Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Patricia's leaving day

One of my work colleagues - Patricia - left today to move down to the New Forest (lucky devil), so popped in for cakes and chat and to say goodbye. It's actually quite refreshing to go into work when you don't have to do anything. Though I did pick up my pay slip. Priorities, priorities. Patricia's just come back from a cruise holiday, during which someone died by falling overboard. Sounds like a classic Agatha Christie to me - very exciting indeed. My first thought was: fantastic plot! Which just goes to show all writers are heartless beasts. No great shocks there then.

Did more work on "The Gifting". Ralph's home is becoming more castle-like every day, so had to research castles on the Web. And medieval-style clothing. Not to mention class issues. This novel is definitely crystallising into a medieval-based fantasy - which at least means I can be vaguely accurate, but not anal about it. Thank the Lord. Tried not to get too bogged down though - I hate research. I'm much happier writing the bloody thing and then winging it later. As in life, so in writing indeed. It's fiction, people. Live with it.

A short nap this afternoon, and then a leisurely evening ahead. Yesterday, Lord H and I watched our "King Arthur" DVD. What a load of old tosh - although the two male leads were cute, which always makes it worthwhile. Still, I think they could have done a lot more with the whole society and relationships/friendships thing, rather than all those ruddy confusing battles. Just an opinion.

My editor ( has just emailed back the latest two chapters of "Thorn in the Flesh", including the extremely violent one. She likes it and thinks it needs to be there - which makes me feel very happy, as I was worried what she might say. She's a nice woman. Only ten more chapters for her to go through then.

And my agent ( will be going in for a minor operation over the Winchester Writers' Conference ( weekend at the end of June - nothing too drastic apparently, but it means I still won't actually have got to meet him yet. Am beginning to wonder if he only exists online! - though I have been promised lunch in July. Which would be nice ... actually I was originally promised lunch last August, but it never came to anything. Ho hum. Evidently, I will have to produce a real potboiler of a novel before I get to eat. Plus ca change then.

And the joy of tonight is I can change all my calendars over to June and have a fresh month ahead. Including the glorious gay men's Canadian rugby team calendar given to me by some close gay, non-Canadian friends. My favourite calendar of them all - leaves nothing to the imagination and does it with style and charm. Bliss!

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Gifting - onwards ...

The beginning of a week off work - hurrah! Had a lazy start to the day, but enjoyed scribbling away with "The Gifting" and actually managed to get 2000 words out. Have added a twist to Ralph's character, which I rather like - with a bit of luck and if the literary wind is in the right direction, I might even be able to make something of it. Who knows?

Also, wrote a proposal outlining the possibility of turning my blog into a book, which The Friday Project ( have asked to see. Got that off in the post today, together with an example of my writing - sent them "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", so if nothing else it might make 'em laugh. My first non-fiction (or is it?...) proposal. Another bridge crawled across. Have also sent the first few chapters of "Maloney's Law" to Snow Books ( who apparently want thrillers this year. Well, it's certainly a thriller, so at least they can't reject it for not fitting the request. They'll probably find another reason though - ah well.

But at least no-one can say I haven't been busy today. Had a quick flit round Godalming this afternoon and restocked my dwindling book supply. Also bought some poetry, as I'm running seriously low on that front and the stuff I currently have I don't even like anyway. Give me decent poetry - somebody - please!

BBC Southern Counties Radio ( have emailed to say my "Life" piece will be broadcast sometime over the next few weeks. It could even be tomorrow or next week - hurrah! However, as there's a list of twenty of us, it's all rather vague (if delightful), and I'm too much of a wimp to email back and ask: hey, so when exactly is mine being broadcast? It just sounds way too selfish, even for me. Hey ho.

Have just finished Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees." Loved the first chapter or so, but the rest of it is rather a drag, I have to say. Apparently it started life as a short story, which publishers got hold of and then wanted more. Hell, they ruined it. It would have made an utterly fantastic and classy short, but is simply a dull novel. Which just goes to show that, no matter what the financial and career incentives, writers should stick to their guns and go with their instincts concerning exactly what something is. Trust me, you know. A lesson for us all - let's hope I'll remember it, should my distant and rapidly diminishing boat ever come in.

Anne Brooke

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bank Holiday Monday

A mixture of torrential rain and bright sun. Typical bank holiday weather. We were planning to go to the Surrey County Show, but I didn't have a very good night last night and, to be honest, couldn't be arsed. Instead, we had a late, lazy morning, then I had a nap until lunchtime, after which I watched my video of "Phone Booth", with Colin Farrell. Damn good film - I loved it.

