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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Discounts, disappointments and the evil deer

Book News:

There's a nice Goodreads review of gay paranormal short story, Martin and The Wolf, so thank you, Mandy, for that. And thank you also for wanting a sequel - I shall have to add that to my increasingly long sequel list and give it some thought!

And let's not forget (as if I'd allow it, eh ...) that my Amber Allure gay fiction remains discounted at All Romance Ebooks until the end of October - rush now to avoid disappointment ...

Ooh, and earlier this month, I discovered from the lovely and very talented Stella Wiseman that there's an Elstead Writers' Group who meet every month, so I went along yesterday morning and had an incredibly good time - thank you, everyone, for making me feel so very welcome and I'm looking forward to the November meeting already!

Here's the latest meditation poem:

Meditation 579
We cannot contain God
in all the vastness of heaven
or the grandeur of earth

so how can we contain him
in a thought,
a plea, a prayer?

One moment
of courage
might carry us there.

The Sunday haiku is (and I think I am being hugely noble by putting it down at all - but see below for explanation, grr!...):

The roe deer gallops
in sunlight, on frosted grass,
and slips out of sight.

Life News:

Dang it, but the wretched deer (ah, the cursed beasties) have found their way into the garden and eaten 90% of K's lovely vegetable and winter salad garden. Ah, the pain, misery and gnashing of teeth - you could probably hear it from space! I popped out one evening to add some salad to our meal and alas the cupboard was bare, my dears. Utterly bare. The hooved demons have ripped up and eaten all the spinach and Swiss chard, though they have left the rocket and the pak choi - which they obviously turn their nostrils up at. They've also taken most of the roses at head height, left their footprints all over the vegetable patch, along with a polite note asking for more. Well, almost. Deep sigh, eh. And just when I was waxing lyrical about how beautiful they are in the field (hence the haiku), so more fool me. Now, of course I will be chasing them round the garden waving my loppers (as it were) at every opportunity. One had forgotten the joys of country living indeed, hey ho.

Yesterday, after Writers' Group, K and I spent a happy afternoon at Wisley and bought yet more plants for the parts of the garden we (well, he, actually) is/are digging up. Not surprisingly, we didn't get any roses. I've also spent a long time today ripping up weeds with my (gloved) hands, battling with recalcitrant hedges and lopping everything that dares to stray from its allotted path. K keeping surprisingly quiet indeed ... though unless he turns green and starts growing leaves I think he's fairly safe. I must say things look a lot tidier now and there's a much greater sense of space, but of course (as we're learning) there's always more to do.

This morning, we really enjoyed church - the hymns were great and I knew all the tunes, hurrah. It was also Bible Sunday and we were celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with an exhibition on the history of it in church. Great stuff - wonderful to see the old manuscripts, and I also learnt that during the 1600s, you couldn't print a bible unless you were the official Royal Printer, but you could print one if you also added notes and annotations to the text - as it wasn't then seen as a "proper" bible. Well, I never knew that. Honestly you learn something new every day.

Though sometimes, alas, it can be disappointing. One of my local acquaintances (whom I've had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times and whom I like very much indeed) has decided to unfriend me on Facebook as they don't believe I should be writing gay erotic fiction if I profess to be Christian. Naturally I feel rather saddened by this but, of course, there are many different views across the whole spectrum of Christianity, and people's beliefs are their own and must be respected as such. Still, I was tempted to advise that, like most of my friends - both Christian and otherwise - they simply don't read what they don't like, and give the other stuff a go if they're so inclined. It's not obligatory after all.

From the other side of the equation, it did make me smile that there are aspects of my acquaintance's religion that make me shudder but I wouldn't like to tell anyone they're wrong. Well, not until I know them a lot better, ho ho. And, of course, if on the great Day of Judgement the good Lord finds me severely wanting (which he no doubt well may), then I suspect it won't be because I've written gay erotic fiction but for all the many sins in my life that I've wilfully committed, such as hypocrisy, bitchiness, anger, meanness, lying, laziness, selfishness and pride. To name but a few - and indeed only those committed within the last half-hour, alas. Lordy, never a dull moment here in Elstead, you know! Ah well, onwards and upwards, as they say.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deer, dreams and devious goings-on

Book News:

Today at Vulpes Libris, you can read all about dreams, dementia and devious goings-on in my review of Richard Mason's marvellous The Lighted Rooms. Definitely an author to get acquainted with, and I'm a long-term fan indeed.

Speaking of books, if you want to read about "a fantastical place where almost anything is possible" (as one reviewer puts it), then this book is the one to go for. It also has its own webpage too, which may well prove of interest to you. Live dangerously!...

Meanwhile at Untreed Reads, their literary romance line has big discounts until the end of October, and includes some of my own books, so buy early buy often. And I hope you enjoy the reads.

Recent meditation poems are:

Meditation 577

Better than wealth
or treasure or fame
or victory or life
is the quiet clarity
of wisdom.

The trick
in these shallow
delirious days
is to know
the difference.

Meditation 578
The richness of horses
is more valuable
than silver or gold.

They are as firm
as stone,
and as joyful as cedars

when they gallop
through the Egyptian fields,
encompassing the sun.

Life News:

It's been a very difficult two weeks at work, I have to say, due to an unfortunate accident involving two of our students, some of which, sadly, came to a head earlier this week. Our Director and a lot of the support team have been working all the hours God sends and more to offer the support and guidance needed, but it's not been easy. Most especially for the students and people concerned. As part of my job, I've been fighting a rearguard action behind the scenes to try to preserve the boss's time and put him where he's most needed when it's needed, and I think on the whole we've struggled through it all, but it's certainly taken its toll. Stupidly, I came off a difficult phone call yesterday when I was alone in the office as everyone else was out at an assortment of necessary meetings, and then started crying myself. Not a great position to be in. At that point, the new chaplain walked in - poor chap, he probably thinks he's come to a mad-house as he's only been here a month and has had to be part of the team dealing with more bad stuff than we've faced in the seven or so years since I've been here. He was very sweet though, and proved to be a great listener, so thank goodness he did come in, really. When I was back into my normal kick-ass-and-let's-get-this-done-now persona, I did try to convince him that things weren't usually this tricky and our biggest problem was usually students not exiting the building during fire drills, but I'm not sure he believed me. Hey ho. Anyway, huge respect for all the teams that have been working flat out recently, and I hope next week things start, slowly, to arrive at a more even keel ...

Back in the non-University world, my Tesco shopping has been delivered today (hurrah!) but I appear to have misunderstood the amount of kitchen rolls I've ordered. We now have enough to clear up the whole of the Lake District if it flows this way, but hey, as the lovely delivery man said, at least they don't go off. And I do appear to have moved on from over-ordering on the cheese, so I suppose it's progress.

I've also been fighting womanfully with the complexities of the British Gas customer service system. Yesterday they sent me an email asking me to read our meter and send them the numbers online. I jotted them down and then tried to log on, but their system refuses to accept either my Home Care number or my Customer number as valid, so I couldn't complete the task. I then tried to contact them using the Contact Us If You're Having Trouble button - but (grrrrr!) that won't work either if it won't accept your Home Care or Customer numbers. Deeeep sigh ... So I then tried to ring them but their message said they were too busy to answer my call and could I ring back tomorrow. Ho hum.

Today, I tried to ring again, but got the same message saying they were too busy to take my call. This time, I refused to be put off and hung on in the hope of some kind of resolution. Eventually the automated system suggested I key in my telephone number and they'd ring me back. I tried to do this but got the number wrong by mistake and it took me back to the position I'd just been in, saying it "wasn't a valid number." Hell, I know all about those - none of my numbers in relation to British Gas appear to be valid. After a while, I got through to a chappie and tried to give him my meter reading but he said he wasn't the right department and he'd have to send me elsewhere. So once again I was at the bottom of the pile and in a call waiting queue. Sigh. This time however, the automated system said I'd have to wait for ten minutes until I could speak to someone. As I'd already been struggling to contact British Gas for an evening and a morning, this seemed like a mere drop in the ocean of eternity, so I held on. Finally I reached someone in the meter reading department and he took my reading down. He then (bless his courage!) had the audacity to ask me why I didn't get our electricity through British Gas as well (which we don't). I told him that we used a separate provider for electricity as they were far easier to contact than British Gas and appeared to have a computer and phone system that worked, so why should I struggle with having to contact British Gas for two readings and bills when I could minimise my existential pain and only have to contact them about one. Well, he did ask ... He ended the call shortly afterwards - funny, that ...

I have then spent a lovely afternoon chatting to the neighbours, S & K, and taking tea and biscuits - as one does in Elstead, you know - so that definitely made me feel more human, hurrah.

And this week's nature highlight has been the wonderful sight of a roe deer running and bounding (literally) across the frosted field at the bottom of the garden while K and I were having breakfast. Total bliss. That really made my day.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Riptide, recording and writing

Book News:

Success! I have, at my second try, sold a story to exciting new publisher, Riptide Publishing. It's a literary gay short story about the end of an affair which is now called The Heart's Greater Silence. It should be available in January or February 2012, so I'm thrilled about that and very much looking forward to being a Riptide author.

I've also recorded my second short story for Celtica Radio. This one is called Candy and Catharsis, and is about life, love and desire in a dictionary. Well, you just don't know what those words get up to when you're not looking, you see. I'm lined up to record another story next Saturday, which looks set to be the new routine for a little while, at least.

Meanwhile, you can find my latest writing news at my website, and I'm also happy to say that all my Amber Quill books are now discounted until the end of October at All Romance Ebooks - so even more reason to shop as the autumnal nights draw in.

Much to my amazement, literary lesbian short story, The Girl in the Painting, was at No 36 in the Amazon UK short story charts for a while, so that was very heartening, while it lasted. And I'm happy to announce that Untreed Reads horror books are discounted at Kobo Books, especially for the season. Enjoy!

The latest meditation poem is:

Meditation 576
From beginning
to end
every thought,
act, fear
and dream understood;

his only protection
that quiet
in a God
who is ultimately good.

The Sunday haiku is:

When the work is done
we sit drinking tea: sunshine,
quietness, shadow.

Life News:

Lots of domestic shenanigans this week. Some of our electric sockets failed on Friday, and the phone was dodgy as well, so we had to use lots of cable to plug stuff into other, more distant sockets that did appear to be working. Then last night, we realised there was no hot water or heating as well. Much gnashing of teeth, etc etc, but this morning K has solved everything, hurrah! Apparently we have an RCD system on the electrics (which sadly doesn't stand for Royal Chocolate Dispensary, but something far more technical ...), and when I foolishly spilt water on my Mac keyboard on Friday, the slight change in electricity current caused it to trip and cut off nearby sockets, and the telephone (which did start whining its alarm a second or so after I spilt the water, I have to admit). Goodness, what a sensitive beastie. Lucky it wasn't whisky, eh. I wish. When we tried to sort it out last night by turning all the electrics off, it then stopped the water/heat system which didn't reset afterwards, which we hadn't realised. What drama, eh. So today we are now fully functional in every way and life is warm, cosy and bright again. I'm being extra careful with the water glass too ...

At the same time, K - now fully into his role as Super Husband and Saviour of the Universe - has bought a new cold water pipe for the washing machine as the old one was rather kinked which meant the water couldn't get to it, hence the lack of washing. Mind you, we did have rather a lot of fun in the kitchen (steady, people, steady ...) with the new pipe by using it as a trumpet for a while and yodelling through it (as you do - the sound is fabulous!...) before actually fixing it to the washing machine. Thank goodness for the enormous hedge outside that stops the neighbours looking in. Hmm, perhaps there's a reason for said hedge after all then, and we're wanting to get rid of it too. Hey ho.

Yesterday, I was in work (shock! horror!) in the morning to help staff the Student Support table at the University's open day. We had lots of business and loads of questions about finances understandably, but I have to say the admin was rather traumatic. I'd requested a selection of brochures/info about 4 times and they simply weren't there, groan. So I was actually rather angry and extremely frustrated, as I had to spend half my time frantically photocopying vital information parents need to know and rushing back and forth from the office to do so, and then sourcing other brochures to make up for the gaps we had. So not the best open day experience I've ever had - especially as the w/e ones are organised by me, so the buck stops here. As you might expect, tomorrow I'm going to make every effort to make sure that next week's open day goes rather better. Harrumph.

However, to balance the universal angst, I had a great game of golf with Marian on Friday, and actually won the game, goodness me and put out the bunting. That hasn't happened in a while. Perhaps I've been swopped for a good golfer? The club cafe cook was also super kind as I mentioned there weren't any cupcakes on display while I was paying at the beginning - and when I went back afterwards, she'd made a fresh batch, what a lovely woman! I took four. Mmm, they were amazing - and I even allowed K to have some, so gained essential Wife Points.

This morning we popped into church, and met the actual vicar for the first time. Each time we've been, he's been elsewhere so we've had the stand-in vicar. Conveniently both are called John so it's easy to remember. I enjoyed the service - they factor in quiet moments, which I appreciate so there's time to think or just be still. That said, the tunes for a couple of the hymns had me fooled, but at least they were traditional, which is a relief. One does prefer an organ, as they say ...

This weekend, K and I have been busy in the garden once again, tidying the shrubbery and pruning plants back so the gravel paths are more visible. It does open it out much more so we're quietly pleased with our efforts. We've also planted 3 buddleias in the spaces now available in the shrubbery and I have replanted one of our pots at the front to give it some autumn colour. Lilacs and soft pinks are the way to go. Funny how time flies when you're in the garden - you go out there just to do a couple of small jobs and it's like an addiction so you're actually out there for hours. Bliss.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recordings, reviews and the washing machine queen

Book News:

Well, I've now recorded my literary short story, The Drive Home, for Celtica Radio, and that should be broadcast in about a month's time so I'll keep you posted. The lovely Bill seemed happy with it and has asked me to record another one on Saturday evening via Skype. This time, I thought I'd go for something much quirkier and have chosen a rather jazzy story about the thrills and spills of life, love and desire in a dictionary. It's called Candy and Catharsis, and I've given it a couple of practice runs this morning. I'm hoping for the best, come the day.

I've at last started the editing process for the final part of my Gathandrian Trilogy, The Executioner's Cane, which I anticipate will take quite a while. But at least I've begun. That in itself feels like progress, though I fear there will be much to change about it. I'm also pleased to say that gay erotic short story, For One Night Only, gained a 5-star review at Goodreads - many thanks, Michele!

Meanwhile, I've completed the literary lesbian short story I was working on, The Gift of the Snow, and have begun the submission process for that one. Wish me luck. Heck, I always need it.

Across at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of Harlan Coben's thriller, Caught. A very exciting book with some very interesting things to say about forgiveness, and I can definitely recommend it.

Here are the most recent meditation poems:

Meditation 574
The gift is not
what we have
but how we use it.

True character grows
in the giving.

To hold something fast
when it needs to be free
is to lose it

and true life is found
in the living.

Meditation 575
We are at times
strangers hiding
in the shadows
of night

scarcely aware
of those thousand others
walking the same path
out of sight

whilst beyond
our small understanding
shines a steadfast
unknowable light.

Life News:

I was much bamboozled by the charming historical elements (Temperance Society hymns, anyone??) in last night's episode of Midsomer Murders, not to mention the tradition of the menfolk putting on stag horns and plighting their troth with the womenfolk in the neighbouring village. Goodness me, not at all like the home life of our own dear Queen, I can assure you ... Or indeed anyone else I know. And I speak as a village-dweller, my dears, so you can rely on me. Still, the one good thing is that the new, terse and irritable Barnaby has finally (thank the Lord) stopped bullying poor Sergeant Jones, and actually appears to like him, phew. As do we all. It's a relief that the two main characters are now beginning to get on as that's a large part of the series, for me. I must also say that much as I love Warren Clarke with a deep and abiding regard, stag horns aren't actually his look. Not only that, but as I'm seeing him in Three Days in May at the Guildford Theatre tonight, playing Winston Churchill, I fear that I will not be able to get that image out of my head as the Great Man is taking us through the start of the war ... Yikes indeed. Though, having said that, if Winston had decided to put on stag horns and tackle the Third Reich dressed in this fashion, then perhaps the war would have been won far earlier ... There's one to ponder on for you.

Today's excitements have included the washing machine breaking down once more. Deep sigh. According to the code flashing on its display panel, it can't find any water, so I fear I must wait for K to return home and solve the mystery for me. Perhaps it's objecting in some way to last week's flood? When it had more water than I've ever seen produced by one machine in a minute ... So, we have yet to get the water table balance right in Elstead, it seems.

I've also had my flu jab so that should ensure I maintain my usual high standards of health throughout the winter, ho ho. And our third tree surgeon has arrived and taken details of our tree and hedge plight, and will give us a quote over the next few days. Ah decisions, decisions.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Radio, gardening and golf

Book News:

This week I've had a lovely conversation with Bill Everatt of Celtica Radio, and the upshot is next week I'll be attempting to record one of my literary short stories, The Drive Home, for potential broadcast on one of their programmes. Ah the joys of Skype! Many thanks to Graham Sclater for the tip-off and to Bill for his kindness.

Meanwhile, gay erotic short story, Dating the Delaneys (Delaneys *4), now has new cover art which I'm very pleased with indeed (thank you, Trace). It's due out on Sunday 6 November. And I've finally finished my literary erotic short story, now called The Heart's Greater Silence (possibly), so am in the middle of publication discussions about that one.

I've also updated my philosophical blog, The Thoughtful Corner, and this month's topic is the garden. I hope you enjoy it.

The Sunday haiku is:

The day starts like this:
pain au chocolat and tea.
A perfect morning.

Life News:

Much focus on the garden over the last few days, which I've really enjoyed. K has completed clearing out one of our messier corners (as it were) and I have pruned to within an inch of its life the lavender, the lemon balm, and five large shrubs. We've also planted four new shrubs into the shrubbery (well, it seemed a sensible place ...), and planted up two pots with daffodils and snowdrops. Here's hoping that in the spring they put up a good showing. We've also had two quotes from tree surgeons for removing the two tall trees and two hedges, amongst other items, and are awaiting a third quote later this week. But, goodness me, these things aren't cheap! Hey ho, and who needs to eat anyway?

On Friday, I played golf with Marian as usual - and as usual she won (curses!) but I covered myself with glory on the 9th hole by getting a birdie from off the green. Ha! I am indeed Ms Smug Golfer 2011, in case you hadn't realised. Ah, genius will out, you know. It just doesn't always win, double sigh.

And our weekend breakfasts have been a delight. K went to the Elstead Spar for pain au chocolat and croissants on Saturday and I did the honours today. Bliss. It's how the weekends should be, I can tell you.

Well, apart from the disasters that have struck us. Yesterday, my Mac mail box vanished entirely from sight and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. However, I threw myself on the mercy of the Apple Mac Help Team, and the delightful and very understanding Kevin talked me through it on a virtual basis. So, I'm now back up, and Kevin has a friend for life. Worrying for him then.

And today, our washing machine cold water connection has thrown a wobbly and utterly flooded the kitchen at a speed that was truly impressive to watch. It took five large towels and one whole kitchen towel roll to clear it up. But, hey, at least the cupboard and floor are now finally clean. K has turned our new indoor water feature off, however, and is getting a new joining thingy (whatever that is) for it tomorrow. These things are indeed a mystery.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Space, surgeons and streams

Book News:

I've started producing a daily paper on Twitter, composed of articles I find interesting. Today's edition looks at pets, poets and fantasy so if you're interested in any of these subjects, do take a peek!

One of my publishers, DWB Publishing, has just started a children's book site so please do log on and find out what's happening there. It's a very exciting year for them indeed.

Meanwhile it's World Space Week and Untreed Reads is discounting all sci-fi and fantasy books all month. This includes some of my own books, so grab a bargain today ... Some are only 50p so you can't go far wrong!

Not to be outdone in the bargain basement, Amber Allure Press is offering 25% off my books throughout October, so there's plenty here you can snuggle up to as autumn begins.

I'm also writing the final scene of my current gay short story, In the Silence of the Heart, which features desire, obsession, faithlessness and religion. Which is everything you could possibly want in about 10,000 words, hey ho.

Anyway, in honour of National Poetry Day (which is today), here's a poem I wrote about my garden:

Scarlet joy
The rose I find
written in red
beneath the lattice
knows its own glory

and radiates the strength
of this dying sun
into a different life,
another story.

Recent meditation poems are:

Meditation 572
Behind this brief list
of jobs and men

lies the need
of one man

to clothe himself
in wisdom again.

Meditation 573
Peace cannot come
from the spilling
of blood.

Fire breeds fire.

There is no answer
that violence
has ever truly given

and war is always a liar.

Life News:

Key excitements this week have included K nobly clearing the stream (AKA drainage ditch, but really I prefer the word stream ...) at the bottom of our garden of all its weeds and overgrown nastiness. What a hero. As a result we now have more general foliage than can possibly be crammed into our composter, or indeed any of our neighbours' composters. I feel a trip to the council tip coming on.

On Monday, we staffed the last of our new students' information points and were kept surprisingly busy throughout the day. In the past, we've taken the decision to shut up shop at about 1 or 2pm as the semester begins in full, but this time we only closed it at 4pm, well gosh. It's proved very popular throughout and I think we managed to help a fair amount of people, hurrah. If only because we are supremely good at interpreting what the room numbers mean. This week has actually been horrendously busy in the office as well - and at levels we weren't entirely expecting, but I think we've managed to muddle on through. I hope! I have to say it's nice to have the campus full of students again - makes it all worthwhile, you know.

Yesterday, K and I paid our first and introductory visit to our new doctor, who seems very nice indeed. Rather sweetly, she has a new application in which you feed in your health and family background data, and then it gives you your percentage survival chance. What fun! Apparently, K has a 96% chance of surviving the next ten years, and I have a 99% chance of so doing. Might be worth treating ourselves to those longed-for ten year diaries in this case. Keep breathing ...

Today, I continue to be the Queen of Busyness. This morning, Tesco have delivered my shopping (hurrah!) and this afternoon, I am expecting (a) the tree surgeons to arrive to give us a quote for removing 2 big hedges, 2 tall trees, 2 round trees, 1 spindly tree and nine or ten stumps (and possibly a partridge in a pear tree as well, but I thought they might throw that one in for free ...); (b) to go out and get my hair cut for the first time in three months (I might even be able to see out, goodness me) and (c) an evening trip to the ballet in Woking, to see Cleopatra. I do so love the Northern Ballet Theatre - I think they're great. Mind you, this does depend on whether K manages to leave work on time as he's been hugely busy this week as well. Here's hoping, eh.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Tea, Telegraphs and teatowels

Book News:

Untreed Reads is having a massive sale throughout October, so this month is an ideal time to snap up a bargain, or several. As part of that, my literary lesbian short story, A Woman like the Sea, is on sale for 30% discount, as is lesbian paranormal story, The Girl in the Painting, which is also selling at a 30% discount, both direct from the publisher. Hope you enjoy the reads!

The Sunday haiku is:

The quiet grass gleams.
My garden is a haiku,
brief and full of dreams.

Life News:

The great news is that my lovely husband has sorted out the looming disaster of our new dishwasher not fitting into its allocated space by means of swopping it with our slightly smaller washing machine. Pure genius, don't you know. The result is I am now madly in love with the dishwasher and can't begin to imagine how I've survived living here a whole month without one. Ah the joys of technology.

On the same day we were also expecting a delivery of a long ladder so K can get up and look at the roof. We were told it would be delivered by 8pm but actually it arrived at 9pm when I'd given up and was slobbing around in my dressing gown. The delivery man was much amused, as I'm sure the neighbours were when I was prancing round the drive trying to open the garage in my night attire. (Query: why exactly is there a garage in my night attire??...) Really, my dears, I am seriously lowering the tone here in downtown Elstead ...

Speaking of Elstead, we love it. The people are very welcoming and there's a great village-y feel. We also feel spiritually at home as the village Spar shop has three ENORMOUS piles of The Telegraph newspaper and only one small pile of The Mail, whereas in our brief stay in Woking it was always the other way round and we could never get a Telegraph (without which no Saturday is truly complete) for love nor money, no matter how early we ventured out, sigh.

And this weekend has truly been a weekend of delights. The weather has been glorious (ha!) and I do believe the UK is finally experiencing its summer, hurrah. We harvested the first of our vegetable crop and had Swiss chard with our Friday night pizza and garlic bread. Honestly, we're just so proud, never having grown anything we can actually eat before. Or not outside anyway. K also bought a melon at the shops and so weekend breakfasts have involved lolling around in our night wear (really, why bother getting dressed at all?...), eating melon and watching the garden grow. Bliss.

Yesterday, we also invited some of the neighbours and our more local friends round for tea and cake in the afternoon, which was lovely - though it did rather turn into Pimm's and cake due to the soaring temperatures. Nobody complained, however, and we had a great time. Thank you, everyone, for coming.

This morning, we finally - after holiday and my bout of illness - managed to get back to church, which was all very enjoyable, though we still haven't met the actual vicar. The same stand-in man we first met a month ago was there again today, and actually remembered our names and where we live - so give that man a medal. Either that or he couldn't get over the trauma of making our acquaintance last time, hey ho. Poor chap - perhaps he thinks I'm stalking him and will never come back again.

I have also finally, after many months of threatening it, bought a William & Kate Royal Wedding teatowel. I feel fulfilled and am looking forward to using it and giving my glasses (the only things that don't go in the dishwasher) that sheen of royal glamour they so evidently need. I must practise my special wave.

Finally, I must say that Dr Who goes from bad to worse, I fear. Last night's series finale was hammy in the extreme and borderline dull. How I wish they'd ditch the rampant emotionalism and bring back the adventure and sense of excitement. Less kissing (yuk! The Doctor is soooo not meant to be married - it just doesn't work!) and more Daleks - that's what we need.

Anne Brooke
The Thoughtful Corner