Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Dangerous Man edits

Looked at "The Gifting" this morning for the first time in what seems to be - and probably is - ages. I felt very creaky starting to write it again, but in the end I managed to get some kind of flow and interest going, and did about 1,000 words. And I've a few ideas as to the next section as well, which is a relief. In the future, I think I'm going to try to do it more "as it comes" rather than forcing the stuff out - it's certainly more enjoyable that way.

Stocked up in Godalming with goodies from the health shop, and bought a cactus for home and for work. They're supposed to get rid of negative energy, so that will be useful. I'll take the long one into work, but the one shaped into four round plants I'll keep next to the computer. It's really rather sweet. And green too - so maybe that will help! Hey, I've bonded with it - result!

Popped into see Gladys this afternoon - she seems in fine fettle, and was hearing better, which is good news all round. Less painful on my voice and less confusing for her. Then I played golf with Marian - nice to be back into girlie golf again, and I didn't do badly. A par at the water hole - completely undeserved, I admit, as my ball bounced unexpectedly over the pond but, hell, who's complaining (apart from Marian)?

This evening, Sean at Flame Books ( emailed me over the edits to the first chapter of "A Dangerous Man". It's wonderful to have them at last - almost as if I might actually get it published rather than just dreaming about it! It's becoming a little more "real" every day. So I've got stuck into those - and have enjoyed the process more than I was fearing. The end product is, I think, much sharper at the beginning and better all round, so I've sent it back to him now and will have to see what he says.

Today's three nice things:

1. Doing more of "The Gifting"
2. Golf
3. Getting the edits for "A Dangerous Man".

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lunch with Julia, and a good review

A much better day today - due, I'm sure, to me carrying around a dark green dental floss holder in my pocket all day - apparently green is soothing for nervous tension and the liver - and in the absence of the traditional crystal, well, what could I do??... Also lunch with Julia was great - had a real laugh and went back to the office aching with it and on a real high. Thanks, Julia! Consequently, my afternoon marketing/leaflets meeting was (almost) enjoyable and luckily short - and I am even enthused to update stuff next week. Possibly. Goodness me, the drugs must be working. Or maybe I should just floss more?

Got home to some good news - Gold Dust Magazine ( have reviewed "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" very positively and the review will appear in Issue 7 of their magazine (once it's published - as I've had an early courtesy copy. For which huge thanks, David Gardiner of GD. I owe you one. No, several) in the near future. It's under "Top Summer Reads" - fantastic, thank you, God. I needed a boost. I treated myself to a celebratory sherry in honour of the occasion. I'm becoming more like my Great-Aunt every day. Though, no doubt, my lemon meringue pie (should I ever make one) will never be a patch on hers.

Today's three nice things:

1. Lunch with Julia
2. A surprisingly okay marketing meeting
3. A good review of Champers.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First day back, plus Kinesiology

Groan. First day back at work - a fact which always knocks me back into quasi-suicidal gloom. Worse than ever today - as, instead of the gently sailing day I hoped to have, I was rocketed merrily into various marketing projects, one a very large one I appear to have to lead. I hate - absolutely hate - being in charge of anything. I'd rather provide support any day. People - if I'd wanted a managerial post, don't you think I'd have got one by now? Double groan. And how I hate marketing - it's so itsy-bitsy and never makes any sense to me. Do I look as if I'm bothered by leaflets and what colour and text they should have? Does my face look bothered? No, it does not. Sigh. Still, I'll have to get my work face on properly by tomorrow or the boss will start to worry. Sometimes, m'dears, it's nothing more than one big act.

Still, thank God for lunchtime reflexology, which raised the mood levels considerably - even though I was so jazzed up by then it was almost impossible to relax. After work, I had another session with my kinesiologist ( - I'm onto another Bach flower remedy, which will - we hope - help to bring back my sense of joy in life and enable me to be less harsh on myself. God, I need to know how to do both of those - real-time! I'm also going to try to listen to my own inner voice and not be so regimented about stuff. Ye gods, if I succeed at even 10% at that, it will be a blessed relief to us all. Roll on a new chilled-out me. One day, eh?

Today's three nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Kinesiology
3. Getting the first day back over with!

Anne Brooke

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bank Holiday

Thank goodness for another day off. Which meant that neither Lord H nor I got that horrible "Oh God it's Sunday night and tomorrow is work" feeling last night. No doubt we'll get it tonight instead, but we're hoping that the bottle of pink champagne (appropriate, eh?!) in the fridge will ease the pain.

Another lazy lie-in this morning, followed by a quick food shop in Waitrose. It was nice to do this with Lord H, as normally we take it in weekly turns to do the dreaded domestic shop - goodness, we were almost couply (coupley?) there! Shock, horror indeed. This afternoon, we've been watching the celebrity golf - which is great, as it's golf by normal people like us, so not many fantastic shots in there - warms the heart and makes our own golf feel rather less ropey. I followed this with a quick nap, and am planning a lazy evening ahead. TV has let us down with bank holiday evening viewing though - where's the nice film or cosy detective, I ask? Conspicuous by their absence, both. Shame on you, TV producers ... Still, I might watch the Dan Cruickshank programme on Betjeman. Can't stand Betjeman, but Cruickshank is cute ... And at least it will be about the buildings he loved, not the poetry.

Have just finished reading Philippa Gregory's "Earthly Joys". Marvellous, marvellous, marvellous. Though maybe rather too much on gardens for me. Loved the main character, John, and his relationship with Buckingham - great stuff. Might have liked more from Buckingham's point of view though - now there was a character and a half! The book also had the perfect ending for itself (rare, these days ...) - poignant and also hopeful. Loved it.

Today's three nice things:

1. Not being at work
2. Celebrity golf
3. Reading a good book - at last!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, August 27, 2006

TV catch-up day

Got up early to prepare for the 8am service, got myself there well on time and found somebody else had already prepared it, so there was no need for me to go at all - damn it! Could have had a much-needed lie-in. Still, it was great not to have to be at the service (though, equally, it might have been nice to find out beforehand ...), so I left the linen and scarpered. Caught up with the napping once I'd got home.

Spent the afternoon catching up on Star Trek x2 (bliss!), Prehistoric Park (the last episode - I'll miss it - hope they make more) and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria - phew, Connie is through once again! That's a relief. I think she's the best for sure.

Lord H and I were supposed to be popping in to Pete & Sue's for tea, but couldn't get in touch with them (no phone number and they're not answering email) so haven't gone as they probably don't think we're coming now. Never mind. It leaves us with a free evening, which is also good! I might do some poetry competition entries while Lord H is watching Songs of Praise - it gets it out of the way for this month. Am still worried about getting extra copies of Pink Champagne from Antony Rowe (, and also about how they want the cover of The Gawain Quest (Goldenford's next book), as the requirements have changed. I hope Rowe's people get back to me next week to clear up the muddle.

This week's haiku:

St Peter's Tiverton:
A sea of kneelers,
heady scent of incense. Still
my heart lies empty.

Today's three nice things:

1. My mid-morning nap
2. TV city afternoon
3. Not having to socialise.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, August 26, 2006


A lazy start to the day. Should have popped into Godalming for shopping and then to church to set up for the 8am service tomorrow. But, hell, I just couldn't be arsed. So instead, I lolled around at home and read Phillipa Gregory's "Earthly Joys" - a marvellous and gripping book. Just my sort of thing.

Had a rejection of "Maloney's Law" in the post from Graywolf Press in the US. Bastards. Shan't bother with them again. They obviously don't know quality and style when they see it. Still, that's America for you ...

This afternoon, Lord H and I are off to Glyndebourne to see Guilio Cesare (Handel). I love Handel - could listen to him all day, and it's a great production. We saw it also last year, but it's well worth a rerun.

Today's three nice things:

1. A lazy morning
2. Reading my book
3. The opera to come.

Anne Brooke

Friday, August 25, 2006

Return from Devon

Back from our holiday in Devon today. Managed to get some relaxation & reading in, and do less of Lord H's let's-do-everything-today-and-not-stop-for-lunch approach to holidays. Slightly less anyway. During our five days away, I managed one aromatherapy massage (okay), one Indian head massage (great - will do again), two golf rounds (one superb, one so-so) and finished one book - Anita Shreve's "A Wedding in December" - good stuff indeed. You can't go wrong with a Shreve (usually) - a powerful and unsettling ending, but perfectly right in context.

I'm not sure the hotel is as good as it once was though ( - we may well go somewhere else next time.

And I have written nothing, and don't plan to till next week. I needed the break - and am trying hard not to pick up all of my old self and life now I'm back. God knows, some things need to go. But it's tricky - with the familiar come the familiar routines also.

This week's three nice things:

1. Indian head massage
2. My one good golf round (especially getting on the green from the tee on the 16th which included over the pond ...)
3. Reading a(nother) good book.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Avoiding church

A nice lie-in this morning. Lord H nobly took on my sacristan duties for me - partly because he was also acting as server today. A week off from church is always much appreciated. I don't really feel very guilty either, which is great. I feel at the moment as if I'm between deciding (a) not to go anywhere at all, at least for a while, and (b) considering going somewhere else in the future, or maybe even just dropping into my home church every now and then. Monthly seems good to me right now. We'll see. I so wish there could be another way of connecting with God. I want to be there so much sometimes, but it seems an impossible place to get to. How I wish the people at Spirited Exchanges ( would make good on their promise to email me with a list of local groups. I'm beginning to feel somewhere near desperate.

Spent the morning and some of the afternoon catching up on my Star Trek recordings of yesterday (a double bill - bliss!) and the unmissable "How do You Solve a Problem like Maria?" To my mind, Connie is far and away the one to do it. Top-notch singing and acting. What more can you want? She get my vote!

A lazy evening beckons, though I'll probably have to ring Mum at some point. Best put on my Normal Daughter Hat again then. Goodness, how much that doesn't suit me these days ...

This week's haiku is:

At the village fete
the sculptor carves a heron.
Stepfather stands rapt.

And today's three nice things are:

1. Not going to church
2. Watching Star Trek & Maria
3. Finishing off yesterday's wine.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hascombe village fete, and mother

A social day today, so bright smiles all round. Mum and Jim came for lunch and tea (cue good and normal daughter attempts - hmm, not much success there then ...), and we all went to Hascombe village fete in the afternoon. Billie Piper opened it and did a wonderful job of smiling and being kind (she obviously makes a better job of being a daughter than me), and also judged the children's Dr Who fancy dress competition without causing too many tears - so good on you, gal. Her ex made a good job of running the "get the golf ball into the umbrella" competition all afternoon too. My, what fun we have at the fete. Just like Midsomer Murders, as Lord H said - we had two high-profile guest stars; now all we needed was the body. Mother?....

Managed also to ransack Jane's high quality bookstall (she works for a publisher - can't remember which one though, but that doesn't stop the writerly jealousy flowing through the heart: hey, why can't they bloody well publish me? And stop being so damn snobby about my novels ...) - so am well stocked up with books now. Some of which look as if I might actually enjoy.

And - joy! - I won a bottle of very good quality champagne and a bottle of beer in the tombola - and with Lord H's money too, so a double whammy of good luck. Hell, I deserve it!

Post-tea, the family have gone home now - it's always a bit of a relief when people leave the flat. The older I get, the less I actually like having guests. It's rather like being invaded, no matter who they are - our home's not our own till there are only us two in it. Still, everything is back to how it should be now, thank goodness.

Tonight, it's a concert at the church, but I hope I don't have to speak to anyone. I've had my fill of society for today, I think.

And I've just finished an utterly marvellous book, which completely ravished me - at last! Must be the best thing I've read this year! - Sue Miller's "Lost in the Forest". Fantastic insight into relationships between people, and between people and objects. Like Anne Tyler, but with more passion and intensity. She did have two very strange men in there though - John was simply weird and unsettling (if dead) even though he was supposed to be nice, I think, and Duncan was just a self-obsessed loser. But, hey, that's life. I shall definitely be buying Miller books again. Soon.

Today's three nice things:

1. The feeling of bliss when visitors go
2. Winning the champagne
3. Seeing Billie Piper in real life - goodness, how like Rose Tyler she looks ...!

Anne Brooke

Friday, August 18, 2006

A sludgy day

Felt a bit down today - and not that great either - so no golfing, as originally planned. And I didn't feel up to visiting Gladys either - so some Christian I am, eh ... Still, I may well see her at tomorrow's (rather dreaded) church fete, so I might be able to shift some of the inevitable guilt factor then. One hopes. Instead of all that, I struggled my way through another 1000 words of "The Gifting" (now up to 55,000 - hurrah! Am I word-count obsessed? Um, yes ...) and spent most of the afternoon asleep.

Received a lovely review of "The Hit List", which is now included on my website. Thanks, Taff - and do feel free to read "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" too - especially if you're going to be as nice as that!

Also did my regular reviews of work on the Bewrite ( and Writewords ( sites, as well as downloading a short story from the You Write On ( site for critiquing later.

Apart from that, not much has happened. I'll need to do some cleaning for tomorrow (which is going to be a hell of a busy day - with Mother coming too. Help!!) later on, followed by what I hope will be a slumped evening in front of the TV. Don't much mind what's on.

Today's three nice things:

1. The review of "The Hit List"
2. Not having to talk to or see many people
3. Getting to my promised 55,000 words on "The Gifting".

Anne Brooke

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Some sad news ...

Brian's mother died today - I felt quite sad; although I didn't know her that well, Brian's a friend of mine, and his mother, in the few times I saw her, was always kind and welcoming to me. She had an aura of calm, which I appreciated very much - not to mention a rather mischievous sense of humour sometimes. A woman of faith whose family meant everything to her. Not many of that ilk around these days. She'd been ill for some time - cancer's a terrible thing - but even so. However, apparently, she woke up on Tuesday and asked for a glass of champagne - which is something nice to remember, and a perfectly valid request, in my opinion. I hope she's bloody well having a huge glass right now. Ah well.

Apart from that, and a flurry of bad news phonecalls, I've spent the rest of the day sending out my poetry collection to Pighog Press ( who've asked to see it, and getting another 1000 words of "The Gifting" out. It felt good to be doing something definite, but an unpleasant day still.

Have just finished reading Henry Shukman's "Darien Dogs" - which is a novella, plus 4 short stories. The actual novella is rather slow and derivative, in my opinion (Conrad did it better ...), but the short stories are top class stuff. Breathtaking and terribly sad. Stick to what you know, Mr Shukman - and give us more short stories, please.

Tonight, we have Robin & Gavin coming for dinner - it will be great to see them, but right now I wish it might have been a different day.

No three nice things today - it doesn't seem right.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Poetry collection queries and The Gifting

Spent the morning typing up the Goldenford ( minutes and also sending out query emails to a few poetry publishers about my latest collection, "A Stranger's Table". I've decided that if nobody wants it, then I'm going to self-publish via Michael Holroyd's Poetry Monthly ( programme, as that seems a decent price and he's a well-known and respected editor. And, that way, I manage to avoid the sting of rejection in at least one part of my writing life - which will be a welcome change.

Managed to squeeze out another 1000 words of "The Gifting", and I think I'm about to start another action scene, which I always find easier. Tighten the screws up on the tension factor is what I say!

Attempted to visit Gladys, but she was on her way to the doctor's with the neighbour, so my attempt was thwarted. May try again tomorrow, but it depends on how the afternoon goes, to be honest.

Ooh, and the lovely Maggie Hamand from Maia Press ( is sending "Maloney's Law" to Gary Pulsifer at Arcadia Books ( as she thinks he'll love it. She's even said that if he says no, I should come back to her and she'll try somewhere else. Goodness, huge thanks, Maggie - I'm genuinely overwhelmed by your kindness.

A brief but much-needed nap this afternoon before Lord H rang to shatter my slumbers! An evening of tidying the flat up and doing the cleaning beckons, as we have Robin & Gavin for dinner tomorrow. So we'd best try and look normal, at least ...

Today's three nice things:

1. Doing more of "The Gifting"
2. Maggie Hamand's continued kindness
3. Making a decision on the way forward for "A Stranger's Table".

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unusual rejection & Goldenford

A nice smooth work day. Am now so up-to-date I'm probably arriving in my own bottom. Which is good (if bizarre!) as I'm not back at work till 29 August now - and goodness I need the break. Did Pilates at lunchtime - my last summer drop-in session. Am beginning to enjoy it, so I'll try to book a Beginners' class once the new semester starts in September.

Two important and very nice emails awaited me at home - firstly, John Jarrold ( has sent "Thorn in the Flesh" off to nine mainstream publishers today. Here's hoping one of them bites ... If not, then we'll have to look at the small/independent publishers route. Not, I hasten to add, that that's a bad thing! Especially bearing in mind the utterly lovely rejection I've received (my second email) for "Maloney's Law" from Maggie Hamand at Maia Press ( - she says she absolutely loved the first three chapters and is desperate to know what happens, so - even though it's not a Maia Press book - she's going to suggest it to other independent publishers, such as Arcadia Books and the possible new Chroma Press, both gay publishers. I was bowled over by such kindness - rare in the publishing world, I think - or certainly not something I've come across before. So huge, huge thanks, Maggie - and I hope your efforts on my behalf are worthwhile for you!

A Goldenford ( meeting this evening - so took the minutes as usual. We've got three events coming up in October locally, one a Guildford Writers ( linked event, so it looks as if autumn will be busy ...

Today's three nice things:

1. John sending out "Thorn in the Flesh"
2. Maggie Hamand's much-appreciated enthusiasm for "Maloney's Law"
3. Pilates.

Anne Brooke

Monday, August 14, 2006

Review and poetry collection longlisting

Review day today - not too bad. I think they'll keep me for another year. Felt pleased with the outcome, as I'd been honest in my form about the counselling, and the difficulties I've experienced over the last year on a personal level. The boss and I had a helpful chat about it, and have agreed I'm going to focus on personal development issues over the coming year - which is what I've wanted to do in any case. Onward and upward - one hopes.

Reflexology at lunchtime, which was bliss. Am already looking forward to my next session, post holiday.

In the afternoon, had an email from my agent ( who's happy with the revisions to "Thorn in the Flesh" and is going to send it out to publishers tomorrow. Wish me luck - I need all the help I can get. Please God, let someone out there like it this time. It's becoming more disheartening with each rejection of the novels. Still, on the plus side, it appears that The Surrey Advertiser have "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" on their bookclub site (, along with Zadie Smith, of all people. I appear to be a "much loved and respected author". Ho hum, they must be mixing me up with the Welsh poet, Anne Brooke - Gawd bless 'er. Heck, I can do a Welsh accent if I have to! They also have the online version of The Guildford Times Goldenford ( article ( And, strangely, I find that the Nantwich Writers' Circle has links to my website and blog - Gawd bless you too, Nantwich!...

At home, had an email from Cinnamon Press ( telling me that my poetry collection, "A Stranger's Table", has been longlisted in the collection awards. Hurrah! Not bad for the CV. And they're going to publish one of my poems from the collection, "Things I fold away", in their upcoming anthology, "Wherever". It's nice that more of my pieces are being anthologised, but I still long for that mythic single collection. Suspect I'm going to have to self-publish it next year, in the usual way ...

Today's three nice things (amongst so many - thank you, God!):

1. Poetry collection longlisting
2. "Thorn" about to be on its way to publishers
3. My review.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stormy day and vestry move

Another lazy lie-in. Hell, I could get used to these. And no church services today - double hurrah! Change in the weather though - it's so cold that we had to put the heating on this morning for a while. And it's been on and off stormy all day, so we've only turned the computer on intermittently. Do storms really affect computers? No idea - but I still worry about it. Much like my grandmother hiding the silver in a drawer, I suppose.

This afternoon, Lord H and I went to church to help move the contents of the temporary vestry over to the new room. I really disliked being there - it felt unnatural and false, and got away as quickly as possible. I just don't get the point of church at the moment. Even after escaping, it's still messed up my Sunday though - as I've spent most of the day feeling down. However, was cheered up by someone from the Independent Authors site ( saying how much they're enjoying "The Hit List". Goodness, I haven't heard that sentence for a while. And, as a double cheering up moment, I've just had a good rewiew of "Maloney's Law" from the You Write On ( site. Phew!

At home, watched "Prehistoric Park" on TV - great series with some exciting/scary moments. I love it. Then Lord H and I looked at the second part (of three) of "The Miracles of Jesus". I'm really enjoying that programme too - it makes Jesus very human and also makes psychological sense, as well as putting an interesting and very real slant on the divine elements. It's making me think about God in a way church hasn't done for ages, so that's got to be good.

This week's haiku is:

On the long drive home
dark clouds cast bars on the moon,
rain beats a rhythm.

Today's three nice things:

1. "The Miracles of Jesus"
2. Someone enjoying "The Hit List"
3. The review of "Maloney's Law".

Anne Brooke

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Betrothal in a Monastery

Lazy lie-in this morning, which I am paying for in the mad amount which has to be done before Lord H and I set off to Glyndebourne to see "Betrothal in a Monastery" this afternoon. We've decided on the afternoon tea option, so I'm planning a fairly substantial lunch. Actually feel rather edgy and down today, as well as exhausted - must be something to do with having to pop into church today to prepare for tomorrow's service and sort candles and altar cloths out. God, how I hate doing this stuff right now. It will be lovely not to have to do church for a while - I really hope they sort this sacristan replacement scheme out soon.

Still, the good news is that Lord H has got himself onto the Diocesan theology (diploma to degree level) course, and is the first student to go through on the non-vocational route - pioneering a path for those people who like the theology but not the commitment. Seems fair enough to me - the whole priest/lay leadership system is rubbish anyway, and they get paid peanuts - so why bother? I sometimes wonder what happened to the "labourer is worthy of his hire" approach ... Anyway, Lord H is pleased - as am I - and has rushed off to the Cathedral to look at books he might need.

And, this afternoon, Glyndebourne and tea - lovely.

Today's three nice things:

1. Lord H getting on the theology course
2. Glyndebourne
3. A decent tea.

Anne Brooke

Friday, August 11, 2006

Clarins morning and the business of writing

A morning having a glorious Clarins facial and massage. Bliss. Have booked another double session - definitely worth it. Also managed to get a few items for Lord H - our 13th anniversary is coming up soon. An early anniversary present will be the set of shirt studs I bought him at the House of Fraser - as he'll need to wear them tomorrow and his old set is broken. Thank goodness HoF had a set left!

At home, there was an email from Robin saying how much she'd enjoyed "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice", especially the German chef and his mushroom fetish. So that's cheered me up no end - thanks, Robin!

This afternoon, I've been heavily involved in the business of writing - ie finding out about upcoming competitions and sending work out to publishers - so that's been a hard slog. But enjoyable. No time for "The Gifting" today, I'm afraid ...

Am thinking of having LaStone Therapy - as it looks so wonderfully relaxing and I really love stones. It gives me that Japanese zen feeling. There's a woman in Farnham who offers the treatment at reasonable prices, so I might give it a go after our holiday. We'll see how brave I'm feeling!

Today's three nice things:

1. Clarins massage
2. Robin enjoying "Champers"
3. The nap I'm about to have - probably!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Writing and an evening with Jane

A lazy and much-needed late start to the day. Managed to get about 1000 words of "The Gifting" done before lunch though, in spite of it being slow going. I think I really have finished off that mountain episode now, and am ready to start on the air scenes - I hope.

After lunch, popped into see Gladys. She was very confused, poor thing - she'd rung me yesterday twice, but had left no message, so I'd rung back to see how she was. She was fine, but didn't know who I was, and ended up thinking a nurse was due to visit her today - when in fact it was me. I think we got it sorted out in the end, and at least the afternoon's her own! No more peculiar visitors ...

Had a lovely comment on my poem, "Leaving church", on the Writewords ( site, which has cheered me up. Thanks, Beanie Babe!

Tonight, I'm seeing Jane in London - hoping for G&Ts, food and wine, plus lots of good talk. She's really the only person (apart from Lord H) I can say any of the bad stuff to, and even then it's not all of it. And we have a good time too. But how I wish I didn't have to go up to London - I really hate that journey, and I'm not that keen on the city either. Still, seeing Jane will be worth it.

Today's three nice things:

1. The positive poem comment
2. Getting more of "The Gifting" done
3. Seeing Jane tonight.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Counselling and golf

Managed to cope with the day work-wise fairly well and am probably so up-to-date that I'm glowing with smugness. Counselling was hard though - seemed to take a huge journey I hadn't expected to take in that hour with Zoe, and I shall miss the sessions like hell through August now as we're not able to meet again till September. Anyway, I got to the point where I'm not enjoying the place I'm in right now (counselling-speak, I know, but it's the best way to express the stuff I have ...) - I'm feeling raw, vulnerable and frightened. And it came to me also that while I tend to look on other people (whoever they are) as the enemy and something to be placated at all costs, my real worst enemy is probably myself. Not only that, but it dawned on me that, all my life, my strong internal message has been: my personality has to be quelled in order to exist - eg don't rock the boat, don't overdramatise, don't be difficult are all messages I hear inside most of the time. All that isn't helping me learn how to be me, in spite of being able to acknowledge it. And another thing I've been finding is if I try to be honest about how things are, even in small ways, it doesn't actually make it any easier; it's as if whenever I lob a teaspoon of "me" over to another person, it just makes me even more aware of the huge pot of "me" that's bubbling away inside, and I seize up if anyone asks me anything more personal at that point as it's beyond me to explain it. Any of it. God, it's a mess. We struggle on ...

Immediately after my counselling session, we had a team coffee in Sorrento's, so I suddenly had to pull back everything from where it had been and try and act normally - it felt exhausting, and I still feel tired now.

And on top of that - golf. It was quite fun, though neither Marian and I did well - at all. But, to be honest, after the day I've had I could have done without it. And we played later than usual too, which has really cut into my evening - when I could have spent more time with Lord H and had a few good hugs. God, how I need those hugs sometimes. Lord H probably has an NVQ in hugging - or at least deserves one. Level 5.

Have just finished Maurice Caldera's "The Double Life of Daniel Glick." Hmm. A work of genius (probably), but oh how wearisome. Am so glad I've finally got through it.

Today's three nice things:

1. Counselling - not nice, but startling and necessary
2. Finishing that wretched book
3. Being at home - at last, thank the Lord.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pilates and informal Guildford Writers

Worked on the website in the morning and worked through the Association of University Administrators' (AUA) magazine, "Perspectives", in the afternoon. Hmm. I'm probably none the wiser.

Took my second lunchtime Pilates class - felt far more relaxed than last week and I think I enjoyed it more - though it still takes a lot of concentration and is not easy, by any standards. Am I really so unfit? No, don't answer that ... Felt very tired afterwards - but in a good way. Shame an afternoon nap was out of the question.

Tonight, we're having an informal meeting of Guildford Writers ( Have decided to take a selection of haiku, rather than anything too serious, as it's summer.

Today's three nice things:

1. Pilates
2. David brought out a box of maltesers in the afternoon - bliss!
3. Tonight's GWs session - I hope!

Anne Brooke

Monday, August 07, 2006

Agent's response to "Thorn in the Flesh"

A muggy day at work - and felt very unenergetic. Forced myself to have a walk round campus to find some energy, but had to sit down on a bench halfway through as I was so exhausted. Still, had fun watching the ducks, one of which had a white feather stuck to its beak and didn't have the first idea what to do with it. Stupid duck.

At home, my agent ( has responsed to "Thorn in the Flesh" - he loves it, apparently, and has already contacted some publishers to let them know it's on its way. Ah, but will they like it and want to make contact in return is the big and cynical question - or perhaps my hide is becoming too tough to understand good news when I see it? ... In the meantime, John has asked me to make some fairly minor changes which, in a fit of writerly enthusiasm, I have done this evening and sent back to him. We wait for response number two!

And I've had a more positive comment on "Maloney's Law" from the You Write On ( site, so that's a relief. At the same time, I uploaded my review on a piece of work up there, which I'd rather enjoyed - in spite of it being children's literature - and we all know how much I hate children ...

Today's three nice things:

1. The ducks
2. John Jarrold's response to "Thorn in the Flesh"
3. The kind "Maloney's Law" review.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Facing church

Well, my first duty appearance since resigning as Sacristan - I've been dreading it, but it passed much better than expected, I have to say. Managed to have quite an honest chat with some of our main church ladies, and they and Lord H came up with the stonking idea that the sacristan role could be shared out on a rota system, perhaps being something the crucifer (cross carrier) could do when it's their turn. Sounds ace to me, people, and means the long horrific months stretching out to Christmas - during which I'm sure nobody will want to take on the damn task full-time - might be less fraught. Which would be good. Sandy has promised to raise it at the next PCC meeting on 4 September, so here's hoping there's a definite end in sight ...

I also discussed how difficult and unsettling church is becoming lately, and Hilary seemed to think that was normal and it would be fine to take a break from it and see what happens. Also sounds great to me! - it would be lovely to have Sundays off, at least for a while, and not to have the "church monster" looming over me waiting to be placated like a wild dog.

Other upsides of church - the visiting vicar recognised me in the "Guildford Times" last week, in our Goldenford ( authors article so, hey, someone reads it - hurrah indeed! Also, Clare said how much she'd enjoyed "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" and asked when the next one's out - which gave me a lift. And Hilary bought a copy of "Champers", which I shall post to her tomorrow.

Back at home, I did my community duties by (a) washing the car and (b) putting out the recycling bins. Lunch was filled with annoying flies (oh the hell that is summer!), and then I chilled out in front of the TV to watch a triple bill (triple, mind you! - what bliss) of Star Trek. Oh, and my Star Trek magazine arrived yesterday, and I took the "Could you be a ship's captain?" test, in which I gained 95%. I could indeed rule the world and conquer the universe - you heard it here first, folks! Lord H of course can only agree.

And this week's haiku is:

I'm detoxed out now.
Surely it must be time
for a chocolate bar.

Today's three nice things:

1. The possible new solution to my sacristan crisis
2. Star Trek triple bill
3. Being spotted from the Guildford Times.

Anne Brooke

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Day at Hampton Court Palace

Spent the day with Lord H in Hampton Court Palace - a great day out. Beautiful gardens - very English and neat, and magnificent house facades (though the interiors seemed rather empty to me). Also enjoyed the regular costumed tours/mini dramas played out around the grounds - particular the Henry VIII and Thomas Wyatt wrestling match (shame they weren't naked though ...), the bowls and the archery sessions. Loved the way the actors kept up the story of the King/Wyatt/Anne Boleyn crisis in each section - great stuff.

Managed to whip through the maze with incredible skill due to my traditional policy of always turning left - stick with me, people, and I'll get you out of anything. Also enjoyed the real cooking going on in the Tudor kitchens - and what a huge number of those they had. A kitchen for each type of food you can imagine - meat, pies, puddings, pottage (soup), the lot. Ah those were the days. One of the chefs told us that whenever the court descended, the whole of the surrounding area had been planning for their visit for ages and any available food and livestock was requisitioned for the palace. Which caused a real problem if they decided to stay longer than usual. And apparently all the foodstuffs and provisions were counted in and counted out of the kitchens - so no room for siphoning perks off there then ...

And, talking of food, we had a much needed cream tea lunch in one of the cafes - bliss!

Back home, had another email objecting to the ranting review of "Maloney's Law" on the You Write On ( site - so have asked the site administrators to look at it and see what they think. So thank you, Charles, for the suggestion! We'll see what comes of it.

Today's three nice things:

1. The wresting match
2. The cream tea lunch
3. The supportive email.

Anne Brooke

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back massage and writing

Started my day with a wonderful back massage. Only half an hour but it really relaxed me - for a few hours afterwards at least. I think I'm going to look into La Stone therapy - as that's supposed to be really good too. Goodness me, I'm becoming Ms Wellbeing 2006.

Spent the rest of the day struggling with "The Gifting" and eventually - towards the very end of my afternoon! - managed to get my 2000 words out. Stopped in the middle of a crisis scene too so I'll know where it's going when I pick it up again. Which means, folks, that I'm finally at the 50,000 words mark - hurrah! And still three more major sections of the novel to go. Reckon I might - if the wind's in the right direction - be able to get over 100,000 words on this one. Maybe more! Here's hoping anyway ...

Had a lovely email from someone on the Writewords ( and You Write On ( sites saying how shocked they were at the nasty review of "Maloney's Law" I received yesterday, describing it as "unfair" and "rabid". They also said more people enjoyed "M's L" than didn't, and queried whether the reviewer had even read the chapters. Huge thanks, Julie - you have no idea how much your email means to me! Thank you again.

And good news on the community front! The Watts Gallery in Compton has won the regional round of "Restoration Village" (BBC), which can be seen on BBC2 at 9pm tonight - so we're through to the finals in September. Double hurrah! WG is a very worthy cause and it would be a tragedy if the roof couldn't be mended due to lack of funds - it's a priceless jewel in the area's crown. To my mind anyway.

Treated myself to a shopping session in Godalming - mainly wellbeing stuff - but also bought a lovely pair of mother-of-pearl pink and white earrings at Sans Frontieres jewellers. It's the best shop in Godalming, alongside Ottakar's of course. And so reasonably priced! Heck, a girl has to splash out sometimes.

Ooh, and there's a front-page spread about Goldenford and us three Goldenford authors in the "Guildford Times" today, which Irene has kindly scanned and emailed to me. Fame and glory indeed! With a bit of luck, it might even be in the Surrey Advertiser next week. You never can tell ...

Today's three nice things:

1. Julie's email about "Maloney's Law"
2. The back massage
3. The news about Watts Gallery.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Golf and recycling

Rang the Council today to order more recycling boxes - what a good environmentalist I am! Apparently there's a 4/6 week wait as everyone wants them, but in the meantime we can shove the stuff in plastic bags. Hurrah - at least it will mean the flat might resemble a recycling station a little less.

Spent the rest of the morning struggling - and I mean struggling - with squeezing the next couple of thousand words of "The Gifting" out. It took such an age to get anywhere - how I hate it when the writing's like that. I only finally managed it just after Lord H came home post-work. Phew. Hope tomorrow is better. Also popped in to see Gladys - her hearing aid is playing up today, so I spent an hour shouting the same few segments of conversation, and am now hoarse. And I imagine her neighbours are much wiser too. Then golf with Marian - she had a rather unfortunate round (the universe is sometimes against us golfers ...) and I was okay, but felt I could have done better. Still, it made a welcome break from the writing struggle.

Back home, I've had a very enthusiastic review of the latest section of "The Gifting" up on the Writewords ( site - apparently, my style reminded the viewer of Philip Pullman, whom I'm afraid to say I've never read, so there's a much-needed thumbs-up! And a couple of people have enjoyed my poem (also on the Writewords site), which is greatly appreciated. On the negative side, I felt extremely riled by a to my mind vicious review (and a rather personal one, I think) of "Maloney's Law" on the You Write On ( site - I don't mind too much if people don't like it, as I know other people do, but this reviewer seemed too cutting and also too unhelpful, giving me no useful clues as to what they might have preferred. They really didn't like it! And they weren't prepared to offer worthwhile suggestions either - so actually my answer, sir/madam, is shove it up your bottom and turn it. Maybe I'll pay you more attention when your novel extract has been shortlisted for three national novel prizes and longlisted in one! Hmm, suspect I'll be waiting some time then ...

Have just finished Peter Lovesey's crime cosy novel, "The Circle". Load of old tripe - old-fashioned, cardboard characters and ridiculous plot. Apart from that, it was fine of course! Hey, I can give cutting reviews too - but at least mine is more honest!

Today's three nice things:

1. The Writewords review of "The Gifting"
2. Golf
3. Finishing "The Circle" - at last!

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AA success and massage bars

No, it's not what you think! But, goodness, I had some weird dreams last night. Must have been the Pilates. First of all, I was taking a French exam, but I was the only one in the exam room who couldn't do it, and everyone else was fine. Classic stress dream, no doubt. And, secondly, I was driving across countryside with Lord H in a small sports car which had one of our green French breakfast cups balanced on the boot. And my mother was in some kind of a castle on the way. Hmm. When's my next counselling session? Not soon enough, obviously.

Finished off my care leavers research - again, very moving. I think the university really has to have a policy (and effective practice!) about this. We need to support the students wherever the need is, to my mind.

Good news on the AA front - they've finally agreed to award us a reasonable amount of money for the mess-up they've made of our call & complaint. At last, Lord H and I got to speak to a real manager, who could make decisions (hurrah!). Fair dos, though, he was a nice man and told Lord H (who sorted it out - for which he has huge numbers of husband points ...) that mistakes had been made and he thought we'd been very badly treated. So much so that apparently he's going to use our story (with names removed) as a training exercise for his customer service team. Good to know we have our uses somewhere! And also good if no-one else has to go through that, to be honest. Meanwhile, we await the cheque ...

Walked into town at lunchtime and bought more massage bars from Lush ( - one Therapy bar, as I love them (thank you, Julia, for buying me my first!) and one Black Magic bar (for those ... hmm ... wild moments!) - both smell like heaven. Also stocked up on the marvellous Pied de Pepper ginger foot lotion. Lovely!

Uploaded a review on one of the pieces on the You Write On ( site - a great short story which, I think, would make a fantastic start to a novel, by Roisin Moriarty. A fine writer. And, hurrah, "Maloney's Law" is currently Number Three in the You Write On charts - though this high placing owes much, I have to admit, to the fact that the first five were removed and put into the Bestsellers Charts yesterday ... We struggle on.

Today's three nice things:

1. Visit to Lush
2. The AA offer
3. "Maloney's Law" being Number Three.

Anne Brooke

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pilates and another rejection

Trucked through today quite nicely, all in all, at least on the UniS front. Attended my first (drop-in) Pilates class - was expecting it to be relaxing, but in fact I had to do an awful lot of concentration, presumably as I'm new. And, my goodness, I ached everywhere afterwards! Which no doubt means it's good for me - I'll definitely go again. And maybe even start a class in the autumn if the timings are right. I felt better about my inadequacy after the class when some of the more experienced attenders were saying the tutor (she was new for the summer, apparently) did fewer exercises than usual, but made them hold positions for longer - and so everyone found it hard. Phew! I'm not a complete couch-potato then ...

Spent the afternoon researching into the problems experienced by young people who come to university from a care situation - it certainly opened my eyes to how lucky I've been. Some of them have had to overcome horrendous backgrounds just in order to be able to get to Higher Education, let alone hanging on in there for three years. It's something we'll have to think about in Student Care Services in the future, in terms of what kind of extra support we might be able to provide.

Back home, there's been another rejection of "Maloney's Law" - this time from the Bantam/Corgi/Transworld conglomeration. Damn it. Still, it's a lovely rejection, calling it an "intelligent thriller" and "really well written". But they thought there was too much emphasis on the sex. Sigh. And John ( says he should be able to provide his opinion on "Thorn in the Flesh" by next week. I'm dreading it - it's like handing work in for school! - but hope there won't be too many drastic changes to make, especially as I've got the edit of "A Dangerous Man" to look at over the summer too.

Still, was cheered by the positive comment received about my poem, "Sundays", on the Writewords ( site. A much-needed happy moment.

Tonight, I'm going to chill. Hell, I deserve it.

Today's three nice things:

1. Pilates
2. The poem comment from Writewords
3. The nun at the University bus-stop today! - what was she fleeing from, I ask, and to where?...

Anne Brooke