Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Serious Business

Writing News:

I'm happy to say that the lovely Anders at Queer Magazine Online will shortly be offering my gay short story, A Serious Business, as a free download in his new eBook store - so watch this space. And I do love that cover. Thanks, Anders!

I've also signed and returned the contract for Angels and Airheads to Torquere Press so it's great to be part of their author team as well. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me received a 4.5 star review at Goodreads - so thank you to Carole for that. And The Hit List gained a 5-star review at Amazon US, and many thanks to Amos for that one, as well as a 4 star review at Michelenjeff Reviews. Thanks, Michele!

In other book news, Thorn in the Flesh is now available (with free worldwide delivery) from The Book DepositoryThe Secret Thoughts of Leaves is now available in Kindle edition and I'm going through the text of A Dangerous Man to prepare it for its (hoped for) second life. So, never say I haven't been busy and there's surely something there for everyone.

Finally, my review of Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry is now up at Vulpes Libris. A fascinating book, but it rather lost steam in the final section, I fear.

Life News:

The week's excitement so far has definitely been seeing a sparrowhawk in the garden - a first for this year, hurrah! Though I do rather fear for the fate of our nesting blue tits ... we will have to see how it all pans out.

I've also been rather worried by the fact that the hospital didn't like the results of my recent CA125 blood test, so I have to take the damn thing again in May when I go in for my scan. Lordy, but these medical types do like a rummage. I had a bit of a panic (um, a lot of a panic, if I'm being honest ...) when the letter came through, but I was okay last year so I'm assuming it's just my hormone issues playing up again. So I've calmed down now (hurrah) and will have to wait for May. Many thanks to the kind commenters over the last couple of days who've been hugely supportive - much appreciated.

Anyway, today, I've had a lovely time at my Clarins massage, and tonight, Lord H and I are out at Guildford Theatre to see My Darling Clemmie - which I'm looking forward to as I'm a real fan of the glorious Winston. What a superhero.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Holidays and assorted fun stuff

A short blog as I really have to go to bed but here are the edited highlights:

1. We've had a really wonderful few days away.

2. Birds seen for the first time this year are: stone curlews, great bustards (lifetime first - and you can find out more about the reintroduction of these fantastic birds to the UK at the Great Bustard Group), a wheatear, house martins, a mandarin, reed warblers, sedge warblers, Cetti's warbler (the loudest bird on the planet), a whitethroat, a red kite and a swift.

3. Longleat is marvellous - I held my first snake at the snake handling session - a corn snake which was absolutely beautiful and incredibly warm. I loved it. However I passed on the tarantula holding session - mainly by running screaming from the spider handler woman. Ah the shame ...

4. We heard our first cuckoos, and our first ever booming bittern (though we didn't see it).

5. At the Hawk Conservancy, we flew a Harris hawk (briefly) and held a barn owl and a tawny owl. Marvellous. I love birds of prey. They're the best.

6. The Delaneys and Me received a very nice review at Jessewave Reviews - so thank you for that!

7. My review of Simon Van Booy's short story collection, Love begins in winter, is up at Vulpes Libris.

8. I wrote 2 haikus and here they are:

Elegant giraffes,
glorious gaudy ceilings:
Longleat in the spring.

Eight swans drift over
startled cattle: air shimmers
an ancient magic.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leaves, Angels and interviews

Writing News:

I'm happy to say that my literary short story, The Secret Thoughts of Leaves, is now published at Untreed Reads, and you can also read an extract here. And isn't that cover wonderful? I love it.

Other writing news is that my gay fantasy short story, Angels and Airheads, will now be published by Torquere Press, so I'm looking forward very much to that. Further publication details will follow shortly.

I've also now received the author copies of The Hit List and they look great. No, I haven't licked them or slept with them under my pillow, but hell it's been close ...

And in terms of The Delaneys and Me, I'm delighted to say that I've been getting some very positive 4 and 5 star ratings and reviews which you can see at the Goodreads Delaneys page - so thank you for all who've read and made comments. It's very much appreciated.

Finally in this section, I'm happy to say that the very lovely Rick R Reed has uploaded a snapshot interview with me, and you can find out why I write at all here. Enjoy!

Life News:

After the disasters of not getting to Pompeii this week (groan!...), the lovely Lord H is whisking me off from tomorrow for a long weekend at The Bath Arms at Longleat, so I'm really looking forward to that, hurrah! Heck, I think we deserve it. Back on Sunday, so I'll catch up with you then. I hope you all have a totally fabulous few days.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, April 18, 2010

From the ashes of disaster ...

Writing News:

Seeing as I am (fairly evidently) not having my week's holiday in Pompeii (ah the irony of it all ...) - of which more later - here's some happy writing news: my gay erotic short story, The Delaneys and Me, is now published by Amber Allure, and you can find out more and purchase a copy here - there's a 35% discount for the first week so it's worthwhile rushing! Plus, for TODAY only, Jessewave Reviews is offering a FREE copy of the story to one lucky winner if you leave a comment at her review site here - good luck to all, and may the best man or woman win. Finally, for your viewing pleasure, don't forget to click onto the book trailer - enjoy!

I'm also very pleased to see that Give and Take is now available in Kindle edition at Amazon US. And that The Bones of Summer received a 5-star rating at Goodreads - many thanks, Tracy.

Other exciting news is that Untreed Reads is having a 25% discount off ALL their books until 22 April, and this includes three of my literary short stories, amongst others - so do pop across and browse their bookshop - but don't forget to use the coupon code FBFRIENDS at checkout. Have fun!

Finally in this section, amidst yesterday's holiday disappointments, I was delighted to receive a proof copy of Clare Morrall's latest novel, The Man Who Disappeared, from the lovely Carole at Sceptre Press - I'd chatted for ages with Carole at the recent Sceptre event and said how much I love Morrall's work, and so I was thrilled to receive this surprise package in the post - thanks, Carole! It's much appreciated, and I can't wait to get my reading teeth into that one ...

Other News:

Yes, well, what can I say? The delicious irony of not being able to go on my longed-for week's holiday to Pompeii & Naples because of volcanic ash has indeed not escaped me. But I really can't recommend the existential pain of unpacking when you ... um ... haven't actually been anywhere yet. Don't do it, folks! It's not pleasant. Though it does save a hell of a lot of washing and ironing, so I suppose there's always a silver lining to every volcanic cloud. Page & Moy promise us that refunds will be sorted on Monday, as we can't reschedule as this coming week was the only week we could do, Lord H's and my schedules being hugely tricky to juggle, alas. Ah well. Maybe Pompeii next year? Who can tell?

So we have spent the weekend having a mini-holiday and drinking champagne to give ourselves an essential lift - where planes could not perform that task. Yesterday, we had a lovely day out at Knole House in Sevenoaks and managed to spot two new birds for this year: a redstart and a willow warbler, hurrah! We also treated ourselves to a truly scrumptious holiday cream tea and admired the gorgeous butterflies, which this weekend have included several orange tips and a light scattering of brimstones. Bliss. Plus we just managed to get back in time for Dr Who, which was thankfully a whole lot better than last week's disastrous episode, hurrah! Phew, as I was starting to lose the faith a little, perish the thought ...

Today, our mini-non holiday continued with a day spent at Wisley Gardens - more butterflies and a riot of colour in the flowers, but way too many people wandering around the arts & crafts fair. We had to eat in the cafe, shock, horror! And they ran out of salad to serve with our pizza so it looked very lonely on the plate, sigh. Mind you, I argued successfully at the tills that we should have had the salad as it was part of the meal, and they took £2 off, so I am indeed the Bargaining Queen of Wisley, ha!

However, Wisley had its revenge in the end, as halfway round our afternoon stroll, I came over all peculiar and had to take a stomach pill in order to make it back to the car at all. I am a slave to my stomach pains, sadly. Anyway, I'd just been admiring the tee-shirt on a small boy which said: Zero to Naughty in Six Seconds, so after a few moments of sitting on a bench, groaning and wondering if I was going to be sick or worse (thankfully I was neither), I told Lord H that I should have a tee-shirt that said Zero to Sick in Three Seconds. However, Lord H reassures me that such a talent is merely an expression of my particular Super-Power, and I am saving many other people from being sick by taking it all on myself. Now, there's a thought. Though, like Lord H, I'd really rather have the ability to fly or be invisible. Ah well.

So, back to work tomorrow (sigh), but here's this week's haiku, inspired by events near Heathrow Airport, where apparently they can hear the skylarks for the first time in living memory:

All the planes are stilled.
Instead the song of skylarks
laces the bright sky.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contracts and consultants

Writing News:

A lovely surprise today to receive my author copies of The Hit List - they look amazing. I've packed up one for a friend, one for my mother and one for a reviewer, and plan to post these off tomorrow, hurrah.

Other nice news is that I've sent off my contracts for Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle (gay fantasy romance) to Amber Allure Press, and for literary short story, The Secret Thoughts of Leaves, to Untreed Reads Press - so thanks to both publishers for this.

Depending on volcanic ash and planes (of which more shortly), I may be on holiday at the weekend, so this is also a reminder that gay erotic short story, The Delaneys and Me, is published on Sunday 18 April by Amber Allure. I hope you'll enjoy the read.

Strangely, I've also started writing a straight erotic short story (well, gosh!), whose title - The Boilerman and the Bride - has been supplied by Ruth at work (thanks, Ruth!) I've only written the first 130 words so it's early days, but I think I'm going to enjoy this one. And, on a less happy note, along with a small group of like-minded authors, I'm now in the middle of extracting myself from a contract for an earlier novel. The response to our reasonable request has been as expected by us all, sigh. The plot indeed thickens! Meanwhile, we carry on, being polite but firm.

Life News:

I've had to go back to my lovely gynae consultant this week, and she's moved hospitals from Guildford to Kingston, so I had to face the trauma of a longer drive to a new place - never my best concept, I admit. I arrived hugely early as parking is tricky, but at least I got a space. Thank the Lord for school holidays and a therefore easier journey. The upshot is that I'm doing okay at the moment - despite what the GP said ... - though I'll need regular check-ups once every 6 to 12 months or so. I also took another CA125 blood test while I was there so hope that's okay, and she's booking me in for a scan. Hey ho, and roll on the menopause, say I.

This morning, I've popped into see my neighbour in his Home in Woking - had a lovely chat and a stroll round the really quite beautiful gardens. The tulips are out! How glorious. The big news is that they're getting tropical fish in the corridor outside his room - I am hugely envious as I've always rather fancied fish. So very calming. Aren't they good for hormones? Surely they must be.

And, all things being equal and if the wind (ho ho) is in our direction, Lord H and I will be off to Naples on Saturday for a week's holiday, including one trip to Pompeii and one to Herculaneum. I'm so looking forward to it - or will be depending on the current wave of volcanic ash sweeping over northern Europe, deep deep sigh. All flights are cancelled from the UK until Friday, so I really don't know what will happen on Saturday. I do so hope we can get there, as I've always longed to go ... However, at the moment I'm trying not to get too anxious or excited, and hoping for the best. As ever.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Birds, butterflies and bars

Writing News:

I'm pleased to say that my gay erotic short story, The Delaneys and Me, is now up at Amber Allure Press although it's not published until Sunday 18 April. I'm noting it now as I'll be away on holiday at that point so won't be blogging until I get back.

I'm also happy to say that Give and Take received a very positive review at Tam's Reads - you'll need to scroll down a little to see it. Many thanks, Tam!

And I've uploaded the final part of Chapter Ten of The Prayer Seeker's Journal where Michael is still dealing with the ex-wife.

Finally in this section, there are two haikus this week, which I hope you enjoy:

Grey heron flying,
painted across the bright sky:
harbinger of spring.

The peace of water
sinks into my skin: sunlight,
air and deep silence.

Other News:

I had a very enjoyable time representing Vulpes Libris at the Sceptre Press Book Bloggers party at the Hospital Club Bellini Bar in London on Friday afternoon. Thankfully I don't think they quite realised which Bookfox I actually am, or they very politely ignored it, and we all had a very good time talking with passion and commitment about books. We stayed so long that they had to throw us out in the end. Plus we all got a book goody bag, hurrah - thank you to the lovely Polly et all for that. It was nice also to meet some of their newer authors and fellow-bloggers too. I was on my best behaviour and said nothing about my thoughts concerning their new and distinctly dodgy marketing approach, but I was on the other hand (sorry, in-joke!) happy to say that I was very much enjoying the proof book they sent me, hurrah! I hope we can all do it again sometime, and that other publishers might take the proverbial leaf from Sceptre's party book. Speaking with my failing-would-be-mainstream-writer hat on though (ah how well it fits me), it was really incredibly refreshing to have any kind of conversation at all with a mainstream publisher that doesn't involve them either ignoring me, laughing at me or insulting me in suitably bitchy fashion, ho ho. And, yes, all that has happened in the past. Thank goodness I've now found publishers to whom my work is far more suited, eh. Saves all the pain really.

Yesterday, Lord H and I did a quick recce to find out how to get to Kingston Hospital - as I have to go to see my nice gynae woman there on Wednesday and I've been hyperventilating for days about the terrors of having to find somewhere new. Having done the journey once though, it looks fairly straightforward and the only real problem (apart from the inevitable traffic) is going to be finding someplace to park when I'm there, groan. Wish me luck ...

We then went on to spend a very pleasant day at Barnes Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, where we managed to spot sand martins, a little ringed plover, a great black-backed gull and lots of great crested grebes - all new for this year. I was also thrilled to see my second butterfly of the year - a common white. We spotted a beautiful peacock butterfly on the neighbour's chimney earlier in the week ... Plus Barnes actually had chicks, including some gorgeously bizarre moorhen chicks - and yes they really do look like that. Amazing.

Meanwhile, we've suffered the appalling disaster of yesterday's disappointing Dr Who episode - it felt like a nine-year old had been allowed to write it with no supervision and was, frankly, laughable. We trust the writer has been cast into the mouth of the beast, and that next week's offering will have at least more class. I can only admire the actors for not running screaming from the set, sigh ... Mind you, there is one good thing that came out of it - Lord H thought the idea of casting naughty schoolchildren into the Mouth of Hell where they are never seen again was a brilliant idea and all schools should take it up at once. That'll teach the little beggars not to learn their sums, eh ...

Talking of which, we have survived the traumas of being responsible for coffees at today's Family Service!! Pause for applause - go on, you know you want to. We practised our polite religious smiles before we went and they seem to have done the trick. It was, to be honest, less problematic than I'd feared, though we did have to sing a wretched Graham Kendrick song. Deep sigh. He must be the only songwriter around who's utterly unable to put the right number of words in a tune, and it's all so relentlessly glittery and bland. I did find myself turning to the song again to see when he was born (1950, if you're asking) and therefore when he might retire from the fray, but then thought that was probably way too bitchy even for me. Surely not! I am indeed the soul of loving kindness and warmth. Well, in my dreams anyway ...

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Reviews, ratings and reflexology

Writing News:

Am pleased to say that Give and Take has a new review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so thanks for reading, Kassa - much appreciated!

At the same time, The Hit List gained a 4 star rating at Goodreads, so that's very heartening too. Which is good as I must admit I've been feeling rather hopeless this week - the post-Easter droop, I fear. Ah well. Other good news is that Amber Allure Press have accepted my gay space travel story, Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle, and will be publishing it on 18 July, hurrah! Maybe it's time to stop drooping around like a sick puppy then ...

And I've finally (finally!) cancelled my subscription to the increasingly dreadful Mslexia Magazine - it's so terribly 70s and pretentious pseudo-feminist, not to mention headmistressy, these days that I couldn't even bear to take the last issue out of its wrapper before disposing of it. However no more copies will arrive now so I feel truly liberated. Perhaps time to burn my bra then. Yikes.

Life News:

Am rather stressed out with church at the moment - Lord H and I appear to have to do the coffee rota this Sunday and it's the family service, and I absolutely hate the family service, but don't feel there's enough time to get someone else. In our defence, it wasn't the FS when we signed up - the pesky religious powers have changed the damn thing! The woman running the service also rang us up and it appears to be chock-full of children, sigh, so am dreading the whole thing already. If I don't feel strong enough to have to pretend to be normal once more, I might just send Lord H into the lion's den, and pray a lot, ho ho ... I feel an attack of the vapours coming on.

Anyway, I've had a lovely reflexology session today and I feel slightly more balanced (hurrah!). Plus I've had lunch and a pleasant afternoon's shopping with Robin & Liz, so feel like a more integrated member of society. Hmm, I'll have one delivered then ... And, thanks to the true shopping genius of Robin, I have a new handbag and purse, 4 new tee-shirts and a lovely present for Liz's upcoming 60th birthday (so here's hoping she's not going to be reading this). I am indeed - with the right support - a genius.

Anne Brooke - a genius in disguise
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - in existential mood

Monday, April 05, 2010

Hit Lists, hot tips and haikus

Writing News:

I'm happy to say that The Hit List has received a very thorough 4-star review at Goodreads and I'm immensely pleased with that. Thanks, Kassa.

At the same time, Give and Take gained an "Excellent" grade at The Well-Read Book Blog so that's been a nice boost too. I was also thrilled to see that it's reached the dizzy heights of Number 4 in the Amber Allure March bestsellers list, well gosh, so thank you to everyone who's bought it, and I hope you've enjoyed the read.

Keeping to the subject of gay fiction, I've now chosen my Queer Magazine Hot Gay Fiction Tip for April, and you can read all about it at Queer Magazine Online. A great read and particularly enjoyable if you have a penchant for the military!

Turning to matters rather more spiritual, Vulpes Libris has now published my review of Nicholas Buxton's Tantalus and the Pelican which is an excellent book on monastic spirituality written by a fascinating man. Well worth a look indeed.

And here, rather later than usual due to Easter, is last week's haiku:

The grey dog trots by,
mouth holding two red mittens
for warming the paws.

Life news:

Easter's been fun. We spent the day with Mother on Good Friday - a penance for all involved indeed! - and I've been rather startled to see that Mother and I bought ourselves the same presents. Hmmm, must be something in the genes. If only we'd known, we could have saved all that wrapping paper, dammit. Ah well. We shall both be smelling of raspberry body cream in the future then.

On Saturday, Lord H and I spent a lovely day at Pulborough Brooks, though we managed to avoid the child influx, thank the Lord. Birds spotted included stock doves and a little gull (both lifetime firsts), plus skylarks and swallows. Swallows!! Heck, they're early. And we also spent some time gazing at an adder sleeping on the grass, which was fabulous. You don't see adders very often. Amazing.

Anne Brooke - feeling chocolatey ...
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - in quiet mood

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Chocolate, wolves and bones

Happy Easter weekend! I hope you all have a glorious time and manage to avoid the worst of the rather bizarre weather we're having at the moment. Did summer already happen and I missed it??

Writing News:

I'm really thrilled with the cover art for my upcoming GLBT short story, Martin and The Wolf, which will be published by Amber Allure Press on 13 June 2010. You can also read an extract from the beginning here.

What with having to update my website with the new information, I've also improved my Short Stories page at the same time so it's now divided into 4 categories:

GLBT stories
Literary stories
Biblical stories
Comic stories

Of course, some of these fall into more than one category but I've taken that into account and put the various stories wherever I think they fit. I hope you enjoy the new look.

Meanwhile, Give and Take gained a 4-star rating at Goodreads, and The Bones of Summer was for a while at Number 93 in the Amazon UK gay romance charts, hurrah!

Finally, I'm pleased to say that All Romance Ebooks now stocks Dancing with Lions, How to Eat Fruit and The Girl in the Painting. All of which is very good news indeed.

Ooh, and I've just heard that Maloney's Law is in Elisa Rolle's Top 10 GLBT Referrals List for March, so that's lovely to hear - thanks, Elisa!

Other news:

I rather enjoyed the University Administrators' conference, which I returned home from yesterday. Though I must say my skills in the Learn To Juggle seminar were sadly lacking. The poor tutor had to put me back down to two balls when he saw the chaos I was creating with three. And, what with all that jumping about and picking up my lost balls for an hour and a half, I have to say my legs are aching in places I never even knew I had. I must be so unfit! It was so bad that yesterday when I popped into Tesco on the way home and accidentally dropped something out of my trolley, I could barely hunker down to pick it up. And there was a hell of a lot of groaning ... Really, you don't even want to know how long it took me to get myself out of bed this morning, and how Lord H laughed at the sight.

Other exciting conference news is that my room actually had a bath. A bath!! What luxury. All the other times I've been, I've had a seriously frightening shower that's so powerful that it's all but blasted me to the other side of the room and I've been unable to breathe, such has been the force of the water. So a bath was bliss indeed. Must be a sign of my age, I fear.

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to see The Graduate at the Guildford Theatre, so are preparing ourselves for "an evening of impure theatrical delight", as the Evening Standard puts it. All that and nudity too, hurrah!

Happy Easter!

Anne Brooke - impure but utterly delightful, naturally
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - the essential Easter read