Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strippers and stars

I'm going easy on any non-writing life news at the moment as it's not very pleasant and I don't really want to rehash it. Sorry. Book news is better though, phew!

I'm pleased to say that A Dangerous Man gained a 5-star review at Michelenjeff Reviews, so a big thank you to Lisa for that. At the same time Two Christmases was lucky enough to get a 5-star review at Goodreads, courtesy of Edina Rose - for which thank you.

In the meantime, as part of the Birthday Celebrations at Untreed Reads, all my titles there are being offered at 25% discount from now and throughout February and, as an extra special treat because it was their first ever title and I was their first ever author, How to Eat Fruit is being offered for free - enjoy! And Happy Book & Publisher Birthday to us all. What are you waiting for indeed?...

Slowly coming online across ebook sellers is Brady's Choice, which can now be found at All Romance Ebooks - and it looks as if people are actually buying it there too, which is nice. Thank you.

Upcoming this week is my literary lesbian romance, A Woman like the Sea, which now has its own webpage where you can also read an extract. I'm very happy indeed that this one will be the first of the new Candlelight line for literary romance stories at Untreed Reads - so thank you for that, Jay. It's great to be another First for you.

I've also, in the midst of it all, been attempting to do some actual writing (well, gosh!) and have now broken the 100,000 word barrier of The Executioner's Cane, and broken the 2000 word barrier of the third in the Delaneys series, The Art of the Delaneys. Double gosh, eh. It's keeping my mind off other stuff nicely, that's for sure.

Out, briefly, in the wider world beyond my own head, I'm happy to see that Ereaders have at last reached the Booker Prize judges and that, at Amazon US, Ebooks are now outselling paperbacks - this certainly tallies with my royalty statements recently, where ebooks have taken off in a big way (hurrah, and thank you to those of you who buy them!) and are outselling my paperbacks by far.

Next week, you can see the delights in store for you at Vulpes Libris which includes an interview with Tim Bentinck who plays David Archer in The Archers, Chinese New Year and alternative realities, so never say we don't push the boat out for you, on all fronts.

Oh, and K and I saw an utterly fabulous gem of a play at The Mill Theatre in Guildford last night - Stripped, and the amazing Hannah Chalmers who plays all the roles with style and pizzazz, are definitely both forces to be reckoned with. If she and the play comes your way, don't miss it - it's only an hour long but it's pure genius.

The Sunday Haiku is, interestingly, being seen by readers so far as marvellously positive, whereas for me it's entirely negative, as the week's been so bad. Which just goes to show you never know what it is you're actually writing. Here it is:

Somehow the week stopped
and I was left floating free
in an empty room.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wolves and Candlelight

Book News:

Much to my delight, Martin and The Wolf is Book of The Week at Queer Magazine Online and also has a very positive review there, so many thanks, Anders & Serena for that - it's much appreciated.

Yesterday, I sent back the final proofs of Entertaining the Delaneys to Amber Allure Press, so am looking forward to publication on 20 February. I'm also happy to announce that my literary lesbian romance, A Woman Like The Sea, will be published in February by Untreed Reads and it will be the first story in their new Candlelight literary romance line - so many thanks, Jay, for that.

This week at Vulpes Libris, I've reviewed Emily Barr's inspired-but-lunatic novel, The Sisterhood, which is a definite Must Read, whilst remaining totally insane. Absolutely one for your lists ...

Meditations so far (and they may be the last for a while, I think) are:

Meditation 489
Sometimes the best answer
is silence

and a deep acknowledgement
of grief.

Meditation 490
Only when things
are really bad
do men turn to the Lord;

how irritating it must be
when things are good
to be constantly ignored.

Life News:

Not a good week, all in all. Am feeling incredibly low and stressed (not a good combination!), and have therefore added in more happy pills so I'm taking one St John's Wort with Passionflower in the morning, 2 Quiet Life pills at tea time and another plain St John's Wort in the evening. Not really sure they're hitting the spot, but hey it's early days yet. Am also not convinced I can take any more without actually going insane, but remain unsure if anyone will notice the difference. Hey ho.

I think it would be a load better if I could just leave the flat, and Godalming, as I hate both with a vengeance all the time at the moment, if I'm being honest. I even hate going out of the flat and coming back into it as it reminds me that I actually live here, more's the pity. So I'm cutting down on having to do that more often than I really need to, which might help. We'll see. Really, the only thing that makes departure and arrival remotely bearable is the terribly rude things I'm chanting about the place and the nasty middle neighbours in the car.

So, alongside all this, I'm desperately trying to dig a tunnel out and have therefore made arrangements to see four houses in Bisley on Saturday that we can actually afford without having to sell this place, but I'm not convinced K is that keen on the smaller house option (though he does like Bisley!) but, again, we'll see. My Plan B, if he doesn't like any of them, is to suggest that we rent somewhere just to get out of (a) the ruddy flat, and (b) ruddy Godalming, and then we can have some space to start afresh, depending on whether we ever sell this place or not. If he doesn't like that idea, I will just have to go completely insane and have done with it. Deep deep sigh and gritted teeth.

Anyway, apart from all that, things are fine and nobody will ever notice the join. Stiff upper lip and all that jazz, eh. However, the slight glimmer of light on the horizon (which no doubt also reveals the presence of an oncoming train I haven't taken into account yet) is that the shoulder is distinctly better and we're going to leave having my final physio appointment for a couple of weeks and see how things go. So I may well be a virtual recluse with a bad attitude (so what's new?...), but physically I'm top class. What joy.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mamma Mia and the marvels of Nature

Book News:

BradysChoicecover.jpgI'm delighted to announce that my first short story of 2011 is now published and therefore Brady's Choice is now available at Amber Allure Press at a discount price during the first week. And I do love that cover - it's perfect. Not only that, but today you can win a free copy at Jessewave Reviews and so there's definitely still time to have a go.

EDPone_small.jpgAnother publication this week, and one I also feel very pleased about, is The Best of Every Day Poets Anthology One, which includes two of my poems and has a lovely cover as well. It's nice to be part of a poetry publication as well as a fictional one, that's for sure - I do enjoy the balance.

Speaking of fiction, I've just started the third story in the Delaneys series, which I'm calling The Art of The Delaneys. It's at the very early stages at the moment, but it's great to be on the way - to somewhere and very very slowly ...

There's one meditation today:

Meditation 488
The bronze snake waits
to be broken
and its spirit released

to whisper
in the ears of men
its ancient story again.

And the Sunday haiku is:

May I always dwell
in that deep silence before
the music begins.

Life News:

Today I am still in recovery from spending the day in London with Mother yesterday and will no doubt continue to be in recovery for several more days to come - in the end it was actually surprisingly enjoyable but as always very full-on and insanely intensive. Much like being put through a mangle at very fast speeds over and over again. Hmm, does that description actually fit me? Very possibly ... K is keeping sensibly quiet. Anyway, my eyes are now permanently wide and my hair standing on end - or would be if brushes and exhaustion hadn't been invented. During the day, Mother and I managed to do battle with the Tube which failed constantly to understand the validity of tickets from Essex, we shopped in John Lewis (I spent her vouchers on things for me but gave her the money for them as even I am not that mean!), had lunch in the National Gallery cafe, wandered round the National Gallery and had the best seats in the house for the very wonderful Mamma Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre. So I think I'm safe in saying she thoroughly enjoyed her 80th birthday Mother-and-Daughter experience. I may even have those elusive Daughter Points, at least for a while ... You never know. Roll on the 90th is what I say, hey ho ... The utterly fabulous thing however was when I finally returned, bloodied and fairly bowed, to Guildford Station, K was waiting for me at the exit carrying a huge bunch of flowers and a hip-flask of almost pure gin. How I needed both! K's first words of greeting: was she still alive when you put her on the train?... Anyway, I drained the gin before we'd got fully out of the station concourse and had another large one (as it were) the moment I took my coat off at home. What a super-hero indeed.

Sad to say though, K is at work today sorting out the IT system ready for tomorrow so a super-hero's work is never done, really. In his absence, I attempted to go to church and be holy, but it was obviously not in the universal plan as the car wouldn't start, so I had to ring the RAC man to come and sort it out. Which they did very efficiently, I must say, but not in time for me to be holy. When I explained this to K when he rang from work, he asked if I wanted to confess my sins to him instead, but I fear he doesn't have enough time in his working day to hear them, alas. Not if he wants to mend the IT system as well.

The great news of the day and my definitive grand finale is that our silver birch sapling now has six twigs and three buds on it. Spring must be well on the way to being sprung at last, hurrah. Nature is indeed a marvellous thing.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fame and physio

Book News:

A Dangerous Man gained a 4-star review at Goodreads so many thanks, Tizi, for that. You can also now listen to the radio review of A Dangerous Man at Venture Radio UK - the recording is towards the top of the page, so I hope you enjoy the listen!

Much to my delight, The Bones of Summer rose rapidly up and found itself at Number 2 in the Amazon UK gay & lesbian charts, so that was very heartening really.

And at Vulpes Libris you can find my review of Graham Sclater's We're Gonna Be Famous, a lively and enjoyable children's book which shows beyond all doubt that music really can save a life.

Meditations today are:

Meditation 486
The object you love
is the object
you become:

a fine truth,
if it weren’t the same
for the object you hate.

Meditation 487
The gods of each land
may be silent

but they still remain
whispering in the leaves

or basking in the sunlight
of a lion’s roar.

Life News:

I was up in London last night having drinks and a really wonderful curry with Jane W, so it was great to catch up after Christmas and New Year. But, my goodness, the Big City was rather busy, or at least the train back certainly was - I had to stand all the way to Woking, which was highly unusual. Don't these people have homes to go to?...

This morning, I've popped in to see my former neighbour also now in Woking (all roads do indeed lead to that vast metropolis of culture this week), and we had a good chat about all the other neighbours (as you do), travel and tea. The ideal combination indeed.

And the physio's going well. I can now do everything with my arm (hurrah!) though it does ache fairly continuously at a relatively low level so it's bearable enough. Only two more sessions to go, and we'll see how it is then. That Helen is a miracle worker indeed.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 16, 2011

House hunting can be murder ...

Book News:

I'm happy to say that A Dangerous Man received a 5-star review at Goodreads - many thanks for the comments, Lucy. And I'm also about to fax back the contract for A Woman Like the Sea to Untreed Reads, so I'm looking forward to that one being published next month.

My most recent meditation is:

Meditation 485
Best to keep silent
and pay
before the danger
of words
brings you to the dark
where all you can do
is pray.

And there are two Sunday haikus this week:

Pale lily flower,
how you delight in the warmth
of the mighty sun.

All ladders should be
pale pink with hints of glitter
climbing to the stars.

Life News:

Marian and I managed to get in some practice on the golf range on Friday as rain stopped proper play - but it was good to see how my arm coped with thirty minutes of swinging (as it were). Answer: pretty okay really, though it ached slightly afterwards for a while. Still, it looks hopeful for getting out next Friday and actually playing a game, weather dependent, and all the more so as in an actual game I'm not using the arm as constantly as I was on the range.

Yesterday, K and I viewed some more houses, but weren't terribly impressed with the gardens, all in all. We also drove past (several times) a really nice one that we hadn't arranged a viewing for and where the garden was lovely - so on getting home, I was all set to contact the estate agent, but luckily K did a Google search on it to find out some more, as he is inclined (thankfully!) to do, and we discovered that two years ago, the house-owner murdered his live-in girlfriend for having an affair with her boss, and then set fire to the house in order to cover up his tracks, whilst leading their two children to safety. Goodness me, but it's scary here in the shires - and no, I do not want to live in a house where that's happened so recently, call me a wimp but there it is! So my phone call to the agent was never made and certainly won't be now, garden or no garden.

Yesterday evening, we had a lovely dinner and catch-up with Liz & friends, and talked for ages, resulting in us not getting home until gone 2am. So my plans for church today have been thwarted by the need for a lie-in and a lazy day, which I am thoroughly enjoying. There's Primeval and QI from yesterday's TV to catch up on too, plus Larkrise and Zen tonight - this is the life, you know ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Radio fame and a riot of reviews

Book News:

I was bowled over last night with a review of A Dangerous Man which was broadcast on Venture Radio UK as part of their John Peters Show, which has a monthly book review slot. Honestly I was sobbing with delight whilst huddled with K round my computer listening in. Never say I'm not professional, eh ... Ho ho.  Really it's almost like being a proper writer. Anyway, huge thanks to the lovely Graham Sclater who was kind enough to give the book such a positive review - many thanks indeed, Graham! I'm told that I'll get the link to the review over the next couple of weeks or thereabouts so will post it here when I can. Gosh indeedy.

Other news on A Dangerous Man is that it's gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Erin) and in addition shortened versions of both Erin's and Graham's reviews can be found at the Amazon Kindle entry.

Not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, so thank you, Sidney, for your comments.

Meanwhile, I'm carrying on with The Executioner's Cane and have, much to my surprise, found a new plot twist which I think will help carry me through to the end. Here's hoping anyhow. And I've sent back the final galley proofs for Brady's Choice to Amber Allure Press, and the first edits for Rosie By Name to Bluewood Publishing, so I'm keeping busy, hurrah. We don't like any slacking here in the shires. So much so that I've spent some time fighting womanfully with the computer and attempting to reorganise the website listing of my GLBT Stories into some kind of order and I hope it lasts for a while. Because goodness me but that was a late night ...

Today at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of E Lynn Harris' In My Father's House, in which I do battle with the Beautiful People and live to tell the tale - possibly ...

Meditations so far this week are:

Meditation 482
Men plot and plan,
lay siege to cities,
imprison and kill

whilst women wait
silently in the shadows,
enduring war still.

Meditation 483
When all is finished
amongst the dead,
a whisper of hope
remains as shadow,

Meditation 484
All the silver and gold
in the land

cannot wipe away
the blood and shadows

staining the earth
and for him

there is no road
to rebirth.

Life News:

I have a life? Who'd have thought it ... Anyway, it was the first complete week of work after Christmas this week and I think I survived well enough, hurrah. Actually it is nice to get back into a routine - there's safety in structure, don't you know. And I think we're reaching slowly towards the final few of my physio sessions to get my arm back to full and functioning form (hmm, nice alliteration there, methinks ...). It's been aching more in general this week, which is probably due to getting back to work properly, but nothing too bad, thank goodness. It will be interesting to see how it is if I get to play golf tomorrow - that will be a real test for sure.

The marvellous news of the week though is that Ruth at work got her Accountancy exam results back and got 68%, well gosh and yes we all knew she would do well even though she wasn't confident! I am so pleased about it that I spent several minutes screaming with joy at the email which she kindly sent me today, and then just had to ring her up at work and do some more screaming. All rather startling for the neighbours, and certainly for Ruth. But huge congratulations anyway. It's a fabulous achievement.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Candles, quakers and lesbian romance

Book News:

I'm really pleased to say that A Dangerous Man gained a lovely 5-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks for that, Lisa. I was particularly touched by the comment at the end that:

"A Dangerous Man is a taut psychological thriller that one doesn’t necessarily consume as much as savor. It is too rich and satisfying to finish quickly."

That certainly made me smile. In the meantime, Creative Accountancy for Beginners briefly appeared at No 57 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, so that was a nice boost too. And, after a month away from it, I have written an extra 2000 words of The Executioner's Cane - and my goodness what a horrendous struggle the first thousand words were. Like climbing a mountain with no oxygen mask and a broken leg. Though why a mountain would need an oxygen mask or indeed legs is anyone's guess, ho ho. Not a pleasant experience then ... Anyway, I'm not sure how good those newly written sections are but at least I have some glimmer of a notion as to where it's all going and as to how Annyeke and Simon might possibly make it all come right. I think the Great Library of Gathandria might even have a part to play, but at this stage nothing's set in stone.

I'm also thrilled to say that Untreed Reads has accepted my literary lesbian romance, A Woman Like The Sea, for publication early this year, so I'm very happy indeed about that. Strangely, it's a story that started out, a few years back, as a heterosexual story but there was something not quite right about it, I couldn't make it work and I've been dissatisfied with it ever since. Last month I looked at it again and thought maybe it would be a lot better, and certainly a lot crisper, if my lead character was a woman. I started rewriting it in that way and the whole thing came together in my head. Ah how astonishing it is when that happens with a story, especially one I feel I've been failing at for so long. Miracles do indeed occur! It's interesting too how I get more responses to announcements about my literary lesbian fiction than I do about all my other fiction put together - perhaps that's the way to go then? ... Certainly, at the moment anyway, I have a few ideas about a lesbian detective story once the Gathandrian Trilogy is finally completed (ye gods, will there ever be such a time?? Seems like a distant mirage, you know!), but we'll see.

Back at Vulpes Libris, you can see what's coming up this week, a mix that includes some interesting confessions, dating for book lovers, and the Beautiful People, so it'll be well worth a visit during your week - promise!

This post's meditations are:

Meditation 480
The feel of silver
between the fingers,
the glitter, the fizz
of it as it slides
seductive as sin
over the skin.

What you could do
with it, the men
you could manipulate,
the history you could change.

Meditation 481
A muddle of names,
dates and facts
bamboozles my memory.

I only hope
God is keeping count

The Sunday haiku is:

In this quiet night
stars are messengers of time
and bright memory.

Life News:

I've had a happy dentist experience (hurrah!) when I went to get a filling done on Friday morning, as the usual receptionist and dentist were there, and they're just lovely, so made me feel human again, thank you both! I actually had a very enjoyable time - which is strange to say when you're getting a filling done, for sure - and my teeth are now perfect, hurrah. However, I missed the marvellous Margaret who also makes it all worthwhile but who wasn't working that day, alas, and will have to catch up properly next time. With or without a mouth full of dental implements ...

Yesterday, K and I had lunch at Secretts restaurant in Godalming, which was great and we then wandered around looking at plants. I bought a poinsettia and some extra treats for the orchid, eg orchid food spray and some nice-looking butterfly clips for its stem. Hmm, how girly I am today - is it the lack of drugs? .... However we couldn't find any Yankee Candles, which I was really wanting, but we popped in to another garden centre in Woking and I now have the four candles (or fork handles, though I suspect you have to be British to get that classic and glorious comedy reference ...) I was looking for, hurrah.

This morning, I've had a very enjoyable time being quiet with the Quakers in Godalming. It's a couple of years since I've been but there's something about it that keeps drawing me back, now and then. I think this year I'm going to try to go more often, maybe once a month or so. Talking with the rest of them afterwards was good too - something I thought I'd never say, seeing how much I hate the post-service coffee zone, but actually the conversation was interesting and meant something and wasn't the usual remarks about the weather or traffic that people seem to stay with. On the other hand, perhaps I was simply in the mood to listen more, rather than being stressed out by the concept of socialising - now there's a thought.

Mind you, the obstacles that arose during my attempts to get to the Meeting at all were fun, um not - my face powder somehow managed to explode all over the sink and bathroom tiles, and I had to get the bathroom cleaner out to make it look normal again. Then when I reached the car, running slightly late, someone had broken my wing mirror so I had to go back to the flat to get K's car keys and take his instead. Ah the joys of Sunday morning, eh. Still, K has mended the wing mirror now (what a hero!) and I'll pick up some more face powder during the week, so all is not entirely doom and gloom in the shires. Gosh, how calm I sound - must the be Quakers' influence - or have I been swopped for a nice, cheery alien? Who can tell ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Discounts, dentists and danger

Book News:

For a brief but happy time, A Dangerous Man found itself at No 77 in the Amazon US Kindle charts, but it's not used to those dizzy heights so it's not there now, ah well. Other amazing news is that I have received my first ever royalties for this novel from Cheyenne Publishing (the book's previous outing with another publisher I cannot mention will remain ... um ... unmentioned ...), so thank you, Mark, for that. Hurrah!

I'm also pleased that The Girl in the Painting was the No 2 International Bestseller in December for Untreed Reads, so that's heartening news too. And, not to be outdone, the 25% discount on my Amber Allure books is still in place until Saturday 8 January, so there's still sale shopping time.

Meanwhile, I've finished the publisher edits for The Gifting and have sent those back to be put into the proofreading process. And I've made some formatting changes to Hallsfoot's Battle ready to send them to my second lovely independent editor. Well, she made such a wonderful job of the edits and the blurb for The Gifting prior to submitting that novel to places that I really hope she's got time for the second in the Gathandrian Trilogy also. Good editing makes such a difference, so much so that I go through one consultancy stage and two independent editing stages before I even think of submitting a novel anywhere. Never say I don't take writing seriously, eh!

And at Vulpes Libris today, you can find my review of Yasutaka Tsutsui's picaresque novel, The Maid, which is definitely worth a read and a fascinating addition to my list of Japanese novels in translation.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 477
All your history
written on
your skin:

the grief, pain
and shadows that let
the hope come in.

Meditation 478
What man abandons
is left to God
to finish

and in the beginning
is already written
the end.

Meditation 479
When you’ve killed once
is possible

but nothing you do
will bring back
that life again.

Life News:

Back at work this week, which is always a shock. Really, I think my true vocation is not being at work, but there you go. Though actually it wasn't as fearsome as I'd been dreading, but of course it's been a shorter week, so let's see how things go when the real week kicks in next week ... Mind you, the Dean brought chocolates in to keep us all going, so gains at least ten Dean Points for that generous act. We definitely needed it.

Today, I've started off my year with glittery teeth as my rescheduled appointment (due to weather and the frozen shoulder crises) was this lunchtime. I was a bit peed off though as I turned up twenty minutes early as usual but they wouldn't let me in as they close between 12 and 1pm (which I didn't realise), and my appointment was at 1pm. Not a problem usually, as they are charmingly old-fashioned, but it would have been nice if when I'd attempted to get in the locked door, someone had at least come to chat to me, apologise and ask me to come back at 1pm. But no - they were sitting in the waiting room having their lunches, from where they could all see me (shivering and soaked through with the rain, btw ...), they all turned round to stare, but nobody smiled and nobody got up, and then they just all turned round and went back to eating and chatting again, which I thought was rather on the rude side of rude, really. Seeing as I pay privately for treatment, a modicum of customer service would have been nice! So I trudged back to the car feeling sad and rejected (cue violin music ...), from where I then decided to walk to the nearby garage to get a sandwich, and as a result got more soaked by cars/buses going through puddles on the way, and then came back to sit in my car till the magical hour of 1pm turned up.

Once inside, I did make my point clear to the unfamiliar dentist who happened to be on Reception, but she didn't seem greatly interested, and she didn't apologise but just pointed out to me that the sign on the door said they closed for lunch. Hmmm, not the pleasant attitude I'd been hoping for then - especially as I wasn't querying the sign, but just the staff response. Ah well. Hell, if I'd been in their position, I would have at least got up and been nice when I saw a customer trying to get in. I would probably have let said customer in too, and sod the rules, just to get them out of the cold and damp - but perhaps it's me that's the old-fashioned one these days? With all that, I didn't make much conversation with the hygienist (who was, I think, one of the ones who'd ignored me in the first place), and just grunted when asked questions. Because, when it comes to discourtesy to someone who's not a customer, I of course am the Queen of the Art, ho ho. Still, at least I have shiny teeth. Perhaps when I go tomorrow - for a filling this time; Lordy, what fun my week is proving to be! - my teeth will be so dang shiny that the nice dentist I actually know might let me in without argument. At least I'm not going at lunchtime though!

I also had some difficulty when at my physio appointment this afternoon as I was trying to check whether I'd come to the right place (as the physio has other locations in the area she goes to as well), but the surgery receptionist kept trying to send me away to sit down as she said she didn't have a list from the physio today. Which wasn't actually the question I was trying to find the answer to. Seeing as I am of course a calm and loving individual full of the milk of human kindness, I did not collapse to the floor weeping and kicking my legs - though it was tempting - but just asked again until the receptionist finally understood what I was getting at. I did a lot of smiling too - good teeth, you see - so I hope to get my reward in heaven, one day. And at least I was allowed to be inside.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Books, plants and trains

Book News:

I'm happy to say that both Vulpes Libris and I have been shortlisted in two separate categories for the Book Blogger Book Awards, and there's still time to vote, so all support greatly appreciated! Vulpes is in the Best Literature Blogger category and you can find me in the Best Author's Blog section. The "submit" button appears at the very bottom of the lists once you've ticked some, just in case you're wondering, as we were. Nice to be in such good company for sure.

Much to my surprise and delight, The Girl in the Painting has received its first official review, with some very thoughtful 4-star comments appearing at Three Dollar Bill Reviews - many thanks indeed, Emily, and I will be writing more of these literary feminist shorts in the future, I hope. Not to be outdone, A Dangerous Man gained a brief 4-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks, Alli, for those comments also.

For today, and possibly tomorrow also, you can get 25% discount off all my Amber Allure books so there's still time for that essential New Year bargain shopping experience. Go on, you know you want to!... And I'm continuing with the publisher edits for The Gifting so hope to get that finished within the next week or so. All things being equal.

Today's meditation is:

Meditation 476
Surely this punishment
will not last
for long

and better days
will rise once more:
may this be

our song.

And the Sunday haiku is:

This winter morning
begin the year with haiku:
my seasonal vow.

Life News:

Frankly I'm very glad to see the back of 2010. The last section of it has on the whole been quite nasty and difficult, and good riddance to it is what I say. I hope 2011 is better, the main thing being getting out of the flat and away from our tricksy middle neighbours. That's my aim for this spring and I really want to be out of it all by Easter or I may well run mad. You have been warned. Anyway, I'm trying not to think of it too much as it just makes me really upset, angry and depressed, and I don't want to go there too ruddy often really, not so early on in the year. Deep sigh.

Nicer news for this week is that K and I enjoyed our trip to Kew Gardens, though the broccoli soup was rather overwhelming, I must say. We left half of it and consoled ourselves with cake. As you do. We've also bought an orchid, a hyacinth and an African violet so at least there's something nice in the flat apart from ourselves.

And today we've had a great time with Peter & Sue (hello, both!) trundling up and down the Watercress Line and indulging ourselves with ham, egg & chips (bliss ...). Great to catch up, though I'm not convinced the photos will show any degree of sanity amongst us. Ah, the slow pace of life is definitely the best one.

Anne Brooke