Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hallsfoot, puzzles and post

Not much has happened today really. I have stepped neatly off the world for a day and spoken to no-one and not gone out of the flat at all. Bliss. Except I did nip quietly down to the shared hallway to pick up the post. It's all finances - groan. Honestly, I think the postman has seriously gone off us now and is obviously taking our exciting post to more deserving customers. Even the magazine was Accountancy Monthly - Lord H's, I hasten to add.

Apart from that, I have done another 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle, thus bringing me up to 18,000 of the little beggars. 2000 to go before my self-imposed holiday deadline then! But really, do I need a deadline? Or is it just something I take on in order to give me an imagined sense of control in a totally uncontrollable world? Hell, no, don't answer that ... As my Anglo-Saxon tutor once told me a long time ago: Anne, you are your own worst enemy, you know. Ye gods, but the old bugger might have been right.

I have also - much to my surprise as it so rarely happens - looked at my Hallsfoot theme/plot outline again, and even added in a few more chapter titles and writing notes into the text for when I go back to it. Lordy, but I might even have a plan, of sorts. So not me, dahlings - have I been switched with some kind of alien lifeform? Hmm, it's a puzzle, and probably quite likely ... Hell, somebody pass me the snuff box - I obviously need the drugs.

Talking of puzzles, I have been totally and utterly thrilled this morning by the fact that I completed the Radio Times Word Enigma Puzzle in record time and (shock!) without cheating. They said I should be able to do it in 26 minutes but (pause for smug smile and gloating) I did it in 10. Hurrah! I was helped hugely by the fact that (a) I instantly saw where the word "oxymoron" was, and (b) I recognised "alpaca", purely due to the alpaca stud farm next door to Glyndebourne. Ha! Which just goes to show how truly useful the opera can be in the modern age.

In the middle of all this excitement, I managed to fit in an hour's lunchtime nap and some existential weeping. As you do - really, m'dears, no day is complete without it. I am nothing if not overly dramatic and droopy when faced with potential diseases. Believe me, courage is so not my middle name. Mind you, even I realised I might have gone too far when I found myself wondering which priest might be persuaded to say a few words at my funeral (which will be stylish, elegant and small, if you're asking). At that point, I got up and had some lunch - much the best thing to do - and besides I could almost hear Lord H's tutting and that's never a pretty sight. Anyway, I'd already decided I didn't much like any of the priests I knew at all, so I may as well keep living. Which, bloody hell, is as good a reason as any not to panic!

Tonight, I might do a tad more scribbling, if I feel in the mood. Or possibly another sudoku or two, which are much like haikus but with numbers. Strangely Lord H has taken to demonstrating his undoubted genius by filling in the difficult sudokus in my book - but leaving gaps in different patterns or shapes of letters and then putting the book on my side of the sofa so I can come along and complete them later. God, but he's good. Or perhaps he's trying to communicate with me? Who can tell? I shall have to mark down the patterns and letters he leaves and see if I can crack the code. Ah, indeed marriage is the last great puzzle. Ye gods, but truly I feel a Bonekickers moment coming on. Where's that mystery sword when I need it?

Today's nice things:

1. Writing Hallsfoot
2. Puzzles
3. Marital communication.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Easing through the day

Lord H and I had great fun last night (steady, people, steady …) watching a juvenile green woodpecker hopping about next door’s garden. Fabulous. We’ve never seen a young one before, so another tick on the great Bird List of Godalming, hurrah.

Meanwhile, here in real time, I am easing through the day, whilst thinking about the annual report. Mind you, as we don’t usually panic about it until September/October, I’m only thinking. For the moment ... Was also planning to have a coffee and catch-up with Sally from Student Advice at lunchtime, but she had to sort various domestic stuff out this morning so we’ll have to escape later. So went for my usual walk round campus instead – and very pleasant it was too, though my own personal lakeside bench in the shade was already in use and the two lads on it wouldn’t move no matter how much I glared balefully at them. So I had to make do with the sunny side, sigh … Anyway this afternoon, I signed off the Student Care Services Mini-Guide – so here’s hoping it’s 90% right! It does look lovely though, all thanks to the super-talented Emily in the Marketing Department. Who is an Official Genius and All-Round Nice Woman. Thank you, Emily.

Neither must we forget this week’s heroes at work. A late entry this week, I know, but they are St Luke (for being practical and having a doctor’s heart), St Paul (for being direct and not afraid to say what he thinks) and Ruth’s guinea-pigs (as she’d missed them while she was away). So a truly catholic mix, but all holding their own, I’m sure. As it were.

I’ve just finished reading Podium – a collection of poetry and prose from Woking Writers’ Group. Lots of variety for everyone and I particularly enjoyed the lyricism of Newark Priory by Amanda Briggs, the fun of Liz Ramsdale's My Tooth Fairy and the pure terror of Elle Georgiou's Flowers in her Hair. Great stuff. I’ve also read Michael Frayn’s Spies. A wonderful book and truly a modern classic. Everyone should read it. I couldn’t put it down – a marvellous depiction of the terrible gap between a child’s view and an adult’s view of the world and what really went on during one particular series of events. It’s also the only book I’ve ever read which understands how you can know and not know something at the same time, a situation I’ve always felt to be true even though people laugh at me when I say that. Really, the book is excellent. And I say that even with knowing how it ended, as I’d already seen the stage interpretation of it (also very good). Anyway, buy it and read it – it’s a masterpiece.

Funny though that I’m feeling very disjointed and despondent at the moment, and it’s not the usual time of the month for it either, dammit. However, I must admit I’m (a) extreeeeeeemely tired and that always makes me depressed (I’m nobody without sleep); and (b) wishing the tests on Tuesday might be over and done with and I can know where I stand. Soon be here, no doubt though. Talking of which, the results of my first blood test have arrived, and apparently my levels of whatever it is they're testing for are higher than they should be, but not hugely raised. Thus the need for the second test next week, and they're now also talking about bringing my second scan forward from October. Ah, the plot thickens, Carruthers ...

Tonight, I’ll probably do some more to Hallsfoot’s Battle, where I’m now on c17,000 words. I might even be able to make 20,000 by the time we go away – who knows? And there’s a nature programme on TV I quite like the look of too – Lordy, but I must be middle-aged; that’s just the sort of thing my grandmother would have said.

Today’s nice things:

1. Signing off the Mini Guide
2. Reading
3. Writing
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maloney, babies (arrgghhh!!), poems and Hallsfoot

Really pleased to get a lovely comment from Sarah Watts (Optimist on the Writewords site) about Maloney’s Law today. Sarah says: “Anne - I am as ever in awe. Your books are all so different and so very well written. Let's just say you surprised me again.” Thanks so much, Sarah – that’s great to hear. And I’m also glad you enjoyed the Egypt scenes – for those of you who get to read the book, the scene with the boy, the bread rolls and the Americans did actually happen when Lord H and I were in Cairo. Scary for sure … Ooh, and two more lovely people have ordered Maloney from Amazon, so thank you, Jane H & Vicky – much appreciated, both! Paul is even now making sure he looks his best for you.

I walked into town at lunchtime – it’s a bit cooler, thank the Lord – in order to get a wedding present for a colleague and a baby present for someone else I know who’s … well … having a baby. Honestly, what is wrong with people??! They should stop having babies at once and just go to the pub or something. Though on second thoughts maybe that’s where the trouble starts?...

Meanwhile at work, I’m slowly getting to grips again with the Personal Tutors’ Handbook updates, not to mention battling womanfully with the Away Day précis. However, the undergrowth continues to thicken, Carruthers. Somebody pass me the scythe and a paperclip …

Talking of scythes, here’s a poem:

Blank slate

The older I get
the more invisible I become
and I was never that noticeable before.

It's something to do
with shedding the things
that defined me:

church-goer; organiser; reliable;
friend; nice (sometimes).
None of them did me any good.

Now, on this blank slate
I stand on, it will be interesting to see
what happens.

Tonight, I’m planning to do more to Hallsfoot’s Battle and then it’s the great and totally bizarre “Bonekickers” on TV. Fabulous.

Today’s nice things:

1. Nice comments about Maloney
2. Poetry
3. Hallsfoot
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, July 28, 2008

Heat, reflexology and birthdays

Jolly hot again today, Carruthers – what is the government up to? Really, I blame Gordon Brown. Well, he’s responsible for every other disaster, so no reason why he shouldn’t have this one too. However, there are rumours that it might be cooler tomorrow, and maybe rain too, so there’s hope. It might even be turning cloudier right now – or is that wishful thinking?

Anyway, joy and rejoicing in the office as Ruth is back from her campervan holiday, so we’ve spent a long time catching up. Apparently she has visited the whole of the UK, apart from East Anglia and Cornwall. Two of my favourite areas really. And the van survived the experience relatively intact, hurrah!

Had my reflexology appointment at lunchtime and felt super-chilled afterwards. Which was good as it got me through the long, hot walk back to the office. Hmm, maybe they should bring the appointments direct to me? Would certainly save having to walk back …

Met with the Induction Week Coordinator this afternoon, to try to get our Student Care stands sorted for the central presentations. I’m hoping I can round up enough people from the teams to provide a decent two-day cover, as otherwise it’ll be me, with my hair sticking up and a crazed look in my eye. Same as ever then.

And it’s the lovely Sally from Student Advice’s birthday (happy birthday, Sally!) so we had tea and cake with her at 3pm. My, how civilised we are in Surrey. Anyone would think that the Empire was never really lost …

Tonight, I’ll pop into see Gladys with her birthday present, as it’s later this week. She’ll be 93. I think. Well gosh. Only another 7 years to the telegram. Let’s hope the Queen hangs on for it then. And there’s the leftovers of yesterday’s nectarine crumble to tackle, mmmm … Am also hoping to do more to Hallsfoot’s Battle now I’ve got something of a head of steam up on it. Ho ho. But I mustn’t miss “New Tricks” on TV – Jack’s back, hurrah! And apparently being tempted with ice cream. Heck, in this weather, who isn’t?

Today’s nice things:

1. Ruth’s return
2. Reflexology
3. Birthday cake with Sally
4. Nectarine crumble
5. Writing
6. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heat, heat, yet more heat and a haiku

Lordy, but it's bloody hot today. And I am personally so damn hot that I may well explode at any moment. Be prepared for fires in Godalming for sure. That'll be me. Hmm, as you can tell, I am officially Not Good in the Heat. Actually, I'm not good in any extreme weather, but heat is my least favourite. I think. This is the real setback of living in a top floor flat which is to all intents and purposes nothing but roofspace. It's sweltering in summer and freezing in winter. No matter what we do. Currently, we are keeping the portable fan on all night, just in order to be cool enough to sleep. Sadly this doesn't work during the day as Lord H and I are usually in different rooms. Hmm, perhaps it's time for another fan? Now that would be radical.

Anyway today, because of the heat (have I mentioned that yet?), I haven't done very much apart from droop around and groan a lot. So much like a normal day for me then. Oh, but I did wash the car, so feel very noble. And ... um ... hot. Also, I put on my special Good Wife Hat and made the nectarine (couldn't find any plums, dammit) crumble I promised Lord H last week. Very lovely for lunch with vanilla ice cream, I must say. Went down a treat.

I was intending to set today aside to make sure my synopsis for The Gifting (anyone remember that one? No, I didn't think so - but don't worry as neither does anyone else!) is up-to-date with what I've actually written, but I find I've already done it. God, but I'm good. So good that sometimes I don't even remember being it. Sigh. Lord H congratulated me on saving a whole day of my life, though I then wondered what the hell I should do with it. Rest? What's that?? However, I've solved the problem and done a few more paragraphs to Hallsfoot's Battle instead and am now at just over 15,000 words. And I'm even beginning to be interested in it again, hurrah! Which is reassuring, I must say.

This afternoon, I attempted to have a nap but was prevented from so doing from (a) too much ruddy heat (in case you hadn't realised), (b) a peculiar lack of tiredness which I can only blame on the double dose of Oestrogen HRT I've been - under doctor's orders - giving myself recently (which is a bummer really, as being tired is my usual state and I'm unsure what to do if I'm not), and (c) too many bloody flies. Lordy, but I hate flies. If I was in charge, I'd have them all shot. Painfully and terminally. They just clutter up the airspace.

Lord H and I are planning to watch the glorious "Midsomer Murders" on TV tonight, which this week appears to have so much plot that it could probably package up half of it, sell to Ian McEwan (ah, bitch, bitch - I love it!) and still not notice the loss very much. I can see I'm going to have to keep alert - which should be no problem indeed, thanks to this being Oestrogen City UK.

This week's haiku:

All along the hedge
gatekeeper butterflies dance,
spin the leaves to gold.

Today's nice things:

1. Realising I've already updated the synopsis
2. Writing
3. TV
4. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Birds, butterflies and the gay gene

Managed to watch our video of the John Barrowman programme, "The Making of Me", last night. Which was all to do with trying to find out exactly how gay JB is. Great fun on the whole! And we are now all looking at our finger lengths and working out how many older brothers we have between us in order to see how gay we are. Or did I miss the point somewhat? Anyway, as Lord H and I have a job-lot of five older brothers, plus one younger brother (hello, Lord B-I-L!), then we are probably gayer than the great JB by far. Though Lord H is able to navigate without having to turn the map upside-down, you'll be pleased to hear. That said, we are distinctly not talking about my bent middle finger - per hand. Lord alone knows what that says about me ...

Anyway, after the programme, I told Lord H that next week's should also be interesting as they'll be focusing on Colin Jackson. Lord H, looking puzzled and concentrating on the end of the JB programme, said: Oh. Will they be trying to find out if he's black then? Hmm, I fear we may still be missing the point here in downtown Godalming.

So to today. Lord H and I have spent the whole day out (as it were). We visited Rainham Marshes in Essex, and a very nice place it is too. Great cafe, hurrah! And huge and colourful flocks of butterflies, including two marvellous peacock butterflies, which I haven't seen for a while. Birds spotted included herons and little egrets, and we heard (but sadly never saw) the reed warblers.

From there, we attempted to drive to Bough Beech Nature Reserve using the satnav system on Lord H's new iphone. I fear that, being both a woman (by gender) and a gay man (by the number of brothers and the shape of my fingers), my expertise with maps is low, and my expertise with maps that move is entirely beyond hope. I attempted to follow the instructions on the list, which were completely wrong, and by the time I'd worked out that the little blue ball on the image (ie us) was going in the wrong direction we were already whipping down the M25 heading away from it. Groan. Anyway, due to Lord H's instinctive navigational skills, we took the next turning off and made our way back. I then gave up with the instructions and just followed the little blue ball until it eventually landed in the right spot. Actually it's much like one of those games you get in fairgrounds where you have to jiggle the little balls into the holes in order to win. I fully expected that when I finally got us there the iphone would produce fireworks and a big message saying "Well done, Anne - you are a bloody genius!" But sadly, no ... Ah well.

Bough Beech is nice though - we saw loads of gatekeeper butterflies and - result! - two spotted flycatchers. Bliss indeed. The people in the centre were initially scary however but ended up being quite sweet. Perhaps they don't see many offworlders in that part of Kent? I can't say I'm surprised if the satnav has no idea which road they are on. Which just goes to show how modern technology is indeed cutting people off from their neighbours.

Tonight, I'm hoping to do a little more to Hallsfoot's Battle and then generally I'm just chilling.

Today's nice things:

1. Wondering how gay we are
2. Birds
3. Butterflies
4. Conquering the iphone satnav - of sorts.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, July 25, 2008

Balls, strange tables and birds

Played golf with Marian this morning, and did okay, though my score was up and down to say the least. Some rebellion on the part of my balls as well (as it were) - I usually play with my special lady balls (no, don't go there ...) on the pond hole (Lordy, that's even worse but hey let's carry on as if we're all part of the Empire anyway. Bulldog spirit and all that.) in order to give myself the best chance of getting across, but I usually end up in the sink. Today, I decide to play clever, and use the grotty, difficult ball I picked up somewhere in the hope that I'll lose it. No chance, missus. The damn thing sails over and lands on the green. Sigh ... whilst rejoicing of course. I shall never be able to get rid of it now. Ah well.

After golf, I popped to the shops and had another of those socially awkward encounters with a person - this time a woman - desperate to give me her unused car parking ticket before she drove off. I do appreciate the offer - honest - and I do sometimes take them up, though this time I didn't - but I must say that it makes me feel hugely guilty and I expect to feel the strong arm of the law gripping my shoulder, should I walk away with the parking prize. But the main thing is that I do not under any circumstances wish to have conversations in car parks, unless I'm trying to help people with the ticket machines (which are very confusing here in Godalming - you have to be born here, or have lived here for 15 years as we have, to be able to understand them). I don't know - it's just that I don't feel very socially-minded when I'm parking and I want to be left alone. Yes, I know that's probably just me and I am seriously weird, but if there are any other car parking sociopaths out there, do let me know and we ... um ... won't form any sort of a group. Probably. Sigh. Lordy, even I think I'm odd.

Anyway there's unadulterated joy when my proof copy of A Stranger's Table arrived this morning - and it looks stunningly good!! Gordon Bennett and well done to Lulu. I'm incredibly pleased with it! It's far better looking and better bound than the first edition, I have to say. And the cover's lovely and bright and shiny too. Hurrah! So, I have now placed it in the Lulu distribution programme and hope to see it in the online sellers' listings sometime over the next six to eight weeks. I've also brought down the hard copy price to £4.50 as that seems eminently more reasonable though, of course, (as I'm at heart a generous soul) the download remains free. I also particularly like the few lines from the title poem that I chose to go on the back:

... he sits, face in shadow,
the day over but night
not yet begun, mulling
what has happened
and what might ...

Ooh, I do love a mystery, even in verse!

Meanwhile, I've been struggling away with Hallsfoot's Battle. Only 500 words done today, but hey I have been out this morning, so there is an excuse. Of sorts. Today's section was the final few paragraphs of Ralph's first meeting with the mind-executioner after the battles, and then the beginning of the arrival of the snow-raven to Gathandria. That's going to shock Annyeke - secretly she hates birds, poor love.

Tonight, I have the cleaning to face and then I'm catching up on last night's John Barrowman programme. Though we mustn't miss "Would I lie to you?". So good to see Angus Deayton back in the programmer's good books at last.

And, talking of books, I've just finished a totally glorious humdinger of a novel which everyone must read. It's Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, and it's fabulous, dahlings, fabulous. At some points, I actually cried and it's wonderful and clever and deep and humane. All that in the crime genre too - which just goes to show that it can happen. Crime is not the poor relation - not any more anyway. In fact bring crime fiction out of the shadows and put it into the literary light where it belongs is what I say! It's about time for sure.

Today's nice things:

1. Golf
2. The proof copy of A Stranger's Table
3. Writing
4. Kate Atkinson's book
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maloney's first review, blood tests and writing at last

Great joy and rejoicing today as the lovely Ann Somerville has reviewed Maloney's Law at the Unique Logophilos site and you can find the whole review here. Many thanks indeed, Ann - I really appreciate that! Always good to make readers cry - in the nicest possible way of course.

