Thursday, March 29, 2012

Canes, colds and Christmas

Book News:

Phew! I have today finished the second round of edits for The Executioner's Cane, the third in the Gathandrian fantasy trilogy, and sent it off to the lovely and very talented Sarah Abel for her comments. It feels very much like all three books make an actual saga now and hang together better than I thought they would. Heck, I'm beginning to feel very satisfied with this project. In the end, even if only a handful of people read the trilogy, I still believe it's the best work I've ever done, and I'm quietly pleased. I'm really glad I've followed it through after all.

I'm also happy to announce that gay romance Angels and Airheads, published by Musa Publishing, is now available at All Romance Ebooks, and many thanks to those readers who have already purchased a copy. I do hope it gives you a smile or two along the way, as it's meant to. It's also showcased today at QMO Books, so I'm thrilled about that, thank you!

Meanwhile, it may not be the season, but gay romance Two Christmases has a 20% discount direct from the publisher for THIS WEEK ONLY, so don't miss out ... And over at Vulpes Libris, I write a fan letter to Anthony Horowitz celebrating his marvellous Sherlock Holmes follow-up, The House of Silk. Great stuff and you must all rush out and buy it at once - it's a classic.

Meditation poetry this week is:

Meditation 634

A king and his mother
are a powerful force:

their words and deeds
make or mar most.

The father has little
influence of course

for his legacy’s
only a ghost.

Meditation 635
Sunlight slips like a sigh
between the curtains
and into my sleeping eye

for the world outside
is calling me
to fling the shutters wide

and bring in the light
so there are no more shadows
and no more night.

Meditation 636
Once in a while
the instructions left by others
can be useful

so it is safe
to let go
our single thought

and admit
we are not yet past
the gift of being taught.

Life News:

Exciting garden news is that my Paris heuchera has grown another flower, making a grand total of two, hurrah! Now the Milan one needs to catch up and all manner of thing shall be well, as it were ... I'm growing fond of my heuchera city names collection - small at the moment, I know, but I'm planning to get more as and when I can. I fear an obsession is commencing, hey ho ... but a healthy one, at least. Other good news is that I've found another clump of tulips hidden behind other plants, so am looking forward to seeing if they manage to make it through the undergrowth, and if so what colour they might be. Oh, and I've also finished mulching the whole of the shrubbery, which is very satisfying indeed. I am the Mulching Queen of Elstead, you know.

Yesterday we finally put all of the furniture back in K's study so the house is now back to its pre-flood status, hurrah! And we also enjoyed the last of our Lent courses at church - though I'm not as fond of the concept of community as I am of prayer, to be honest. Then again neither K nor I are team players, which is probably why we get on so well.

Today, I have sadly developed something of a cold (bah!) but am battling it bravely with Lemsip, Sudafed, Manukah honey, castor oil, Echinacea, Vitamin C, Lucozade and the power of prayer. Do you think I might be overdoing it?... Anyway, I'm off to London tonight, come what may, to see Jane W for a curry and catch-up, so I and my supply of tissues are very much looking forward to it. Come to think of it, a curry might well be kill or cure, hey ho.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gardening and gratitude

Life News:

It must be spring. The fountain is back in the shrubbery and we have done huge amounts of gardening. A trip to Wisley for the Spring Fair yesterday furnished us with dwarf tulips, a red carnation, heuchera (Milan, as we already have Paris - I'm determined to grow my heuchera city names collection as they're the ones with the best flowers), three types of mint and a whole plantation of herbs. We've planted all these now in various places, with the mint plants going in one special pot, and the herbs going in another. Oh, and I also bought another shrub with pink flowers for the shrubbery.

Meanwhile the blossom on the apple tree at the front is looking utterly glorious and the bees love it too. If you stand underneath the tree in the afternoon, it's like being in a bee hive, it's so loud.