Plan to do a fat lot of nothing the rest of the day - we might watch one of our many as yet unwatched DVDs however, and then there's "New Tricks" tonight on TV. I've thought my way into the beginning of some scenes for "The Gifting" and will do some work on them tomorrow. Won't push myself too much though - or will try not to! - as it is a holiday week, after all. I'm supposed to be relaxing - if I only knew how.

And Lord H has mended our overflow problem - what a star - which will make the neighbour downstairs a little happier. How we both hate the whole thought of DIY. It's unnatural.

Still feel rather up and down, but thank God it's not as bad as yesterday.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Easter 7

Church was surprisingly okay today - ie I didn't feel quite so bad about it as I usually do at the moment. This week's visiting priest was Colin Semper, who used to be Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC - nice chap. He can definitely come back. He gets humour. Great. Some of them don't. I think he quite liked us too.

Had a trip round Busbridge Lakes afterwards - nice and relaxing. Wandering around looking at birds is okay. Shame they don't open it more often over the summer. There weren't many people about, which was good.

Felt low this afternoon. Can't always tell when the feeling's going to strike, but it's not pleasant while it lasts. Had a couple of hours' nap to try to ride it, but was only partially successful. Have finished the book my Counsellor recommended however: Alice Miller's "The Drama of Being a Child" - I thought some of the stuff was very good, plus helpful, but the latter part of it wasn't quite so helpful. Not sure whether the intellectual understanding of what might be going on right now is entirely a good thing, without the means of practical action. Still, I suppose that's what the counselling is for ...

The final part of "Invasion" tonight - they really seemed to leave us up in the air as to what happens next. They'd better bloody well make a second series - us fans need some kind of resolution!

Lord H has a bad headache, and I don't feel so hot either, so am hoping for an early night. Have sinned on the family front, as haven't done my weekly call to mother - but not sure I can face it right now.

And this week's haiku is:

The music rises,
your friendship fizzes in dance:
bodies in rhythm.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Windsor Castle

Too wet for Longleat today, so Lord H and I went to Windsor Castle instead. The changing of the guard was bizarre - lots of marching for no apparent purpose, but Lord H enjoyed it and took lots of photos. I particularly liked the Drawing Gallery - some good photos of the queen & entourage which I hadn't seen before, a few being very relaxed and fun. I was hugely jealous though of the one of the royal princesses on a rocking horse - I always longed for a rocking horse, and was never allowed one!... Damn it.

Still, was somewhat cheered by the State Apartments, which are glorious - great ceilings. Also enjoyed St George's Chapel - I never knew so many monarchs are buried there. At least it keeps them all together - we know where they are ... But, another thousand damns - the Sacristan on duty at the door had a badge with his name and title on - damn! Why can't I have a badge? I'm a Sacristan too! - deep sigh ...

However, much to my joy, the shop had a Noah's Ark in a snowstorm, so just had to buy that for work. Trashy gifts 'r' us! Lord H sighed deeply ... Ooh, and bought jam too - can never resist it, especially as they had quince & rose petal jelly. Bliss.

Tonight, it's "Doctor Who" and a take-away chinese from the shop. We also stocked up on our wine, but we've now broken one bottle. Curses.

Anne Brooke

Friday, May 26, 2006

Haircut & golf ...

... not a great combination, especially in the wind. Ah well. At least I looked relatively elegant (almost) for half a morning. Golf was fine, but didn't enjoy it as much as usual for some reason, even though I did okay. Marian was great though - and parred the ninth with a fantastic putt. My putt wasn't so bad either, but sadly not as exciting. Ah well - again!

Did more work on "The Gifting", but I'm not as happy with the scene I wrote up today, as I was with yesterday's. Too much talking & angst, I think, and maybe not enough action - it's irritating me, but I'll have to wait till another day to redo. Or maybe just leave it - and try another scene. Sometimes these things work themselves out. The JBWB editor ( has sent back another chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh", so made the suggested changes to that. Then had a lovely nap for two hours in the afternoon - bliss.

The book recommended to me by my counsellor (goodness, how modern I'm beginning to sound ...) has arrived, so I'll get stuck into that at some stage soon. Tonight though, it's TV comedy night. Will have to do some cleaning somewhere in the midst of it, I fear - groan. There's no silver lining without that cloud. When, oh when, will somebody create a press-button solution for all the domestic chores?

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ascension Day

Edited my summer ghost story as suggested by Guildford Writers ( and it certainly seems to have improved it. Then wrote the beginning of a piece (short story? novel? - hard to say) including the phrases, "country music", "smart thinking" and "illustration" for our UniSWriters group. It came out as hard-nosed chick lit, so goodness knows whether I'll continue it at all, but hell it was fun to write.

