Friday, June 30, 2006

Coffee with Ang

Nipped into Godalming this morning and spent my birthday book tokens and Smith's vouchers. In Ottakar's, I saw that Emma Darwin's "The Mathematics of Love" was on the shelves in the new novels section. Signed as well. So snapped that up, as she's someone I know from Writewords ( But wicked Ottakar's - it's actually not officially published till Monday. So hurrah - I've got an advanced copy. Must admit also, at this stage, to feelings of consuming jealousy - someone I know has a novel published by a mainstream publisher which is actually in the shops without having to struggle. God, that must feel so good. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like.

And onto coffee with an old Detica friend, Ang. Spent an enjoyable morning drinking tea and catching up, as well as selling her a copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice". I confessed that actually my novel's heroine is named after Ang herself - as I tend to use names of people I know until the last possible moment, and she seemed a good fit. Also enjoyed meeting her 15-month old daughter, Saskia - which is rare for me, seeing as I hate and dread children so much - but Saskia is shy and quiet, so that suits me down to the ground.

At home, I did more work on "The Gifting" and enjoyed it as well - the first time in a long time, or so it seems. Drove into Guildford and gave 5 copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" to Ottakar's there, as they'd asked for it. A relief that part of it is over. I do so hate PR. Once home again, I responded to my editor's ( comments on the last two chapters of "Thorn in the Flesh" and started reading it through before I send it out to my agent ( Which will probably take about a week or so, depending on how much time I have.

Oh, and I've just finished reading Margaret Gill's "The Secret of the Scrolls" - an action adventure for older children, which I rather enjoyed. The settings and pace were particularly good. And, at last, my offering to the recent BBC Southern Counties Radio "Write Hear, Write Now" competition has been published on line and can be found at:
though no news as to when it will be broadcast yet, darn it. Nice to see me up there though!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Writers' Conference homework

Finished off the "homework" left over from the Annual Writers' Conference ( today. Felt very pleased as this meant writing up two or three scenes of "The Gifting", and the beginning of what may well turn out to be my next novel, provisionally entitled "Hall's Battle". I think that's going to be a fantasy too. That's the way it seems to be going at the moment anyway. Once done, I sent over three pages of the stuff to the conference tutor who'd asked for it - Paul Bavister. I'll be interested to see what his comments will be, particularly on the issue of person/place, which I often struggle with. I have to keep reminding myself to establish a character in his/her environment, describe it through their eyes and keep them there - wherever "there" might be. Doing that means the work carries more weight and vigour - two essential ingredients to any novel. I enjoyed doing this morning's projects too - maybe one way forward out of any writing block, short or long, is to write longhand first and then type it up onto the computer, editing as I go. Usually, I type straight onto the screen - but maybe it's time to ring the changes a little?

On the poetry front, I sent off samples for a possible chapbook to HappenStance Press ( - we live in hope.

Today I've been dreading making contact with Guildford Ottakar's to ask about taking a few copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" - I hate doing this sort of thing as it makes me feel so open to attack. And, God, how I hate attack. Bookshops, please note - I feel vulnerable enough as it is - there's no need to twist the knife any more! Anyway, I wimped out of telephoning Cheryl (the manager) - I also hate the phone with a vengeance - and emailed instead. She emailed back to request 5 copies sale or return, which is fine by me. I'll take them in next week probably. But there was no response to my suggestion that she might like to have an Ottakar's/Goldenford ( evening during the October Book Festival. Ah well, probably a request too far ...

Attempted to visit Gladys this afternoon, but she was fast asleep, so I left the church sheet and a note. Will try again next week, as she's always too tired on Fridays. Instead I started on my editing of Darren Green's (aka Dan) fantasy novel from Guildford Writers ( I know I'm going to enjoy it, as it's hot stuff (publishers - please note: the bloke's a genius, and his novel, "Wildblood" is hot hot hot). I have no idea why he's so bloody unconfident about it. All it needs are tweaks and suggestions, and then I'll advise he sends it out to at least ten agents/publishers. If they've got any sense, they'll snap it up. It's also right up my own agent's street - so shall suggest that also when I hand it back. John J ( you've got some fantastic stuff heading your way late summer - so I'd better get my act together and get "Thorn in the Flesh" sorted out too. God knows, I can't take the competition ...!

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Counselling and golf

Did some web stuff at work today, so that was more interesting. I enjoy doing that kind of project - far better than the meetings I have to go to.

Counselling with Zoe at lunchtime - rather difficult and intense today, but worthwhile, if I could only get my head round it. It feels as if I've forgotten how to be myself at some level, as I've been trying so hard for so long to keep people at bay by using distorted images of who I am. We were talking about how, when I'm depressed, I feel much more real - but when I'm on that level plateau again, everything feels slightly false. Most of the time, I don't really feel that much, but I'm bloody good at pretending it. Hey, so I'm good at bloody something then! The other problem is I actually don't like people that much either, but there seem to be so many of them I'm supposed to be connected to, or have some kind of relationship with. It's exhausting. Actually, to be honest, I could probably not see 99% of them again and not feel the loss; the people I really connect with are (a) Lord H - we're two of a kind, both loners at heart, and (b) Jane W - I can talk to her and she listens, without judging or assuming I'm the person I pretend to be. Apart from those two, the rest is just window-dressing. I would have been happy to be a hermit. In another life, maybe? The basic fact is right now it feels raw, and I don't know where the next stage of the journey is. But, hey, welcome to the world. It is what it is.

Golf with Marian this evening - enjoyed this, and played okay, though had one or two bad holes. Isn't that always the case?

Did about half a page of an end scene of "The Gifting" and felt I'd finally broken the silence that's been lurking around that novel for a week or so. It may not be much, but it means a lot at a time when I'm not writing with the usual commitment. And tonight, it's "The Convent" - maybe an hour of pseudo-religious pap will take the edge off the day. You never know.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Disability Advisory Group workshop

A slow morning at work. No, really slow. Incredibly slow - so slow you could have had a snail race and it would have been high excitement. Had a walk round campus at lunchtime and sat on the bench near the lake. Five or six moorhens were pecking peacefully on the grass. The moment I sneezed, they all stopped and craned their necks in unison to see what the danger might be - surreal moment. After a while, they obviously realised I wasn't a threat, so carried on pecking.

This afternoon was the Disability Advisory Group workshop. Ruth invited me, even though it's not a group I usually go to, and it was rather interesting. Strangely. Lots of new legislation coming up and we all have to be more positive about disabilities. And disabilities is a wide term ranging from simple physical issues to mental health needs - so it could happen to any of us. Also lovely to attend a meeting I didn't have to ruddy minute - hurrah!

Received a couple more cheques for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" when I got home - which I will have to remember to give to the Goldenford team ( when I'm at Guildford Writers ( next week. Thanks, Roger & Dee of Writewords ( for the support - much appreciated.

Later, Jay Mandal from Bewrite ( is popping round to collect his books that I failed to sell at the Writers' Conference ( Shame, but I think he would have done better if Bewrite had thought to offer a discount - at these sorts of events, everyone else does ...

Anne Brooke

Monday, June 26, 2006

Defrosting the work fridge

Quite a slow day at work today - had one meeting cancelled (something of a relief), messed around with some other minutes and cleared my email pile. Walked into Guildford at lunch and visited Lush to stock up on products with my 10% off gift voucher (thanks, Julia!). In the afternoon, Ruth defrosted the work fridge and I provided essential advice and helpful comments while she was doing it - or possibly not. The ice monster was very determined, but not as determined as Ruth. At one stage, she was almost entirely in the fridge attempting to free it. At the point where we were trying to entice it out with a container of boiling water, Ruth wanted to know how hot the water actually was and decided to find out by means of putting her hand in. Hmm. Great move from a Health and Safety Officer ...

Oh, and I wrote a poem called "Waiting for the AA" - if I get nothing else from Friday night/Saturday morning's experience, I shall dredge up some inspiration at least.

Lord H and I watched "Dr Who" on the video this evening - good episode, I thought. And it all looks doom & gloom for next week and poor Rose. Ah well.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Post-Annual Writers Conference

Three days to catch up on here:

Friday 23 June 2006:

Excellent conference day. A day workshop on "The power of place" with Paul Baverstock. Quite a minimalist tutor, but it did mean you could interpret tasks in your own way. Managed to start what might be my next novel, after "The Gifting", and also drew plans of Simon's room in "TG", and wrote what might turn into a few sections of that novel - to do with the mythology of where he lives. I'm planning to do maps now of Simon's journey, his home and his destination - if there's one thing I've learnt today, it's that seeing the physical fact of what's in my head actually drawn down on paper makes everything stronger.

And in the evening, I did the first part of a poetry workshop, "From image to resolution" with Phil Carradice. Inspirational. There were only two of us, so the workshop was both informal and intense. And very worthwhile - managed to write three poems I'm pleased with and can work on them a little more.

We stopped at 10pm, ahead of the normal 10.30pm finishing time, so I had high hopes of getting home by 11pm. Famous last words. The car wouldn't start - the battery was completely flat, so I called the AA at 10.15pm, telling them I was a woman on my own and therefore a priority call. They promised me they'd get there in 90 minutes. Hmm, some priority. 90 minutes later, at 11.45pm, I rang again. They apologised, saying they couldn't get to me after all, so would put my call out to a sub-contractor (who shall remain nameless ...). This sub-contractor would get to me in an hour. At midnight, I got quite tearful and felt terribly lonely - really cut-off as if I'd be there forever, lost in the dark universe of the car park. At 12.15, I was desperate for the loo, so had to go across the campus grass, up the steps to the second level (the Winchester University car park is at the bottom of a hill), past the Stripe Theatre and into the loos in the Students' Union. No-one around, thank God. At 12.30, I gave up being sad and frightened, and got quite angry. If anyone from the bloody AA had turned up then, I might well have torn them limb from limb. At 12.45, I rang the AA again (with my mobile now virtually on its last legs ...), who said the sub-contractor had never received my details and they were now putting it out to another one. This second sub-contractor would be there in half an hour. To be fair, Emma from the AA did apologise and say she'd ring me at 1.10am to see if anyone had arrived.

At last, at 1.10am (so something the AA said was correct after all - result, eh?!), Matt from Ravenscroft Motors turned up. Never has a man been so welcome! While he was there, I tried to find a loo again, but gave up as the Students' Union was closed, and I didn't want to risk going any further into the campus. Lovely though Matt was, he didn't accompany me anywhere - which actually I think, in retrospect, he should have done. The RAC don't let women wander around on their own, apparently - so why should the AA? So, Matt recharged my battery and, at last, at 1.30pm I finally set off on the hour's drive home.

During all this, Lord H had been giving the AA hell - and rightly so, I think. It's really not good enough. We got to bed at 3am.

Saturday 24 June 2006:

Goodness, I was tired. Took Lord H's car back to the conference, as I didn't trust my own. Can you blame me? Not a bad writing day, however. The poetry sessions in the afternoon were particularly good. And I managed to sell 6 copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" at the Goldenford ( stall. Hurrah! I also bravely attempted to approach the author, Lorna Fergusson, to ask if she might consider doing a review of "A Dangerous Man" when it comes out from Flame ( later in the year, as she'd been so positive about it when I first came to the conference, and had even sought me out to tell me so. However, obviously, my sheen has faded, as she brushed me off almost before I'd finished talking. Hmm, can't say I was that impressed with her attitude. Or her memory. And I certainly won't be buying her book (not that I could actually get past the prologue anyway ... ah, bitchery, bitchery!...).

Rather disappointed with my competition results this year - only a shortlisting in the poetry, and a Highly Commended in the haibun section. Buggery. Still, I never really understand what the haibun/haiku man is saying and, in the past, each time I've won or been placed in that competition, the only prize is the books (written by him!) which I've read before and didn't enjoy then ... so it's no great loss. Ah, bitchery and bitterness - what a weekend I'm having!

When I got home, Lord H updated me on the ongoing disaster of the AA. He'd wanted to take my car out that morning to do some photography, but again the battery was flat. When he rang the AA, they got uppity that he doesn't have a Homestart facility (though I do), and eventually (bearing the circumstances in mind) agreed to do a courtesy repair in an hour and five minutes. When Lord H rang them an hour and five minutes later, they promised someone within another half hour and told him off for having a duff battery in the first place. Of course, they shut up when Lord H told them that in fact it was the AA who'd given us the battery six months ago. They turned up quickly enough after that and replaced it, and now - so far! - the thing appears to be working. Still, Lord H is demanding financial compensation, which is fair enough, in my opinion.

Sunday 25 June 2006:

Took my car back to the last morning of the conference - it's still working! A great morning on part two of the "From image to resolution" workshop. Wrote two more poems, one about Lord H. Ah, the muse, the muse ...

About to go home when the AA rang me. This time, it was someone from the complaints section. He apologised again, made me recite the whole thing once more, and then offered compensation of vouchers or a membership upgrade. Bloody chancers - who do they think we are? Idiots? And do they not think I talk to my husband??? Give me money, you losers - it's a damn sight better for you than the picture of a dead woman in the papers, murdered because the bloody AA failed to turn up ...

And if you think I'm not joining the RAC pretty damn quick, you're more fools than I thought you were.

So, in honour of the occasion, a haiku:

In my thin, metal case
I wait. Slow leaves darken
against midnight sky.

Anne Brooke

Just as

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pink Champagne and Apple Juice launch, and one good review!

Got up this morning to find a very positive review of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" on the Writewords ( site - thanks, Nell! You can't ever imagine how much better that has made me feel ... And because I'm so excited about it, here's the review itself:

"Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is a rollicking roller-coaster of a ride from the moment we first encounter Angie, legging it along Platform One, her mother in hot pursuit. She just makes it onto the train to the big city, leaving her mum either gesticulating or waving on the platform. ‘There, I’ve done it,’ she said to herself. ‘I’ve finally left home.’ It was only then she realized she’d forgotten to pack any knickers. The knickers turn up again – in fact knickers both actual and metaphorical pop up (and down) fairly frequently before the end of the story. All the ingredients needed for a few hours escape from the mundane are here: there’s John, Angie’s transvestite uncle, concealing more than his sexuality beneath the paint and feathers; a gorgeous French waiter called Philippe; Heinrich, an intimidating German chef and the colourful staff and clientele of The Den Nightclub, as well as Angie herself, trying her wings for size and creating chaos in the process. But nothing and nobody in this novel, except possibly Angie herself, are quite what they seem. There are lessons to be learned, family secrets to be uncovered and a way to be made in the big wide world that’s so different from the quiet Essex village she’s abandoned. The writing carried me along at a cracking pace, and I laughed aloud more than once. Anne Brooke makes it look so easy. An enjoyable and light-hearted read and the perfect holiday novel or pick-me-up for a grey day. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a single sitting. Pure escapism!"

Hey, that made me feel good. I've read it so many times now I could probably recite it verbatim. Which just goes to show how sad and needy writers are. No surprises there then.

Popped into Godalming and signed five copies of Champers for Ottakar's (thank you, Kevin and Sarah!), who were sweetness itself. Then ran the uninterested gauntlet of "The Surrey Bookshop". Goodness me, that was like getting blood out of a stone - and seeing that I am a valued customer there, I was distinctly not impressed. They barely managed to take one copy, and even then at a raised discount. Thanks a lot, guys - not. I shall definitely commence my book purchasing over the road at Ottakar's then.

Lord H came home for the afternoon, and has been working on the cover of Jay Margrave's "The Gawain Quest" for Goldenford ( Later, it will be the launch of Champers, and Jacquelynn Luben's "A Bottle of Plonk" (spot the alcoholic theme!) at the Guildford Institute, so am very nervous about that. God, I hope it's all right. I've taken 2 calming pills, and will have a secret calming spray later, so maybe it'll be fine. And talking of which, I am very much fed up with the high numbers of church people who have backed out of the launch (or not even had the decency to respond ...) at the last minute. Bad show, people. Don't you have any idea how much it means to me? It seems that as long as I do my sacristan job Sunday by Sunday, no-one actually gives a damn about what really matters to me. Sounds harsh? Hell, that's the way it feels - live with it.

And I've done my monthly round of competition entries - mainly poetry. It's always good to tick something else off the writing list.

Meanwhile, onward to the launch ... wish me luck.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My 42nd birthday

An up and down day today. Had some lovely presents and unexpected surprises - people dropped in at work and said nice things and gave gifts, so that was lovely, and very much appreciated. But the shadow of tomorrow's launch for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", not to mention the intensity and worry of the weekend's Annual Writers' Conference ( is hanging over my head like the proverbial sword. It feels as if everyone is expecting so much in a very short timescale which I simply don't have the ability to perform. Quite stressful really.

Work-wise, the day was long - not much to do at all really. Did have a nice lunch with the office crew. And Lord H sent roses & lilies - again, much appreciated. Wish I'd been at home though - could have done with the sleep.

Actually, and to be honest, I'm not sure I like being 42. It seems so adult all of a sudden - so many years lived and nothing done, or achieved. And not writing isn't helping much either - it's all building up inside with nowhere to go. But, right now and unfortunately, there's no damn time to write; my days are full of PR, marketing, attempting to sell "Pink Champagne" and simple survival. Damn it.

This evening, I shall attempt to do nothing and watch "The Convent" on TV - surely that might make me feel calmer, at least? I'm just too hyper right now. Mind you, I did write a secret poem today, when I shouldn't have - am fairly happy with it too and have uploaded it onto the Writewords site ( for comment. Am becoming desperate to write something on "The Gifting" though. We live in hope ...

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Not a bad day at work today - even managed to distribute the incredibly small-fonted (how the heck do they think people can read this stuff??) nursery flyers, and discovered parts of the university I never knew existed. And I've been here two years now.

Had the UniSWriters group at lunch - lots of manuscripts to look at, and a new person turned up, so that was good. We also said goodbye to Angela, one of our stalwarts, who's leaving at the end of the month. I'll really miss her. So we had cake to mark the occasion. Nobody bought a copy of my magnum opus though - sob! Ah well, I'll hide in my writers corner (I have attempted to put an apostrophe in that phrase, but can't be arsed to work out whether I'm single or plural - 'twas ever thus ...) for a while and come out when the angst has blown over.

Guildford Writers ( tonight, and I'm taking along the slightly updated beginning of "The Gifting", bearing in mind my current short story embargo. It always seems more frightening reading out something from one of my novels, as it means more and feels more private, whereas the short stories always seem more distanced from me. I'll have to see how it goes.

Wrapped up another copy of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" for someone who wants it - hurrah! Now, all I have to do is wait for the cheques to come in ...

And I've just finished Philippa Gregory's "The Constant Princess". Not that impressed, I have to say. The character was terribly wordy and not that interesting. I think it's a case of the author getting carried away with their own love of their creation, so they fail to show the character's charm to the reader, having assumed we must already see it. Hell, we've all been there (as writers) and, no, this particular reader didn't see it.

Anne Brooke

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pink Champagne and Apple Juice publication date

Yep, it's finally here - my 3rd novel, "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", is published today by Goldenford Publishers ( - thanks, chap(esses)! - and ready for consumption. If anyone out there would like a copy of this stunning new work, just let me know or you can order from Amazon, if desired.

Hmm, and I think it's finally sinking in that it's real ... had a low morning at work, but am feeling considerably brighter this evening. The lunchtime reflexology helped a hell of a lot too - the afternoon was much more relaxed and energised. Have booked in several more appointments to get me over this down phase. Hope it's going to help. Also had a nice and helpful reply from Zoe at the university Counselling Centre to my rather desperate email, which was greatly appreciated. That might just see me through till I see her next on the 28th.

Came home post-Tesco shop (more hell ...!) to find an email from my "A Dangerous Man" editor, Sean, at Flame Books ( introducing himself - so that must be happening too. Somewhere in the ether. Which is something of a relief, as I was starting to get twitchy about it, not having heard anything for a while. Nice to know that they're still there and working on it.

And have just received back the latest chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh" from that particular editor (so many editors, so little time ...) - - so only 5 more chapters to go and we're there, thank the Lord. Talking of which, God's not my favourite thought at the moment either, to be honest - but maybe I'll just have to ride out that one too, and see where it takes me. I suppose my relationship with the supernatural has always been something of a roller-coaster, so perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised if the church/God thing is difficult. Hell, I should be used to it by now. And you know what they say - you just can't trust Him ... hmm.

I was very impressed, while I think of it, with the "Voices in my Head" programme on TV last night - great stuff. Apparently we all have them, and it's part of creativity and being human. Hilary Mantel (author) was one of the people interviewed, and made me feel much more normal by saying that she always expected the characters in her novels to take over and say and do things she wasn't anticipating. Hell, nice to know I'm not the only one! What a relief.

And, finally, had some lovely flowers and chocolates delivered today in celebration of Thursday's launch of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" - courtesy of my mother, who can't be there. Thanks Mum. Heck, if I'm going to get chocolates each time I have a launch, I think I'll have one every week. Do you think I can fool her? ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, June 18, 2006

First after Trinity

Church very dull and depressing today, though the sermon was fine - all about God not judging the things we do wrong, but instead looking for the things we do right. No idea why I felt so low about it all afterwards - I was fine before I went. Maybe I shouldn't have gone at all - might have been a damn sight happier if I hadn't!

Made a shopping list for tomorrow and washed the car, so I gain "good worker" points. Lord H took some publicity shots of me in the garden before lunch, so I can update the website (see below) and send some pictures off to those who've requested them.

Think the rest of the day is going to be slow and full of sleep. My favourite hobby really. Both of them. If only, if only ... There's a TV programme on about hearing voices tonight, so will be glued to that. Nothing wrong with the voices, m'lud, it's the only damn thing keeping me going. And, hey, sometimes they even make sense.

And this week's haiku, in honour of the bugger of a week I've had, is:

The week destroys me,
each slow step dragging my skin
to a weary hell.

Hey ho.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tea in London

Up to London with Lord H to see the Constable exhibition at Tate Britain - rather enjoyable and it brought back memories of where I was born & brought up - hell, I even recognised Willy Lott's cottage, without having to look at the explanation! Yeah, I'm good. Stared at the painting of the Dedham Vale to see if I could see my old home - Monk's Farm - in the background, and there was one which seemed to have a faint pink blob in the distance, but who can tell? Maybe it was just an accidental splash of the paintbrush? ... Afterwards, we wandered round some of the other galleries - Tate Britain does a fantastic series of themed leaflets, so I grabbed a handful. You can do a calming tour, a first date tour, a happily depressed tour, and even an I'm in a hurry tour and an I don't come here very often tour. Brilliant. Loved it. Just like those marvellous wines called "Great with chicken" - or fish, or beef or whatever. Why don't we get those any more? It saves having to think, a concept which is always top of my list. More like this please.

Then tea in Brown's Hotel with the Durham Gang. A good occasion and I even managed to sell three copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" to those wicked people not attending next Thursday's launch party (you know who you are!). Still, money in the hand is worth two novels in the bush, so I'm not complaining. And the tea and staff were much better than Fortnum & Mason's, in my opinion.

Even managed to get home in time for "Dr Who" - goodness, what bliss it is to have a day in London and be home in daylight with an evening ahead. Every commuter's dream. And the episode in question was quirky and brilliantly conceived. More of that, please.

Did my weekly reviewing for the You Write On ( site - an interesting piece with a "woman in jeopardy" theme, but with more of a focus on the past - maybe too much. Some great descriptions though.

Anne Brooke

Friday, June 16, 2006

Golf, plus yesterday's catch-up

Thursday 15 June 2006:

Day at work due to the new Nursery Management Group meeting, for which I am Secretary. Bearing in mind how much I hate children, I must have done something really bad in a previous life. Still felt very depressed, but work was actually good, in that it took my mind off it. Which is no bad thing. In the evening, Lord H and I went to see "Rigoletto" at Woking Theatre - a marvellous production, which included naked ladies (naked people are always acceptable of course, no matter what sexuality one is), a golden eagle and lots of colour. Just how I like my opera. Could have done with some naked men though - but hey nothing's perfect. And somehow the opera managed to lift the depression, so maybe music is the best medicine after all.

Friday 16 June 2006:

Day off, as usual. Did lots of Goldenford ( marketing stuff for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" in the morning. Ottakar's in Godalming are keen to take 5 copies of the novel next week, and also expressed interest in seeing my other novel, "A Dangerous Man", which will be published later in the year. Oh joy indeed. Gawd bless 'em!

Visited Gladys from church during the afternoon - she was terribly anxious about her cat, but I reassured her that Dolly ( said cat) would come back when she was hungry, and being away is the nature of cats. Having said all that and managed to be extra nice, I damn well hope Dolly isn't lying under the wheels of some lorry somewhere - that would be irony hell!

Golf with Marian came next, and I'm now enjoying (post-cleaning duties - groan!) a lazy evening full of beer, pizza and ice cream. Bliss. And at least the suicidal gloom has lifted at last - thank the Lord.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kinesiology appointment

This week of early starts, long and stressful days, and waves of depression is really taking its toll. I'm so tired my eyes are prickling, but I'm too on edge to sleep. Had a good session with Jane, my kinesiologist ( this morning - to be honest, so far, that's been the only high point, and everything else about today has really knocked me back. She's suggested more and different nutritional supplements for another month before she sees me again, to encourage improvement, and I'll give it a go. It's expensive, but I trust her, and I'm desperate for something to work.

Did some Goldenford ( work over lunchtime and then in the afternoon, the directors and I did a talk/reading session at the Guildford Institute. I thought it went well but I was devastated by the fact that not one of my pre-launch copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" were sold, and overwhelmed with jealousy that we sold at least one copy of all our other offerings. It felt like a real kick in the teeth and I don't feel I can handle it right now. So I took 6 in, and I took 6 back. It's hell.

Once home, I tried to sleep, but couldn't, and was subject to the usual stressed-out "God, you're rubbish" messages my head always gives me in this sort of situation. I'm seriously considering not writing anything for a while, as it just seems to be the case that you put yourself out there and nobody's interested. Not great for my customary low self-esteem issues indeed ... I've also resigned from the Writewords ( short stories group, as I definitely don't want to write any of those for a while - the effort's too much. Sometimes, and without seeming too dramatic (is that possible? Hell, it's the way I am - live with it) and as long as I can be with Lord H, it would be really, really wonderful just to vanish and not have to bother with the whole palaver any more. God, I wish.

Can't be arsed to do anything this evening - Lord H is being really sweet, and cooking chips and giving me whisky. Sometimes, alcohol and raised fat intake are the only answers. No matter what the diet police say.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Self-esteem seminar

Felt very low today - God knows why. It's distressing how things pile up, I ignore them for weeks/months and then they overwhelm me. There must be another way of managing my own life, if only I knew what that might be. Ho hum. Attended a self-esteem seminar at the Cathedral today - and ended up feeling lower than ever. All those tips for a balanced life, but not energy enough to apply them. It was also terrifying walking into the room and having to do the breakfast chat thing on my own. David (boss) turned up after a while though, so at least there was someone to sit next to. Also Jennifer from Goldenford ( was there as well, and we managed a brief publication-related chat afterwards.

The rest of the day trundled by. High points were (a) a good and unexpected chat with David about how frightened I am about next week's publication/launch week for "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", which will be followed closely by the Winchester Writers Conference (which for various reasons will be rather more demanding than usual, though worth it, I hope - David was actually really sweet. It's funny how much I want to be read and how much I at the same time dread other people's judgement. Doesn't make for much sanity really. (b) Lovely encouragement from Julia (thanks, Julia ...) from UnisWriters - who said a lot which I know is right but I'll have to wait for hope to return to take in those words of wisdom. And (c) a very nice lunch with Angela, also from UniSWriters, about writing, work and the hell that is minute-taking. It cheered me up a little, so thanks, Angela.

Ate healthily this evening and felt (marginally) better. Tonight it's the monthly Goldenford ( meeting, but thank goodness Jackie has agreed to take minutes - thanks, Jackie. I couldn't have coped with them right now ...

Which makes me think that no matter how bad I feel, people around me today (including Lord H) have been desperately nice. Which in itself makes me feel better - and I'm desperately grateful. You don't know how much ...

Anne Brooke

Monday, June 12, 2006

Away Day

Student Care Services Away Day today - catch-up on what's going on in the morning, and a team/personal development exercise in the afternoon. Could write lots, I suppose, but actually I feel like crap right now. Very edgy, and people are just asking me to do too many things at the moment - it's completely overwhelming and I feel very depressed. Why can't they just stop? Honestly, can't people sort their own issues out? I'm not the fount of all knowledge. Sometimes I just bloody well want to be left alone. The older I get, the more it feels that people are simply chipping pieces away from me, and giving nothing back. And, God, it's hard to keep smiling for the outside world when I just want to go home and collapse in a soggy heap.

The heat isn't helping much either. Nor is the rejection of "Maloney's Law" by Macmillan today. It's only taken them nine months to say no. The bastards. Actually, right now I hate the whole fucking business. I don't know why I bother. And I don't know why my agent can't ever get round to giving me any bloody good news. All the good news I get comes from my own efforts, and that's few and far between, to be honest.

Have just finished Hilary Mantel's "An experiment in love" - well written, but also bloody depressing. God, what a life.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Golf day

Bloody hot today. Did the 8am service this morning - we had the difficult vicar (deep groan). I suppose there's always one in every deanery. Just wish he'd lighten up a bit though and not complain about every little thing. The good news is that I managed not to strangle the wretched gent with his own stole - though I did find myself wishing that the trapped swallow in the church this morning might do a slightly more dramatic fly-past than it actually did. Hell, what do you expect? I've never been nice.

Had a nap after church, and then golf and lunch here (cold collation - the thought of hot food is beyond us ...) with Marian & Siegi. Lord H played fantastically well and got several pars and a birdie. Did my usual mother call this evening, so am cleansed of family demands for a week. Goodness, how well I play the dutiful daughter!

This evening, Lord H and I played TV catch-up - "Dr Who" (which I thought was great and, hey, Rose actually gets to be proactive this week!), and Friday night comedy. Saved having to watch the ruddy football.

Tragic news! - "Thorn in the Flesh" has dropped to Number 6 in the You Write On ( charts - ooooh noooo! Ah well, that's the writing life. And have edited another writer's chapters on the site - an excellent piece of work about a journalist and the devil - it's great. There's such good stuff around - why can't wretched publishers get off their arses, ditch the celebrity trash and actually publish some good novels? At least, it would make a change for them.

And this week's haiku is:

The white moth flutters,
a ghost in pursuit of dreams
in the cool blue room.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Clarins facial

Ah, the bliss of a Clarins facial - where would I be without them? Had a replenishing version today, and discovered I have 275 minutes on my "Time for Me" card - so free treatments, here I come! Choices, choices ... I'd like to go for the aromatherapy massage, but we'll see. Also popped into Neals Yard and bought some milk thistle tincture, which is supposedly good for cleansing the liver (if only I knew where exactly my liver was ...) and some rose body cream (good for sensitive skins). Also got a free sample of their new frankincense body cream, so shall have fun practising being a girl with all that lot.

Lunch with some friends in Guildford, with Lord H - which was full of bad food choices, so no doubt my liver will be looking forward to its cleansing soon, poor thing. Oh, and I bought (ie I chose and Lord H paid ...) a skirt in M&S, so hey I can do two girly things in one day - result! Lord H & I shopped for tomorrow's golf lunch on the way back - pie & salad, as the thought of cooking in all this heat is just too frightening.

Ooh, and some indirectly good news - Alison Baverstock's new book, "Is there a Book in You?" is out on 30 June, and includes a contribution from me, as I've met her a couple of times. Doubt I'll be named though, as she's got loads of well-known authors to give her some thoughts, but at least I'm in there somewhere. So it's almost like being important - I wish!...

And tonight we're at the Guildford Choral Society ( Mozart concert in the Cathedral, so perfect summer music.

Anne Brooke

Friday, June 09, 2006

Night out in London with Jane

Weird dreams last night - a host of poetry stuff, Indian ladies and loo rolls on a mantelpiece floated past my head. Must mean something - only the Lord knows what.

Struggled with writing today - managed to dredge up 1000 words for "The Gifting", but goodness me it was an effort. Just too damn hot for thought. Or inspiration. Not that I've ever trusted inspiration of course ... this life is 99% bloody hard slog, and the 1% that isn't is usually changed before draft two. Oh, and I also wrote a poem for the Writers' News ( last line competition. Have uploaded it onto the Writewords ( site for comment, but no-one's bitten yet. And good news about "Thorn in the Flesh" - it's in the Top Ten on the You Write On ( site - at Number Ten, so hanging on just by its proverbials. Talking of which (novel, not proverbials - steady, people), my editor ( has sent back another chapter of "Thorn", which I have duly edited. It's like drawing teeth - only another eight chapters to go. Don't hold your breath! And today, I am consumed with my usual writers' jealousy at all the wonderful things happening to other people - groan! And it's only been a week since my own big competition shortlisting ( for "Maloney's Law". Wish the good feelings lasted a little longer ...

A quick pop into Godalming this morning to stock up on brown rice and detox tea (not as bad as it sounds), and a nap this afternoon. And I'll be ready for my night out with Jane in London later on. We usually do art, but this time I think we'll stick with drinks, food & chat. It'll be great to see her.

Have just finished Melanie Penycate's poetry collection, "Breaking the arch" - quite enjoyed it, especially the marital crisis sections. And I particularly loved her subtle use of rhyme. Interesting stuff.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Golf & catch-up

Two for the price of one today, you lucky people. Or maybe not. Even hotter today. Muddled through with writing some of “The Gifting” this morning, and then popped into see Gladys. She’s very confused today – must be the heat. Can’t say I blame her.

Had a nap this afternoon, and then played golf with Marian later. Glorious sunshine, and I did quite well. Much more consistent than last week, and one wonderful chipped-in par at the eighth. Bliss. The monthly writing mags arrived today. There's a piece about Goldenford and "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" in Writers' News (, so that's good. Must be happening then ...

It's too hot to move, let alone type. Damn it.

Wednesday 7 June: Counselling day

Didn’t manage to write my blog yesterday, as I had a full day in London doing the last of the SUADP (Administrator Development) course. Yesterday’s theme was “Teamwork and Leadership”, and we all had a good time. Even the team games weren’t too scary, once they got going, and – thank the Lord – I didn’t have to be Leader at any time. Phew. Couldn’t imagine anything worse. Did a “what role are you in a team?” test and found out I am basically a Worker Bee type. No surprises there then. In fact I was 12 points higher than the highest point on the so-called scale. So, it’s proven: I am officially square. At last! – I’ve found my true inner self. Hmm ... At least we had a hell of a lot of fun playing a Scrabble-type game and building a tall tower with Lego. I’ve had far more terrifying days. And the presenter was someone I know from UniS, so it made it that much more light-hearted for me. As it was the last session, we had a talk from London University’s Vice-Chancellor at the end. Whose name I instantly forgot, as it means nothing to me. Verdict: he tried too hard and ended up being dull. Why do these managerial types always attempt to get twenty-five minutes worth of speaking out of ten minutes of material? It’s a mystery. Still, he seemed a harmless enough chap. Unusual, for a V-C … And we all went out for dinner in the evening (not with the V-C of course – that would have been a network too far!), so a good time had by all.

Today – Wednesday – had quite a good day at work, and was absolutely up-to-date by the time 5pm came round. And it was my two year anniversary at UniS, so I took in cakes. It’s amazing I’ve lasted so long. My lunchtime counselling session with Zoe was helpful – as ever. It feels as if I’m facing a glass wall, with the normal carefully-managed and very separate parts of my life contained behind me, and something like a very rich and colourful field in front. A field where all the separate sections might be able to merge together one day and still be okay. God, that would be a relief. How I hate all these bloody labels people seem to put on me – Anne’s an “X”; oh no, she’s a “Y”; she’s exuberant; she moans all the time; etc, etc. I’m pissed off with all that, people. Can’t I be all of them without being judged? Yes, having the label might make for a simpler life, but it leaves other parts unexpressed. How I’d like to move on from there. Hell, the search for some kind of wholeness – it’s a bloody mystery, isn’t it?

Still, there a revisit to “The Monastery” on TV tonight, so maybe that will be a source of inspiration? Not sure where my five-minute silence slot disappeared to last night, or if it will even happen tonight, but we live in hope. (Postscript – it happened but in a concertinaed 5 mins when Lord H was washing up. The thing I took away from it was that I’d really like to live more deeply. Nice thought, but God alone knows how …)

And it’s so bloody hot!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lunch with Julia

First day back post-holiday wasn't as terrifying as I'd feared. Even managed to get all my emails sorted in the morning, which left the afternoon for messing around with the website and catching up on news emails etc. Never let it be said that my life is meaningless.

Lunch with one of our UniSWriters, Julia - which was fun. She's created a Yahoo Group for us, but Lord alone knows how I'm supposed to work out how to use it - I always find the Yahoo Group thing a great mystery. Like being trapped in an invisible net which won't let me go. I'm sure it will be wonderful when I can understand it. Much like life really. Or Ikea. If you're reading this, Julia - I'll try! I'll try, honest I will! I'm also hoping to link it in with a new UniSWriters website, probably attached to the Arts Office site, but am waiting for the go-ahead from Jo.

The hell that is Tesco shopping tonight. Why do I spend so much and yet when I get it home it's as if I needn't have bothered? We'll have demolished it all in a week, in spite of the fact I buy for a month. Ho hum.

Have just finished reading Nell Grey's "Three Magic Women" - the sequel/prequel to the utterly amazing "The Golden Web". The style is very rich - like eating good chocolate or drinking a fine wine - but I could have done with slightly more plot. The sex scenes are fun though - but have to say there were more of them and weirder (and who on earth doesn't like a lot of weird sex scenes?...) in "TGW".

And finally, have received the latest chapter of "Thorn in the Flesh" back from my editor (, which didn't have that many changes to make. Only another nine chapters to go before I'm done - goodness, this time the process is agonisingly slow. Even though she's fine, I might consider using someone else next time - we'll see.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Church not too bad today, though it was obviously a day for seriously weird hymn tunes. This week's visiting vicar, Bob Heyes, was a nice chap, and seemed genuinely interested in our non-church lives - not like the normal sort of priest at all. He can come again. And he looked cute in the red (for Pentecost). Shame it's only for one week, and we're back to the white next week. Ah well. Had a good chat with one of our churchwardens before the madding crowd (all 35 or so of them - goodness, that's not bad for St Peter's ...) arrived. Told her how the counselling was going - which is, basically, six more to go, and I'm feeling better about God (now that's a bloody miracle in itself, eh?), but who knows when the next "down zone" will be.

Slummed it for the rest of the day - caught up on yesterday's "Doctor Who", and also the Robin Williams' film, "One Hour Photo." Depressing indeed. It's made my head feel full of noise, which in a day as hot as today isn't great. Oh, and talking of "Doctor Who", Billie Piper will be opening our church/village fete at Hascombe on 19 August, and judging our children's fancy dress competition. The theme is "Doctor Who", so how can she refuse? And Chris Evans will be running one of our stalls - but please God no more of those dreadful zip-up ties, which turned up a few fetes ago. Mind you, we had fun with them in the end, if only as a talking point ...

In order to salvage the dregs of my meagre spiritual life (such as it is), I've decided to try for 5 minutes silence in the evening, and factor in 5 minutes silence in the morning as I'm reading through my "Daily Bread" notes. Mind you, as my morning Bible study/thought period (if I can call it that ...) is always done while I'm on the exercise bike, silence might not be the operative word. Hell, even I know it's not how Christianity is supposed to be, but hey it's the best I've got so don't knock it!

And this week's haiku is:

Things I learnt at Longleat
Gorillas love TV;
giraffes glide like slow angels;
meerkats do stand up.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, June 03, 2006


A bloody fantastic day in Longleat today ( - spent the whole morning in the park. The giraffes were fantastic, lions ditto, and we were so close to two rhinos we could have reached out and stroked them. Don't advise this though. Marvellous. Everyone should go - a magical day.

Also did the house - wonderfully ornate and homely, with ceilings to die for. Then onto the lake trip round gorilla island - actually saw a gorilla and it moved like a gorilla too! - with the bonus of sealions and two hippos. Add to that, the small steam train and the mazes, plus a beautiful orangery, and it's been a perfect day.

Chinese meal this evening and the video of "Doctor Who" and Lord H and I are laughing.

Anne Brooke

Friday, June 02, 2006

Editing day

Hell of a night for not being able to sleep last night. Think I was on too much of a high to settle. Bummer. Still, it did mean that I day-dreamt a structure and some scenes for a short story whilst staring at the ceiling. Jotted some of it down today, with a working title of "The Bar on Sigmond Street". Also did some more work on "The Gifting" - the beginnings of a flashback castle scene now, and Ralph & Simon's first meeting. I now know what exactly a bailey looks like, and have glanced at a picture of a trebuchon (weapon for throwing boulders). Both of which could come in handy, both for writing and for life.

Also did my weekly editing round for work on Bewrite (, the To Be Published site (, UK Authors (, Writewords ( and the You Write On site ( Particularly enjoyed the very lush but dark short story which was allocated to me in the last of the list. Sinister and well expressed. And talking of writing, I watched the interviews with the two main actors of "Brokeback Mountain" on DVD yesterday and they said something (concerning their acting careers) which really struck home: (a) they act in order to bare something of their soul, and (b) each role is a step on a personal journey somewhere. That's exactly how I feel about why I write. That's exactly it.

A quick shop this afternoon around Godalming - found the perfect Father's Day card for Jim. Now all I have to do is get a present and family duty will be done! Tonight, I'll do a spot (only a spot, mind - I'm not proud) of cleaning, and then slump in front of glorious Friday TV.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Harry Bowling Prize 2006 Shortlist

Today's been a really good day, in all sorts of ways. Did a little bit more on "The Gifting" in the morning, and then discovered that "Maloney's Law" has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2006 ( which is astonishing! Particularly as the publishers involved in the award, Headline, were one of those who rejected the novel last year. My agent ( thought this was highly amusing, and hopes to do a run through those publishers (including, perhaps, Headline) I have still to hear from to tell them the good news. Here's hoping somebody bites ... Ah now, wouldn't that be nice?

As a result of all that, I think I've probably played the best eighteen holes of golf today I've ever done - 4 pars, one of them a chip in from off the green. Felt as if I were cooking on gas, thank the Lord (indeed). Bliss. Popped in post-golf to see Gladys, but didn't stay long as she was having her tea.

Once home, BBC Southern Counties radio ( are doing a marvellous job on publicising the Life Competition shortlist, and are putting the series (of which my piece is one) into two radio awards later in the year. There's also some talk of publicising the stories on the website, so sent across a photo, a short bio, and a note of how I came to write the piece. And, in addition to all that, the anthology, "101 Poets for a Cornish Assembly" (in which my poem, "The Milkmaid by Vermeer", appears) has turned up in the post - so lots of lovely new poetry to read. Hurrah.

Have just finished Nick Fletcher's "Imperfect Day" - great stuff. Cynical and fast-paced with a good lead character. Wonderful dry humour too. Would definitely read more of his stuff - though I could have done with less typos. Hell, I have typos too, so I can't talk!

All in all, a really top-notch day - it's lovely to get one of these every so often. I'm incredibly grateful - hope the feeling lasts through the barrel-load of rejections that will no doubt be coming my way soon. It's a funny kind of a life.

Anne Brooke