Today, K and I have, variously, taken out or radically pruned a couple of shrubs at the back which weren't doing any good to anyone, built a fence, and weeded, watered and mulched the shrubbery - the dark mulch is great, as it really brings out the variety of greens and the pink flowers beautifully. Will definitely be getting more of that one. I've also potted up some osteospermum plug plants to add to our collection in the summerhouse. We're also thinking of getting some red, white and blue phlox for the front especially for Jubilee Year, just to show willing, as you do! Oh, and I've cleared the weed tip near the fence at the front and we're hoping to put a euphorbia in as it's very shady there.

So, gardening city this weekend - well, it's certainly been the weather for it! There is other news, however, for the non-gardeners amongst us. I had a lovely time at Elstead Writers yesterday (hello, all!) and really can't wait for the next one. Such an amazing group. This weekend the clocks went forward so I'm missing my hour, that's for sure. However, I'm not the only one - the organist at church this morning didn't turn up until the second hymn, and though I think we bravely battled our way through the first one unaccompanied, it was definitely better when he arrived, phew. Plus K and I have bravely signed up to the electoral roll, which is usually the sign for imminent spiritual disaster to come on my part, but I'm hoping not, as I do like the church ...

On Friday, K was so utterly keen for cake that he actually cut out two perfect greaseproof paper circles and left them on top of the cake mix before he went to work. Ha! So no pressure then - but I think I muddled through and the lemon drizzle cake is going down a treat, I believe. I'm storing it in my new super-large cake storage tin, and am well on the way to becoming Elstead's Domestic Goddess, ho ho ...

And, inspired by the Lent course last week, I've placed two gratitude bowls on the hall shelf. There are lots of lovely white glass beads in one of them and every time I think of something nice that's happened, I put a bead in the emptier bowl. It's great fun and this weekend it's been filling up nicely, hurrah. That said, I did manage to spill the coffee over the living room floor, and wondered if I should return a bead to the original bowl, but I do understand it's not in the spirit of the thing, alas - and besides the floor downstairs is wood, so anything spilt is easy enough to wipe up, thank goodness.

Book News:

Don't forget there's still 30% discount on many of my Untreed Read books till the end of March, so if you fancy a literary, biblical or sci-fi story, now's your chance. I was also really pleased with a lovely review at Goodreads of The Heart's Greater Silence. Many thanks, KZ, for that. And I've been lucky enough to be one of the ten experts giving their opinion about publishing at the Book Marketing Buzz Blog.  Interesting times ahead, that's for sure.

And don't forget you can still win a FREE e-copy of fantasy novel The Gifting if you sign up for my newsletter. Go on - you know you want to ...

This week's meditation poem is:

Meditation 633
There is no requirement
laid upon us

to battle with the shadowed
mesh of the days to come

when each moment,
brightly lived and breathed,

possesses every treasure
to the utmost sum.

The Sunday haiku is:

Sunshine slows my day.
It soaks through my fragile skin,
soothes my cares away.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandria Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Canes, carpets and sweet-smelling deer

Book News:

I'm continuing with the edits for fantasy novel The Executioner's Cane and am now on Page 213 of 293, so not bad going really. Meanwhile there've been a couple of nice reviews for The Heart's Greater Silence, including a 4-star one at Goodreads, and a 5-star one at Amazon US. Many thanks to both those readers for their comments.

You can also find an interview with me at Joo's Book Reviews, in which I reveal the one (of many) things that make me feel really stupid ... And many of my stories at Untreed Reads have a 30% discount for MARCH only, so buy early buy often. In addition, if you buy a story at Untreed Reads this month, then you get another one at half-price, so what could be nicer? Enjoy.

At Vulpes Libris today, you can find my review of Katy Gardner's magnificent psychological thriller, Hidden. Definitely one to get, in my opinion. I've thoroughly enjoyed all the novels of hers I've read.

Finally in this section, you can read all about my views on the pleasure of picnics over at the Cupoporn website today. Mmm, bring on those strawberries and cream ...

Recent meditation poems are:

Meditation 631
It’s not the arrival
that teaches wisdom
but the slow slog
of getting there

just as it’s not the answer
that’s important
but the simple trust
of saying the prayer.

Meditation 632
Asking for help
is to be vulnerable,
to cast our solid assurance
of self away

and admit to the vast
eternal sky
that we alone
are not enough today.

Life News:

Much to our joy, the scaffolders have taken the scaffolding away, so we at last have our house and our TV back, hurrah! It'll be great not to have to carry the computer up and down stairs in order to watch television in a civilised way. To my complete surprise, the lovely roofers then came back and did a thorough sweep and tidy around the whole house so it now looks better than even before we moved in, well gosh. Plus they say they're going to pop back to clean the windows as well - so I'd best get some more cake in indeed. Perhaps it's the cake they miss, eh ...

Yesterday was lovely as I took a half-day off and, because the weather was so magnificent, sat in the garden for most of the afternoon just enjoying the sunshine and the flowers. Bliss.

Not only that but the Lent course I've been dreading all week (due to the horrors of the last one) was actually extremely good indeed. Obviously Dr Borg is far better when he's not trying to explain his dodgy theology (yikes!), and just sticking to subjects about which he seems really rather inspirational - in this case, prayer and Christian practice. It was a very rich and intensely interesting evening and we all had a great time. Plus the vicar will be putting on a day's Introduction to Contemplative Prayer in April, which I am desperate to go to, as I really love silence. And, beyond that, there's a six week series on contemplative prayer and meditation planned in the church, so I'm scheduling that in too, hurrah. Blessings do indeed abound, as they say.

Today, the carpet has been refitted and thoroughly cleaned, and I'm impressed with the results. Heck, you can't even see the earlier port wine stain, so in a way the flood did us a favour. Sort of - I definitely don't want another one, please!... And I have spent a happy five minutes or so spraying Brut deodorant all along the garden fence as our garden expert says it will keep the deer out. I do hope the neighbours weren't watching though, as it surely must have looked entirely odd. Even for us. So the garden now has a distinctly 70s tang, and it will either do the trick or we'll have the best-smelling deer in the neighbourhood. Time alone will tell ...

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Further garden delights

Life News:

Our roof is now complete, and very lovely it looks too! The scaffolding and skip is due to be taken away early next week and then our house will be our own again, hurrah. Mind you, the roofers have been lovely, and I think I'm going to miss the company at the end of the week when I'm usually in the house on my own. They've been great fun. When they said goodbye yesterday and gave us the invoice, they also very sweetly handed us a bottle of wine for being such lovely customers. Ahh, I felt quite moved actually. Mind you, one of them said he'd miss being here as he never got cake at home, so I fear there might be domestic rumblings in his house in the very near future. Oh well ...

Yesterday, I donned my apron, got out my electric whisk (steady, people ...) and made a chocolate swirl cake with icing. I am indeed a genius. Which of course you already knew. I have to say it tastes marvellous and I am hugely proud of my efforts, as is K. The only slight set-back is it's so tall that it won't fit into the cake tin, so I've had to surround it with tinfoil and hope for the best. Anyone know anywhere that sells tall cake storage tins, please do let me know!

Also yesterday, K and I went to hear Guildford Choral Society sing Handel's Messiah at Guildford Cathedral - and very lovely it was too. It's one of my favourite choral works and you can't really go too wrong with it, but I thought the choir were magnificent last night. Well done to all. Plus we had a great time at the post-concert party, so thank you to L & J for hosting that. It was great to catch up with everyone.

So today we've had a much-needed lie in and then spent the rest of the day doing garden stuff. We visited a local garden centre and I have now joined The Gardening Club as the special offers and discounts are just so good that we couldn't resist them. Plus it's free to join so what could be better? Whilst there, we bought another shrub for the shrub garden which we've now planted. Plus we stocked up on manure (as you do) for potting and for the roses, and also added in a whole lot of plug plants for potting up for our hanging baskets and containers. These we have now put into the necessary pots. The kitchen's a mess, but what the heck, eh.

Not only that but we took a soft stem cutting from our new shrub so I've potted that up too and am hoping for the best. Oh, and the heuchera I planted last year has started to flower again and my potted silver birch is coming into bud. So not dead after all, well gosh!

Book News:

Not much going on really, except to say that I've drafted an article for one website and need to do a set of interview questions for another which I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into. In the meantime here's the Sunday haiku (written just after yesterday's concert):

I know only this:
music clarifies the soul
in the harshest storm.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian fantasy trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gay marriage and the grumpy churchwoman

Life News:

As the gay marriage debate hots up, I'm pleased to see that the Church Times journalists on the whole don't really get what the fuss is all about. Isn't it quite rightly a done deal apart from the shouting? I'm also perplexed by the recent old-fashioned emphasis on something only being a "marriage" if you physically have children together. Um, does that mean I'm not actually married because neither K nor I want or like children and indeed had that text in the marriage service removed as neither of us wished to say it? For that decision, we must surely be the lowest of the low!

I also don't understand the argument that same-sex marriages threaten the sanctity of marriage. Um, as this wonderful cartoon tells us, what actually threatens the sanctity of marriage is infidelity, alcoholism, addictions, physical and mental abuse, and lying, amongst other factors. I would say that same-sex marriages would enhance the sanctity of marriage, and indeed might encourage us hetero bods to try and get it right more frequently, especially in a society where two out of three marriages currently end in divorce. Hush my mouth, eh ...

Speaking of which, there's a great blog from the talented Jason Shaw about gay marriage which is definitely worth reading. Well said, Jason. Turning to another issue in the gay community, I'd like to highlight this worthy cause to help support LGBTQ youth. All donations welcome!

Meanwhile, I'm really struggling with the Lent course, groan. The theology of the Marcus Borg video seems highly dodgy to say the least. Many apologies to the man, but I simply don't respond well to skewed debate, manipulation of content and the use of a sparkling web of words as a trap. I've come across it too often in the church in the past to give it my full attention now. Besides, I can't really take seriously the theology of someone who neither likes the physical resurrection of Christ much, nor believes that sin is a viable concept. Um, in my opinion, our bodies are hugely important, and if there isn't any sin, then Christ is a liar and there was no point in Him dying. Which, of course, is a theology everyone is entirely welcome to believe but just don't expect me to join in with much enthusiasm. Ho hum.

So, all in all, the Lent course is very draining, and I'm glad there are only two sessions of it left. Though, as I said previously, it has helped me to nail my colours to my own particular theological mast, which is always interesting. So perhaps it's not all bad, eh. But I probably won't be sending the good Dr B an invitation to our Easter service, hey ho.

But to cheer me up, we have a brand-new phone system, which is so advanced that we fear we can't keep up with it. There are four receivers (four!!) so we can have one in my study, one in the bedroom, one in the hall and one in the kitchen, well gosh. They even tell you the time, and you can get different ringtones for different people who ring you. We've decided my mother should be like a warning call, so I can prepare myself ...

This afternoon, I've nipped in to the doctor's as the time is due (yikes!) when we have to review my anti-depressant medication. I have to admit I've not been looking forward to scaling it down as I've been so much better with it - life-changingly better. But the doctor was very sweet and we've agreed that when I next renew my prescription, I'll be given the 10mg Citalopram rather than my current 20mg ones, and see how I am after a month. Seems reasonable to me - maybe I'm just getting overly worried about it (surprise, surprise, eh). Though it is good to see this article about depression which I thought was highly astute. And the more these things are out in the open, the better.

Plus I have to confess I appear to be entering my peri-menopausal zone (turn aside now if this is too traumatic for you, though of course you're welcome to claim I'm way too young for it, ho ho ...), with the dreaded itchy skin and irregular/unusual periods. Ah what it is to be a woman, eh. I remember asking K years ago if he'd still love me when I'm grumpy, sweaty and awkward. His reply was that he wasn't sure he'd notice any difference, so maybe I'm just growing into my real self, hey ho.

