Thursday, June 28, 2012

Treasure Hunts, Nuns and getting rid of the baggage

Book News:

I'm delighted to say that my children's book The Origami Nun has received its first review at Goodreads and it's a 5-star one. Many thanks, Bonnie! So glad your grandchildren enjoyed the read.

Turning to slightly different literary matters, the Erato GLBT Treasure Hunt is now taking place, and you can win some lovely prizes, so don't forget to take part! The event ends on 2 July, so there's still time.

In addition, you can find a revisited interview with me at Joo's Interviews - I hope you enjoy the read this time round. And at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of Karin Altenberg's Island of Wings. An interesting book, but it doesn't quite work as a novel, in my view. Have a read and see what you think ...

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 671
The sense of satisfaction
when a task is over
or a job done well

is worth that roller coaster ride
you took to get here
with the tales you have to tell.

Meditation 672
The silence between
words and thought
is filled with riches
not easily bought

and the way you take
through the shadowy lane
is laced with singing
beneath the rain.

Meditation 673
It only takes
one person
in the right place
at the right time
to change the world

and it only takes
one moment
for us to consent
with a clear heart
to live our lives unfurled.

Life News:

Well, after ten days of tricky discussions, during which we have gained new insights into the meaning of the words "malicious" and "posturing" (and some amusement from them...), I'm very happy to say that we're about to be rid of one of the nastiest people in our lives at the moment, double huzzahs and put out the bunting! It's such a relief - even more than we imagined it would be, which is definitely the best way round. Can't say anything more at the moment (except HUGE thanks to the lovely Superstar Duo for today - you know who you are ...!), but we're looking forward to a very relaxing summer, where though we'll be poorer we'll definitely be happier. As they say, it's always good to get rid of the excess baggage. Phew. Bring it on.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
Lori Olding, Children's Author

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A day of two halves and roses galore

Book News:

Many thanks to the wonderful KazzaK Book Reviews for commenting on all five books of my gay menage Delaneys series as below (with the straplines in brackets, and in order):

The Delaneys and Me (Small but refreshing and intriguing)
Entertaining the Delaneys (Witty, charming. I love "my" boys)
The Art of The Delaneys (The Delaneys are developing)
Dating the Delaneys (It gets better and better with the Delaneys and Liam)
The Delaneys at Home (My love affair continues)

Gosh, much appreciated, Karen! There'll be one more to go in the series - The Delaneys, My Parents and Me - and then we're done. I have yet to start it though, and it probably won't be till later this year.

The Delaneys at Home (Delaneys *5) also received a 5-star review at Oh My Gigi Reviews, and Where You Hurt The Most gained a 4-star review at Goodreads (many thanks, both!).

Keeping to the gay fiction theme, all my Amber Allure books have a 25% discount until the end of June, and watch out for the Erato Musa GLBT Treasure Hunt starting later on today. Watch this space ...

The Sunday haiku is:

When the dark rain stops
there remains only silence:
a promise of light.

Life News:

As you may recall, it was my 48th birthday on 21 June, and a HUGE thank you to all those lovely people who sent message, cards and emails - it's very much appreciated. It turned out, in the end, to be a day of two halves. K and I spent a wonderful time at Wisley admiring the roses and having lunch, and I received some utterly lovely presents (even from Mother, whose gift buying ability can occasionally be dodgy!...). Then when we returned home, and with such deliciously exquisite timing you couldn't make it up, we received the piece of commercial bad news we'd been waiting for, ah well. I'm sorry I can't say anything useful about this, but there it is. All of which made the rest of the day rather difficult. However, we rallied enough to enjoy our champagne supper later on (hurrah!), and we know that we'll do our best to roll with the punches. And, of course, the best revenge (ha!) is always a happy survival.

That said, a further piece of information turned up the next day (Friday), which made the news somewhat more bearable, at least for a while. Things will, we hope, become clearer throughout the week, not least because we're pretty damn determined to make them clearer in spite of the obstacles thrown in our way. As a good friend of mine said (many thanks, Jane H!) where one door closes, there's another window opening somewhere else. And very true that is too. In the meantime, K and I are indeed very much the better for making our way at last out of the whole Nonsense Area, hurrah and thank the Lord.

Over the weekend, K has very nobly washed my car, mowed the lawn, trimmed the hedge, and created a beautiful pair of rose bowls from the roses in our garden. What a superhero indeed. I have to say the roses smell utterly gorgeous and I love them. They're my favourite flowers.

