Sunday, March 28, 2010

Give and Take reviews and a bit of a spat

Writing News:

I'm happy to say that The Hit List is now available in paperback at Amazon US and it's received two 5-star reviews at Goodreads here and here. Thanks to both readers!

I'm also pleased to tell you that Give and Take has today received a thought-provoking 4.5 star review at Michelenjeff Reviews and another 4 star review at Rainbow Reviews. Many thanks to both reviewers for that. Give and Take is also now available for purchase at All Romance eBooks, so lovely to be there too.

There's also an interview with me which you can find at Michelenjeff Reviews Site, and a special thank you to Jeff for making me sound almost normal. That must have been very hard work indeed, Jeff!

Meanwhile, A Stranger's Touch received a 4 star review and a 5 star review, both at Goodreads, so thank you again to both reviewers for your comments.

And, if you'd like to try some of my Dreamspinner Press books, they're all at 20% discount for TODAY only so there's still time to buy The Bones of Summer or Two Christmases, or maybe even the pair!

In other book news, the latest chapter of The Prayer Seeker's Journal can now be found here - in which Michael begins to deal with his ex-wife. And I've reached the 30,000 word marker of The Executioner's Cane, hurrah!

There's also been a small but interesting disagreement by commenters responding to one of my Vulpes Libris reviews, which does at least prove that books can raise great passion in us all. A result always to be admired indeed ...

Finally in this section, I'm pleased to say that my poem, Meditation 37, is to be included in the upcoming Short Story Library Best of 2009 collection, which should be published early summer. Lovely to have that to look forward to.

Oh, and here's this week's haiku:

A woman in pink
walks slowly past cool water,
trailing dreams of spring.

Other News:

Marian and I played some pretty reasonable golf on Friday and even managed to produce two good tee-shots just behind the club pro as he was taking a playing lesson. Dammit but he didn't notice, and we certainly couldn't produce them again! And Lord H and I spent a lovely afternoon yesterday wandering around Wintershall Gardens as part of their Open Afternoon, and I have to say the grounds are very attractive indeed. And the staff do particularly wonderful cream teas, mmm ... What could be nicer? Even in spite of the rain.

Yesterday, we spent an exhilarating evening having supper at Liz & John's (hello, both!) and I think I was even relatively well behaved. Well, for me anyway. But this morning, I certainly felt my missing hour, what with the clocks going forward. I won't catch up till the autumn, I tell you.

This coming week, I'm away on the University Administrators' Conference in Warwick from Monday to Wednesday, so will have to look both intelligent and professional for three days. Not much hope there then ... Mind you, I've managed to book myself on to the Learn to Juggle seminar, and apparently you get to keep the balls! Gosh. I can't wait.

Anne Brooke - evil but interesting
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - dealing with the ex ...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Second novels and The Ministry of Fear

Book News:

I've had a fascinating review of GLBT short story, Give and Take, which you can read at Jessewave Reviews. I'm more than happy with the 4 star rating, but fascinated by the reviewer's comments on the bleakness and realism of the story. Actually I'd thought it was fairly upbeat, and had even made the ending far more hopeful for the future than my first ending had been. Amazing how many different takes can be found in a story - it's certainly opened my eyes! Perhaps my view of life is grimmer (more grim?) than I'd realised ... In the meantime, it's received both a 4-star rating at Goodreads and a 5-star review also at Goodreads, with a slightly different take on it in the latter link, I believe.

Another review received this week has been for Two Christmases which gained a 4-star review at Goodreads. Many thanks to all reviewers/raters - it's much appreciated.

Meanwhile, at Vulpes Libris, you can read my disappointment at Maria McCann's Orange Prize longlisted novel, The Wilding. Oh dear. I'd been so looking forward to it too as I absolutely loved her first novel, As Meat Loves Salt. Is it the dreaded Second Novel Syndrome??...

And I fear I missed offering you last week's haiku in my Sunday posting (shame on me!), so here it is. Late, but still relevant, alas:

Rain drives away plans,
makes the umbrellas blossom,
quietens the world.

Other News:

I have chilled out this morning with a lovely Clarins massage from Romana - it was so relaxing that I actually fell asleep. Still I needed the down-time as I've been working like the proverbial all week. Both on book stuff and University stuff. Heck, I deserve a break - roll on Easter.

And Lord H and I have had a wonderful time at the Aldershot production of Fiddler on the Roof. To my shame (again!), we'd never seen it before, and what a marvellous musical it is. Such a brave ending and all those tunes. Fabulous. I loved it. Tonight we're off to the Guildford Theatre to see The Ministry of Fear so I suspect all my relaxation points might well disappear sooner than I'd anticipated. Note to self: arrange massages for after thrillers, not before ...

Oh, and a new car radio has been delivered today, so I'm hoping Lord H might do his magic and put it into the car so I don't have to listen to the sound of my own voice singing for too long. Believe me, it's not been pleasant. The neighbours would no doubt agree.

I'm also proud to say that Lord H now has official superpowers - he has perfected the technique of standing next to a dysfunctional computer until it operates properly again. Without even touching it. Honestly, it works every time! And at the office as well as at home, apparently. Really, it's a pleasure to watch a superhero at the top of his game, though he does confess to rather preferring the ability to fly or be invisible - but superheroes must accept and work with the powers they're given ... Tomorrow: the world!

Anne Brooke - pondering what her own superhero status might be ...
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - rarely seen but somehow vital

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Give and Take

I'm happy to say that my GLBT erotic short story, Give and Take, is now published by Amber Allure Press and you can find buying information, together with an erotic extract, here. You can also find out more details, and read another, non-erotic, extract at my website. For your added pleasure, there's also a book trailer. Enjoy!

Keeping to the book news (there's been a fair amount of this over the last couple of days, so bear with me!), Thorn in the Flesh can now be found in paperback at both Amazon UK and Amazon US so it's great to feel that particular project is now complete. I'm also happy to see that the new all-singing all-dancing version of The Hit List is now up at Amazon US though not yet in stock. A piece of good news still to come indeed!

In the meantime, I've finished the first full round of edits to Hallsfoot's Battle and will let that breathe a while before going on to the second phase of editing. The final edits for short story, The Delaneys and Me, are now also complete and I've sent them back to Amber Allure ready for publication date on 21 April.

In terms of reviews, I'm very happy with Sharon Maria Bidwell's review of A Stranger's Touch - much appreciated, Sharon, so thank you! And I'm over the moon to see that Maloney's Law is in the lovely Clare London's list of her Top 10 GLBT books - Paul Maloney is at Number 5, and he and I are both very grateful. Thanks, Clare!

In my other life, Lord H and I thoroughly enjoyed Guildford Choral Society's concert yesterday - you can't really go wrong with Copland and Carmina Burana though those pesky Cathedral seats leave much to be desired. Is it my age? And today I have spent a fun time with the RAC trying to fix my car. The upshot is that the radio display won't turn off so is draining the battery - so the man had to disconnect the radio to make the battery happy. So I now have a car that starts but must rely on my own voice for entertainment. That'll frighten the neighbours for sure ...

Tonight, we're off to hear Marian (golf partner) sing in a rock choir in Guildford, so we are preparing to rock around the clock and watch great balls of fire whizzing by - lordy, does that show my age way too much once more? I fear so ...

Anne Brooke - where a little give and take can work wonders
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - quiet but not entirely forgotten

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Girl in the Painting

I'm pleased to say that my literary feminist story, The Girl in the Painting, has now been published and more information can be found at my website. You can purchase a copy at Amazon US and at Smashwords, in a variety of formats, hurrah! There's also a book trailer for your enjoyment. Never say I don't look after your essential reading needs.

Keeping to the topic of short stories, I was astonished to see that for a very brief period Dancing with Lions was number 94 in the Amazon US Biblical fiction charts. Heck, I've never been there before, and I'm not there now, but ah the memory is sweet.

I'm also pleased to note that during last week's Read an Ebook Week, my short stories, How to Eat Fruit and Dancing with Lions were downloaded over 90 times. Well, gosh. I hope those readers enjoyed the experience.

My final piece of short story news is that A Stranger's Touch is available as a Kindle ebook and now even has its first five-star Amazon review there, well double gosh and crack open the champers! Thank you very much, Sirius11214 - that's made my day big-time. And yes, that is exactly what I intended the story to mean - I'm so glad it worked for you, thank you.

Meanwhile, back at Hallsfoot's Battle (anyone remember that??), I've now received the edits back from my ex-agent editor who commented: this is very good, much better than even the revised version of The Gifting. Which to me means a heck of a lot, as I've been worrying desperately about mid-series droop and whether any of it was remotely interesting at all. Thank you, John. Maybe I might just be a fantasy author after all, if the wind's in the right direction and there's a R in the month. Anyway, I'm going through his edits which are very very useful indeed and whipping the thing further into shape.

I've also uploaded my review of Megan Taylor's wonderfully dark literary novel, The Dawning at Vulpes Libris, and can thoroughly recommend the book. Great stuff, Megan!

In my other life, I've finished my online poetry course. I must admit I haven't enjoyed it as much as last term's and I don't think I'll be doing another for a while, but it's helped with the poetry. Always a good thing. I've also had my annual cholesterol blood test at the doctors - oh the fasting, the lack of breakfast and the desperate whimpering. I'm not known for my courage, ah well. We've endured a really weird day at work yesterday when everything went wrong that could go wrong - was it the feng shui lines?? Thank God there was chocolate cake around - we'd never have survived without it. And I've had a wonderfully relaxing hour at reflexology today. Bliss. Whatever would I do without my reflexologist?

Tonight, Lord H and I are out at the theatre to see The Secret of Sherlock Holmes with the gorgeous Peter Egan. When I was young, I was so in love with him, you know (don't tell Lord H - though actually he already knows this, and may well wonder if I'm going to throw my knickers on the stage in the manner of Essex Gals tonight ...), but I suspect we've all moved on since those glory days. Still, if you do hear tell of an arrest in the Guildford theatre, then no doubt it will be me. I hope you'll all vouch for my good character. Hey ho.

Anne Brooke - scrubs up well, if given enough time
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - getting distracted by life

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Videos, poetry and some sad news

Let's start with the sad news. Which is that, unfortunately, our middle neighbour in our block of 3 flats died of heart troubles earlier this week. He'd been waiting for a heart operation in hospital and we've visited a couple of times, but he never made it to have the actual op. I'll miss him - he could be an archetypal crusty old gent of the old school, but he was always, always fascinating. He could also be extraordinarily generous. When we moved in 17 years ago, he left a bottle of very good champagne and two rather posh glasses at our front door to help us celebrate - a gesture that always makes me smile, even today. He loved high-class wine, birds (of both varieties, in spite of his age!), poetry and Spain - and who can argue with that? It leaves a big gap in our little house, which feels much emptier today. You can find two of his marvellous books (and he wrote just as he spoke, so was always a writer who was very much in touch with his voice) on Spain and flamenco dancing here and here. Both come highly recommended.

Keeping on the subject of death and what we remember, and indeed poetry, here's this week's poem (about my father) from my poetry course:

September 1977

We live
only four minutes’ walk
from school

and my mother’s car waits
in the car park
so I know my father is dead.

Hair blows across my face
and in the distance
I hear laughter.

The sky is so blue
and my schoolbag weighs heavy
across my shoulders.

When I take it off,
the fabric drags along the ground.
Without looking, I can name the books

that spill from it:
a Latin grammar;
Voltaire’s Candide.

They smell new.
The way spines snap
when first opened

is a memory
that prickles my skin.
I am so close to the car now.

I reach out,
take hold of the handle.

Turning to book news, I'm happy to say that Thorn in the Flesh is now available at Amazon US and Amazon UK. And I have uploaded the book trailer at YouTube.

Similarly, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is now available with free worldwide delivery at The Book Depository. It too comes with its own book trailer - which is proving extraordinarily popular with 82 views since I uploaded it only a couple of days ago. Which just goes to show that the viewing public love comedy, jolly music and a pretty blonde girl. Must remember that for next time I write something new then!

And, finally, the latest chapter of The Prayer Seeker is now available for reading - it's on anger, as Michael finds he has much to work through. As do we all, really.

But, to end (or almost ...) with very exciting bird news, Lord H and I spent the day in Arne in Dorset yesterday - we saw some stunning sika deer, really close to, plus seven (yes, seven!!!) spoonbills, a couple of blackcaps, a few red-breasted mergansers - all of which were firsts for this year. Plus - the crowning glory and a lifetime first - a firecrest. Hurrah!

So, there are two haikus this Sunday for you:

The first signs of spring:
men on yellow bicycles;
a pink Fiesta.

It's a conundrum:
how to persuade daffodils
to unfurl their blooms.

Heck, I bet Wordsworth never had those problems, on either count ...

Anne Brooke - in fairly thoughtful mood
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - where anger finds a voice

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gifting - news!

News! I have news! As I'm sure someone in a Jane Austen novel once said. Or should have done. Anyway, much to my astonishment and joy, I'm happy to announce that my fantasy novel, The Gifting has been accepted for publication by Bluewood Publishing. Hurrah! And I'm really so thrilled that, to be honest, I can't even speak. A blessing for those of you who have to deal with me face-to-face indeed. Though I suspect it won't last ... Anyway, many thanks to Paulette & David of Bluewood for saying yes, and I'm looking forward to working with you towards the publication date. It's lovely to think that Simon the Scribe is going to have a voice. Gosh indeedy.

As you can imagine, this news has rather overpowered the rest of the week and I am still floating delicately amongst the clouds - though for that I blame the champagne Lord H insisted we open on Tuesday night. It's a tough life, eh, but someone has to drink it ...

But other writing projects are also happily bubbling away (note the nice blending with the champagne image there, please!). I'm also delighted to say that two of my poems will be included in the first Every Day Poets anthology, so thank you to Oonah Joslin for her work on that.

In addition, Give and Take is now up at the Amber Allure Press site, though it's not published until 21 March. NB: That AAP link does take you to an erotic extract, so please be warned! I'm also very pleased that Untreed Reads have accepted my literary feminist short story, The Girl in the Painting (formerly known as Girl Undecided) for future publication, so I'm looking forward to working with Jay again on that one - thanks, Jay!

In terms of reviews, I was happy to see Painting from Life gained a 4 star rating at Goodreads - thanks, Kassa! And, at the same time, A Stranger's Touch gained another 4 star Goodreads rating - thank you, Deanna, for that also.

Keeping to the subject of reviews, Vulpes Libris now has my review of Ali Smith's novel, The Accidental and it's an astonishing and exciting book, so do pop in and be inspired.

Finally, in this writing life, I was heartened to hear that on the first day of Read An Ebook Week, my short stories, How to Eat Fruit and Dancing with Lions were downloaded for free 40 times. Gosh! I do hope people have enjoyed the reads. And if you do want a free ebook to enjoy, pop along to Smashwords here or here and take advantage of the offer. It ends on 13 March so there's still time!

And I think that's about it really. I'm just off now to have a glorious Hot Stone Therapy massage (hurrah!) so will no doubt be out for the count for the rest of the day. Bliss. Hell, but I think I deserve it.

Anne Brooke - full of sparkle and fizz this week!
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - keeping things grounded

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Read An Ebook Week!

Good news for ebook lovers and ebook enquirers this week, as it's Read An Ebook Week. As part of this exciting prospect, two of my short stories published by Untreed Reads will be free for one week only at Smashwords.

So, you can find my literary love story How To Eat Fruit at Smashwords here.

And you can find my rewrite of a biblical story Dancing with Lions also at Smashwords here.

You need to put the code RFREE in at the checkout stage - though it explains that on site. The offer ends 13 March. Enjoy!

In other writing news, The Hit List is now available for purchase from All Romance Ebooks, and was for a brief moment of glory actually on their front New Books page, well gosh. Not so now, I fear - the world of eBooks moves on apace ...

Speaking of moments of glory, The Bones of Summer managed to make No 48 in the Amazon UK gay romance charts, though it has slipped down somewhat now and will probably be out of the charts altogether by the time you read this. Still, it was nice that someone bought a copy, and I do hope they enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I've uploaded the next chapter of The Prayer Seeker's Journal, where Michael begins to set up a schedule of prayer. And, on an entirely different note, my Hot Gay Fiction Tip for March is now up at Queer Magazine Online. And it's a book that contains the best scene of sex with a piano that I've ever read - dammit but I wish I'd written it. If only I could play the piano, eh ...

And, sadly, my lovely almost-week away from work ends today (groan ...), but we did manage to see an Egyptian Goose at Wisley yesterday, so something to hang on to when the Monday Morning Blues rears its ugly head once more. And we also saw some gorgeous spring flowers, which has inspired this week's haiku:

In the rose garden
a pruning. Snowdrops whisper
and crocuses glow.

Anne Brooke - classy and free, always
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - getting to grips with The Beyond

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bars, birds and wolves

Have had great fun today with the edits for Give and Take, and have now sent these back to my lovely editor at Amber Allure Press. It's due to be published on 21 March so I'm looking forward to that. How I love a good-hearted barman indeed.

Meanwhile, my first ever gay werewolf story, entitled (with that customary leap of imagination for which I am no doubt renowned) Martin and The Wolf, has been accepted by Amber Allure and has a tentative publication date of 13 June. Well gosh. Really, it's amazing what English lecturers (of which Martin is one) get up to.

Other book news is that How to Eat Fruit and Dancing with Lions are now both available at the Untreed Reads bookshop. Please bear in mind that Untreed Reads sells them only in ePub versions, but on that purchase page you can also see where you can find these stories in a wide variety of other e-versions also. Many apologies to those readers who have been confused by this (sorry, Sharon!...), and I hope that now you've got your books you'll be able to enjoy them.

I've also been pleased with a 5-star rating of Maloney's Law at Goodreads, and I have finally managed to get back to writing The Executioner's Cane after a too-long hiatus, and this now stands at the 25,000 word marker. Hurrah. So about one-fifth through then. Possibly. But who the heck can tell, eh? I think I'm getting slightly sidetracked by The Chairmaker's Tale therein (I've always wanted to use the word therein in something - are you impressed?), but I'll see where it goes.

Finally, my review of Chris Killen's The Bird Room is now up at Vulpes Libris. It's a wonderfully haiku-y and very surreal novel so well worth the rather bizarre read.

Lord H and I have also popped along to the University this week to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury in conversation with one of our TV profs, which was highly popular and actually rather enjoyable. I still find the whole Church thing sits with increasing unease on my shoulders these days due to their "official" view of (a) women and (b) gay people. But he's a nice enough chap really, though I became utterly muddled as to what his views on Creationism actually were. For or Against? Who can say?

Tonight, I'm off to see Jane H & Ang (hello, both!) for dinner in Godalming so I am attempting to look presentable amongst the Glamour of the Parish. Is the town really ready for the three of us??

Anne's Website - puzzling over chairmakers ...
The Prayer Seeker's Journal - treading water but looking to the shore