And it came at the best possible time as I really needed some good news today. The Surrey Park Clinic rang yesterday and left me a message that I need to have a second tumour marker blood test. Naturally this put the fear of God into me - in vast but thankfully relatively short swathes - but I was too late to ring back when I got home. So this morning, I spoke to the receptionist, who spoke to the nurse and got back to me in order to book me in for another test in a couple of weeks' time. Bugger, eh. Just before my holiday too. Mind you, it would be worse (or would it? Lordy, I don't really know - who's to say?) if it were after the hols. Naturally enough, I surfed the web for more information - actually, surely they should just give us the info when we ring up rather than being cagey about it, as they must damn well know we'll be Googling our diseases afterwards! Clinics should really catch up with the Internet world ... Anyway, apparently you have to take two blood tests if they don't like the look of the first one, just in order to see what's going on in there. There are other options apart from cancer though, but I really don't like the look of the liver thing. Good job I gave up the alcohol then and perhaps not a moment too soon! Knowing me, I shall probably have a juicy melange of illnesses, none of which they can really identify. Ah, 'twas ever thus. And at least I get to go back to the posh clinic before the consultant goes to work full-time in the NHS, taking me with her. Must remember to use the clinic toilets then - they rock.

Anyway, for the rest of today - apart from drifting round the flat in what I hope was a suitably ethereal manner (not a manner I'm much accomplished in, I must admit) - I've had the gas man round checking the boiler, which he suspects is near retirement age though it might hang on for a while. Lordy, I have every sympathy with it then. I've also - put out the bunting! - got back to doing more to Hallsfoot's Battle. Which has been a struggle, but quietly enjoyable and I've managed somehow to pack away about 1000 words of Ralph's first re-encounter with the mind-executioner. Not to mention the mountain-dogs. Ah, they're evil beasts, you know ...

Tonight, I must remember to video the John Barrowman programme, as I suspect Lord H would prefer "Mock the Week" and "Lab Rats". I have to say also that "Lab Rats" is highly irritating, but strangely does seem to have one utterly marvellous joke every week thus far which has Lord H and I creased up with unstoppable laughter. And it's even been the same joke. So worth it just for that.

Today's nice things:

1. My first Maloney review - hurrah!
2. Writing - at last
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Maloney, A Stranger’s Table, trees and poems

Lovely to see Maloney’s Law on both Amazon Canada and Barnes & Noble in the States today. Well, gosh. And PD Publishing have asked me to make a list of places/people who would be willing to review the book, so that’s my main task tonight. Ooh and at work the lovely Stuart in Marketing has put Maloney on the University intranet – what a star. He even mentioned the book’s shortlisting for the Harry Bowling Novel Prize. Cheque’s in the post, Stuart!...

Also nice to see that A Stranger’s Table on Lulu UK now has a sales rating on it. I am Number 117,489, which for me is pretty good, I must say. My work here is done, Carruthers, time to retire …

Anyway, I’ve been slogging away at work creating another option for our Personal Tutors’ Handbook, which this time divides it into two sections for (a) basic, vital information and (b) stuff that’s interesting, plus an index – and weirdly I’ve found I do quite enjoy doing indexes. Makes everything seem more contained and controllable, you know. Yes, I know that’s a false reality, but hey a nice one nonetheless. Not only that, but I feel it may well be the version we end up going with, double hurrah. After that, I’ve got the themed (that’s a nice, executive word …) version of the Awayday report to do. Ye gods, I am indeed the archetypal secretary. And (mutter it not in the byways …) the Queen of Mapping …

Today’s office excitement (you have to bear in mind that all our windows are mirrored so people passing on the concrete walkway outside can’t see in. Though it’s ideal for checking one’s appearance, naturally): two young ladies redoing their make-up by use of the window outside the Dean’s office and one of them says – do you ever think there might be some old bloke in an office looking back at us when we do this? To which the Dean’s answer was a yelped yes. Sadly we don’t think they heard him, as there was no reaction before they moved on … Still, it does prove beyond all doubt that no-one knows where we are and that Student Care Services and the Dean are indeed the forgotten offices here at the educational coalface.

At lunchtime, I joined one of the Sports Centre’s themed (that word again!) walks focusing on trees. Which wasn’t too exhausting, thank goodness – I don’t want to tire myself out, you know. Anyway I really enjoyed it and I am now the Godalming Tree Expert. Ho ho. Not only that but I saw parts of the campus I’d never seen before – shame on me. And here’s a poem about something I learnt today:

Dutch elm dance

Burrowing into dead bark,
the beetle plants eggs,
scores fragile skin.

In the silence
sticky spores
flow from fungi,

contaminate the young.
A slow dance of death.
Once awoken

the new beetle,
small disease-carrier,
flies to living bark

and the yellowing begins.
Summer or autumn, the tree
fades to brown,

a parched circle of discolouration.
But death is not final,
there is no mercy in nature.

The elm's suckers remain,
spring up once more -
a twenty year resurrection -

before the cycle begins again:
elm bark beetles, attracted
only to the not yet fully-grown,

carve out the almost-life
of the tree.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for poor Mrs Darwin and that canoe - there's always an alternative view, after all!

The Darwin Case, July 2008
(or One Man and a Canoe)

The nation is shocked
that a mother
could lie to her children
for so long
and so effectively

when all the time
I’ve believed
that secrets, deceit
and downright prevarication

are the only things
holding most families

Not much on TV tonight, sigh … but hey “Bonekickers” last night just gets worse, and therefore better! My, how I love it.

Today’s nice things:

1. Maloney on, Barnes & Noble and the University intranet!
2. A Stranger’s Table having a rating
3. Window amusements
4. Trees
5. Writing two poems.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Clinics, strange dreams and writers

Up while the nightingales were still around today – and what a glorious day it is, weather-wise – and into work early due to my morning appointment at the Surrey Park Clinic. This time they’re taking the tumour marker blood test (oh joy) so here’s hoping they don’t find anything drastic. Though if they discover my old school tie, that would be very useful, as I was never entirely sure where that went … Apparently too I should start taking more of the oestrogen HRT just to see if I balance out a bit. Little does the poor doctor know that a state of utter imbalance is actually normal for me. Ah well.

Ooh, and I had very weird dreams last night. I was a little old lady somewhere in the tropics (all jungle and savannah – do they even go together?? Is savannah even a word??), fighting off strange spirits who took over the minds of scary men and started pursuing me. Finally the latest scary man died, but the strange spirit came out of him and went into me. Thus making me an equally strange and deadly little old lady, who could then go off and terrify other people. Just like a normal day at the Uni then. And so very me, dahlings.

Back in the real world (ho ho), I took the University Writers’ Group at lunchtime – the last one of the academic year – and it was fun. We managed to look at the manuscripts on offer and discuss ways into writing too. All that in an hour, goodness me. I didn’t set any homework today as I’m sure they all need a rest over the summer. Plus the chance to work on whatever they want to. Next year, when we start again in September, we’ll be affiliated with the new English Department and meeting there, so that’ll be good. Should shake up the feel a bit and keep us all on our toes for sure!

I had my usual weekly meeting with the boss this afternoon rather than this morning (due to my appointment), so I’m hoping all will be made clear at that point about the various projects I have where I don’t have a clue what to do next. Hmm, that’ll be most of them then. Lordy only knows why the University keep me on at all – must be something to do with Care in the Community … Or maybe they just see me as a scary little old lady?

Talking of which, tonight, I shall pop into see Gladys on my way home, and will be bringing her a fresh carton of birdseed. Being hyper-efficient, I have even remembered to pop in a pair of scissors to open it with. Saves having to tear it apart using only my bare teeth and a hell of a lot of swearing. On the other hand, that would be something for Gladys to join in with. These days, she likes a good swear. Don’t we all.

Ooh, and the lovely and talented Catherine Edmunds has given A Dangerous Man a very kind review which you can see here. Thanks, Catherine - I really appreciate that.

And – hurrah! – it’s “Bonekickers” tonight on TV. It’s so wonderfully bad it’s a work of genius. I can’t wait.

Today’s nice things:

1. Weird but interesting dreams
2. Writers’ Group
3. The review of A Dangerous Man
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, July 21, 2008

Foot rubbing, literature events and the Honorary Chaplain

Got in this morning to at least six zillion emails. What is wrong with people? Why do they want to communicate so much? Honestly, anyone would think they had nothing better to do … That said, most of it is my fault for sending out so much stuff last week which needed a quick response, mainly in the catering area. So I am hoist by my own petard. Ooh, I do love a good petard.

I think I got most of it under control by lunchtime though – so I could lie back and enjoy my reflexology session with a clear conscience. In fact, I was so relaxed that I drifted off towards the end and woke myself up by snoring. How unpleasant for poor Emily! Still at least the rest of her week will be easy. Getting my session over on a Monday is no doubt a good thing for her.

And there was a brief period of time today when I was an Honorary Member of the Chaplaincy - for always answering Ruth G's phone when she's away from the desk. The Chaplain declared the new role and my employment in it at 10.10am, but when I said that I was deeply touched and was already wiping a tear of joy from my eye, he sadly had to withdraw the offer at 10.11am due to an "excess of sarcasm". Surely not, we cry! Ah well, I like to think I had a brief but glittering career. Though I don't think I ever got an answer to my response of: but that's not What Jesus Would Do ... My, what fun we have here at the front-line of Student Care, m'dears. Talking of which, this week's heroes are Wilfred Owen (for being poetic and unlucky, the ideal combination for the modern age), Greg Norman (for playing so well and bravely at yesterday's Golf Open final and getting a well-deserved second place), Mark Cavendish (a cyclist Carol is keen on) and Brian Trubshaw (a fighter pilot, I think, and picked by the Dean, who's mad on planes). A sad lack of women, I fear, but I'm hoping to make up for that next week.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having a lot of fun arranging a February literature event for our new English department. The English Professor wanted it to be based around the theme of love, so I had the top-notch idea of inviting the glorious Emma Darwin to give a reading from The Mathematics of Love and/or her upcoming A Secret Alchemy, which between them take in the themes of transgressive and secret love. And – result! – Emma has agreed to do it, so thank you, Emma! Already I am hugely looking forward to February.

Tonight, I am at the shops (oh joy …) and I really absolutely utterly must get some petrol somewhere. Otherwise, I’ll be pushing poor Rupert (the car) home. I do so hate hovering above Empty. Ah, in so many ways. And later it’s “New Tricks” on TV – how I love to slob, of an evening. Though, is it me or was "Midsomer Murders" last night so completely over-the-top that it disappeared twice up its own bottom and exited laughing? Lordy only knows what was going on.

Before we go, it's time for a poem:

These days

I'm so focused on what lies ahead,
all the imagined treasures,
untasted yet

that I forget
these current pleasures
with which my journey's fed.

My, how I love a bit of philosophy for a Monday.

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Arranging a reading event with Emma
3. TV
4. Poetry.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Books galore and the Bad Wife

Much to my joy, Maloney's Law is now up on the PD Publishing website and includes the whole of the first chapter for your delectation - you can read it here. Go on, you know you want to ... And though I say it myself and probably shouldn't (but, hell, when has that ever stopped this ego-obsessed author??), it's a damn good first chapter. Enjoy.

I had carved out today as a reading and chilling day, with a touch of The Golf Open, but in the event I've spent a large proportion of my daylight hours formatting and uploading my out-of-print poetry collection, A Stranger's Table, onto Lulu UK. You can find it here. It was first published last year, but I've taken it on myself now. I'm waiting for my proof copy to be sent and then I'm signing up for their distribution package which gets it onto Amazon UK and US. Or so I'm told. It was something of a struggle to work it out, but their live online support is pretty quick and there are other options if one thing doesn't work. My theory is that once I've worked this one out as a guinea-pig (albeit a guinea-pig with some sock-it-to-you-and-don't-spare-the-sauce poems in it), the others I'm planning to upload will be easier. Famous last words, eh ... Brooke Publications, here I come. Ho ho.

Anyway, due to all this OCD/borderline dyspraxic focus, I have not been a Good Wife and made the plum and nectarine crumble I was hoping to. Sigh. Lord H is being noble and not mentioning it - though his eyes are enormously wide. Hell there's always next week, eh.

Tonight, I'm going to slump like a sponge cake that's seen better days (which is a look that soooo me, dahlings ...) in front of Midsomer Murders. Oh, and I'd better ring Mother and try to sound like my life is relatively normal. Hmm, could be tricky. And I've got another photograph to upload from my camera which I took at Glyndebourne yesterday. Maybe I'll leave it till tomorrow when I've feeling stronger though. Hell, maybe next weekend then! Again.

This week's haiku:

Poetic advice:
never trust a haiku -
when the beats are wrong.

That should keep you guessing - and counting - for a couple of seconds at least! Have a great evening, all.

Today's nice things:

1. Maloney being on PD, plus its first chapter
2. Getting A Stranger's Table on Lulu UK - with more to come
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Websites, hot men and song

Have updated the Maloney section of my website today with the latest information on purchasing and prices, and am also trying to catch up with my eBook reading. And Lord H has nipped out super-early today to get to Kingston to buy an i-phone. Apparently, he was Number 4 in the queue at ... um ... 8.15 this morning. And he has one, hurrah! So, I am no longer the person in the flat with the newest - or coolest - phone. Ah well, my glory only lasts for a moment, you know ...

Ooh, and I've been watching the Golf Open rather more avidly than usual due to the presence of this on the course. Slobber. Ah, my loyalty to Seve Ballesteros is rapidly fading, I fear. And the gorgeous Camilo taking his place. Honestly, when Lord H called me in to look at that picture (hell let's have it again just because we can) last night, I was nearly licking the screen. Lordy, I'm nothing if not fickle. Though Seve does still have the sexiest accent in the known universe. And glowers so beautifully. You can't go wrong with a Spaniard really. Mmmm, or a Colombian ... So, sod the tennis - honestly golf is where all the hot men are at these days.

This afternoon, Lord H and I are off to Glyndebourne to see the glorious Albert Herring, which I love. A great comic opera. And we've decided to take tea at the Mildmay restaurant instead of having the full monty meal (as it were). Goodness, how very English we are - anyone for a crumpet, Carruthers?...

Anyway, this explains the horribly early blog, as I now have to spend several hours choosing what on earth to wear before we can set out, plus we'll need to do a bigger lunch, due to the tea option. Ah, if only the servants worked weekends eh ... Noblesse oblige.

Today's nice things:

1. Lord H's new i-phone
2. Golf totty
3. Opera.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, July 18, 2008

Golf, Bones and righteous indignation

Today, I am utterly in love - with my new mobile. Lordy, but it's damn slick - or slicker than I'm used to. I've even worked out how to take pictures with it and have (yes!) done the sad one of Lord H and myself grinning like apes. I just have to work out how to upload the snaps to the computer now. I suspect that's a challenge for another day ...

Mind you, it's been confusing me too - this morning some of my previous messages I thought I'd wiped from my old phone came up again as new messages in the new one. So I was puzzled to hear Marian say she had to cancel golf. Dammit. However, a quick phone call back just to check told me she was even more confused about my call, so we did manage to hit the fairways (well, some of the time ...) in the usual way, hurrah! And I managed to play a steadier game this week as well, which was great. The highlight was getting a par on the last hole, result! Being the golf professional that I of course am, I waved my club in the air, danced around the green and screamed. I am indeed an arbiter of Golf Cool.

I then dashed round the shops and remembered to buy flowers and birdseed, not to mention the local paper. Um, there's nothing in it. As ever. And for the rest of the day, I've been continuing the second-round edit of The Bones of Summer. And, by George, I've actually ruddy finished it, double hurrahs! And I'm even fairly happy with it - which is in itself a minor miracle. Usually at this stage, I am convinced it's rubbish and is the worst book in the history of time. Perhaps I'll feel that later? Ah, no doubt, sigh ... So, I've now contacted another editor, Sarah Abel, who's been recommended to me, to see if she'll now do a thorough edit for me before I send it to John. Never say that this Essex Girl doesn't give her agent as thoroughly polished an MS as she can damn well make it.

And I've had quite a shocking telephone conversation with my Kentish friend - who is having the family crisis from hell. And it is not at all her fault and never bloody well has been. Sorry, just thought I'd say that, as I can't say anything else. All I can say is that if the person who made these ridiculous statements was in the room, I'd give said person a strong right hook and tell her to sling it. Bloody cheek indeed! My Kentish friend is the nicest woman I know, and anyone who says otherwise is a total idjit. I feel the phone will be hot tonight, Carruthers. Best get some cleaning done now then ...

Today's nice things:

1. My new mobile
2. Golf
3. Finishing Round 2 of Bones

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bones, Clarins and a new lease of life for Thorn

Have started the second edit of The Bones of Summer today and am now on Chapter Five. I'm actually rather excited about this read-through, and I'm tweaking for Britain. It's more fun now I've done most of the plot changes to concentrate on the text itself. I rather enjoy this stage.

And I had the first of my envelopes back from the Winchester Writers' Conference and apparently Bones was not only shortlisted in the novel competition, but Commended too. Hurrah! This time, they didn't ask to see the rest of it though, but never mind - I'm not a complete idiot and I did realise that Piatkus Press were unlikely to want a gay crime novel!

Early afternoon found me in Guildford having a Clarins facial and back massage with the new therapist - a lovely girl called Thirza (great name, and apparently ancient Cornish, though she's not ...) whose family make up most of the employees at John Lewis in Kingston. Always good to have a tame shop somewhere in the family, you know. Shame ours is just a butcher, and even that only through my step-father. Ah well.

But the seriously nice news of the day is that Bristlecone Pine Press have accepted Thorn in the Flesh as one of their first round of eBooks. Thank you, Leslie! This is especially good as a few of my US readers have been asking if Thorn is available as an eBook. Well, now it will be, though obviously I don't know dates yet. Watch this space ...

Tonight, I shall be doing more second-round editing to Bones and watching great swathes of TV which appear to be passing over the horizon. A perfect Thursday plan, I think.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing Bones
2. Clarins massages
3. A Thorn eBook
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meetings, mobiles and the gingerbread sheep

All very quiet at work today – due to holidays, conferences, non-working days and a variety of illnesses, the only one in the office apart from the Dean is … um … me. Goodness but it’s quiet. I do think the Dean should perform some kind of song-and-dance routine to entertain the troops accordingly. Or, rather, troop. Mind you, I don’t feel so good myself actually, if you’re asking, so maybe that’s not such a clever idea. Though I did nip into Tesco on the way in this morning to stock up with the necessary medicine, so am surely already on the up. One hopes.

So, I’m taking the opportunity of arranging the whole academic year’s supply of Steering Group meetings for next year. My, everyone’s in-boxes will be bursting. It’s good to have some kind of power, you know. Even if only of the email kind. It’s such a great feeling to have the gang all sorted out up to July 2009 and, yes, I know I’m sad, but I’m nothing if not an obsessive planner. Isn’t that what the University pays me for?

I also strolled round the campus at lunchtime and admired the new art exhibition. This time it’s portraits. I do think it’s a sign of age that I really like portrait painting now. I never did in my 20s or 30s, but I woke up when I was 40 thinking: Lordy but I’d love to see paintings of people and give me more of them. Perhaps it’s my hormones? And today’s other lunch excitement was the gingerbread sheep, fresh from Lord H’s shopping trip to Waitrose. Gingerbread sheep make Wednesdays suddenly worthwhile, you know. Ooh, and I’ve ordered a new mobile phone as O2 tell me that it’s time for an update (Gawd bless ’em …). As ever and being a hard-nosed meanie, I asked for whatever was free, so I appear to be getting a Nokia 6300 in black, which comes with a camera. Well, goodness me, I haven’t had a camera-phone before! I’m usually barely able to press the keys to make a call, and finding where numbers might be stored is a mystery of the deepest kind. I foresee much confusion ahead, Carruthers …

Meanwhile, this week’s heroes are (a) the Dean – for sparing me the need to listen to any entertainment after all; and (b) Lord H – for knowing the difference between the Klu Klux Klan and the penitents of Andalusia, without even having to look it up.

Tonight, I’m starting the second tranche of editing The Bones of Summer as – yes! – I finished the first run through last night. Hurrah! No, double hurrahs and somebody put the bunting out. Mind you, I’ve already thought of two or three tweaks (at least) for the second run-through, so it’s not all champagne and canapés here in the outback. Sadly.

I’ve just read Blake Morrison’s South of the River. Now, I usually really rate Morrison, and his previous novel, The Justification of Johan Gutenberg, is a tour-de-force which everyone should read. But really SOTR is dull, wordy, faintly irritating and way, way too long. I struggled through it womanfully, but purely out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to Morrison. At the end, I was skipping wildly and maybe reading one word in 100. If that. Not only that, but the font size can only be read by eagles having a particularly good day. It just made my eyes ache. What is wrong with publishers??? Perhaps they should sell a magnifying glass with every copy. Now, I know it’s about 600 pages long (groan …), but either they divide it into two and give us a decent font, or they simply edit the thing down to the 200 page novel it actually is. That would have been the more merciful option for sure.

Meanwhile Maloney’s Law on Amazon UK now has a rating on it, as the truly lovely Jilly has actually bought a copy. Thank you, Jilly! My first customer, triple hurrahs! I hope you enjoy the read.

Today’s nice things:

1. Arranging a year’s-worth of meetings
2. Portrait paintings
3. Gingerbread sheep
4. A new mobile
5. Editing Bones
6. Maloney’s Amazon UK rating and Jilly buying a copy!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Minutes, meetings, meditations and Maloney

Managed to sort out the first draft of yesterday’s Steering Group meeting and some of what I said even made sense. Possibly. On top of that, I managed at last to circulate the minutes of the month before, which have been on hold as the poor boss is snowed under and scarcely able to breathe. They like to work us hard here at the educational coal-face. Anyway, the big complaint about the previous minutes was that apparently I’d changed fonts half-way through and hadn’t noticed. Well, I like to be creative, you know – but maybe it’s time for another sight test? Really, a Secretary is utterly past it when she can’t tell the difference between Arial and Times New Roman …

I’ve also had a very inspirational meeting with Jo from the Arts Office and Fiona and Marian from the new English with Creative Writing degree programme. Lots of exciting things happening here at the University for sure, and it was a pleasure to meet them and talk about writing and books we’ve read and those we haven’t. Heck, I could do that all day, if given the chance. We all love Murakami – naturally. We’re also planning to run the University Writers’ Group much more closely within the English department, which will be wonderful (thanks for that suggestion, Marian!), and hoping to have regular reading events from external authors throughout the year. Marvellous. And Marian even mentioned that she might well get a copy of A Dangerous Man for her holiday reading – thank you again, Marian, and I hope you enjoy the read!

This afternoon, I had a half-day holiday (hurrah!) and attended another meditation workshop run by the Diocesan Summer School. Great to have a period of calm in my day, plus we did meditation haikus, which was great. Fresh from this experience, I am determined to get to bed at a reasonable time and to make a brave attempt at making this a habit. Ho ho. All these late nights are making my eyes prickle – not a pretty sight, really.

And tonight, it’ll be more editing of The Bones of Summer – I’ve managed to scrabble up to the start of Chapter 22, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, Captain. One hopes. Mind you, I absolutely have to watch “Bonekickers” (or “Bonkers”, as the Radio Times are calling it) or my Trash TV fix will be way too low for the week. After the first episode, what on earth will they do for an encore?

Ooh, and Maloney’s Law in the States now has an actual rating after it, which was a pleasant five figures this morning, but is rapidly plummeting downwards as the day wears on and by the time you read this will probably be at least eight figures. And it has even more discounts on the price now, so a total bargain for such a shit-hot story indeed! Not only that, but Amazon UK have now got the skeleton information on, which you can find here. And I'm only £4.73 in the Mother Country, so - as always - as cheap as chips!

Today’s nice things:

1. Creative Writing meetings
2. The meditation workshop
3. Editing Bones
4. TV
5. Maloney’s new rating and an Amazon UK appearance.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meetings, editing and this week’s heroine

Have been running around this morning trying to sort out our approach to our Steering Group lunchtime meeting now that none of my key people seem to be coming, sigh. Is it something I said? Ah well, we’ll struggle on regardless, and hey at least we’ll have lots of university sandwiches to eat up. Hmm, maybe that’s not such a good thing after all. Time will tell. At least it’ll take my mind off the fact that I actually have to say something during the meeting – groan, moan. How I hate doing that! Frankly, m’dears, I have no opinions and certainly none worth saying. So, this afternoon, I struggled to put the pages of notes I took during the meeting into order and tried to drum up enthusiasm for the task. Ye gods, I think I am experiencing my mid-month lull already, double sigh – so am constitutionally unable to get to grips with anything. Same old, then ...

Neither have we quite got to grips with who this week’s office heroes are going to be – except I do know that my heroine of the week will be Boadicea, or Boudicca to her friends. Am I spelling any of that correctly? Oh well, never mind. Just as long as I can have a kick-ass heroine of my very own, then I have a role model to follow. Spelling things correctly is so last year, you know.

Mind you, having just solved Ruth G’s html coding problem on the Chaplaincy website, I am now a true super-web-heroine and will probably be adding myself to the list, aha! Lordy, but once again my innate modesty comes into its own.

Tonight, I will pop in and refresh Gladys’ birdseed and see how she is. And then I really have to get beyond Chapter 20 of The Bones of Summer edit or I may well be stuck there forever. In some kind of literary purgatory. I keep telling myself: only seven chapters to look at and then I can go through it all over again … But I still feel strangely marooned.

At least there’s “New Tricks” to look forward to on TV. Nothing like a comic old murder case and three equally old lags to perk you up at the start of the week. And I do so love Amanda Redman – another heroine maybe?

Today’s nice things:

1. Heroes of the week, including me!
2. Editing
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birds, chocolate and a surprisingly competitive husband

Lord H and I have spent a lovely day today at Hayling Island, wandering around and attempting to look at birds. Not many about, Carruthers, though we did manage to spot a kestrel, a collared dove, some black-headed gulls and (hurrah!) some black-tailed godwits in summer plumage. Very pleasant indeed and the rain held off. On the journey down, however, I was dozing away to the background lull of Classic FM when Lord H suddenly gave a triumphant snort and said: Ha! I beat that then. On enquiring what on earth he was on about, I was told that we'd passed a big sign telling us that Hindhead was 8 minutes drive away, but Lord H had put a spurt on and done it in 6 minutes. Hmm, I fear that these "helpful hint" road-signs might not be having quite the effect they're supposed to have on the male boy-racer population ...

We also managed to fit in a pub lunch at The Maypole Pub, where the staff were really sweet and funny too. If we're in the area, we'll definitely go back. And the super-chocolate ice-cream dessert with extra chocolate and chocolate bits was to die for. Even though we had the low-fat option (ie no cream). Hell, but we're so noble.

Though I would say that the east and west sides of Hayling are very very different indeed! The east was great, but the west was a bit scary. We parked near The Kench and everyone stared at us. In a very hard and frightening manner. I was rather worried in case we came back to the car to find that the tyres had been reallocated elsewhere. A local village for local people, I feel ... However, due to some nifty derring-do and by creating a diversion, we escaped intact, I'm pleased to report.

Tonight, I must check the cars and see if our oil and tyres still function (West Hayling folk are strange folk, you know ...) and then we've got the joys of Midsomer Murders on TV. I'll also try to do some more to The Bones of Summer. I'm now on Chapter 20, but feel that which way I jump on some of the new plot lines is a bit fluid at the moment. Hell, but I'm always fluid at the moment, so not much difference there then.

This week's haiku is:

On reaching the 40s:

Never mind roses
or lace: give me the jewellery
and make it today ...

And, alas, I fear that the Surrey literati are still keeping me on the naughty step - though actually it's surprisingly comfortable and the views are grand (it's an outdoor step, naturally. Well, my family are from the north ...). I am obliged to venture out only under cover of total darkness and in a disguise so deep that even I don't know who I am. The plot thickens and the excitement mounts. As indeed do the twig-beatings!...

Today's nice things:

1. Birds
2. Pub lunch
3. Writing a haiku
4. Editing Bones
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jewellery, tea and chat

Up as early as possible today so that Lord H and I could go into town and stare in adoration at the eternity ring I fell in love with at Cry for the Moon. Result - he loves it too! So he's bought it and I am now the proud owner of an utterly gorgeous piece of jewellery, hurrah! Or I would be if my actual anniversary wasn't until September, so I suspect I may have to wait to get the thing on my finger. But I'm hoping I'll be allowed to gaze at it occasionally between now and then, mmmm ....

I've then spent some time updating my website with the Maloney's Law details. Each time I look at the cover, I like it more, so that's a good thing for sure. And I've also edited another chapter of The Bones of Summer - slowly, slowly - so am now on Chapter 18. We're getting there, captain.

This afternoon, Pauline & Tony, my friends from Kent, popped in with their son, Darren, for tea and chat. And how marvellously civilised it was too. Ham rolls, crumpets and cake, all prepared by Lord H's fair hands. Bliss. Also lovely to catch up with what's been going on in the Kentish world and to talk education stuff (Pauline's a headteacher). I come from a long line of teachers, you know, and can now throw in university stuff to the mix too - so occasionally I might even sound intelligent. Though, as Pauline has known me for years, I suspect she's not fooled.

I also have to admit to having to give up on a book I'd been really looking forward to and which had been recommended to me, sigh. Sorry, but I really didn't find much of merit in Reinaldo Arenas' "Before Night Falls". What an irritating and self-obsessed man - and if anyone round here is going to be irritating and self-obsessed, then it sure as hell is going to be me! I gave up at Page 91 as I really couldn't stand the competition. Perhaps the film is better? Though I fear I won't be bothering.

So, tonight, I shall catch up on the comedy TV I missed yesterday, and maybe do some more editing too. You never know.

Finally, bearing in mind the higher than usual level of complaints (complaints?? You mean somebody out there is actually reading this stuff? Well, gosh! Lordy, but I feel quite touched ...) about my crazed blog witterings this week, I would like to state categorically and with hand on heart that NO HORSES HAVE BEEN INJURED IN THE MAKING OF THIS BLOG. Though several innocent crumpets did take a good beating (and have of course been given the usual information on how to contact Crumpet Line accordingly). Phew! You can all breathe the proverbial sigh of relief then ... Though perhaps I'd better keep wearing the body armour just in case, m'dears!

Today's nice things:

1. Getting an eternity ring
2. Updating the website
3. Editing Bones
4. Tea with friends
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, July 11, 2008

Maloney in the States, shiny teeth and dinner out

Hurrah! Maloney's Law on now has its cover art up and you can even buy it - from a choice of sellers, no less. Well, gosh! That's really made my day. Here's a blurb to whet your appetite:

"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?

Maloney's Law was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Awards (for novels set in London) and the Royal Literary Fund Awards, and longlisted for the Yeovil Novel Prize."

You can read an extract on my website here and I'm also pleased that Sarah Bengry at Writewords has described the extract as "beautiful, clean, evocative prose". Thanks also for that, Sarah! Though I'm not really sure my stuff has ever been clean ... Only accidentally anyway.

This morning, I've played a pretty appalling golf game, and Marian even beat me - oh the shame and the gnashing of teeth! I will never be able to raise my head again here in the shires. Naturally I blamed my stiff back but, even so, I have to admit (even if only on here!) that Marian did play extraordinarily well and would have probably beaten me hands down anyway. Dammit!

From there, I popped into the shops and then screwed my courage to the sticking place (is that Macbeth quote right? Sorry, but I can't be arsed to look it up) for my six-monthly visit to the dentist and (even scarier because she's very efficient and tuts a lot) the hygienist. I think I survived. Rather satisfyingly to my delicate ego, the dental nurse had even read the article about me in the local paper a few weeks back and was keen to ask about the books - double hurrah! She even promised to buy one, though it was hard for me to extract (hah!) a definite commitment to this as I had a mouth full of dental equipment at the time. Ah, they're cunning beasts, these dentists, you know.

For the rest of the day, I've been poring over Chapter 16 of The Bones of Summer. Ye gods, but that was one hell of a struggle. I felt like George tackling the dragon, when George had a hangover and the dragon had been working out. Hey ho. I got there in the end, I think, so am now wearily blinking at the start of Chapter 17, p169. Where I'll leave it for today.

Tonight, Lord H and I are at Robin & Gavin's for dinner, hurrah! Am hugely looking forward to that - though, that said, it is rather worrying that apparently Gavin is very keen to show Lord H the special picture of his Roman drain cover. Hmm, is this code? Do Robin and I have to go into the other room and be subtly sapphic? (Ooh, lovely! I hear Lord H shouting in the background ...). Really, anything could happen here in the heart of Surrey, you know! Oo-err, missus.

Today's nice things:

1. Maloney's Law being available to buy
2. Beating Chapter 16 of Bones but by a short head only
3. Staring womanfully at Gavin's Roman drain ...

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hodder, signing agonies and a few moments of stillness

Some excitement on the book front: I've been asked by Ann Gawthorpe, a Hodder author, to add a section on self-publishing to her forthcoming book, Teach Yourself How to Write Your Life Story, so I've done that for her and sent it off. Thanks for thinking of me, Ann - and I look forward to reading the book when it comes out in January 2009.

Though I'm afraid it's rather a case of from the sublime to the you-know-what today. This morning, I was asked to go in and sign books at a shop that must (to spare my fellow-writers' delicate blushes) remain nameless in a nearby town. As you know, these days being invited to do something by a shop that must remain ... (well, you know the rest ...) is much like Goliath inviting David for supper and a "chat". For me personally that is - I must stress that point or I fear I will be beaten with twigs (which is strangely attractive, I must say). Again ... That is (I'm back to the David image now, in case you're lost), I know he doesn't want me there (ah, understandably of course - who would?), and there ain't no way on earth I'm going to get out of there alive. Which proved to be much the case. When I got there, the assistants - even those who knew I was coming - stared at me in shock (not that I can blame them - I was dressed rather strangely and my hair was wild, dahlings, wild ...), and I had to beg one of them to get copies of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice out of the stock room where the shop (etc etc) have decided to keep them. Overcome with terror, I didn't dare ask them about my other books. They then swept me into the never-visited Local Interest books corner where they'd hidden the rest of my stuff - naturally I always lower the tone, you see ... Still, my fellow-writers bravely rescued me and, as the three of them have wonderful books which people like and want to have in their shops (hurrah!), I managed to sign four or five copies of mine. The truly and utterly-butterly wonderful assistant even allowed me to move some of my stock up from the bottom shelf, but only to the one above. No doubt they'll be down on the bottom shelf once more by the end of the day and in the stock room again by the weekend. Indeed, I can't blame them, m'dears - I'm obviously such a bad person that I am lucky to be allowed to remain in Surrey at all, tee hee. Next time, I'll think I'll take a t-shirt saying "Yes I know I embarrass you but I'm from Essex and one must make allowances for the underprivileged!" Hey ho.

(And yes, I still do prefer the original of that last paragraph - which I have kept btw as you never know when it might come in handy for purposes of bribery and corruption, cue evil laughter ... - but it's edit or die, I fear ...!! I will be in disguise for the next few weeks just in case of literary repercussions. The owl hoots at midnight and I'm the one under the lamp-post dressed in purdah ... Oh, and the will's under the bed.)

So, reeling from the trauma of all that, I managed to stagger back home, still carrying the books I'd brought of course, and edit another chapter of The Bones of Summer. I'm facing the really long chapter now - Chapter 15 - so I've eaten the last of Jane H's chocolate (thanks, Jane) in order to psyche myself up for it. Ooh, and talking of books, Maloney's Law on now has 5 whole sellers of new copies on it, hurrah, including Mr US Amazon himself. Gosh! But no cover art yet - sigh. We struggle on ...

This afternoon, I attended one of the Diocesan Summer School workshops run by Viv Stacey (whom I rate) called "Guarding the Heart". I started the session feeling completely trammelled by the day, but actually it was quite interesting and parts of it I even got enthused about. I took down the details of the Contemplative Spirituality Network and will be keeping an eye on them. She gave out some good meditation tips too, which I shall try to use at some point.

I've also just finished "Showcase Myspace: The New Poetry". Um, I have to admit, first off, that I didn't actually think it was very good as a collection - many of the pieces had poems inside them (probably) but they were very cunningly hidden by a clutter of words, so rather a disappointment really, as well as being too overwrought and melodramatic. That said, one or two pieces did take my fancy, including Robert D Edelman's "In the cards", and the humour of Nicky Jones' "Bunion" is fun but I could have done without the exclamation marks. Please can someone edit this properly?? However, I do think that Janice Windle's work which ends the book has a hell of a lot of power and really deserves to be elsewhere. She's a fabulous artist too.

Today's nice things:

1. Having something in a Hodder book
2. Escaping the agony of the shop that must not ... oh, you know!
3. Editing Bones
4. The Diocesan workshop.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flipchart hell, lilies and a double helping of Bones

Have spent a lot of today staring madly at the vast flipchart city resulting from last week’s Awayday. Flipcharts are the work of the devil, you know. I attempted to factor their scattered pearls of wisdom into the notes I’ve already typed up from yesterday, but I think I left the will to live outside the door today. Sigh. We struggle on.

I must say though that I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s Tosh TV Offering of “Bonekickers” – pure hokum and a great laugh, but it had a certain style and I rather liked the characters. The end scene of dozens of burning crosses in a cave and people swinging above them from ropes whilst hacking each other with Medieval swords was pure joy, m’dears. Bring it on … How I’d love to have a scene like that in one of my books, but I’m not sure that either Paul or Craig’s skills quite stretch to that. Yet.

This morning, we had the lovely Estates & Building duo in to put a whiteboard into the boss’s office while he’s away. Honestly, they’re so sweet – none of us could work out the instructions so they did their own thing with it in the end and it looks great to me. It slides along the wall and opens out and everything. Amazing. The real moment of charm though was when Man Number One was explaining about his secret tallow box, which is very good for greasing screws and you can also make candles out of it. Ah, here at the cutting edge of technology the old ways are the best ways, you know.

Today’s other big excitement is I bought a prawn sandwich from Starbucks as I couldn’t be bothered to run around this morning cooking up my usual fish and rice healthy concoction. Um, yes that’s it. The other big excitement. Sorry. Our lives are truly fulfilling here in the twilight zone. Ooh, and I did get wet on my lunchtime trog round campus. Very rainy here in the mother country right now, Carruthers. That said, I did have a pleasant few minutes sheltering in the gallery and admiring the photographic exhibition currently running. Some wonderful portraits, including some very good nudes, and some stunning shots of flowers, particularly the lilies. All very calming. In fact, here’s a poem about the lily:

Calla Lily by Kate Noot

Single white petal
unfolds on deepest black;

your grey stem
captivates my eye.

I’ve also managed to write a 500-word (exactly 500 words including the title – gosh, I’m so proud! Not to mention anal …) short story called “The end of winter”. I’m quite pleased with it too. Heck I might do another one sometime. You never know. Talking of writing, I was really touched today (query: when am I not??) – one of my University Writers’ Group emailed me to say how inspirational she’d found the homework I set in May and it had helped her to write Chapter Two of her novel which she’d been stuck on for a while. Gosh, that’s so great – good for her! And nice to feel I have my uses now and again.

Meanwhile Ruth G in the Chaplaincy has received a postcard praising our upcoming new Multifaith Centre. Which would have been charming if it didn’t have a picture of the Ku Klux Klan on it. Goodness me, we do know some strange people here in Chaplaincy World. We’re really not sure at all how to reply …

Finally, at least in terms of the office, we’ve decided to produce a sheet each week with a list of the week’s heroes on it. The boss is still away, as you can probably tell … This week’s list is Anne Boleyn, Oliver Cromwell and Take That. Bearing in mind that today we have in the office me, Carol (Mentoring) and Ruth G (Chaplaincy), your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to decide who chose which one. Shouldn’t be too hard then!

Tonight, I’m planning more edits to The Bones of Summer. I’m now on Chapter 12, so am gradually hacking my way through the undergrowth. Oh for a Medieval sword and a few strong ropes to help me, eh …

Today’s nice things (goodness me, so many!):

1. Thinking about Bonekickers – and smiling
2. My prawn sandwich
3. Whiteboard shenanigans
4. This week’s heroes
5. Flash fiction and poetry
6. Photos in the gallery
7. Helping someone else to write something
8. Editing Bones.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Notes, rings and Bones

Have spent most of the day trawling my way slowly, slowly through the vast numbers of notes I took on last week’s Away Day. It’s like wading through treacle. When you have no map. Soon I think I will lose the will to live entirely. Hey ho.

Still, I’m much cheered by the thought of nipping into town at lunchtime to look at eternity rings, hurrah! I’d like one with emeralds, as the engagement ring is an emerald and, dahlings, you know how I do so hate to clash … UPDATE: I found a ring I really, really, really like in Cry For The Moon. Swoon. I’ve asked them to put it aside till Lord H and I can see it together on Saturday. It’s fabulous – I am seriously in love with it. Give me jewellery and give it to me now!... Oh Lordy, but I hope he likes it too. Anyway, while I was there, I also paid in a cheque (for books, double hurrah!), picked up a copy of the Radio Times and tried to see if there was anything about me in this month’s Writers’ Forum magazine – there wasn’t. Lordy, but I have a planet-sized ego for sure – just a shame I don’t have the confidence to go with it. Now there’s a scary thought.

Meanwhile, the tension continues to mount on the journey of the US Amazon Maloney’s Law – it now has a publication date of 29 June 2008, which is obviously wrong. But hey at least we’re moving forward towards some sort of resolution, possibly, so I’m not complaining.

And today’s exciting Chaplaincy phone query (the Chaplaincy office is temporarily with us while they’re being rebuilt) which I answered as Ruth G isn’t in today: where can I do A Level Hebrew in Surrey? I think I managed to dredge up some off-the-top-of-my-head knowledge about local schools and colleges but, goodness me, sometimes I could really do with a Phone a Friend or Ask the Audience button. It’s tough here in the hot seat, you know.

Ooh and the lovely Megan Taylor, author of the marvellous How We Were Lost, has just finished reading Thorn in the Flesh and has been kind enough to call it “a gripping and intriguing read”. Thanks, Megan – glad you liked it!

Tonight, I’m supposed to be going to both Guildford Writers and one of the Diocesan Summer Schools – I’m nothing if not overbooked … However, they’ve moved this evening’s Summer School course to somewhere near the Lido and I am too much of a Geography Wimp to attempt to work out how to get there. If only they’d kept it at the Cathedral, which I know without having to think about, then I probably would have gone, but the thought of driving to a strange place is beyond me and I am filled with existential terror. Really, it’s astonishing I go out at all. I’m just a hermit in the making.

So I think I’ll stay in and concentrate on The Bones of Summer instead – I’m on Chapter 10 of the edit now and doing a lot of juggling. Which incidentally is an essential writers’ skill that I wish they’d teach you at Writers’ School – we all need to know how to text-juggle, believe me.

Ooh and on the way home, I bravely popped into see Gladys - and she was the most pleasant and chatty she's been for a long, long time, hurrah! So I didn't need to wear my body armour after all ... I think the trick is not to talk first but to wait until she's ready to talk to me. I just went straight into her room and started sorting out the bird table outside her window and doing a lot of smiling. She seemed happier with me then, so maybe I'll try that trick next time. But hey, result!!

And finally I don’t think Lord H and I are going to be able to resist the no doubt High Tosh Factor of tonight’s new TV series, “Bonekickers” – or “Boneknickers”, as we like to call it. Archaeology, doom and ridiculous plots – just what the doctor ordered.

Today’s nice things:

1. Shopping for an eternity ring
2. Another small addition to the US Amazon Maloney entry
3. Feedback on Thorn
4. A pleasant visit to Gladys
5. Editing Bones
6. Tosh TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, July 07, 2008

Minutes, feet and editing

Thank goodness the email appears to be back online at work again, after one week of floundering around in the ditches waiting to be rescued. Sigh. Not sure what I might have lost though, but I'm hoping that if it's anything urgent then whoever sent it might contact me again. Or that the situation will have resolved itself without my interference. Much the best way really. Interestingly, the stuff I do have appears to have been sent twice, which means my inbox wasn't as scary as I first thought. Thank the Lord.

Having dealt with that, I am now neck-deep in minutes. Much like our email system last week I too am floundering around trying to make sense of the exams assessment meeting, whilst ignoring the evil creature of my away day notes. Oh joy. Thank goodness – once more – for my lunchtime reflexology session. It makes Mondays almost bearable, you know. Not only that but I bumped into Angela, who used to be in the University Writers' Group and now has a baby (Strapline: Come to University Writers and get more than you bargained for …), so nice to catch up. Motherhood obviously suits her and hey the baby looked fairly normal too, as far as babies do.

Not that Monday's been that bad really – the lovely Emily from Marketing came round, and we had lots of discussions about weddings, as she's getting married in August. Always a good way to start the week, and yes you can tell the office menfolk aren't here. Naturally, we're still working our fingers to the bone of course. Would we dare do otherwise?

Tonight, I am running the gauntlet of the dreaded Tesco shop, and then I'm planning more editing to The Bones of Summer. I'm getting very excited about it. I do love the whole Paul/Craig arc. Oh and there's a new series of "New Tricks" on TV too, so I must watch that.

Meanwhile, across the water, the plot continues to thicken: the Amazon US Maloney's Law entry now has a synopsis attached. Still no cover art though. Whatever next eh?

Today's nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Wedding talk
3. Editing Bones
4. The Maloney synopsis
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Church, Bones and the first hints of Maloney

Managed to get ourselves to church this morning and actually it was okay. Though I did start singing the third hymn in the tune I knew with great gusto, only to realise that everyone else, including the organist, was using an entirely different tune. Ah well, I never did like going along with the crowd, you know. I managed to u-turn gently into the correct tune - or a passable resemblance of it - by the second verse, so I can only hope they didn't notice the join. Hmm, some hope eh.

For the rest of the day I've been typing away on The Bones of Summer and have now nailed that extra chapter with the key scene with Craig's father's church, hurrah! I feel really happy about it too. So I'm about a third of the way through the edit and am even looking forward to tackling the rest.

In the midst of all this, we did make time to watch yesterday's episode of "Dr Who" - fabulous. And very fitting. It will be interesting (spoiler alert if you haven't watched it!) to see who the new companion will be. But I can't believe they're not giving us a full series till 2010. Ridiculous! Specials just aren't the same, though obviously always welcome.

And, much to my surprise, I see that the first trickles of Maloney's Law can now be found on Well, gosh! I've worked out that the US dollars price for this astonishing and desirable work of literature is about £8.00 so not bad at all, I feel. No picture or synopsis yet, but hey it's a start. And it's nice to be out there somewhere, however tenuously.

Tonight, Lord H and I will be watching "Midsomer Murders" - a perfect end to a Sunday indeed. And I've written two haikus this week, so here they are:

Sunflowers salute:
my yellow-hatted soldiers
captured by a vase.

Fingernail moon
scratches at sky, tears away
cloud-skin fragility.

Today's nice things:

1. Church
2. Writing another chapter of Bones
3. Seeing Maloney on
4. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bones, buttocks and song

Have spent this morning continuing the edit to The Bones of Summer. I've added in one of the scene additions and its aftermath that the report suggested and I think it's deepened it. So far so good. And hey, more words too, which is a bonus - I'm nothing if not a short novelist. The next move is to add in a key scene with Craig's father's church, but that'll take some thinking about so I may not tackle it today. In the edit, I've also read through one of the sex scenes, and even though The Literary Consultancy were happy with the sex writing, I think I might cut it back a little. I don't want to move too far from my plot for no reason. It's a difficult balance sometimes, but hey I'm not complaining!

This afternoon, Lord H and I are off to Glyndebourne again to see Eugene Onegin. We've seen it before and I remember enjoying it but I can't remember a thing about it now. But I think there's more plot than last week's opera, so that can only be a good thing. We're eating in again, as you can't trust the weather these days, but this time we've opted for the Middle and Over Wallop Restaurant. We never attempt the Nether Wallop. Hell, would you? Call Glyndebourne elitist claptrap and a dying art if you must, but it does have some fabulous restaurant names.

Ooh and the other excitement is that Terry Wogan is apparently attending Glyndebourne sometime this weekend. Please God let it be today! Then I can giggle, point and froth at the mouth, in my usual sophisticated fashion. I was all for taking our Terry Wogan books (yes, we do have them) and thrusting them under the great man's nose for signing if given half a chance but Lord H was aghast at the idea and went distinctly pale. Not very Glyndebourne, you know ... Here in the shires, we must appear as if seeing Sir Terry is something that happens every day. Then again, knowing my luck he'll be turning up on Sunday anyway so my cunning plan to skulk round the dark corners of the opera house and peer into the bushes will be in vain. Sigh.

The other excitement of today is that I've recharged my phone (well, you never know when you might break down ...) and found my first spam message ever on it. Gosh, I must finally have made it then! But I really don't think I'll be pressing the button to find out who wants to flirt with me as, if it's not Lord H (and it can't be as he hasn't encountered text yet), then I will be forced to bite their buttocks and run away. Which in essence is much like the mating rituals of the average Essex Girl, so there's a chance it might backfire. As it were.

Today's nice things:

1. The Bones edit
2. Glyndebourne
3. Thinking about Sir Terry.

Anne Brooke
Anne's Website
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, July 04, 2008

Bones, bodies and breakdowns

Lordy, what a rollercoaster of a day. Up with rosy-fingered dawn (lucky dawn) today as I'd booked an 8.30am haircut and Lynda is super-efficient and always turns up early. Indeed when Lord H left the house at 8.15am, he found her parked outside and sent her up. She'd probably been parked there all night. Perhaps I should have offered her breakfast? Anyway, after her tender ministrations, I now look fairly presentable. At least temporarily.

All this meant I could pop into Godalming first thing and stock up on essential local papers and jiffy bags (in case someone actually buys Thorn in the Flesh and I have to send it to them - hell, you never know!). I also spent my birthday book vouchers in Waterstone's, and the girls there were incredibly helpful and got me books I might actually want to read - ie dark, quirky and different, which was what I asked them to find. I suspect they might have been significantly less helpful if they'd known I was one of the hated Breed of Authors. Bookshops don't mix with the likes of us, you know. Interestingly, one of the girls also said how boring most of the stuff they had in now was and it was very dull that everyone was writing the same sort of book, and how lovely it was that I as a reader was making their jobs exciting by asking for something different. Cue my line of bringing Goldenford and our wonderfully different books to their attention, but I was too frightened to mention it, to be honest - it's not often bookshop staff are nice to me and I was too moved by the experience to ruin it ... Sigh. I am a Grade One Wimp, to be sure.

The big event of the day however was of course Penny's funeral. Her work friends turned up in force, which I was glad to see, plus long-term friends and family, so actually it was very fitting. And very "Penny". We had a laugh, along with a few tears as well, of course. In the end, it was sassy, straightforward and fun - much like the woman herself. Guildford Crematorium is a lovely place, I must say. I'll be very happy to end up there. And I got to know it extremely well too as after the service, my car wouldn't start. Goddammit. My, Penny would have loved that - she would have killed herself laughing, so it's probably a good job she's already dead. If I'm allowed to say such a thing on Funeral Day. Ruth was kind enough to wait until I'd called the RAC man and sorted out my time of rescue, and also bequeathed (couldn't resist it, sorry) me the remains (God, but I'm good) of her apple juice plus a mug to drink it with from the bowels of her campervan. Thanks, Ruth. So I had a pleasant hour-and-a-half sitting on a shady bench and admiring the funeral style of the next body in. Or possibly out. Funeral Number Two had a zillion mourners, truckloads of flowers and the black horses with the plumes. Way to go! It did make my car and the RAC van rather unpopular, as they could have done with the extra parking spaces, and we were obviously not of their ilk. Ah well. I also managed in the unexpected lull to write out a plot and themes for Hallsfoot's Battle. So that's got me excited and enthused about it again, hurrah! Not to mention having a brand-new battery and a car that works now, double hurrah.

It'll still have to be put on hold though as when I got back I found the report on The Bones of Summer (anyone remember that one?) from The Literary Consultancy. It was much better than I'd anticipated, triple hurrahs! So thank you, Sara Maitland, for your advice. It's very much appreciated. Her overall view was that the novel was "a very satisfying and dramatic tale", and she loved the whole Craig and Paul story arc. She thought I handled the sex very well (gosh!), as it was open and realistic without being "in your face". That's a relief then, as sex writing is one of my strong points, I think. Negative points are that I really need to up the ante of my plot (which I knew - I always need help with plot. It's my big weak point), and she gave me some wonderful suggestions for that. Alongside, I also need to give more life to the secondary characters, but her plot suggestions will go a long way to sorting that out. So I've started the edit and I'm looking forward to giving it some welly as I go through, along with some more exciting strands. My, how I love getting my teeth into the edit - as long as the report I'm basing it on is a positive one, that is!

Oh, and I see from a read through of The Surrey Advertiser that the police have "swooped" (why do they always do that??) on the nearby sleepy little village of Elstead, as they've discovered a cannabis farm there. My, how exciting! You would have thought they could have invited us round for a party first, dammit. It's getting more "Midsomer" here by the minute. And a Guildford man has been shortlisted for Husband of the Year in Eve Magazine's awards. How hugely embarrassing for him. Though, to my mind, Lord H could knock all of their entries into a cocked hat - I shall have to enter him for it next year ...

Today's nice things:

1. Haircut
2. Saying goodbye to Penny
3. Breaking down in a Crematorium (yes, I know, but it was funny ...)
4. Discovering a plot and some themes for Hallsfoot
5. Getting a positive report for Bones - and hey one I can use for improvement!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sunflowers, poems and the joys of bitchiness

Some moments of joy this morning when I realised that a delightful person - who I suspect is probably the doctor at the University Health Centre who enjoys taking my dark stuff on holiday with her, God bless you, Vicky - has bought a copy of A Dangerous Man from its Amazon listing. Delightfully, this meant that for a few brief minutes I was actually in the Amazon gay fiction charts - ye gods, Carruthers, somebody pass me the smelling salts as I've never been there before ... Okay, it was in the late 70s in the list and has now sadly vanished but I'm hanging on to my moment of chart glory with all my might. Hell, wouldn't you?

Anyway, I was out fairly bright and early this morning to collect copies of Thorn in the Flesh and Pink Champagne and Apple Juice from the Goldenford office. I was thrilled to find that Jennifer had remembered to leave me the £6.00 I was owed from the Writers' Conference. Hurrah! I am now rich beyond the dreams of Ava Rice. Lucky old Ava.

On the way back home, I popped into Tesco and bought some sunflowers. I love sunflowers. They make me feel so happy just by looking at them. So big and bold and brash. Wonderful. They are now standing firm in the tallest of my vases - looking like nothing so much as yellow-hatted soldiers standing to attention. Bloody hell but there must be a haiku in there somewhere. Give me a map and a torch and I may just find it.

Talking of poetry, I've been thinking about things disappearing (inspired by the various disasters of yesterday) and what it means, so have come up with this, while the bath-water was running:


They take away our books,
then the shelves we put them on.

Next it’s our homes, our friends,
our names.

Last of all, they kill our history
and we are entirely gone.

Nice to have a poem out in the open. Feels like it's been a while. Must be a poetry day really, as I've also written something supremely bitchy about the latest edition of Mslexia, which turned up today. Sigh. Lord alone knows why I bother with it - to my mind, the new layout they've been talking about for ages looks even worse than the old one. Same old attitude too. Anyway, here it is (with apologies to the menfolk: I do know the last stanza is grossly unfair, but somehow it fitted. Sorry ...)

Mslexia blues

I want to be bitchy about Mslexia:
About the way it always makes

my heart groan when it falls through the letter-box.
About how surely the women

it’s supposed to be catering for
must have died out in the Seventies.

Or, with luck, be hidden somewhere dark and deep
where normal folk can’t find them.

I want to shout about the way
it’s so irritatingly worthy

and dull, not to mention prissy.
For if we must have a writing magazine

for women, then please try to find
some real ones to talk to. And a decent font.

Give us grace and wit and charm. Humour,
if you can manage it. Better still,

give us nothing.
Wiser perhaps to turn your attention

to a how-to-read magazine for men
who may well need it.

For the rest of the day, when I'm not worrying about things vanishing or irritating writing mags, I've been working on Hallsfoot's Battle. I haven't done that much - am on about 12,300 words now, but I'm happy with what I've done. Which is something. And for the first time in weeks, I think it might just be going somewhere. Ye gods and little fishes, but I may even have a plot. Of sorts. Miracles can happen, you know.

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the theatre to see The Quiz. Looks just our sort of thing, m'dears. But I suspect it won't be relaxing. Ah well.

Today's nice things:

1. My moment in the Amazon gay fiction charts
2. Sunflowers
3. Writing
4. Being bitchy
5. Theatre.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers