Sunday, October 27, 2013

Storms and ghosts

Book News:

Much to my delight, gay thriller A Dangerous Man is no 9 in the Amber Allure bestseller chart for September - which is welcome news indeed after its Goodreads thrashing, hurrah. Perhaps - perish the thought - it's not actually as bad as its new readers think? You never know, tee hee ...

Meanwhile, gay-based fantasy The Gifting (Gathandria *1) found itself at No 91 in the Amazon UK gay fiction charts, whilst The Executioner's Cane (Gathandria *3) was at No 87 in the Amazon US gay fiction charts. The faint glimmer of glory was brief, alas, but welcome.

As a reminder, over at Untreed Reads, all my short stories can be purchased at the bargain price of 50c or 20p, so do feel free to browse. A story a day keeps boredom away, so they say.

One poem this week - the goldfinches are back! -


A late goldfinch
flutters at the bird feeder:

a splash of gold
on a cloudy day.

And I think next year
a brighter summer

might even now
pass our way.

And here's my mini review of Kate Mosse's Winter Ghosts:

I'd expected more from this, given Mosse's reputation - I've not read any of her work before so this was my introduction. It's a very well written ghost story, but the plot is the same as many other ghost stories, so I kept thinking I'd read it before somewhere. No surprises at all really. However, the times and settings are very good indeed, but it still feels like a slight novel to me.

Life News:

This week we've been putting the garden to bed for the winter, so I've pulled up the dead plants or those which won't come back next year, and given stuff (there's a technical gardening phrase for you) a light winter prune where needed. I've not planted the tulips yet, but I'll do those in November. I also refreshed the hanging baskets with winter greenery - though I've brought them all inside today, along with other vulnerable pots, because of the storm heading our way.

Other plants brought inside include my two surviving cannas - one of which bloomed for the first time today. So our Durban canna has one gorgeous orange flower on it, with more to come, and is spending its first day of existence in our dining room with its canna friend.

On Thursday, K and I saw the world premiere (go, us!) of political comedy The Duck House, starring Ben Miller, in Guildford. My verdict is:

OK, but far more farcical and therefore not as satirical or witty as we'd hoped. The second half is much better (and ruder!) than the first half, but they really need to dampen down the level of hysteria in the first half in order to build up the tension more effectively. Still, it's good to see that decent farce is at least still being written for the stage.

And Saturday's cake was a St Clement's (orange and lemon) sponge. Very tasty it is too, and so easy to make, hurrah.

Have a great Sunday, and if you're in the UK, I hope the coming storm isn't as bad as the 1987 one, hey ho.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Illness, rudeness and cake

Book News:

I've just completed my gay paranormal short story, The Paranormal Detection Agency, and have submitted it to Amber Allure Press. It's due to be published as part of their ghost/haunting collection next spring, so plenty of time for edits. I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out and suspect there might be a series in the offing in there too, once I can get my act together. Hmm, don't wait up, eh.

This week, I've quite honestly had enough of internet - and particularly Goodreads - vitriol so have cancelled my account there, for the sake of my own sanity. I've also cancelled my Twitter account - as I've never really known what it was for - and begun the process of taking down my Facebook fan pages, as they weren't very popular anyway. I'll leave my personal FB account intact. At least all this internet rationalisation will save me some valuable time, hurrah. And get the Goodreads ghouls off my back, double hurrah and put out the bunting.

A couple of poems this week, which I hope you enjoy:

Spell casting

Outside in the dark
starlight sparkles,
exposes the room’s soft comfort.

The witching hour.
The knife’s blade gleams
a deeper silver

as it unsheathes
the apple’s white flesh
held in the palm

of my hand.
Scent of autumn hedgerows.
Keep the fingers steady,

watch the smooth paring
of skin unfold
its secret spell.

One length,
then two
before the deed is done.

Close the eyes tight
and release
the magic today:

apple rind thrown on the fire
reveals your true love’s name,
they say.


you just have to
let go the things

that taste of safety
and launch out
into the hereafter;

so may the dancing air
and sunlight
carry your weight

while the seagulls’ song
salts your skin
with laughter.

Life News:

I've been ill with a bad cold and catarrh this week. This resulted in me attempting to drive to work on Wednesday (foolish decision ...), feeling horribly sick on the way, slamming to a halt in one of the Senate House car park disabled spaces, and running across the university main reception area whilst gagging. Not my finest hour really. So all kudos and grateful thanks to the lovely Reception gals who sprang at once to my aide, and the equally lovely A. who sorted out telling my boss and colleagues I was going home without actually quite managing to get to my desk. I did feel a fool, I can tell you.

So I've been off sick the rest of the week but I do feel a lot better this weekend, thank goodness. I trust I will be able to get to work unscathed tomorrow, without the drama. Here's hoping.

Yesterday, a salesman from a local paving company (who should perhaps remain nameless!) turned up on a door-to-door visit, to ask on the off-chance if we wanted our driveway done. When I told him no thank you, he got very nasty and started swearing at me, saying (and I quote): "Jesus Christ, I don't like your attitude." I told him to stop swearing and then shut the door on him, but honestly I felt really quite shaky. Is this the new sales technique they're teaching people these days?? Ye gods, I can't say I like it. I certainly won't be getting a driveway from them (though actually we had considered them in the past) - or maybe I should and then bury the pesky swearing man under it. Ah, tempting thought ...

Yesterday's cake was chocolate brownies, and they've turned out very well indeed. More than enough chocolate in there to cheer me up after Goodreads and swearing salesmen horrors. Thank goodness.

And we've had a lovely dinner out with our neighbours L&J, at R&G's new home, so that was great too. Excellent food, excellent conversation and a wonderful new home to admire. Bliss indeed.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Execution, film and a church mystery

Book News:

This week, gay-themed fantasy novel The Gifting found itself at No 90 in the Amazon UK Fantasy charts, while the last in the Gathandrian Trilogy, The Executioner's Cane, was at No 78 in the Amazon US Gay Fiction Charts and No 56 in the Amazon UK Gay Fiction Charts. And don't forget the whole Gathandrian fantasy trilogy is FREE so there's nothing to lose, hey ho.

Not to be outdone, the 2nd in the trilogy, Hallsfoot's Battle, found itself briefly at No 76 in the Amazon UK Epic Fantasy chart, so that was a bit of a boost to the struggling writer too, hurrah.

Meanwhile, gay erotic romance The Art of The Delaneys gained a 4-star review at Goodreads, which commented that the whole of the series was "pure entertaining smut." Exactly what I intended, so I was very chuffed by that!

I'm also very pleased indeed to note that romantic short story Dido's Tale has now had over 50 downloads at Smashwords, and that's a FREE book too.  Never say I'm not generous with my fiction, eh ...

This week's poetry is about Wasps and Sunlight, and can be found at my poetry site, as usual. Happy reading.

Life News:

A very busy end of week here in the Surrey outback and, indeed, I seem to have shoehorned all my social activities, not to mention church dramas (see below), for the month into two days. Heck, no wonder I'm exhausted. On Thursday night, there was an extra rehearsal of the upcoming Elstead play at ours to try to iron out one or two problem sections. This ended up with me playing all the characters who couldn't be there on the night, in order to give everyone else a good chance at some practice. Heavens above, I should be granted my Equity card on merit alone, my dears. My performance was a tour de force, naturally, ho ho.

On Friday, M and I managed to squeeze in a round of golf in between the rain showers (or maybe deluge is a more accurate word), and I also had another fabulous haircut at the Elstead salon (many thanks once more, Steff). In the evening, K and I went to see Lincoln at the Elstead cinema, and really enjoyed the experience - lovely to have all those local adverts during the interval, including one for the upcoming play. No mention of my valuable support, however - I must have been left on the cutting room floor, oh the shame!

Goodness, though, but the first half of Lincoln is very wordy. And tough if, like me, you don't know US history and wonder who the heck these people are. Lincoln had children? Who knew! I was also confused because I didn't know Lincoln was the same time period as the US Civil War, but I accept I might have been getting him muddled up with George Washington, who apparently was earlier. However the second half was much better, with more actual excitement and less talking. The decision scene was superb. I loved the 3 Stooges, and the guy who was all for racial equality and had a relationship with his black housekeeper which was very sweet (Stevens, possibly?). I also loved all those wonderful beards and moustaches, and of course Daniel Day-Lewis nailed it. As ever with Spielberg though, he went on and indulged in cringe-making sentimentality after the film's natural end. It should have finished when Lincoln walks out into the night to go to the fateful theatre performance where he was shot. We didn't need the bit with the crying sons and the equality speech - way too tacky. But hey, that's Spielberg for you - he's never recognised The End when it arrives, oh well.

Yesterday, I baked Devonshire Honey Cake - it wasn't as good as the last time I baked it, as I managed to burn it a little, but the honey glaze has covered up a multitude of sins and it tastes fine, phew. We also popped along to the Elstead book sale, and managed to get six books for £2, go us. A real bargain indeed.

I'm rather bamboozled by a telephone conversation I had with one of the church ladies, however, which went something like this:

Church Lady (CL): Please could I speak to K?
Me: Of course. Can I tell him what it's about?
CL: We need to know where you live.
Me: (I give her our address, assuming this is for the church records: they're always asking us where we live, then losing the information and asking again, sigh): OK, no problem, is that all?
CL: No, not really. I can't tell you, but Mrs X (another church lady) needs to talk to him about something and wonders if she can come round to discuss it today. Now we have your address.
Me: I'm not sure if we'll be in (a lie actually, but a Visitation by Church Ladies is always a Moment of Horror and To Be Avoided ...). If you tell me what it's about, I can ask him though.
CL: Um, I don't really know, I can't say. I'll ask Mrs X. (Sound of CL asking Mrs X, who is actually in the same room as CL but for some reason won't speak to me on the phone.) Mrs X - Anne asks what it's about - can you tell me?
Pause and murmured conversation away from the phone
CL: Mrs X can't talk about it on the phone, but needs to come round and see K and you face to face. Can she come round now?
Me (still lying for Britain): I think we'll be out. Can Mrs X give me a guide as to what it's about, please?
More muttered conversation.
CL: I'm afraid she can't. It's a face-to-face matter. She's going to come round now. Will you be in?
Me: It's unlikely (making plans to flee the country and hoping the passport is still valid). We may be out. Are you sure you can't talk about it on the phone, or ask Mrs X to tell me, so I can tell K?
CL: No, that's definitely  not possible. Mrs X will come round. But if you're out, what will Mrs X do?
Me (now laughing hysterically): She'll probably have to wait a long time, but at least it's not raining.
Puts phone down.

Church ladies - really, they're a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, bless 'em. My dears, it's a mystery. Anyway, the upshot was that Mrs X never came round - though she might well have done while we were out. But K and I are having great fun wondering what it might have been about that makes her want to talk to K face to face, but not me on the phone. Has she discovered some terrible secret about me that she must tell K before it's too late? Goodness, I do hope so, as that would be amazing! K wonders idly if Mrs X has discovered my secret affair with the vicar's wife, which would certainly be something for the November edition of the parish magazine, eh. Ha! I was too busy dealing with tea coming out of my nose at that suggestion to comment. The plot, however, thickens ...

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

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Poetry, potatoes and prayer

Book News:

Gay thriller A Dangerous Man is now available as a Kindle at Amazon UK and Amazon US. For a brief moment of glory, it was actually at No 16 in the Amazon UK Gay Books chart, but has dropped somewhat since then. It might be to do with the small backlash against the book currently taking place on Goodreads, but I am trying to lie low on that score - especially as Goodreads is rather in uproar at the moment, oh well.

However, gay thriller Maloney's Law gained a 4-star review at Goodreads, so perhaps all is not lost on that site yet, hurrah. Elsewhere, Christian novella The Prayer Seeker gained a 5-star review at Amazon UK, which cheered me greatly.

There's further good news this week, as my gay fiction at Riptide Publishing now has a 40% discount until next weekend - so the ideal time to pick up either gay romance The Heart's Greater Silence or gay erotic romance Where You Hurt The Most. Happy reading.

Finally, I've created a new poetry website and this week there are three new poems up there: Like Chocolate; October; and Written. I hope you enjoy them.

Life News:

I've managed to survive the ups and downs of Welcome Week at the University for a ninth year (go me!), though I have certainly been struggling with a cold all week - probably the stress, as it seems much better now. I think the students have had a good time though - which is the main thing for sure - they're certainly a very keen year, all in all. A big welcome to them all from me.

Something of a trauma in the cooking department when I rushed back after a long, hard day at work, and saw my husband had kindly peeled the potatoes and left them in a bowl in the kitchen for me to sort out. So I put them on to boil for dinner and about twenty minutes later he came strolling in, looked extremely puzzled and then asked me where I'd put the last of our apple harvest. Whoops! My dears, by that time they were mush - but we did at least manage to make them into compote for dessert, phew. I am of course far too important to know the difference between potatoes and apples, but I fear I might - as an apple farmer's daughter - take some time to live that one down ...

This week's cake is Rocky Road Cupcakes, which are surely the messiest cake known to humankind, and look extremely odd - though thankfully they taste great, hurrah. A riot of chocolate indeed.

This morning at church, I was sure there was something odd floating in the Communion wine, but I attempted to avoid it and look holy, so I think I've survived the experience. I'm relying on the alcohol content and the miracle of prayer to get us through the day, hey ho.

Mind you, I was rather irritated by the line in one of the hymns which tells us that "the church's teaching is wholly supported by God and we must all agree with it" or some such nonsensical baloney. K told me afterwards he thought I was about to spontaneously combust at having to sing such a downright lie, so I have surely gained essential God Points by remaining calm. That said, a lot of the church stalwarts were away on the Parish Weekend, so at least the oldies left behind did choose some good old-fashioned hymns - with decent tunes! -  to sing, rather than anything too modern or scarily Kendrick-y. Maybe we should send the usual hymn-pickers away again?...

Sadly, at the church door, I was asked if I wanted to do a church job. God forbid! I'm rather fond of the lovely chap who asked me, but my answer is as it's always been, no matter how nice you are: Not until you've had a real conversation with me about non-church stuff at least 5 times, and certainly not until the Church of England stops being anti-women leaders and anti-equal marriage. Hmmm, I won't wait up then, eh.

Anyway, to calm us all down from church idiocies and the traumas of the internet, here are some wonderful pictures of one of our acers getting in autumnal mode.

Have a great week.

Anne Brooke
Poetry for Redheads
Free Fiction UK
Gay Fiction UK
The Gathandrian Fantasy Trilogy
Biblical Fiction UK