Sunday, April 30, 2006

Marian's retirement party

This morning, Lord H represented us at church in our sister church, and I got down to some character sketches for "The Gifting" - which I usually do about one-third of the way through a novel, and that's where I am right now with this one - and some actual writing. It was great to get down to it again after a while away, and I've some ideas for other key scenes, which is something of a relief.

Had a much needed nap this afternoon, and then went for cocktails and canapes for Marian's retirement do. Felt very brave going up to people and starting conversations, as I'm usually an utter coward at that sort of thing - but it wasn't too bad. Marian's friends and family are lovely, and we had some good conversations. It seems that Marian has been spreading the word about me being published this year - which is very sweet of her indeed! - so people were actually talking to me about it. That was weird - but, hey, nice for the ego! I'm only human ...

There've been some very positive comments about my ghost story on the Writewords ( site, so I feel better about that now. Also some tips for improving it, which I'll get on with as soon as I can.

Tonight, it's "Invasion" and "Mayo", and - joy! - bank holiday tomorrow. Thank goodness for May.

And today's haiku is:

Farnham Maltings Fete:
I rummage the stalls,
searching for mother-of-pearl.
I'm a girl today.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Farnham Maltings Festival

Spent the day at Farnham Maltings Festival with Irene & Jackie from Goldenford ( Didn't sell many books, but had some good conversations and lots of fun. Lord H turned up in the afternoon, and I had a wander round with him. Bought some birthday presents and two pairs of fantastic earrings. In the early evening, we did a reading at the open mic slot, which went well. I hope. At least I'm fairly confident now that the passage I chose from "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" for today should work well at the launch on 22 June.

And home in time for "Doctor Who" - bliss. Am feeling shattered now, so hope for an early night. Not sure I'm fit for anything else!

Anne Brooke

Friday, April 28, 2006

Lunch with Ali

Finished off my ghost story for Writers' News ( today, and actually feel quite pleased with it. Have uploaded it onto the Writewords ( site for comment, so I'll see what people say.

Lunch with Ali at Wisley - lovely to see her and catch up with the news. We all seem to have had difficult years last year (must have been something in the ether), but at least things are looking up for both of us this year. She's able to come to the Goldenford ( launch on 22 June, so am pleased about that. Afterwards, I did a little bit of work on "The Gifting" - Simon is still on the mountain and struggling hard. I should have done more, and I feel rather guilty at not doing more, but it was a struggle for the writer too today, as well as for my main character. That's the way it falls sometimes.

Rushed around town shopping and - thank goodness - have restocked my rapidly depleting book supply. I was starting to get twitchy about it. I hate it when my reading pile is down to two books - there's an empty space after the last book and I have no idea how to fill it.

Have also printed out and prepared marketing materials for the Goldenford table at tomorrow's Arts Festival in Farnham. Hope we manage to sell some of our books. I've included leaflets/info for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" too, even though it's not out yet. Marketing can never start too soon indeed. Irene, Jackie and I will be reading from our work in the 6-8pm open mic slot, so I hope that's not too frightening. Reading aloud, for me, is much like going to the dentist. The waiting is hell, but - usually - it's okay when it's happening. One hopes.

Tonight, it's slob out night in front of the TV, and I'm looking forward to wine and pizza. And ice cream. Bliss.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lunch with Robin

Ooh, skipped a day, as there was no time to write up my blog yesterday. But yesterday was a mainly tense day, filled only with the centering zone of counselling with Zoe, and also the exhausting but nice-to-do night out in London with the Durham gals. Which meant wine plus Italian food and chat. And, joy of joys, I made - just! - the 9.45 train home, so I am indeed a young fogie. Officially.

Anyway, today, did a barrel-load of marketing of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", and sent out the launch invites for 22 June for Goldenford ( Also entered the Mslexia ( flash fiction competition, and did my entries for the Annual Writers' Conference in Winchester ( Managed also to get a Writers' News ( ghost story started, and prepared some PR stuff for our Goldenford table on Saturday at the Farnham Arts Festival. Never say I am not industrious on my "days off".

Then I had lunch with Robin - lovely to see her again - we managed to set the world to rights and down a couple of baguettes to boot. On my way home, I popped in to see Gladys from church, and then came home to plough through my emails. I have some acceptances for the June launch - hurrah! - so it won't just be me and Lord H, and the Goldenford gang. That's a relief.

