looking forward to reading that. It's bound to inspire me this evening, so thank you, Cathy! I'm not at all convinced I'll have anything useful to add though ...

And this week's haiku is:

He carries the world
in his arms; it's purposeful,
wrapped in black netting.

Today's nice things:

1. Seeing the cover for Bones, hurrah!
2. Two more poems being accepted for publication
3. Poetry
4. Visiting Wisley, and birds
5. Friends for tea
6. Cathy's story
7. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - sometimes you can judge a book by its cover ...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Disappointing places and a Maloney twin

Some exciting news on the book front - for the first and only time in my literary career, Maloney's Law actually has a buying twin on Amazon in the US. Well, gosh! I've never had any of my books paired up with another for buying purposes before - I've no idea what, if anything, it might signify but it almost makes me feel like a real author, don't you know. Not sure how long it will actually last, but in case it's still there (click quickly to avoid disappointment and you'll need to scroll down to see it ...) the link is here - though strangely the actual twinned book seems to have changed since this morning. What on earth can it all mean? Anyway, Maloney's mate, whatever it is now, is certainly a wild choice so everyone should have a lot of fun with that for sure!

Still on matters literary, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 114

Walk the desert,
track each grain of sand

with your skin,
and on your tongue

taste the full extent
of wilderness.

When at last you turn north,
the clear light

you find there
will brand your memory

like death or war
onto forgotten earth.

Start the weekend off with a jolly ditty is what I say, eh. Ah well. Talking of which, I'm in two minds about Mike Barlow's poetry collection, Another Place. It started off so well and I was hugely excited by the depth and dynamism of the subject matter and style of this one. But there was some very serious and rather disappointing sagging going on in the middle and somehow, in the final analysis, the collection as a whole just doesn't gel together as one, although there are some extraordinarily good poems in there. You just somehow lose sight of them in the general filling however. I felt very much as if it was a chapbook desperately trying to be heard in the middle of a too big collection. The way I sometimes feel that some novels are actually short stories trying to get out. If it had been a chapbook, with the very good poems included therein then it would have been top-notch indeed. Some of those poems of real excellence include: June Bug (with its real historical immediacy); A Night Out (wonderful humour and humanity); Something Between Us (romance and humour - fabulous); Hot Pursuit (bikes rides, love and reality); and my utter favourite, Frisking The Poem (what a poem looks like when it first turns up, aha!). One to read maybe, but don't be afraid of skipping.

Today, Lord H and I have visited The Vyne in Basingstoke and walked around the grounds admiring the wildlife and enjoying the view from their one bird hide. New birds spotted for this year are house martins and redshanks, hurrah. There are also lots of ducklings looking totally cute and fluffy (Girly Moment Alert!!), and nesting swans and coots. Spring has indeed sprung, I believe.

Back home, I've been working away on Hallsfoot's Battle and am now in the high ranges of 113,000 words. You'll be pleased to hear that Ralph has woken up and is attempting to do something vaguely useful in the middle of the angst (about time too ...) and I've at last remembered that the mountain dogs are there - I'd forgotten them until Ralph woke up, sigh ... Lordy, but never believe that the author is in full control of events. My, how we laughed at that notion. It's all done on a wing and a prayer, you know.

Tonight, we're looking forward to battling with dinosaurs in the next episode of Primeval, and there's the last episode of Alan Whicker's past journeys that I missed before and I really must catch up with. Talking of the past come back, I have to say that ever since I heard about it, I've been very grumbly and cross about how anyone has dared to take the great icon and acting genius that was Leonard (may his name be praised) Rossiter and the incomparable Reginald Perrin series and attempt to reinvent them both - but Lord H persuaded me to give the reinvention a chance last night, and I have to say it was all right. Okay, it's not Rossiter and it's certainly not Perrin as we knew and loved him, but I think the first episode stood up okay and even made us both laugh on occasion. It's not as dark as the original, but as a reinterpretation of a classic for the modern times, I think it might be worth a go. I shall certainly watch the second episode anyway.

Today's nice things:

1. Maloney's changing twin
2. Poetry
3. The Vyne
4. Birds
5. Writing Hallsfoot
6. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - she's actually the evil twin, you know ...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chick lit and prayer

The ideal combination, don't you know. Though, actually, I suspect The Vicar of Dibley may well already have gone that route. Anyway, the good news of today is that the Chick Lit Review has accepted my short story, The Driving Force, for future publication, so that's nice. Combined with that (and in honour of the title of this blog), my meditation poem number eleven is now published by Haruah Magazine and can be found here.

Talking of meditation, I'm back to the Bible reading and starting Deuteronomy today, so here this morning's poem:

Meditation 113

The past lies in wait
and its mysteries

are ever before us.
Walk through its country

with care,
separating river from earth,

sky from rock,
truth from dream

until you are left
bathed only in light

and the scent of your journey.

I've also played golf with Marian, and her daughter Jane also came along, so a triple-whammy of golfing gals indeed. None of us played brilliantly, but I wasn't quite as off-form as the other two, so I managed to win, hurrah. Okay, by one point only, but hey who's counting ... It was fun too playing with a mother-daughter team - goodness me, they're competitive when they're together! It made me feel extraordinarily chilled, which is unusual for me on the golf course. I'm usually extraordinarily focused. And, yes, competitive.

I've managed to write another 1000 words of Hallsfoot's Battle and am now happily in the 112,000 range. I've had an idea for the grand finale of the battle too, which took me by surprise. But which makes sense. Not sure how I'm going to get there, as I have a hell of a lot of viewpoints to take into account and I'm also rather worried about Ralph (he's down on the floor, captain, and he dang well won't get up ...). I'll have to raise his game soon. After all, he is the only real soldier in the mix, poor dear. He ought to do at least some decent fighting.

This afternoon, I've been standing and sitting in my Alexander technique lesson. This week's focus is balance and the pelvis. Up until now, the location of my pelvis has been a complete mystery to me, my dears (well, I only did Biology up to O Level), but I think I have a vague inkling as to its whereabouts now. But I still probably couldn't find it with a compass. Mind you, I can't find any ruddy thing with a compass, so that's no surprise.

Tonight, the new series of Have I Got News for You? starts, thank the Lord. That's been a long time returning - what have we done without it? Nothing else on but that though (sigh ...) so I may as well do some cleaning. I really have to tidy the flat as we have people coming for tea on Sunday. People though! Whatever next?...

Today's nice things:

1. A short story acceptance
2. Poetry publication
3. Poetry
4. Golf
5. Hallsfoot battle plans
6. Alexander technique
7. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - battling through on a wing and a prayer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Candy and Catharsis

Am hugely pleased to say that Candy and Catharsis, my comic short story about the loves, tragedies and traumas of living in a dictionary (well, it's a hard life for a working word ...), has now been published by The Oddville Press and can be found in their free Issue 3 magazine download here. It's the first story you scroll down to and I hope you enjoy the read. It should at the very least raise several laughs on this bright and bubbly afternoon.

Keeping on matters literary, I've been in poetic mood and have written a couple of poems over the last day or so - one came to me while I was doing my back exercises and the other while I was driving home from the shop. Whilst paying due care and attention to the road conditions, naturally. I was also thrilled to be asked by the marvellous Nik Perring to contribute a haiku to an upcoming book of photographs and words that's being produced for charity. More information on this exciting new project can be found at today's entry on Nik's blog. Do have a read and admire the photograph - it's great! And have a go at the competition if you feel so inspired too. Oh and yes, I've sent him my offering already (for a different picture), so thanks again, Nik.

Apologies though for the lack of meditation poem today - I was sent skittering frantically from my bed at 6am with a rampant bout of girly pain (say no more - oh, actually, I'm going to anyway, sorry ...), and so any concept of Bible reading went out the window while I was searching for a hot water bottle, painkillers and the Deep Heat cream. I wonder if this unexpected onslaught (usually my monthly pain levels are far more under control than that these days ...) might have been partly caused by the fact that I forgot my HRT gel last night? If so, it's certainly taught me my lesson, I can tell you. Anyway, Lord H rubbed my back while I groaned for a while (what a hero!), but thankfully all is now well. I can never find the words to say how utterly utterly wonderful it is when the pain stops. Complete heaven indeed.

