Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heat waves and haikus

Life news:

Lordy, but it's hot. England isn't used to it, you know. I swear we have all the windows open and there ain't nothing coming in. Apart from ruddy insects. Damn things. Still, shouldn't complain. We're usually knee-deep in rain so actually having a summer is a very pleasant change.

Had a lovely day with Sue & Peter (hello, both!) at Langford Lakes in Wiltshire yesterday - great to catch up and the weather was stunning. It's a lovely place too, all the more so as we - strangely - appeared to be the only ones there, or almost. Was it something to do with everyone else watching sport? All very odd ... Whilst there, we caught sight of several wonderful tiger moths, which were really beautiful, though the body was much redder than the image there. Or possibly it was one very active tiger moth. Who can say? All very nice anyway.

Book news:

Several nice chart listings this week, with Martin and The Wolf being briefly at No 75 in the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts and The Delaneys and Me being at No 86. And I was thrilled to see that Maloney's Law was included in Cassandra Gold's Top 10 GLBT fiction reads list which you can find here. Many thanks for that, Cassandra - a great surprise!

The next section of The Prayer Seeker's Journal is now uploaded and you can find that here, should you so wish.

This week's poetry is:

Meditation 373
When the wars
and the women,

the lies, the love
and the lechery

are done,
God remains still

his cloudless dawn,
the deep sparkle of rain

on the thirsty fields
of the heart.

Meditation 374
Josheb of Tachemon
killed eight hundred men
with his spear;

that’s a hell of a battle
and a hell
of a weapon, it’s clear.

This week's haiku:

It's impossible
to displace from my shoulders
this black, snarling dog.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dangerous Men and Executioners

There. That's a title to conjure with, on oh so many levels. Never say I don't put some kind of effort into this writing lark, ho ho. Anyway, here's this week's news so far - my first few days of being 46, you know.

Book News:

I'm utterly thrilled with this new cover for A Dangerous Man which has been created by Scot D. Ryersson - what a genius. It's incredible and I really love it. Thank you, Scot. I'm very fond of the original one too, of course, but this seems to be perfectly suited for the times now and, hey, it's always good to have choices. I love it.

In terms of recent reviews, I'm pleased that literary short, Dancing with Lions, has gained a very enthusiastic 5-star review at Goodreads - many thanks for that, Rick. And it's a particular pleasure as it's this story's first review. I was starting to think nobody had much time for a Biblical historical and feminist perspective on King David, so nice to know I was wrong, tee hee. Let the women of the Bible loose is what I say - there's much modern value in them.

I'm also happy that the lovely Stephanie Watson has given The Secret Thoughts of Leaves a 4-star review, and also given a 5-star review to The Girl in the Painting - gosh, thanks, Stephanie! You read at a rate even faster than mine - do you not allow time to breathe?!...

Finally, in the reviews section, Martin and The Wolf and Angels and Airheads both received a very kind mention at Tam's Reads - thank you, Tam! Though I do think that your admission that you appear to be on an "Anne Brooke diet" in terms of reading is scary for you and I believe I know a doctor who can help ... Lord H at least has every sympathy for your predicament.

Keeping to the subject of reviews, my take on Malcolm Pryce's Last Tango in Aberystwyth can be found at Vulpes Libris today. It's the first in my Happy Reads series of reviews for the Book Foxes, and isn't really an auspicious start, I fear. I'm hoping for better things.

In terms of current works, I've sent the final edits for Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle back to Amber Allure Press, and that's due out on 18 July. And, in a truly miraculous feat, I have forced myself back into the game (steady, people, steady ...) in respect of actually writing more of The Executioner's Cane. A bit of a shocker that, as I'd all but forgotten what the hell was going on and what the characters were like. Hmm, still don't know really. It took a while to get into it again this morning (lots of sighing, playing on the computer, mad displacement activity and groaning etc etc, but then again that is usual for me ...) but yes I've done 1000 words. Phew. Ye gods and little fishes, Lord knows what the scribe thinks he's up to now but I suppose it must be something. Probably another month before I hit the dang thing again then at this rate. Hey ho.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Martin and The Wolf is now available at Amazon Kindle, and there's still time to win a free copy (hurrah!) at the Dancing Dove competition - it ends on 25 June (tomorrow) so best to rush!

I'm also delighted to say that I've joined the GLBT Author and Reader Yahoo Group, which looks a great place to be. So if you read or write GLBT fiction, do pop along for a visit. I'm especially pleased with my fun new Fiction Photo Album, which brings together all my gay fiction in one place. Not sure if you can see that unless you join as Yahoo in many respects remains a mystery to me but, believe me, it's worth the 10 seconds it will take to apply for membership, honest! And you get to meet lots of really lovely people who are far, far less scary than me, so what are you waiting for?...

Life News:

I have time for a life?? Well, goodness me, who'd have thought it. I must squeeze it in somehow (as it were) between crazed book work. Anyway, my birthday (I'm 46 now, don't you know - have I mentioned that already?) was fab-u-lous, in all respects, and I received some lovely presents from Lord H, and some totally strange presents from Mother. As usual. Bless. Still, I admit that though, at first, I laughed at her floral open-toed slippers gift (Mother has always bought presents for the lovely, fluffy, girly daughter she really wanted but, sadly, didn't get ...), now in this heat I can't take them off. Even to go outside. I am softening towards them and wearing them even as I'm typing this. Perhaps in the end, Mother will indeed get the daughter of her dreams, and Lord H will hurtle off into the sunset wondering where the off-kilter, kick-ass woman that he married went to ... Um, here's hoping not, please God! On all counts. Anyway, one of Lord H's gifts was a wonderful summery, dark blue dressing gown that is just what I wanted, as all my dressing gowns - Lordy, is that sad that I have several?? - are way, way too wintery. I am wearing it all the time too - with the slippers. Never say I am not stylish.

And it was a good job I had such a fabulous time on Monday, as Wednesday was UTTER crap, I must say. Depression City all round - exhaustion, heat, PMT big-time all came together to create the World's Weepiest Wife all day, dammit and big groan. It was soooo bad that I took 2 St John's Wort pills, 2 calming pills, a herbal sad person's pill and some Rescue Remedy spray. Still didn't work but at least I rattled a lot, so people could tell I was coming and still have time to escape. Weird how today all that crap has gone and I feel fine again. I am indeed a slave to my hormones, sigh. Thank God that's over for another month.

All of which is probably something similar to what those astonishing and surely exhausted Wimbledon players must be feeling after yesterday's game. Ye gods, but it's made tennis interesting again - and you must read the article in the link as it's laugh-out-loud good, even if you're not a tennis fan. Which I'm not any more, but both Lord H and I wonder if the match will ever end as it enters its third day. Gosh! Don't they have homes to go to, and how do those two men keep standing at all? Though let's not go into the mysteries of how the umpire managed to go so many hours without a courtesy break ... scary biscuits indeed.

Here are a couple of meditation poems to keep us all going:

Meditation 371
The ultimately
unfortunate soldier
whose spear has a shaft
as thick as the bar
on a weaver’s loom

probably didn’t reckon
on such a brief mention
in scripture
or on meeting his fate
quite so terribly soon.

Meditation 372
After the battle
comes the poetry

full of glory
and song

but I think
skipping the massacre

and going straight
to the music

wouldn’t entirely
be wrong.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Celebration, song and a competition!

Life News:

I'm celebrating my 46th birthday early this weekend (it's tomorrow, 21 June in actual fact) so it's been one outing after another really, hurrah! Lord H and I attended our first Glyndebourne event of the season yesterday and I even bought a new frock for it. Well, gosh. Or, rather, Lord H bought it. What a hero. We saw Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd which, I suppose wasn't a huge barrel of laughs but the staging was great and it's fascinating stuff. Being me, I loved the whole gay homoerotic subtext (or possibly "text" as to my mind there's nothing very "sub" about a whole load of sailors stuck in the middle of the ocean who all start calling Our Hero "baby" or "beauty" and telling him how handsome he is). Lord H harrumphed when I mentioned this and said what nonsense, it was all very manly and Billy was simply popular with the crew. Though, after my reasoned argument (no women at all, it's by Britten, there's a lot of passionate arias etc etc) he did admit that it was possibly even too gay for the marvellous Matthew Bourne to remake it as a gay ballet. Perhaps we need the lesbian version? Heck, we'd both pay to see that ...

Today, and carrying on the gay theme, we've had lunch out at Wisley and a bit of a wander round the rose gardens. As you do. Thus meeting wonderful troupes of metrosexual fathers out with their offspring and loved ones, celebrating Fathers' Day in civilised fashion. I suppose if you are a gay/metrosexual father and want a day out, then Wisley is likely to be higher up your list than the Bovington Tank Museum, or perhaps I am generalising way, way too much? Hey, it's possible. But I'm allowed - I'm nearly 46, you know. And a lot of champagne has been drunk - a hell of a lot - so it's astonishing I can form any kind of coherent thought at all.

Book News:

I'm thrilled to say that Martin and The Wolf has gained its first five-star review at Goodreads, and thank you so much to the lovely Serena for her comments. I'm particularly thrilled with her final paragraph:

I loved the message of this story: what counts in a relationship between any two "beings" isn't how they look, nor necessarily what DNA they carry, or what they behave like. The focus in examining whether we can have a relationship with someone, and accept who and what they are, should be on how they relate to us, what they mean to us, and how they treat us. A very powerful message indeed!

Which is basically what I was trying to convey - so thank you for that. As an added treat, there's a special FREE Giveaway competition for the book that is currently running at The Dancing Dove Journal - so leave a comment as instructed there to be in with a chance of winning a copy. The competition ends on 25 June, so good luck to all!

I'm also pleased to say that I've sent the final proofs for Creative Accountancy for Beginners back to Untreed Reads so I'll wait to see what the publication date will be for that one.

This week's haiku:

The motorway's edge:
the green and level grasses
float softly away.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Friday, June 18, 2010

Holidays and books

Have had a fabulous holiday in gloriously sunny Wales - it was total bliss to get away, and ye gods and little fishes but I think the St John's Wort happy pills might be working, hurrah! This is the most normal I've felt in two months, maybe more. Anyway, Wales is wonderful. My favourite day was the one we spent at Hilton Court Gardens taking tea and just sitting in their incredibly beautiful gardens at ridiculously cheap prices. If you're anywhere near it, you absolutely must go. It's just soooo relaxing. After that, we paddled on the amazingly beautiful and all but deserted beach in Newgale, nearby, and that was wonderful too. Honestly, that night, I was the most relaxed and happy I've been in years. I wish I could go to Hilton Court and Newgale every day or, at the very least, have them delivered. Bliss.

Book News:

My gay fantasy short story, Martin and The Wolf, is now published at Amber Allure and you can also view a book trailer.

At the same time, my gay comic fantasy, Angels and Airheads, is published at Torquere Press, which is my first publication with them. I hope it won't be the last!

In terms of upcoming book news, I now have a webpage for straight romance, The Boilerman and The Bride, and that's due out from Amber Heat Press on 4 July 2010. And I totally love that cover - so many thanks to Trace at Amber who created it! It's astonishing what men can do with their spanners indeed - as it were ...

I also have a new page for upcoming comic SF story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, and this will be part of the new Orbis line from Untreed Reads Press. It will probably be published late this month and will be their first Orbis offering, so I'm especially thrilled to be part of that - thanks to Jay once more! Talking of which, the cover for it is wonderful too - as you can see!

Finally, in the specific book news section, I'm very happy that Bluewood Publishing now have an author's page for me that also has the cover art for The Gifting on it, so that's getting exciting too.

Reviews & ratings:

The Delaneys and Me has had two reviews this week, one at Three Dollar Bill Reviews and one at Amazon US - very many thanks to both reviewers for their comments. It's also been interesting to note that The Delaneys and Me was briefly at Number 45 in the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, whilst The Bones of Summer managed Number 68 in the Amazon Kindle Gay Romance chart and (pause for BIG drumroll!) The Secret Thoughts of Leaves was actually Number 17 in the Amazon Kindle Surrealism charts for a while. Heck, I didn't even know Amazon possessed a surrealism chart, but my goodness it's nice to be in it. Whatever next, eh?


There are two interviews with me on the web this week, one at Sizzling Releases that focuses mainly on The Secret Thoughts of Leaves. And the other is about my fiction more generally and can be found at Two Ends of the Pen journal. I hope you enjoy both.


Meditation 370
Sunlight on ripening barley
and the soft pull
of the wind

whilst at the skyline
seven men are hanged
all the way

to death: in the midst
of beauty
we are in ugliness.

Last Sunday's haiku:

Decide for silence,
unknit yourself from the earth.
Finally alone.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Discounts galore

Lots of treats on offer today. I'm pleased to say that The Hit List has gained its second 5-star review at Amazon where Sirius11214 describes the novel as "humorous and touching". Thanks, Sirius - I'm deeply grateful! As a rather lovely coincidence you can now buy the book at a 25% discount all through June direct from Amber Allure - so stock up for the summer before the rains come down ...

In addition all Untreed Reads books, including my own, are now available at a 20% discount from Coffee Time Romance, so it's definitely time for some serious browsing. I'm also delighted that my quiet literary lesbian story, The Girl in the Painting, is a Recommended Read for June at Queer Magazine Online - so thank you, Anders, for that.

Meanwhile, I've reviewed Nik Perring's Not So Perfect Stories at Vulpes Libris today - which is a fascinating collection even though, to my mind, some of these stories remain unfinished. Certainly much to think about there.

In terms of health, I've been pretty dodgy all week (so no change there then!) and have seen the specialist at the hospital today, who is a totally lovely woman and always cheers me up, hurrah. So the upshot of my appointment is I've taken another couple of blood tests - one for the CA125 marker and another to see what my oestrogen levels are doing, if anything. My, what fun I do have on my days off, eh - we Essex Gals certainly know how to live! At the moment, we're going to leave my HRT as it is, pending on test results, but the doctor suggested that, in order to lift my increasingly grim and fragile mood, I should try taking St John's Wort. Which I'm more than happy to do, as I've wondered about it before, so I picked up a bottle at the Health Shop today while I was in Godalming, and I've taken my first pill. I'll start off at one per day, as per the Health Woman's advice, but I can apparently take up to three if nothing happens. Even with the HRT, so that's good news. So, if you hear tell of a manic woman downing her essential Happy Pills and running through the Surrey meadows whilst laughing hysterically, you'll know it's me. Just so you're warned, eh ...

But before that, here's a meditation poem. I've only had time for one, what with one thing and another:

Meditation 369
When you judge a man
as worthless
from the start

then he’s likely
to live up to that charge
in good measure.

This weekend we'll be on holiday for a few days, so I'll catch up when we're back. Don't forget however that gay fantasy comedy, Angels and Airheads, will be published by Torquere Press on Saturday 12 June, and gay fantasy, Martin and The Wolf, will be published by Amber Allure on Sunday 13 June. Enjoy!

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Publishing and some personal thoughts

What a busy and sometimes vastly difficult week it's been. Really, I'm astonished we've got to the end of it and are still standing. Just. Not that it's been all bad news as it hasn't, as there's been lots of nice future publication activity, which has acted as a bit of a boost.

I've received and completed the contract for Rosie by Name from Bluewood Publishing and hope to post that back to them tomorrow, although I've also sent a copy by email. And I have a lovely new publication date for the new edition of A Dangerous Man from Cheyenne Publishing - it will be 15 October 2010, so it's great to have something to look forward to after the inevitable exhaustion of the University's Freshers' Week.

At a less distant perspective, I've sent back the galley proofs of Martin and The Wolf, which now has a page at Amber Allure Press (NB: that page contains erotic content so be warned!). It will be published on Sunday 13 June, so not long to go now, hurrah.

And there's a new interview with me for your delectation at Shae Connor's Journal - thanks so much to Shae for allowing me to take over her journal for a day. It's much appreciated.

However, on the slightly minus side, I've been giving some thought to my novel-writing vocation (I hesitate to say career!) over the last few weeks on and off, and I've decided that when I've finished The Executioner's Cane, then I won't be writing any more novels for the foreseeable future. When I started writing novels in the year 2000, I gave myself ten years to make some kind of go of it and, in all honesty, that hasn't worked, and is causing me on the whole more grief than joy. So I think it's time to call it a day, as they say, and move on. In any case, finishing Executioner will without doubt take me well into 2011 so I've given it my best shot. Yes, I'm sad to have to take this decision, but not taking it will I fear be even more detrimental to my mental/emotional health so I'd be stupid to do anything else.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean I won't be continuing writing the short stories and, perhaps, the odd novella or two. The short story career (and there, I do dare say that word, though with tongue very much in cheek of course!) has been doing surprisingly well recently, particularly with my new gay and literary fiction publishers (special thanks for this to Amber AllureTorquere Press and Untreed Reads), and bringing in more royalties than anything else put together, so I think it's best to concentrate on that. Plus it's more fun. In terms of novellas, I'd like to finish The Prayer Seeker's Journal at about 40,000 words or so, and then I've got an idea about a gay romance novella, but I won't start that until the last novel is done. Onward and sideways for sanity then, as they say ...

Talking of health matters, which we are sort of, I'm disappointed to note that my second CA125 blood test results weren't great, though almost identical to the first one - so, hell, at least I'm consistent! And the scan I had at the same time wasn't perfect either, though that's probably my usual and there's nothing horrible to worry about there. Which I hope is true on all counts, but I'm seeing the specialist on Wednesday, so I'll wait to hear what she has to say. Ho hum. Thank you hugely to all the people who've sent very kind messages - I'm very grateful indeed. While I'm at the hospital, I think I'm also going to ask her if I can change my current HRT doses in some way - I haven't really been very happy at all over the last couple of months, and have been positively weepy on many occasions and furiously angry on others, though I think I've kept that out of the public domain on the whole (poor, poor Lord H - what a lot he's had to put up with since March or so, and how much of a Superhero he really is!!). We think it might be the hormones, sigh. But, honestly, I really really can't bear a summer of this as I have no clue at all as to how I'm going to feel from one moment to the next or even how I'm going to act. God preserve Surrey! Is it premenopausal, I wonder??

Which brings me (though I trust the link is only coincidental) somehow back to the Cumbria Question. Not on the matter of what happened this time, but on the matter of what's happening now. I would like to nail my colours to the proverbial mast and say that if I live in a society where the press can without any qualms at all interview a 9-year-old boy about his reactions to the killings he witnessed, then we are in all honesty no longer living in either a civilised society or a humane one. The press deserve a hefty fine for this kind of child abuse, and the parents a hefty warning. God preserve us all indeed. Enough said. As I fear that in this age of celebrity-at-any-price and news-at-any-price, then people will do anything and my views are meaningless.

Anyway, here's some poetry to calm us all down:

Meditation 368
There will always be ways
of putting your point across

but what matters most
is the listening.

This week's haiku, because getting up yesterday morning was just sooo tricky! -

Sunlight pierces air,
calls me to the crystal day.
Reluctant riser.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Girls, Doves and Angels

I'm happy to say that my literary lesbian short story, The Girl in the Painting is currently standing at No 71 in the Amazon Kindle Lesbian romance charts and is also, according to my publisher Untreed Reads, selling strangely well. So, it looks like quiet, literary lesbian fiction is the thing to read now - you heard it here first! Note to self - must write more of same in that case ...

The Bones of Summer was also briefly holding its own (as it were) at No 53 in the Amazon Kindle Gay & Lesbian fiction charts but is now, alas, back into the shadows once more. Nice to have the glitter while it lasted, however.

Story acceptances this week have included my comic short story, Rosie by Name, by Bluewood Publishing, and also a comic SF story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, again by Untreed Reads, so a big thank you to both publishers for that.

You can also find an interview with me at the Dancing Dove Journal, so I hope you enjoy that - I certainly enjoyed answering the questions, and thanks to Ralph for giving me "air-time". I've also finished the edits for gay romance short story, Angels and Airheads, and have sent those back to Torquere Press. And my Hot Fiction Tip for June at Queer Magazine Online can be found here - it's a totally strange title but a fabulous read.

Here are this week's earlier meditations, some of which are strangely and sadly apt:

Meditation 365
Out of a time
of destruction and rage

a small heaven
of quiet words:

on this day
nobody dies.

Meditation 366
After battle
there is time

for kindness
but it’s a spare sort

when the loyalty of cripples
is called to account.

Meditation 367
At eighty years old
he can no longer taste

or see, or hear
the voice of singers

but still has chutzpah enough
to sweet-talk a king.

Finally, in the midst of this, we must absolutely spare many of our thoughts for the Cumbrian gun tragedy which took place yesterday and which left many dead and more injured. Nothing much I can say at all, except that violence is all around and within us, and my heart goes out to the victims, the perpetrator and all their families and friends. We live in tragic and frightening times, I fear.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker's Journal