Tonight, Lord H and I are at the theatre in Woking, to see an Agatha Christie play. Of all things. Can't imagine why I booked that. Still, it may yet be better than I expect. You never can tell.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UniSWriters & Guildford Writers

Bit of a dull morning - plodded away with getting my AUA conference notes typed up - finally managed to get the first draft done by close of play, so I've got the proofreading to look forward to tomorrow. Hurrah! Hmm ...

UniSWriters' session at lunchtime. Looked at work in progress, and also did a "write about this picture" writing game, which was quite successful. At the end, we had a chat about writing techniques and ways forward if we think we're stuck. It's funny how sometimes the very things that seem to hold us back are the things we can turn into our strengths - eg if we always start a novel and never finish it, play to that strength and start each of that novel's chapters. That way you'll be more confident about where it's going, and it'll be easier to finish. That's the theory anyhow ...

Another chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh" came back from the JBWB Writers Bureau ( today, so shall get on with changing that towards the end of the week. And Flame Books ( are apparently starting to edit "A Dangerous Man", so I'll look forward to getting stuck into that again.

The rest of today has actually been quite tense - not that anything's awful, but I am layered with anxiety right now. Is that a phrase? - it's certainly what it feels like. Thank goodness I've another counselling session tomorrow - maybe I'll feel calmer after that.

And tonight, it's Guildford Writers (, so I think I'll take along my strange vegetable-themed piece of flash fiction. If nothing else, it might make them laugh.

Anne Brooke

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reflexology day

First day back at work after the long Easter break, so I was a bear with sore head today. Still, the amount of work to catch up on hasn't been as bad as I'd feared, so it wasn't all tears and stomach pain. For most of the day, it was only Colin and me in the office in fact, as Ruth was on a course, and Patricia and David are still away - so it was a nice easing-in day really. Had an hour's reflexology at lunchtime which was very relaxing. Didn't feel quite as chilled as I did the last time, but it's still the highlight of my day.

At home, Barbara Large of the Winchester Writers' Conference ( has offered Goldenford ( a table at the conference to sell our books, so hope to take her up on that, depending on what the other directors think. I also hope to be able to get Jay, one of the authors at the Bewrite ( site, and perhaps David Caldo of Writers' Promote ( to share the costs with us and promote their books too - but I'll see how it goes.

Uploaded another review for one of the authors at the You Write On ( site, and hope in return to get another review of "Thorn in the Flesh", which I uploaded there last week. So far reviews on TITF have been mixed, with people either loving it or hating it (par for the course with me then ...), but it's obviously not as popular as "A Dangerous Man" was, so I don't think I'll be in the top ten this time. Shame, we cry.

Tonight, it's "New Tricks" - so time to slob in front of the TV. Great.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Low Sunday

Had a great evening with Jane last night. The exhibition was fine, but how I love talking with her. She's great.

Lie-in today followed by church at 11am. Horror of horrors - a baptism so loads of strange people and children and a baby. My favourite - not! And lots of anxiety while we all rush round trying to make sure there's water in the font, and who the hell has the baptismal jug. It's all done on a wing and a prayer. I'm not sure the baptismal party spotted the join. One hopes. And, to cap it all, it's Geoffrey's last day with us, so we all went to a bring-and-share lunch at the village hall afterwards. I'm really not at my best with large, religious-based gatherings (unless drunk) so was one of the first to escape. Hurrah! On with the interregnum.

At home, had a much-needed nap, and am planning an evening of "Dr Who" video from yesterday, "Invasion" and "Mayo". It'll lull me into a false sense of normality ready to face returning to work post-Easter tomorrow.

Had an email from the author, Andrew Taylor (, telling us his next novel, "A Stain on the Silence", is now available. Shall order that - I do enjoy his non-1950s novels very much. In my reply I asked if he might like to review "A Dangerous Man" for Flame ( as he has enjoyed extracts in the past. I do hope he's able to, in spite of what must be a horrendously busy schedule, but will have to wait and see.

Have just finished Marina Lewycka's "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian". Didn't much like it - seemed a lot of fuss about nothing, although the last third of the novel was better as it stopped trying to be funny (hey, for something marketed as a comic novel, there's no laughter here, people!) and looked at the more serious historical side. I did skip a fair amount - the tractor sections are dull.