I must also praise the customer service skills of the Co-operative Visa people who were total charm and efficiency on the phone today and solved my issue in seconds. Good for them - and a very pleasant surprise. Tonight, K and I are out at the theatre (hurrah!) seeing Bette and Joan - so hang onto your hats for a night of perfect glamour, wit and bitchiness. Much like any normal night here in the outback really.

Book News:

Over at Vulpes Libris Reviews we're having a high old time. Yesterday, we were recommended by The Times as a good book review website, a wonderful surprise which drove our site hits up from the usual 1000 per day to 2250. Well, gosh, I hope our new visitors enjoyed the read! And it's a nice balance with the previous recommendation we had a couple of years back in The Guardian, so the universe is indeed happy.

Not only that but the marvellous Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard, which I reviewed last year on site, has just been longlisted for the Orange Prize, so I'm revisiting it here. Hey, we Book Foxes can definitely tell a good book when we read one. Well done, Ms Stothard, and if there's any justice at all, you'll be on the shortlist before you know it.

I'm delighted to say that my literary horror story The Gift of The Snow has now been accepted for publication by Untreed Reads, so I'm looking forward to working on that one at some point. I'm continuing to work on the edits for The Executioner's Cane and have now reached the dizzy heights of page 50, good for me.

In the meantime, the first in the series, The Gifting, is currently available for only £1.91 at Amazon UK, so snap up a bargain while you can. On the other hand, until the end of March, if you sign up to my quarterly newsletter, then you can get your very own copy free! Happy reading.

You can also find gay thriller The Bones of Summer available at a 20% discount until 20 March at Dreamspinner Press. And one of my writing friends, Mark Wagstaff, is offering free Amazon vouchers if you help him to choose the title of his new short story collection. He's a great and powerful writer so do have a go, and good luck.

I'm also very excited that I've booked my hotel accommodation for the upcoming GLBTQ UK Writers & Readers Conference in September. I absolutely can't wait for this - especially as most of the GLBTQ fiction conferences take place in the US, so it's lovely to have one in the UK too. And if you're a fan of m/m or GLBTQ fiction, then Brighton in September is definitely the place to be.

Also on a hopeful note, there is at last good news about the recent Paypal Censorship issue - so that writers of erotic fiction, such as myself, will continue to be allowed to use Paypal to sell our books. A moment of victory indeed, especially as it's so much easier getting royalties that way. So a BIG thank you to all who have continued to oppose the literary censorship over the last week, and thank you to Paypal for being willing to reconsider.

Looking to the future, I'll be part of the Amber Allure St Patrick's Day Party on Saturday 17 March, and there's going to be lots of fun, frolics and book giveaways, including my own. So come on in on Saturday and enjoy!

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 628
Sometimes all you need
to carry on

are a small nearby light
and the distant promise

of sunshine.

Meditation 629
The day is filled
with emptiness
and the faint memory
of fire

while the history
that binds us
falls away as the smoke
drifts higher.

Meditation 630
It’s come to my attention
that we learn far more
from disaster
than success.

So let us be content
to fail and grow wise,
and live well
with less.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Film Friday and Garden Delights

Book News:

My gay comic romance Angels and Airheads is due to be published on 30 March and is now available for pre-ordering at Musa Publishing. Shop early shop often, as they say! I do so love the cover.

Over at Amazon US, gay thriller A Dangerous Man was my most popular book this week, so that was very heartening. And literary gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Zaa).

Plus there's exciting news about the 5th in the Delaneys series - The Delaneys At Home will be published by Amber Allure Press on 3 June, so I'm looking forward very much to that. Only one more story to go and the series will be done, well gosh.

And don't forget that the majority of my Untreed Reads books are discounted by 30% for the whole of March - enjoy!

Oh, and I thoroughly enjoyed Day Two of my filming experience with Milletti Films - which involved playing golf, going to church, and another interview, amongst other items. Many thanks to Sam, Roxanne, Randy & Christine for making it such great fun, and I hope the project goes very well for you!

On a more serious note, the problem with the new Paypal literary censorship approach is causing me and indeed all writers of erotic fiction grave concerns. You can find out more about the issue and what can be done about it at the Internet Censorship Petition site and the Stop Censorship site. I've signed both petitions, and I hope some of you will also feel moved to do so. Many thanks.

The Sunday Haiku is:

Your car's steady hum.
Tall masts against a grey sky,
the sea drifting by.

Life News:

K and I had a lovely time down in Kent yesterday celebrating the 65th birthday of our good friend, Tony. It was fabulous to catch up with everyone, and the cake was stupendously good. Many thanks indeed to P for arranging it!

The rest of our time has been spent working in and thoroughly enjoying the garden, hurrah. I've kept the weeds down today, and K has mulched the roses. Much to our joy we spotted our first butterfly - a yellow brimstone - in our very own garden, so that was truly magical. Plus the forsythia we didn't know we had at the front is starting to bloom, the apple tree and our dogwood hedge are both in bud, and there are general signs of spring ahead. I can't wait to see what other surprises the garden holds for us.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandria Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Elstead goes Hollywood

Book News:

I've had great fun today during the first day of shooting for the Milletti Films project - goodness but these people work hard! I've been filmed going up the stairs, coming down the stairs, going up and then coming down again, leaving a room, making tea in the kitchen for the builders, chatting to the (rather startled) postman, and then interviewed in the living room about my life in Surrey, and in my study about my writing life. Tomorrow, on Day Two of the Elstead/Hollywood extravaganza, they'll be filming me attempting (ha!) to play golf, sitting in the garden, sitting in church, praying in my prayer room (what do you mean you don't have a prayer room?!? Shocking indeed ...) and walking through Elstead. Best wear decent shoes then.

It's been hard work and I have no idea where their energy comes from, but I've had a great time. Shame that my request for a magnum of champagne and a small terrier appeared to fall on deaf ears, but one can only try. I'm still waiting for my trailer to arrive ...

Back in the (slightly) more normal book world, I'm pleased to say that gay short story Brady's Choice gained a 4-star review at Goodreads, and For One Night Only was my most popular book this week at Amazon UK.

I've also just finished the fifth book in the Delaneys series and have submitted it to Amber Allure. Gosh, I do hope they like it.

Finally, I was utterly thrilled that the lovely Sharon Bidwell was kind enough to comment on some of my books recently. Many thanks, Sharon - I really appreciate that.

And my review of the really wonderful Heart of Tango by Elia Barcelo is now at Vulpes Libris Reviews. Read and buy it as soon as you can - it's passionate, powerful and almost perfect - what more could you ask for?

Life News:

We're continuing to dry out the carpet and the underlay after the Sunday roofing disaster, and it looks like it might be getting there, slowly. The underlay seems fine now and the carpet is certainly lighter as we move it around to encourage it, so that's good. I'm a bit concerned about the staining on the ceiling and walls of K's study though, where the water came in - I'm hoping we can just paint over at some point, and it won't get any mould problems. We'll have to see.

Today, I was also exceptionally brave when the roofers asked me to go up onto the roof and look at the chimney to see what I thought. Pause for a round of applause! I was really quite jittery going up and down the ladder, but the walk round the scaffolding was nice and the view from the top just stunning. Not sure I'd want to risk it a second time though - so I've agreed we should get a quote from a chimney man and then take a decision about what to do with it.

We've also managed, in between rescuing the house and attempting somewhat foolishly to live a normal life, to turn the dark and nasty corner of our garden into a riot of bedding plant colour. I really like it now, whereas it's been irritating me before. The rest of the garden has also received a serious de-weeding, and it looks much better. We just have to decide what the heck to plant in it. It's amazing how big the beds actually are, when we come to study them. The garden really isn't as small as we assume it is - it's just that it's wide rather than long, and seems to pack a lot into a limited space. I think we'd like a bed of white flowers to go with the pink and white roses - which now have some leaves/buds coming out, well gosh. You plant things and sometimes they grow - it's a revelation to us.

And K and I had a great deal of fun with the rest of the group at our Lent course on Wednesday. Most of us have decided that the video we're following has some seriously dodgy theology and a curious view of debate, and I also think it would be nice if the chappie in the video would occasionally mention the resurrection as if he might believe it. You know, just so we could see he knew the word, deep sigh. Mind you, getting annoyed with said chappie has made me think about what it is I do actually believe, and I'm beginning to realise I'm probably more traditional than I thought I was. So, K and I have come to the conclusion that we're theologically (and indeed politically) conservative, and socially liberal. Hey, that's about a good a summing-up as any, I suppose.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Rain, roofs and the joy of the garden

Book News:

I'm happy to announce that for the whole of March, you will find 30% off all my books at Untreed Reads, plus for TOMORROW (Monday 5 March) only, literary romance How To Eat Fruit will be totally FREE. So the ideal opportunity to pick up a bargain, or even two - enjoy!

Meanwhile, gay erotic short story For One Night Only gained two reviews, one at QMO Books and one at Pants Off Reviews, the latter as part of my Author Week there. Speaking of which, there's still time to enter the Pants Off Reviews competition to win one ebook from my backlist - good luck! The competition will end on 6 March.

Gay short story Dating the Delaneys gained a 4-star review at Pants Off Reviews and, not to be outdone, comic fantasy Creative Accountancy for Beginners was my most popular book at Amazon UK, and is currently No 89 in science fiction short stories. Well, gosh.

Keeping to the writing front, the planning for the short film about writing psychologies and stereotyping from Milletti Films is continuing, with most of the filming taking place later next week. It should be fun, so I'm certainly looking forward to it.

The Sunday haiku is:

The warm earth quivers
beneath my searching fingers:
something rich and strange.

Life News:

A rocky ride this week through the roofing alterations. We discovered on Thursday night that the scaffolding means we have no TV as our satellite dish is now pointing towards the wooden walkway instead of the satellite. So no "proper" TV for the next two weeks, sadly, but we've tuned the computer to pick up the live channels and it's a good temporary alternative, hurrah.

Rather more drastically - and which has ruined our lovely weekend (see below ...) - we returned home today at about 5pm only to discover that the rain has come in through an unprotected part of the roof, flooded the loft, K's study and the living room. Sound of wailing and wild gnashing of teeth from Elstead ... We rang the roofers at once, and they were with us within 5 minutes, full of apologies and making good the hole. As they should. They're really very sweet and I can't fault their general loveliness but, really, I would have preferred them to leave the roof in a decent state when they left on Friday, ah well. So, once the roofers left, K and I have spent most of the evening laying down all our towels and 6 rolls of kitchen towel across the floor before moving the books, the bookcases, and various furniture items out of K's study, then taking up the carpet and the underlay, and laying it in various parts of the house and garage to try to dry it out before mould sets in. I've put the portable heaters on and opened the windows to help speed the process, so fingers crossed. However, K suspect that some of the water is gathered above the living room ceiling as it's still dripping into the bucket and bowls in the living room. So tomorrow (we really can't bear the thought of it tonight!) K is going to take the study floorboards up to assess the damage.

The roofers have agreed to pay for any damage - quite right too - but we hope to minimise it as much as possible. Really, the whole thing is giving me something of a headache and severely challenging my Lenten vow not to worry about stuff. But, hey, surely the good Lord will understand just this once.

On a happier note (literally!), I'm delighted to see that Engelbert Humperdinck - my first crush when I was 11 years old, happy sigh! - will be representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. Bliss! I've always loved his songs, though I gather his voice is not so good now. Still, as he's about 180 years old, it's good news for the more mature amongst us, and I shall be glued, that's for sure.

And we've had a totally wonderful weekend at Wisley on our Learn to Garden course. It's been amazing, and we can't wait to put it in to practice tomorrow. Hell, it'll probably be drier outside anyway, so we have nothing to lose. I suppose you've got to laugh, eh, through the tears.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Free Giveaway Competition at my first Author Week!

Book News:

I'm thrilled this week to be the subject of the first ever Author Week at Pants Off Reviews, and I must say I'm having a thoroughly enjoyable time so many thanks to Darien for that. As part of the week, four reviews have been posted so far, including Give and Take, The Delaneys and Me, Entertaining the Delaneys and The Art of the Delaneys. I do hope you enjoy reading Darien's take on my fiction.

Not only that but you can read all about my views on Ferrero Rocher chocolates and French knickers at my site interview, and don't forget to leave a comment to enter a FREE competition to win an ebook from my backlist - make sure you don't miss out on that one! Happy reading.

Other book-related excitements this week are that thriller Thorn in the Flesh was an Amazon UK bestseller during the week, and also up there in the Amazon UK charts was gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence. I hope those who've purchased both books have enjoyed the read.

Meanwhile, after my recent bout of illness has at last subsided, I'm back in the routine of writing again, although it's been a bit tricky this morning now the roofers are in situ (see below ...). I've also managed to get back into my morning meditation poems:

Meditation 624
Balanced between
the city’s vibrant hum
and the wilder grey
of the sea

there’s a cliff-top moment
to remember
how you arrived here
before you cease to be.

Meditation 625
All the battles
and rages of men

silenced by the thorns
and cedars of Lebanon

until the whole earth
is at peace again.

Meditation 626
Forgive my prejudice
but no matter
what a man has done

I can’t help
judging him kindly
if he’s a lover
of farming or wine

Meditation 627
You recall that dark night,
the air possessed
with incense’s sour assault

and the flicker
of the candles’ shadow
against the silent altar.

Most of all you remember
when a thousand failures
in their perfumed breath

overcame the sacred space
to pattern your skin
with slow unforgiven death.

Life News:

K and I have been very excited indeed (steady, people ...) by the arrival of our brand-new recycling bins. They're so new! So shiny! So colourful! Well gosh. We now have a big blue bin where everything can go - instead of the three sets of bins we've been used to where you have to spend hours (hours, my dears, hours!) dividing things out or the Recycling Men will leave a plastic carton or two on your pillow ... As it were. Plus, for the first time ever, we have a food bin which comes in two sizes - the smaller one goes in the kitchen and then fits into the bigger one for when it's collected. Plus we have huge numbers of instructions which I will have to read through before the big change-over day happens. In April apparently, so time is on my side ...

And yesterday, K and I attended the first of the church's Lent meetings, which will look at how to have an adult faith. I suspect they're not using the word "adult" in the way that I would do so, however, so absolutely no need to write to the papers. One hopes. Last night we looked at God, and decided he's maybe not as bad as everyone thinks - though being the die-hard traditionalist that I have apparently now become - I kept alive the small flame which offers the thought that God is mystery and ultimately unknowable. Though we catch glimpses of who he really is now and again. Much like people then, hey ho.

Today, the four roofers have arrived and will be with us for the next two-and-a-half weeks. Most of the scaffolding went up yesterday, though more has joined it today, so there's another couple of men to add to the teas/coffees/cake list. Really, it's all very grand and we're beginning to look like a cathedral. We're thinking of draping a trompe l'oeil with a castle scene across the frontage and claiming independence. You heard it first here. Anyway they've all been very lovely and have been happily hammering away, and occasionally chatting about who has the best work trousers. I think the jury's still out on that one.

Plus, as they all arrived and went to work at 7.30am, I suspect I will have to get up earlier tomorrow - if only to avoid opening the door in my dressing gown. Yes, yes, I know - my dressing gown doesn't have a door, but I just couldn't resist typing it. I think I might have to get more cake too, and maybe some biscuits. I don't want anyone to faint with hunger and fall off the scaffold ...

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK