Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hearts and minds

Book News:

Heck, it's been busy over the Christmas period, but great fun too. First off there's good news about my literary gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence which is now being sent off to reviewers prior to publication, so I'm looking forward to seeing what people think. You can read a short extract from the beginning at Riptide Publishing's site. Don't forget that if you pre-order, you're also in with a chance of winning a year's supply of Riptide books, so order early to avoid disappointment.

Meanwhile, I've also developed a website devoted to my fantasy series The Gathandrian Trilogy. There you can find out everything you need to know about The Gifting, Hallsfoot's Battle and The Executioner's Cane, as well as getting to discover the ins and outs of the characters in the story, including feisty red-haired women, magical mind-canes and mysterious snow-ravens. There are also extracts from The Gifting and Hallsfoot's Battle, so you can try before you buy. Have fun exploring!

Until tomorrow, you can also win a copy of gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys at Brief Encounter Reviews. Ideal for keeping you extra warm at New Year. Failing that, you can still get 20% off all my books at Rainbow Ebooks, so don't miss out.

And a BIG thank you to everyone at Amber Allure Press and also Riptide Publishing for the lovely Christmas cards I received from them both. It's really very much appreciated!

Life News:

Christmas has been great this year - really lovely and quiet. Just me and my loved one, which is how I like it, hurrah. Talking of which, K bought me a new Kindle and therefore takes possession of my old one. Plus he was kind enough to buy me the whole of the first series of Blake's 7 on DVD so I can drool over the glorious Avon whenever I like. Mmm, bliss ... Other joys of Christmas were the Christmas Day service at church where the vicar asked the children in the congregation what presents they'd received. Cue one small boy: "I got a toothbrush, and toothpaste!" Well, there's nothing you can say to that really, except to rejoice in how delighted the little chap sounded. Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen is obviously the way to go, though even I do hope he received rather more than that!

It's also been a time to sort things out in the garden. Together K and I have radically pruned the roses, put up some more trellis (which is looking fantastic, I must say) and sanded down the gate ready for repainting. Having fun outdoors has kept my mind well away from the utter disaster of attempting to change from my MobileMe account to the new so-called improved iCloud. Lordy, it's the worst ever IT change we've had to try (and we must do it as otherwise all our emails and websites disappear next summer without a trace) and I think Apple have done exceedingly badly in making up such a hugely complex set of steps to go through. It actually took us three whole days, one and off, and we're not done yet. The extra pain is that all my MobileMe websites have to find other hosts as iCloud doesn't do websites. Stupid iCloud, eh. I am distinctly not impressed with the whole palaver, deep sigh. And apparently I'm not the only one complaining either.

Still, we've had a couple of great trips out, one to Wisley where I bought a lovely apple-shaped doorstop which can now replace the piece of cardboard which has been holding the living-room door open for three months, phew. Plus we had a fantastic day out at The Hillier Gardens, which has the largest winter garden in Europe. It's amazing, I must say, and the food is to die for too, so we'll definitely be back.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas

Book News:

Many congratulations to Judi P who was the winner in my Winter Newsletter Competition and chose gay erotic short story Tommy's Blind Date as her prize. I hope you enjoy the read, Judi!

And exciting news for Christmas Day ONLY: my gay romance Two Christmases will have a 30% discount direct from the publisher, so well worth popping in to grab your bargain while you're waiting for the turkey to roast ...

I've been doing the second round of final edits (if you see what I mean!) for gay erotic short story The Heart's Greater Silence for Riptide Publishing, so that's just now gone back to them for comment. I've also been thrilled to get a lovely Christmas card from Amber Allure Press, so many thanks to Trace and the team for sending that. Much appreciated.

Here's a Christmas haiku for you:

Bare branches outspread,
my tree gives the clouded sky
a sure resting place.

Life News:

I have to admit I never find Christmas the easiest of festivals. Too much jollity, sociability and tremendous amounts of pressure to get it right, to my mind. So I was relieved to to be reminded in this week's Church Times that Christ wasn't born when we were ready for Him, but in fact arrived right in the middle of family traumas, homelessness, political instability and huge personal mess. Indeed if everything had been perfect, then He wouldn't have needed to bother turning up at all. Somehow that small fact makes me feel a whole lot better about the season - though I did get a session of what I call my "Christmas gloom" earlier this week. I took a couple of calming pills and just sat down for a bit - that helped.

Today, K and I have decorated the house with greenery from the garden, put a set of lights up in the apple tree and I've made my grandmother's special rum butter, so I think that's it really.

I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Christmas, whatever you're doing, and I'll catch up with you next week.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Little Death publication day


Lovely news today: my literary biblical short story A Little Death has just been published by Untreed Reads, and is available from all good e-stores, as they say. Here's the blurb:

When Abigail marries Nabal in the time of the rebel king David, she quickly discovers her husband's bullying ways and cruelty. Trapped in a loveless relationship but determined to fight, she finds solace in her growing friendship with servant girl Anna. Soon the two women are plotting to kill Nabal, but the increasing attacks from David threaten to destroy all their hopes for happiness.

I do hope you enjoy the story! Keeping with Untreed Reads, I was very happy to receive this quarter's royalties from them today - another nice Christmas surprise, that's for sure.

For today only, you can also find lots of FREE giveaways of gay fiction at Jessewave Reviews, though sadly my offering of all four books of the erotic Delaneys Series has already been claimed (many congratulations to the winner!). But there's plenty more left to grab, as it were, so don't miss out ... And you can still win a copy of Dating the Delaneys at Brief Encounter Reviews on 26 December, so definitely worth getting up on Boxing Day, ho ho.

Meanwhile, gay romance The Hit List found itself briefly at No 99 in the Amazon UK charts this week, so that was very nice too. It's slipped down from this dizzy height now but hey it was fun while it lasted.

And I must also announce that my literary relationship with DWB Publishing has now come to a fairly amicable end, so my children's story The Origami Nun and my spiritual novella The Prayer Seeker are once more footless and fancy-free. Another learning curve for us all indeed. I'm sure that both sides wish each other all the best with our very different endeavours.

Ending on a very positive note, I'm slowly making changes to my website, which now includes a good-size extract from fantasy novel The Gifting and also from gay thriller A Dangerous Man, the latter including erotic content. Plus there's also an Events and Activities page which I'm planning to keep updated as news comes in. Ooh, and I'm also deep in editing literary gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence for Riptide Publishing, so keep an eye out for more news on that one too. Next year I'm planning to start seriously editing the third in my fantasy series, The Executioner's Cane, as well. No rest for the wicked, they say. And they'd be right!

This week's meditations have been:

Meditation 601
There is no love
so small,
no hope too weak
that God can’t see
and use it.

So if you judge
your cause
too poor
keep faith
and you’ll not lose it.

Meditation 602
A cold night
when the bitterness
of a long winter

freezes your bones
as you wait
almost impatient

for any sign
of warmth
in this unforgiving land.

Keep on waiting,
enduring the dark.
Learn to understand.

Meditation 603
When all the great arguments
in the world
are done

the truth
is God’s greatest talent
lies in being found.

His only request
is that we simply
and truly look.

Life News:

Those vicious rumours of me actually having a life have been greatly exaggerated, I fear, but here's what I've got up to in the non-book world this week:

I have nobly defrosted the work fridge and sent to the Great Bin in the Sky the yoghurt with a 2004 sell-by date on it, yuck. And no, I didn't open it first to check if it was still okay. Lord forbid. I also popped into town to attempt to get some last minute items before the holiday sets in, and was caught in some pretty heavy rain - which required me to divest myself of my shoes and socks when I got back to the office and attempt to dry them out with the fan heater. Whilst paying due care to Health & Safety issues, naturally ... The sight of my bony feet (I really hate my feet!) lolloping round the office seemed to keep any visitors away, and I can't say I blame them.

On Tuesday we had the last of our Advent compline services, which was as bliss as ever. Heck, but I'm going to miss those - so I hope the vicar puts something else in place for us silence junkies. We seriously need it. And yesterday, I had a lovely time up in London with Jane M and Jane S-D (hello, both) and playing catch-up on a grand scale. It's been over a year since we last saw each other and I must remember not to leave it quite so long again. Mind you, I'm sure the years fly by faster as age catches up with me, hey ho.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Death, dinners and silence

Book News:

For the first time ever in my writing life, I actually have a book you can pre-order, well gosh. I'm delighted to say that literary gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence can now be pre-ordered from Riptide Publishing (and if you do so, then you also enter their giveaway competition!) and is also up at Goodreads. The cover's pretty classy too and it's due out on 6 February.

Here's the blurb:

Mark isn't sure he believes in love, especially when he's torn between two very different men: his reliable boyfriend, Craig, and his illicit lover and priest, Richard. Mark knows what he should do, but he can't bring himself to give Richard up. The sex with Richard is unlike anything he's ever known with Craig, and he hungers for it as much as - if not more than - the truer intimacy he finds in his boyfriend's arms. When Craig discovers his betrayal, Mark is forced to look at his life more closely, but the path to self-knowledge is never an easy one. Richard seeks the way back to God, but Mark finds no solace there. Can he ever discover the truth of his own soul, or is he too afraid of what he will - or won't - find inside his heart?

Keeping with Riptide Publishing, I'm also happy to say that another literary gay story, Where You Hurt the Most, has just been accepted by them, so I'm looking forward to working with them on that one also. You can also visit my author page with Riptide here.

Meanwhile, I've just sent back the final proofs for biblical short story A Little Death to Untreed Reads, so that should be available soon. Watch this space ...

Don't forget my newsletter competition is still running, so enter soon to be in with a chance of winning something from my backlist! And a big thank you to Elstead Writers' Group and the lovely Sue who hosts it for a wonderful Saturday morning talking about writing. Fabulous.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 599
Whatever we may say
or secretly think
about God

He’s more merciful
a leader
than any mere man.

Meditation 600
A lifetime remembered
for the increase of power
and a passion
for all that is wrong

does not in the end
whatever we say
make for a very
meaningful song.

The Sunday haiku is:

Each ripe red berry
plucked one by one from my hedge
like vanishing stars.

Life News:

It's been an odd week this week, what with working on Thursday and Friday, and having Tuesday and Wednesday at home instead. Most disorientating. Still, we had the office Christmas lunch on Thursday, at All Bar One in Guildford, which was great as I could actually hear what people were saying (hurrah!) and the food was wonderful. We had a lovely time. On Friday we had the Managers' Away Day which was very worthwhile indeed, in spite of the fact that we saw our first snow of the season (yikes!). Thank goodness it didn't settle. How I hate snow ... And in the evening, K and I were at Marian's for dinner, during which - for some strange reason - we were nearly visited by the local youth group's Santa sledge, but he somehow escaped so we never actually saw him. Probably too busy trying to find where the good children are, ho hum.

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon gardening and in the evening we were at Liz's two doors down for her pre-Christmas dinner - great company, great food, including a home-made Yule log to die for, and possibly rather too much wine than was good for us. Hey ho, it's Christmas after all.

And today, we've spent a lovely day (though a chilly one!) with Peter and Sue at The Vyne, catching up and exchanging presents. Unfortunately, I seem to have bought poor Peter something he already has, but there are other gifts too, so all is - probably - not lost. I hope ...!

Anne Brooke
The Origami Nun

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Discounts and a double dose of champagne

Book News:

Gosh, indeedy, it appears that the paperback version of romantic comedy Pink Champagne and Apple Juice is experiencing a sudden surge of popularity. I wonder if people are buying it for Christmas? It's been pretty flat (AKA non-existent) on sales for months so it's lovely to have an unexpected change on that front. If you have bought it, then many thanks and I hope you or the person it's intended for enjoy the read. And don't forget the ebook version is also available, so never say I don't try to cater for all tastes.

Speaking of unexpected sales, you'll be pleased to hear that all my Amber Allure Press books currently have a 25% discount, so that's well worth a browse for sure - and with any luck they'll warm your winter up too and put you in a glowing mood for the Big Season. Enjoy!

At the same time, I'm really getting back into writing my gay fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. I'm just getting to the adventure/political struggle sections now so they should be fun. I do so love writing adventure and battle sections - must be my calm and contemplative nature, eh.

Across at Vulpes Libris Reviews, I find I really don't love all in my review of Madeleine Wickham's The Tennis Party, but hey at least the ending was good. All rather disappointing really, as I've definitely enjoyed some of her other work.

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 597
The fields, woods
and pastures
lie empty.

Only the wind
brushes over
the waiting soil

and grasses,
setting the leaves,
the crooked branches

of everything
that went before.

Meditation 598
The larger the family
the greater the potential

as each of them
in their various

strives to be

Life News:

This week so far has been a week of health appointments. Yesterday I had my eye test and was greatly relieved that I don't have to buy new glasses - thereby saving huge amounts of money which can be put to very good use elsewhere. And today it's been the dental hygienist, so my teeth are lovely and shiny for Christmas, hurrah.

Yesterday evening was the third in the church's special Advent & Compline quiet services - it was just so very relaxing I could have stayed there for ever. Such a wonderful change from the huge busyness and general gubbins going on elsewhere. Honestly, there should be more times set aside for group quietness. It's a real boon.

Oh and we've opened our first champagne of the season - K had one bottle left over from his bulk-buy for the office Christmas so we've celebrated by drinking it. Lovely. You can never really have too much champagne, to my mind. Bring it on.

And, in the virtual world, some Evil Person from Indonesia (where they obviously have nothing better to do ...) has this week hacked into my FB account for reasons known only to themselves. Luckily, FB seem pretty hot on this sort of stuff, so contacted me at once so I could change my password (thank you, FB). So I think I'm normal now (relatively), but really who can tell?...

Finally, in the wonderful world of TV, K and I are devastated that we've seen the last of Series One of the marvellous comedy crime programme, Death in Paradise. We've thoroughly enjoyed its quirkiness, humanity and downright simplicity and we hope that some wise person will hurry up and make a second series - in spite of the fact that nobody but us seems to have liked it, sigh. Anyway, you can never go wrong with Ben Miller. In anything. He's great.

Anne Brooke
The Origami Nun

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rewrites and Rev

Book News:

Much to my surprise, another reader asked for for a signed Kindle copy of one of my books this week so I was happy to oblige - many thanks, Kimberly. Literary lesbian short story The Girl in the Painting also made it to No 14 in the Amazon UK GLBT Short Stories chart this week, which was lovely though it's fallen somewhat now.

This week, I've also started back with writing my fantasy novella, The Taming of The Hawk, which was a relief as I've not tackled it for ages, what with other stories taking precedence. I've also been doing rewrites of literary gay short story The Eye of The Beholder for Riptide Publishing, but I'm not sure if it's quite there yet. I'm thinking of changing the title, as the focus is shifting a fair amount, to Where You Hurt Most, but we'll have to see.

And at The Thoughtful Corner, I'm thinking about what TV sitcom Rev. says about faith and life. And, believe me, there's quite a lot there, as it's a programme which just keeps getting better, hurrah. I love it!

Here's a recent meditation:

Meditation 596
Each unfamiliar name
drives me further
from the truth
that lies within:

a barrier to peace
where Bethzur, Mareshah
and Gath
find their faiths begin.

The Sunday haiku:

This winter evening
wraps the house in slow silence,
quieting my heart.

Life News:

Had my six-monthly trip to the dentist on Friday, which went okay, actually - though I did have to have one small filling though thankfully without the drill, double hurrah. We had a nice chat afterwards about the old days when there were no computers and we all shared happy nostalgic memories about carbon paper. Ah indeed - whatever happened to that?... It's amazing how much has changed only in the last twenty years.

Yesterday K and I had our Christmas trip to see Mother. I took a good strong dose of Quiet Life pills to keep me smiling and all, I believe, was well. She was in high spirits indeed, or perhaps that was the effect of the drugs. Whose drugs, nobody can tell, hey ho ... And today, we've spent a long time in the garden, weeding the shrubbery and some of the remaining borders, and also planting twelve rose bushes along the trellis at the back. I'm going to have to get a nailbrush to de-garden my hands, I think. Nature certainly ain't that clean!

Anne Brooke
The Origami Nun

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Newsletters, Kindles and lunch

Book News:

My winter newsletter is out today and includes a free giveaway competition, some exclusive fiction and my latest writing news - enjoy! I'm also happy to announce that gay thriller A Dangerous Man gained an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Rainbow Cover Awards, hurrah. Many thanks indeed to all those who voted for it.

Meanwhile, gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys was No 6 in the Amber Allure Bestseller Lists for November, so that's very exciting too. I do hope those of you who've bought it have enjoyed the read. More from the Delaneys and Liam in the new year, I think.

In other writing news, I've signed two Kindlegraphs this week - so many thanks to Nikyta for requesting those. It's much appreciated. And there's 30% off all holiday titles at Untreed Reads at the moment, so what are you waiting for ... Happy holiday reading!

Today at Vulpes Libris you can find my review of Ron Rash's stonkingly brilliant short story collection, Burning Bright - it comes highly recommended indeed, and it was a pleasure to review it.

This week's meditation is:

Meditation 595
When one man’s word
can stop a war
by being heard

then let us always pray
for prophets
to have their say.

Life News:

Much to my astonishment, I've got Christmas almost all wrapped up (ha!). On Sunday I wrapped all the presents except a couple that I need to sort out this week and send, and I wrote and posted all my cards on Monday. What a Christmas angel I am indeed - and I'm sure you all hate me for it, hey ho. But I do dislike the whole Christmas thing so much that simply for my own sanity I need to get it out of the way as soon as humanly possible or my head implodes. Not a pretty sight, believe me.

However, all is not doom and gloom and pesky tinsel as on Tuesday I went to the second of the church's Advent compline services. Such a relief to have forty-five minutes of peace and quiet after the frantic busyness of work, I must say. I really enjoyed it - and especially lovely to stay and chat with writing friends,  Stella and Rich afterwards, and to learn something more about John the actual vicar (rather than John the no 2 vicar) and his wife afterwards. Strangely, they lived in our road in Godalming for many years and not that far from our flat either, but I never knew it. Which just proves what an antisocial hermit I actually am (people? there are other people in the world? Well gosh ...). Hey ho.

And today I've enjoyed a wonderful ladies' lunch at the house of another Elstead Writers' Group friend, Sue (hello, Sue - and indeed Stella and Jacqui too!) - it was great to see some people I knew already and also a few neighbours I hadn't yet met. And the food was fabulous. How I love a woman who can cook.

Anne Brooke
The Origami Nun

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Showers, sherry and the chance to vote ...

Book News:

Great news indeed! The cover for gay thriller A Dangerous Man has made the finalists of the Rainbow Cover Awards 2011 and you can even vote for it to win, should you be so inclined. If you do, then thank you very much in advance. In any case, I'm really thrilled it's got this far, especially as the cover is just so perfect for the book, in my opinion.

Not to be outdone, gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys gained a lovely review at Brief Encounter Reviews - so thank you, Jen, for that.

I've also added the link to children's story The Origami Nun to my main website, just in case anyone fancies a change of pace and theme. Enjoy!

Plus you can find all my current Kindle fiction at the Kindle Users UK Forum for ease of reference, hurrah. And you can even recommend those you might have read and enjoyed, well gosh.

Here's the most recent meditation poem:

Meditation 594
When men listen only
to what they wish
with all their heart
to hear

then wisdom
will not be found
and we will always live
in fear.

And the Sunday haiku is:

This frosty morning
has scattered a thousand stars
on my acer tree.

Life News:

This week's excitement has to be Friday morning, when I not only fell in the shower, but actually slipped and fell out of the shower, bounced off the toilet seat and landed on my bottom on the bathmat, bringing the shower curtains with me. My, what fun we have in downtown Elstead, hey ho. Damage done includes: a slightly cracked toilet seat (but still workable with glue, phew), broken shower curtains (now mended by K, hurrah), a small bruise and some severely dented dignity. Ah well. I fear I probably won't be repeating this elegant manoeuvre in the upcoming 2012 Olympic gymnastic displays. At least not without alcohol. On Saturday morning, K offered to stand outside the shower to catch me when I catapulted out but I wisely opted for the bath option. I'll measure up to the beast (that's the shower, not K ...) on Monday when I hope to remain upright. Wish me luck.

Friday's other delights were my Christmas haircut in the afternoon at the local hairdresser who (bless her) still cannot believe that my hair colour doesn't come from a bottle. I'm thinking of wearing a t-shirt saying: yes, this colour is genetically created. Really ... But I fear nobody in the village will believe me. Much to my delight I was offered a Christmas sherry as well, so that went down well. And rather quickly too.

On Saturday, we had a thoroughly rural day and I spent the whole day in the garden. It was even warm enough (in December!) to have our morning coffee outside. I've now raked the lawn free of the remaining leaves, weeded the border on the right which I hadn't tackled yet, and re-weeded the bed behind the seats. Oh, and I've also cleaned the fountain and we've taken it in for the winter. As all the books tell us we must. Meanwhile, K has been painting and hammering for Britain and we now have a rather lovely trellis at the back on the right, which we hope to extend all the way across, depending on how we can work our way around the pretty little trees on the left.

This morning was the second in Advent, and K and I were once again the chosen people taking the bread, wine and water up to the altar during the collection hymn. I think I got it right this time and didn't canter up as if taking part in the local gymkhana. The congregation were no doubt stunned into silence by my unexpected dignity. Well, they hadn't seen me in (or rather out of) the shower on Friday, I suppose. Meanwhile K and I found ourselves giving some considerable thought to today's sermon which challenged us to think what John the Baptist's last word might have been if his head on Herod's platter might have been able to talk. K thought it would be: Surprise! Whereas I instantly thought it would be: Murderer! Well, it's what I would have said to the rather glorious Herod in that position anyway. Sadly, however, I fear we might have missed the point entirely as the vicar (obviously far holier than are we) thought it would have been: Repent! Which just goes to show, I imagine, that in extremis, K reverts to his trademark humour and I to my trademark melodrama. Ah, 'twas ever thus.

This afternoon, we've had lunch out and a look round Osterley Park, near Heathrow. Some lovely Christmas displays but the craft fair wasn't as large as I'd hoped, though nice enough. I must say the treacle tart and cream were to die for, however. Total bliss.

Anne Brooke
The Origami Nun

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Origami Nun goes live!

Book News:

I'm very pleased to say that my first ever children's book under the pseudonym of Lori Olding (actually, it's another version of my name so still me, just in different clothes) is now published and you can read all about The Origami Nun here. I do soooo love that cover art - it's perfect for the story. The blurb is:

Seven-year old Ruth can't speak, but that doesn't mean she can't think. She knows her birthday is going to be good as her beloved great-aunt has exciting plans for her. But what she doesn't expect is a magical paper nun, an encounter with a bully who may not be what she seems or a school day to remember. Because, before her special day is over, Ruth is is for some very big surprises.

The story has some themes that are very close to my heart, including bullying (arrghh, don't mention primary school or my first ever real job!!... though if the story or the link makes one child - or even adult - feel a little bit safer or decide not to bully someone, then I'll be a very happy woman indeed ...), blueberry muffins and lemon meringue pie. Not to mention origami! And The Origami Nun now even has her own special store where you can buy mugs, t-shirts, mousemats and postcards - so every opportunity to add colour and fun to your life. Enjoy!

Meanwhile, back with the somewhat wilder world of Anne Brooke (Lori's much more sensible and a thoroughly good woman, you know ...), I'm pleased to say that gay erotic short story Dating The Delaneys gained a lovely 5 star review at Top 2 Bottom Reviews (thank you, Lisa!), so I'm thrilled about that. And I'm very happy indeed with the cover for literary gay short story The Silence of The Heart, which will be out in January/February with Riptide Publishing - but it's under wraps at the moment, so I can't reveal anything. You'll have to be patient and wait ...

I'm also rather relieved that I've just now finished the first draft of another literary gay short story The Eye of The Beholder, which I need to go through and edit fairly soon. I'm hoping to pitch it to Riptide again, so we'll have to see if they like it.

Finally, I'm delighted to announce that Untreed Reads will be publishing my biblical short story A Little Death later in December - so I'm looking forward to that too. The end of this year is certainly proving very busy, but in a good way!

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 592
When cedar is more plentiful
than sycamore
and silver as common
as stone

then the historical world
of the bible
is as nothing
that we’ve ever known.

Meditation 593
The secrets of the past
are hidden in the subtle pages
of long-forgotten books.

Out of sight they wait for us,
whispering of a knowledge
we only half remember

or believe in.
The clouds of glory
we were born with

nothing but a mist
layering our skin.
A quiet lying in.

Life News:

Advent is finally upon us and the year is fast completing, hey ho. The church is holding 4 Advent meditation and compline (short evening service) services every Tuesday evening and the first one was this week. It was great. All done by candlelight and with just a short address, 15 minutes silent meditation and then the service. Lovely. And just soooo relaxing - can't wait till next week's.

Meanwhile, in utter contrast, I'm off to the bright lights big city tonight to catch up with Jane W (hello, Jane!) - I'm looking forward to our customary Indian, drinks and chat - and I'm praying it doesn't rain. Wish me luck with that one, eh!

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Covers, crafts and queens

Book News:

I'm both surprised and happy that the cover art for critically acclaimed gay thriller A Dangerous Man has managed to get through to Round Five of the 2011 Rainbow Cover Awards - where you can now vote for it if you're feeling generous and if you scroll down in the poll itself to slot two. And if you do, many thanks indeed!

Meanwhile you can now buy fantasy novel The Gifting at the NEW discounted price of $2.99 (£1.90) at All Romance Ebooks - so grab yourself a bargain today. And there's very exciting news on the review front as Vulpes Libris Reviews had our one millionth visitor earlier this weekend, so huge thanks indeed to all those who read and enjoy our book blog. Here's to the next million!

In a brave attempt to work out what networking actually means, I have signed up to join the Writers, Agents and Editors Network, but they haven't yet approved my application so perhaps they're still reeling from the shock of it all. We'll wait and see what happens next week but so far there's been not much sign of interaction, hey ho.

Here's my most recent meditation poem:

Meditation 591
The queen of Sheba
travels many miles
and through many dangers

to ask the king
the most difficult questions
she can find.

All this should come
as no surprise
because it’s exactly

what women are for.

The Sunday haiku is:

My dreams are of wood:
curved bowls, beads and twisted trees
framed against the sun.

Life News:

Great excitement on the work front as we win the Queen's Anniversary Prize for the quality of our water research, hurrah! A huge honour indeed, but heck we're worth it, eh. And this week has seen the usual round (ha!) of golf and gardening - though I feel I've definitely done more good in the latter than in the former. I'd be better off using the shovel on the golf course, I think. I certainly couldn't be any worse ...

Yesterday, K and I visited craft fairs at Wisley and at Guildford Cathedral in order, ostensibly, to stock up on Christmas presents. But in the end, all I did was get stuff for the house, including three gorgeous miniature paintings from artist Iona Mackenzie Laycock, which look utterly stunning in our guest bathroom.

Speaking of churches (well, sort of ...), today's advent service was very enjoyable - advent hymns are top of my favourites list though I do feel that the last hymn, whilst magnificently complex, did rather outclass our abilities as a congregation to sing it. Ah well. Aim for the stars is what I say. And, in the spirit of the season, I have joined the Natwivity census, though I have no actual idea what it entails or what it's really about. Much like my relationship with the good Lord then ... A virtual adventure, I hope.

Ooh and it was lovely after church to catch up with local friend Denise (hello, Denise!), and to have coffee, tea & further chat back home afterwards, hurrah. Plus I finally returned the garden chairs she lent me ages ago, so at least she'll have something to sit on this Christmas.

Finally, I'm thrilled to say that another friend, Jane, was up at Strictly Come Dancing yesterday with her mother (hello, both!) and was apparently sitting next to Bruce & Tess, behind the judges - so if you catch a glimpse of two blonde glamorous gals lurking in the background, that'll be them. I'm planning to watch it on iplayer just as soon as it's up there.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Riptide, prayer and the joy of naked farmers

Book News:

Things at Riptide Books are getting very exciting indeed. I've just seen the raw draft of my cover art for upcoming literary gay story, The Heart's Greater Silence, and I'm very happy indeed. A wonderful bleak and autumnal feel which is just perfect, to my mind. Further details to follow shortly ... Not only that but today they've just made their first acquisition of another publisher, so that's very good news for all. Many congratulations!

Keeping with the subject of publisher news, I'm also thrilled to say that all my ebooks at Bluewood Publishing are now being sold at a new discounted price. So you can pick up fantasy novel The Gifting for $2.99 or £1.90, literary short story Dido's Tale, for $1.29 or 80p, and naughty comedy Rosie by Name also for $1.29 or 80p. So do pop along and get some good reads at a definitely decent price. You'll need to sign in first but it only takes 30 seconds and the rewards are more than worth it. Enjoy!

Over at Untreed Reads, you will find 30% off all mystery stories for this week only plus a whole host of other bargains as well. And at Dreamspinner Press,  you can find 20% off all my books until the end of November, hurrah!

I'm also pleased to see that comedy sf story Creative Accountancy for Beginners achieved a 4-star review over at Drive Thru Fiction Reviews - so many thanks, Megan, for that.

And I've reviewed Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (AKA Sophie Kinsella) over at Vulpes Libris Reviews today. Rather a bland concoction, I thought, and not at all up to previous Wickham novels I've read. Sigh ... I hope the next one will be somewhat better.

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 588
The greatest

when involved
in praise

or prayer

is when
God responds

almost as if
there’s actually

somebody there.

Meditation 589
Behind the rain’s whispered threat
and the rattle and hum
of the locusts’ destructive dance

lies the hope of kinder skies
and the sure knowledge
that everything passes.

Meditation 590
Solomon takes his wife
from the holy city
in case she taints it.

Today’s church women
strongly suspect they know
how she felt.

Life News:

An irritating moment or two with the car this week, I fear. I've been thinking it's been sounding rather dodgy lately when attempting to fire it up (as it were), and then on Tuesday night I stopped off at the village shop on the way home from work and it just wouldn't start again, dang it. Naturally I rang the RAC (Gawd bless 'em) and then left a message for K, who wasn't home yet, and waited. The woman on the line had said it was likely to be an hour and a half, but I might get quicker service as I was a woman on her own (we're very dangerous, you know, and they need to protect the innocent public from our fearful machinations ...) so I had a drink and some rather gorgeous salted cashews at The Woolpack to while away the hours. It's the first time I've been in since the change of ownership after the previous change of ownership (and we've only been here a couple of months!) and I rather enjoyed it. I also felt hugely brave going into a pub on my own (something I've never done before, being the shy, retiring type) but actually it was fine and I had a nice chat with the barman about the traumas of cars. Indeed I'd only just got myself settled in when the RAC man phoned me to say he was on his way. I must be scarier than most women on their own in a car then ...

Anyway, he arrived at my side at about the same time as the lovely K, who'd been home, got my message and then dashed to my rescue (what a hero!), and everything was sorted out in a reasonable timescale, thank goodness. It's the age-old problem of only doing short drives in Miranda (the car) and therefore her battery getting confused. But the RAC were once again to the rescue for the long-term as well as the short-term and I am now the proud owner of a smart battery recharger (only c£55, which I thought was a bargain) which seems so far to be doing the trick. Early days though!

We're also the proud owners of a brand-new Canon printer, which also scans and photocopies, and in colour, hurrah! It doesn't quite know how to clean the house yet, but I'm working on it. And it's soooo fast too - bliss. I love it.

Today I've gone for my second follow-up appointment post the cyst operation and I don't have to take a third tranche of antibiotics, so that's a relief. The surgeon was very happy with progress and doesn't want to see me again or do another operation (hurrah!) unless it flares up unexpectedly. So I'll have to keep a careful eye on it as it continues to heal, but I'm hoping for the best. Good news indeed.

Tonight, K and I are at the theatre to see Star Quality, so will have to look as glamorous as possible, whilst seeming suitably and deliciously theatrical, simply in order to keep up. Hmm, could be quite a challenge then ...

Meanwhile, as Christmas approaches, I'm very happy to see that the Naked Farmers' Calendar is once more on sale for the season. Naturally I've ordered my (and my mother's) copies and shall look forward to seeing if there's anyone we recognise, having been brought up in the farming community, hey ho. No, don't laugh - two years ago, we did actually know someone indirectly, but no, I couldn't possibly say who it was ... And the proceeds go to a worthwhile cause, so what could be nicer!

But, to end, it just has to be this week's top quote, courtesy of my boss - which really says it all:

"There's no problem in life that can't be solved by a hot bath, a large whisky and the Book of Common Prayer."

Wise words indeed ...

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giveaways, gardens and golf

Book News

For TODAY only, you can win a free copy of gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys over at Jessewave Reviews, so pop over and leave a comment to be in with a chance, and good luck to all! However, fear not, if you don't win, there's no need to despair as you can still buy a copy at All Romance Ebooks for a snip of a price, hurrah.

I've also pleased to say that comic sf story Creative Accountancy for Beginners is the first story sold into The Netherlands by Untreed Reads, so that's nice to know - I hope whoever it was enjoyed the read.

In terms of children's writing, I've set up a Facebook page for The Origami Nun so you can read all about her there. I've now sent back the final version to DWB Children's Publishing and am awaiting the cover art which should arrive soon. In the meantime, here's the blurb to keep you going:

Seven-year old Ruth can't speak, but that doesn't mean she can't think. She knows her birthday is going to be good as her beloved great-aunt has exciting plans for her. But what she doesn't expect is a magic paper nun, an encounter with a bully who may not be what she seems or a school day to remember. Because, before her special day is over, Ruth is in for some very big surprises.

Yesterday, I had a really great time at the Elstead Writers' Group - so thank you to all for that. We got a heck of a lot done, and I can't wait till the next one. Roll on December!

Here's this week's meditation poem:

Meditation 587
At the heart
of every small plea
for mercy or justice
however rare

there lies
almost unnoticeable
the secret strength
of prayer.

The Sunday haiku is:

This rich earth rises
to meet my fingers: warm gold
caresses my skin.

Life News:

Had a good game of golf on Friday with Marian who was on top form and beat me by miles. Honestly, my game is rubbish these days, but we do have such a lot of fun so it doesn't matter a jot, hey ho. Plus we got absolutely hysterical on the 7th hole when I hit the ball into the brambles and we both got totally stuck in a brave and ultimately vain attempt to get the dang thing out. At one point, Marian was caught by her sleeve and her collar and I was caught by my woolly hat, my fleece and my golfing glove. Golf's a dangerous sport, don't you know ... However, in the end, I decided to leave the ball to its fate in order to save lives. A good decision, I feel.

Brambles and hats must be the theme for the weekend as I've been de-brambling the rest of the front garden now that the hedge is gone and I can get to it - which resulted in my woolly hat being caught on the rose thorns and lifted off entirely whilst I flurried about in the undergrowth. My, how the neighbours must have laughed - watching us learn to garden is better than the TV really. And certainly cheaper. So, in gardening terms, this weekend's results are a de-brambled front garden, a totally de-weeded back garden, and K is putting in trellis at the back even as I type. What a hero and how lovely it looks! We're hoping to grow roses up it but we'll have to try to think about keeping the deer at bay somehow.

In the front garden, we think we might take up the small bit of lawn there is, add a gravel path all the way round, put a bed in the middle with something colourful in (our theme for the front garden - AKA the "fire garden" - is red, by the way), and then put a panel at the corner where the bench is to create privacy there. We'll see though. My secret desire for the bed outside the kitchen now that the hedge has gone there too is to have a poison garden, as you can get some amazing plants that are both deadly and beautiful, but again I don't want to terrify the neighbours, so we'll have to see on that one too.

This morning was the Feast of Christ the King at church (AKA Stir Up Sunday - and the time when we're all supposed to be making our Christmas puddings, dream on eh ...), which was good fun. K and I were asked to take the bread and wine up to the altar during the service, which was a first at Elstead for us. As I don't process slowly by any means, I think I was up there rather earlier than the vicar (hello, John!) anticipated, with K all but running in my wake as he tried to keep up. But as experienced church hands, the two of us are well versed in the art of waiting with dignity (which is much of what church is about, in so many ways) so I don't think anyone noticed the join. I even managed to do the bowing thing at the end, though it goes against my essentially protestant heart, I must say. Hey ho.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Contracts, covers and children's books

Book News:

Great news on the book front! My first (and so far only) children's story has been accepted for publication by DWB Children's Books, so I've sent back the contract, the final edits and the cover art form to them today. Well, goodness me - who'd have thought it? It's a story about a girl who can't speak, a tricky confrontation with a school bully and a very magical nun. I've considered the options long and hard, and have decided (though I've always promised myself it was something I'd never do - but, hey, gals are entitled to change their minds, you know) to publish the story under a pseudonym, particularly bearing in mind the subject matter of my more adult fiction. Choosing the name today felt very strange, and rather displacing, but now I've got more used to it, it actually feels rather liberating. And, in many ways, it's not too far from who I actually am - just a different emphasis on it. Gosh, a whole new name I can write under! Maybe there's a sequel in me yet ...

Ooh and I've just seen that the cover art for gay thriller A Dangerous Man has made it to Round 3 of the 2011 Rainbow Awards Cover Contest and is currently lying at joint 3rd place in the Jury Vote. It probably won't make it through to the next round then, but it's been lovely being up there for a while, that's for sure.

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 584

Everything finds its place
from the highest hill
to the smallest blade
of grass.

It will come to pass
when all things fade
that we are bound still
by grace.

Meditation 585
The music of linen
encompasses the skin
with notes and crotchets
and quavers

so every movement
sings a story out
to the listening air:
a breath one savours.

Meditation 586
When a greater light lives
in our darkness and cloud

everything shifts
to what it should not be

so a measured silence is found
in the bomb’s cruel blast,

the tongue’s sweet luxury
in the strictest fast

and the aroma of hope
in rank despondency.

And all we dream of
becomes what is allowed.

Life News:

We've been attempting to sort out our finances more sensibly over the last couple of weeks, which has proved tricky in some ways. I think we're getting there though, and are even trying to squirrel away a tiny amount of savings in the midst of all this spending here and there. Hmm, best wish us luck then!

Today the tree men have been round (which has given me a few enjoyable Diet Coke break moments, I must say - maybe it's my age?...) and removed our two monstrosity hedges, two of our overgrown trees and two elderly yews from our front and back gardens. What incredibly polite young men they were too. So now the garden looks utterly fantastic - it's really opened up the space and gives us a heck of a lot more to work with. And it's made my lovely neighbour very happy also, as he gets rid of that terrible hedge as well. A win-win scenario indeed.

Tonight, K and I are off to the theatre to see The Holly and the Ivy - so that should be good. One vicar, two irritable aunts and an errant daughter? Sounds so me, dahlings, and in oh so many ways ...

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dating dilemmas, discounts and drama

Book News:

There's good news on the review front for gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys - I'm very pleased to have gained both a 4 star review (thanks, Nithu) and a 5 star review (thanks, Marsha) at Goodreads. Plus you can find out more about my own particular dating dilemmas (ah, the bitter truth!), not to mention Liam's rather naughtier ones, at today's Amber Allure blog - go on, you know you want to ...

Meanwhile, over at Untreed Reads, there are some excellent discounts throughout November, so don't forget to visit and pick up a bargain this month!

I'm continuing on with the first draft of my gay erotic story, The Eye of The Beholder, and am now, I think, about halfway through. It's taking off in directions I hadn't bargained for, but that's par for the course with the writing game. You never know what's really going to happen when the fingers hit those keys. That's part of the fun of it all indeed.

The Sunday haiku is very seasonal this week:

Leaves rustle my feet,
path of gold for my journey:
autumnal delight.

Life News:

I had a very inspirational day on Thursday - I had a day's workshop in the big city on Putting Students at the Heart of the System which was really very good indeed, and gave me, and the office I suspect, a whole load of things to think of and plan for in the future. It was also wonderful to sit and chat with people I knew of from the business, but hadn't had the chance to have an in-depth conversation with before. Well worth it - but totally exhausting as I'd forgotten how soul-destroying the commute to London actually is. Thank the Lord I don't have to do it any more - honestly, I could never go back. It's a young person's game.

Then it was a mad dash back home, as K and I went to see Henry V as done by the Propeller Theatre Company at the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford. Wonderful stuff - it's always fabulous to see a production where the actors aren't afraid of the text and in fact can make it sing. Really the older I get the more I object to productions which aim to make the text easier by cutting it or changing the sense - I didn't much mind when I was young but now I think if they don't have an actor who can make the text come alive, then get one who can. After all, Rachmaninov ain't easy to play but nobody tries to change the notes to enable people to do so, harrumph. Anyway sermon over. I particularly enjoyed the way the actors divided the chorus speeches so that each man on stage had a few lines of it - it made total sense in the battle setting. The use of music was also very cleverly done and didn't detract from anything. The only issue I had was that the actor playing Henry himself was good but not great. You needed someone with a lot more charisma in the role, as charm maketh the man. It was also interesting that it was an all male company - which made me think I'd love to see the play done by an all female company as I think that would be even more powerful. But I'd definitely go and see Propeller do Shakespeare again. Macbeth anybody? Please ...

Yesterday, K and I spent a very pleasant day at Mottisfont Abbey Garden, admiring the Winter Garden and the new art exhibition based on paper. Astonishingly some of the roses were still out so we must go back in summer next year when they'll be at full bloom. You can never have too many roses, to my mind.

And today, of course, was the Remembrance Service at church, and then the ceremony round the war memorial. It's the first time we've attended in Elstead and I thought they did it very well indeed. It was eye-opening too when they were reading out the names of the dead how many families must have had all their sons wiped out in such a short time. Horrendous really.

For the rest of the day, we've gardened for Britain. I've done the rest of the weeding at the back, thus creating a fabulous amount of space to put new plants in, hurrah. And K has trimmed the laurel trees at the side. So we have yet more bags of garden waste for the nice people at the Council to collect at some point.

Finally, at the risk of being the only voice in the country to say this, I must confess that the new John Lewis Christmas advert with that pesky goody-two-shoes boy leaves me utterly cold. What on earth is everyone "sobbing with joy at their desks over it" for?? Hmm, perhaps they're on drugs ... Anyway, it's a one-trick pony with sentimentality daubed on like treacle and sets my teeth on edge. The whole dull family should be given a good sharp slap and told to get real, for heaven's sake. Whatever can John Lewis be thinking?!?

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dates, drugs and days in lieu

Book News:

Much to my delight, sales for gay erotic short story Dating the Delaneys were, according to Amber Allure Press, brisk on the first day of publication, so that's very heartening. There are one or two good ratings at Goodreads already (for which thank you!) and the lovely Angie Jarrett tweeted this:

"I finally read @AnneBrooke Dating the Delaneys, freaking loved it! Can't wait for the next one."

Many thanks, Angie - really appreciate that!

Ooh, and I've been greatly amused this week as, while I was flicking through the first edits for fantasy novel The Executioner's Cane, I realised that the bridge I'd destroyed in Chapter One magically reappeared intact at the end of Chapter Three. Hey ho, you can't put anything past those pesky Lammas Landers, you know - they're ridiculously keen on DIY ... Anyway, suffice it to say I've now gone through the beast again and removed the bridge. People will just have to cope with wet feet and skirts, alas.

Life News:

I had a day in lieu on Monday (as I'm on a student support course in London tomorrow - hence the early blog), which was lovely and I got a lot of writing/editing done - but my week now feels utterly unfamiliar and I'm at least a day behind (or in front) of my own life. How I do love my routine, and how twitchy I become when I can't rely on it. Must be my age, ah well.

Anyway, yesterday evening, we had the man from the bank around to advise us on how to make the most of our (sparse, due to house move) finances, so that was actually really interesting and we may be able to make a penny or two here and there if we follow some of his advice. Perhaps there might be Christmas dinner in Elstead after all. You never know.

And today, I've gone to my follow-up appointment after the cyst operation last week. Apparently it's doing nicely but still inflamed so I have to be on the antibiotics for another couple of weeks. I was really hoping not to have to carry them on as they do make my throat burn for a while after I've taken them (though not in a truly horrid way!), but I now have enough of them to sink the Titanic again - so I just have to make sure I remember when I've taken them and when I haven't. And I was brave today (pause for applause!) and took the plaster off for a while - well, the surgeon had to see the site of Carlos the Cyst, so I had to, really - but it began to hurt a bit later on, so I've put a new one now. I see it as a fashion accessory, don't you know. Soon, everyone will be wearing them. You heard it here first.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dates, blogs and bestsellers

Book News:

The fourth in the gay erotic Delaneys series of short stories, Dating the Delaneys, is now published by Amber Allure Press and available at a first week discount from them. I hope you enjoy the read!

Much to my amazement, literary lesbian short story, The Girl in the Painting, has now been in the Top 5 International Bestseller lists at Untreed Reads for a whole year, well gosh. Not only that, but today it reached No 7 in the Amazon UK short story lists, so that was a real boost too. Heck, maybe I should do a sequel at some point? Now there's a thought.

I've finally completed the first round of edits for the final part in my Gathandrian Trilogy, The Executioner's Cane. My, that felt like a real milestone, and I was more pleased with how it hangs together than I initially expected, phew. Now I need to draft a synopsis (my least favourite writing job ...) and unleash some outside editorial input on it. Still some way to go then. Speaking of the Gathandrian Trilogy, you can get the first in the series, the critically acclaimed The Gifting, for only about $2 (c£1) at Books on Board - so now's your chance to try my magnum opus Part 1 at a very decent price. Happy shopping to all!

During the week, I've also created two more blog posts (one about my favourite Christmas present ever, which will probably be a surprise to all ...) for my upcoming blog tour in December with Riptide Publishing. I'll let you know the schedule as soon as it's confirmed. And I've added a new blog post to The Thoughtful Corner, this time about people, communities and prejudice.

Yesterday, I recorded my third short story, The Singing Road, for Celtica Radio. I gather that two of my short stories will probably be broadcast on their monthly arts programme during December, and then another early next year.  They're hoping to get an hour's worth of short stories from me - which means about six or so - and then they'll see how it goes. Maybe I have the face for radio after all!...

I've also been rather heartened that the latest quarter's royalties from Amber Allure Press nicely dovetail with the costs of my cyst operation (see below for update ...) so I just about break even there, hurrah. God indeed works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

Meanwhile, you can find all my latest writing news on my website, updated for November.

The Sunday haiku is:

The long-tailed tits dance
across my bare apple tree:
flock of soft pink leaves.

Life News:

The aftermath of my cyst operation has, I admit, been a bit tricky, though it's been utter bliss to be able to move properly again and sleep without pain. But (squeamish alert!) I've had to lay in a supply of large plasters as so far it keeps bleeding now and again, depending on how much I've been moving around. The initial bandage change was gross, and this morning was a bit dodgy too - sorry! But so far today, I've kept as still as possible and it's been much improved. Let's hope that continues. It's also been something of a challenge to remember to take my various doses of antibiotics four times a day but I've kept up to speed more or less successfully, I think. Not being a mathematician, after two I lose count ... But certainly the beast is way better being off, that's for sure.

On Friday afternoon, I attended the monthly church healing service in the hope that some of the miracle of prayer for the sick in the parish might rub off on yours truly. Hell, there's a selfish motive, if ever I heard one! But, actually, it was a nice quiet and traditional short service and I really enjoyed it. I've kept the prayer list handed out and have put it in my prayer room so God can glance at it now and again. Just in case He might have forgotten the names, hey ho. But I'll certainly be back for the next one.

Yesterday, K and I spent a happy day wandering around The Savill Garden admiring the autumn planting, as you do. It's also a fabulous winter garden and is free in December, so well worth going next month if you're near. We also popped into the Wisley plant shop on the way back, and between them both bought hellebores, tulips and raspberries. Which K has planted in our garden today. Looking forward to that early spring colour, we hope!

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Blogs, Bones and boils

Book News:

Much to my astonishment, comic sf short story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, has sold a copy in Slovakia, well gosh. Many thanks, kind Slovakian reader - I hope there are more of you out there! I'm also pleased to say I've sent back the galley proofs for gay short story, Dating the Delaneys, which is published on Sunday 6 November, and you can now read an erotic extract on the Amber Allure site. Enjoy ...

At the same time, Riptide Publishing have asked for two more blog posts ready for the upcoming blog tour - one about favourite Christmases and one about the story behind writing gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence. So I'm getting my brain in gear (don't wait up ...) for those projects.

And I'm very happy with the Quarter 3 royalties made by gay thriller The Bones of Summer. I'm surprised it's still selling, but hey I'm not complaining. Never think that.

At Vulpes Libris meanwhile I've discovered my best book of the year (hurrah!) and can only encourage you all to rush out and read Evelio Rosero's Good Offices. A marvellous little novella.

This week's meditation poem is:

Meditation 583
Solomon builds
his temple
with a glorious excess
of gold:

a reminder
when starting your project
you should always attempt
to be bold.

Life News:

Hmm, what can I say? The title of this post has probably given you the clue so all I can say is if you're squeamish, best to skip to the very end, ho hum ... As you may remember, the pesky little cyst (AKA Carlos) on my collarbone has been giving me hell all week and has shot up from a brief and fairly idyllic childhood to be three times its original size in its difficult teenage years, all in the space of seven rather unholy days. My, what fun. It's had its rather painful moments too, and getting into bed without gritting my teeth and wincing (let alone attempting to sleep) has been tricky.

Well, my op was scheduled for 6.30pm this evening and I was starting to get rather angsty as the last time I had an infected cyst removed (from my back) twenty odd years ago, on the NHS, there were several rather unfortunate events which may be best simply listed: a trainee doctor out of his depth (bless him), a call for an emergency surgeon on the hospital tannoy system, being left in a room on my own bleeding onto my t-shirt while everyone rushed around trying to find said surgeon, being told that they couldn't give me any more drugs as I was over the limit now so the rest of the op would be painful (it was ...), no aftercare, wandering round the hospital in my blooded shirt (heck, no wonder people were staring!), and eventually getting home without any clear idea of how I managed it. My lodger at the time (a nurse) took one look at what they'd done and shrieked: Lord, they've butchered you ... Which did at least have the effect of making me laugh while I drank my gin. I bear the scars with something like a survivor's pride really ...

So, today I was a little nervous. However, in the event there hasn't been time to think. I went in to the clinic at 11.30am for a pre-op consultation, the very lovely surgeon took one look at it, said he'd need to do it there and then as it was infected and by the way please could he take a few photos as he'd never seen a furuncle cyst (aka boil, for the uninitiated in these things) so badly advanced before (naturally I let him - I do so love the camera under any circumstances ...). He had to bring the beast down in size before he could use the drugs (no, please, don't ask ...) and he then whipped up a few nurses and an ops trolley and did the dirty deed. After the drugs kicked in, it wasn't as bad as expected, hurrah.

I now therefore have the largest neck dressing I've ever seen - which did rather startle the good people of Tesco as I popped into the pharmacy on the way home - and enough antibiotics to kill a giraffe. The surgeon has also booked me in for a follow-up appointment next week - let's hope he doesn't discover anything else he wants to whip out, eh - and has commanded me in any case to ring the clinic immediately if I think the wretched beast might be on its way back again before then.

However, in the midst of all this, I am strangely heartened to think that the op scars on my back will now at last have a matching set on my front. How I do love to be symmetrical. But, then again how will I know which way I'm facing?...

Stay healthy, folks!

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crumbles, brambles and trilogies

Book News:

I've completed and submitted my first pre-publication interview for gay fiction press, Riptide Publishing, so many thanks to Sally Wolf for being the first to express interest in my upcoming blog tour - which will probably take place in December ready for a January/February publication date. And today is especially exciting as it's the first day that Riptide have been official, so do pop along and join in the celebrations - there are loads of prizes to be won!

I'm also very pleased to say that fantasy novel The Gifting has made some royalties in this last quarter, hurrah - so a big thank you to those of you who are taking the plunge and buying the first part of my grand opus. The second part, Hallsfoot's Battle, should be out sometime late summer/autumn 2012, depending on Bluewood schedules, so there's still time to catch up before you fall behind. Readers are either loving it or hating it - so why don't you decide which camp you fall into?...

In the meantime, I'm getting through the first tranche of edits for the third book in the Gathandrian Trilogy, The Executioner's Cane, and now only have about a hundred pages to go, which is great. Much to my relief, it's not as bad as I'd feared though there are one or two feeble moments I'm attempting to sort out - this is very heartening as I'd been dreading starting the edit on this one purely due to cowardice so have left it pending for ages. Just goes to show that if you face the enemy it's never as bad as you fear.

And I must say publicly that E.J, my lovely editor at Amber Allure Press, is an absolute and ruddy genius. Entirely due to excellent editorial input, I have improved gay erotic story, Dating the Delaneys, no end, and it will be published on Sunday 6 November, hurrah! Not only that but I believe I now have two more book ideas in the series, rather than the one I thought I had. Well, gosh. Honestly, good inspirational editors are pure gold, and E.J. is one of them.

The Sunday haiku is:

Golden explosion
of autumn's leafy richness:
my small acer tree.

Life News:

Alas, Carlos the Cyst (remember him? - cue Squeamish Alert!) is rather worst than he was before, groan. He's running riot across my collarbone in an extremely nasty manner and I'm thinking of charging him rent, especially as he's three times as large and wicked-looking as he was last week, lordy. Honestly, I can't wait for Thursday when I'll be rid of him. However, the interesting thing is I've discovered how much one actually uses one's collarbone in everyday life, which I'd never realised before. Utterly nonsensical actions now hurt, much to my surprise - such as biting into an apple, putting on or off coats, cardigans and jumpers, etc. Though I'm managing the difficulty by reversing the way I put on a coat (no, no, not like that, people!) - I mean I'm starting with the Carlos side of the body rather than the other side, which is more natural to me, and then I can manage it without getting stuck, hurrah.

That said, today has been better and I think either he's easing off a little or I'm getting used to him being there, as I've been able to have a relatively ordinary and pain-free day, thank goodness. However, no matter how much Carlos and I are bonding despite the circumstances, I'll be keeping the plaster on and buttoning my shirts right to the top to avoid frightening the horses, and indeed my poor colleagues ...

Turning to somewhat healthier matters, J from London spent the day with us yesterday, which was fabulous. We caught up big-time, she admired the house & garden, and we then spent the afternoon at the recently refurbished and newly open Watts Gallery. It was great - all that excellently overblown Victoriana, the sharp charm of the smaller paintings, and the sheer magnificence of his sculptures. Bliss. I was also delighted to find there's a modern gallery attached to the shop which sells prints and the frames to go with them at incredibly reasonable prices. I bought a print of quirky colourful houses for the living room and a light coloured frame to go with it - which the man in the shop was kind enough to frame for me - and it's simply perfect in the place I thought it would go. All that for £25 all in. Bliss. Seeing as we have huge amounts of empty picture hooks all over the house that we need to fill, I'll definitely be back.

This morning, we celebrated All Saints' Day at church, though I do seem to be sadly out-of-voice, as it were. I just couldn't get those high notes, darnit as the hymns were so good. Even better, there were some free Bramley apple windfalls outside the church so we snaffled some and made apple crumble - improvising with some golden syrup flavour porridge oats for the topping. It was heavenly, though I say it myself and shouldn't. I'll be using these oats again for sure - just as long as I can get some more apples, that is. Anyone for scrumping, hey ho?...

For the rest of the weekend, K and I have gardened with a vengeance - Carlos seems to like this too, strangely, as he hasn't objected too much. We've raked leaves from the lawns and started a leaf mulch bag. K has dug for Britain and I have filled two garden bags with the wicked (and I mean wicked ...) brambles in the front garden. Honestly, they were utterly huge and utterly evil. Lord knows what the previous owners' gardener actually got up to when he was here, but it obviously didn't have much to do with weeding. In fact at one point, K and I wondered if we should just keep the brambles as a feature and dig up the plants - it might have been quicker, though possibly not an approach recommended by our very own lovely Monty Don. Ah well ...

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reviews, loos and blogs

Book News:

I've just finished the second round of edits for gay erotic short story, Dating the Delaneys, which is due out from Amber Allure on Sunday 6 November. My editor, the lovely and extremely wise E.J., is a pure genius and I am very grateful indeed for her suggestions for improvements to the story - thank you! I think, as a result, there are a good couple of books to go in the series, rather than the original one I was intending, well gosh.

Much to my delight, gay thriller, A Dangerous Man, has reached Round Two in the Rainbow Awards Cover Contest 2011, and is even a jury finalist - so many thanks to the judges for that.

Meanwhile, it's all go at my new publisher, Riptide Publishing. For the first time ever, I'm becoming involved in pre-launch marketing, which is fabulous. So far, I've drafted one set of general interview questions and six blog posts for use in a blog tour. It's hugely exciting and I can't wait to see what happens next. And as they open for business on 30 October, it's certainly going to be a fabulous lead up to Christmas. You can find out more at a recent Riptide interview - enjoy the read.

And at Vulpes Libris, I remain in a state of deep disappointment at the standards of Anne O'Brien's Devil's Consort. Sigh. Will nobody rid the reading world of badly-written historical novels? I won't hold my breath, alas ...

Here are some recent meditation poems:

Meditation 580
To build his beloved temple
great King Solomon
puts all the foreigners to work

which proves beyond doubt
how wisdom is his
but justice eludes him.

Meditation 581
Every word we speak
seeps into our skin
like water

and covers our bones
with the oil
of our own invention.

Our words are a belt
keeping us whole
or constraining us

so we are clothed
in the variable colours
of thought.

Meditation 582
In the sacred temple,
of all the objects
to name

the two bronze columns
wouldn’t have been
my choice

but then again
to great Solomon’s
greater shame

this contemporary woman
wouldn’t have had
a voice.

Life News:

Annoyingly (look away now if you're squeamish - please!...), the cyst on my collarbone that I've had for a little while has decided to make itself more fully known, as it were, so I spent rather too much of last night waking up and going: ow, ow, ow while I tried to find a comfortable position again. It took a couple of Nurofen Plus this morning to beat it back into some kind of normality. I've stuck a plaster on the pesky beast but it's still giving me twinges when I laugh or ... um ... move my arms, dang it. Not a pretty situation all round really. I'd been saving up to have it removed privately with my usual clinic (cosmetic issue, blah, blah - doctor therefore can't refer, blah blah ...) but today I bit the proverbial bullet and booked an operation for next Thursday in the evening. They did offer me tonight, but K and I (well, K and I and Carlos the Cyst) are off to the theatre tonight to see Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings, and Carlos is very keen to go ... Thank God I don't have to buy him his own seat, eh. Though, actually, if I laugh too much, it may well come to that, hey ho (sorry!) ...

Keeping to matters bodily for a while, I'm delighted to know that The Guardian is finally acknowledging the cultural importance of loo-reading. I come from a family of keen loo-readers (though K has never understood it) - heck, on the apple farm we had special loo books which had their own loo shelf. What could be nicer? One should always keep essential reading matter as well as a steady supply of crosswords and pens in both the guest room and the Smallest Room in the house - hospitality is all ...

Moving to higher matters (phew, I bet that's a relief - ha! - for you all), I've been keeping my poinsettia in the dark for 8 hours a day as the Internet advises me and, by gum, some of the leaves are indeed turning red. Will it be fully red by Christmas? I do hope so! Though, really, I'm astonished the plant has survived so long under my less than tender care as I've had it for nearly a year now. It even somehow bounced back when it lost all its leaves during the summer and we were considering throwing it out. How I do admire a hardy spirit.

During the week, I've enjoyed a session of Lectio Divina at the University Chaplaincy, which included a very nice soup and bread lunch. It's a new project for them, and I'm very keen to support it. The more meditations and times of silence there are, the merrier - though I did used to be oh so much better at them. I've also had a great time catching up with A at work over lunch in the Cathedral Refectory - I am hugely envious of her recent holiday in Spain and we really must revisit it one day. It's my favourite country.

Finally, I must sing the praises of James May's Man Lab on TV, and also the wonderful new and very quirky detective series, Death in Paradise. Really, you can't go wrong with Ben Miller. Whatever he does, he's just great, and surprising sexy too. Or is that really just me?... In any case Tuesday nights are television nights for the next few weeks, that's for sure.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner