Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gifts, Fruit and luvvies

Big excitement this week as my literary short story, How to Eat Fruit, is now published and you can find out more information here. You can also see the book trailer, which gives a good feel for the story, I think. I'm also very pleased that I've already had my first 5-star review from Sarah Black, who kindly calls it "a lovely, lyrical story". Thank you, Sarah. And an equally big thank you to Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads who is responsible for publishing it.

Still on the book front, I'm very pleased that A Stranger's Touch has received a 4-star review from Rainbow Reviews, and a 4-star review from Diane at Goodreads - thank you, both, for that. And another equal thank you for the 3-star review from Kassa, who's obviously taken a lot of time to think through the story, even though they found it puzzling. In some ways, I find I actually don't mind so much whether people like my work or not (many don't!) just as long as they think about it. Is that a sign I'm coming more to terms with what I do and where I want to go with it? Hell, who knows ...

Other hugely exciting news for me is that the lovely Penelope Cline has come up with yet another stonkingly good cover - this time for The Gifting. Needless to say, I'm utterly delighted with it and think Penelope is a total genius. Am hoping to self-publish this one in late spring or early summer, if nothing else more enticing turns up, so it's good to have something to look forward to for later in the year, hurrah! And thank you, Penelope - again.

Finally, on the writing front, I've uploaded another episode of The Prayer Seeker's Journal where Michael is beginning to take steps to further his religious quest. You also get a cunning picture of my local vicar here in Surrey and his rather nice and bookish house. Write what you know, eh ...

In my other world, Lord H and I have been to see not one, but two astonishingly good plays this week and I can thoroughly recommend them both to you. First up was a rather exciting offering from Alan Ayckbourn in his subtle, witty and very clever play, My Wonderful Day. Something of a slow-burn but oh yes it's worth it. The last half is a corker with a fantastic and beautifully paced ending. The actress who plays the 9-year old child is astonishingly good for a woman who's apparently 28 years old, and I had no problem believing her stage age. The gestures and awkwardness of a child are spot-on. I thought she was a young teenager. And, as a local review mentioned, she can convey whole sentences with her eyes. Fabulous. But panic not - it's not a child's play at all. Simply a very clever take on how adults can seem to children. I also loved the soon to be ex-wife. She was great. Maybe she could have come into the play earlier, but that's my only caveat.

We've also seen the deeply moving and sharply acted Hanging Hooke, a new play about lost 17th century genius, Robert Hooke. Bloody good acting, bloody good play. If you get even a quarter of a chance to catch it, go. You won't regret it. Actor Chris Barnes give a tour de force performance. It was a pleasure to see it.

Oh, and I at last have a second pair of glasses which work for seeing the computer, hurrah! So I can actually see what I'm typing - hell, that might make a difference to my future output indeed. And, okay, it means two pairs of glasses instead of one but if it means I can see to read and write and don't get headaches, then I'm laughing. Ho ho.

And today, Lord H has taken me out to a lovely lunch at The Squirrel in Hurtmore. A pub we love, so here's hoping it doesn't go downhill soon - as seems to happen to all of the pubs we've loved round here. The incredible excitement however was that also having lunch at a table a few down from us, with his young family, was actor and comedian Hugh Dennis. Well, gosh! Luckily Lord H didn't tell me till later on, otherwise I would have been hyperventilating and begging for an autograph all through the meal. I think he's amazing! Still, when I finally got to see him in the corner, I behaved with appropriate style and charm - ie I ignored him, giggled in a fan-girl manner and ran out of the pub, um, hyperventilating. God, but I'm cool. Not. Ah well.

This week's haiku:

Frost glitters the air
and the gardens are sifted
with snow. Bitterly.

Anne's website - always stylish in the face of stardom, as if ...
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - getting to grips with matters of faith, slowly

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marmite meanderings

A brief blog as I'm having an odd day off and tomorrow will be super-busy. Plus I'm just off to my Clarins massage (ah, bliss ...) followed almost immediately by the Bible group. Romans 9 - St Paul in full flow. What could be trickier? Hmm ...

Today at Vulpes Libris, I'm reviewing Kal Bonner's Climbing a Ladder Backwards. Another hmmm ... And a rather disappointing attempt to create a Bridget Jones for the new decade. Additionally disappointing, as I'm utterly convinced that this is not the novel Bonner should have written. It could have been oh so much more. If given a chance to breathe ...

Talking of reviews, I find myself unexpectedly heartened by a negative but incredibly thoughtful review of A Stranger's Touch on Goodreads by Winterjade. Whilst I'm obviously sorry she didn't like the story, I'm much chuffed by the fact that she recognised its ethereal and mystical qualities. That's exactly the effect I was aiming for, and it's marvellous that it's come across - all the more so to someone who disliked the story. Perhaps, as another writing friend has pointed out, it's simply because I've written a "marmite story" (at last! At last!), and people either warm to it or they don't. Either way, it's making me feel quite pleased. Or maybe I am just weird after all? That wouldn't surprise me ...

Earlier in the week, the lovely Clare London was kind enough to showcase me on her Livejournal site and there you can find out a little more about my reasons for writing that marmite story mentioned above(!) and read an extract of it (WARNING: it's erotic). Thank you for the opportunity, Clare, and I hope your birthday month is proving truly bright and bubbly for you!

Finally, here's this week's poetry course offering:

Treasures and traps

The night found me
glooming, at the edge
of a past
not yet explored,
rare dominion
of dreams, sparse country
of flight –

this coloured
storm of the sea,
this history
churning me, yearning me,
onward, downward
and I’m spiralling
somewhere between

earth and sky,

A little strange perhaps but, hey, you should be used to that by now ...

Anne's website - an acquired taste, but harmless really
The Prayer Seeker's Blog - walking on the light side, possibly

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A question of identity

I'm pleased to say that Queer Magazine has just published my short article on GLBT fiction: a question of identity, which takes a look at the prejudices surrounding gay fiction and the women who write some of it. I'd love to know what you think - either through the comments section under the article or indeed here. Let me know.

Meanwhile, A Stranger's Touch has received its first official review which you can find at the Jessewave Review Site. I'm thrilled with the in-depth look Jen has given it - thanks, Jen! - and also by the 4.5 rating, well gosh.

However, at the same time, I'm struggling to place my GLBT fantasy romance short story, Angels and Airheads. It's not what Dreamspinner Press want for their angels anthology (um, again - I'm obviously just not doing it for Dreamspinner at the moment, sigh ...) and it's too short at just under 5000 words for Amber Allure. It's a quirky comedy tale, so if anyone has any ideas about who might like such a beast, I'll be over the moon to hear any suggestions. Thank you.

Turning back to reviews, I'm delighted to say that my review of Lynda Louise Mangoro's inspirational YA novel, Awakening of the Dream Riders, is now at Vulpes Libris so do have a read. It's a great book.

Finally, in the wonderful world of fiction, I've uploaded the latest chapter of The Prayer Seeker's Blog, in which Michael remembers his first experiences of meditation. Not as calming as you might imagine, and certainly not as fictional. But at least it does go to show that God can be quite overwhelmingly scary too, which is something I've always tried to convey, but not many people take notice. Ah well.

And this week's poetry is this:


Red for passion, white
for purity,
black for

Take these colours,
blend them

with your own
and wait
for your skies to expand.

While this week's haiku is:

The day dawns with clouds
and birdsong. We make coffee,
promise to begin.

Anne's website - puzzling over its identity again
The Prayer Seeker's Blog - just when you thought God might be safe, he's ... um ... not

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Agendas and beakers

Thankfully, life seems to be getting more back to normal now - I've hated the lack of routine in the last few weeks. Ruddy snow, eh. Ruins my equilibrium (such as it is). And the equilibrium of plenty of other folk too. Because of it, the year didn't seem to have started properly yet, but now it has. Thank goodness. I even did a full 3 days at work, actually in the office, well gosh. Spring is finally here. Well, maybe not, but dream on, eh ...

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that A Stranger's Touch received a five star review at Goodreads, courtesy of Karin. Thank you, Karin!

On top of that excitement, the delightful Jason Shaw has interviewed me at Gay Agenda webzine and you can read the results of that conversation here. Thanks so much for those great questions, Jason - I thoroughly enjoyed mulling them over!

I've also been in poetic mood. Here's the results of Week 2 of my online poetry course:


Soft thud of lemonade beaker
on tile,

gush of sugary fizz,
sweetness foaming the air.

An indrawn breath –

In her hand, the highest bar
of the nursery chair

presses slow lifelines
on skin

as she tastes childhood wood
and Noddy books.

On her leg
the coming slap’s tingle.

Ah, childhood can be a tricky place, eh. I've also been feeling a little more positive about the year, and have been thinking about colours. Here's something I wrote yesterday:


I notice an unusual amount
of yellow on my desk:
a book; post-it notes, mugs.

They speak of hope,
the possibility of brightness.

Not now, not in January,
but later, when the year

has truly begun.

Which, somehow brings me round full circle. How deeply satisfying.

Anne's website - where things are looking up
The Prayer Seeker's Blog

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Stranger's Touch - published!

The big news of today is that my literary erotic short story, A Stranger's Touch is now published and you can find out further details and buying options at Amber Allure Press. You can also view the book trailer to get a flavour of the story.

I'm also thrilled to say that the lovely Clare London has already read it and has kindly said the following: Just a note to say how much I loved A Stranger's Touch! A lovely lyricism to it, erotically charged, and such delicious tension. I liked especially the way that Red and Robbie's relationship ran underneath it all, how it both contrasted and balanced the hustler/client relationship: the way you showed us the way they worked and lived and loved together, and how the changes in Red affected everyone around him. Thank you so much, Clare - much appreciated! And goodness, but you're a quick reader!

Other nice writing news is that my literary short story, How to Eat Fruit will be published by Untreed Reads Press on 1 February, and you can read the announcement here. So looking forward to that one as well.

Meanwhile, I've received the contract for Give and Take so will send that back to Amber Allure Press this coming week. Post willing. I've also got the ultimate final version of The Gifting sorted, together with a wonderful new blurb, courtesy of my lovely editor Sarah, which you can see on site.

I'm also pleased to say that my short story, A Lonely Place, is now published at the Rose and Thorn Journal so I hope you enjoy the read. It's free!

And, talking of free reads, the final part of Chapter Three of The Prayer Seeker can be found here. And it too has its very own book trailer which you can view here. I'm quite proud of that one - the music is just sooo perfect. In my opinion.

So. Never let it be said that I don't keep busy. Ho ho. Not that I can do much else, mind you, as the car is out of action and I wasn't able to get hold of the RAC at all yesterday - who were way too busy to listen to my cries for help and, understandably, had far more urgent cases to deal with. At least I broke down at home. That was unusually clever of me. However, Lord H has managed to get hold of them this afternoon and they're going to turn up at some point over the next 3.5 hours. I think they meant today, but we'll see, eh.

To keep us all calm and lovely, here's this week's haiku:

Time slips through my skin,
gold and silver droplets fade.
They melt into air.

Anne's website - having a publishing bonanza today
The Prayer Seeker's Blog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where do I start?!?...

Honestly, you wouldn't believe how busy I've been since Sunday. It's as if someone has lit a firework under my bottom (sorry, nasty image, I know, but what can you do?...) and stepped back to watch the display. It's been a rollercoaster ride, my dears, but an exciting one - and my brain is a total whirl. Hmm, as ever then.

So, let me try and be logical (as if). First off, GLBT erotic short story, A Stranger's Touch, has had its publication date brought forward by a week so will now be available on 17 January and not the 24th. Gosh! That's this coming Sunday! Double gosh. As a result, you can now see the book trailer on YouTube, and I am preparing myself for the off, hurrah.

Speaking of book trailer videos, I've been having a deal of fun with them over the last couple of days. I've created a trailer for GLBT light-bondage romance, Give and Take, and for GLBT romantic comedy, The Hit List. Both of these will be uploaded in due course, depending on publication dates. I've also created a trailer for ongoing blogged novel, The Prayer Seeker, which I will upload over the next couple of days.

With that in mind, the latest chapter (or partial chapter - as it's quite long) of The Prayer Seeker's Blog is now viewable, and I hope you enjoy the read.

Keeping to book matters, I'm pleased to say that my literary short story, How to Eat Fruit will be published by Untreed Reads Press on 1 February, and you can now read an extract on my site, plus admire a particularly superb photograph that I intend to use in the book trailer. Which astonishingly I haven't yet made. Hmm, must be slacking then ...

I'm also happy to say that The Bones of Summer received a five star rating on Goodreads, and also Two Christmases received a four star review on the same site. Thank you, George and Clare, respectively - it's really appreciated.

But don't panic! I have done some writing too, and am now at the 14,000 word marker for The Executioner's Cane. Ah, it's all looking dodgy for poor Simon. And where the heck is Ralph when he's needed? The plot thickens. So much so that I have no idea really what will happen, but no doubt something will turn up. One hopes.

Turning to more erudite matters, my review of James McBride's Song Yet Sung is now up at Vulpes Libris. It's a book that certainly made me think, not least about my own potential for literary racism. Possibly. Have a read and let me know what you think ...

Finally, Lord H and I spent an inglorious three hours in the car attempting to get to work across an ice-bound Guildford yesterday. Believe me, it was NOT pleasant. In the end we gave up and went home. At this point, I'd like to thank the very lovely JCB driver who gave us some helpful advice as to how to get up the A3 sliproad incline - where many cars were already stranded and waiting for his kind ministrations. Thank you, Mr JCB - it worked. And yes that was me waving and shouting my thanks out of the window. We will be forever grateful. Sadly, it was not enough to get us entirely home, so in the end we abandoned the car and walked the 25 minute journey back to the flat. Hanging on to each other on the Godalming ice rink for dear life. Luckily, yesterday evening, there'd been enough of a thaw for Lord H to tramp back to the car and retrieve it, unscathed. But I tell you this - no more heroics. Ever!

And here's a poem about fish, which is my first offering on my new online poetry course:


A fish is full of lies
and darkness.
It swims through blue,
smug and sleek
in its own small world.

I have seen a fish leap
under a willow tree
but could not catch it;
fish are ghosts,
a dark blue memory

of how things are:
a tail to steer the darkness
and fins for deceit.
They are slippery, like thieves.

Never touch them.

Anne's website - the filmmaker of the Surrey hills
The Prayer Seeker's Blog

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Give and Take

I'm very happy to announce that my erotic GLBT short story, Give and Take now has a cover and a brand new web page on my site. You can find it, plus a brief extract from the beginning, here. It's due out from Amber Allure Press on 21 March, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'm also happy to say that my second attempt to send back the signed contract for The Hit List to Amber Allure has worked, so thank you to the UK postal service for that - phew!

In other writing news, I've reached the 13,000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane, and as an utter contrast to everything really, the second chapter of The Prayer Seeker is now uploaded and can be found on The Prayer Seeker's Blog. I'm now half way through the third part, but I suspect it will pause for tonight.

Ooh, and much to my joy, earlier in the week I saw a glorious buzzard fly past my window, so that was a real coup. We can't count it though, as Lord H wasn't here to witness this astonishing sight and, as you know, we do of course speak with one voice. Here's hoping it loops round again at some point. It made up for the rather slippery trog down to Waitrose that we went through yesterday - heck, that packed ice is deadly, even in Wellington boots, and especially with shopping. Where's that ruddy thaw??...

This week's haiku:

Ice splinters my mind.
Snow daggers plunge in, spiked, raw,
petrify my skin.

Anne's website - the ultimate in give and take of course
The Prayer Seeker's Blog

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The prayer seeker and other matters

Back to work this week but, due to the astonishing weather conditions, not for long. I managed to get everything up to date - or as near as darnit - on Monday and Tuesday, but then I woke up to a white and icy world on Wednesday, so worked from home. We'd assumed we wouldn't be able to get into the office that day - as the weather forecast was so horrendous - so took stuff with us to do. And what a lot of snow there is. I have to say though that it's been lovely having Lord H at home during the day for longer - we can have lunch together and all sorts of stuff. Just like the 1950s, you know. Not that I remember them of course - perish the thought! I fear though that the weekend weather looks to be no better than today or yesterday, so I shall have to brace myself for a possible train journey and general slog in on Monday. Assuming the University is fully open by then - we're working with essential staff only at the moment, as the campus and indeed most of Guildford is not pleasant. Whilst at home, I've finally got round to updating my job description - something I promised the boss I'd do by ... um ... December (whoops!) - and I think I now have something that more or less corresponds to what I do. But who can say? My brain goes blank when I have to think of such matters, sadly.

Other unexpected events have happened this week. I've started to write what I can only describe as a spiritual novel - about one man's journey to rediscover his more religious past. So yes, before anyone asks, that does make it personal. After a fashion. And I've found in my writing life that I can best express my own truths through the mouthpiece of a male character, so I make no apologies for that. It's simply the way it is. I'm calling it The Prayer Seeker. This time I've decided to blog it as I write, so you can find the first section (sensibly called The Beginning) here. Any comments or suggestions for improvement are very welcome. I'm rather feeling my way on this one.

Keeping to writing matters, I'm also rather pleased to see that my PLR (Public Lending Right) statement - which pays you for how many times your books are borrowed from libraries - tells me that 163 copies of Thorn in the Flesh were unaccountably borrowed between June 2008 and June 2009. Which gives me the grand total of £10, hurrah! Hey, I'm not knocking it - it's five times more than I earned the year before. I shall spend it wisely.

I've also finished the edits to The Gifting and have sent it back to my editor for her comments. I've added in what I hope will prove to be greater depth to Johan's character while I've been doing it, so all this agonising and long-drawn-out trawl to self-publication has been in that way at least useful.

Anyway, I hope everyone is keeping warm in this weather and not doing anything foolish. Stay well.

Anne's website - the snow queen of Surrey

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A birding life and a little Give and Take

Ah, the end of the holiday comes fast apace, alas - work is tomorrow (groan) and I can hardly believe it. Not sure where I put my work head and if it will ever really fit again, to be honest - oh how glorious retirement will be, I suspect ...

Anyway, hanging on to the last of the holiday hours for as long as I can, I'm thrilled to announce that Lord H and I have already spotted 55 new birds in 2010, hurrah. For those of you not in the birding world (wise folk!), this doesn't mean I've suddenly discovered a whole supply of birds we've never seen in our lives before- it's just that the birding count starts afresh with each new year. Sad, eh? But we're not as sad as some who number the birds spotted per county, so any bird can be new countless times depending on where you see it in the country. Ah it's a strange world indeed ...

But here is my list (skip to next para if you can't stand this sort of thing, but I personally find it strangely thrilling): barn owl (happy to spot this as we waited for ages as we only saw one owl late last year - and when it finally swooped over the field at dusk that we were standing in, it was a very haunting sight), blackbird, black headed gull, blue tit, bullfinch, Canada goose, chaffinch, coal tit (nice to see this as they're tricky), collared dove, common gull, coot, cormorant, crow, dunnock, fieldfare, gadwall, goldcrest (ditto as for coal tit, and they're the smallest UK bird - it fell off a branch as we passed so we couldn't fail to notice it), goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greylag goose, greenfinch, green woodpecker, house sparrow, jackdaw, kestrel, lapwing, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, meadow pipit, mistle thrush, moorhen, mute swan, nuthatch, pheasant (they were flinging themselves under the car wheels but we missed them, so I think they count), pied wagtail, pintail, pochard, redwing, reed bunting, ring-necked parakeet, robin, rock dove, rook, shelduck, shoveler, song thrush, starling, teal, tree creeper (ditto as per coal tit and goldcrest notes, but they're bigger, just), tufted duck, wigeon, wood pigeon (the most boring and common bird in the whole universe but it was the very first one spotted in 2010 so had some kind of excitement value for a very, very short space of time), wren (quite hard to spot usually and there were loads of them).

Ah, typing that last paragraph has been like an enema, you know. I feel a very peculiar sense of relief about it all - should I start the counselling sessions again?... Writing news for the start of the new year has been positive too. My gay erotic (with light - very light, so no need to panic unduly - bondage) story, Give and Take, has been accepted by Amber Allure Press for publication on 21 March, so that's something to look forward to. As well as something I couldn't possibly tell church or work of course. Lordy, surely my secret life is now possibly more all-encompassing than my so-called real one?? Anyway I have to think of cover ideas. Hmm, there's a nice challenge, eh.

I was also pleased to see that The Bones of Summer held the Number 60 slot in the Amazon UK gay romance charts for a while - Craig and Paul are ridiculously pleased about that, and Paul may even buy a new bottle of whisky - the Macallan of course - to celebrate. Well, it is the holiday season still. I was also very happy to get an email from one kind reader telling me how much they loved the novel - thank you, Judie. Much appreciated! And that makes you my first 2010 response, so an added pleasure indeed.

This week's haiku:

Ice crunches my boot.
Days flit by like winter birds:
snow goose, eider, smew.

Anne's website - starting the year with a flutter, ho ho