Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old and in with the new

Lord H and I were woken twice last night by some idjit attempting to ring us. In the end, we unplugged the phone, which I think we'll do again tonight. I really hate these automated calls from some machine dialling the wrong number. We get so many of the damn things. Sigh.

Anyway, today we've spent a large part of the morning getting up - it seems to take longer and longer these days - and a large part of the afternoon getting lost and mired in mud on Little Bookham Common. I was fine for the first couple of hours of this, but the third hour was an hour too far, m'dears. Especially as I'd forgotten to pack my fruit so was utterly utterly starving. Mind you, we did see four great spotted woodpeckers, a heron in flight and the usual suspects of robins and long-tailed tits. So all was not lost. Not only that, but we were asked our opinion of a bird by some passersby who obviously had us down as experts. Ho ho. I think we fooled them too. Must be the binoculars, the bird book and the serious expressions. They very sweetly wished us a happy new year on departure, so that certainly lightened the day.

Back home, I've been uploading web data to the new website domain, so I'm all prepared when it goes live, hopefully in the next few days. Watch this space - again! I still think it's fab, and Lord H has done a stellar job on the photography of those pictures which aren't book covers. Such talent in one so young, you know ...

And I've just finished Sebastian Faulks' Engleby. I really liked it - the best thing since Birdsong in my opinion. And at least he hasn't got any sex scenes in it, thank God. Everyone knows the great Faulks is just crap at writing sex scenes. They're all hugely embarrassing and laughable. Good to see his editor finally has this aspect of his writing under control. And Engleby himself is a wonderful character - I loved him totally. The only thing is that he runs out of storyline three-quarters through the novel so we're left drumming our fingers and hanging around for the closing credits. So, in that instance, it could certainly have done with some trimming, but otherwise great stuff indeed. I foresee the film version soon, no doubt.

Finally, it's New Year. So I hope you all have a fabulous New Year and a truly wonderful 2008. I'd also like to say thank you for reading this blog throughout the year and for commenting too - all very much appreciated. I've been thinking about how this year has been, and what I'd choose for my personal 2007 highlights. So here they are, both good and bad, in no particular order:

1. Getting A Dangerous Man published - to a lot of very good reviews and very poor sales.
2. Publishing A Stranger's Table - only one or two good reviews in this case, and again very poor sales.
3. Slowly coming out of the bout of depression with which I started the year.
4. Leaving church and deciding not to commit to another.
5. Cutting the ties with a few friends I've had for twenty years, where the friendship is no longer valid.
6. Developing and beginning to deepen a few newer friendships.
7. Getting the contract for Maloney's Law.
8. Preparing for the publication of Thorn in the Flesh.

And I have made - unusually for me! - two New Year resolutions for 2008, which are:

1. To get to bed at a reasonable time, on the grounds that if I'm less tired, I tend to be less depressed and anxious also.
2. To meditate regularly as best I can - as, when I do, I always find it helps.

Finally, I wish you once again a happy and truly wonderful New Year.

Anne Brooke
Anne's fading website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Red kites and partridges

Had a wonderful day in the Chilterns today, attempting to see red kites. (Do have a look at the photos in that website - and go and see a real one if you can as they're a hundred times more impressive in the wild). And goodness me what a lot of them we saw - and what a truly wonderful sight too. We thought we glimpsed one on the way up - it's that essential flap-flap-flap and then sooooarrrr with only the odd tweak of the V-shaped tail to keep it on course. And a pretty large bird too, so you can't really mistake it for anything else. But when we got to Ibstone and the hills beyond it, we couldn't move for spotting ten, maybe a dozen, at a time, wherever we went. Amazing. Absolutely the highlight of my whole holiday. Not sure it gets any better than that. They sound impressive too - a wonderful mewling noise which carries for a long, long way. You tend to hear them before you see them.

We also walked round a lake further south, in Little Marlow - again, well worth a visit. Zillions of lapwing, two very active kingfishers, plus what we're absolutely sure was a ruddy shelduck (yes, that is what it's called ...), though they're extremely rare in this country. There wasn't anything else in the bird book which looked like that, and another bird couple agreed with us. Must be an escapee from a private collection - it's the most logical explanation.

Had lunch at Little Marlow garden centre - which must surely have the most dour serving staff in the entire universe. Also some of the slowest. Is it something they put in the water? Nice loos though, and Lord H nearly bought a book on tanks but I distracted him at the last minute. Ah, cruel wife ...

And on the way home, we managed to not run over three or four partridges, so that's another tick to the new birds spotted list and a few less dinners for deserving friends. Ah well. Don't tell the RSPB I said that though.

Back home, I'm planning a night in front of the telly, watching Billie Piper in whatever it is she's in. I do so love our Billie. Oh, and UK Hosts appear to be making some moves towards transferring my website by at least asking where it's going to. Progress possibly??

And this week's haiku (in honour of these treading-water days) is:

Like guilt, days linger
between Christmas and New Year.
Hunker down and wait.

Today's nice things:

1. The red kites
2. Ruddy shelducks and partridges
3. Watching our Billie on TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's disappearing website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Steep hills, milestones and hospital shennanigans

Never rely on the weather forecast. The powers that be swore blind to us that today we should expect torrential rain. They even kept up that belief through the whole day in spite of evidence to the contrary. In fact it's been crisp sunshine. Very pleasant indeed, if on the chilly side of pleasant. Oh Lordy, do I sound English here? We are all obsessed with the weather. I stare at the online forecast every day. Sadly. Anyway, encouraged by the lack of rain, Lord H and I have spent a large part of the day wandering around The Devil's Punchbowl - yes, it is a great name. We didn't find many birds, but we did manage to get so far down into the valley that it took me at least eighteen years and a great deal of moaning to climb out again. Ah, my knees just can't take it, you know. Mind you, they never could - I'm only good on the flat.

On the way back, Lord H nipped into Tesco to stock up on essentials such as ice cream and champagne (how we love to live elegantly here in the shires), while I popped into the hospital to see Gladys - who has unfortunately fallen over and broken her wrist earlier this week. As well as sustaining a rather horrendous amount of bruising. Being Gladys, she of course wasn't wearing her alarm (deep, deep sigh) when it happened and so had to lie there all night before the carer came in the morning. Thank the Lord the heating was on really. Anyway, she's not best pleased at being in hospital. The twenty minute visiting time went something like this:

Gladys (loudly throughout due to despair and anger): I don't know why I'm here. I want to go home.
Me (also loudly due to big mouth and genetic inability to whisper): You're sick and you've broken your wrist. That's why you're in hospital.
G: You're a horrible girl and you should take me home but you're too nasty to do that.
M: Yes, I'm really evil. I have no idea why you put up with me. I am indeed on the slippery slope to hell and the fire is already licking at my ankles. Shall we fill in the menu?
G: I'm not eating anything. I want to go home. (attempts to land Yours Truly a sharp right hook at this stage, but is unable to do so as too bandaged up)
M (ticking boxes on menu): How about some chicken, mashed potato and ice cream? You like ice cream.
G: I don't know why you're all keeping me a prisoner here. They broke my wrist deliberately to keep me in here.
M: Did they? They must like loud old ladies in wards then. They probably don't have enough of them. Would you like some water?
G: I hate water. I want to go home. All you churchgoers are evil. You're hypocrites.
M: Oh defintely. Mind you, as I don't really go to church any more, I'm glad that doesn't apply to me. At least not for that reason.

This latter statement seemed to flummox her - I don't think Gladys has ever really got the hang of my leaving the church - and so the conversation continued. I was really jazzed up when I left. Not because I'm a softie who likes doing good works - to be honest, I don't. Gladys has become a duty over the years and I've never had a capacity for mismatched friendship. I was more jazzed up from having been shouted at for twenty minutes for no good reason. Bloody hell, I'm not at work now. It's all very exhausting. All the more so as I doubt that Gladys will be heading home any time soon. I suspect a nursing home may well be on the cards - and should have been for some time, in my opinion. Please God let me have the ability to know when it's time to give in gracefully to the inevitable, when I reach that stage. Bloody hell though, I suspect that she'd even like it, if she just stopped complaining for one second.

I also have to admit that at the point of being accused of breaking her wrist myself (which came later), I did think that if I had done it, I might have resorted to the pillow method instead. So much quieter. Sigh! Anyway, why is everyone I know or in some way responsible for in hospital at the moment? And different ones too, dammit. Do I have no healthy friends left??

Meanwhile, back home, I have reached the milestone of 60,000 words for The Bones of Summer. Hurrah! I'm going to stop it there for a while now - partly as I need the break and partly as January looks like being an editing month. Jay Margrave's novel, Luther's Ambassadors - which will be the third of next year's Goldenford books - is ready to be given the once-over now. It's come at the right time too, I think.

Oh, and some other bugger has rejected my poetry submission too. I can't even be arsed to give their name, the losers! Ah, m'dears, it's the bitterness that holds me together, you know.

Today's nice things:

1. The non-hill parts of the walk
2. Leaving the hospital without having committed murder
3. Getting to the Bones milestone.

Anne Brooke
Anne's creaky old website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tax returns and no dead bodies

Had very noble plans today of leaping up at a suitably ungodly hour and spending some time on the golf course. Naturally this didn't happen and once again I only just made a morning entry into the day. Ah, I could get seriously used to this kind of life, you know. I think of it as a vocation.

Anyway, once up and suitably attired, we checked that our post was as boring as it was yesterday (answer: yes) and then had a brief walk into Godalming through the country routes to stare at birds and see if there was anything worth buying. Interestingly, we came back via a route I've never been, not in the 14 years of being here, which just goes to show (a) how terrified I am of new routes and (b) how often Lord H goes out prowling the woods of a dark night when the moon is full ... oo-err, missus. Didn't spot any bodies though - I've always rather fancied being a walker without a dog who comes across a dastardly crime. But I suspect that may be my twisted mind. And too much TV whilst growing up.

Not many birds around either - though we did see some redwings and a white-fronted goose, and the trees were alive with long-tailed tits, as is their wont, apparently. And there wasn't anything worth buying in town. In spite of the fact that Lord H and I spent some time poring over the wisdom of getting some special gum protection mouthwash for my delicate gums. God, I sound so old - I fear I am turning into my grandmother after all, and so ruddy soon. Anyway, the information on the gum mouthwash bottle told us that my teeth and tongue would change colour if I used it, but that they would (probably) go back to being normal again once I stopped using it. Ye gods, how Dickensian. I think I would rather have a gum problem than a green tongue & teeth (or whatever colour it turns you into - it didn't specify ...) so I shall continue using my normal one and hoping for the best.

Back home, I have been scribbling away like a woman obsessed (so no change there then) at The Bones of Summer while Lord H has nobly been doing my tax returns. You'll be pleased to hear that in 2006-2007 I earned precisely £249 for my writing, which consisted of an article bought by the BBC and some money from the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, Gawd bless 'em, which I get for being poor and unloved. Please send more, eh. I suspect I won't be giving up the day job any day soon.

And we're one step closer to my new website - UK Hosts has acknowledged our transfer request and given us a number to quote when nothing happens. Not that I'm being cynical here - perish the thought!

Tonight, I'm doing a shit-load of tax papers filing (hell, it's the least I can do really!) and staring at the cleaning. Oh, and there's the inside story of "Strictly Come Dancing" on, so I can't miss that. Gossip? Bring it on!

Today's nice things:

1. The walk into Godalming
2. Writing
3. So nearly earning £250 in a year, hurrah!

Anne Brooke
Anne's creaky old website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shops, hoods and Bones

Sound the trumpets, people, but Lord H and I have actually done the sales today. Huzzah indeed!! How very brave and British we are. I mean no other ruddy country gets themselves up and into a crowded town in order to get an item you probably wouldn't have bought in the first place at full price, do they? Or am I missing the point?

And, really, it has been a sales experience of two halves. Total failure for Lord H who managed to buy one item only: a rodent repeller, as we fear there is the scamper of tiny feet in the neighbour's attic (which due to the layout of the house is actually next door to our living room). Unless of course the neighbour has taken to running round the attic very, very lightly, whilst scrabbling at the skirting board. I would not put it past them ...

However, set against that, I have done relatively well - buying three male shirts from Marks & Spencer which will suit me fine (the colours are so much nicer than girly pastels, you know), and two pairs of earrings from All That Glitters. I even tried on a pair of trousers in Debenhams, but was so shocked that the Size 14 was too large for me (did you get that? - it was too large) that I walked out in astonishment without trying the Size 12s. Which I know would have been too small and the moment of triumph would have been lost. Best to quit while you're ahead, eh.

I've also visited my hospital friend, who is doing better than the surgeons expected in that (a) she's still alive and (b) she's not likely to die in the foreseeable future as far as they can tell. Double huzzahs! Always good to have a Christmas miracle in the here and now. Though it's still a long road and she'll be in hospital for weeks and weeks yet, I think. However, the two of us agreed that we don't much mind long roads provided they don't lead to wooden boxes they take you out in. Now there's a philosophy for life. Also, extra nice news - which shows that even my own natural cruelty can be turned to the good on occasion: I took along Mother's dreadful Christmas present (the red thermal hood-with-scarf) in order to give Hospital Friend a jolly good laugh, but she loved it so much that I have donated it to her. We did the mirror test and it certainly suits her a zillion times better than it suited me! So I'm glad it's gone to a deserving home.

Talking of home, back at the ranch, I have been fiddling away with The Bones of Summer and have even added another 1000 words to it, thus taking me to 58,000 words and the vague knowledge of what my next scene actually is (a rare event, I promise you). Which means that I might even get to my magical figure of 60,000 before the end of the year, depending on how things go over the next few days. Which was the figure I'd promised myself I'd get to by then - thus proving how desperately anal I am about word counts even when I've promised myself some relaxation. Lordy, is it time for my pills yet, nurse?

Tonight, Lord H and I will be watching TV until our eyes fall out. Well, it's good to have a hobby - though I suspect we will have to resort to DVDs, as there's absolutely bloody nothing on TV!

Oh, and I've just finished reading Jodi Picoult's Mercy. It's very different from her others, having elements of magic realism in it and starting off with way too many characters and sudden turns of sexual fortune (hey, there's a phrase I can conjure with). But in the end I quite liked it. Though the hero, Cam, is a bloody selfish bugger, and James should have smothered him rather than the wife at the start. Would have saved a lot of angst later really. I loved Allie though, but have no idea what she was doing with that tosser, Cam. She deserved better. That said, Picoult is the utter page-turner of page-turners so naturally I'll be reading her next paperback, whenever it turns up.

Today's nice things:

1. A Size 14 item of clothing being too large for me (did I mention that?)
2. Finding a home for that hood
3. Writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's current website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas done and the hoopoe watch

Had a lovely Christmas day yesterday, shared entirely with Lord H. Bliss indeed. We were planning to go to the Christmas morning service, but in the end we got rather involved with my new website the night before (watch this space - it's looking fab!) so didn't get to bed till midnight. So no chance of leaping up in the morning and paying our religious respects to the Almighty. Ah well.

Once up, we just about managed to perform the ritual of the present opening while it was still morning. Had some wonderful presents, including the "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Blue Peter" annuals from Lord H so I can drool over gorgeous Gethin to my heart's content. Mmm ... My particular favourite however was the remote-control Sumo wrestlers from Peter and Sue - we have had hours of fun with them already, so thank you indeed! Mother managed - as ever - to buy one peculiar present. This time, it was a thermal hood with attached scarf in bright red. Which so isn't me, dahhlings! It will clash with my eyes. Not to mention my hair. I fear a charity shop moment cometh upon me, but hey it's the thought that counts!

Yesterday, I also drooled over the "Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special" - lovely to see Gethin getting a perfect 40, but he should have won. He was robbed - again! And we gasped at the thrills and spills of "Doctor Who". Wonderful stuff.

Today, we did manage to leap out of bed at a relatively early hour, inspired by the thought that a hoopoe had been spotted south of Farnham. A hoopoe! Now there's a bird with a serious bad-hair day. How I empathise ... Sadly, once there, we found no hoopoe, though there were a heck of a lot of excited hoopoe-watchers. So many that they probably scared the darn thing away. Still, we wandered on up the Blackwater Valley and spotted two herons, a little egret, crowds of long-tailed tits and a thrush or two, so an enjoyable day nonetheless (now there's a word I've always wanted to use in a blog).

Back home, I'm putting the finishing touches to the site and I think it's there. Hurrah! I am indeed the HTML coding queen. Now all we have to do is (a) buy Dreamweaver and (b) get our new web provider to transfer my domain name from my old provider and other shennanigans (c) upload the new info and (d) crack open a bottle of champagne. And Lord H will be starting the New Year with so many Husband Points he may never need to gain any more.

Time for a relaxing evening, I think ...

Today's nice things:

1. Nearly (oh so nearly ...) seeing a hoopoe
2. Getting the new site sorted
3. Having time to chill.

Anne Brooke
Anne's current website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, December 24, 2007

Unnamed men and Where Be The Data?

Lord H and I were listening to the radio on our way down to Pulborough Brooks today and the News informed us that an unnamed man had been taken in for questioning for something or other. It struck us both that surely it would be much easier for the police to round up all the unnamed men and put them somewhere they could keep an eye on them, a strategy (argghh! The "S" word - sorry ...) that would surely bring the crime rate down in leaps and bounds. I also thought it did seem unnecessarily cruel for parents not to name their children in the full and certain knowledge that said unnamed child would grow up to be a criminal. Really, the Government should make naming a child mandatory. That would help the crime rate too ...

Mind you, soon we will have no data at all with which to perform this useful exercise, as the authorities will have lost it entirely. Personally, I think it would be much more efficient simply to give all our personal information to the buggers that are stealing it in the first place, as they do seem to have the upper hand and will probably be able to take better care of it. Either that or give the Government lessons in how to steal it back. Soon we will be in the middle of the Data Wars, and will have to take sides pretty damn quick. You heard it here first.

Anyway, back to the World of Pulborough, Lord H and I have had a lovely day wandering around and staring at birds. We've managed to spot yet another water rail - far from being one of the shyest birds in the UK, I think this breed is actually something of a PR tart, as they are now throwing themselves at us at every opportunity. Either that or my mystic power as Water Rail Girl continues unabated. We also saw snipe, nuthatches, thrushes, a million (at least!) lapwing and a plethora of robins. Amongst others. Plus new birds seen today are a fieldfare, a coal tit and a marsh tit, hurrah!

Tonight, I'm dabbling in writing and preparing to make my killer rum butter. Yes, I know alcohol is supposed to be a no-no but hell it's Christmas and it's an ancient family recipe. If I didn't make it, my grandmother would come to haunt me like the Ghost of Christmas Past. Now there was a woman you didn't mess with. Believe me, I'm a total pushover compared to her!

So, I do hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and it's either as relaxing or as invigorating as you desire - and whatever you do blow the candles out before you leave the room. Here ends this Personal Safety Message. Thank you for listening and good night. Happy Christmas!

Today's nice things:

1. Solving the rise in crime and starting the Data Wars
2. Birds
3. Rum butter, mmmm ...

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dinner, dances, Bones and carols

Goodness me - what a busy day indeed! But fear not (as the angels said ...), some of the title events actually took place yesterday so I am not stretched out in a gutter somewhere attempting to regain my strength. Not entirely anyway. Had a wonderful dinner at Liz & John's - great food, great company and a really really good laugh. The social highlight of my Christmas, I believe. Many thanks, Liz. I was also very touched as three of the couples there (Liz & John, Robin & Gavin, Michael & Mary) are all very keen to come to the February launch of Thorn in the Flesh, and take me out for a celebratory dinner afterwards. Gosh indeed! And they might even buy a copy of the book - double gosh!

What with one thing and another, Lord H and I didn't actually get to bed till 2am (dirty stop-outs, us ...) and so understandably we haven't seen a great deal of this morning. But we have watched the results show of "Strictly Come Dancing" - we saw the bulk of the main show before setting out to Liz's - and are fairly happy that Alesha won. (Well, naturally, I would have preferred Gethin to be there and win, but hey life ain't always fair!...). But I do think that Matt's Judges' Choice dance was far better than Alesha's, as was his showdance. Both of his performances were risky and marvellous, whereas I feel Alesha rather played it safe. Now of course, the Sunday Mirror (Shock! Horror! Probe!) tells us that the wicked Matt is dating both Flavia and Alesha, and has caused Vincent to break things off with Flavia. Ah, the drama, the pain, the excitement that is the dance world, eh ... And before you start shouting, no, we do not get the Sunday Mirror - Lord H saw the headline when in town today and we looked it up on the web! Honest!

For the rest of the day, I have been doing more to The Bones of Summer, and I have to say I'm really enjoying it today. A key violent scene is coming together nicely (I always think my violence scenes are a strong point - at least that's the way it feels when I write them). And I'm coming down from it fairly smoothly too. I just have to write the lead-up to it sometime. Probably next. Then I'll need to go back and write the middle searching sections - which I've written notes about in the text - and we may even have a first draft by, say, March?... Hell, you never know!

This evening Lord H and I have been to the Carol Service at Peper Harow Church. I do love a good carol service, and it was very enjoyable, I must say. I continue to think that "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is the best carol ever written with the deepest, most arresting and most resonating words. Not to mention that stonkingly poignant tune. It always makes me cry. That said, it's soooooo lovely to be at a carol service (or any Christmas service, to be honest) where I don't have to worry about the candles, the altar, the vestments, the Bible markers, the tapers or any of the zillion other ruddy things I used to be in charge of and which could go wrong at the drop of a service sheet. You wouldn't believe how pleased I am to be shot of all that.

Interestingly, a couple from St Peter's (the church we left in April) were also at the Carol Service - and during our brief chat afterwards, they said how much they missed us at St Peter's and asked if we would ever come back. I simply said that wasn't an option, though I was very sweet about it (Christmas Points for me then! At last!), and we all moved on. It felt good to say the words though and to know I meant them. I'm not going back to St Peter's, and I don't ever want to be that involved in a church again. I'm happy going once a month or so to the churches we visit now, and keeping my distance. That feels fine.

Tonight, we're hoping for an early night, and a good run-up to Christmas itself. As, I'm sure are all of us! This week's haiku is:

Thursley Common: After the fire
Through the blackened grass,
gorse springs up gold, woodpeckers
hunt. Nature rises.

Today's nice things:
1. Strictly Come Dancing
2. Writing Bones
3. The carol service.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Birds, Bones and dinner

Had a lovely long lie-in today. Felt I deserved it, but still felt guilty I wasn't up and doing stuff. Ye gods, but I have to learn how to relax. I really need to take lessons in it or something. I rubbed my special Clarins relax oil on my shoulders this morning, but I think it might be fighting a losing battle. Though it's a lovely smell of course.

For most of the day, Lord H and I have been wandering around Thursley Common spotting birds and working out which direction we should be going in. It's a fantastic place - bleak and black and gold and strange. All at the same time too. Almost like a landscape from another world. New birds spotted today - siskins, hurrah! Also great swathes of woodpeckers in all shapes and sizes, something that looked like a cross between a chaffinch and a greenfinch (can they interbreed??) and a jay or two. Actually, I'm becoming rather fond of jays - they look as if they've had a bad-hair day and they don't really fit in with anything else. I feel an essential affinity with them.

I've also managed to post my collection of envelopes for this month's poetry competition submissions. A ridiculous time to send them out, I know, but the thought of having them lurking in the flat over the holiday season was setting my teeth on edge. And talking of teeth, thank you to all you wonderful people out there who have posted suggestions as to how to save my jawline - I'm very grateful indeed. Lord H and I have brushed with great concentration today and are showing off our teeth at every opportunity. Hmm, no wonder the three sets of dogs we met in Thursley all went for us. Perhaps they were blinded by the sparkle?

Back home, I have attempted to add a few more sentences to The Bones of Summer, but really time is running out. I must have a bath and watch "Strictly Come Dancing" in my glad rags - as we're out at Liz & John's tonight for a posh dinner, and will have to go immediately after the show finishes. I'm looking forward to going (quite rare for me then!), as there won't be too many people, I know them all and Liz cooks like an angel and is the perfect hostess. Come 10pm, we'll all be rude and raucous, hurrah! What more could one want?

Oh, and I've opened the mince pies. Well, Lord H was looking longingly at the packet and I've promised I will be a nice, normal wife for 11 days (or is it 10 now?), so it was the least I could do. Not sure how long I'll be able to keep that resolution then. And, I suspect, neither is he ...

Today's nice things:

1. Birds
2. TV
3. Dinner with friends.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bleeding teeth and cold bones

Bloody hell, great title for a novel. I suspect I might use that someday. But don't talk to me about teeth. Double groan ... Lord H & I had our regular tooth doctor appointment today, and this time I have to have four fillings done and they're worried about my bleeding gums. This after having no fillings last time and perfect gums. I am doing nothing differently!!! They think it might be to do with the HRT I'm on - even though I've only been on it five minutes and, really m'dears, one's boobs are no bigger than they were before. Sadly. Good to know that in the future, when I'm a hundred-and-bleeding-twenty, I shall be able to have a baby (God forbid!) but won't be able to converse with it as I shall have no teeth. Bloody big sigh, eh. Honestly, I really wish I'd booked the appointment earlier in the month, so I wouldn't have the prospect hanging over me during Christmas of having to go and have great pain inflicted on me on 4 January. It's seriously pissing me off. Really, I'm feeling quite tearful. God, I hate dentists. Big time.

Anyway, after that debacle (sorry, can't be arsed with funny accents and stuff - besides of which I won't be able to say any accents soon as my mouth will be jammed tight with cotton wool, pathetic sigh ...), Lord H and I went to look at birds in Ash (that's a place, not a concept). Lucky birds. They have no teeth. Soon we will have so much in common (am I swooning too much at this point?...). It was a pretty little place, if bloody chilly. Still, we managed to see lots of tits (of the feathered variety), 101 robins - or one very speedy robin - plus a grey wagtail (my first, hurrah!) and yet another heron in flight. Why are there so many flying herons at the moment? Is someone doing something nasty to their legs so they can't land anywhere? Seems unnecessarily cruel to me.

This afternoon, I have been typing up more of The Bones of Summer. Poor Craig - he's having a very difficult time at the moment. It would be so much better for him if it wasn't winter and he knew where his clothes were but, alas, his author won't allow him that small comfort. What a cow, eh. Lord knows why he puts up with me. He's probably sorry for my teeth (did I mention my teeth?).

However, there is surprising news for today - I've just finished reading the latest "Poetry Review" magazine and it's the first time I've closed the final pages and haven't wondered what on earth all the fuss was about. Not a bad edition really - an undercurrent of pretention here and there of course, but at that level you probably have to expect it. There were some poems I even enjoyed (Good God, Carruthers, pass me the smellings salts: the words "enjoy" and "Poetry Review" have never been in the same paragraph before). I will even go so far as to say I noted some poets and their collections down on my buying list. Particular favourites were Siriol Troup for being charmingly Japanese about WH Auden (ah, the story is in the spaces, m'dear ...), Hugo Williams for being charmingly Victorian, Nii Ayikwei Parkes for putting the people back into politics, and Jane Draycott for a wonderful scene of miscommunication. Also nice to see my old favourite, Neil Rollinson, in there. Though they were rather snippety about his latest collection, Demolition. Hey, I didn't think it was that bad. Not vintage Rollinson for sure, but not terrible!

Tonight, I shall do some cleaning and stare at my teeth in the mirror for a while. As you do. And I really must wrap up Lord H's Christmas presents or the day will come upon me unwrapped before I know it. Hmm, The Unwrapped Day - another interesting title ...

Today's nice things:

1. Birds in Ash
2. Writing
3. Reading some rather good poetry.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Facials and interviews

Was delighted to find that my interview with Chroma Journal is now online under the 19 December 2007 heading - the first one at the top at the moment. My, how normal I look, and how mad I sound. So no changes there then ... And thank you so much to Liam and Eric from Chroma for arranging it. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Drove into Guildford early today simply in order to get a parking space - which turned out to be a wise move as later in the morning the place was heaving. I sat in Waterstone's for an hour and a half and wrote a poem as below:


Words curdle my head.

I’m hoping for milk or honey –
if I’m lucky maybe both –
but what I get is

yoghurt past its sell-by date,
sea-green cheese, clotted coffee,
sour cream.

Staleness and history on my tongue:
the dregs that remain when the writing is gone.

And also another 800 words to The Bones of Summer, which I've typed up at home now. Might do some more later on - we'll see. But I'm pleased with how it's gone today - I've got a huge theme which makes sense in relation to what's happening in the book which I only realised yesterday, so I suspect I'll have fun writing that one in. Poor old Craig - he does go through the mill, but hell that's the way I like it.

I then spent a glorious two hours having a Clarins facial and back massage with Charlotte. Utter bliss. I've already booked my next one. I think it'll do my regularly tensed-out shoulders good. All this computer work, you know - it plays havoc with the back! I'm feeling quite chilled already. On the way home, I popped into see Gladys, who was happy to see me as she was having a day when things were going missing. And I'm a dabhand at finding stuff, though sadly only in other people's houses. Today, I have managed to find Gladys' kettle, her biscuit tin and the paper. St Jude (Patron Saint of Lost Items, I think?) has nothing on me. Ooh and on the way home, I actually saw a heron in flight over the car which landed on the house I was driving past at the time. Marvellous!

Tonight, I've watched "Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two", even though I'm not much fussed over who wins, to be honest. And later on, I suspect we'll be watching our "QI" video. The world is so much better with Stephen Fry. And I'm definitely planning an early night. In fact I think I might even make getting early nights into my New Year Resolution. About time I had one - the resolution and a good night's sleep both!

Today's nice things:

1. The Chroma interview
2. Clarins treatments
3. Writing (God, how I love it sometimes).

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fluffy pink gloves and punch-in-the-gut fiction

Ye gods, but I have worked like a dog today. A dog with a particularly difficult owner and no chance of a bone. My noble attempts to get the minutes done this morning were thwarted by the Professor worrying about bids and deadlines, and by the Registry wanting me to collate online documents into neat packages so they could worry about them in smaller chunks. Which I did whilst staring blearily at the computer screen and wishing my reading glasses were here already. Honestly, I think I'm going to invest in some matchsticks to keep my eyes open. And functioning.

In between all this, I did actually get the first draft of the minutes done. And on my boss's desk for checking, hurrah. I also managed to fit in a very pleasant tea & mince pies session at Student Advice at 3pm. Where the lovely Natacha - the new Student Advice staff member - told me she'd like a package of all my novels in the New Year and please could they be signed also. Of course!! Heck, you don't even have to ask - I will be delighted to sign whatever you want, m'dear, and will probably declare undying affection for you and a sudden urge to have your babies also. These requests don't come often, as you can see!... Not only that but Norma also kindly presented me with a pair of fluffy pink gloves and a woolly pink hat, as apparently she is desperate to get me out of navy and black. I hadn't realised I was quite such a dark and shady character across the campus as I stride around at lunchtime muttering to myself. Perhaps I'm scaring the students away?? Anyway, thank you for the influx of colour into my life, Norma - I'm feeling spring-like already.

And shock news of the day - Ruth's husband went in for a haircut after his boozy work lunch (always an error, I fear ...) and the barber misheard his request for a "Grade 5" as a "Number 5", so he now has a partial skinhead look. Which will make his role in the panto this year that much more interesting ... Ah well. Good to get the Christmas disaster over with early, is what I say.

At home, I have just finished the latest edition of Brittle Star magazine - fab as usual. It's one of the ones I really enjoy getting. I particularly liked Graham Mummery's "and He rested on the Seventh Day from all his Work" for its business cynicsm, Graham Fulton's "Chihuahua" for its classic scenario of mis-communication and Paul Campbell's "Guy on the moon" for its charm and simplicity. But it was the piece of short fiction by Sarah Passingham called "Ironing it better" which blew me away. It was so good, real and bleak that I actually started crying at the dinner table, was forced to stop, regroup, put down my cutlery and enjoy the punch-in-the-gut sheer bloody strength of it a second time, this time without eating. Which of course made me cry again, a situation which Lord H tried to improve by putting his napkin on his head and pretending to be a Mohican. Hmm, maybe we should get out more? Or possibly stay in more, so we frighten people less ... Anyway, Lord H's trick worked, but the feeling of Passingham's piece is still with me now. Fabulous.

Oh and Scott Pack has blogged about the two new Mighty Erudite poetry collections here - a thread which is well worth a read. He loved one and hated the other, which I can understand though actually I think both collections are wonderful for very different reasons. As I've said on the thread, I thoroughly enjoyed editing them. I'll certainly be buying both and look forward to reading them again without my "professional" hat on.

Today's nice things:

1. Fluffy pink gloves
2. Laughing at skinhead hairdos
3. Reading Passingham's work.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Killer Queen?

The delightful Rhian at the It’s a Crime review site has today been kind enough to include my suggestion for a humdinger crime book for Christmas which should definitely be on your list if you haven’t read it already – Louise Welsh’s The Bullet Trick – so do have a read of my review and buy it. You know you want to! I also love Rhian’s description of me as the “UK killer queen of the gay novel”. How I would soooo love to use that as the strapline to my upcoming new-look website, but fear that I might have to wear an appropriate outfit for the full effect. Whatever that outfit may be! Anyway, thank you, Rhian – your description has certainly made Lord H chuckle, and his eyebrows are still in orbit …

This morning, I have been rushing around trying to chase everyone up by email for stuff they haven’t yet given me. You know – generic office stuff and the generic office pre-Christmas panic. Happens every year. No doubt all the people I actually need are even now fleeing the campus and everything will still be here to haunt me, come January. Sigh.

This lunchtime, I am nipping to the shop to try to get a few things which we probably won’t need at Christmas. As you do. How many mince pies can two people eat anyway?? I’m really sure we won’t need fourteen, but I like to think I keep Mr Kipling going in these seasonal days.

And this afternoon I have the last meeting of the year to minute – hurrah! However, it’s the Mentoring Advisory Board - groan - which is always complicated, so I only hope my brain can keep up. Not to mention my pen. And that I can get the first draft of the darn things done before I have to leave tomorrow. I really hate things hanging over my head undone over Christmas – not that I’m an obsessive compulsive stressed-out bitch who can’t get things into perspective at all … oh no, missus, I’m the UK killer queen of the gay novel, don’t you know … Or maybe that’s actually the same thing anyway? Who can tell!...

Tonight, I shall pop into the hospital to see how my sick friend is getting on, and then I’m in for the evening, thank goodness. Heck, I might even try to get some writing done – you never know. Though, on second thoughts I'd best have a stab at the Goldenford minutes. Actually I think I’m developing an allergy to going out. How I wish the Government would make hibernation compulsory. Mind you, with all our personal records that they’re now scattering to the four winds, maybe hibernation is becoming the only option. And maybe it would be quicker if they just told us what they hadn’t lost, rather than what they had?

Oh, and, according to the boss, I’m desperately in need of further personal development. Is he sure??? Apparently, I have to make 2008 the Year of Developing Anne, as he thinks I need to stretch myself more at work. Ho ho. Little does he know that this Killer Queen does stretch herself hugely at work – it’s just that it’s not the work that goes on in the office. It’s the work that goes on in my writing life. The office job is what gives me some kind of simple base for survival. Lord only knows what will happen in my head if I’m stretched in both places. Heck, but maybe I should rebook another few counselling appointments now in case the shit really hits the fan next year …?? Though, really, being a screwed-up headcase with a mania for the pen has got me where I am today – it’s a career move, Carruthers. I fear I won’t have anything to write at all if I suddenly become a mature rounded human being … Mind you, probably best not to wait up for that possibility, eh.

Today’s nice things:

1. Being a Killer Queen (oh, did I mention that?...)
2. Getting the shopping over with
3. Being in this evening.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, December 17, 2007

The risk of boredom and some very nice teas

A busy morning today, rushing around dealing with 1001 emails, mainly from the Catering Office about the plethora of meetings I’ve arranged in January. I think I now have food and water for all of them but, frankly, it’s hard to say. If I don’t, I will have to get my apron on and whip up a last-minute meal for 10 a la Fanny Craddock. As you do.

I’ve also sent round a note about the upcoming Thorn in the Flesh launch in February to people at work who might like to come. One or two at least seem enthusiastic, so that’s quite comforting. Always good to know there might be more at the party than just me and Lord H. What a stalwart support that man is. Actually, I won’t send the invitations out till after Christmas, but I just wanted the date to be floating in people’s minds before 2008 social activities start being added to diaries over Christmas.

This lunchtime, I had my last reflexology session before the Big Holiday – bliss. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to book another appointment until the beginning of February, groan, so I will have to double my intake of calming pills just in order to survive, no doubt … Poor Emily (therapist) though – my feet were so cold during the session that she had to wrap them in little towel tents in order to keep one foot warm while she was working on the other. Just felt very much how they usually feel to me, I have to admit. Isn’t keeping my feet warm what Lord H’s back is for?...

This afternoon, my nose has been trumpeting like a runaway elephant. Ruth was on the phone to a softly-spoken student and could hardly hear anything on the line because of The Great Nose Problem – so I had to take my nose into the kitchen and beat it into submission before being allowed back into the office again. Hey ho – let’s hope this isn’t the first signs of the Christmas Cold – again ...

Back home, I discover that the wonderful Sarah Pracey from the Dr Stuart's teas PR firm has sent me a delightful package of teas, including a new one which is supposed to cure all ills. Gosh, huge thank yous, Sarah - that's really kind of you! I shall look forward to trying those which are new and revisiting those I love. It's got me into the Christmas spirit for sure.

Tonight, I’m minuting the Goldenford meeting. I’m hoping there aren’t too many notes (my dear Mozart …) as my brain is winding down for the end of the year and I fear any intellectual or complicated input might do for me entirely. As it were.

And I’m still in mourning for the sad loss of gorgeous Gethin from “Strictly Come Dancing” – he was sooooo good in that Argentine tango. The best dance of the evening for me. I feel next week’s final won’t have the shine it should have had now, sigh … Though “Cranford” certainly clicked all my Sunday Night TV buttons yesterday – I was in floods of tears, some sad and some joyful, virtually non-stop. Underneath this rhino-like exterior, I swear I have the heart of a squeezed-out sponge. Ho ho.

Finally, much to my relief, I have finished Susan Hill's The Risk of Darkness. Um, I was expecting so much of this as the previous two in the Serrailler series have been top-notch, but actually if you read this one you are severely at risk of boredom. Not that she writes badly - she most certainly doesn't (though it galls me to admit it, as I've never warmed to the woman and she has a NVQ Level 5 in Dismissiveness, at least in my few dealings with her ...). She's usually a wonderful writer, dammit. But the book itself is a disaster. It seems to consist of lots of scenarios from books which aren't this one, the murder/death count is laughably high (shades of "Midsomer Murders" ...!), the main character himself has the charm of a poisonous spider in a particular snippety mood (for God's sake, Simon, get over yourself already and, yes, you are a nasty piece of work in this book) and isn't really very interesting, and there are way way too many bit-part characters. The middle is also mind-boggingly dull. I was skipping desperately towards the end. Though it actually isn't an end - it just ... um ... stops. For goodness sake, what has Ms Hill been on?? And shouldn't the publisher have said something?? It's really put me off buying the next one in the series, I have to say. I can only hope that we get a different plotline in whatever will come after at least - these plotlines have lasted two books and need to be put firmly to bed. Now.

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Thinking about the Thorn launch
3. Teas!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A sneak preview

Much to my delight, PD Publishing have now got the Maloney's Law cover art up on their website, plus the revised blurb. Thank you, all! I'm really very pleased with it, and am now looking forward to tackling the edits whenever they arrive. Roll on 2008, eh!

Talking of writing matters, Lord H and I have decided to refresh the website design ourselves using Dreamweaver before thinking about calling in the troops. We're hoping to work on that over Christmas, so sometime in the New Year the site should be looking far more modern than it currently is. Hurrah! I certainly like what Lord H has been working on off-line so far, so watch this space ...

This morning, the Powers That Be decided to switch off our water and then pretend to know nothing about it, so we had to go outside - unwashed! - and gather neighbour input in order to present a united front. The water company eventually agreed we were right and sent a crack squad of experts to reconnect us again. Power to the People indeed. As a parting gesture however, they decided to provide us with brown water for a while, but eventually it has come clear again. Thank goodness.

We've also had a wander over Puttenham Heath and managed to spot a nuthatch, long-tailed tits, blue tits and a very determined (notice me! notice me!) robin. Plus what might have been a wheatear but it was a bit too fuzzy to say for sure. Or was that my binoculars? Maybe I should clean them after all ... Once back home, we found a green woodpecker in the garden extremely close to the house, which was a delight to watch. We needn't have bothered getting in the car to play spot-the-bird at all then, dammit!

Watched yesterday's "Strictly Come Dancing" video whilst eating lunch - glad to see that Matt is back on form again (though I'm unconvinced he deserved a 40 for his waltz, pleasant though it was). I must admit that I thought Gethin's super-hot Argentine tango was the best dance of the show, and certainly the most adult, and was rather undermarked. It should have got at least two 10s to my mind. But I accept I may be prejudiced and might - horrors! - have to wave goodbye to delicious Gethin tonight, sigh ... Ah well.

And, after that, it's "Cranford". What will happen to Miss Matty tonight? I dread to think. Might also try to get more done to The Bones of Summer, but I'll have to see.

This week's haiku:

A traffic cone line:
two-tone rainbow leading us
home on tarmac sky.

Today's nice things:

1. Seeing the Maloney cover up on the PD site
2. Planning my new website
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day with Mother and MA celebrations

Spent the day with Mother today. Scary biscuits indeed. I think I managed to look like a fairly normal daughter most of the time though, in spite of being so shattered from our very busy week. In fact we were so tired that Lord H and I both fell asleep in the afternoon while Mother was still talking. Not sure she noticed ... I also managed to nap most of the two hour journey there and a nice proportion of it back again. Luckily Lord H was driving.

Interesting fact learnt today - sprouts don't grow in the darkness of the soil rootling around like moles as I'd always thought, but on stalks. Like bean-stalks - how seasonal! Well, there you go. It just shows how all those years of being a country girl were wasted on me. I was thinking they grew in nice plastic bags tied up at the top. Now that would be convenient. The good thing was that, to celebrate my ignorance, we now have half a ton of sprouts from my stepfather's garden and a few parsnips too. Which should keep us going till Christmas, hurrah! At least.

We also took the opportunity to exchange Christmas presents - and daughterly honour was satisfied by the fact that my present is significantly larger than Lord H's. Not that I'm terribly competitive or a sad git or anything of course. Though I don't think Mother has yet noticed that all her presents are wrapped up in paper with pictures of naked men on it. Ah, she will, she will ...

Back home, we're on a swift turnaround and off out at 8-ish to a friend's MA celebration party. Well done, Cathy, on your success, and here's to the PhD (no pressure then)! All this means I've had to video "Strictly Come Dancing" so I shall be glued tomorrow to see what dramas and traumas have arisen. I just can't bear the tension!

Today's nice things:

1. Another Christmas visit ticked off!
2. Sprouts
3. MA successes.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, December 14, 2007

Golf, Bones, writing and Christmas rigours

Had a very bracing golf game with Marian today - though we were fairly rubbish. Apart from one glorious moment when I parred the last, hurrah! And I say bracing, as I managed to keep the chill out by means of wearing two pairs of trousers, a tee-shirt, a polo shirt, a jumper and a fleece. Oh, and my golf coat. Honestly, it was amazing I could swing the club at all. After this, I gave all the appropriate Christmas wishes to Marian & her family, as I won't see her for another golf game until the beginning of February now (sigh ...), as (lucky her) she's wintering abroad. As they say. Oh, how Surrey we are becoming!

Popped into Sainsbury's on my way home, but was lucky to find a car parking space. I see the Christmas horrors have begun already ... And talking of Christmas horrors, I also popped into the church we occasionally go to now in order to get their December programme - but the moment I stepped in, the woman who was there asked me how long I was staying for as she needed me to leave soon as she wanted to lock up. Ye gods, no room at the inn still, I see. I was tempted to say I was planning an hour's meditation and prayer, but as all I really wanted was the list of services, I made a suitably sarcastic response and left. Well, actually, being me, I took the programme, left, and then made a suitably sarcastic response. In a whisper. Outside. Still hope the old cow heard though.

Oh, and as I'm on the subject of the Christmas Spirit, I have to say that I've had a good year for making enemies. So far, two cards have turned up at home, which I have torn up and recycled, whilst muttering ancient Essex curses. Or the nearest alternative. Well, I don't like - or trust - the people who sent them any more, so why should I have them on display? (Not that we actually display Christmas cards - no, here in Scrooge City, we have no decorations, no tree, and we simply pile cards up on the coffee table for recycling later. Have done for years, m'dear. Though to be fair we do read them!...). Mind you, I think the two sets of people concerned have no idea I feel that way about them - they're both too thick and too much up their own arses to notice, the buggers. Ah well.

Back home, I've been working on The Bones of Summer and have managed 1000 words today. I'm getting into some quite deep stuff so I'm not entirely sure how it's going to be and how Craig will interpret it all, but at least we're moving now. And we even seem to have some kind of a plan. Possibly.

I've also had the suggestions and estimate back from Pedalo for updating and modernising my website. What they suggest looks very interesting, though of course I do have some questions which need to be answered, but my instincts say it's the way to go. It's certainly not cheap, but my feeling is it will be worth it and, of course, you get what you pay for. I can see it is a particular design challenge for them, as I don't stick to any genre, as such, though my themes are frighteningly similar. Anyone for sex, death and split families, even in the comedies?!? And, not being funny, but the whole writing side of life is becoming slightly more serious now for me than it has been in the past, and I think I need a website to match that change. Maybe it's because next year I'll have two commercial books out, or maybe it's because I'm getting used to the rhythm of novel writing? Or maybe it's because I'm getting older and a little more willing to trust myself? I don't know. But that's just how it is right now.

Tonight, Lord H is out at the office do, so I shall do some cleaning, watch some TV and prepare for a day with Mother tomorrow (arrggh!). That'll bring me down from my pie-in-the-sky writing pretensions, eh!...

Finally, I've just finished James Graham's poetry collection, Clairvoyance. Some very measured pieces in there, and his subject matters are very widespread and sometimes quirky. Themes ranged from politics to personal encounter, from nature to man and back again. Strangely, I felt quite neutral about the poems at first - I suspect his experience is very different from mine - but found myself being drawn inexorably into his world and in the end I found I couldn't get enough of it. A slow burn but well worth the wait until whatever it is that makes a book a good one clicks in. Particular favourites were "The First Day", "Elegy" and "Excursion", and the final six poems were utterly stunning. Very much recommended.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. Writing more of Bones
3. Thinking about the website.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The onset of reading glasses and lunch with the gals

Meandered early into Godalming today in order to get a car parking space, but actually at 10am-ish it wasn't too bad. I'd been expecting far worse. I wandered around the shops for a while and stocked up on jumpers and other essential winter items, and also spoke to the people at Godalming Museum. The good news is that I think we have a launch date for Thorn in the Flesh of Wednesday 27 February in the evening, hurrah!

The (totally unrelated) bad news is that I had my usual annual eye test today and - after much embarrassed coughing (well, the optician is really very sweet) - it transpires that I have moved far enough into my executive years to need reading glasses as well as my usual ones. Sigh! He doesn't think I should go for the bifocal option due to the amount of stuff I do on the computer, but he suspects that over the next two years I will probably need variefocals (sp??). However, for the moment it's two pairs and a zimmer frame. Oh, sorry, that last item just crept in there. I at once rang Lord H for support - ah foolish wife! - but all he could suggest, whilst laughing, was a lorgnette and a chain to keep the other pair round my neck. Really, this isn't what I signed up for at the marriage altar, you know. As a result, I fear that Lord H has lost all Husband Points gained over the last five years, with little hope of gaining any more during the following five. Indeed, it's lucky I can see to type this at all. Who knows what maner of tpyos I am maknig ...?

After all this age-related trauma, it was lovely to sit down to lunch with Jane & Ang, plus Ang's Saskia (hello, all!) at the Slug and Lettuce. There's nothing like a decaf cappucino and a duck wrap to soothe the delicate nerves. As it were. I also managed to bump into two other people I haven't seen for ages during my Godalming morning - one I was pleased to catch up with and one I was rather keen to avoid, so a nice balance was achieved by all, I suppose!

On the way home, I popped into see Gladys who, sensibly enough, is keeping warm and looking forward to the Spring. Heck, aren't we all. For the rest of the day, I have fiddled around with Thorn launch admin, which included managing to delete my invitation document by mistake - though thankfully I have succeeded in hacking my way into the recycle bin and retrieving it. But oh the shiver of fear that runs through the stomach and the lurch of horror through the blood when these traumas occur! I will have to lie down in a darkened room to recover again.

Tonight, I hope to do a little writing, though I'm really not in the mood. Dammit but my fingers are too cold. And I must watch last week's "Ugly Betty" and do a shed-load of ironing before we are totally unable to move in the flat at all for unironed clothes. Double sigh.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the Thorn launch sorted.
2. Lunch with the girls
3. Ugly Betty - I hope!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The mysteries of Boris & Horace and a dance extravaganza

Had our first puzzle card of the season yesterday – we do always seem to get one we can’t interpret, at least for a while. Is this just me or does everyone have this problem?? Anyway, the card in question appeared to be from someone called “Sulele” and the note inside read “I’m still working on Boris & Horace. Enjoying it very much.” The plot was thickening in a suitably mysterious manner so I asked Lord H. He read the card, put on his best Russian accent and said: Ah, I am working on Boris & Horace, but I believe they will crack soon and tell me everything they know. Hmm, it’s this sort of response that makes me wonder about my husband sometimes … Thankfully, I’ve now worked out who it’s from – one of my friends who writes children’s books (hello, Angela! – what wild writing you’ve got!) – so MI5 are unlikely to be calling round. Yet.

Today, it’s so ridiculously cold that I’m wearing a jumper, a fleece and a coat. In the office, I’ve only removed the coat. I’m keeping the rest on – I want to hang on to all my extremities for as long as I can. I’m also being super-brave and starting to look at updating our Personal Tutors’ Handbook, even though I have no real idea what is wanted or how it should be changed. Still, ignorance has never stopped me before, eh … I’m a great fan of the “let’s have a go and see what happens” style of working. In the meantime, a man with a mower is walking up and down the concrete walkway and patio area mowing it. Are we in the twilight zone?? There is no grass, people. I accept that we need to provide employment for the masses, but this might be going a little too far.

This lunchtime, I’m wrapping up well and off into town to pay in my cheque from Writers’ News – the third prize of £25 in the space poetry competition. I shall spend it wisely and well, ho ho.

Talking of poetry, here’s one:

Certain days

are blank; they arrive
wrapped in light
and promise

but are soon
as clouds

without substance,
a medley
of emptiness

and mist -
so there is nothing
to do but sit

for the night
to swallow them up


This afternoon, Carol and I have hand-delivered the papers for the Mentoring Board meeting next week as there are so many of them in different colour combinations (all coded of course …) that if we send it by email, it’ll just confuse everyone. There is something charmingly 1950s about it though. Take a letter, Miss Jones …

Tonight, it’s the last session of the Scottish country dancing class, so I’m taking drinks and nibbles for afterwards and I’ve even invited one or two friends to come along and laugh at me. And maybe have a dance as well – you never know! I did invite Lord H too, but he’s very reluctant to be dragged into an actual dance so I suspect he’ll stay at home. I’ll have to bring him back a mince pie or several.

I’m also beginning to need the year to be over. It’s been way too long and this term is (always) way way too long and I just want to stop and get some rest. Soon, please God!

I've also just finished reading Val McDermid's The Mermaids Singing. Um, yes well, nothing wrong with the writing, but there was far too much unnecessary violence and I didn't really like the main man that much. I thought he was a total prat, though the woman was nice. Have no idea what she saw in him though. My sympathies were (apart from the violence) with the serial killer. The only thing is I wish he'd managed to get the main man earlier and kill him off entirely. That would have been good. Deep sigh. I don't think I'll be getting another McDermid then.

Finally, we have yet another strange Christmas card - the downstairs neighbour has sent us one with a little note, saying he hopes we have a good Christmas, even though 2008 will be very unpleasant and bring lots of crises for us all. Eh??? Does he know something we don't?? Should we be battening down the hatches and waiting for the nuclear age?!? Or simply moving? Answers on a postcard please. But don't use a Christmas card, as it's just too scary ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Boris & Horace
2. Earning £25 from writing – hurrah!
3. Dancing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Writers and the quiz dunce

Funny dreams last night – I dreamt I was walking down our road, but it was in the Jurassic period, so there were huge numbers of strange leaves and trees instead of houses, and dinosaurs playing in a field. With other people. Odd indeed. I must remember not to work till 11pm too often. Mind you, it wasn’t frightening – just rather unusual. But what does it all mean?? I dread to think.

The first frost on the car today, groan. However, noble Lord H had already scraped it off by the time I came out of the flat, so he gains huge numbers of Husband Points, which I’m sure will last right till next year. Still ruddy cold though – but I accept he can’t do much about that. In fact, it’s so cold that I’m sitting in the office wearing my scarf and fingerless gloves. Amongst other items of clothing of course. If I want to go to the loo, I have to add my coat and hat, and run like crazy before I freeze. Hey ho. The exercise must be doing me good.

Meanwhile, we’re all gearing up to tonight’s office quiz. And we already have a proposed team name: Central Team Totty. Not sure what the boss will think though … However, it’s certainly better than some of the other names we came up with, which modesty forbids me to mention. Ho ho.

I have the last of the University Writers’ Group meetings of the year this lunch hour, so I’m hoping that will go well, ie that people will turn up and bring something to discuss. Though I do have a writing game or two up my sleeve to get them started. And some homework for over Christmas. Cue evil laughter. Actually, in the event, we didn’t have many members, but we had a great time. Talked a lot about the ups and downs of the publishing business (Anne’s Hot Writing Tip: no, agents don’t always know what they’re doing and, no, they don’t always know what readers will like. Don’t Be Fooled …). We also managed to fit in a very productive five-minute writing exercise, during which we all wrote something we hope to use later. Even me. Hurrah! That doesn’t often happen – as I usually think Lord, I can’t use that again. How come everyone else is so good??! Must be the Christmas spirit helping me out, eh!

Come 4pm, I’m off to help Ruth set up the quiz room, and hoping that we don’t end up bottom. I’m hopeless at quizzes – my mind goes blank. Which is probably its natural state, so it’s not entirely surprising. And tonight I’m hoping for an earlier night. For once!

Update! - our team came bottom! Groan. I am indeed a quiz dunce. Mind you, I did get the Oscar Wilde question, most of the art questions and the Captain Oates question all right, so I am not entirely without honour ...!

I have also sent the first 40 pages of The Gifting (hey, anyone out there remember that??) to the new Flicking Lizard press as I feel I have to do something with that novel before the year is out or my brain will implode. Otherwise, I fear it will be forgotten entirely ...

Today’s nice things:

1. Strange dreams
2. University Writers
3. The quiz.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, December 10, 2007

Meetings mayhem, interviews, funky feet and tea

Lots of fun with meetings today – cancelled some, added in extra meetings just in case there aren’t enough in the New Year, chased up my Chair for others and hustled for decent amounts of food in the rest. Well, I don’t want my people gnawing at the furniture. Estates & Buildings will not be pleased if they do.

Talking of E&B though, they’ve done an excellent job of tracking down the parcel that the rather unhelpful and badly named Home Delivery Services have been trying to deliver to me for nearly a week. Now all I have to do is collect it and work out what it is. Christmas – it’s a wonderful thing, you know …

I’ve also decided to book in for a Beginners’ Pilates class at the University next year to replace my Back Exercise class. I’m hoping (a) it will be relaxing and (b) we won’t have to talk to anyone. Silence – or at least lack of conversation – is surely what lunchtimes are for. I’m also having my reflexology session today, so am looking forward to funky feet and feeling fabulous this afternoon. At least for a while.

In the meantime, the marvellous Penelope Cline has been working away on getting the Thorn in the Flesh cover into an acceptable format for the printers. Thanks so much, Penelope – and I’m sure we’ll get there in the end. Always good to have an artist’s eye on my attempts at a back cover blurb style too! Update: I've uploaded this to the printers now, so here's hoping all is okay. It looks great!

Tonight, I’m visiting my friend in hospital to see what the situation is at the moment. I’m hoping the news will be better, but I think we’re in for the long haul. Once home, I’m planning to catch up with last week’s “Ugly Betty”. I’m really not in a writing mood. Though, on second thoughts, here’s a poem:

Throwing away the core

My father told me apples
always knew the way
to paradise.

Today, no matter how many
I crunch, munch
and swallow,

savouring the crisp acidity
of the first crop,
the mellow toffee

of the last,
I find I'm never
the happier for it.

So now the man himself
has taken the path
to that pearly gate

I'll find my own taste
of heaven, and hope
it's not too late.

And in the event I didn't watch any TV this evening - have instead sorted out the Thorn cover (see above!) and responded to an interview request from Liam Tullberg for Chroma Journal. Hope it's what they want, and thanks for asking, Liam!