Lunch with Jean T in Milford - an hour or so of off-the-wall conversation which flowed over me like a river, and which always makes me feel as if somehow I'm not as strange as I'd feared - quite reassuring really. Then a quick pop to see Gladys & home. Where I did another 1000 words of "The Gifting" and really enjoyed getting deeper into the story. Simon and his thoughts and feelings are beginning to take me over more as it goes on - which is fairly usual for this stage in the novel. I'll now have him in my head for at least two years - even after I've finished writing them, they linger on. Like a good wine. Or piles. Difficult to say which, sometimes.

Tonight, Lord H and I went to the Ascension Service - not many there, but we lit enough candles for the 5000 to appear, should they have wished to. One of the local priests, John Bundock, took the service - he may be our priest for real in the long run, but that's a few years down the line yet, as they're still hoping to appoint a temporary guy/gal for three years until a real decision on our future has to be made. John's quiet but sweet. And I think he quite liked us by the end of it all.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Counselling day

Didn't feel like writing my blog yesterday - it was a difficult day, apart from the high points of the UniSWriters' group at lunchtime and Guildford Writers in the evening, the latter of which I chaired due to non-appearance of the usual suspects. People - where were you? We missed you ... Apart from that, I made a mess of something I had to do at work, and felt the fall-out. Funny how one little thing can completely destroy any confidence I might have thought I had - or maybe not so funny after all. The struggle to fit in becomes increasingly complex.

So, to today. A better day, thank the Lord, and people were nice. Which I hadn't expected. Counselling with Zoe was great - maybe it's okay to stay in the puzzled zone for a while, no matter how uncomfortable the feeling. Getting used to not being able to solve things instantly is, I see, going to take some ... well ... getting used to. Thank goodness I'm able to talk about this sort of stuff now and again to Lord H. And Zoe has recommended a book to read which might also help, so have ordered this. We trog onwards. Slowly.

This evening, have received my professional critique on "A Dangerous Man" from the You Write On site ( which was, I think, very generous and also helpful. And have had a few good comments on "The Gifting" from one of the Writewords ( members, which was a very pleasant boost indeed.

As for reading, have given up on the award-winning "26a" as I just didn't care enough. And have finished Jodi Picoult's "Vanishing Acts". Not one of her best, to my mind - the main character was way too perfect and the two subsidiary men's adoration of her frankly ridiculous. And the prison scenes - totally out of place! That said, the tension and page-turning pizzazz of it all kept me hooked and the court scenes were top notch.

Anne Brooke

Monday, May 22, 2006

Student Care Services Steering Group

Spent the morning catching up on last week's emails, then took the minutes for the steering group at lunchtime. This was made more horrific than usual as two of the papers in it were mine, so I had to present them. How I hate speaking in meetings. I was in a real panic beforehand and took two calming pills and a flower remedy spray. Thank goodness for herbs. Still, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared - partly because there were a few apologies, so there were fewer people there, thank the Lord. And the bliss when it's over is uncontainable. I rewarded myself with two mini muffins and a decaf. What a wild one I am indeed.

The afternoon was spent on the minutes, but didn't manage to finish them - which means I still have two sets of minutes lurking in the shadows, damn it. I do so love to get things finished. Shopping tonight, and then it's "New Tricks" later. Where would I be without comfort viewing? Not to mention the handy unfinished bottle of red from yesterday - hurrah!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Easter 6

Lord H did church/sacristan duties for me today, as our visiting priest was one I can't stand. And yes, I know that's not very Christian (whatever that means ...) but it's human. Live with it. Worse, the same guy is doing our next 8am service in a few weeks' time, so I'll have to persuade our Lay Reader to do my duties for me then, I think. I can't possibly ask Lord H to get up so early - it would be cruel.

Spent the morning catching up on my monthly round of writing competition entries, and remembered to add a flyer for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" into them all - well, one can always hope - then watched the video of "Hannibal" which I recorded last week. Quite interesting actually. Later on, I'm hoping to catch up with "Dr Who", having missed it yesterday. Talking of which, yesterday's murder mystery event (half play/half clue discussion) wasn't all that great. Very creaky indeed, to be honest. Lord H and I could do a better script with our hands tied together and our pens removed. And my goodness, the folk in Dunsfold are strange. I don't think I'll be rushing to see another performance. I would rather have watched "Eurovision", which at least has Terry Wogan in it to keep the sanity levels up. Loved the wild rock Finnish entry though - what a welcome change from our normal Eurovision pap winner.

And "Invasion" tonight - the tension is mounting.

Oh, and today's haiku is

Your hands soothe my feet
to silence and green meadows.
Hear the rivers play.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cake making day

A trip to the cathedral for Lord H to look at the library and for me to buy a dedication present for a work colleague's son. Feel quite pleased with my eventual choice. Back at the ranch, made chocolate fairy cakes - although each has only one wing as I couldn't be arsed to half them. We had some of them for lunch, and they weren't bad at all. Much to my surprise.

A long nap this afternoon, which was stunningly good. Sleep - my favourite hobby. Then uploaded a review for You Write On ( and requested, in turn, another review for "Thorn in the Flesh". There have been one or two positive comments for my poem on the Writewords site (, which has been a boost. In conversation with someone on Writewords, have decided that writing isn't about finishing up with a perfect book - not least because the author will never be perfect - but getting it as near as possible to where you are now and how you feel about things. At least that's how I think it is for me. It's self-discovery and the personal journey that count - the market can go hang.

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at a murder mystery evening - not sure whether it's a play, an event or something in between. No doubt, all will be revealed - one hopes.

Anne Brooke

Friday, May 19, 2006

Golfing ladies

A very good day today. Spent the morning doing marketing and PR for Goldenford (, as well as writing up the minutes from earlier in the week. Then played nine holes of golf with Marian over lunch time at the local club. It's great to get back into the swing (yes - pun deliberate) of it again - I'm sure we're much more relaxed without the menfolk, much as though we love them. And also it's much better playing during the day - now that Marian is retired - as we don't have to queue for the holes. In fact, apart from us, there was only a couple of men in front. Very enjoyable.

Visited Gladys from church on the way home - rather frail today, but over the moon that she'd managed to get five books out of the library on her weekly shopping trip. Some of them are rather racy - but knowing her, she'll enjoy that. And a jolly good thing too. Who ever said old ladies are staid? Not to my knowledge!

Have decided to concentrate on novels, and go easy on the short story competition entries for a while. With that in mind, I did more work on "The Gifting" and found myself really enjoying the writing - which I haven't been able to do for a while. A pleasant - and very welcome - surprise indeed. And I think - I hope - the result is all the better for it. Simon's journey is beginning to grip me a little more each day. He hasn't had the same wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am effect that some of my previous main characters have had, but he's certainly making his presence known - if more subtly.

Wrote a poem on the moon for Writers' News ( and posted onto UK Authors ( and Writewords ( for comments.

And Friday night is TV comedy night - what could be nicer? Oh, and by the way, yesterday's trip to the theatre to see Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women" was so dull we ran away in the interval. Not something we do very often. No doubt - and bearing previous experience in mind - this means that the Surrey Advertiser theatre critic will praise it to the skies. She's a woman with very strange tastes indeed on occasion!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Careers Service Committee

Patricia's last day today - so said farewell. She's moving to the New Forest - lucky her! - though she may be back for a couple of days after her hols next week, depending on how the house move goes. A fairly easy morning, other than that, then Careers Service Committee over lunch. It may well be our last one, depending on whether the new Committee structure is accepted. Can't say I'll be devastated - it's never really fitted with the rest of my Student Care stuff.

Spent the afternoon trying to write the minutes up - what joy life is! - and ended with being about halfway through. Still, it could have been worse.

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the theatre, so hope it's a good one. And, on the writing front, I am pondering whether to stop doing any regular short stories in favour of concentrating on my novel, where my heart lies right now. It might be the best way forward - we'll see.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Counselling day

A good day at work today - am pretty much caught up with what needs doing, and managed to get work reading done too. Though I did ignore the QA stuff on the grounds that life's too short to get beyond the first paragraph of any QA article.

And a very good counselling session today - I really felt I was getting somewhere. Am realising I need to learn to be, rather than doing all the time. Maybe the time has come simply to stop and not worry if things fall off the radar. Also I'd like to do more things I actually enjoy, rather than the things which I think need to be done, and learn not to see life quite so much as a battle I have to grit my teeth and get through - which is, to be frank, very much my current attitude. That's the plan anyway. So have booked another 6 sessions which will - holidays considered - take me up to August, which seems right.

Had a short story rejected by Route when I got home - but as I'd already thought they'd rejected me last November, it wasn't too much of a surprise. They never take anything of mine anyway - not sure why I bothered. I won't again, I think.

And the Guildford Diocese ( summer courses' programme is now out - am strangely enthused by this, as it's a good range this year. Lord H and I are hoping to attend several, and I'm particularly interested in the one about attitudes to the body, and faith & sexuality. Hope to get time off work to do those which take place in the day, so will have to ask if it's okay. Am also thinking of looking into spiritual direction (which the diocese does provide), either later this year or next. This is something I've thought of before, but I've never felt quite ready for it. I'll think again after my counselling sessions are over in late summer. A way forward to ponder, in any case, especially as I'm getting very little from church at the moment (Lord H's comment: we're supposed to get something from church? Nobody told us ...!). We'll see.

Tonight, I'm out to the pub with Sian and Ami from the road - they're both moving out fairly soon, so it will be a "farewell drink".

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

At last! The parcel arrives ...

A miracle has indeed occurred. The Cards Made Easy flyers have at last arrived - though I did have to go 4 doors down to collect them, as they were delivered yesterday to the wrong address. Sigh. The same address which refused them before - but this time must have taken pity on me, thank the Lord. The flyers (for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice") are okay, but not worth the effort I've had to put in actually to get them. Cards Made Easy aren't a company I'll be using again. And I don't recommend them either.

The rest of the day has been fairly lazy. It's a day in lieu, which means I have to go in tomorrow and Thursday instead. Double groan. I should have been getting loads of writing done, but my stomach upset continues and instead I spent the morning asleep on the sofa. This afternoon, managed to do a little of an email story I'm writing for Writers' News ( but not as much as I'd have liked. Also the gentleman who yesterday emailed me about what I'd charge for a short story still isn't giving me the background information I need to deal with the request - so I've given him advice on self-publishing, printers and marketing, and also how to make the request clearer to other writers - as what he's saying ain't helping me any!

Shopped in Godalming later, and brought some detox tea and some detox bath oil. Hope to be a new woman by sunset. Hah! Some hope.

Another couple of chapters of "Thorn in the Flesh" turned up from my editor ( so have sorted out the issues there. And I've had a very positive review on the same novel from the You Write On ( site, which is reassuring.

Tonight it's another Goldenford ( meeting to minute - hope it's not too long, as I could do with yet more sleep. Not to mention feeling better. How I hate having to be out in the evening and, goodness, what a stick-in-the-mud I'm becoming. There's a surprise. Oh, and it looks like no bank holiday Shakespeare for me either - as "Antony and Cleopatra" is fully booked for the next 2 or 3 months. So my holiday plans are rapidly slipping away. Got quite tearful about this earlier on and threw the info away in a fit of pique, but feel too exhausted to make the effort to find somewhere/something else.

Oh, and I've just finished Nick Hornby's "A Long Way Down". A marvellous, deep and real novel - no matter what some of the strange reviewers on Amazon ( may think - what are they on?! The best Hornby's done so far - read it. But don't be in a state of misery when you do - as it may not help.

Anne Brooke

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reflexology day

Haven't felt well today - a slight stomach upset, which has been rather annoying. But trogged my way through a day at work, as it wasn't bad enough to stay at home. Which meant I could get fairly up-to-date with my in-tray, and go to a glorious, relaxing hour of Reflexology over lunch. So relaxing that I almost drifted off.

Did battle with Cards Made Easy to get my parcel delivered once more - it's becoming something of a hobby now. Not one I enjoy. I asked them to ring the couriers this time as I can't be arsed. Besides, I'm the ruddy customer - so why the hell am I doing all the ringing? They eventually promised me delivery today - but of course nothing was here when I got back from work. Surprise, surprise. Will have to ring them again tomorrow - what a bloody nuisance, and what - in all honesty - a crap company they are. Both of them. In my opinion. Next time, I'll use a local firm - I'd rather pay the extra than have to go through this again. Ever.

Lord H and I are thinking of going up to the RSC in Stratford to see "Antony and Cleopatra" over the bank holiday, but the RSC site ( doesn't seem to have an online booking facility - at least not for me - so I'll have to try to ring. Deep sigh. I hate the phone.

And I've received an email which seems to want to commission me to write a short story - I've no idea what it's about, so have asked for more details. It all sounds most odd to me, but perhaps I'm simply a cynical old trout. Hmm, don't answer that. At least it's "New Tricks" on TV tonight, so I'll be with my people.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Easter 5

Too tired to post my journal yesterday, as I spent all day in Guildford watching three Shakespeare Plays - "The Wars of the Roses" from Northern Broadsides Theatre - which was fantastic. Can thoroughly recommend it. It started with Henry VI - which was, I think, the best - and ended with Richard III. The use of music and drums to portray the various battles was particularly good and very dramatic. A wonderful day, marred only by Lord H being too ill to join me for the 3rd play in the evening - he's better now though.

And so to Sunday ... 8am church this morning, with a new and very sweet visiting priest - Ned Townshend. Good sermon too - about accepting ourselves and not needing to feel inadequate. Almost made me feel like praying again. Almost. He can come again, for sure.

Have spent most of the rest of the day catching up with TV and doing the cleaning. Lord H was well enough to serve at the Family Service, but I never go to that - I'm not needed as there's no communion, plus I don't like children and, hey, I've done my time today. One service a week is more than enough.

And tonight, it's "Invasion", and I'll record the Hannibal drama for later in the week. I can never resist an elephant.

And this week's haiku is:

Tonight, on stage, seeing
the performed prayers of others,
I long to pray again.

Anne Brooke

Friday, May 12, 2006

More terrible service from ANC Camberley ...

.... well, did they deliver my goods? Did they hell. Surprise, surprise. Honestly, they're rubbish. Apparently, they've simply returned them to sender, even though they told me they'd be delivering so I've waited in for most of the day. Even their Head Office in Stoke-on-Trent think they're appalling and can't understand it. I am angry beyond belief. And I can't understand why it's me who has to keep phoning and chasing. Surely Cards Made Easy (am I bothering with their web address either? - no way) should make a fuss too. Has anyone heard of customer service at all? Load of thick bastards, say I. And now I'm promised (promised? huh - I'll believe it when I see it) delivery on Monday or Tuesday, but ANC are too stupid to know which day it might be. God, they're idiots.

But at least I've managed to do another 10000 words of "The Gifting" so something in the day has gone right. And I've uploaded another section of that particular novel to the Writewords ( site for comments. And Lord H is back now, thank God.

Tonight we're going to friends in Woking for dinner. I could certainly do with the break. Hope it's not too late though, as I need an early night. Desperately. It's too damn hot.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the writing ...

Ooh, what a day of whizzes and bangs indeed. Up and down all the time! Made two phone calls chasing up people who haven't delivered goods to us yet - the first one being the religious suppliers, Kevin Mayhew ( who were utterly charming as always (it's a joy every time to speak with the honey-voiced man in the candles department ...) and promised to resend.

The second people were ANC in Camberley who were supposed to deliver a pack of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" flyers to me from Cards Made Easy ( - but it's obviously a case of Easy Cards and Difficult Couriers. Mind you, I've had trouble with ANC before and, in my opinion, they're crap. Which I wouldn't mind so much if the woman on reception wasn't quite so rude - she managed to accuse me of rejecting the goods (when I hadn't had them), failing to ring them up (when no card was left) and then threatened (yes, that is how it felt to me ...) to send the goods back to Cards Made Easy without bothering to deliver again. It's a good thing I didn't want them urgently! Anyway, we finally worked out that in fact the driver had delivered to the wrong address entirely, which was of course why the stuff had been refused, and had never bothered to ring me (and they had my number) to sort it out. Apparently, they might possibly be delivered tomorrow, but who can tell? And did I get any kind of apology? Did I heck! At least Cards Made Easy tell me they're ditching ANC and going with a courier who can actually deliver and be nice. And if the goods come back to them after all, they'll send them straight on to me again and use someone else to do so. The plot thickens ...

Did another 2000 words of "The Gifting", which was the main thrust of the day. I'm so glad I've finally got round to writing the novel again, as I was starting to think I'd never get down to it. Ooh, and I've been shortlisted for another Writers' News ( poetry competition, and also received two very positive reviews on "A Dangerous Man" and "Thorn in the Flesh" on the You Write On ( site. Lovely to have a boost now and then.

Further news also on "Maloney's Law" - have sent a partial MS and synopsis off to Poisoned Pen Press ( who have requested this. Have let my agent ( know, and he seems happy. Will have to wait and see now. The game continues.

Also collected the proof copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" from Goldenford ( - it looks great! Jackie has done a fantastic job on the typesetting and Keith's cover is brilliant. I'm incredibly happy with it all. There are a couple of things which will need changing in the next print run (should it come to that), but I can worry about that later. At least, the 100 copies will be available for the launch now, as long as they're delivered okay. Lord preserve us from ANC!

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Counselling day

Managed to get the first draft of the Mental Health minutes done and with the boss by home time. Lovely. That's a relief. Also minuted a Putting Students First meeting I was secretly reluctant to get involved in (oh no, please, not another meeting - have mercy ...!), but in the end it wasn't so bad. Though, why oh why does everyone insist on using flipcharts? I'm sure they're evil. We'd all communicate better without them. Or not communicate at all, which would be my preferred alternative, I have to say.

Counselling today was quite inspiring - I still feel it's all a muddle, but at least I might be making some sort of movement somewhere. Though I suspect it will be a long and slow process full of frustrations - but ultimately rewarding, I hope. We struggle on ...

Bad and good news this evening. The bad news is that the father of a close friend of mine has just died - a terrible thing. Hard to know what to say - have tried to ring and will try again later, but of course she may not want to talk. In the meantime, have emailed, although I know it's not adequate. What is?

The good news (of a sort) is that Antony Rowe ( have printed and bound 100 copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" by mistake without getting our go-ahead first. There a slight pages error at the back, according to Jackie, but the relief of being sure we have them for the launch drowns out all other sorrows. And they're offering us a 10% discount for the error, which can't be bad. So I shall go round to Jennifer's ( tomorrow to look at the proof, but the worry about schedules is wiped away. Phew.

My next two chapters of "Thorn in the Flesh" have come back from my editor ( who seems pleased with them, so I've made the corrections and will wait for the next set of enclosures. The game continues.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Administrative Development Course & Kinesiology

A day in London today at the penultimate university admin course - today we focused on conflict resolution. It was great! Lots of psychology, which I love, plus discussions on emotional intelligence and managing our inner state, plus useful exercises. The presenter was the best so far - as indeed was the course.

Afterwards, I had a session with my kinesiologist ( which has given me lots of other things to try, which I'll work on over the next month.

The train travel has shattered me though. Thank goodness I don't commute any more.

Anne Brooke

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mental Health Task Group

Managed to get last week's minutes done, checked and out today - I'm cooking on gas, obviously! Then had the Mental Health Task Group over lunchtime, and struggled with those minutes afterwards. It's the Group's last meeting ever, but fear not - we all just reinvent ourselves under another name - the Student Mental Wellbeing Group - and carry on meeting. Oh the joys of university life ...

A mammoth Tesco shop this evening - thank goodness that's over. I hate having to not go home at once after work is over. Home is my inner sanctuary - I love being here. Sometimes it's like an ache to go home if I'm away. I'd probably be happy never to travel anywhere again, but I have to admit some of our holidays are in fascinating palaces.

Joy! The proof copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" has apparently arrived at Goldenford (, and Jennifer is happy with it. Have asked if she wants me to check it, but am happy to go with the majority approval, bearing time constraints in mind - the launch is on 22 June. So that's some good news. On the other hand, my "Champers" flyers appear to have been delivered to someone else last week - am desperately trying to get some kind of response from the online printers - idiots!! - (note to self - I won't be using them again ...) as to where they are. Watch this space.

Tonight it's "New Tricks" on TV. Bliss. Better do the ironing while I'm watching it. Groan. And poor Lord H is shattered tonight - work has been hell for him for ages now. Hope it's better soon.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Trip to The Vyne, Basingstoke

Average church day today, with no obvious disasters and no sudden baptisms - thank the Lord. Had the first of our visiting priests post Geoffrey's departure - this time it was the turn of Robin Roe, who has a wonderful Irish accent and can spin a good yarn with the best of them. And he has the humility to fit in with us, which is great - some visiting vicars come bearing gifts of their own egos/ideas, which doesn't go down well. Robin can come again.

At last stirred myself enough to wash the car - an action well overdue by now. Then Lord H and I went to The Vyne (National Trust property in Basingstoke) for lunch, a viewing of the house and the usual trip round the shop (including the customary purchase of two chocolate mice - which don't last long). Had an absolutely wonderful rhubarb and apple crumble and custard at lunch, by the way, during which I'm sure I achieved Nirvana. Twice. Also bought more appropriate stuff at the shop for our departing work colleague.

Am planning a slob-out evening in front of the TV, once I've done my usual mother call. And another weekend drifts by ...

This week's haiku is:

Fleeing the dark North,
I leave my history behind.
I'm myself again.

And, boy, does it feel like that!

Anne Brooke

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Editing day

An easy day - something of a relief after the general to-do of last week. Caught up with my online editing at Bewrite (, UK Authors (, Writewords ( and You Write On ( sites. The last one at You Write On has gained me a reading credit for "Thorn in the Flesh", so I'll wait to see what the comments are for that one this time. It's funny that my editor, Jenny,( seems to enjoy it more than my fellow struggling writers do. Still, that might work in my favour - you never know!

Brief trip to Godalming today to look for leaving presents and a card for a work colleague who's moving to the New Forest in mid-May. I have some ideas for what we might get, but it may have to wait for the bright lights of Guildford next week. Nap this afternoon, and now Lord H and I are getting ourselves geared up for "Dr Who" and a Chinese this evening. Hmm, lovely - on both counts.

Anne Brooke

Friday, May 05, 2006

Student Experience Group

Goodness, how agonising it is to go back on a Friday, of all days, just for one day this week. Almost unbearable. Still, at least I managed to catch up on emails - and get almost all the minutes of the Student Experience Group written up by the end of the day. Which leaves that much less to do on Monday when I go back. These two day weekends just aren't long enough.

Barbara Large of the Annual Writers' Conference ( is willing to mention "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" at the plenary address of the conference in June, which is great PR, and hugely kind of her. Am really pleased - as is Jennifer of Goldenford ( Barbara even says she'll buy a copy, which is great. Hope she likes it! A couple of people at UniS have mentioned "Pink Champers", and said they'll buy a copy too. So good news there in the writing (aka "real" - one can only hope ...) career zone.

And I've got the next chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh" back from my editor - so will get on with improving that over the weekend. How I wish I could get some good news on "Maloney's Law" though, which is still doing the rounds. I keep prompting my agent ( subtly for some kind of advice on this, but he just doesn't take the bait. Damn it. Next time I write to him, I think I'll just screw my courage to the sticking point (?place? - can't be arsed to look that quote up ...) and ask outright. Am beginning to think he'll dump me soon, which will be irritating. But, hell, I've been there before - so it wouldn't be too much of a surprise. It's so damn hard trying to be - and pretending to others to be - positive, when underneath I feel anything but. Ho hum.

Just finished reading Hilary Mantel's "Beyond Black". Bloody brilliant. Everyone should read it. And I will most definitely be buying and reading more of her stuff. Why can't everyone write like her?

Anne Brooke

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Return from the North

Thank goodness - I'm home! It's been an exhausting three days going up to York, staying with my aunt and uncle, plus my mother, and going to Harrogate and getting my Writers' News ( poetry winner certificate. Didn't feel as happy about it as I thought I would - perhaps I'm just going through a low phase. Again. Or maybe it's just because I wasn't Poet of the Year, or the Winner of Winners. Hey there, surely my stuff is better than theirs? Though right now it actually all seems rather pointless, especially as my main focus is the novel-writing at the moment. And, much as I'm fond of my more mature relatives (the younger ones of course remaining nameless), they are very demanding. I'll have to see if Lord H can come if I win anything next year. Maybe we can skulk in a hotel or something and avoid telling anyone. Might be the safer option.

Have come back to what looks like a horrendously busy day at work tomorrow. How I hate these meetings. Not to mention the ridiculous amounts of organisation needed to prepare for next week's and the week after's meetings. Heck, has no-one remembered I'm part-time? Answer - no. I shall have to start missing deadlines or something, just in order to get the message across. How I wish I could afford to write full-time. Roll on, retirement ...

Have just finished reading Ann Granger's "Flowers for his Funeral" - standard crime cosy stuff, but pleasant enough for the train. And also finished Jodi Picoult's "Plain Truth" - loved it. Gripping page-turning writing. Though I had realised what had actually happened a long time before the end. Still, Picoult's always worth reading, even though I don't normally like legal novels.

Anne Brooke

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bank Holiday Monday

Packed ready for my trip to Harrogate tomorrow to Thursday, so no more blog till then. I'll be attending the Writers' News ( awards ceremony on Wednesday with my mother and my aunt to claim my winnings for the journey poetry competition. So will be staying with my aunt in York during that time. I hope York is ready for the three mad northern women.

Had an email from my agent ( about "The Gifting" - he's keen to get more than Simon's viewpoint in order to get a balanced view of the world in which the novel is set. I understand that's the market trend but, to be frank, I don't do multiviewpoint novels. I only live in the main character's view, so that's where I'll stay. Sod the market - hell, what's it ever done for me? Besides, I hope I'll be giving a wider view of the world as Simon and his entourage travel through it anyway. So hopefully, John will be happy. And if not, well, that's the way I write best, so that's what I'll continue to do. Market or no market! Surely the poor author must have some say ... Also prepared my monthly submission to a poetry magazine - am having a go at the revitalised "Brando's Hat" this time. So expect either complete silence or a quick rejection from them over the next three months. I'm better at winning poetry competitions than actually getting the damn mags to take me. Fools!

Visited Disraeli's house in High Wycombe - Hughenden House - this afternoon. Beautiful grounds, but hell for parking. I actually found the house very moving - a grand facade, but with a plainer interior. Much like the man himself, one suspects. Also visited St Michael & All Angels church at the bottom of the grounds on the way out - simple, but they're obviously very lively, with lots of (interesting - and not evangelical, hurrah!) things going on. Would that St Peter's might do something similar one day.

Watched "Brokeback Mountain" on DVD early evening - very moving, of course, but nowhere near as good and astonishing as the book. And later, it'll be "New Tricks" - so a pleasant end to the bank holiday.

Anne Brooke