Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scratchy throats, too many minutes and a lone fan

Apologies for this appallingly brief blog. I’m still not very well today and the throat is rumbling, so I mooched around the flat for a while before going to work without doing anything remotely holy. Which is probably something of a relief for God, to be honest. No doubt he has enough on his plate just now.

At work, I struggled away with the confusion of the minutes from yesterday. I think the words are possibly in the right order, but the sense of the plot eludes me. As usual, eh. And I’ve arranged another tranche of meetings up until December – ah it’s always good to have some sort of purpose in life. So they tell me. Meanwhile, I’ve started on the Lucozade so I’ll soon be ultra-hyper and my teeth will go orange. Always good to have something to look forward to is what I say.

Tonight, I was supposed to be popping into see Gladys, but thought it was probably better not to infect the poor thing. So I left work early and am drooping at home instead. If drooping and snorting a lot (hey, I can multi-task!) were an Olympic sport, I’d be laughing. Ho ho.

Ooh, but I have discovered that I have one fan on the Goodreads site – what joy! I’ve never had a fan before. Certainly not an official one anyway. Perhaps I should start a small but select club? Or perhaps not – after all, we Brooke readers are a strange and shadowy bunch … Adorable, though. Talking of which, the lovely Nancy has given A Dangerous Man a five-star review on Goodreads and recommended it to another reader, so thank you hugely for that once more, Nancy! You can find the thread here.

Today’s nice things:

1. Getting the minutes done, if not necessarily dusted
2. Having a fan, well gosh
3. Being at home
4. A five-star Goodreads review for ADM.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - multi-tasking for Britain ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meetings City, books and the thrill of shopping

Ah, a day of meeting pain and shopping beckons, groan. Let’s start with this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 104

What with
regular offerings,
Sabbath offerings,

first day of the month
offerings, not to mention
those of the Festival

of the Unleavened Bread
and Harvest,
it’s a really tough time

to be a lamb.

This morning, I attempted to finish typing up the minutes from last week, in order to be prepared for the last-minute (ho ho) meeting I was drafted in to take the notes for at lunchtime. Mind you, I didn’t understand a word of what was going on, so I hope I can produce something out of the pit of confusion … Honestly, it’s all go here at the educational coal-face. You’d never think we were now in the vacation period. Still, the joy of finishing at 5pm kept me going through it all. In the meantime, my throat feels like two stretches of barbed wire being rubbed together and the only thing that has made me feel good all day is the gorgeous hot chocolate from Starbucks that I succumbed to later in the afternoon. Temporary bliss indeed. The boss isn’t too well either and neither is the dean, so my advice is don’t pop into the office if you were planning it. ‘Unclean, unclean,’ we cry …

Nonetheless, I had the shopping to face after work, so am full of the joys of Tesco right now (double ho ho). I also made a brave try at getting Easter presents for all and sundry, but am not entirely sure I’m in control of that particular effort. Ah well.

I didn’t think much of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, which I’ve read for the upcoming University Book Group, I must say. It's really one of the dullest and most muddled books I’ve ever read, though it did have two or three very good lines. Which is about all that can be said for it really. I hated the characters, I hated the plot and I hated the writing. Sigh. However, still on the book front, I see that the ongoing good review of A Dangerous Man yesterday has meant that two more people have added it to their To Be Read lists at Goodreads, so that's encouraging for sure.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. 5pm finishes
3. Getting home
4. A surge in popularity for A Dangerous Man, hurrah.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - hanging on in there somehow

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bees, pens and honey cakes

Am happy to say that my sting-in-the-tale flash fiction piece, Night Bees, is now up at Every Day Fiction and can be found here. Hope you enjoy it and do feel free to leave a comment.

Other good news of the day is that the Pens on Fire webzine have accepted my romantic comedy short story, Speaking Her Mind, for publication in June - so something to look forward to for the summer, hurrah! And, along the same lines, I've had a lovely email from Nancy from Goodreads to say how much she's enjoying A Dangerous Man. In fact, she's enjoying it so much that she's providing some lovely running commentary on what she thinks so far throughout the novel, which you can find here. Thanks so much, Nancy - emails from readers enjoying my books whilst reading them are very rare, so it's really made my day! I hope you keep on enjoying it right until the end.

But let's not forget this morning's meditation poem - an early example of the power of women indeed:

Meditation 103

It takes five women –
Mahlah, Noah,
Hoglah, Milcah, Tirzah –

to change the way
inheritance is bequeathed,
stepping up to face God

for the chance to live
without men.
Proof indeed,

if we needed it,
that sisterhood started early.

This morning, Lord H and I trundled off to church - and today is obviously a day of very strange hymns. I'm not sure anyone knew the tune of the first one. It was a kind of Anglican fudge tune - perfectly harmless but not something you remember. Today's sermon was about finances and interest - subjects that normally pass swiftly through my head without making any impression, but I have learnt something. Apparently there's a difference between monetary policy and fiscal policy. Lord H says the first is to do with money and the making of it, and the second is to do with taxes, and that both fall under the umbrella term of economic policy. At least, he thinks it's that way round but as now even the FT is using the terms interchangeably, frankly who gives a damn? Ah well.

On the way home, we popped into Winkworth Arboretum and wandered about happily for an hour or so. We managed to spot some white-fronted geese, a yellow wagtail and - wait for it!! - a bat! In flight for quite a while and in the morning too. How very strange. Perhaps it was the confusion of this missing hour we don't have. I will now be an hour behind my own life until I can pick it up in autumn again, sigh ...

Moving briefly back into religious matters, I must say that Rowan Williams' Silence and Honey Cakes is bloody stonkingly good. An excellent introduction to the humanity of religion and the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers. Inspirational and quiet, at the same time. Well worth reading if you're drawn by the idea of silence. The only part I'd disagree with is the section where he questions the validity of fantasies and says that reality is more important. To my mind, fantasies are part of the reality of my life (how else would anyone write or draw or compose at all without fantasy??) and should be given equal billing with what is real. That's my only quibble though - otherwise read it.

Oh and the universe has also managed to keep the balance of life fairly steady - in that I've had a couple of short story/flash fiction rejections (sigh) too, so I've turned them round and sent them back out the door again to see if they can find land. Meanwhile, tonight, there's something on TV about volcanoes so I'll probably watch that (volcanoes are like dinosaurs, you see, but more immobile ...) and then of course there's the marvellous Lewis. Perfect Sunday night viewing, bliss.

This week's haiku:

I drink a haiku
for breakfast; its sultry beat
layers my cold bones.

Today's nice things:

1. Night Bees being published
2. Short story acceptance
3. Reader comments about A Dangerous Man
4. Poetry
5. Birds - and bats
6. Books
7. TV
8. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a honey of a site (ho ho)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Primeval, Godot and publisher's blogs

Had a great time last night with the music gang, so thanks for a wonderful evening, all! Lord H's menu of quails' eggs starter, duck & Chinese vegetable pancakes, and chocolate or lemon tarts went down a treat. What a hero indeed. Mind you, it's obvious that at our advancing years we simply can't take the strain, my dears, as it's taken us forever to get up and we're just easing ourselves through the day barely able to walk from room to room. Heck, and I didn't even drink (yes, really). The excitement is just too much for me.

At least it's meant that I can really focus on Hallsfoot's Battle as I don't have the energy to get up and do anything else. So I'm now into the 106,000 word zone, which is where I think I'll leave it for this weekend. Last time I tried to do 4,000 words a week rather than 3,000, it took me three days to recover, so I don't think I'll be doing that again. Besides, I deserve some time off, surely.

Still on the writing front, I've resubmitted another couple of short stories which people didn't want (Gasp! How can that be?! Did they not read them or something???), and also sent out another raft of poetry into the great beyond. I'm ever hopeful indeed. And I've written a poem about witch hunts and sorted out tomorrow's haiku, which came to me this morning while I was drinking coffee - I couldn't face breakfast, which is most unusual for me. Even if the world around me is collapsing into disaster, I always manage breakfast. Well, not today, I fear. Though lunch was the rest of the pancakes which Lord H cleverly heated up with tuna and grated cheese, mmm.

Ooh, and Bridge House Publishing have sent me a list of questions for the blog they're setting up for the upcoming Bible stories anthology, so I've got that sorted out and sent it back to them, plus a picture of me. Hmm, that'll terrify them for sure ... Anyway, I shall look forward to seeing the blog up and running over the next couple of weeks or so, so watch this space.

And we've finally got round to booking tickets to see Patrick Stewart (please please please let him not be ill this time as he was for Macbeth!!) in Waiting for Godot. We struggled with the online booking system but after a brief phone call with a very helpful woman we now have tickets for a Saturday matinee (well, we really can't take late nights, you know) in July, so I can't wait for that. I love Patrick Stewart and the play itself is a work of genius, so what more can you want?

Tonight, it's the return of those wonderful dinosaurs in the glorious Primeval - so at last something good on the TV, hurrah. I can never resist dinosaurs, in any shape or form.

Today's nice things:

1. Writing more of Hallsfoot
2. Poetry
3. Responding to publisher requests
4. Booking for Godot
5. Dinosaurs, hurrah!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - waiting for ... um ... Godot

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chat, article success and a cleaning frenzy

Plunged this morning with a merry wave and gay abandon into creating my article about writing sex. My, what fun. Almost as good as ... um ... actually writing it. As it were. It's a little longer than anticipated (much the best way, in my opinion, ho ho), but I've submitted it anyway and the Strictly Writing Webzine have accepted it for publication in May, hurrah! Instant satisfaction and everyone's smiling (goodness, I'm a cheap date indeed ...). Thank you again, Samantha.

After all that heady excitement and panting, it was time to enter the chill-out zone, so I spent the rest of the morning chatting with Jane H (hello, Jane!) and putting the world to rights over tea and chocolate hobnobs. We Surrey ladies have a hard life, you know. Jane was also suitably impressed with the results of my current cleaning frenzy - we have people round for dinner tonight so I am endeavouring to clear up the dead bodies and remove the blood from the walls. As you do. Well, what else are attics for? Much of this wild activity consisted of womanhandling the contents of our airing cupboard which have been piled up across the living room for three months (Mike, oh plumber of ours, where are thou now?...) and depositing them in the bedroom. Thankfully, even though we live in Surrey, we're not part of the Strange Set, so we won't be needing that room until everyone's gone tonight. Phew, that's all right then. I've even dusted the outside hallway, which only gets done about twice a year, so I feel cleansed indeed. Hell, that must be worth a good few Wife Points at least.

Before we forget, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 102

Between the first census
and the second

all are destroyed
except three:

Caleb; Joshua; Moses.
A whole people

swallowed up by the desert
and the Lord’s dark anger.

In the silence of the heart
the need to betray

whispers its own journey.

Oh and on the subject of poetry, I've written a poem about lameness and deceit. As you do. Well, there's not much TV on so nothing much else to distract me. This afternoon, I've fiddled about with Hallsfoot's Battle but not to any serious intent, though I think the end scenes are beginning to have a purpose of sorts. Thank goodness. And I've had my Alexander Technique lesson, which was revelatory about how to go up and down steps. Apparently, it's the back foot which takes the weight, not the front one on the step, so that's where I've been going wrong all these years, aha! It made sense and I practised it coming up the outside stairs on the way back (Lordy, hope the neighbours weren't looking ...) and felt much more floaty rather than the usual sack-of-potatoes-having-a-hard-day feel. So maybe there's hope for me yet? You never know.

So, tonight, it's Robin & Gavin, Liz & John for dinner (in the hospitality, rather than the catering sense), Lord H is cooking and I'm doing the talking. Always play to your strengths is what I say.

Today's nice things:

1. Acceptance of the sex writing article
2. Tea and chat with Jane H
3. Poetry
4. Writing a little of Hallsfoot
5. Alexander Technique
6. Dinner with friends.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - an acknowledged expert with stairs

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Massages, Measures and erotic thoughts ...

Some great news this morning as my haiku describing the whole of Shakespeare in just three lines (yes! It can be done ...) can be found at the Ink, Sweat and Tears webzine today - enjoy!

Talking of poems, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 101

The Valley of Acacia
is hot with intermingled

breath, the sleek dolphin
shape of limb

on limb, the wooded
warmth of a strange god’s

calling. In the tent
of desire, secretly,

death’s gleaming spear
pierces flesh and bone,

drives sweet disease
down into earth again.

And, interestingly, the lovely people at Strictly Writing have asked me to draft an article on my approach to erotic writing for possible publication in May. Lordy, it's a tough job but someone has to do it, eh ... (thank you, Samantha!). The big (if I may use that word without chortling) difficulty is going to be restricting myself to the 500 word limit, I fear ... It's like being given chocolate, diamonds and instant access to Ioan Gruffudd all at the same time, yummy ... Quite honestly, I can't wait to get started.

Anyway, back to relative normality, I'm now in the 104,000 word zone with Hallsfoot's Battle and still working on those end scenes. I wonder now if this novel is going to be longer than I anticipate, as I feel there's a lot to go back on and add clues about. And a fair amount of things to explain in these final chapters too. Still, better off that way than thinking I've written a whole load of tosh about nothing. In that case, surely it would be Lord of the Rings (hush my mouth) ...

This afternoon, I've been having my regular relax zone with a Clarins facial and massage. Hilary thought my back was very tense today - perhaps it's the aftermath of last week's aches and pains? I've been doing all right this week, I thought. Anyway, the session was lovely and I am now a totally new woman. Hmm, either that or I'll have one delivered.

Tonight, and returning to the subject of Shakespeare once more, Lord H and I are preparing ourselves for a darkly erotic theatrical experience (wait for the end of the sentence, people, please!...) as we're off to Guildford to see Measure for Measure which is described with typical Surrey flair as "a story of passion and power, lust and restraint, sin and virtue and finally forgiveness and mercy". Sounds like a normal day to me, my dears. Anyway, it's a great play and sadly underperformed so good to see it given an airing here.

Today's nice things:

1. A published haiku
2. Poetry
3. Thinking about erotic writing
4. Hallsfoot's Battle
5. Clarins
6. Dark and passionate theatre, hurrah.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - taking a walk on the wild side tonight ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poetry and article success

Put out the bunting, but today we’ve reached our 100th meditation poem and here it is, hurrah:

Meditation 100

Somewhere between
curse and response

the pale houses

like palms or gardens
beside a cool river,

aloes, cedars, rain.
They are not destroyed

by wishing it
and the bright star

is rising still.

At work, I tried to make sense of changes to some conference notes which are extra difficult as I didn’t actually attend it, plus I attempted to negotiate my way through the new travel booking system. There’s lots of stuff about which airline you prefer (even though we only ever take trains here at the coalface), but really just as long as it keeps in the sky when it should and knows how to take off and land, who really cares??

We had our rescheduled Steering Group meeting at lunchtime. Goodness me, what a lot of sandwiches. I think I’m growing strangely accustomed to the University bread … Talking of matters culinary, I must say I was hugely disappointed with my sneaky Starbucks cappuccino yesterday – there was hardly any foam, sigh … And as everyone knows it’s the foam that makes it just so exciting. Ah, the astonishing frustrations of coffee. It’s amazing I’m still sane. Anyway, the meeting was hugely demanding and I have acres of notes, deep groan. And less time to write them up in now, as an extra meeting has been scheduled in on Monday lunchtime when I least expected it. So this afternoon was spent trying to type up as much of the dang minutes as possible, so I can get ahead ready for the thrills and spills of next week. In order to do this, I’ve had to order my second decaff cappuccino of the week (shock! horror!) – but heck at least this one’s got foam.

Tonight, I’m off to the Bible Study Lent group where we’re continuing our journey through Job. How I love the poetry of it – though it does strike me that the more we think we know about God, the less in fact we do. The whole thing’s a mystery really – which is why the poetry works so well, and attempts at literal explanations simply deaden it. I think the path towards understanding doesn’t necessarily lie in the mind, but somewhere far, far deeper. Like people really – the more you think you know them, the less in fact you do. People – like God – are always more than the sum of their apparent parts.

Hmm, that’s today’s sermon over, thank the Lord. Anyone got any chocolate?? I think we all need some … Ooh, and the good news is that the plumber – when prompted by Lord H – has finally remembered us which means that a little more has happened to our heating system, though it’s not over yet, Carruthers. We have a funny timer switch now, plus some more cables, but he’s left it not quite wired up, so we’re hoping he’ll come back and finish the job at some point. He’s a lovely chap but rather spaced out, so produces great work, but slowly. Much like Vermeer then.

Ooh, and The View From Here magazine have kindly accepted my article on reading for writers, and it will be published on site in May and in the print edition in June, hurrah! Thank you so much for that, Mike.

Today’s nice things:

1. My 100th meditation poem
2. Cappuccino with foam
3. The poetry of Job
4. Climbing the plumbing mountain
5. Article acceptance.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - contemplating the mystery of life

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writers, visits and books

Had a really lovely time at last night’s Thorn in the Flesh book group, so thank you very much, Sue & Susanna and Co, for your very warm welcome, a great chat, fabulous food and fantastic flowers. All very much appreciated! It’s the icing on the cake of a writer’s life indeed.

Meanwhile, today’s meditation is rather darker than yesterday’s, I fear …

Meditation 99

From the high rocks
and lonely hills

see how the lion
licks up its prey.

Even seven altars
and all the bulls

and rams in the world
cannot turn it aside

from its slow devouring path.

At work, I’m catching up on minutes and trying to make my desk look tidy, professional and organised. Hmm, don’t wait up is my advice.

The lunch hour was spent in the stimulating company of the University Writers’ Group. Some great manuscripts to look at and I think they enjoyed my “Who, What, Where” game. Something to think about for their homework anyway.

On the way home, I popped into see Gladys and filled up that constantly emptying bird table – really, the birds in Godalming must be as huge as elephants now, though at least that will make them easier to spot. I tried a different tack this time too - instead of trying to talk or be super nice and jolly (no, it doesn't sit easy, really ...), I simply walked in, ignored her usual shouts of "go away!", sat down next to her and tried to be still and focus on good thoughts (no, that doesn't sit easy either, I know!). She did a little more shouting, then she quietened down and we just sat in silence for ten to fifteen minutes before I thought it was time to go. Now and then I glanced at her and smiled, and she looked puzzled but didn't comment. When I got up to leave, she actually blew a kiss at me and let me touch her hand (which she usually hates). I said I'd see her next time and waved as I left the room. She waved back. It felt like progress. I might try it again and see if it helps us. Maybe words sometimes just get in the way.

This evening, I've written an article I’ve been asked to submit to The View From Here Magazine. The subject that sprang to mind was the utter and vital necessity of writers actually reading, which is something I feel passionately about. All the time. I don't know whether they'll like it and it's probably way too long, but thank you, Mike, for asking me.

And I’d like to recommend Janet Davey’s marvellous novel, The Taxi Queue. The only thing that actually happens in it happens near the start, when two men meet in a taxi queue, one married and one not, and spend the night together (it's not described, but that's right for this novel). From there everything changes on the inside, although most things remain the same on the outside. But it’s a tour de force of shifting shadows, modernity and the mystery of ordinary people. Almost an English Murakami, I think. You should read it.

Ooh, and I have my Winter 2008 quarter royalties for the eBook of Thorn in the Flesh so I am now eleven dollars richer, which comes out at c£6.00, so thank you, Leslie of Bristlecone Pine Press for that! Every little makes a difference here in the shires, you know.

Today’s nice things:

1. Flowers from the book group
2. Poetry
3. University Writers
4. Quiet thoughts whilst visiting
5. Completing an article for submission
6. Books
7. Royalties.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a feast of riches and silence

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thorn, Red Room success and a Race for Life

This morning’s Bible reading was quite a jolly way to start the week (thank goodness) – I’d all but forgotten the story about Balaam and the donkey – so here are my thoughts on it:

Meditation 98

It’s not the fact
that the donkey speaks
that gets me

but the fact
that the prophet replies.

It must have given
the fearsome, shining
angel of the Lord

pause for thought,
if only to consider

which of them
would best hear the message.

Ah, sometimes it’s tough being an angel, you know. Anyway, at work, I’ve been attempting to squeeze meetings where meetings really shouldn’t go, and hoping that nobody notices they don’t have time to breathe, let alone eat. Or … um … decide things. Still I managed to factor in a reflexology appointment for myself at lunchtime, so that was great. Very relaxing and just what I needed to prepare for this very busy week. Then again, which of my weeks isn’t busy at the moment?? Apparently though, my feet were throbbing with energy today, so maybe now’s a good time to get some exercise in while I’m geared up for it. On second thoughts, I don’t want to get over-enthusiastic too soon …

This afternoon, I’ve been trying to sort out a big lunch meeting for next week, and trying to decipher who’s coming and who’s not. It might be thirty, or it might be ten. It’s a mystery … If I’ve under-arranged, I fear I might have to get my apron on and start slicing bread. Now there’s a scary thought. Oh and I’ve finally sorted out our group entry for the Race for Life cancer research event in June in memory of our colleague, Penny Cronk who died from cancer last year – on my birthday, coincidentally enough (a fact which would have made her laugh for sure!...). Naturally, I won’t be actually running and am hoping to get away with a fast-ish walk … But if anyone out there is able to sponsor us at all, even in these difficult financial times, we’ll be hugely grateful, thank you.

Ooh, and I've just heard that The Red Room site for writers is featuring the Maloney's Law book trailer as their best video of the week, so that's a great thrill - thank you hugely, Jennifer of RR!

Tonight I’ll be at a reading group in Guildford as their book this month was Thorn in the Flesh and they’ve kindly invited me to attend. So I’m looking forward to that – and I even get dinner too, so that’s wonderful! I’ve prepared a list of questions to ask just in case, and I’ve also been practising a suitable reading for a few weeks just in case too (I have to be careful over certain words I can write but have trouble saying – ah, the curse of the family stammer …) – though I suspect I won’t need it. I didn’t at the last reading group I went to anyway. Still, preparation is all (as Shakespeare most definitely didn’t say). In any case, I hope they enjoyed the book.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Reflexology
3. Race for Life, for Penny
4. The Maloney trailer being Red Room's video of the week!
5. Thorn in the Flesh book group

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - ah, the film career really does start here, you know ...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wildernesses, tractors and poetry

Have had rather a peculiar day today - it feels most unsettling, though perhaps I'm just overtired? As it were. Or maybe it's the existential shock (if shock can be existential) of having to go to work tomorrow. Heck, I'd only just got used to being off. Anyway, the lovely news is that All Things Girl webzine have accepted my short story, The Wilderness Room, for publication in April, so that's cheering me greatly through it all. I'm especially pleased as it is rather off-the-wall as a story, so I wasn't sure they'd like it - I'm so glad they do! I'll let you know when it's up on their site, and would love to know your thoughts. And, of course it rather helps to make up for the two rejections I've had over the weekend for other stories, which I've turned round and sent off into the ether once more. While I was in the mood, I've also submitted some more poetry to a new magazine, so we'll see how that fares.

Talking of matters literary, here's this morning's meditation piece:

Meditation 97

Something about snakes:
dark poison seeping
through the blood,
swallowing life

piece by piece,
the onward fragile journey
of us all.
And then the bronze

serpent glinting in gold light
high on its distant branch
as evening drifts in.
Think how its empty eyes

echo the healing moon.

Bizarrely, Lord H and I actually saw a grass snake when we ventured out for a little pre-lunch stroll this morning, so obviously it's a day for snakes. In all shapes and sizes. It's also a day for tractors - I've written my third ever haibun and it's about ... um ... tractors. I'm not entirely convinced about it, but hell it's there. And sometimes that's all you can really say about a piece of writing. I suspect I'll have to think about it again later. But not today.

I've also managed to write another 500 words or so of Hallsfoot's Battle and am beginning to work on end scenes. That's not actually because I'm there in real-time (so no need to cheer) but because I'm leaving the very difficult and wide-ranging (well, one hopes, eh ...) battle scenes and jumping over them until the end. Ah the joy of not having to write in linear time - sometimes that's a lifesaver for cowards like me who haven't got the nerve to face the tricky sections yet. I think I'm going to have to feel strong in order to do them. Ah well, don't wait up, eh.

This afternoon, I can feel the siren song of a nap calling me, and I also feel an urge to do a puzzle or two. Though I do have to prepare my homework for next week's Bible study or I won't have a clue what's going on. Not that that's ever stopped me having an opinion, of course, and the right opinion at that. Ho ho.

Tonight, it's the return of the glorious Lewis on TV, and I'm so looking forward to two hours of murder, charm and gentle wit to round off my Sunday. What more could you ask for?

This week's haiku:

The calm morning brings
a day of gardens and song
drifting through the skin.

Today's nice things:

1. Short story acceptance
2. Poetry
3. Hallsfoot end scenes
4. Napping
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - a snake in the grass is worth two in the bush ...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gardens and song

A sun-filled and surprisingly peaceful day today. Well, after the thrills and spills of the week, we probably deserved it. Here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 96

Rock gives birth
to water,

gushing, streaming
over the people’s eager hands

and parched mouths.
The river gives life to all

but carries death’s
cold sprinkling to some

who will not taste such refreshment

Four more meditation poems to go before I hit the 100 marker, well gosh! What on earth will I do to mark that occasion? Who knows indeed. Anyway, today, Lord H and I have popped to Guildford Cathedral to renew his supply of library books, pausing to admire the very eye-catching exhibition of icon paintings they have on display there at the moment. Very fetching - though it would have been nice if an artist's name had been added to all of them. Some of them admitted to their creators but some of them didn't. Most odd - I would have liked to know more really.

After that, we drove through Guildford and worked out where it is I have to get to on Monday night - as it's the Thorn in the Flesh reading group night. Hurrah and gosh - so soon! So I'll be nervous enough about meeting people, most of whom (I hope) will have read the book, without having to worry about how I get there as well. Anyway, now I'm in the know so it's one less thing to be concerned about.

We then visited Claremont Landscape Garden for a walk round and lunch. It's a lovely place - so peaceful. We managed to spot a buzzard and a couple of nuthatches, and also three scaups - which is a new bird for this year, huzzah! The only strange thing about it is that the loos are in the carpark so once you've got in, you then have to go out again in order to locate them. Still, they're not that far and very nice, so worth the visit, ho ho.

This afternoon, I've added about 600 words to Hallsfoot's Battle while Lord H has been watching the rugby. Rugby? Is it on??... To me, it appears to be a game consisting of lots of men rushing round a field, shouting and having sex - but I accept that might be simply my strange mind. I do understand that's not the point of it all. Ah well, dream on.

Tonight, we're back at the Cathedral (we can hardly bear to keep away) for the Guildford Choral Society concert, so I'm hoping that a bit of Mozart will round off our day nicely.

Ooh, and I've had my first Maloney's Law promise of a purchase as a result of the movie! So thank you hugely, Val, and I hope you enjoy the read.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Icon paintings
3. Geographical knowledge
4. Gardens
5. Birds
6. Adding more to Hallsfoot
7. My concept of rugby
8. Concert
9. A possible Maloney sale.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - getting in touch with nature

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maloney: the movie

Gosh. What a day. I have been Busy (with a capital B). Just in case you haven't managed to catch it yet (how can that be??! It's in the post below ...!), here's a link to Maloney: the movie. Grab a chair, get a handful of popcorn and enjoy ... I had great fun doing it and, in case anyone's asking, I am now a Mac i-movie expert. Don't all rush at once!... And while I have your ear (if only virtually) and in time-honoured fashion I'd like to thank ... Caroline Rance for the advice (again!), Marx Gombac, Zdeslav Schreiber, Christopher Brown, Charlotte Na and Rodolfo Clix (in order of appearance) for the pictures, and Kevin MacLeod for the music. Which is a tune called Killing Time - bizarrely ideal for time/date obsessed Maloney and for a crime novel - and also the first piece of music I listened to when researching this project. Well, gosh.

This morning I also had time to write a meditation poem, somewhat tongue-in-cheek:

Meditation 95

Being a redhead myself,
I’m rather disturbed
by the fact

that a red cow
has to be sacrificed
to purify the people.

Not all the cedar wood,
hyssop and scented water
is going to change

my long-held opinion
that we Titian beauties
are always much better


And I've also written a poem about struggling to write a poem. Thankfully it was short. Any longer and I might have disappeared entirely up my own bottom, never to be seen again. Which of course could be a good thing, depending on your point of view. Ho hum.

Also this morning, I've played golf with Marian as usual - which turned out to be a game of eight-ninths and a ninth. As it were. I was doing fairly well and on line for a respectable victory and a secret smug smile - until the last hole, where I somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, dammit. Only I can take eight shots to finish a par three hole, and get into the bunker that nobody ever goes into as well. Groaning and gnashing of teeth. If only internally, of course. In fact I was so ruddy irritated that I tore up my scorecard when I got home and stomped around the flat for a bit. Thus proving beyond all reasonable doubt (was there ever any??) that I am a Bad Person and a Poor Loser (caps deliberate). Ah well ... I'll try to look upon it as an emotional learning curve and cheer myself up with some Turkish Delight. Oh I could eat it whilst watching my Maloney Movie (did I mention that already?...).

This afternoon, I have attempted to stop my frenetic pace for half an hour at my Alexander Technique lesson. I'm sure I'm taller at the end of it, you know. And I've also added a few words to Hallsfoot's Battle, which just scrapes me into the 102,000 word zone. Only just, mind you. It's not my usual output. But I've been busy, you know.

Today's nice things:

1. The Maloney movie
2. Poetry
3. Golf (well, most of it!)
4. Alexander Technique
5. Adding a little more to Hallsfoot.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - the place for all your film requirements ...

Maloney's Law Book Trailer

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book trailers, interviews, pills and potions

Goodness me, it seems as if my feet haven't touched the ground once today - or perhaps I really am sitting very strangely at the computer desk? It's hard to say ... Anyway, I had fun last night answering some very searching interview questions from First Edition Magazine which they hope to publish in May. And I also filled in an author publicity sheet for Bridge House Publishing in preparation for the arrival of the Real Bible Stories anthology later in the year. Hell, I almost sound like a real writer there. Obviously it can't last ... Actually I'm very excited by the anthology as Bridge House have all sorts of plans and ideas for it, including a blog, an authors' network and a possible launch event etc etc, depending on how near to each other all the contributors live. In the sheet, they also asked for suggestions of who might endorse the work, and I instantly thought of Victor Stock, the Dean of Guildford Cathedral, or perhaps the University Chaplain, Jonathan Frost. Something to ponder on, maybe ...

This morning, I'm afraid I've not done my usual Bible reading, so there's no meditation poem - my excuse is that I've had to skip breakfast in preparation for a cholesterol blood test at the doctor's so I haven't had the energy for spiritual exercise. Of any sort. At the surgery, they managed to get some blood out of my arm at the first attempt too (very rare), so well done them. However I shall be sure to limp and look suitably pathetic for when Lord H comes home. No change there then. I also had my usual diabetes test done at the same time - really, in this day and age you'd think they'd provide something more suitable than that minute test-tube to do one's business in, but sadly not. Apparently they'll ring me and let me know if (a) my cholesterol is rubbish; (b) I have diabetes; or (c) I'm dead. How kind. So no news is good news, as they say. Whilst there, I also picked up a renewal of my HRT pills, as they seem to be working okay at the moment. Long may that continue, eh.

For the rest of this morning, I've been having fun sourcing pictures, music and making a running plan for my proposed book trailer for Maloney's Law. For which I must heartily thank the lovely and talented Caroline Rance who spared me time in her no doubt action-packed pre-publication schedule to write me a short manual of how to do a book trailer. Thank you so much, Caroline - you are an utter star! I'm planning to have a go at the first version of it, with Lord H's help, this weekend, so wish me luck. However, at this stage in the game, I'm really thrilled with the pictures I've found, and the music is ace too. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I've also managed to squeeze out another 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle, so I'm now into the 101,000 zone. And I think we're getting to some pretty explosive and magical goings-on right now. Though Ralph is rather the worse for wear, what with the agonies the mind-executioner has put him through. At the moment in that little scene, Simon is actually the only sane one there - which is a rather desperate situation, to say the least. Whatever next, I wonder.

In the midst of all that, I've also written a nonsense poem based on the words "bank", "barn" and "bottom". Yes, well. That probably is as good an indication of the state of my brain as any. It just started drumming away at my head at about 10.30 (maybe it's the lack of breakfast?), demanding I notice it, so I had to give in in the end. I enjoyed writing it too. Better out than in. As it were.

And much to my blessed relief, I've finally dragged myself, moaning and chortling (but not in a good way), to the end of the quite astonishingly dire Belshazzar's Daughter by Barbara Nadel. She's described on the front of the book as the "Donna Leon of Istanbul". I've never read a Leon. Is she really that bad?? Words fail me. Are publishers on drugs??? It's the only explanation. Anyway, it's very sloppily written, the point of view changes with the wind, even within paragraphs, and it's full of horrid, selfish people, all of whom I wished had died on Page 1. The only good thing is that Policeman Number Two, Suleyman, is nice, and Policeman Number One, Ikmen, is interesting. That's about it really. The plot is so cliched that I actually laughed out loud at several points, unable to believe what I was reading. I began to fear I would never get to the end of it and I would be stuck in the nightmare world of Nadel for ever, with no possibility of reprieve. Please God let her not write anything else. I couldn't bear the thought.

Tonight, Lord H and I are lightening the mood by going to the theatre to see Lloyd George Knew My Father. I'm hoping it's as funny as it says it is - after the recent reading horror, I need all the comedy I can get. Hell, I deserve it.

Today's nice things:

1. Responding to an interview request
2. Publicity sheets
3. Book trailers
4. Writing Hallsfoot
5. Nonsense poetry
6. Theatre.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - I'm ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Envelopes and fig trees

Have taken a day off today in order to use up my holiday days before the end of March. So I now have five days left, which I'm allowed to add to next year's holiday allowance, hurrah. And, hey, a day off is never unwelcome.

Anyway, this morning I have done my Christian duty for the month and spent an hour and a half at the Rectory helping to stuff envelopes. You can never have enough secretarial-type jobs, in my opinion. It was quite a pleasant way to pass some time, but it does make me smile (or perhaps groan is rather the word) that, in Anglican circles, it's very rare for anyone to ask about anyone else's life unless they've been a feature of church life for years, if not generations. Is it something they put in the tea? There was a flicker of surprise when I actually asked one of the men opposite at the table what he did for a living, but they swiftly moved on ... Ah well, still several years of stranger-hood to go through, I feel.

Back home, I have written a short story about Zacchaeus. I'm calling it "Purity and the fig tree", for the time being but I'll see if anything else pops up. As it were. I'm fairly satisfied with how it's worked out (the present tense, first person view seems the closest to the tone I wanted, so I've used it), but as ever these things need to mull for a while. I've also written a poem about death and whisky (the ideal combination of course), sent out a haiku submission and re-sent out the poems that were rejected yesterday. Or was it the day before? I forget.

Whilst still hanging by our fingertips onto the subject of religion, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 94

Five pieces of silver
redeem a child

but the fate of cows,
sheep and goats

is sealed
in blood and sacrifice.

I might be tempted
to swop that order

if it were me.

Ah, children. I couldn't eat a whole one, you know. Now I think it's time to do my relaxation back exercises (my arms have been aching recently, and I have no real idea why - is it the new Alexander Technique kicking in, I wonder?...) and maybe some puzzles. Tonight, I've got the Lent Bible group (will I ever escape from the strange siren call of the rectory today??) so I'm hoping for a chocolate biscuit to keep body and soul together while we look at part three of Job. Well, something has to.

Today's nice things:

1. Stuffing envelopes
2. Writing a short story
3. Poetry
4. Thinking about the book of Job.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - an expert in envelope co-ordination

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick’s Day …

… to all! Hope you’re having a suitably Irish and celebratory time. Tonight we have Irish sausages and potato on the menu, so we’re doing our best. In the meantime, here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 93

In the night shadows
the dead cane
sighs and stretches.

From its dry skin
flow buds, blossom
and finally the grey-green

husk of almonds.
Let your prayers be brief,
wrapped in memory’s fragrance.

The excitement of last night is that our Glyndebourne tickets for the season have at last arrived, together with the menus (a distinct food theme is arising here, I think …) so I have had fun trying to work out what I might like to eat. The most interesting new dish is likely to be Tomato Farce – which raises strange visions of waiters bringing a tomato to your table and then dropping their trousers. How very Glyndebourne, my dears.

Today, I am attempting to sort out what I might need to take for our upcoming office move – my main problem is where my fluffy pens and snowstorms might go. Perhaps they can have their own desk? They’re definitely worth it, though I’m not sure the boss will entirely agree. Ah well. And astonishingly I have, with the wind behind me, actually drawn up a draft set of parental guidelines for the boss to check, hurrah! I am indeed a genius (ho ho). Speedy too. Though, no doubt, the corrections needed will be numerous …

At lunchtime I walked into town and paid in my advance cheque from Dreamspinner Press for The Bones of Summer, hurrah! Hell, I so nearly sound like a real writer there – I’ll try to hang onto that feeling for as long as possible. Hey ho. I also managed to get a copy of the Radio Times for next week and, to my utter delight, Lewis is on at 9pm on Sunday night. Ah serious bliss. We’ll be glued. Oh, and I’ve been luxuriating in my weekly decaff cappuccino from Starbucks. Wonderful.

On the way home, I popped into see if Gladys is any more amenable this week. Answer – not really, but at least she now has her bird table refilled. Sigh. She seems to be happier if I just don't speak. A statement which reminds me of my dating years indeed. And tonight I really have to do some ironing or we’re in danger of becoming too used to the crumpled look. Might watch the programme on Picasso while I’m doing it too. I rather enjoy Picasso.

I'm also thrilled to see that Maloney's Law has been given a five star review on Amazon US by a lovely individual called Amos Lassen (thank you so much, Amos!) and it can be found here and I also include it below:

"I do not know why I have never read Anne Brooke before but I am sure going to continue reading her after having read Maloney's Law. She can really tell a story and her plot is mesmerizing. Paul Maloney, a small time private investigator, takes a case from his married ex-lover, Dominic Allen, and he soon finds himself in the middle of big business dealings and the world of international crime. The more involved he becomes, he realizes that he is danger of losing everything that is important to him. If he could center his attention on his job he would probably be ok but instead he gets more and more embroiled. What really makes this novel so special is the way Brooke draws her character of Maloney and his opposite Dominic. Maloney is so real that you feel like screaming at him when he does something wrong and drying his tears when he cries. He is strong and breaks into a building that he must force his way out of. We feel his danger and sense his emotional upheavals; Dominic is the kind of guy who is a source of grief for Maloney simply because he is the ex. The plot is tight and consistent throughout. Replete with details I found the book to be intriguing and the book is abundant with realism. There is one scene that will keep you on the edge of the chair. This is one good read that has whetted my appetite for more."

Well, that's certainly made my day for sure!

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Glyndebourne tickets
3. Finishing Draft One of the parental guidelines
4. Paying in the Bones advance cheque
5. The thought of Lewis
6. Decaff cappuccino
7. Picasso
8. The five-star Maloney's Law review

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - discovering her Irish roots, somewhere ...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Literary frustration and a day at the races

Must admit to feeling more than a little frustrated today by the failure of Maloney’s Law to get into the shortlist in the gay mystery category of the US Lambda Awards. To be honest, I did have medium-high hopes for it, especially as the novel had already been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel award, the Royal Literary Fund awards and longlisted for the Betty Bolingbroke-Kent award. Or maybe I’m just being too greedy?? Very probably … but there’s literary logic to my insanity; I had hoped that getting a mention might at least enable me to gain a few more sales as they appear (as is usual for me) to be so meagre. Double sigh. I still think it’s a damn good novel and was definitely worthy of a place. Ruddy Lambdas, eh – sod ’em is what I say …

Anyway, here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 92

He stands
between the living
and the dead,

a small pot
of fire and incense
the only cure

for the coming death.
Too many questions
wear out

love’s strange logic.

However, news to soothe my bitter and troubled brow is that Cynic Magazine have published my comic short story, A Safe Bet (about a rather unusual day at the races) and that can be found here. Enjoy!

At work, I am snowed under with minutes I haven’t done, meetings I need to minute, papers I need to prepare and lots of little things I need to take time over. Plus the parental guidelines are beginning to haunt me. I suspect the timetable for those, and the Personal Tutors’ Handbook which is now dependent on the same process, will certainly shift further into the future at some point, triple sigh. Thank goodness for a reflexology session with Emily – I’m terribly on edge so definitely needed calming down big-time.

Oh and Carol brought in birthday cake and biscuits as her birthday was last week, hurrah, so all is not lost. Other good news is that I’ve done the final edits to Painting from Life for Eternal Press and I’ve posted off my contract for The Voyage to Bridge House Publishing for the Bible stories anthology. So heck it’s not all bad news and keening then, I suppose. Maybe I just need to up my Evening Primrose tablets for the next week or so to avoid my monthly suicidal bout??

Tonight it’s the University Book Group and we’re looking at Sally Varlow’s biography of The Lady Penelope. The author is coming in as well so that should be interesting. Heck, I’m sure she has more readers than I do, that’s for sure, dammit. I shall try not to froth at the mouth with furious jealousy and bite her ankles, well no more than normal anyway … UPDATE: what a very pleasant woman - much more easy-going than the usual brand of author (and I include myself in that description). And I was on my best behaviour and didn't froth, hurrah. At least on the outside. I am hero of the week just for that.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. A Safe Bet being published
3. Reflexology
4. The Painting from Life final edits
5. Posting the contract for The Voyage
6. The book group.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - smiling through rather gritted teeth ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Poems, dinosaurs and a landmark word count

Am thrilled today that six of my meditation poems have been published by Emuse webzine and can be found here. The pictures that go with them are fabulous, so a big thank you to whoever chose them - great choice!

Talking of poetry, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 91

Your remembrance
waits in blue tassels
that brush against your history
at every turn

while a good answer
brightens the heart,
makes all things live.

Speaking of things religious, it's been (fittingly enough for a Sunday) a good day for that - I've just found out that my short story, The Voyage, will be published by Bridge House Publishing later in the year as part of their Real Bible Stories anthology. I've already signed the contract and will get that posted tomorrow, so many thanks to Gill for including mine in the list.

And we've even been to church - that's two Sundays running, well gosh. Whatever next?? It was the 1662 rehash today, which I do always rather enjoy, and it only gets an outing once a month, so nice to catch it really. We also had another of those sermons where we discuss our responses to what's said - it wakes us all up and makes us think a bit more and that can only be a good thing, although of course any longer than ten minutes' thinking time and we'll all self-destruct. It's the Anglican way. Mind you, talking of Anglican ways, Lord H and I were rather amused to hear the vicar call for more volunteers to help out with the post-church coffee rota as we all enjoy our post-church coffee and chat so much. Arrrggghhhh!!! Surely every good Anglican (and some not so good ones) knows that post-church coffee is a living hell and EVERYONE hates it???!!! It's one of the great penances of our faith. The sacrifice we make for having been cleansed from yet another week of sin, if you like. Or is that just me?... Either way, it's a nightmare of standing around, dredging our minds for suitably bland topics of religious or social conversation and drinking lukewarm coffee as quickly as possible in order to get away. I've always hated it. Really, it's not a good way to get to know anyone. As Lord H says, it would really be much better - and we'd get to know each other at more than a purely surface level - if we were given a topic each week that we had to ask each other about, eg our first childhood memories, the person whose birthday is nearest to ours, how many times during the week we'd sworn and why. At the very least it would save the agonies of trying to find common ground with people we only see for two minutes no more than once a week, and it might well break that peculiar brand of Anglican politeness. Dream on, eh ...

Back on home ground, I've been scribbling away at Hallsfoot's Battle and I am now well into the 100,000 word range, hurrah and put out the bunting! Well gosh, I was beginning to think I'd never get here - pauses for short round of applause. Well, thank you, thank you - how very kind. Anyway, the views from here are okay though there's still rather a lot of fog and the finishing point for Draft One is still about 20,000-40,000 words away. So we're not done yet, but the promise of the beginning of the end is almost in sight. As they say. Onward and upward, Carruthers.

Still in book world, and taking a leaf from the very talented Roger Morris, I've started to upload Maloney's Law in bitesize pieces onto My Twitter Page. So if you've never read any of Maloney at all, you can catch it there. The first line is already up, divided into two and interspersed amongst other goings-on in my literary life. You'll know which ones they are as I add in the web link at the end of the uploads. Enjoy. Heck, it's going to take a while, but every word will be worth it, believe me ...

However, the utter thrilling (and I'm so thrilled I think I might be sick) news is that Lord H and I have booked tickets to see the upcoming Walking with Dinosaurs 2009 Live event at Wembley in August. I love dinosaurs - next to Lord H they're my most favourite thing ever, and I can barely contain my excitement!! It looks utterly fabulous, it's already toured Australia, I think, and it's taking mechanical puppetry to a whole new level. What more could you ask for? I've marked the date on my calendar with a huge asterisk and I can't wait to go. Mind you, if it's anything like Jurassic Park, I shall probably spend most of the time screaming and hiding in Lord H's jacket, wimp that I am ... Lord H however mutters darkly that I could probably kick-ass a few marauding dinosaurs into submission, should I choose to do so. Hmm, what confidence in my wifely abilities - I think ...

Tonight, it's the last (oh noooooo ...) of Lark Rise to Candleford, and I'll watch the rather-too-irritating read-one-book-and-you've-read-them-all (hush my mouth) Botswana Lady Detective thing too, though I'm not convinced I'll last the whole of that series. We'll see. Bring back Lark Rise, please, and soon.

This week's haiku:

A heron in flight
pulls shadows across the lake
while cormorants pose.

Today's nice things (gosh, where to start?):

1. Six meditation poems being published
2. Poetry
3. Acceptance of The Voyage
4. Interactive church sermons
5. Getting to the 100,000 marker in Hallsfoot
6. Beginning to Twitter Maloney (as it were)
7. Dinosaurs, hurrah!
8. TV
9. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - gearing up for dinosaur city

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The geographical klutz and how not to see birds

Goodness me, what a day of geographical traumas it's been. It started off innocently enough as Lord H and I set out to go to Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent in an attempt to spot the Great Northern Diver that is apparently thereabouts. And all remained well until we turned off Junction 6 on the M25. We then appeared to enter the twilight zone. We took the road to Edenbridge and attempted to go left. However it appeared that the road then turned about-face so we were actually heading right. We turned back and tried for another village further along, but that disappeared from the face of the earth even though it was on my map and we found ourselves heading the wrong way back to Edenbridge again. We stopped and consulted the map. Lord H even got his compass out and asked me which direction we were in fact heading. I don't know - 15 years of married life and he still hasn't understood that I haven't the first idea what to do with a compass. I'm a girl - they don't work for girls! Surely everyone knows that ... In despair he then started driving and asked me which way the compass red bit was pointing. I said it was pointing to the West (which it was) and that seemed to mean we were driving south. Lordy, no wonder I can't operate the pesky little beasts. There's no logic to them. Anyway, we finally managed, after driving round for 45 minutes, to come unexpectedly upon the village of Bough Beech. Which was very exciting but we realised we were driving the wrong way through it, so we had to turn round once more and go back again. When at last we finally came to the reservoir and parked, I was hugely tempted to leap out of the car, fall to my knees and kiss the ground like the Pope, but thought my birding gear might get in the way. I think next time, we might take a different M25 junction or just not start from here.

So after all that did we see the Great Northern Diver? No, we ruddy well didn't. Neither did we see the early sand martin that other birdwatchers there attempted to point out to us. Nor could we identify the raptor which flew overhead when everyone else was looking at the sand martin. Sigh. These birding trips can be quite a challenge, you know ...

After that we decided to head for Standen National Trust house for lunch but once again the roads seemed to change direction and I ended up navigating us to East Grinstead. Ah well. By the time we arrived at Standen, lunch was more than welcome. Though I'm not really sure whether the chocolate fudge cheesecake was an entire success, to be honest. It was somehow more like a cold bread pudding on a cheesecake base. Interesting, but not entirely what we'd hoped for. Oh, and the decaff cappucinos were rather less than warm too. Quite shocking standards for the National Trust, Carruthers ... What is the world coming to? Anyway, the house is nice - cosy and charming and with some very attractive Japanese prints. Plus all the Arts & Crafts stuff of course. The walk round the wood was quite refreshing too.

On the way home, we popped into Buchan Country Park which was full of dog walkers. In fact, I think all the dogs in Crawley were having their daily constitional. People kept giving us strange looks, presumably because we don't have a dog. Perhaps next time we'll hire one in order to fit in more appropriately. However, the good news was we managed to spot a mandarin duck, which is our first one of the year, hurrah! We also watched a nuthatch flying in and out of a nestbox. It looked as if it was feeding young, but it's way too early for that as they don't lay eggs until April or May, so I imagine it must just have been passing small twigs through to a mate. Unless even the birds are getting confused with the seasons now.

So, all in all, a challenging day, with some good moments. How like the home life of our own dear queen, eh. And let's not forget this morning's meditation:

Meditation 90

A row to end
all rows:

we will wait
until every last one of you
is dead
and then it will be over,
blown into dust
across a once-fertile land.

See for yourselves
whose face and inscription
are here.

Tonight, there's nowt much on TV, though I am tempted by the hour's programme about Captain Cook. Every nice gal loves a sailor, you know - and some not quite so nice gals too. And I'm sure he wouldn't have asked me to attempt to use a compass at least ...

Today's nice things:

1. Getting to Bough Beech Reservoir - at last!
2. Standen House
3. Spotting a mandarin
4. Nuthatches acting strangely
5. Poetry.

Anne Brooke
Anne Brooke - probably best not to ask me for directions ...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Scintillating covers and a nice little cheque

Was utterly thrilled last night to get the cover art for my short story, Painting from Life, which will be published as an eBook by Eternal Press on 7 May. I totally and absolutely love it, and I think the artist, Amanda Kelsey, is a genius. I can't wait until it's up on the publisher website and I can reveal it to you. It's one of the most striking covers I've seen in a long time and perfect for the story's themes. Thank you, Amanda! Big time.

Alongside that happy news, I also have an advance cheque for The Bones of Summer from Dreamspinner Press, which they hope to publish late summer. Appropriate really, given the title. Admittedly, they're a small publisher, so it's only $50, which comes out at about £35 in our money, and will be even less than that once the bank has taken their cut - but hey it's more than I've seen for A Dangerous Man thus far, so I'm not complaining one jot! I shall spend it on earrings, I think. Hell, I deserve it.

I also forgot to say yesterday that I've taken another of those fun prejudice tests and I now discover that I'm moderately biased towards the Jewish faith as opposed to any other faith. Which is an interesting result for sure. I always did enjoy the Old Testament, I suppose - though I imagine that I won't be able to call it that now. Next time in church when Jesus is mentioned, I shall be sure to purse my lips and sigh gently. Keep the faith, as they say - well, one of them anyway.

Talking of religion, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 89

Bright grapes hang down
from the branch
the two men steal away.

They glisten green in the sun,
whispering of promise
and danger.

When the vineyard is planted,
their bursting beauty
brings only death

and the dryness
of wanting.

This morning I have played golf with Marian - rather badly, I have to say, but it was nice to be out and see the daffodils. Such a glorious yellow (says she dully - but really they are!). And after that I managed to nip into Godalming and get everything I need in record time, hurrah. Plus I remembered to recycle the books we've read and don't want to keep that have been piling up over the last few weeks - so space is created for ... um ... more books. Sigh. It's a neverending cycle, don't you know.

I've also taken Hallsfoot's Battle to the dizzy heights of the upper 99,000 words level so the big 100,000 is even now beckoning to me. It'll have to wait though - there'll be no more of it done today as I've learnt what my limit is, thank the Lord. Interesting though how much I've enjoyed writing this new section where at last Ralph, Simon and the mind-executioner are together again - they're a sparky little trio, and when they're on the page the writing flows much more easily for sure. I suspect that in the rewrite I will have to look at ways of getting them together for their usual verbal/threatening battles before they actually do meet up. If you see what I mean. Well, in the mind-world anything is possible, as long as I can justify it.

This afternoon, I've reaped the benefits of my Alexander Technique lesson - and hell but this week I've needed it. I don't know what it is but over the last few days my back has really been playing me up. Is it the shock of getting back to work and having to sit in front of the computer all the more?? Possibly ... I shall see how it goes over the weekend anyway.

And today is Red Nose Day and Lord H has gone to work in his usual suit but with a bow tie (real of course ... come come, people ...) instead of a tie in response to the demand for casual dress. Well, that is casual dress here in the shires ... I must say though that he looked hugely stylish in it, as if he was about to present a BBC4 art programme. A new career beckons, I feel ...

Today's nice things:

1. The Painting from Life cover art
2. The Bones advance cheque
3. Fun prejudice tests
4. Poetry
5. Golf
6. Writing Hallsfoot
7. Alexander Technique
8. Bow ties.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - getting the big 100,000 in her sights ...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Turkish delight and novel battles

Was quite chuffed this morning to see that Maloney's Law was Number 65 in the gay fiction Amazon UK charts (though now it's Number 92 and rising into obscurity once more). Goodness me, someone must have bought a copy - a huge and heartfelt thank you to whoever you are, and I do hope you enjoy the read. Sadly, some don't ... but hey we don't talk about those strange people, do we? There must be something wrong with them, say I ...

Today has been a day of literary struggles. I'm not sure I've got anywhere near the heart of this morning's meditation or what I really wanted to say but I got to the point where I just had to stop or explode, so here it is anyway:

Meditation 88

Skin white as snow,
like something born dead,
its flesh half-eaten
and seven days’ exile
still to face.

Odd how
when both Aaron and Miriam
dare to question,
it’s only the woman
who suffers.

I've also tugged every bloody word kicking and screaming out of my rapidly diminishing inspiration pot (is that a metaphor too far, I wonder?) for Hallsfoot's Battle, but have finally after seemingly hours of trudging got nicely into the 98,000 word mark. Ye gods, by the time I reach the magic 100,000 marker I'll be way too exhausted to appreciate it. Lordy knows what's happening to the First Elder and how he's going to warn Annyeke, but I suppose something will come up. One hopes.

Oh, and I've had a lovely chat with the neighbour's granddaughter (hello, Gisela!) over apple tea and Turkish Delight, so that was highly civilised, I must say. Give us another ten minutes and we could have solved all the troubles of the world too.

Talking of which, horrible to see there's been yet another school shooting, this time in Germany. This sort of terrible event almost seems beyond imagining. Another community destroyed, or at least achingly damaged, then. My sympathies are with the victims and their families and friends, of course, but I also feel for the perpetrator. And his family too. I can't begin to think how you move on from there. Not really.

Anyway, turning to slightly brighter things (almost), I've written a poem about ways to forecast death, but it's much quirkier than it sounds. Honest! Must be one of those kind of days, I suppose.

Tonight, the TV desert continues, so I shall probably succumb to the call of my puzzle book. I've bought a nice fresh one and it's crying out for my confused scribbles across its pristine pages. At least I think that's the sound I'm hearing. Or maybe I should go back on the pills again?...

Today's nice things:

1. Maloney's Law being (briefly) placed in the Amazon charts
2. Poetry
3. Getting to a point with Hallsfoot where I'm able to stop
4. Turkish Delight, tea and chat
5. Puzzles.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - relying on Turkish delight to get her through the day

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Objects and alchemies

Managed to write a poem about peculiar job I never wish I'd had last night, plus a piece of flash fiction based on a ballet dancer, a needle and the beach. Quite a challenge that one, but I did enjoy it. I might think of using it for this month's University Writers' Group. We'll see. Anyway, today we start with food. Always a good thing, in my opinion:

Meditation 87

Food the Israelites miss:
cucumbers, watermelons,
leeks, onions, garlic.
A people of liquid strength
set for the journey.

Food I’d miss:
chocolate, tikka masala,
sardines, dried apricots, cashews.
But not all at once
and I certainly wouldn’t travel.