And today's haiku is:

Gothic Exhibition 2006, Tate Britain:
Silent, we drift through
twisted flesh. What pierces me
is Blake's dark flea ghost.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chocolate cake & hair cut

Hair cut day today, so at least I'll look reasonable when I meet Jane in London later this afternoon for a trip round the Tate Britain Gothic exhibition, chat and food. Wrote a piece of flash fiction about vegetables for Mslexia ( Is it me, or are the themes getting stranger? Will upload it onto Writewords ( over the next few days and see what the comments are. Also uploaded my haibun on there earlier on, but no responses as yet. Still, it's a weekend. Or perhaps the piece is just incomprehensible? You never can tell.

Made a chocolate cake, which we'll have a slice of for lunch pre-London. So Lord H is smiling upon me today - as ever of course!

Have decided not to enter the short story competition involving a foster parent which Writers' News ( have set, as I don't like children anyway. So why bother? Will just have a go at the summer ghost story instead. Think I'll opt for comedy - it's the only way to handle the theme, at least for me!

Anne Brooke

Friday, April 21, 2006

Clarins Facial

A trip to Farnham this morning to pick up the volunteers pack for next Saturday's day at Farnham Maltings - Goldenford ( are setting up a stall for our books as part of FM's arts festival day, and Irene, Jackie and I are also doing a reading of our books in the evening in the Open Mic session. The t-shirt we have to wear is a wonderful shade of orange - it will go so well with my hair, not.

Did my weekly reading of the current offerings on the Bewrite (, Writewords ( and UK Authors ( sites, and also printed off an extract from the You Write On ( site for reading and marking up later. A short nap, then into Guildford for a much-needed Clarins facial. What would I do without them - it's nice, always, to indulge on a regular basis. Also wrote a haibun (mixture of haiku and intense prose) for the Winchester Writers' Conference ( haibun competition. Hope to upload that onto the Writewords site for comment soon.

Tonight, it's TV comedy night, and I really must do some cleaning. Hope very much to get back to "The Gifting" sometime - please! - but I do need to write a poem on rain and two short stories first for competitions. It's a good way of keeping my hand in with other genres and also, if I win or get placed/commended, keeping my name out there. Jay from Bewrite has also emailed me about a possible library marketing opportunity for our gay novels in Lewisham, so will try to find out more about that soonest. Never say this life is dull. But how I'm looking forward to that first glass of wine tonight!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More editing

Spent the morning doing my monthly round of writing competition entries - mainly poetry this time. Mental note: must write more poetry. I'm so busy thinking of prose stuff that I may soon entirely forget the knack of leaving a blank space at the end of a line. Also edited the first four chapters of David Caldo's "A Florentine Masque". A very sensuous (you can almost smell the sweat) historical novel, but I'm still not sure about the lighter tone of the third chapter. Have tried to make it darker but at this point it's up to the author of course ...

Lunch in Godalming with Jean, a poetry friend. It's good to talk about real stuff, and she's one of the people I can do that with. She doesn't take the comic guff I defend myself with most of the time as worth her time, so I have to be more real than usual - scary but somehow liberating. It certainly makes me think. Afterwards, visited Gladys from church, who seemed particularly frail today. God help me, but I don't want to be old in that way. It makes me feel so vulnerable. Sad too.

This afternoon, I have attempted to book my sessions for the upcoming Writers' conference ( but I'm not sure if my email worked. One can only hope. There are some good sessions there, on both poetry and prose, but no one-to-ones I like the look of, so I won't bother with them this year. My agent ( is also going to the conference, so I have booked one of his sessions too - it will be nice actually to meet the guy at last. It's rather disappointing that I haven't met him yet, especially as he did promise me lunch last August, but I have to admit I'm not one of his high-earning clients. Hmm. Hope he recognises my name ... Now there are the Writers' Conference competitions to enter - it's a shame they're just so damn expensive. The entry fee seems ridiculous to me.

Have also - at last! - managed to book tea in London at Brown's Hotel for the Durham crowd on 17 June. Being the social secretary for that gang is just so bloody exhausting. It had better be a decent tea - not like Fortnum & Mason's! Still, it'll be nice to have an (almost) joint birthday and publication celebration with them.

Have just finished reading Patrick Gale's "Friendly Fire" - a fantastic novel. Slow start, I admit, but once you're into the heart of it, it 's a rivetting page turner. Much more focused and poignant than others of his novels I've read, though I do tend to enjoy his stuff.