Back to the literary life, I have written another 1000 words of Hallsfoot's Battle and I think I have more ideas about the battle scenes. Thank goodness. I've got rid of one secondary character too - rather too harshly, I suspect, so I may have to revisit the handling of that in the edit. So I'm now at the 111,000 range and back into Simon's viewpoint. He's not a happy man (or rather half-Gathandrian), believe me. After all, he's a scribe, not a soldier - as the good Star Trek doctor would say. I feel he's going to have to learn fast however. Ah well.

Meanwhile, never say TV is not inspirational: as a result of last night's programme on the building restoration projects updates, I've finally become a friend of our local Watts Gallery. It's not open again until 2010, but friends are allowed to have tours around the site as it progresses, and that's way too tempting an offer ... A building site! Builders! What more could you want?? Anyway, tonight, our viewing pleasures include My Family and Graham Norton (I've recently become hooked on this), which are of course inspirational in their own special ways. Not to mention unique.

Today's nice things:

1. The publication of Candy and Catharsis
2. Writing poems
3. Writing a haiku to order, hurrah!
4. When the pain stops ...
5. Getting more of Hallsfoot down
6. The joys of television.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a refuge for troubled words ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green coats and cappuccinos

A fairly calm day today. Well, phew already. In terms of Bible reading, I’ve got to the end of the Book of Numbers, so here’s my last meditation on that:

Meditation 112

At the end
of all the accounting

it’s evident that women
are allowed to inherit

but must marry
someone else’s choice.

It’s still a long road
until freedom arrives.

At work, I’m onto my second set of minutes and hoping to get the first draft done by the end of today. If my luck is in and the wind is behind me. Ho ho. I’ve also been struggling with the annual agony of trying to work out what my bank holiday entitlement is for the upcoming year as a part-timer. I think this year I don’t owe the University any days and neither do they owe me any, but I’ve sent my first pass at the spreadsheet off to our HR guru and I’ll see what they say … UPDATE - hurrah, I'm right! Well, that's a first then. It can't last.

Popped into town at lunchtime to try to see if there might be any clothes to buy that might just suit me. Answer: astonishingly yes! I was searching for trousers, but instead found a lovely three-quarters length light green spring/summer coat with an off-the-wall lining at Per Una. Bliss. Now all I have to do is wait for the opportunity to wear it – which probably means finding something green to go with it when 99% of my wardrobe is basically navy blue, or black. Or occasionally dark green when it’s almost black. Well, I don’t usually like to be too obvious … And maybe those combinations will do? Who can tell? – I am after all a Fashion Ignoramus. Anyway the coat has certainly given me a little frisson of excitement in my day (as it were). And it means that, according to my usual clothes spending habits, I don’t have to buy anything else until next year, hurrah. Plus the sunshine was lovely and it was a nice walk into town. And this afternoon was the first of my Starbucks decaff cappuccino moments since way before Easter. Double bliss. There’s just something about the foam that makes me so happy.

Tonight there’s something on TV updating us about the building restoration programmes which were on last year. It’s not a great choice really, but it does at least break up the vast desert of TV blankness that’s otherwise on. Mind you, that desert does give me a chance to continue working on my erotic short story, so it’s not all bad news, eh.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. A new green coat
3. Starbucks cappuccino
4. Short stories.
5. A slice of TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a vision in green, don't you know

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Muddling through the day

Well, when do I ever do anything else? Here’s this morning’s rather kick-ass meditation. The aftermath of yesterday, I feel:

Meditation 111

Murder defiles the land.
Still, today, it’s tempting.

I’ve got a list
as long as the Jordan

of people my world
would be better off without.

Making it a sure thing
that if I’d been around

when the Israelites
entered the promised land

I’d have needed a damn sight more
than six cities of refuge

for killers to flee to.

Today, I’ve been keeping my head down at work and attempting to begin writing up one of the sets of minutes I took yesterday. Sometimes, keeping one’s head below the proverbial parapet makes sense … I also added in yet more information to the personal tutors’ handbook. When will it ever end or be ready to print?? A question it is at the moment impossible to answer. I am more than ever convinced that we’ll still be adding new information to it when I’m in my bath chair. Ah well.

Still, I managed to cheer myself up a bit with a walk round campus at lunchtime. Nice to sit by the lake for a while and just chill. I even managed to get my favourite shady bench so didn’t have to do battle with the evil sun, hurrah. Oh and we have a brand-new photocopier/printer in the office which does virtually everything except brush your hair. I love it. I love it so much I think I want to run away with it and have its babies. Don't tell Lord H. The only really really big problem is that its start button glows blue (the photocopier's, not Lord H's ...) and it's just not natural - everyone knows the start button on photocopiers should be green. I keep having to look for it as it simply isn't the right colour, sigh ...

Tonight, there’s absolutely nothing on TV. Bummer. Though at least it means I can get more done to my erotic short story. I’m working on the beginning of it at the moment. Oh though I must say how good Ashes to Ashes was last night – much more exciting and I even warmed to the usually ice-cold Alex. She seemed almost normal this time, though (being picky) I really didn’t like her hair. Lordy, what a bitch I am.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Lying low
3. Lunchtime walks around the lake
4. Fiddling around with the short story (as it were).

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - still looking for the green button

Monday, April 20, 2009

Unwillingly to school and a stand-up row

Lordy but it’s been a miserable day today. The shock of being back at work has been almost too much for me and I feel completely overwhelmed and depressed by it all. First off, here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 110

Freedom is shaped
by boundaries.

They lie heavy
on your shoulders,

prickling your skin
and constraining

all the steps you take.
Where you thought

to find air and space,
there is only the knowledge

of where you cannot go.

And really the day has been hugely constricting, and is certainly weighing heavily on the shoulders, groan. Too many emails, too many ridiculous demands and way way too many meetings. I hate having more than one meeting on during a day – but today I’ve had to come back to having to minute two of the wretched beasts. And really I’ve had no interest in them. I just wanted to be at home. All quite tearful really. How I wish I didn’t have to work, or I could just do something mindless where I didn’t have to think so much or pretend to be so alert and interested all the time. Personally I think the new buzz phrase of “staff engagement” is far too overrated. Most of us just want to survive the day. Sigh.

I’m also rather fed up with the fact that one of the literary email groups I belong to (which shall of necessity remain nameless) barely responds to anyone not in its small clique of approved people. Naturally that doesn’t include me. Hmm, when does it ever, eh? Very little support there, Carruthers, and it’s not the friendliest of groups. I suspect if nothing changes in the near future, I shall opt out if only for my sanity’s sake. UPDATE: I've left it, hurrah! Such a relief, and at least my email won't be clogged up with pointless, self-obsessed emails any more. If anyone around here is going to be pointless and self-obsessed, well it's bloody well going to be me. Really, I make all my sanest decisions when I'm raging.

Tonight, I was supposed to be going to the University book group, but I couldn't bear to stay at work any longer than I could help it. Yes, I was that desperate to be at home. I dropped in on Gladys on the way though, but she was asleep. And I had a stand-up row with a total tight-arsed witch of a nurse about how one should go in and out of the front door. Really, she was bloody rude to me and I'm glad I shouted back. I don't see why I have to be nice all the bloody time just because I'm female and British, and anyway she deserved it. What a cow. I really shouldn't have to deal with these arses. Yes, as you can see, I have neither compassion nor milk of human kindness for the caring people (so-called) of the planet. Anyway, milk makes me ill, bah.

Roll on the ruddy weekend is what I say. At least there’s Ashes to Ashes on TV though – that’s something then. Sigh.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Getting home
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - definitely not in the mood to be messed with

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Faith, sex and nature

Well, get everything in at once is what I say (as it were). This morning, Lord H and I have paid our respects to the Almighty by attending the Low Sunday service (2nd after Easter). What a confusing mix of hymns they had too. Nobody had any idea how to sing the second and none of the congregation were any the wiser even after four verses of the damn thing. One of those Anglican hymns that defies explanation, I fear. Lord H also thought the theology of it might be a tad dodgy too, being vaguely okay about singing "the power of death defying", but adamant that the very phrase "death defying" is utterly wrong. That's the exact opposite, after all, to what Christianity is about, if it's about anything. Me? I just care about the tunes - if the tune is right, hell I'll sing anything. It's the Anglican way, you know ...

I also managed to give my usual gracious refusal to the second request about whether we wanted to join the church's electoral roll or not. This time the request was from the vicar, but he seemed rather more okay about my saying no than the church warden did some weeks ago. He was probably taken by surprise by my response that I'd rather live with the church for a while than marry it, but I think he got my meaning. Indeed he even ended by taking my side in the matter - as when one of the congregation said that if I did join the electoral roll, then I could express my opinions more adequately, he pointed out (with a very endearing smile) that he didn't think expressing my opinions adequately at any point was a particular problem of mine. Ah, irony mixed with charity - how I love it. And, really, he should know - I have been in one of his Bible study groups after all.

And, talking of religion, here's this morning's poem:

Meditation 109

Gods destroyed,
history lost,

a land divided,
and those you leave behind

a thorn in the side,
a splinter in the eye:

paradise comes
at a price

and the one to pay it
is you.


Anyway, I came home and went straight from the Lord's arms into the arms of sin. As it were, and if you're of that mindset. I've spent most of the afternoon tinkering away on my erotic short story, and at least David and Jeff now have their sex scene sorted out, which brings me nicely into the 3,500 words quota. After three years of waiting, both men are very grateful that I've finally written it, I can assure you. I really need at least 5000 words for this one, but I think I'll get to that, as I still have to write the club scene plus the journey to Jeff's flat and the ending. Yes, I know I'm not writing it in order, but I always do my sex scenes first - heck they're the fun part.

So, sex and religion - my two favourite things in one day. What could be nicer?

Well, back to more innocent times (does anyone remember those??), I've been hugely impressed with a journey of nature and song, which I read about yesterday in the paper and which you can find here. It's the account of three men who are currently walking around Britain, singing local folk songs and learning about local customs in whatever area they happen to be in. It's utterly charming and utterly down-to-earth and I love it. You can read about their travels, future plans and learning that they've gleaned from people along the way, and even listen to one of the folk songs - it's fabulous and they're great singers. I've enquired about the CD and will definitely be buying the book as and when it comes out. I can thoroughly recommend visiting the website - it gives you hope, and at a time like this everyone needs hope.

Tonight, there's not much on TV (groan), but I shall watch the double episode of My Family and (if I feel up to it) I shall sit through the probably yawn-inducing Lady's Detective Agency. Thank goodness it's the last episode, say I - as really you've seen one and you've seen them all. Much like the books then, hush my mouth.

This week's haiku is:

We rise in the dark,
herald the morning like monks
enticing the sun.

Today's nice things:

1. Church and some dodgy theology
2. Having opinions, big ones
3. Poetry
4. Sex-writing (ooh-err, missus ...)
5. Three men and a very uplifting journey
6. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - opinionated, but cute (sort of) ...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The dawn chorus times two

Goodness me, but getting up at 2am is a whole new world. Astonishingly I can actually be ready to leave the flat in an hour, if I really put my mind to it (rather than the customary two hours), so as we were primed to leave at 3.30am, I had half an hour to spare, hurrah. Which I used for doing the final final run through of my upcoming short story, Painting from Life for Eternal Press. So all set for the publication date of 7 May then, double hurrah. Never say I'm not committed to my attempt at a writing life, eh.

The rest of the morning (and what a long, long morning it's been ...) has been spent enjoying the Dawn Chorus walk at Pulborough Brooks. There were loads of equally crazed people there too - so many that the group had to be divided in two and take different routes round the reserve. It was marvellous. The nightingales were incredible and to hear the rest of the birds (and with the guide telling you which was which if you didn't know) join in gradually was utterly and amazingly magical. If you ever get the chance to do something like that, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. But wrap up warmer than we did - the promised warm spring day didn't start until we left at about 11.30, dammit. Anyway, afterwards they gave us a much-needed cooked breakfast and we wandered round the whole reserve again, mostly on our own as it didn't open till later. So that was great. New birds spotted for this year included a little ringed plover, a nightingale, a willow warbler, swallows (though we also saw the first of them on a brief walk last week but I think I forgot to mention them), a whitethroat, a treecreeper, a pair of blackcaps and we heard a cuckoo plus a tawny owl. We also heard for some time the rather strange warbler they have at the reserve which is a cross between a chiffchaff and a willow warbler - it starts out singing like the first and then the song changes to that of the second. Weird, but that's birds for you. So that's a total of 112 new birds this year. Well, gosh. Not only that, but we saw huge amounts of primroses - once the light came up - and the first of the bluebells. Spring is definitely here then ...

This afternoon, I've concentrated on submissions, sending off one short story which was rejected (shame ...) yesterday, my comedy fantasy story that I was too ill to read at last week's event, and a set of five poems. Here's hoping some of them find a home.

Tonight, I'm gearing myself up for major dinosaur trauma in Primeval and then I think there's something on about the young Queen Victoria, so that might be worth watching. I'll probably be ready for sleep by then though. Seriously ready ...

Today's nice things:

1. Signing off the final version of Painting from Life
2. The dawn chorus
3. Real spring flowers
4. Sending out another round of submissions
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - is that the nightingale or the lark?...

Friday, April 17, 2009

A landmark word count, literary sex and a Bones publication date

Was supposed to play golf this morning, but rain stopped play, as they say. Though actually that was probably quite useful as otherwise today would have been a social free-for-all, well in my mind at least. And it gave me time to visit the post office this morning to send off the parcel containing a signed set of four copies of my novels as prizes for the upcoming First Edition Magazine competition.

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

Meditation 108

The secret
of being content

with what one has
lays bare

the deep inadequacy
of dreaming

and is therefore
not to be embraced.

For most of the day, I've been creeping forward with Hallsfoot's Battle and have reached the landmark word count of 110,000 words. Hurrah, hurrah! Only another 10,000 to go and I might have the bare bones of a fantasy novel. You never know. I also had a sudden idea for a battle plot strand whilst writing it, which I'm pleased about, so I'll see how that goes. It completes the story arc for the First Elder so that feels as if I'm working towards an ending. Or the beginning of the end, or possibly the end of the beginning. As Churchill might have said.

Other lovely, lovely, totally exciting book news is that I have a provisional publication date from Dreamspinner Press for The Bones of Summer and it's 22 June - which is the day after my birthday. Gosh and double gosh, what a week that's going to be, eh! And apparently I should have the edited manuscript soon so I'm very much looking forward to that. It's so wonderful to get a tentative date for this one as, even though it might well slip, it's always good to have something to look forward to. So get your cash ready for then, folks, and find out what happens to Paul Maloney after the end of Maloney's Law from the point of view of his brand-new partner, Craig. I for one can hardly wait ...

Inspired by all this, I've actually started an erotic short story today. Well, when I say "started", I actually started it three years ago and then put it on hold for a while - so it's been on hold for longer than originally anticipated, I must say. Heck, those poor blokes have been waiting a ruddy long time for the action to happen, I can tell you. They should really ring Character Line and complain about their author. They have every right. Well, I've now picked up the tale of David and Jeff once more and am hoping to finish it over the next few weeks. I have a market in mind, but we'll see. There's always hope, even after a three-year literary sex ban. As it were.

You'll also be pleased to know that I've had a much-needed haircut today and look rather less like a startled Highland cow (you know, the grumpy ones with the fringes) and more like a real member of the human race. Hmm, that's not likely to last long, is it? I've also been to my Alexander Technique lesson and have had my back stretched into its proper shape once more, after having spent two weeks crumpled up in a heap of illness and groaning. Goodness me, did I need it!

Tonight, Lord H and I must go to bed early (steady, people, steady ...) as we have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow in order to go on a 4.45am Dawn Chorus walk, and the starting point is about an hour's drive away. Hmm, whose ruddy idea was that then?? Oh, mine. Bugger. The things I do for Nature, eh.

Today's nice things:

1. Posting my novels prize package
2. Poetry
3. Getting to a landmark word quota with Hallsfoot
4. A provisional publication date for Bones, hurrah hurrah!
5. Revisiting an erotic short story
6. Haircuts
7. Alexander Technique.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - enjoying a red letter day

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strawberries, missing people and story success

Managed an early shopping expedition to Godalming today as there's really no time in my action-packed day tomorrow. I attempted to stock up on Dead Sea soap at the health shop but they had none, although the search was made more complicated by the fact that the poor temporary lad in charge couldn't find the shop lights. Neither could he work the cash till so I had to pay for my £1.95 Tea Tree soap alternative by card. Poor chap - you'd think they would have briefed him before throwing him to the wolves. I hope he survives his day. I also renewed my various prescriptions at the doctors, though I had to go back this afternoon to collect them as the pharmacy were out-of-stock this morning. I wonder if I should have asked for the Dead Sea soap from them as well? Too late now, I fear ...

Here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 107

If I’d been told
that after a holy war

I was ordained
to die

I wouldn’t be
quite so keen

on summoning the troops
as Moses is.

I really do think Moses should have been a tad more cunning about the whole "fight now and die immediately afterwards" thing. A little forward thinking never comes amiss when it comes to God, especially amongst the prophet classes ...

For the rest of the day I've scratched out my 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle, thus bringing me into the middle of the 109,000 range now. Mind you, it was bloody hard work. I mean, after you've send one enemy soldier into the great hereafter, what the hell do you do for an encore? Best bring the mind-executioner in more fully, I feel - he can usually think of something horrible and obscure to do. Hmm, that's the trouble with these dang authors, isn't it? They always blame the characters for their own screwed-up minds. Ah 'twas ever thus.

I've also written a comic erotic poem about strawberries. Well, it's so nearly the season and some poor punter has to do it, so it may as well be me. It even rhymed, Lord preserve us. Whatever next? Ooh and other fun writing news is that First Edition Magazine say that the response to my interview in their May edition has proved very positive, and they've asked me to offer signed copies of a novel or two for a competition they're running in June. Gosh, that's hugely exciting, and I'm very grateful to be asked. I only hope somebody enters. Last time I ran a competition for one of my novels (on my blog), only two or three wonderfully kind people took pity on me and sent in an entry, so that was rather high on the embarrassment stakes for sure. I hope that First Edition have more success with it!

Keeping on the writing theme, I'm pleased to say that Perpetual Magazine - who will be showcasing me as their featured poet in May/June (heck, did I mention that this week already??) - have also just accepted one of my Bible stories, The Rock, for publication as well, so that's a much-needed double-whammy dose of good news, hurrah! Thank you again, Russell.

Tonight there's a programme on TV about missing people, so I absolutely must watch that. It's a terrifying and fascinating subject. I think one day I'll write something about a missing person, but not for a while. One of my old schoolfriends went missing a long time ago during my first year as an undergraduate and I can remember the police coming to my college to interview me. It was all very surreal and I remember being totally confused and very blank about it. Probably shock, I suppose. Thankfully, she was found safe and well after a couple of days, but she never really talked about it and eventually we lost touch. Lordy (says she with the ice-cold heart of a writer), that's probably my plot, Carruthers.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Writing Hallsfoot
3. First Edition's competition plans
4. Short story acceptance
5. TV - sort of.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - having slightly peculiar ideas about fruit

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The wild social whirl and the beginnings of battle

Something of a social whirl day today, so I got up early and got down to getting another 1000 words of Hallsfoot's Battle into the pot. Which meant actually starting the big battle scenes, which I suspect will go on for some time and have a variety of different viewpoints in them. So that brings me safely into the 108,000 word range. I'm still a tad (well, more than a tad) worried about whether I'll be up to the task of making the concept of battle terrifying enough, particularly as I don't think war is my strong point, but I'll do the best I can and see what comes out - or goes in - during the edit. Thank God no-one ever sees the draft version, eh. That would be very frightening indeed. Even I can barely bring myself to read it.

This morning's meditation, meanwhile, is this:

Meditation 106

A vow
is like a pearl.

It belongs
to the man

who pays for it,
not to she

who wears it.

Talking of poetry, I'm very happy to say that Perpetual Magazine will be showcasing some of my work as part of their May/June Featured Poet slot, so that's good news indeed. Thank you, Russell!

Had a pub lunch out with Liz from the choir today, and we managed to find the last remaining pub in Godalming that actually does baguettes for lunch - which was wonderful news, but no doubt now I've said that they'll probably take them off the menu, dammit. Sigh. Had a great chat, and we were also joined for coffee (coffee, my dears - how very Surrey!) by another of her friends before doing a spot of shopping in the garden centre opposite the pub. Lordy, we are women of a certain age, aren't we? I even stocked up on my dwindling supply of Epsom salts for the bath, so that puts at least twenty years on me, to start with. I'll go and order my bathchair immediately ...

Tonight, I'm seeing Jane W in London for another chat and catch-up session so, as I said, it's one wild social whirl today. I have carved out a day tomorrow though where I don't have to talk to anyone apart from Lord H, so there's time to recover at least. I don't want to get too excited after all, not with my rapidly advancing years.

And I've been gravely disappointed in Leslie Marshall's novel, A Girl Could Stand Up. Quite, quite dreadful, my dears. I think it thought it was cleverer than it really was, but to be honest it had absolutely no charm and very little plot. Oh and some very dull characters to boot. I cared not a jot for any of them. The girl, Elray, is the only survivor of a freak accident that kills her parents at the start of the book, and I then spent 400 pages or so wishing that she'd died too and wondering if in fact her parents had arranged it all simply in order to escape. I could not find it in my heart to blame them. On the front cover, no less a literary icon than Edmund White says it's "the best first novel I've read in years" - which leads me to think that he hasn't read many first novels in a long, long time. The trouble is it's trying to be surreal when it doesn't know how, it's trying to be a novel when it should be a piece of flash fiction and it's trying to be literary when it's simply languid. Enough said already. Don't buy it.

Today's nice things:

1. Meandering along with Hallsfoot
2. Poetry
3. Being a future featured poet, well gosh!
4. Lunch out with friends
5. Dinner out with Jane W.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - less of a party animal than she evidently appears

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to Hallsfoot and the joys of last place

Much to my surprise, it's a relatively normal day today. Not much injustice to fight against (or at least no more than usual) and nothing to chain myself up to something for. And it seems that sales rankings on GLBT books are slowly coming back on line at Amazon US, although Amazon UK gay-themed books remain in the no-rankings pot. Sigh. Still at least it means that Maloney's Law has its US ranking back, and I await for the UK version to be restored also. One hopes, eh. Anyway, it's always good to reclaim one's position as the least popular gay book in the virtual world. Ah well, eh - somebody has to be last!

This morning, and with the University still closed for Easter (hurrah!), I meandered my way around a surprisingly empty Sainsbury's. Mind you, I did get there early - on the assumption that it would be crowded as people ran fleeing from their enforced family encounters back to the great refuge of shopping. Hell, shows what I know, doesn't it? Nothing at all, my dears, nothing at all ...

For the rest of the day, I've pecked away at Hallsfoot's Battle - which is the first time in two weeks, since I've been ill, that I've even opened the file. It took a while to type my customary thousand words, but I have them now, thank the Lord, and I am therefore at just over 107,000 words. Double hurrahs. I wonder though if it's like playing golf - when you always play better if you've not done it for a while, presumably because one is free from expectations. So perhaps tomorrow's writing endeavours might be the true test. Mind you, I've had a bit of a revelation about the actual battle scenes (you know, the ones I've been putting off writing for 100,000 words or so ...) and I think I've found a way of giving them a bit of an edge and of making the mind-executioner even more deadly than anticipated. Lord knows if I can pull it off (as it were) but I'll give it my best shot.

Oh, and speaking of normality, here's this morning's meditation poem:

Meditation 105

It takes a long time
to enter the space
again.

Like drawing aside
a curtain
that catches in your hair

and will not
let you go.
All I see

are countless animals,
the mystery of celebration
and one small promise.


Other writing news is that I've had a couple of poetry rejections which I've turned round and sent back out again. And some other misguided publisher has rejected The Gifting, sigh. There are only a couple more publishers to go on that one, one of whom has kept me waiting since expressing high levels of interest in October last year and promising me a definitive answer by mid-March. I think I'll give it till June on that particular hope before I put it as a "no" on my spreadsheet. At that point, I'll try one other publisher and, if that fails, I've decided to go the self-publishing route, but with a different set of people this time. After all, Maloney's Law doesn't want to be the worst-selling GLBT book forever - it'll soon be time to let something else take that place!

And, really, I didn't think much of the latest Wallander novel, Henning Mankell's Before The Frost. I think part of the problem was that it was focused on Kurt Wallander's daughter, Linda, and not on Kurt himself who is far more interesting than his offspring. The other problem with Linda is that she's not actually a girl - or at least she doesn't seem to be one in the text. She's more like a boy with a girl's name. I don't actually think Mankell can write women and he'd be well advised to give her a pretty sharpish sex-change if he's thinking of writing another Linda Wallander novel. The other problem is that the story is very bitty and doesn't have the charm of Kurt's telling of it. Linda's a spoilt interfering brat, really - Lord help the police force she's joining. And the ending and sections leading up to the ending (for instance, Linda's sudden gift at impressionism - no hint of that before it was needed, though to be honest I'm still not sure why it was needed at all!) appear to have been cobbled together by a novelist desperate to stop writing the story. Hell, I can sympathise with that, but I would have thought he'd have smoothed it over in the edit. Not one I can recommend then, sadly.

Today's nice things:

1. Maloney's Amazon US ratings return
2. Getting back to Hallsfoot
3. Poetry
4. Planning a future - of sorts - for The Gifting.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - getting back to normal, almost ...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon anti-GLBT shenanigans

This will be something of a one subject only blog, but I make no apologies as I think it's important. Because, ye gods and little fishes, what a weekend. Unbeknownst to all of us, we've actually taken something of a time journey and are now living in the 1950s. In case you hadn't realised, or are utterly flummoxed by events so far, this has been the weekend that Amazon US and UK decided to remove books with "adult" content from their sales rankings and full search facilities. Thus making it all but impossible to buy them from that great online retailer unless you put in a very, very specific title, as the "similar categories" and tagged searches option no longer apply for these books.

Moreover, "adult" books also seem to include all GLBT books, whether or not they actually contain "adult' content, or sex of any description. Therefore books such as Young Adult gay book, Mark Probst's The Filly, have been stripped of their rankings, alongside Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, some editions of Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet (interestingly the edition that survives is the one that doesn’t mention the word Lesbian in the “similar items” search field), EM Forster’s Maurice, Edmund White’s The Beautiful Room is Empty, Mary Renault’s The Charioteer, and a host of other previously high-charting modern gay fiction books. Heterosexual books with sex in them on the whole maintain their rankings in the system. Worrying enough indeed but, interestingly, Kindle versions (an Amazon product of course …) still have rankings, although in at least one case the gay label has been removed from the Kindle entry. Lord H also tells me that as of a couple of hours ago, you could buy the film of Brokeback Mountain from Amazon, but not the book. Sigh ...

Neither has non-fiction remained untouched. The behind-the-scenes book on Queer as Folk no longer has a ranking, and neither does the hardcover edition of John Barrowman’s Anything Goes or Neil McKenna’s The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde.

You can read more about this and find out about current press coverage information, including two very differing Amazon responses to objections, at my Vulpes Libris article here. And the petition against Amazon's strange anti-GLBT stance can be found here. Please do read the article, visit the links within it and, if you feel able to and haven't already, sign the petition. I think it's important, whether or not you're a reader or writer of GLBT books. It's something I feel very strongly about and we don't really want that kind of censorship in our society. Thank you.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - sighing deeply but standing up for fairness, whether she disappears or not ...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Amazon mysteries and Bible story blogs

A curious and rather worrying fact that's surfaced over the last couple of days is the way that a large percentage of gay novels commercially produced by the small press in the US appear to have vanished entirely from Amazon US and Amazon UK or at the very least have lost their rankings. This means that when I search for, for instance, "Maloney's Law Anne Brooke", nothing comes up. On the whole - though it appears that some people can find it (though without any sales rankings), depending on the time of day they are searching. In similar fashion, other fellow authors who write gay novels have found that their books have vanished or are no longer in the Amazon charts. So at the moment anyone who wants to buy Maloney's Law via Amazon directly simply can't, and will have to go elsewhere. Or give it a miss entirely. Though I see that the links from my site do still work, so the plot thickens indeed. Hell, no wonder my sales figures are minimal. Really, I am not amused. One can only hope that this is not a permanent feature of the site - although of course there's little hope of finding out as Amazon are - as ever - a law unto themselves. In the meantime, I will keep an eye on it, and on my site links to see if the rot continues. Deep deep sigh.

Thank goodness then for the much-needed good news that the Real Bible Stories Anthology now has its own blog which can be found here. This is definitely the one to be following in the run-up to the August publication date. And it's a first for me too - as the anthology as a whole is deemed to be suitable for children 10 years old and upwards, and believe me - I've never been in that category before! Always nice to experience something different ...

I've flopped for the rest of the day, really. At the moment I seem to be in a state of semi-permanent exhaustion, probably the fall-out from two weeks of illness, I suppose. Mind you, I have written a poem, which is the first piece of creative writing I've done in a fortnight. Feel quite pleased with it too. Not sure I'm up to thinking about the novel yet though. At the moment, small is beautiful.

Tonight, some TV scheduling idiot has put Primeval on opposite Doctor Who. What a stupid thing to do!! We've decided to video Primeval and watch the good doctor, but really we shouldn't have to be so proactive on a bank holiday weekend. It's beyond the call of duty.

And here's this week's haiku (early, but it is Easter tomorrow, my dears):

Shadow girl
The night is my day.
I'm living, unwillingly,
only half a life.

I hope you all have a lovely and restful Easter Day.

Today's nice things:

1. The Bible stories blog
2. Writing a poem
3. TV
4. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - flummoxed by Amazon

Friday, April 10, 2009

Old Prayers and long naps

Am happy to say that I actually managed a whole night asleep last night and lying down in the bedroom, hurrah. Mind you, when I woke up I spent about two hours coughing and snorting, but hey it's progress. So I for one am certainly not complaining.

Other happy news is that my Good Friday poem, Old Prayers, is now published at Every Day Poets and can be found here. I hope you like it.

This morning, Lord H and I have pottered around slowly cleaning the flat, and so we are now decent for the first time in two weeks. It's amazing how much difference a bit of spit (not literally, I hasten to add ...) and polish can make you feel. And at lunch we celebrated the solemnity of the occasion with hot cross buns (Lord H's utter favourite food item, apart from chocolate) and lashings of butter. Lordy, but I think on reading back that last sentence that I may have been taken over by the spirit of Enid Blyton. Tally ho, and anyone for ginger beer?...

I've then spent about 3 or 4 hours this afternoon napping - well, cleaning and eating can be so exhausting, you know. So I'm suitably refreshed for spending the rest of the day collapsed in Couch Potato Position 1 in front of the TV. Might even do some reading. Talking of which, I enjoyed Henning Mankell's collection of Wallander short stories and novella, The Pyramid. Lovely to find out more about that most complex of foreign detectives and his mysterious past, plus keep up-to-date with the ebbs and flows of the Swedish weather system. Well worth a read for sure.

Today's nice things:

1. Sleeping
2. Old Prayers being published
3. Having a clean flat
4. Hot cross buns
5. TV
6. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - do not disturb, zzz ...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

First Edition focus and the Coughing Queen

Goodness me, but I am doing a heck of a lot of coughing. In fact I was coughing so hard last night that I actually woke myself up, then had to get up (lying down seems to be a key trigger ...) and sit upright for a while until I was able to stop. Really, my life is so hugely exciting. Then later, in the bathroom and at a more normal morning hour, I was coughing in such a wonderfully hacky way that I had to close the bathroom window so as not to cause the neighbours any undue concern. It probably sounded like I was dying or being strangled by a particularly determined serial killer, and I didn't really want them ringing the police for no reason. Still, at least I am well enough to enjoy the experience. As it were. And I am spending huge amounts of time being in a different room to my sick bowl and not worrying about it, as I don't seem to need it any more, hurrah. Today I've even had fruit for breakfast and cheese on toast for lunch, which is somehow a wonderful combination of the US and UK cultures. Or possibly continental and UK - who can tell? Not only that, but the thought of chocolate doesn't seem quite as horrifying as it's been for the past week, so it looks like there's hope, Carruthers, hope ...

And I have been deliciously and gloriously lazy - all I've done is read and watch TV and generally droop around in a leisurely fashion, so I am feeling very "Surrey chic" - if indeed such a concept even exists. I might even have a nap later, if I can summon the energy. Though I suspect I'm going to have to think about some kind of cleaning at some point, as nothing got done last week and soon the mess will be demanding its own room and front door key, sigh. In the meantime however, I am being so amazingly lazy that - to coin a phrase - you could probably put a tail on me and call me a sloth.

Ooh, and there's some great interview news! The May edition of First Edition magazine is now available from WH Smith's in the UK and it includes an interview with me - three pages, with pictures (decent ones, people, please ...), no less! Not only that but it contains a world exclusive about the real link between Lord H and my writing life which you may not have realised before and which may well surprise you. Oh and of course my mother is mentioned, but it's no show without Punch, eh ... So it's worth investing in a copy if you can and is also, of course, ideal reading to accompany your Easter chocolate fest, ho ho.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting better
2. Being lazy
3. The magazine interview.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - enjoying her five minutes of glossy fame

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Short stories and the movie mogul

Ye gods and little fishes, but I actually feel marginally better today. Bloody hell, eh. I discovered that some rather pricey castor oil which my natural health lady recommended for me a couple of years ago was still lurking in the cupboard, so in desperation I smeared it all over my throat and did a wonderful impression of a chip for the evening. Bizarrely, and Lord alone knows how it works, but it actually did clear the breathing passages in a non scary way. I still only got two hours' sleep, but I didn't spend the rest of the night snorting like a dying horse or vomiting. Well not as much anyway. Hurrah!

This morning, I managed to grab a doctor's appointment at as near to first thing as makes no difference, so I made my way there, courtesy of Lord H, clutching the essential sick bags, just in case. Really, I'm a style icon, you know. One day, all the top models will be carrying sick bags. Though perhaps, with their lifestyles, they already do. Sadly though, after a good chat with the doctor, we decided that I was probably already doing everything I should be doing and there wasn't anything else they could do anyway. Interestingly, the doctor thought that my problems this week might have been caused by having the viral infection alongside the catarrh infection (rather than one at a time, as usual), and both of them were therefore feeding off each other and sending my body into virtual shut-down mode - which might explain why it's gone on so long and been so utterly dreadful. I will either get better or ... um ... die. Ah the joys and strengths of the NHS indeed. This choice would have sent me into the deepest realms of despair if the castor oil hadn't been doing its thing. I think I'll attempt to choose the first of the options given to me therefore.

As the day has progressed, there have been further improvements and I've even eaten lunch (well, soup - a whole bowlful) and started doing some writing-related activities (of which more below). But I do want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who's been so lovely with emails, tips, advice and blog support over the last (rather horrific) week. It's helped such a lot. Thank you. I do still feel a bit dodgy though, so have cancelled Easter - well, Easter with Mother anyway. We'll be having a delayed Easter (much like the Orthodox churches, who always have it a few weeks after the rest of Christendom) over the first of the May bank holidays instead - I just hope the presents I've got her won't be out-of-date by then.

For the rest of the day, I have done fun stuff on the computer relating to my short stories. First off, I've rehashed my website short story pages so that now you get information on two of my upcoming stories, Painting from Life and The Voyage. Plus details about my longstanding comic short story, Not a Shred of Evidence, which is still available in Gatto Publishing's story collection. There are extracts from the beginning of all three tales on my site, so enjoy the reads. And the pictures are of course fabulous too (especially as one of them is by me indeed!).

I've also created a book trailer for Painting from Life, which I'm very pleased with. I won't upload it anywhere yet though - not till we're nearer the May publication date. Still, I'm happy with the results, it was a lot of fun and I am now the Movie Expert of Godalming. Well, of the flat at least.

Ooh, and Leslie from Bristlecone Pine Press has been running some competitions and, out of the winners, two people chose Pink Champagne and Apple Juice and one chose Thorn in the Flesh as their prizes - so whoever you are out there I hope you enjoy the reads. Honestly, hearing that news is like being picked first in the school netball - or hockey - or tennis - or anything else at all team (whereas I was always picked last in actual fact) ... Leslie has also kindly said she'll include these in my royalties, so thank you for that also!

Today's nice things:

1. Being slowly but resolutely (at last! at last!) on the mend. I hope ...
2. Working on my website
3. Creating a book trailer for Painting from Life
4. Lovely people choosing two of my books as prizes, well gosh.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - telling the stories you want to hear ...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A sneak preview ...

... of the Painting from Life cover art:



This story of art, obsession and misplaced love is due out from Eternal Press on 7 May 2009, and I just love that cover.

Anne Brooke

Looking for a doctor ...

Heck, you could probably write this blog yourselves. Sorry if I'm being hugely repetitive (I am, I am ...!). Um, well, a rough night followed by a rather sick morning and a catarrh-filled afternoon. So much the same as the day before, and probably the one before that too. Does anyone remember me actually being healthy?? Or am I in some kind of an Ill Purgatory zone. God forbid ...

Anyway, the differences about today as compared to other recent days are these (somewhat reminiscent of a Pushing Up Daisies tag line, but hell it's a great show and why not ...):

1. I missed the 8am "ring the doctor for an emergency appointment" zone as I was asleep between 6.30am and 8.30am, which believe me was something to be thankful for.
2. While having a bath, I got hugely tearful and angry with the doctor for not bloody well curing me yet. What is wrong with these people??? Can't he ruddy well give me something stronger to start off with?? - he knows what my medical history is.
3. As a result of this, I rang the surgery anyway to see if there was any chance of getting an appointment at all before Easter. My how we all laughed. Sadly they have no slots and I have to do the 8am call tomorrow for the emergency slots.
4. I got cross again and thought about going to the Walk In Centre in Guildford hospital - but the horror of having to drive myself there whilst clutching my sick bowl (which bizarrely is something my mother gave me when I got married as she thought I'd been the only one in the family who'd ever - regularly - used it apart from my father and she didn't want it to go to waste ... Lordy, is that as weird as it sounds now I'm typing it?) or getting a taxi whilst trying not to gag in front of a stranger was too much.
5. Still, I am desperate for drugs - any drugs, please!! - so I rang NHS Direct to ask them if it would be worth going to the Walk In Centre anyway today just to see if I could start on something as quickly as possible. I've never rung them before - they're lovely - and ended up virtually weeping down the phone to a wonderful nurse whose name now escapes me. She didn't mind waiting while I had to put the phone down and tackle a few nausea moments either. What a star. Having heard it all (in gory detail which I won't go into here - thank God, you cry!) she agreed I would need something stronger but suggested I try to get a doctor's appointment tomorrow if I can hang on that long and put my case. If I can't get one tomorrow, she advised trying the Walk In Centre then and also making a further doctor's appointment so everyone can keep up with what's happening. Are you with me so far? So I think I'll do that.
6. I think I'm keeping it together fairly well, taking into account minimal and intermittent sleep and little food for a week, but I am aware that I'm not functioning to full capacity on any cylinder, so I hope I'm doing the right thing. It's hard to tell.

For the rest of the day, I've watched a lot of faintly fuzzy TV (though I suspect that is our reception rather than me) and played on Lord H's i-phone which he kindly left with me. I've also had about a quarter of a bowl of cereal in the early afternoon (well done, me!) but didn't finish it. And I've allowed myself one ten minute session with the Vick inhaler hot water in a bowl thing (sorry, can't think of what you call this right now), which had rather more dramatic results than I'd anticipated. Lord preserve us indeed.

Oh and I've faintly puzzled over whether I'll ever write anything again, but I feel the time for beating myself up about this is probably not now. I'd like to be well for Easter really, but hell we'll see. I could do with something of a resurrection myself.

Today's nice things:

1. Nice phone nurses
2. Fuzzy TV
3. I-phone games.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - hoping for a miracle cure, courtesy of the NHS ...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Lying low and the pirate life

The unwellness continues (but hell I'm used to it by now). I've pulled out of my attendance at the Exeter work conference and have let work know, though to be honest if I'm going into the office instead, then I suspect it won't be till at least Wednesday. There's no way I'm going anywhere, even close at hand, today.

Mind you, there is hope. I've eaten a few mouthfuls of cereals for breakfast and even had a few more mouthfuls of the stuff for lunch. Plus some cheese and crisps (ah, the healthy option always appeals, don't you know) as I had a wave of absolutely shivering hunger and just had to have some salt. Any salt. That's the most balanced and regular meal plan I've had for a ruddy week. And hey it's stayed down! Not that you probably wanted to know that, but still it was big news for me ...

Plus I managed two hours' sleep from 6.30 to 8.30am this morning, and another hour from 3-4pm, double hurrahs and put out the bunting. And in each case I was actually lying down on the bed. Well, gosh. That hasn't been able to happen for a while. Interestingly however, my left eye is very sore and rather bloodshot - Lord knows why, but obviously my body isn't used to the faint concept of "well" so is trying to catch me elsewhere - so I've rubbed it with my wedding ring (gold does work on the eye, strangely), put on some eye gel and have been wearing my eye patch so I look like a pirate. Yes, I do really have an eye patch - it was recommended when years ago I had an attack of iritis (nasty - and if you ever do get iritis, DO NOT BELIEVE the doctor who comes towards you smiling with the orange high-strength eyedrops that he says won't hurt a bit. He will be lying) to give the eye an enforced rest and it also works. Equally strangely. Lordy but all I need is a parrot and a limp and the image will be complete.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Lord H coming home, though I know he has the shopping to do so will be late, and I've already had two phone calls from Mother (who loves nothing more than the concept of a sick child - she's never really forgiven any of us for daring to grow up and sending her essential nursing skills into retirement). Still, it could be worse - at least she hasn't (yet) asked me if my bowels are all right, which is something she always used to do regularly and in public when I was young. Ah the shame ...

Today's nice things:

1. Feeling ever so slightly more human
2. Being able to eat something
3. Napping.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - just give me a treasure map and a ship and all will be well ...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Still sick ...

... so much so that I'm afraid I've had to pull out of tonight's fantasy reading event in Brighton. I'm really disappointed about that, but the organisers (Short Fuse - thanks, Tara ...) have been incredibly sweet. I do so hate letting people down. But I have no voice and have moved into a new (look away now if you're sensitive!!) actually-being-sick phase and it ain't pleasant.

I suspect that next week's work conference in Exeter is a no-no too. There's no way I can travel for three/four hours or face their usually very intensive (though worthwhile) programme. The office aren't going to be happy, as unfortunately I don't reckon we'll get any money back at this stage. Understandably enough, sigh. I also think that, if I'm still feeling like this on Tuesday, I'll try for another doctor's appointment.

However, some positive facts about today are that I keep managing to snatch an hour's sleep here and there, which is helping. Also Lord H and I have discovered we have some Sudafed in the medicine chest which seems to be better for the catarrh than the Sinutab is. And we've discovered a chesty cough mixture - which is gross but just stops me coughing for a minute or so, which appears to be enough to reduce the sick thing.

And I don't know, but there's a faint possibility that whatever it is that I have might have performed a very very slight shift away from the "this is the worst and most debilitating virus I've had since the terrifying Christmas stomach flu year (never to be spoken of again ..) when my then-lodger proved her sainthood beyond doubt" to "this is a horribly bad and exhausting head cold with stomach implications and there is an outside chance you may just survive it" feeling. I hope so. Still not eating though. Lordy, but I seriously wouldn't wish any of this on my worst enemy (well, maybe my very worst enemy, but hell that's another story ...).

Meanwhile, this week's haiku (which stems from my Tuesday night/Wednesday morning Learn French programme experience):

I have to admit
that colours sound much better
when spoken in French.

Today's nice things (such as they are):

1. The occasional blessed hour of sleep
2. Sudafed
3. Chesty cough mixture
4. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - is that a light or an oncoming train?...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Dry toast and Wallander

Must admit to another rough night last night - my ears were pretty bad again, and there were a couple of really dodgy moments, but I am taking my new pills and the highest dose of Sinutab tablets I'm allowed, and this morning I managed to eat a slice of dry toast. So I think that's progress. Slow progress, I admit, but at least it's there. Plus I had one hour's sleep last night and another hour this afternoon. Oh and there's been more sneezing which looks hopeful.

Mind you, all these extra hours I'm finding in my day means I'm whipping through my Wallander novels at super-speedy rates. First, The Dogs of Riga is the one where Wallander spends a lot of time in Latvia and I remember Lord H complained about the unaccountable lack of weather references. Obviously the weather is only important in Sweden and not in other countries. But I think I'm getting it now. The weather is also an indication of Wallander's state of mind - ah, pathetic fallacy is a marvellous thing (ie weather equals emotion). And the style of writing and Wallander himself grows on me more and more. He thinks a lot and goes with the flow of his own puzzlement and faults. I like that. It's the most political plot I've read so far though.

For my second, it was Firewall (the one that's been on TV, and the cover has a rather fetching piccie of the totally adorable Ken Branagh on it so what more can you want?) and that's been my favourite so far. Deep and complex and gripping, with very elegant ebbs and flows of plot. And the weather references have returned in full, hurrah! Bring on that Swedish snow, eh ... Also I sympathise with Wallander extra specially at the moment, as he's constantly getting flu or worrying about getting flu. Ah, I know what that feels like, Mr W.

This afternoon, I've had fun watching the Grand National - third time lucky on the start and a fun gallop round. Nice to see a first-timer in the race (both horse and jockey) winning too. A triumph for the underdog never goes amiss. At least not in this culture. Ooh and Lord H has come back from the shops with another Wallander novel, as he feared I was running short of them. What a hero.

Tonight, it's Primeval (can't wait) and another night on the sofa, I feel. I still don't feel confident about sleeping in the bedroom as horizontal isn't good plus it's the coldest room in the flat. I fear Lord H will forget what I look like entirely, you know.

Today's nice things:

1. Toast
2. Sneezing
3. Wallander novels x2
4. The Grand National
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - hoping she's not toast ... yet

Friday, April 03, 2009

A visit to the doctor and the Swedish detective

Another relatively short blog today. And one obsessed by illness. Sorry, but that's really all I'm doing at the moment - being ill. Had a really bad night last night and only managed about one hour's sleep as my ears were so painful from the nasty catarrh thing. Coughing was rough too. So as I've now not eaten anything worth the naming of it since Tuesday morning, I rang up the doctor first thing and made an appointment. I just got worried, I think, as usually I get rid of these attacks in a couple of days and I'm now on my fourth day.

Anyway, Lord H took me to the surgery, and the good news is my lungs, ears and throat are okay. It's just the catarrh problem we need to kick back (which I knew, I suppose). So I now have a box of antihistamine tablets (which I haven't taken before) as the doctor hopes that might get me through the worst of it over the next few days. And he told me not to worry about the food thing and to keep drinking. Really, I just want to be well enough for the Sunday reading, and of course I'm supposed to be on conference next week. Honestly the surgery pharmacist greeted me like an old friend when I popped my head round the door - which was brave of her really, seeing as I haven't dared to wash my hair (ears, people, ears!) and I hadn't been arsed to put any make-up on. Well, these days, I'm there often enough - maybe I'm her best customer. I also bought some Complan (a meal substitute for people who can't eat) and have had a mug of that once at home. So I'm less worried about morphing into some kind of super-being who doesn't actually need food, or sleep, now - and at least I've had some vitamins.

However, one good thing about today is I have had the odd bout of sneezing - any catarrh/sinus sufferers out there will know how wonderful that can be! - which gives me some hope. And I've had another hour's sleep on the sofa, though of course it took me a while to get back on an even keel after the bad move of actually lying down, sigh ...

Meanwhile, I've read my first of the Henning Mankell Wallander books (of the four we have - well, Lord H is very fond of them) - this is the original one called Faceless Killers. It's strangely addictive and quirkily written. There's a lot of telling rather than showing, but somehow here that doesn't matter. It's very ... um ... Swedish. Other things that Lord H has noted as possibly being very Swedish is the constant mentions of the weather. And goodness me, what a lot of mentions there are. The man is obsessed with snow, and the possibility of it. Wallander also thinks a lot and has a lot of headaches, as well as carrying out a lot of his investigations in the dark. Well, it is Sweden after all. I enjoyed it. It's perfect reading for when you're ill. I'm onto my next one in the series now.

Today's nice things:

1. Making a decision to go to the doctor
2. Getting a new pill
3. Sneezing
4. Complan
5. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - hoping for another bout of sleep and sneezing, soon please God

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wilderness Rooms and Bleeding Hearts

Am delighted to say that my rather surreal short story, The Wilderness Room, has just been published by All Things Girl webzine and can be found here. I do hope you enjoy the oddity of it all.

However, the bad news is that I'm still sick, though I did manage about 5 hours' sleep last night, waking up at about 4am, which wasn't too awful really. I tackled a very small breakfast, but I think that's about it for today, food-wise. At least the permanent feeling of nausea has faded. I just can't stop coughing and my head, nose and throat are rubbish. Sigh.

As a result of all that, we've decided not to go out to the theatre tonight and Lord H in fact took the tickets to work this morning to see if he could offer them to anyone. I've also cancelled my golf outing and my Alexander Technique lesson tomorrow, as I think leaving the flat will be a bad idea.

Meanwhile, as I've been doing over the last couple of weeks, I've practised the reading of my short story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, though today this was in a voice that sounded as if I've smoked fifty a day for the last thirty years. Which is rather irritating as I have to admit I've never even smoked once (probably the result of watching my mother spend years of my childhood attempting to give it up, which she eventually succeeded in doing ...). The reading is this Sunday in Brighton at the Komedia Club Fantasy reading event. It kicks off at 8pm so if you're in the area, do pop along. It would be lovely to see you. I hope my voice is better by then.

Talking of matters literary, Andrew Taylor's latest stand-alone historical crime novel, Bleeding Heart Square, is kick-ass good. Ruddy brilliant really. Great atmosphere, fascinating setting of the 1930s and the British Fascist Party, and a hugely sympathetic heroine who leaves her husband for a new life and finds rather more mystery than she bargained for. Marvellous twist in the very end too, which is perfect and perfectly set up, but I didn't see it coming. Wonderful. Another one I can recommend wholeheartedly (ho ho - couldn't resist the pun ...).

Today's nice things:

1. Short story publication
2. Getting a few hours' sleep
3. Books.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - wondering if in fact smoking might help ...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The sick writer and a good review

Lordy, what a night. I was as sick as the proverbial and unable to get any sleep at all. I hate my sinuses and I hate catarrh. Both are hellish. I also hate the rubbish that we have to put up with on all-night TV. Why doesn't someone start a Sick Viewing Channel (as it were) where those of us lying on the living room floor and moaning a lot can watch nice warm fuzzy stuff rather than kick-ass action drama and pain?? I'm sure there's a market out there. Mind you, I did enjoy chanting along with the BBC Improve Your French programme at 4am. That was a riot. Voici la boulangerie. Avez-vous une tarte framboise? Though the mention of food did turn my stomach (which really has been turned plenty over the last day or so and could probably produce its own particular exercise video without much practice) and I had to think of something else. I was better off with the colours section: rouge; noir; jaune.

So. No work today, no religion and really not much thought. Probably more than likely due to the fact that my last meal was ... um ... yesterday's breakfast. I do have the odd one-minute hunger bout, but I've learnt over the years that there's absolutely no point in giving in to it until this attack is well and truly over. Funny how you do just know when that is, but you do. And it's not yet, dammit.

I took the precaution yesterday of sending work home though, as I could tell I was gearing up for this, so I've managed to send out the two sets of meeting papers for 20 April when I'm back at work (next week is the annual university administrators' conference and then we shut for Easter). I'm also attempting to sort out an urgent meeting when I don't have access to diaries so I don't think I can do anything about that till tomorrow. Even then, it's something of a muddle, so Lord only knows what will happen there. Sigh.

However, the lovely news which is really cheering me up is that Nancy on the Goodreads site gave A Dangerous Man a longer review which you can read here and I also include it below:

"Young hustler and aspiring artist Michael Jones enters a very intense relationship with rich and gorgeous Jack Hutchinson who commissions his artwork. Michael is an extremely talented, but deeply troubled young man who wants nothing more than to succeed as an artist. Although both men profess to love each other, Michael’s violent past, low self-esteem and destructive emotions clash with Jack’s middle-class values and cool reserve. A Dangerous Man is full of believable and engaging characters, great descriptions of an artist's work and passion, and a vivid portrayal of London and its different social classes. I don't want to say more, lest I reveal too much about this very well written, tense, and disturbing novel."

Gosh, thanks, Nancy - I'm hugely grateful for that. Tense and disturbing, eh? Well, that's me, I suppose ...

Keeping on the subject of books, and in between bouts of TV, I've been utterly gripped by Harlan Coben's Tell No One. A fabulous book and I couldn't put it down (partly because moving was difficult yesterday, but all the same ...) I loved the main character and it's full of twists and turns and high-octane excitement. I loved the whole thing really. I highly recommend it.

For the rest of the day, I've been watching all shapes and colours of TV, and I eventually managed to have a bath at 3pm so look less like someone who's been through a war zone without the aid of a hairbrush. Lord H will be pleased about that when he returns - as his last glimpse of the wife this morning before he went to work must have been something of a shock. Oh, and I've sent out another submission of The Gifting just to keep hope alive, eh. Ho ho.

I was supposed to be seeing Jane W in London tonight, but that's cancelled - on both sides as she's not well either. Hope we're both better soon, Jane!... So I'm hoping for a quiet night, though I'm still not sure about the food potential or whether I'll be able to lie down on the bed for sleep or not. I managed to grab an hour's nap today however from about 2-3pm, so that's keeping me going. We'll see.

Today's nice things (well, I'll try my best!):

1. A review for A Dangerous Man
2. A good book
3. Sending out a submission - well, it's a positive step, of sorts.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - in a sanatorium all of her own