Certainly, travel is proving a problem today – I was driving happily along the A3 when I noticed two white vans coming down the slip road in a slightly bizarre manner. I think they might have been competing with each other to get onto the A3 or something. They weren’t paying attention to anything else on the road, that was for sure. They came out a couple of cars in front of me, the second van swung into the right lane without looking, causing great honking and screeching of brakes. He then swung back into the left lane and then out into the right again. At which point he hit a small black car (thankfully, not mine) in the side and everything stopped. Van Man did some gesticulating, small black car (sensibly, in my opinion) drove off, apparently none the worse for wear. Van Man got out, his window fell out and his door half-fell off. Ha! Somehow, that seemed like justice. He did some more gesticulating, then he got back in, wedged his door so he could actually drive and he drove off too.

My, what drama. And the morning had barely started indeed. I was so overcome with the excitement of it all that I missed the turning to the University and had to come off at the next roundabout. Though actually that’s proved a good thing as it seems much quicker that way as there’s far less queues from off the A3. Something to remember when the usual exit road is full next time …

At work, I’m attempting to meet with the print & design guys to sort out the Personal Tutors’ Handbook, but there’s still additions to make to the text, one of which I only found out about yesterday, so I wouldn’t hold your breath for an Easter delivery (see below!). I also had a nice walk round campus at lunchtime, which I don’t seem to have managed for ages. I popped into the art gallery which has a colourful and quirky exhibition by Colin T Johnson at the moment using oils and collage. I particularly loved the picture of the guitar, jug and apple with theatre reviews stuck on it. Just so me, dahlings … Managed to buy four postcards which are proving both soothing and inspirational to look at, but sadly there were none of my favourite. Also lovely to see the flowers out on campus, and strangely we appear to have a duck lurking outside the office door too. Perhaps it’s after my job? It might have trouble with the typing, but the boss has suggested it could easily use a voice recognition system. Worryingly, he actually seems to be thinking seriously about it … Where’s that orange sauce?

This afternoon, we had the first of the Project Welcome Forums, preparing for the new September intake, so there was a lot to do and too little time to do it. Still, we’ve got last year’s changes to build on, so at least we’re not working from scratch this year. Oh and I need to draft out ideas for a parental guidelines document (ie helpful tips for how to respond to parental queries etc, which is a growing part of student care life across the UK now) – but I also have to bear in mind that my deadline for this is April and I’ll need to add the final information about it into the Personal Tutors’ Handbook as well, as I mention above. Are you keeping up at the back? Lordy, all of life is indeed connected, don’t you know.

In terms of books, I’ve finished two today. Bill Greenwell’s poetry collection, Impossible Objects, is a quirky and bright read. I loved it. I'd definitely read more of him. I’ve also enjoyed Emma Darwin’s A Secret Alchemy. As usual, Emma contrasts present-day events with historical ones, though here I think the historical sections are far richer. The depth of detail and the characters are gripping, particularly Anthony and his one-day journey to death. I was less taken with the modern day heroine, Una, perhaps because she somehow didn’t seem to be as old as she was supposed to be – more like a thirty-year-old than a woman in her fifties. Or perhaps I’m in something of a timewarp myself? And I also wasn’t as interested in the story of what happens to Una’s childhood home and business. But that’s a personal view. What I did love was the way the modern heroine brings together the present and the past, and the way the two timescales are gradually and subtly fused as the tale progresses. A very powerful ending indeed. Really, this is a novel about time, how it operates and our relationships with the past and the present. A first-class read, all in all.

Tonight, I’ll be at the first of the Lenten Bible Study groups at the rectory, so I hope that’s okay. I’ve been missing the chance to chew over matters of faith so it’ll be good to have that opportunity again, but heck it’s new people. And you know how difficult I find them … UPDATE: it was actually okay. There were about fifteen people there, plus chocolate biscuits which always of course smooth the wheels of religion. And most people said something (including me), so it wasn't all deathly hush and panic, hurrah. Mind you, we clattered through the Book of Job, Chapters 4 to 14, so we didn't hang around. I shall look forward to next week's offering, and have to read chapters 15 to 20 to prepare for it. Homework - how quaint!...

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Finding a new commuting route
3. Art
4. Books
5. Bible study.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - creating an alchemy all of its own

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trumpets and prejudices

Was much taken by this morning’s bible reading by the inclusion of silver trumpets (anyone remember that old song, “Send me down my silver trumpet, Gabriel”? Ah, I thought not. An oldie, but a goodie), so here’s the meditation poem resulting from that:

Meditation 86

If I had a silver trumpet
I wouldn’t use it
for anything holy.
I’d use it for this:

expressing shock
at an unreasonable demand;
showing pleasure
at a particularly good film;

or if someone
has offered me chocolate;
ending an argument;
or starting one;

indicating when the working day
is over; heralding the weekend.
There’s nothing nicer
than a silver trumpet.

Except, of course, two.

At work, we’re in the midst of Equality and Diversity Week, and everyone has been enjoying the seminars. Sadly, I haven’t been able to go as I’m too busy with meetings, but I’ve been enjoying the fun “how prejudiced are you?” tests. These can be found here and I’ve already done the first one about gender allocation. Apparently I’m in the top percentage of people who strongly believe that men have careers and women have families – so an eye-opener to me, for sure. It was noticeable that, during the tests, I had to think more consciously about the times when they wanted me to add a man’s name to the family grouping section or a woman’s name to the job section. Well, I did grow up in a home where the men worked and the women looked after the children (which was very much the northern culture in our family), and I’ve never thought of myself as having any kind of real career at all (of any ilk). Plus I fantasise about being able to give up work entirely, and I only have a part-time salaried job, so inside this kick-ass 21st century female is obviously a 1950s eyelash-fluttering Disney heroine waiting to get out. Hmm, in my dreams maybe. Anyway, I shall have to take the other tests and see what kind of out-of-step gal I truly am. Watch this space …

Meanwhile, as I sit in my virtual typing pool, I am still attempting to organise meetings for the whole world (hmm, thus catering to my apparent inner conviction that girls are secretaries, and boys are bosses??... Lord preserve us, I feel the need to step into a corset and adjust my bustle, or something) whilst smiling – so perhaps there’s a while to go before true liberation sets in, at least in my head.

Took an early lunchtime today and met Jennifer of Goldenford for coffee in Starbucks (a decaff cappuccino – at last, phew) to sort out the handing over of the website maintenance and what happens to my books, as I’m no longer part of the team. So that’s good, as it’s nice to have it off the to-do list. Also interesting to catch up with Jennifer’s action-packed life – makes me feel quite exhausted just thinking about it!

This afternoon, I have to take the minutes for the Student Affairs Committee, which is now starting later than anticipated and ending earlier – always the right way round, of course. Mind you, as I appear to have gone insane and booked a three hour meeting instead of a two hour one (why did nobody mention this to me? Am I really that scary that none dare say??), I doubt that will really make much difference.

Tonight, I’ll pop into see Gladys and fill up her birdseed quota. UPDATE: she wasn't best pleased to see me, as usual at the moment, and got very grumpy when I dared to offer her a chocolate. Sigh. Really, old people are so cantankerous these days - is it something they put in the tea?? Visiting the old bird isn't exactly a bundle of laughs for me either - honestly, today was the first time I've walked back to my car and seriously wondered why the hell I go anyway. Habit, Carruthers, habit, and a sense of duty only, I fear ... Lord preserve me from ever being a carer - I'd be pushing the caree down the stairs within ten minutes, let alone after years. I have every admiration for those carers that bear the strain of it all and every sympathy for those that don't. Ah well. I wasn't cut out to be a saint. Obviously.

Back home it’s another night staring at the TV wondering when (when, oh when??) something decent will be on. Tut indeed! Mind you, the fact that I've just received the signed updated contract for Painting from Life from Eternal Press has put the smile back on my face, hurrah!

Today’s nice things:

1. Trumpets
2. Poetry
3. My secret 1950s mindset
4. Cappuccino and chat
5. The Painting from Life contract

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - surprisingly old-fashioned but with a killer instinct ...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Back to school …

Back at the coal-face today, just as I was getting used to this life of leisure, dammit … To prepare myself for the onslaught (179 emails, to be precise, 60 of which needed dealing with, sigh), here’s this morning’s poem:

Meditation 85

At the heart
of the cloud
a dark fire burns

and whether it stays
or moves on
dictates your journey.

You’ve heard
that God dwells
in its mystery

but sometimes you wish
for the sun.

Mind you, with all this catching up, there’s not been time to think this morning, so I’ve managed to keep the Monday Misery fairly well at bay. The De-Stress pills have probably helped too, I feel. So I’ve been neck-deep in arranging future meetings, sorting out this week’s meetings and the urgent changes to them and doing an additional urgent typing task for the boss. I can’t make head or tail of it at the moment, but I’m hoping all will become clear soon. Thank goodness I remembered to bring in the Turkish Delight from Istanbul, which I think is keeping us all going today.

This lunchtime, I was hoping to have a calming reflexology session, but sadly Emma can’t make it so I’ve rescheduled it to next week. Instead I walked into Guildford and sorted out some banking stuff – my life is so full of drama and incident, don’t you know. Whilst there, I also bought some new earrings but now I’ve got them back to the office, I’m not so sure they’re really what I wanted (as a second choice as what I really really wanted wasn’t there). Double sighing …

Tonight, the call of Tesco’s has to be answered (cue for more groaning) but I’m attempting to take my own bags as the ones I had from them last time were such rubbish. UPDATE: whilst there, I bought two save-the-world bags, which are actually very good, and now I feel hugely noble. Lordy, that can't last then, can it. Oh and plus there’s zilch on TV tonight, or indeed for the rest of the week, it seems. What is happening to our schedules??? Really, how can I be a couch-potato if there’s nothing worth watching? I feel a letter of complaint coming on.

Oh, and that new fantasy publisher I mentioned only a second ago has already rejected my offering of The Gifting, thus barely giving themselves enough time to read my email query. Lordy, but there’s the sound of deeeep sighing from the shires tonight. They obviously don’t know what they’re missing, the idjits. Bah!

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. De-stress pills
3. Turkish Delight
4. Getting home, eventually.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - in touch with her inner calm, almost ...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lent 2, Anne 1

Welcome to the second Sunday in Lent. I trust your times of fasting and prayer are progressing adequately well at this stage in the game, ho ho ... Ah well. Hmm. No, me neither really. I'm a tad behind on my planned Lenten reading (hold on, Archbish, I'm getting there - the spirit is willing, etc etc ...) and really must finish the second half of my current chapter today before I need to start the first half of the next. Otherwise I will meet myself coming back and be in imminent danger of disappearing up my own behind. Scary thought.

Before that happens, here's this morning's poem:

Meditation 84

The light shines forward,
patterning the hammered gold
with the sevenfold shapes
of bulls, flour, oil.

The light is not
like the darkness
that grows ever deeper
the more you turn away.

Hear its faint whisper,
speaking to you
of the silvered dreams
you left behind.

Meanwhile, back at the theology front, church today was quite good, all in all. The rector has decided that during Lent (apart from Mothering Sunday of course), he's going to give the sermon, then walk up and down amongst the pews asking questions and talking about it. Just my kind of event really - I'm all for interactive religion. As long as everyone realises I'm right, of course ... Anyway, today's theme was the lurking danger of possessions and whether they hold us back from really knowing ourselves. My personal take on it (for what it's worth) is they do, as it's easier to think about things than the inner meanderings of one's own heart, but on the other hand that may not be all bad. After all, a little self-knowledge can be a dangerous thing in itself, even (in my case) terrifying in the extreme - and surely God wouldn't want us to get too depressed by how terrible we might be, at least without the overarching potential of grace. Lordy, am I disappearing up my own arse already?? It may be so - someone switch a light on and I'll try to work my way out. Anyway, what I mean is that if possessions stop us flaying ourselves with whips and wearing hair shirts (something I've always rather fancied, myself, hey ho), then that can only be a Good Thing, and something surely God wouldn't begrudge. In moderation.

And so, while the vicar was circumnavigating the pews, we were asked to think about which three possessions we would save out of a house fire. Instantly, BigMouth here piped up with (a) my wedding photos; (b) my wedding dress; (c) my memory stick. Yes, as you can tell, it is something I've considered quite fully in the past ... Easy-peasy then. However, as my fellow pew-sitters opted for (a) nothing as long as their loved ones were okay, (b) their dog; (c) their spouse, it is evident that I am now viewed as the possession-obsessed sinner of this parish. Ah well, same old, same old, I fear ... I was only partially mollified when whilst driving back home Lord H added that, in the event of fire, and once I'd grabbed hold of my three items, he'd probably opt for his wallet and my handbag, and then we'd be fine. Hmm, he may well be right.

Other religious news is that the vicar is holding a weekly Lenten bible study group on Wednesday early evenings and I quite fancy going, as it's much easier to talk to people when you have another focus than it is when your mind goes blank over the ritualistic hell of post-service coffee. Small talk tends to set my teeth on edge, a phenomenon which appears to have worsened with age. I feel I was much more reasonable and pleasant at a surface level in my twenties - ah you should have known me when I was young. Bad luck, eh. I'm also delighted to find that there is a parish envelope stuffing event on Wednesday week when I'm actually on a holiday day - so I have signed up, as I can never resist group envelope stuffing. It's so meditative and yet cheery. One of my favourite tasks indeed. Apart from the nightmare of Christmas cards, that is ...

For the rest of today, I've been fiddling away with Hallsfoot's Battle and am now at over 97,000 words. With an inkling of what the next few paragraphs might be, thank the Lord. There's a novelty for sure. Later, I think I might turn my hand to a few puzzles, with maybe a sudoku or two. And then it's the joys of Lark Rise to Candleford, and The Victorians. Talking of TV, I'm delighted to say that the adorable Lewis is apparently coming back imminently, and it's not a moment too soon in my opinion. I can't wait.

This week's haikus (two for the price of one, though they're unrelated):

Night waits expectant
in a city of sparrows
for the call to prayer.

On the cool river
a giant puff-ball of swan
sails through blue sunlight.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Church
3. Hallsfoot
4. Puzzles
5. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - puzzling her way through Lent

Saturday, March 07, 2009

On the trail of the mystic scaup ...

.... which, for those of you not in the know (yes, that did include me at the start of today), is much like a tufted duck but without the tuft and with a grey back. Hmm, that probably doesn't help you much either, does it? Sorry ...

To ease the pain, here's this morning's meditation:

Meditation 83

God speaks
from above the Covenant Box,
somewhere between
the angels.

You can’t see him,
but you feel his weight
on your shoulders
like the deep enduring sky.

Sadly we didn't find the scaup during our day's outing to Titchfield Haven, though we did manage to spot plenty of those dang tufted ducks, plus a million and one black-headed gulls, not to mention shovelers, teal, black-tailed godwit, the odd curlew and this year's new bird (hurrah!) the buzzard. Great stuff. We also remembered not to eat at the cafe (it's rubbish ...) and took our own lunch, which included chocolate chip cookies from Budgen's. To die for indeed.

And, talking of death, we were much amused to be following a company car on our journey down which bore the legend "Paranormal Investigations". Yes!! That is sooo absolutely and perfectly the company I want to work for. Sadly they didn't have a ghost-busters' logo on the side and in fact the whole thing was very subtle. Also sadly there was no website, but only a phone number which I can no longer remember. Sigh. But ah I long to be their receptionist. It would somehow bring to fruition all those Dennis Wheatley novels I read in my teenage years ... Not to mention that it's given me quite a sparky idea for a story or two, so I'll have to let that one bubble under for a while for sure.

Mind you, I'm obviously pretty confused at the moment, as I thought it was yesterday when I couldn't understand what TV was on, but in fact it's tonight. Yesterday was fine - QI followed by Not Going Out, and everyone's happy. It's tonight I can't get my head round. Where on earth do the days go? Ooh, and the daffodils are most definitely out down south - which is lovely to see. So much so that it's inspired me to buy a plant in Waitrose on the way home tonight. It's a pink begonia which I've christened Betty. I fear for her safety though as it's well known amongst the leisured classed that I am a serial killer of plants. If anyone has any begonia advice or tips, please do let me know before Betty breathes her last ...

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Birds
3. Paranormal investigators
4. Plants.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - the scourge of all begonias, everywhere ...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Golf, haircuts and Hallsfoot

My, what a busy day. But actually I've quite enjoyed it, I haven't had a headache (hurrah!) and, strangely so far, haven't needed a nap. All of which may be a lesson to me in thinking again about what I believe to be good for me and what isn't. Ah well. Anyway, enough philosophy already - after all, it's the ruddy weekend and thinking deeply is out-of-bounds. Here's this morning's poem:

Meditation 82

In the length of your hair
lies all the purposes
you have towards God;

every strand, every shade,
whether burnt by sun
or darkened in wind,

tells a story.
Let it speak
when you cannot,

waiting only for the day
you give it back again.

This morning, I've had an early golf appointment with Marian, and we had a great time on this bright Spring day, especially as nobody else appeared to be taking advantage of it. More fool them. We both played okay, but I have to say Marian was more okay than I was, so she won by one point. Darnit. I blame that lovely new club of hers, myself. Maybe I should get a new wood too? Or maybe a lesson or two with the pro is on the cards. We'll see ...

Straight after that, the hairdresser came round and I now look like a 21st century woman. For a while. What a relief to us all, eh. It's amazing what seeing out from under the great wad of hair I have can make such a difference to the mood. Totally the opposite from today's poem then.

I've also managed to squeeze in some writing time and have added another 1000 words to Hallsfoot's Battle. I'm thinking of another plot twist too, which will give some oomph to this part of the novel. It'll mean I'll have to go back and alter stuff later, but hell I'm used to that. Sometimes up to 80% of the first draft vanishes in the rewrite, so at least there'll be room, ho ho. So I'm on over 96,000 words now and I'm hoping to reach the magical 100,000 marker by the end of March. Hang on to your hats, people. I have the bit between my teeth. But which bit, we cry ...

This afternoon, it's been bliss getting back into the Alexander Technique zone. I felt as if I was settling into it a lot more during today's lesson for sure, with some greater idea (though really I couldn't have been any worse than I was before) of how everything is supposed to feel. Still a long way to go before I'm treading those catwalks though, so no need to pack for the Paris fashion shows (should they exist - I really don't know!...) just yet.

Oh, and I've sent out yesterday's rejected poems to another potential publisher, so I am managing the pain fairly adequately. For me anyway. Tonight, we really need to do some cleaning before the Domestic Police arrest us for house mismanagement. Again. And there's some TV on but I can't get my head round it or what I want to watch (if anything) - so I'm afraid I'm really no help to my fellow TV addicts this evening.

Today's nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Golf
3. Haircut
4. Thinking of a new plot line for Hallsfoot
5. Alexander Technique.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website - getting nearer the zone, if she only knew where it was ...