Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meditations, mascara and Royal Weddings

Book News:

Not much news this week on the writing front really. I'm continuing on with my gay erotic short story, For One Night Only, and, with only a couple of scenes left to do, should get the first draft finished over the next few days.

In the meantime, here are some meditation poems:

Meditation 522
So many sons
and not one daughter

which categorically
fails to demonstrate

a vision of life
as it oughta.

Meditation 523
Hushim has no siblings.
He stands alone,
shadowed in the evening light

and waits for the wind
to breathe over his skin

whispering of silence
and all that lies within.

Meditation 524
The Aramean concubine
had no name
but her sons
founded a dynasty
and in that there’s no shame.

Life News:

How a few days changes everything on the house-buying front, sigh. Earlier this week we were rushing round trying to find rental properties to move into as our buyer wanted to move in on the week commencing 16 May. We found a lovely one in Woking on Monday and were all set to give the go-ahead on Tuesday when our solicitor tells us that our tricky middle neighbours have just lost both their buyer and their solicitor all in one swoop. Lord only knows what's really gone on there!... I must admit I couldn't help but laugh but of course that (rather long) moment of schadenfreude has turned round to bite me. Because they no longer have a buyer, all our own flat transfer documents etc etc have to be redone with the nasty middle neighbours' details on it rather than the new middle neighbour (as really should have happened in the first place, but they would insist ...) - and of course now we have no legal hold over them with our possession of their transfer document, then they have no real reason why they should agree to our sale at all. Deep groan. We're waiting for our solicitor to let us know what (if any) response she gets when she writes to the middle neighbours, but I strongly suspect we're going nowhere on the week commencing 16 May, and may well lose our buyer if more delays occur. We also suspect we're possibly moving into a situation where neither of our flats will be able to sell as neither of us will be prepared to sign the necessary documents for the other. Though, on the other hand, it may be that the middle neighbours are so desperate to get rid of us (one can only hope!) that they'll do anything. We'll have to wait and see, eh. Honestly, you couldn't make this up.

In the meantime, and while our purchase of the Woking house goes on - and on and on - we're still viewing other houses, which has led to the point that one of the local estate agents who is apparently in the middle of helping our vendors buy a house has found out we're still looking, and is terribly anxious in case we drop out of our original purchase and therefore he in turn can't sell his house to our vendor. Ha! Really, I have little sympathy and at least it'll put more pressure on that agent to get the vendor out more speedily. Again, one can only hope ... However, if we can't sell our flat (see above ...), money's going to be tight though we can - just - do it, and we may have to think about renting it out instead. At the same time, we'll need to do it up, I suspect, before any lettings agent will take it on, and that takes money, which we'll have to watch etc etc. Goodness, what fun 2011 is turning out to be, hey ho ...

However, it's not all misery and moaning here in the shires - well, not quite anyway. The lettings agents of the flat in Woking we were intending to rent come mid-May is being an absolute star (thank you, Jennifer of Martin & Co) and says this sort of thing happens all the time and if anyone else expresses interest in the flat, she'll let us know. Above and beyond the call of duty, I feel, and very much appreciated. What a nice woman.

Not only that but I've had the whole of this week off as the University is closed until next Tuesday - and really, I've needed the break, and I can well see what bliss retirement is set to be. Dream on, sigh ... Whilst I've been away from work, TV has been good - loads of stuff on about the Royal Wedding which I have been lapping up, my dears, being a big softie at heart, and also I am getting seriously hooked on the zany but occasionally rather moving Campus. I can't bear to miss it now and I do hope there'll be another series. Some of those one-liners are seriously fantastic and the developing relationships are grand. Lovely. Oh, and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher was a top-class factual drama with a very classy main character and if you were unfortunate enough to miss it, do try to catch it online if you can. It's definitely worth it.

Plus, today, I have nipped into Godalming and bought my first lipstick and mascara for a whole four years - so the anti-depressants must indeed be working, Gawd bless 'em. I've even put them on and look somewhat more defined in the mirror than I usually am. Though whether that's a good or a bad thing is anyone's guess.

Finally, tomorrow from 8am I intend to be glued to the Event of the Year and I wish the happy couple, and indeed everyone else celebrating tomorrow, every joy in the occasion. Must rush and dust off my wedding hat ...

Anne Brooke

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gardens and sunshine

Book News:

I've now corrected and returned the galley proofs for The Art of The Delaneys to Amber Allure Press, so am looking forward to publication date on 15 May. I'm currently writing another short story for them, For One Night Only, but intend to get started on the last two of the Delaneys series after that.

Meanwhile, The Gifting is getting ever closer to publication readiness at Bluewood Publishing and I'm just ironing out a few cover issues with my cover artist, Penelope Cline. So it's definitely getting exciting. And I'm pleased to say that my literary short story, A Woman like The Sea, gained a lovely 5-star review at Dark Divas Reviews - many thanks for the comments, Athena.

The Easter Sunday haiku (a day late but, hey, who's counting ...) is:

Lone boy skateboarding
on a blue bridge pulls along
the comforting sun.

Life News:

I hope everyone's having a great Easter holiday weekend - hasn't the weather been glorious. A very rare event indeed here in the UK ... K and I spent a rather pleasant day with Mother on Good Friday, and managed to get to the hour's meditation service at her local church too, so felt pleasingly holy. Ruddy uncomfortable pews though - if I'm sitting still for an hour, I hope, perhaps foolishly, to be able to get up afterwards, but I think we were all struggling. Note to self: next time, remember a cushion.

Back home in Surrey, K and I have enjoyed the Easter Sunday service and have had an equally good time visiting a couple of gardens over the weekend, including Walbury in Lower Froyle - which was small but charming - and Chestnut Lodge in Cobham - which has a collection of glorious tropical birds to die for and doesn't allow children under 15. Double bliss indeed. We loved it. Today, we've also had lunch and a wander round at Wisley, which was very relaxing. The orchid displays are a little past their best now, but still worth a view for the last few days of the exhibition. It was also surprising how empty it seemed in spite of the number of cars in the car park, but that, somehow, is always the nature of Wisley. You can feel on your own whilst ambling around as it's large enough to take it.

In terms of house-buying, there's good news and bad. The bad news is that we didn't really like the house we viewed in Knaphill, though at least we were both agreed on its unsuitability. So we're left with the Woking one plodding its slow, slow way through the purchasing maze. Still, we're keeping our options open until someone deigns to suggest an exchange date (let's not hold our breath, eh ...), so will continue to look. No harm there.

The potentially good news is that the rental property we viewed today in a very nice part of Woking (this afternoon rather than this morning due to timings mix-ups) is quite frankly lovely and we'd move in tomorrow if we could. I hope we get it. Not least because it means we won't be homeless in three weeks' time. Hey ho. Watch this space ...

And we loved Lewis last night on TV - how I wish this wasn't the last of the series and I hope it's back on our screens very soon. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms from the excellent pairing of Lewis and Hathaway already. Honestly, it's the best crime drama around at the moment by far.

Happy Easter week!

Anne Brooke

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter!

Had a great time at the work conference in Nottingham Monday to Wednesday with David & Carol from the office - it's certainly much better going with people you know, though it was also nice to catch up with those I've met before from other universities. It was even nice travelling up the M1 on Monday morning as when I joined it at Junction 6 it was gloriously empty, what with it being shut from Junctions 1 to 4. I've never seen such a clear road ...

So, the weather was marvellous and the seminars and live debate sessions almost equally so. Heck, I even said something in all my seminars (brave me!) though I'd never dare to in any of the plenary sessions. Mind you, for some reason, I had a room on Nottingham campus the size of a button - and had to move the bin and the fridge (a fridge, in a room - heck, the students don't know they've been born!) in order to sit on the chair, ah well. I also woke up in the middle of the night on the first night wondering why my stomach was so terribly gurgly even though I felt fine, and then realised it was the fridge, not me. Phew ...

Meanwhile, while I've been away, our house situation has moved on rapidly in one area at least - our buyer would like to move into our flat in mid-May so it's now all systems go to try to find somewhere in the area to rent on a short-term basis (two or three months, I would guess) some time over the next two weeks - which is basically all the time we have, as we're on holiday the week commencing 7 May and then back at the beginning of potential completion week. Heck, if it wasn't Lent I might be panicking, but I am trying to remain calm & logical, hey ho ...

Today, I've also viewed, as a buying option, a house in Bisley, and tomorrow K and I will view another in Knaphill. We're still keeping the Woking house option open as that slowly trundles through, but really we can't be bothered to chase any more. It's too exhausting. If something else comes up that we prefer, so be it, but if we do manage to get somewhere to rent, at least that gives us a breathing space. Come what may, it will be fantastic to be out of the flat ...

Whilst waiting for the estate agent to turn up at Bisley, I also heard my first cuckoo of spring, which was great. Everything's just so early this year, it seems. I hope summer doesn't end up being over by June! And I've had my last haircut with Lynda, who's cut my hair for 18 years but who doesn't travel as far north as Woking to do business. So I do indeed look lovely (trust me on that one) but will have to look for another hairdresser at some point - though of course it's not top of my To Do List right now.

Oh, and I thought last night's episode of Midsomer Murders was something of an improvement, at least in the realms of the relationships between characters - though the bitchy Barnaby definitely needs to treat poor Sergeant Jones a damn sight better before I'm any way near convinced ...

Finally I'm pleased to say that A Woman like the Sea gained a 5-star review at Goodreads - thanks, Jesse.

Happy Easter - hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On reaching the end ...

Book News:

Fabulous news twice over on my Gathandrian Trilogy series: I've completed the final proof edits for The Gifting and sent those back to Bluewood Publishing so I'm looking forward to that one coming out in due course. At the same time, I've actually finished (yes, finished!) the first draft of the final part of the trilogy, The Executioner's Cane, which came in at 126,500 words, well gosh. I can't believe I've actually got a whole book I can edit and play around with at some stage. And now, having completed the story in full, it's surprising how very empty I feel, in spite of the fact that I've been longing and dreaming about this moment for months, my dears, months. I do still feel as if writing a whole trilogy is, for me, a huge personal achievement, but I swear I'm never going to write another one. Never, never, never ... But hell, I'm really going to miss thinking about those people, and the cane, and the raven, and, well, the whole dang thing actually. Lordy, but I'm confused. 'Twas ever thus.

Much to my delight, Brady's Choice was given a very nice review at Queer Magazine Online, so many thanks for that, Lena. And I'm also pleased to say that my lesbian erotic story, Butterfly Girl, has received over 1040 hits, which is lovely, even though nobody likes it much. Ah well. Mind you, this shouldn't come as a surprise to me after the latest comment on one of my reviews at Vulpes Libris where Gay Reader (Gawd bless 'em) tells me (in so many words) that I'm nothing but an envious, self-promoting, dried-up writer with neither heart nor soul, whose fiction is bland, flat and riddled with cliches, particularly in A Dangerous Man. I felt quite chuffed by those comments, and also impressed by the amount of passion and poetry in them. Mind you, as K says, does this mean I'm now set to win the Booker Prize? Oh goody! Anyway, my new strapline is now: bland, envious and self-promoting but served up with style. I hope you like the new improved image!

Here's some recent meditations:

Meditation 520
Hazzelelponi bears her syllables
with pride and despises
those with humbler names.

She has no need
of children to remember her by
and she walks tall

lifting her head
to the sun
whose warm rays

melt into her skin
and brand her
with a lesser glory.

Meditation 521
I remember Reuben:
I nearly played him once
at primary school
in Joseph

but was prevented
at the last minute
by a badly scheduled
hospital trip.

I’ve regretted it ever since
and forty years on
still have a rare sympathy
for this less important brother

where we share an understanding
of our place on God’s list
and taste the bitterness
of opportunity missed.

The Sunday haiku is:

When my chores are done
one pink shoe lies on tarmac
waiting for the night.

Life News:

Thursday at work was a heck of a long one, but that's always the case on the last day at work before Easter (as I'm on a University conference next week for three days). I got in at 8.30am and left at about 8.15pm. I worked like a Trojan and managed to get done everything I needed to, hurrah! Ah, the satisfaction of an empty desk has to be tasted to be believed, I'm telling you. Mind you, the sad thing was that, because of all that, I didn't manage to get to the performance of Annie Get Your Gun at Charterhouse theatre, starring Ruth's husband Douglas, which I was really sorry for - next time, I promise, both! And there was a hugely embarrassing moment at about 7.15pm when I went to the ladies, and then couldn't get back into the office as the security locks had activated. I had to go downstairs and get the security team, who laughed till they cried (and can you blame them!), to let me back in. Well, I do like to provide a certain amount of entertainment in the office environment now and again ...

Friday, Marian and I had a completely amusing game of golf and were laughing so much we could hardly hit the ball at all. Which may possibly have been a good thing. And it cheered me up greatly from the ongoing drama of our attempts to buy a house. Groan, and double groan. It appears that the lovely package of papers sent to our solicitor by the vendors' solicitors on Wednesday contains nothing but copies of what we've been sent before, and therefore our sixteen unanswered but actually very simple questions remain outstanding. No sign of any exchange date there then. We are therefore going to write one last firm email today, and send it to our solicitors, the selling estate agents and the vendors' solicitors, and if there's no movement by the end of this week, then we will withdraw our offer. It's a shame that a relatively simple process has been messed about so much by the sheer incompetence of the vendors' solicitors, but that is their look-out and not ours. In the meantime, we saw a very nice house in West End Village yesterday which will be empty in June as the tenants move out and the sellers are already living in Scotland, and that seems a very attractive option right now. Plus next week, while I'm away on conference, K will be checking out another couple of good options in Bisley, just to see the lie of the land.

Yesterday, we got away from it all briefly by visiting the Spring Garden Fair at Loseley Park, which was very pleasant indeed. And today we have done our bit for Palm Sunday (big palms! little crosses! all those great processional hymns! though, sadly, no donkey ...) and I've done some packing ready for tomorrow's trip. Golly, how organised I am. I've even managed to complete the ironing, triple gosh.

Tonight it's Lewis on TV, so a pretty good Sunday, really.

Anne Brooke

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Publishers, proofs and paintings

Book News:

I'm happily going through the final proofs for The Gifting and should have those ready to send back to Bluewood Publishing sometime over the next few days, I hope. It's nice to key into the beginning of the trilogy once more and to get back in touch with how things are in Gathandria and Lammas. Some things I honestly can't remember writing at all, but hey somebody must have done. But, in my defence, I did write it quite a while ago.

Other positive book news is that Butterfly Girl, my lesbian erotic short story, is now available for free at Oysters and Chocolate webzine, and has been read about 620 times, which is heartening. Continuing the lesbian theme (though not the erotic one), I'm happy to note that The Girl in the Painting was briefly at No 78 in the Amazon UK charts, so that was nice too.

Other less positive book news is that one of my publishers has, rather dramatically I feel, threatened me with legal action for attempting (wisely, to my mind, since they haven't yet paid me the royalties from 2010, let alone 2011, Gawd bless 'em, and their dealings with me have been sooooo slow as to be virtually non-existent) to extricate myself from their grip. Somehow I can't help but be wryly amused by this, hey ho. I may yet end up in a foreign jail, who knows! However, I've had several offers of cakes by post with files in them, so you may not have heard the last of me yet ... However, if this blog goes suddenly silent, you know where I am! There's a story in there somewhere, my dears - maybe even a movie ...

Today at Vulpes Libris, you can read my review of Robert Goddard's Long Time Coming - in which the end is really way too long in coming. It was an exhausting read - not quality Goddard at all, sadly.

This week's meditations are:

Meditation 518
It seems a shame
seeing he was so evil
the Lord killed him

that the unfortunate Er
couldn’t be granted
a longer name.

Meditation 519
Women from Carmel
are tall and dark-haired.
Their beauty is legendary.
They float like a ship
through the air’s mysterious tides.

They say little
and when they do speak
their words are full of wisdom
whilst their breath
smells of honey and spices.

They make deceitful friends
but true wives
as they walk through the world
in their secretive lives.

Life News:

Whilst selling our flat seems to have ground to a (hopefully temporary!) halt due to our buyer's mortgage not being quite there yet, the news on our house purchase is rather more interesting. It looks like (praise be ...) our vendors' solicitors have finally delivered all the necessary information to our solicitors and it may be that one day in recordable time the issue of an exchange date might be discussed. Watch this space, eh ... In the meantime, we have also booked to see a very nice house in West End Village on Saturday so our options remain, as always, open.

But there is more positively good news, hurrah. In spite of potentially being a known literary criminal of no fixed abode, my doctor tells me that my anxiety levels are officially down a little whilst my depression levels have halved. Hurrah indeed! Keep those little happy pills coming, is what I say.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gardens, Gifting and Rosie galore

Book News:

Happily, Rosie by Name has begun to spread her wings a little and can now be found at Amazon USAmazon UK (where it's actually got a ranking so someone must have bought a copy - many thanks indeed!), All Romance Ebooks and Bookstrand (where it's classified as "steamy" - mainstream with some adult language, in case you're wondering ...). And it looks as if someone might just have bought a copy there too, so thank you for that, whoever you are.

Keeping with exciting packages from Bluewood Publishing, I'm thrilled to have received the final proof copies of The Gifting today, so my main focus over the next days will be going through that and marking down any typos I might find to get it ready for publication. As a result, though I've completed Annyeke's part of the epilogue for The Executioner's Cane (a milestone which actually has made me feel quite sad, even though I've been longing to get there for weeks), I'm leaving Ralph's and Simon's parts of the epilogue until I've finished the proof checks for The Gifting.

My most recent meditation is:

Meditation 517
Methuselah is a name
to conjure with:

fire and wind
and storm,

a wildness to cling to
when the days

are dusty and dry,
and the journey bleak.

And the Sunday haiku is:

When a plastic bag
grows up, it becomes a swan:
feathers and sunshine.

Life News:

After I threw all my toys out of the pram last week in terms of our potential house-purchase and our issues with the vendors, things look set to improve, I hope. The estate agent called yesterday to say that the vendors are both 100% behind selling their house to us, and therefore answers to the two outstanding questions will be with our solicitor by the middle of next week, at which point we can start discussing an exchange date. Plus they apologise for the delay, which is nice. Lordy, if it actually happens as the estate agent promises, it will be bloody brilliant as I am more than desperate to get into the new house.

However, we're keeping a Plan B route open in case that doesn't happen and so viewed three other properties yesterday also. Top of the list is a very nice bungalow in Wood Street Village, with a great garden, which we can both happily see ourselves living in. But we won't make any decisions until next week begins to unfold. Wish us luck, eh - we need it.

Meanwhile, our selling estate agent, the marvellous Lucy of Seymours (may her name be praised) seems to be the only one who really knows what she's doing and has been chasing round in terms of the sale of our flat. She's also beaten everyone over the head with the information (which we keep on telling people but nobody pays a blind bit of attention) that we are not in a chain and can leave here and rent somewhere whenever we need to, and on the other hand occupy the next house without initially selling this one. I hope they have now understood these details from Lucy, when they cannot do so from us. It also appears that the only one left to sign our transfer document is the new middle neighbour, so we hope he begins to be rather more amenable than he has up to now. It's about time he did something positive and pleasant - as so far he hasn't really covered himself in glory. Watch this space indeed ...

Anyway, our trip to the theatre on Thursday to see To Kill a Mockingbird ended up being pretty damn classy. A very slow and rather unnecessary start finally gave way to a stonkingly good finish so it was well worth the wait and the journey. I can only recommend it if it travels your way.

Friday night saw us out for dinner at Robin & Gavin's, along with Liz & John (hello, all!) and it was lovely to catch up before Easter rolls over us. This morning we have pottered along to church where the first two hymns were utterly unfamiliar to everyone and we were desperately struggling with the tune (how I hate it when that happens) but luckily the final two were more familiar though, as a congregation, we were so emotionally drained by the first two hymns that we were barely able to squeak our way through at all. We did our best, but the spirit was willing, etc etc, as they say.

We've had a wonderfully relaxing afternoon strolling round Coverwood Lakes & Gardens, which is open today as part of the National Garden Scheme. Being a working farm, it was really more parkland than garden, but still very pleasant especially in this weather and the tea & cake were lovely. Mmmm.

Tonight, it's the glories of Lewis on TV, and once more I can't wait for it. The perfect end to a Sunday.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rosie by Name

Book News

I'm delighted to say that my comic and just a little bit naughty short story, Rosie by Name, is now available at Bluewood Publishing, and what a totally fabulous cover that is. I love it. So if you want some springtime laughter, do pop along and find out more. Rosie's quite a gal!

On a rather different tack, I've just found out that my lesbian erotic short story, Butterfly Girl, has been accepted for publication by Oysters & Chocolate webzine, so I'm thrilled about that one too.

In terms of reviews, A Dangerous Man has been doing well though, sadly, royalties for the paperback version are continuing to be very poor, which I'm sorry about really - I feel rather guilty for my paperback publisher as they've taken a risk on it and I fear it's not paid off ... Still the ebook is doing okay so that's some consolation for sure. Anyway, at Goodreads, it gained an interesting 4-star review (thanks, Kate) and a fascinating 5-star review (thank you, Sonya), so both of these were lovely.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to note that 5 copies of The Secret Thoughts of Leaves have been borrowed from libraries during April, so I hope the borrowers have enjoyed that. Call me old-fashioned but actually having someone take one of my books from a library always gives me a thrill. It's almost like being a real writer, you know.

And my review of Andy Frankham-Allen's magnificent fantasy novel, Seeker, is now up at Vulpes Libris, so please ignore that quite dreadful new cover it has (!) and go along and find out more. It's a work I can thoroughly recommend for all.

Meditations so far this week are:

Meditation 514
A long, bleak path
from the place you know
to one you do not;

with every slow step
the chance for life
fades away

and you know you will not
make the journey back
one day.

Meditation 515
Great power
brings greater risk

so do not choose
to seek it.

Walk the quieter path
and mark your step

on the earth most suited
to meet it.

Meditation 516
Freedom comes by being open
to the day’s surprises

which often arrive
in strange disguises.

Life News:

Difficult news on the house front, alas. It appears that our vendors might be having second thoughts about selling us their very nice house, groan. I appreciate they're in the middle of a tricky divorce and have every sympathy for that, but we've got so far down the road that I can't bear the thought of our second attempt at purchase falling through. We're getting zilch information from their solicitors or their estate agents, though the solicitors did tell us their clients were probably too busy divorcing to pay us much attention or words to that effect (nice, eh!...), so we're really none the wiser. K sent a firmly worded email earlier in the week, which has been ignored. And today I've rung up the estate agents - actually to ask them if we can view another house on their books, which put the wind up them rather, but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn - who got terribly panicky and promised to ring back asap. Which they have now down, so hopefully someone's on the case ...

Anyway, in the meantime, we're keeping our options open and I've arranged three other house viewings for Saturday and, if we find one we like and they're actually willing and able to sell it to us, we'll seriously consider withdrawing our offer and starting afresh, with a keener vendor. The one good thing that comes out of this is our solicitor is likely to make a fortune from our misfortune (glad someone is!). A few more situations like this and we won't be able to afford to move at all. Hey ho, you've got to laugh, I suppose. Thank goodness for anti-depressants! Though, understandably, I've had a bit of a relapse this week and have been supplementing them with Quiet Life pills, which seem to have helped a little.

However, all is not lost as nice things have happened too, hurrah. I had a totally lovely reflexology session with Helen at work on Wednesday which was bliss. I even fell asleep twice so it was great to feel that relaxed. What with Easter in the way, I've made my next appointment in May, and I can't wait. Today, I've popped in to see the ground-floor neighbour now in Woking and was delighted to find him in much better form than during my last visit. We talked about politics, the environment, gardens, war and tea, so a great time was had by all. I swear that, between the two of us, we could probably change the world.

The world of television has been a fascinating one this week. The Model Agency was as grippingly shallow and socially horrid as ever but, now it's over, I shall miss it, I fear. It was, I imagine, much like watching a Victorian freak show - the freaks being the agency bookers, definitely. Something one is fascinated by but never wants to connect to ...

However, it was wonderful to have Lewis back on Sunday nights and I wallowed in its classiness, bliss. Sooooo much better than the increasingly wretched Midsomer Murders. Talking of which, I'm told that the Jack Russell now taking the main role in Midsomer is the same dog as the one in the recent series of adverts (advertising what, I really don't know) who's attempting to find a home by doing the washing-up and the gardening etc etc for its potential new owners. Give that animal an Equity card - it could go far ...

And I watched (again, as the same episode was on last year, I think) the pilot episode for the utterly surreal, terribly rude and strangely accurate university comedy series, Campus. Ah, that Vice-Chancellor - how I loved him. It's bold, brutish and takes some breathtaking risks, but I laughed out loud several times, particularly at how well it portrayed some of the current issues of universities (though in a larger-than-life way, I hasten to add!), and I'll definitely be watching again.

Tonight, K and I are off to the theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird, so that should be ... um ... fun. Sort of! Well, classy anyway. Which should round off the week nicely, hey ho.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Butterflies, Brits and bestsellers

Book News:

Sad to say, this weekend sees the end of British Fortnight at Brief Encounter Reviews, and what a fantastic fortnight it's been. I've learnt a heck of a lot about my fellow UK gay fiction writers and, if you missed my slot (as it were), you can find it on 22 March. Many thanks, Tam & Jen, for arranging it all, and thank you to everyone who took part.

Good news this week is that I've broken the 120,000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane, with only the last chapter to go, plus the epilogue. Lordy, but it's been a mammoth task and I was beginning to think I'd never reach this point. Once I've finally written "The End", I shall collapse for a month and not write a thing, and certainly not another trilogy, please God no. Though, hell, but I'm going to miss Simon and the Gathandrians, not to mention the mind-cane - they've been part of my ruddy life for so damn long, I can't think what I shall do without them ...

Also today, you can find an interview with me at The Accidental Author, where I discuss art, handbags and the vital importance of coffee. Many thanks to Jesse for arranging it and asking such great questions. Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that The Girl in the Painting is once more in the Untreed Reads bestsellers' list - for March it came in at Number 3, so I'm very pleased with that. I have no idea why that particular story continues to be quite so popular, but I'm glad it is! Thank you to everyone who's bought a copy, and I hope you enjoyed it.

At Amber Allure Press, all my books can be found at a 25% discount during April, so don't forget to treat yourself to a scintillating shopping experience for spring. You know you want to ...

Recent meditation poems are:

Meditation 512
The last thing he sees
is the royal garden

wrapped in night-time quiet,
the scent of daylight flowers

still hinted on the faint breeze
that lifts his hair

as the distant stars look down,
majestic and unaware.

Meditation 513
It’s a history
not of kings
or people
but of objects:

bronze columns and carts,
tanks, shovels, lamps,
sacrificial bowls and coals
and incense.

All the paraphernalia
of rich and poor
who in this, their story,
live no more.

The Sunday haiku is:

The duck stalks my bench:
expectation on her beak,
water off my back.

Life News:

The middle neighbours seem to be playing silly devils again, sigh, and this time not with us. They've apparently laid claim to both sheds and their contents in the garden, even though only one of them belongs to them, and the other one is the ground floor neighbours'. Also it appears that the new middle neighbour might (if he ever arrives ...) consider (from what he's been told by them) that all the garden belongs to him, when in fact he only has the rear section of the back garden and nothing whatsoever of the front. Another deep sigh, eh. The upshot is that I've advised the tenants of the ground floor to let the ground floor owners know this is happening, and of course we're prepared to help them hang onto what is theirs if we need to! Lordy, when will it all end? I do so wish I was out of here ...

On the up side, I enjoyed golf on Friday with Marian, and she beat me by one shot on the last hole, oh the shame of it! Still we were neck and neck up to that point so the crowds (should there ever be any) were going wild with excitement, hey ho. And The Mentalist was great in the evening so rounded off the week quite well. Not only that but I've started wearing earrings again - when I'm depressed I just can't bring myself to care enough to change them (I think I've actually worn the same fall-back pair for about two or three years now, which should really have told me something, if I'd bothered to listen ...), but yesterday and today I have put different pairs in. Maybe the anti-depressants are working? I do think they might be and I hope it continues, hurrah.

Yesterday, K and I had a lovely lunch out at and a walk round Wisley. The orchid display in the Greenhouse was particularly stunning and is well worth a visit if you have time - it last until the end of April. We also loved the sense of spring coming to the garden - with the camellias, rhododendrons and daffodils out in all their splendour, and huge amounts of butterflies. We saw in one half-hour a brimstonean orange-tipa tortoiseshell and a peacock butterfly. So many out so early in the year - it was astonishing really. Wisley also have a brand-new bird-hide and, though we didn't see many birds there, we did see a grass snake about two foot long (enormous!) swimming along the river. I've never seen any snake swim so that was a first for me. It stayed quite a time too which was wonderful. The yellow collar behind the head was very obvious.

Today, of course, it's Mothers Day - and Mother (Gawd bless 'er!) woke us at 8.45am when we were enjoying a much-needed lie-in to thank us for our presents. Still, I only have myself to blame for being a lazy stop-in-bed - as a farmer's daughter I should be ashamed of myself as my inheritance is that I should be up at 6am daily and working out in the fields. Dream on!... Anyway, Mother is off to London with her theatre group for a concert and I hope she has a fabulous day. Tonight, it's the joys of Lewis on TV, and I can't wait. It's got to be better than the new Midsomer Murders, that's for sure.

Anne Brooke