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the theatre in Guildford - "Losing Louis". Hope it's good. It'll be nice to sit still and not to have to do anything for a couple of hours. This week off has been completely shattering, and May and June are going to be a hell of a lot busier too. I must be missing my afternoon nap indeed.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Gawain Quest Part Two

A morning spent marketing and writing up the Goldenford ( minutes. There's not much time now until the joint "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice"/"A Bottle of Plonk" launch on 22 June, so I need to work out the invites before the beginning of May. I'm hoping Lord H might be able to help - again - as I can't work out how to place the clipart needed onto the invite without the whole thing going haywire. So much for my expertise in Word ...

Also finished editing "The Gawain Quest" for Goldenford, and have sent it back to Jennifer for her action. It's hard work, but the novel is very good, so I'm looking forward to it being published in the autumn. There have also been some very positive comments on my posting of "The Gifting" on the Writewords ( site, and some helpful suggestions which I've done my best to implement.

Have just finished Roger Morris' (also of Writewords) first novel, "Taking Comfort". It's astonishingly good - very powerful and sparse, and reminds me very much of Murakami. I've given it a 5 star rating on Amazon, so I hope they actually showcase my comments this time - sometimes they don't. Also feel noble as MacMillan New Writing (which published "TC") were one of those which turned down "A Dangerous Man" after much deliberation apparently - still, can afford to feel noble now, as Flame Books ( are publishing it instead. So much for my good nature indeed.

Had some weird dreams last night - I was trapped in London trying to walk to a show I was supposed to be seeing without knowing the way. Hmm, sounds much like my normal life to me. Ho hum. Still, tonight it's "Murder City" on TV, so that should cheer me up.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Gawain Quest

Shopped this morning to stock up after the Easter extravaganza. Another festival over, thank goodness - much though I like holiday, I do like getting back into a routine too. No work this week though, which is nice! Started to proofread Jennifer Margrave's novel, "The Gawain Quest", for Goldenford ( Very enjoyable, but still a fair amount of typos to mark, even at this almost-final stage.

Also entered for a poetry competition coming up shortly, which fell through my normal monthly schedule. It's a local-ish one, so I'm keen to enter. Not sure if there'll be any joy with it though, as I don't seem to be doing so well with the poetry this year - though I'm happy with how the prose is going. Two novels in 2006 can't be bad! Uploaded the next part of "The Gifting" onto the Writewords ( site for comment. I hope to take a section to next week's Guildford Writers ( meeting too, though I don't usually take novel extracts along, but tend instead to stick to short stories, which are easier to get critique on in one session.

Spent some time trying to sort out a booking for afternoon tea for my Durham friends in London on 17 June - it's hell getting anyone to take a group of 11 people (including 3 children) - hope someone has a positive response soon, or it will be lettuce leaves and tap water for all ...

Tonight, it's minuting the next Goldenford meeting - we have a literary fair and a reading coming up, along with the publication date for my "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", so I imagine there'll be a fair amount to discuss.

Anne Brooke

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Monday

A lie-in, exhausted by the demands of life and chocolate-eating. Goodness, it's a hard life indeed, but somebody has to do it ...

Lord H visited the church bier house (it's good for a man to have a hobby) and retreived more rood-screen candle items to add to the current findings. The bases are a lovely gold colour when scrubbed up with a toothbrush. Hope he's not using mine. Researched some competitions to enter over the next months, courtesy of Mslexia ( magazine. Also, to my delight, discovered that I appear - if only amongst the letters/notes sections - in the Poetry Society ( newsletter. A first step, one hopes. Hmm ... Then in the afternoon a joint trip to the Lions Show. Admired the donkey derby, the motorcyclist display team, the vintage cars and the various stalls. Won a CD in the tombola - my luck must be in today!

Started Roger Morris' first novel, "Taking Comfort", and am enjoying it so far. He's a member of the Writewords ( site, so it's nice to read a work by someone I know - if only on a virtual basis. It's nice to think I'll be joining him in the field of Writewords authors later this year.

A post-show nap, followed by a leisurely dinner and "New Tricks" on TV. Thank goodness that's back - real class.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

Church extravaganza today. Got the best silverware out and lit all the candles going (but not the nave ones, as they're too much effort). The rood screen candles and revamped angel candles looked particularly snazzy. Thanks entirely to Lord H's efforts and skill. After the hullaballoo, thank the Lord that the church warden remembered to shower us all with chocolate eggs - it makes it all worthwhile somehow.

After church, Lord H and I visited Petworth House (National Trust), which would have been fine except that I got my car stuck in the mud. So I wondered round the Turners and other great art moments worrying myself to a frazzle about how on earth we were going to get home. Thankfully, when push came to shove (sorry, but it was like that ...), a passing Good Samaritan put his shoulder to the wheel along with Lord H and we managed to get free. Phew.

A late, post-lunch lazy afternoon beckons. I now have two Goldenford ( novels to edit, both part of Jennifer Margrave's historical. Of course they'll all be great, but the prospect of doing any of my own writing for a while gets increasingly distant. Sigh. I'll start them next week. But at least tonight there's "Mayo" and "Invasion" to ease the pain. TV heaven indeed.

And today's (very semi-) haiku is:

After a day with mother
the Dartford bridge sails us back to Surrey;
I'm grown up again.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Saturday

A holy cleaning day. Lord H and I have cleaned everything to excess, in case the good Lord should decide to visit. Even the outside stairs. We only clean seriously on high days and holidays, and Easter is surely one of those occasions. Had a bit of an incident with the Agnus Dei (ie the roast lamb we always have on Easter Sunday) - went out to buy a joint (meat, people, meat - please!) this morning, stared at the lamb section on the shelf, bought a beautiful lamb roast, but by the time I arrived home and unpacked my spoils, some miracle had taken place in the car and it had turned into pork. Hmm, not entirely suitable under the religious circumstances, but we will have to make the best of it. One shopping trip in a day is more than enough. I redeemed myself with Lord H, however, by buying dinosaur icecream and champagne - the way to a man's heart ... etc etc.

Golf with Marian and Siegi in the afternoon, followed by a gorgeous lunch at theirs. I played appallingly, but had one or two shots which made it okay to be alive. I even putted well once, which these days is saying something.

Decided to get on my high horse with my Durham friends, as I always arrange social events for them and yet it takes them centuries (in email terms) to respond, by which time the original dates for any get-together have long sinced passed. And, hell, if I can't be stroppy on Easter Saturday, when can I be? Sent a strong (yet sweet and generous, I'm sure ...) email but so far the only person who has responded is one of those who do at least reply. Deep and frustrated sigh. To be honest, I'd rather deal with my other sets of friends, who do appear to want to make the effort to get together. I'm starting to think I'm flogging a horse which should have long since been buried. In some cases anyway.

A quiet evening of video catch-up lies ahead. Joy.

Anne Brooke

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Day at mother's. Lots of chatting and catch-up, together with huge meals and cake. Had a walk along Manningtree front in the afternoon to look at the swans (sans bird flu, we hope) in order to avoid the terrors of the Good Friday Holy Hour at church. Lord, what sinners we are. Something of a relief to have missed it this year, but I can't help the guilt twinges. Still, being me, I'm sure they'll pass. The long drive home on the A12 seems to last forever sometimes.

Lord H popped to church in the evening to sort out the rood screen candles, which we've just discovered we have. They'll look lovely once they're up, so we're hoping for a grand Easter display. Along with lots of chocolate of course.

A writing friend has asked for my comments on the start of his historical novel, so am happy to oblige as far as possible, depending on time constraints. I also have Jennifer of Goldenford's ( novel to edit, so I can see writing time is completely out of the question for the next few weeks. Still, editing is always enjoyable. Up to a point. If I miss writing for more than a few days, I tend to get twitchy.

Had a rather critical review of "A Dangerous Man" on the You Write On ( site, so am feeling low about that. No matter how long you do this job, criticism always feels like a personal attack. Still, as the novel's being published, it can't be all bad? Surely. How I hope someone out there will like it! And goodness, once again, how needy we writers are ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday

I'm back! And I've had the Belfast experience - it's an interesting city. Something of a cross between parts of Victorian Guildford (along the river) and Bloomsbury in London. You either have red brick or marble - nothing in between. Areas well worth a visit are City Hall, the Botanic Gardens, the Palm House and the Ulster Museum. And it rains. A lot. Take a brolly. No, take several.

I waved Lord H goodbye (complete with sobbing and a handkerchief - I am such a slushbucket) on Sunday night and then moved across to the Association of University Administrators (AUA) conference on Monday morning. Queen's University rooms have astonishingly frightening showers. The blast of ice-cold water pinned me to the tiles and nearly drowned me - twice. If I'd been under 5 foot tall, it might have finished me off altogether. It was amazing I had enough energy for the conference at all - some useful workshops this year and I managed to avoid the horrors of networking, hurrah. And I have enough notes on ideas/info gained to last another year. Oh, and I ate a lot of potato. Really. And it was great - particularly "champs" (blend of mash and spring onion/cabbage).

Today has been catch-up day. A morning of marketing and emails and an afternoon of looking at "The Gifting" and managing - after much tutting and playing of online Solitaire - to add another 500 words. And - oh the relief! - I think I may have thought of where to go next. Add more violence and horror and I'll be happy. It'll keep me going for a couple of pages at least ...

My signed contract for "A Dangerous Man" has arrived from Flame Books ( and "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" is now available to pre-order from Amazon ( so it almost feels like being a real writer. Almost. Publishers are indeed like buses - you wait for years and then two come along at once. I think I've peaked now. Spoke to Bev at the Surrey Advertiser about "A Dangerous Man" and the You Write On ( site, but I think I fluffed it. I was so nervous beforehand that I gabbled and filled all the silences on the phone even when I had nothing remotely interesting to say. The poor woman probably thinks I'm insane and, if she publishes the article at all, will advise the Great and the Good of Surrey to avoid me and anything I've done at all costs. Can't say I blame her. Lord, this must be post-acceptance depression. P.A.D for short. If nothing else, at least I've coined a new writing affliction.

Oh well, onward and - slowly, so slowly - upward. One hopes.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Counselling session

Managed - somehow, as the new "book for this day only" NHS appointment system is rubbish - to get a doctor's appointment for this morning, and now have a low-steroid (hmm, not my favourite ...) nasal spray to use twice a day for the next couple of months. To be honest, I hope it does the trick as I'm getting to the point where I'll do anything to kick my catarrh problem into touch. I hope I don't have to be on it forever, which is - apparently - a possibility. We'll see.

The rest of the working day was a catch-up day, as I'm next in on 24th April, and I'm now very up-to-date, which is a relief. Had a really excellent counselling session with Zoe over lunchtime - I talked about writing and what it means to me. She's great at getting me to go deeper and really see what counts. That, after all, is what I've started these sessions for and it's working. Thank the Lord. I feel that my writing - and therefore me, or is that I? - doesn't fit anywhere obvious; there's no "genre" or group that welcomes either of us with open arms, but maybe I just have to learn to be happy with that. Not being part of the wider market - in any sense of the word - is after all where I'm most myself. Food for thought certainly.

Tonight it's packing for holiday with Lord H in Belfast, and then the universities' conference, also in Belfast, which will last till next Wednesday, so this will be my last blog entry till then. I'll take my usual notebook though, and scribble down thoughts each day as they occur. I always find that helpful to do when on holiday; I think it keeps me grounded.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Another sick day

Have had a relapse - goodness me, how Victorian - and was up all night apart from one glorious hour at 5am when I managed to get some sleep. So no London course or indeed anything for me today. I must be the biggest cold/pain relief pills customer ever this week. Attempted - foolishly - to get a doctor's appointment, but hey no chance. Our new - and ridiculous - NHS system means we can't book ahead, and instead have to ring up on the day first thing, amongst the countless others, and hustle for spaces. A recipe for disaster. Thought I might try again tomorrow, but Lord H's car is playing up so I will be car-free, as he sorts the garage out. What with our upcoming hols & my university conference, my next chance is Maundy Thursday. Ah well. Will have to try then or hope for a miracle. Possibly both.

Have spent a large part of the morning dealing with publication & publicity issues with Flame Books ( for "A Dangerous Man". Goodness me, I appear to have an editor. How like a real professional. Also corresponded with the You Write On site ( concerning the official review of the opening chapters of "ADM" and publicity for that. Maybe, at last, Michael's (my main character) time has come and I feel surprisingly vulnerable about it - he's been my favourite character (or one of my favourites) for so long; this process must be something like sending your first child out to school. Sorry - that's pretentious, but it's how it feels. I am glad he'll be "out there", and I do hope people don't misjudge him.

Have also sent to Flame a draft version of the absolutely wonderful possible "ADM" front cover which my artist/writer friend, Nell Grey (aka Penelope Cline,, has done for me. It's the first time I've seen this today, as I didn't realise she even had it. I have to say when I looked at it, my toes tingled and I felt like crying. I think it's absolutely perfect and is exactly how I see Michael - dark, dubious, erotic and vulnerable. I do hope Flame like it. If they don't, I'm definitely commissioning Nell for the poster.

Some great news on the Goldenford Publishers front ( - one of Jennifer's estate agency contacts wants a job lot of Jacquelynn Luben's "A Bottle of Plonk" to put in welcome packs for their clients, and Ottakar's in Godalming would like to do a display of Goldenford Books. Joy for us all indeed.

Have finished Julia Glass's "Three Junes" - which got me through most of the night, to be honest. It's wonderful, particularly the long middle section about Fenno, the gay bookshop owner in the US. I loved the relationships between people and the way they misfire, and how families can be. Gripping and easily readable stuff - the perfect combination. Will definitely be on the look-out for her next.

Tonight, it's part 2 of "Dalziel and Pascoe" and then I shall be praying - very, very hard - for a decent night's sleep, no nausea and no ear trouble, please God.

Anne Brooke

Monday, April 03, 2006

"A Dangerous Man" gets a Publisher

I'm in the proverbial seventh heaven tonight! Flame Books ( want to publish "A Dangerous Man", probably sometime over the summer, and are sending me a contract by email to sort out before my Belfast weekend trip. At last! - Michael, bless him, gets a home. He - and I - are certainly pleased. Also my agent ( is happy, so everyone's smiling. Joy indeed - takes my mind off the end stages of this rotten cold for sure. I think, to be honest, I'm still in a state of shock. I'm not really taking it in.

The rest of the day slipped by, in the light of this new discovery. I thoroughly enjoyed my first work reflexology session - much gentler than other sessions I've had elsewhere, so I've paid for a set of six over the coming weeks. I felt very calm and energised (if one can be both at the same time) after it.

Finished James Hamilton-Paterson's "Loving Monsters" yesterday. A wonderful and eccentric book. I couldn't really put it down - and it has one of the most gripping and sustained endings I've ever read. I was transported somewhere else and reluctant to leave. A classy book indeed, and perhaps even a classic one.

And, hey, I have a publisher!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lent 5

Day in today, recuperating. So no church, which is a relief as it should have been one of our 8am services. Hell, I needed the lie-in. So far have spent most of the day either asleep, reading or staring at the TV. Sometimes I even switch it on. Technology is a marvellous thing. Suspect there'll be time to squeeze in another nap before bedtime, if I'm organised enough. At least I don't feel as bad as yesterday; humanity as returned, even if simply at the edges. And I've even eaten something - hurrah.

Lord H has done some flower photography to fill in time whilst invalid-sitting - one result being a beautiful close-up of a rich-pink rose. Lovely. Due to illness, no cake this week - and it was supposed to be chocolate. Haven't read my Bible since Wednesday either, so I'll have a lot of catching-up to do once I get back into the routine. Can't say the thought is filling me with much holy joy either.

Tonight's joy is "Invasion" and "Mayo". Perfect Sunday viewing.

And today's haiku is:

Over open drawers
my stockings step out boldly.
Today they're unworn.

(Not exactly Dryden, I know - but heck I'm not well. Make allowances!)

Anne Brooke

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Number One in You Write On Top Ten

Goodness me, "A Dangerous Man" is now Number One in the You Write On ( site's Top Ten. And it's not even an April Fool - I hope. A real boost for what appears to be my unsellable (amongst the other commercially unsellable ones, of course ...) novel. And lovely to hear the news today, when I'm feeling so ill I've cancelled everything over the weekend that means I might have to leave the house. Damn it.

So no writing or anything much done today. Slept, then watched the BBC2 version of "The Marriage of Figaro" while reclining on my sofa of sickness. One of my favourite operas. Marvellous. I love the closing piece by the Countess when the music's phraseology and her forgiveness sweeps all the deceit and confusion away. A magical moment. Wish I could write books the way Mozart wrote music.

Have also finished James Baldwin's "Go Tell It on the Mountain". A powerful book about religion and the desire to be free. It sweeps you along with the passion of it all. At the end, I felt drained, but inspired.

Anne Brooke