Yesterday, I also made some funny-face fairy cakes to give ourselves a lift, and very tasty they are too. And we also enjoyed an afternoon out (and more cake & coffee - it's a tough life, but someone's got to do it, eh ...) at the Cleeves Open Garden in Haslemere. Well worth a visit.

Today, we've finally managed to get to church in what seems the first time in ages. I wouldn't be surprised if God had forgotten what we looked like entirely. Some great hymns today, and it was good to get back into the structure of it all. Oh, and for lunch, we've eaten the first crop of our very own potatoes - they were marvellous! Ah, the good life eh ...

Anne Brooke
The Gathandria Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
Lori Olding: Children's Fiction

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A pre-birthday blog and a fun competition

Life News:

It's my birthday tomorrow, hurrah, so I'm blogging a day early. I'll be 48 years old, and exactly two days younger than the Blessed Boris - so just imagine what life might have been like if I'd been born with fair hair and the ability to ride a bike, hey ho. A lost opportunity or a lucky escape? Who can tell ...

Speaking of birthday, my boss very kindly bought me a very beautiful orchid to celebrate my twilight years, so thank you hugely to him for that. It looks amazing on the living room windowsill, I must say.

Apart from that, I've not done much that isn't book-related, though the office did go out yesterday afternoon for a Happy End of Academic Year party, which was great - I thoroughly enjoyed it. We're gearing up for the next academic year already, as ever.

Book News:

Congratulations to the five winners of yesterday's competition to win a FREE ebook of my children's book The Origami Nun - I hope you all enjoy the read! To celebrate my birthday, I've decided to throw it open for another couple of days to five more lucky people, so anyone leaving a comment on this blog is still in with a chance. The competition will close at 5pm UK time on Friday 22 June, so don't forget to take part, and good luck! To remind you, the blurb is:

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

Meanwhile, Karabeth Publishing have a lovely selection of books for you to choose from at Amazon UK and Amazon US - happy browsing.

There's been a flurry of book reviews etc this week which has been lovely. First off, The Delaneys At Home is now available at both Amazon UK and Amazon US, and was even at No 28 in the Amazon UK gay fiction charts for a while, well gosh. The book also gained a 4-star review at Goodreads - thank you, Marsha.

Not to be outdone, The Hit List received a 4-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Grandmat), and Where You Hurt The Most gained the same (thanks to Page Crusherz for that - wonderful name, btw).

And don't forget that, as part of the continuing focus on Pride Month, Untreed Reads are still offering a 25% discount on my lesbian literary stories - buy early buy often ...

Turning to upcoming books, the GLBTQ UK Meet conference anthology, Lashings of Sauce, can now be found at JMS Books in their "Coming Soon" section. It includes my quirkily erotic BDSM story School for Doms, so watch out for that one. In more ways than one!

On the poetry front, I'm delighted to say that Vulpes Libris have just republished Kirsty's lovely review of my Sunday Haiku collection as part of their Poetry Week. I hope you enjoy revisiting Kirsty's very talented haikus - I know when I'm outclassed!...

This week's meditation poems are:

Meditation 668
The letters you write
reveal nothing truer
than who you are,

each stroke and swirl
of the pen a way
to know yourself again.

Meditation 669
Everyone in the world
has a secret place
where quietness grows
in the colours of grace;

mountain or valley,
garden or sea,
its magic is boundless
and sets our lives free.

Meditation 670
I offer the words
as a sop
to the silence

not yet comfortable
with its slow
and subtle demands.

Something is coming
but it’s not here yet
so what I do

for now is bridge
the unbridgeable gap
with my own small voice.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK
Lori Olding, children's author and baker of cakes

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Children's fiction, cake and art

Book News:

The new website for Lori Olding, that ... um ... lesser-known children's fiction author, is now up and running, and on it you can find out all about The Origami Nun, the secrets of origami and how to stop bullying.

At the other end of the book spectrum, gay short story Give and Take received a review at Goodreads, courtesy of Darien - many thanks indeed!

Meanwhile, I'm busy editing a gay short story set in an office which I'm hoping to submit to Riptide Publishing before July. It's rather off-the-wall and has no title as yet (dammit), but I think it's getting there, slowly ...

My most recent meditation poem is:

Meditation 667
It is not clarity
but puzzle
that charms us:

the truth as slippery
as a snake
in tall grasses

hissing a half-known tune
which tingles our ear
as it passes.

The Sunday haiku is:

My pink peony
holds the sun within its heart
to welcome the day.

Life News:

M and I decided to visit Rosemary Miller's art gallery as part of the Surrey Open Arts Weekend instead of golfing - and very enjoyable it was too. I loved her pictures, and bought a beautiful one of a sunflower. Gorgeous. It made up for the rather agonising session I had in the dentist's chair in the afternoon getting a filling redone. Nothing too problematic, to be honest, but for some reason I felt really rather ill and woozy afterwards, and then spent most of the rest of the afternoon sleeping. Very odd indeed. Thankfully I feel better now, hurrah.

Saturday morning's cake attempt was Lemon Drizzle cake, and very scrummy it's turned out to be too. Also surprisingly easy to make so will definitely be doing that one again.

In the evening, K and I had our first trip to Glyndebourne this year to see Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. Great scenery and wonderful concepts, but no plot to speak of really, and I'm usually a huge fan of Janacek. However, dinner was grand and the champagne wonderful, though for the first time ever I couldn't finish my glass. Shock! Horror! Must be my encroaching age ...

Much to our delight, our orange striped gazania is now in bloom in the front garden and is utterly beautiful in every way. We've got a pink one too, but that's not out yet. Watch this space!...

Anne Brooke
Lori Olding
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gay marriage, a high-handed Church and The Origami Nun

Book News:

My new children's book The Origami Nun has just been published by Karabeth Publishing under my pseudonym Lori Olding. It's in ebook version right now from Amazon UK and Amazon US, and will be out in paperback version sometime in August.

The blurb is:

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

I hope you enjoy the read!

Other nice book news this week is that gay short story The Delaneys At Home (Delaneys *5) received a lovely 5-star review at The Novel Approach. Many thanks, Lisa. You can now also find The Delaneys At Home for sale at All Romance Ebooks. Gay comic romance The Hit List also gained a 4-star review at Goodreads, so thank you for that, Suze.

Meanwhile, Gay Pride Month continues at Untreed Reads, where you can find some of my books for sale at a 25% discount. Hurry before June ends!...

Today at Vulpes Libris you can find my review of Donna Hay's charming novel The Two Mrs Robinsons. A quirkily different book, and I do recommend it.

Here's my latest meditation poem:

Meditation 666
Hold back the four winds
and let the silence
come thundering in
until you see

there is a space
at the heart of the world
which waits for you
to find it.

Life News:

This week I've been highly frustrated and deeply saddened by the ridiculous statements coming from the Church of England supposedly speaking for all Anglicans. You can read this week's particular load of baloney here. Utter rot and nonsense, say I. Here and now, I'd like to make it perfectly clear (as indeed I have before, many times) that this straight Anglican is very much in support of all GLBTQ people and is also extremely supportive of same-sex marriage. As indeed are many other Anglicans, so the Church's statement does not in any sense of the word speak on behalf of its people. Churchman Giles Fraser, as ever, puts it so much better than I do - here's his marvellous and very wise article. You can also find out more at the Changing Attitude website, and support the cause of same-sex marriage here. May I encourage you to do so, if you haven't already. I really do feel we should stand up for the cause of justice and equality in a real and practical way in order to make our voice count. Thank you.

I've not been too well this week, and I was starting to dread another horrible catarrh session was just round the corner - but I somehow seemed to have kept it at bay with the use of some serious medication, thank the good Lord for that. Anyway, I'm feeling better now, and let's hope it stays that way. Mind you, I was at the dental hygienist today so now have very glittery teeth which are probably blinding you even from this distance. I suspect all that glitter might have caused any lurking illnesses to flee to the hills ...

We're hugely pleased that our Bowl of Beauty peony has come out and is looking exceptionally beautiful. What a joy in a dark and dismal week. So dark and dismal indeed that it's astonishing it's blossomed at all - as apparently they only come out in the sun. We probably won't see it again for a while then.

And, in the garden this week, we've spotted a male bullfinch (an increasingly rare sight in the UK, so we're thrilled) and a nuthatch. We hope they both return at some point.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A mystery tour and the royal garden

Book News:

Fantasy novel The Gifting is now showcased at the Awesome Indies website - the mark of a quality read, so I'm delighted to be up there.

And the anniversary book tour for The Gifting should be taking place from 11 to 22 June, but I'm afraid I can't give you any details, as I don't know any yet. Yikes and help! If anyone out there knows anything, then don't hesitate to let me in on the mystery as I'd love to be part of the celebration ...

If you do happen to stumble over the tour, I am offering a FREE Kindle worth £89 to one lucky competition winner, plus a runner-up prize, so it's worth seeking it out if you can. If I find out any information, I'll let you know, ho hum.

Turning to other less mysterious book news, my children's book publisher, Karabeth Publishing, has a lovely selection of new banners for their website, which I'm delighted to reveal for you here. Very nice indeed, I think. The Origami Nun will be coming out from them under my children's fiction pseudonym Lori Olding (watch for Lori's website coming soon!) later in the year.

The Pride Month 25% discount continues on my lesbian literary fiction at Untreed Reads, and recent reviews have included a 5-star rating for gay short story The Heart's Greater Silence at Goodreads, plus a review of For One Night Only, also at Goodreads. Many thanks indeed to both readers for those.

A recent meditation poem is:

Meditation 665
Listen for the sorrow
beneath the laughter
and music.

It is there
in an indrawn breath
or the brief silence

between notes:
in the midst of dancing
we are in death.

The Sunday haiku is:

Sun drifts me to sleep
in the warm poppy garden
and I dream of you.

Life News:

Had my six-monthly trip to the dentist on Friday which was all very jolly as they're such a lovely surgery. But the bad news is I have to have a filling updated (groan) so will be back there again next week - which probably won't be quite so jolly, ah well. However I consoled myself by making a really scrummy coffee & walnut cake yesterday (probably not what the lovely dentist wants to hear ...), but very tasty it is too. Though I say it myself and most certainly shouldn't. Will be making that one again at some point.

Apart from that, it's been a Garden Extravaganza weekend, hurrah. K has created a new bed in the front garden so it all looks a lot tidier, plus he's put edging down which is fantastic. And yesterday, we rushed to the Crocus Nursery Open Day and gorged ourselves on all manner of amazing plants, including those from the Jubilee Royal Barge (created by Crocus), so we have a small part of history in our garden, well gosh. Our newly-named Royal Garden includes an allium, lots of camomile and a salvia. The Queen may well have touched them, you know ... I will be charging a very reasonable price for tours at some point, ho ho, but you will have to wear your tiaras. Other plants in the Royal Garden (I have to keep saying it, you see ... noblesse oblige) include six dahlias in two different versions, three red-hot pokers, a myrtle in a pot, and three very tall poppies. It all looks wonderfully dramatic and I utterly love it.

Today, we have popped to Secretts Garden Centre and added in a gorgeous dark orange lily, a tall pink carnation and two stripy plants to the front mix. Bliss. Oh, and we have harvested our first strawberry (singular deliberate) crop - it was delicious, and yes K and I shared it. I hope its friends ripen soon.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Seeking Pleasure and an Unexpected Gift

Book News:

Much to my delight, fantasy novel The Gifting (featuring gay scribe Simon Hartstongue) received a lovely review at Goodreads from Tahlia Newland (many thanks, Tahlia). She comments:

"The character development is exemplarity. It’s rare that you see characters grow so deeply and well supported by the action ... I recommend it for anyone who likes something different and especially if they like a bit of psychological depth in their reading."

All this for only £1.91 at Amazon UK, and also available at Amazon US. Naturally it also comes as a paperback, so the choice is yours. In the very near future, the book will also be featured on the Awesome Indies website, so watch this space. In the meantime, if you buy now and pay very special attention to Chapters Four, Six and the Third Gathandrian Interlude, then you could be in with a chance of winning a brand-new Kindle when the anniversary book tour starts next week! Further details to follow very shortly ...

Turning to my gay erotic fiction, The Delaneys at Home (Delaneys *5) received a review today from Brief Encounters, so thank you to Jen for that one. Over at Goodreads, it's also gained two 5-star reviews, one from Judianna and one from Kazza, and a 4-star review from Sandra. Many thanks to all for reading and commenting. There's one more book in the series left: The Delaneys, My Parents and Me, and I hope to start writing that one at some point later this year.

In addition, Where You Hurt The Most has just been reviewed at QMO Books, so thank you, Serena, for that.

Today, I'm also officially blogging at two other locations: my review of Richard Mason's wonderful rush-out-and-buy-it-right-now novel History of a Pleasure Seeker is now up at Vulpes Libris; plus you can find out just how big a step living with someone actually is over at the Amber Quill Press blog. Happy reading!

I'm also very pleased to say that new British Gay Romance website is now up and running, and you can even find me there, amongst other authors who also write UK-based gay fiction. Come over and browse, and you're guaranteed to find something to your liking - all visitors welcome.

The most recent meditation poem is:

Meditation 664
In returning
to what we did not know
was lost

we grasp
our inheritance
no matter the cost.

Life News:

Happy work anniversary to me! Today, I've been at the University for 8 years, which is the longest I've worked anywhere, to be honest. I'm quietly pleased and hoping they keep me on for a little while yet. Really, it's the most fun I've had in a job since I went to work in the first place.

K and I have had a good couple of bank holiday days earlier this week - we love the Jubilee! We spent a happy morning at The Savill Garden (where else on such a royal weekend?...), then moved on to a local garden centre followed by an afternoon's planting in the garden. We've discovered a new love of alliums (so alien and so beautiful), and plan to get more, definitely. Apparently, as an added bonus, deer hate them so I don't have to worry about spraying the Brut deodorant on them as a deterrent, hurrah.

This morning, I have had the first session on my brand-new exercise bike (the pedal fell off the old one - no, please don't comment on that ...), and honestly it's so quiet even I don't know I'm using it. Though, as always, the seat needs a towel or two before the essential comfort is achieved, deep sigh. Plus the car has had its MOT and service at Chandlers the local garage - who were very good indeed. Thank you, Caroline, for being so efficient and so lovely. I do so love a garage I can actually walk to, and now the car is acceptable for another year - I hope!

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Happy Jubilee weekend!

Life News:

Hope everyone's having a really wonderful Diamond Jubilee weekend - it's been pretty amazing here. A big thank you to Elstead Tennis Club who very kindly lent us their marquee, which we all spent a happy couple of hours putting up yesterday afternoon, and which has served us very well indeed today. And today was fantastic - wonderful food, wonderful organisation (many thanks, L, J & K), and really wonderful neighbours. The souvenir stall sold out and the raffle prizes were a big hit.

After we'd celebrated in style, we took the marquee down, and have now rounded off the day with coffee & cake at L&J's. Great stuff, and a big thank you to everyone who joined in and made it such a top-class event. Next stop: the street's Christmas celebrations. Watch this space ...

One of my really important roles this week has been Chief Frog Rescuer. Yesterday, I saved one from the garage and helped it into the stream at the bottom of the garden. And today, I spotted one in the marquee as we were decorating it this morning and rescued that one too. At least I assume it was a different frog, but really who can tell ... The other wildlife excitement we've had today is when we woke up, we looked out of the window and there were two wolves (yes, I do mean that) roaming round the road. They were quite tame, but no collars. The RSPCA wouldn't come, the police weren't interested and the local council could only come out on the next working day (Wednesday). Not much help there then. However the glories of the village Facebook page came into its own, as I put a message up there and the lost huskies (so not wolves then, but pretty damn close) are now reunited with their owners. Hurrah! So I am on Wolfwatch as well as Frogwatch. A woman's work is never done, hey ho. Thank goodness for the Interweb thingy.

Due to the Jubilee excitements I have cheated and made a packet chocolate cake with shop-bought icing. Not bad but the cake's too dry so I think I should have added the whole dessert-spoon of mayonnaise instead of just a half one. I shall remember next time. No complaints from K though.

Also, a couple of very worthwhile causes to draw your attention to: I've just discovered the Out4Marriage site which is working for same sex marriage equality in the UK, so am very pleased to recommend that to you. And, on a more local level, my doctor is cycling across the length of Britain in September to support the British Lung Foundation - and her JustGiving site is here in case you're feeling generous. Thank you.

Book News:

Today's other big celebration is that The Delaneys At Home (Delaneys *5) is published today by Amber Allure Press, and is discounted for the first week, so buy early buy often. The blurb is:

Liam is ready for a whole new life with the dangerous Delaney twins, and dives into it with great enthusiasm. But when the men reveal they know he's not been entirely honest with them about his previous art career, the scene is set for a rather different experience of punishment. Can Liam rise to the occasion this time around?
More than that, Liam's gallery boss appears to be in cahoots with the Delaneys about the talents Liam's convinced he simply doesn't have. Will he find the twins' commitment to his profession rather more than even he can handle?

Happy reading.

Keeping the subject of discounts, as it's Pride Month in June, you can find my literary lesbian titles discounted by 25% direct from Untreed Reads. Again, happy (cheap!) reading to all.

And Where You Hurt The Most gained a review at The Romance Reviews, so many thanks for that, Valentina. Much appreciated indeed.

This week's meditation poem is:

Meditation 663
There is safety
in numbers:
the cool, determinable
logic of shape,
the way they slot
perfectly one against another
in silent agreement
to make a greater truth.

Numbers control
our universe;
from birth to death
they colour our view
with how much, how many,
how few.

The Sunday haiku is:

The blue damselfly
dances over the bright stream
as we dig the earth.

Anne Brooke
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Gay Reads UK
Biblical Fiction UK