Ooh, and I've also had a marvellous email from Sarah Pracey of SPA PR who does the marketing for Dr Stuart's teas (see my weekend blog!). The very enterprising Sarah has contacted me and offered alternative venues where I can find my teas, as well as suggesting she could send me some of the ones I'm running low on. What a star! I'm utterly impressed with that kind of service, Sarah, and I'm already planning how one of my characters in The Bones of Summer can be a fan of Dr Stuart. Thank you so much! You've put a smile on my face indeed.

Today’s nice things:

1. Finding my parcel
2. Reflexology
3. Sarah from SPA.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A birding day

Had a lovely day out today at the London Wetland Centre with the brother-in-law and his fiancee - hello, Peter and Sue! Great to catch up with you both, and I'm only sorry that the weather wasn't that good. Mind you, it could have rained a lot more, so we should be thankful for small mercies!

We managed to see about six zillion shovellers, three zillion herons (I accept some of this sentence might be exaggeration for effect) and a decent amount of teal. Not to mention magpies, smews, some goldeneye and one or two of those glorious green ring-necked parakeets. But Bird of the Day definitely goes to me (hurrah! I can have a Smug Birder Wife look for a month now) for spotting a Water Rail while everyone else was looking the other way. And my goodness, they're sooo cute and small. And it was fairly out in the open too, which is unusual.

I also managed to have two delicious naps in the car as Lord H was driving, so I am raring to go for the week now. Ho ho. At least until the horrors of Monday morning dawn ...

Back home, I have gasped and groaned at the excitements of the "Strictly Come Dancing" vote - thank goodness sexy Gethin is through! What a shock to have Alesha in the dance off! Just how lucky can Matt get! And farewell to lovely Letitia - I'll miss you hugely ... But I'm so looking forward to what the remaining three can do with the Argentinean Tango next week - here's hoping Matt doesn't forget his steps again, poor dear.

Tonight, I shall ring Mother (arrgghh! Sorry, that just slipped out) and later be glued to "Cranford". Who will die this episode, we ask ourselves? Will anyone be left to finish off the series at all? I swear it's becoming more and more like Jacobean tragedy every week.

And this week's haiku is:

Rain washes away
the stickiness of summer.
Winter's voice remains.

Today's nice things:

1. Our day out birding with Peter & Sue
2. TV
3. Writing a haiku.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reviews and naps

The delightful Jilly Weekes has made my day twice by posting two reviews of A Dangerous Man. One is on Amazon, as below:

“As another reviewer has mentioned, this is a very unsettling book. Michael is enthralled by his art. He had an abusive upbringing and is constantly trying to escape from it. A tragic figure, it soon becomes clear that he is unable to escape from his own history however far he moves away from it. Michael is also gay and seems drawn to the type of relationships which can only damage him further. Then he falls in love with Jack - a business tycoon - who adores him too and is willing to encourage his art and help him to overcome his past. Michael is unable to recognise Jack's love and tenderness for him as genuine and ultimately betrays him because he knows no other way of relating. There are several characters in the book who try to help Michael - Joe, who also loves him but never declares his love, Lee-Anne who works for Joe, and the bar owner Frank. Michael gets his solo art exhibition but his success comes too late to save him, and those around him, from disaster. The ending is frightening, violent and inevitable. I would recommend this book if you want something out of the ordinary. It is above all a character study of obsession and how difficult it is to overcome our own flaws. Without self awareness and acknowledgement of our problems we too could end up like Michael in our own hell.”

And the other is on her blogspot as of today's date:

“I finished reading Anne Brooke's A Dangerous Man this week. It is a book that lingers in your mind long after you've finished it. It doesn't really fall into any particular category - it contains a crime and a love story but does not fit under either heading. It is a story of Michael's obsession with his art, and his need to transcend his past. There is Joe, who has an unrequited love for Michael, and Paul who is a nasty piece of work. Then there is Jack, a wealthy business man, who loves Michael from when he first meets him. Because of his abusive upbringing Michael finds it impossible to accept Jack's love for what it is, and ultimately it is this flaw in his character that causes the violent and tragic ending. Here is a lesson in how by trying too hard to escape from our flaws we will ultimately destroy the things we love. Powerful and dark, the book describes gay relationships in a way which brings home to the reader the similarities between all relationships.”

Gosh, thank you so much, Jilly - I really appreciate you taking the time to do two reviews! And a huge gold star to you for now being someone who's actually read all my current novels. I hope you enjoy next year's selection just as much. And I also hope next week goes well for you.

This morning, Lynda arrived at 8.30am for my pre-Christmas haircut, so at least I can now see out and look (for a while) as if I do actually have a hairstyle. I also gave her her Christmas present, which means there's one less on my pile, hurrah! God, but I'm anal. I know. Inspired by all these things, I have even managed to do 1000 words to The Bones of Summer which brought me neatly to (a) the end of a chapter, and (b) 50,000 words. Ye gods, Carruthers and sound the trumpets indeed. My, how I love a round number.

So, feeling strangely satisfied (and even more anal for feeling that way, no doubt), I have left it there for today and had an utterly delicious nap this afternoon. How I've missed my regular supply of naps too - I don't seem to have had one for ages. Even Lord H remarked upon it. Post-nap, I almost feel like a human being.

Tonight, we're out at a friend's concert and then I'm hoping for a relatively early night. Haven't had one of those for a while either. And I must absolutely remember to video "Strictly Come Dancing" so I can be glued to it tomorrow evening. I have also done something I rarely do (steady, people, steady ...) and voted before we go out and therefore before the show is even on. I am also slightly ashamed to say that I am being ruled by my hormones rather than my heart and have voted for Gethin instead of Letitia. Ah, Fickleness, thy name is Woman.

Today's nice things:

1. Jill's two reviews
2. Napping
3. Getting to 50,000 words.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, December 07, 2007

Too wired to write

Honestly. Today. My back feels as if I've had a wire coat-hanger placed just beneath the skin and some bugger is twanging on it until I'm so hyper that I just can't think. I've struggled with the writing today (but whether that's a cause or a result, I simply don't know) and am feeling hugely unconfident. God, it's not going anywhere and no matter how hard I pedal, the damn bike is slipping down the hill. No, more of a ruddy mountain than a hill.

I also feel I'm not trying hard enough or smart enough - one of the two. Seem to be working like a dog at the moment and producing very little. For the first time ever, I'm also not going to be at the wordcount I wanted by the end of the month. I'd been planning for 60,000 but shall feel glad if I make 50,000. All this is giving me a huge guilt complex I can't seem to climb out of and making my back even worse. God, I really am my own worst enemy, but it's soooo difficult to stop beating myself up. Bloody hell, just think of what most of my main characters are like - no wonder it's hard to stay on an even keel. Whatever one of those is.


And double bloody hell, but I soooo hate being premenstrual. I swear - if I ruled the world, I'd make every man go through this feeling of being twisted up as tight as a coiled spring that's been squashed into a space one-third too small for it. And been attached to an explosive. Then see how they liked it, eh. Oh yes, revenge - a wonderful thing. I also swear that if the damn thing doesn't turn up soon, I'm actually going to self-destruct and run screaming through the streets of Godalming waving my grandfather's ceremonial sword. Lordy, today, if ruddy Sylar from "Heroes" walked in and tried that neat brain removal trick with his finger on me, I'd kick his sorry ass halfway to Guildford and back without even getting out of breath. Which begs the question - if the cast of "Heroes" is so bright, why didn't they just get a bunch of premenstrual women on the case, and the psychotic super-powered serial killer problem would have been solved by Episode Two. Yattah.

Anyway, I did limp through a few paragraphs of The Bones of Summer this morning before giving up and going to lunch with Ronnie - an old friend from my last job - and his new assistant, Melanie. Which was jolly, and Ronnie paid, hurrah! Afterwards, I popped into see Gladys, then did some essential shopping in Godalming. Where the Curse of Brooke maintains its ancient power - now that the Grey-Suited Farts who run companies have discovered that I really like Dr Stuart's teas from the Health Food shop, they've decided to stop selling them. Mean bastards. Where the bloody hell am I going to find my detox teas now?? At least, ones I like. No-one asks me about these ruddy "managerial decisions" and I'm the ruddy customer.

Double sigh.

Back home, the good news is that Jackie now has the final PDF version of Thorn in the Flesh which she has sent off to the printers. Her momumental task has not been helped by me changing things and panicking every five minutes, so thank you, Jackie, for your great forbearance and skill. And you are fully entitled to bite my ankles next time you see me. I will have deserved it. So I have stopped worrying about that, hurrah! Though I am now worrying about the cover - as neither Lord H nor I are able to make the corrections needed to get the right size spine, so I've asked Penelope - our wonderful artist - for help. Alternatively, the printer might be able to give advice, but there's nothing that can be done now till next week. I don't know why I'm getting so stressed and tearful about it, but I am. These little things sometimes just completely overwhelm me so I'm utterly unable to function. Even with two calming pills, dammit.

I'm also way behind on my domestic routine, and the amount of things which need to be done is simply piling up sky-high, with the threat of drowning me completely. Is it just me or does life seem more and more often like a huge marathon designed purely to trip you up? And God, but if I can't even keep up with my own standards, what the hell am I supposed to keep up with???

Triple sigh. Plus extra screaming.

Hey, but the cold is better, so I'm well enough to feel stressed. Hey bloody ho.

Today's nice things:

1. Lunch out
2. The text of Thorn going to print
3. I haven't actually killed anyone yet.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The lonely seller and the return of the sniffles

Up at 6am today (arrgghh!) in order to be ready for Irene to pick me up on the way to the Cranleigh Fete. Which in literary and meteorological ways was unfortunately something of a wash-out. We tried - and failed - to sell any Goldenford books, but we did fairly well with Irene's collection of collectable crockery and Thai teak powder iguanas. Which are fabulous, I must say, and a snip at £15 a piece. The woman who bought it was so keen she didn't even barter. Goodness me indeed.

I think the terrible weather was a turn-off for people though - all stall-holders were complaining about the lack of custom. Presumably because they don't know about the Curse of Goldenford ... However, that said, I did pick up some lovely and very cheap cards whilst there, as well as a kind donation from Irene of a really beautiful vase. Thank you, Irene!

And, having been sooooo good in terms of health for a month or so, I now have the beginnings of yet another cold. Dammit. Probably because I've been burning the candle at both ends so much so that there's scarcely any middle. So it's my own fault, double dammit. I am dosing myself with Nurofen Plus and Lemsip and hoping for the best.

In the meantime, I'm attempting to update my website as it's been around way too long, looks clunky and old-fashioned and needs a thorough overhaul. This time, instead of relying on the ever-noble Lord H (who's the only one who truly understands html) and some sticky-back plastic, I've asked Pedalo to give me a design quote. So I'm waiting to see what they can come up with.

Tonight, I shall do more sniffing and snorting (well, it's good to have a hobby ...) and maybe a little writing. But I don't want to overstrain myself, m'dears - I'm very delicate, you know ...

Today's nice things:

1. Escaping the Cranleigh Fair
2. Thinking about the website
3. Dabbling in writing.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Inner bitches, writers’ errors and a little bit of dancing

Dark rain clouds over the south today, m’dears. Plus lots of rain. Darnit. And I’ve planned to walk into town at lunch today to get a few bits and pieces, so I’d better dress up warm and not forget the brolly. UPDATE: actually it wasn’t raining and I had a nice, if brief, chat with one of the old Guildford Writers bunch whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. So that was great. I also bought the “Getting in Touch with your Inner Bitch” block calendar, as I thought the office would appreciate it. I was right … I particularly like the look of the “Niceness Detox Tips”, one of which is: Start a revolution in your life. Say “I don’t think so” at least once today. Fabulous! I hope to put it all into practice next year.

Ooh and the big shock of the day is that I’ve discovered that the last line of my Maloney’s Law blurb is almost exactly the same as the last line in my Thorn in the Flesh blurb. Arrggghh!!! I am now wearing a Writers’ Dunce hat as punishment but am too humiliated to provide pictures. The one good thing that can be said is that at least it shows that – even if I don’t stick to the same genre – my themes are similar. Ho ho. Which is surely one in the eye for all those publishers who object to my lack of predictability – hey there, I am predictable after all!! In the meantime, I have changed the last half line of my Thorn blurb so the glaring error is less glaringly obvious. It now reads:

“Can she overcome the demons of her own personal history before time runs out?”

Whereas before it was: “Can she overcome the demons of her own personal history and protect those she loves before it’s too late?” Way too similar to Maloney indeed!... Ye gods, I am starting to plagiarise myself. Should I sue?

Anyway, I shall run it by the Goldenford Girls to see if they’re happy. There’s still time, thank goodness. And all this existential angst of course assumes that the same set of people might read both – well, you never know …

In the meantime, the mystery of the strange outside table continues to puzzle us. This table which has been on the courtyard/walkway outside our office window for a few weeks has now been joined by a chair. Perhaps it is indeed one of the new faculty offices who simply can’t afford a roof? We’re thinking of placing one of our old phones on it and seeing if anyone makes a call. We could also make it pretty and put a plant on it – well we don’t want the poor hard-done-by admin bod to feel unloved.

Tonight, I’m off to Scottish country dancing – I’m hoping I can pick up on whatever I missed last week without too much embarrassment and confusion as I was too busy editing for Britain to go then. It’ll probably do me good – even I can tell I’m getting way too twitchy and anxious about stuff. I was panicking this morning before work about double the items I usually panic about: the iron, the hairdryer, the heater, the oven, the kettle, the computers: are they all off? To this obsessional list, I also added checking the book covers, checking the blurbs, worrying about not writing enough and staring at the computer screen whilst hyperventilating until my eyes imploded etc etc. I also did all of this twice, just in case I hadn’t panicked to the appropriate level of mania. I seriously need to reeeelaaaaxxxx. Maybe it’s time for a calming pill.

And later I’ll be glued to “Heroes”. How will it all end? It won’t be the same without my weekly dose of Hiro.

Today’s nice things:

1. The walk into town
2. Dancing
3. Heroes.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Just a minute, hospital visiting and final Maloney covers

A better day today. Thank goodness. Even managed to get the draft minutes done from yesterday and with my boss for checking, so I’m very nearly on top of it all. For now … And talking of being on top of it all, I mustn’t forget to welcome the last of the year’s calendar firemen. So hello to Dave whose hobbies include weight training, skiing and motor cycling. He’s really very cute, but should be wearing less, to my mind. Not that I’m fussy.

Sally from Advice popped into the hospital with me to see our old work colleague today. She’s been moved out of Intensive Care and into a normal ward, so that’s a good thing. Still very frail though, and there are further complications, so we’re hoping that they can sort things out soon for her. It’s not a great way to approach the festive season, and it’s frustrating that there’s so little we can do. We’re hoping to be able to pop in next week though and see how things are then.

This afternoon, I put my brain into blancmange mode by attempting to find something interesting in “Perspectives”, the magazine of the Association of University Administrators. Yip. As I thought. Nothing interesting there. There’s not a lot you can do with an article entitled “Markets, Mathematics and Sustainability” really. Apart from burn it.

Talking of burning things, here’s a piece of flash fiction I’ve written for the Writewords Flash Fiction II Group. The task was to write something which included the phrase: “Inside the cover, I found the note”:

Note on a Candle

Inside the cover, I found the note. Which I later burnt in time-honoured literary fashion. If you’re reading this book, it said, you’re an idiot. Charming, I thought, glancing again at my name on the front. Everyone’s a ruddy critic.

Tonight, it’s an evening in – double hurrah! I’m planning to chunter away on The Bones of Summer and am hoping for an early night. It’s about time I had one. And I now have both a front and a back cover for Maloney’s Law from PD Publishing! Which I love hugely. The artist has focused in on Big Ben on the front cover more, but left the rest mostly untouched, and has also given me a wonderful back cover, complete with whisky glass and essential timepiece (both very important in Paul’s mixed-up life …) plus a zappy new blurb:

“Paul Maloney, a small-time private investigator from London, reluctantly accepts a case from his married ex-lover, Dominic Allen. Before he knows it, Paul finds himself embroiled in the dark dealings of big business and the sordid world of international crime. The deeper he pushes, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear. Can he solve the mystery and protect those he loves before it’s too late?”

She’s also added a line or two about the novel being shortlisted for the Royal Literary Fund Award and the Harry Bowling Novel Award, which is nice. So thanks hugely, Tracey from the US – I’m very grateful indeed!

Oh, and I've just finished reading Gyles Brandreth's Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders. It took a while to get into - but the style is very different. But once you're there, it's fab. Like a souffle with unexpected bite and there are some wonderful scenes. I also thought the ending was very powerful, but I could have done with more detecting in the middle of the book - though I do see that he's setting up characters for what I hope will be a series. I'd certainly buy into that.

Today’s nice things:

1. The Maloney’s Law covers & blurb
2. Getting the minutes done
3. Flash fiction.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, December 03, 2007

A dragged-out day

God, but today was long. And wearisome. And totally exhausting. I think I've aged at least five years just dragging myself through it. I seemed to have been in work for weeks and weeks, but when I looked at the clock it was only 9.45am. Damn and double damn.

Talking of clocks though, I've had a bit of technical difficulty with my watch once we turned the corner from November to December. It didn't seem to understand when I tried to move it from the 31st to the 1st of the month, as each time I tried it would change the time instead. No matter the position of the button. So I've been on the correct actual day but one date behind since Saturday, and had to throw myself on the mercy of Lord H this morning. I had visions of him having to turn the time round and round for about a zillion rotations before all the right numbers came together but, in fact, he did it in ten seconds without even looking at it. Naturally, faced with this outstanding example of the Alpha Male, I did what all strong executive women do under these circumstances - I fluttered my eyelashes and swooned.

Also this morning, the one joyful thing about the day I was hanging onto was the thought of my reflexology session at lunchtime. However, my joys were dashed as I am having a Senior Moment (is it the HRT??!?) and it's not till next week. Triple damn and let slip the dogs of war. Instead, my lunchtime was filled with the slow traumas of minuting (yes, another meeting - how utterly super, dahlings!...) the Steering Group. I did try to be interested - believe me, I did - but the commitment simply wasn't there. Half an hour before the end (it lasted for two whole hours), I was so bored that I could easily have taken a couple of biros from the pen supply and stabbed them into my own eyelids just to relive the monotony. Either that or run madly from the room, screaming no, no, please don't make me do another meeting. I'll answer all your questions, just please don't make me listen to all this! Especially as I've already had the same discussions twice in last week's two meetings as well. With almost the same people. Honestly, I swear that being a Minute Secretary at the University is worse than having to undergo Chinese Water Torture - the same things over and over again. When oh when will it all end??

Anyway, once back at my desk, I lay in a heap for a while and snuffled for bit, and then managed to start writing up the ruddy stuff. And still the day dragged on. And on. When it finally ended, I even had to trawl round Tesco for an hour doing the shopping. Thus demonstrating that even when I think I've reached the final limits of my boredom threshold, there's still just a little bit more left.

I might try and do some writing later on. I just have to take the biros out of my eyes, dammit. I've written a poem though, based on a dream I had during the week:


Hold the canvas still
or the wind might take it.

Measure the paintbrush
with your fingers,

colour all the berries

the scent of summer

on your tongue
and wait

for the silence.

Today's nice things:

1. Surviving the day
2. Poetry
3. Lord H sorting my watch out.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers