Category Archives: chocolate

Discounts and doorbells

Book News:

There’s a 25% discount on The Hit List direct from the publisher this month so buy early buy often. And this weekend only, there’s also a 20% discount on Sunday Haiku from Rainbow Ebooks, so Sunday is definitely a good shopping day.

Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me found itself briefly at No 62 in the Amazon charts, and Tommy’s Blind Date was equally briefly at no 50. That was certainly a nice feeling anyway. I’ve also, much to my delight, looked again at The Executioner’s Cane, and have this weekend added 2,000 words to its wordcount, hurrah. It might just become a novel one day, you never know.

Recent meditations are:

Meditation 440
After the clamour
of battle
and the stark
inevitability of death:

the quiet washing away
of blood
and the song
of the women.

Meditation 441
The sea calls him
even now in this land
of desert and whispered song.

It is like God:
mysterious, other,
a depth and story

he cannot imagine
and to which
he may never belong.

The Sunday haiku (there’s been a heck of a lot of ladybirds about over the last couple of days, mainly all over our white outer door in colourful fashion …) is:

Sun-flung ladybirds
paint my door with promises
red and ebony.

Life News:

K returned from Dubai (hurrahs!!!!) which was totally delightful and brought me a present of a camel in a snow-globe. So I can add that with pride to my burgeoning snow-globe collection. I’m sure it will be happy to join the old Pope in a snowstorm, the Holy Family in a snowstorm and Noah’s Ark in a snowstorm, amongst others. Never say we’re not classy here in the shires.

Yesterday, Pauline and Tony from Kent visited us for lunch and we played catch-up which was great. Pauline’s been keeping up with the traumas of the House Saga (or rather Lack of House Saga) and very sweetly (pun not intended) bought me loads of goodies to cheer me up – including wine, home-made jam (mmmm ….), a box of chocolate biscuits, and an outrageously enormous box of Thorntons which is actually so incredibly large that it won’t even fit in the fridge. Well, gosh, and thank you, my dear!! I suspect that K and I will be nearly as large as the box after we’ve eaten them all …

Meanwhile, the DIY project is continuing – and we now have, for the first time in the 17 years of being here, a real-live front doorbell. Whatever next? It’s almost like being normal members of the local community, you know – like having a real bridge to the outside world, which up until now we’ve largely ignored as nobody knows how to get up here anyway. We live in terror of someone actually ringing the dang thing, but I suppose that, like the phone, we can always on the whole ignore it. Sociopaths ‘r’ us, eh …

Anne Brooke

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Teeth, poodles and chocolate

A small meditation today, but here it is anyway:

Meditation 150

Wood and flesh
bring darkness

across the earth.
Sometimes the questions

will not protect you.
Only listen.

Had booked dentist and dental hygienist appointments this morning, so my teeth are now all gleaming white and sparkling, hurrah. Apparently I’ve been brushing well and both dentist and hygienist are smiling at me today. Still no lollipop for good behaviour though – but I suppose that works against the effort they’re making. Ah well. Mind you, it’s amazing what you find out. I had a good chat with the dentist about the glories of Springwatch and whether Chris Packham is gay or not (well, he has poodles – clipped ones – and he regularly fluffs up his hanging plants, so what were we supposed to think? Though I do accept that might be a tad narrow-minded of me …). We’ve decided he isn’t, at the moment, particularly in light of the mention of the girlfriend yesterday, but wonder if he’s the forerunner of the “new camp” which is apparently the “old straight”. Lordy, it’s so urbane and confusing these days. It’s amazing we keep up at all.

Also I’ve discovered that the hygienist had a lovely time on the Nile earlier on this year (Egypt – what joy! You can’t really go wrong, as long as you remember not to drink the water) and is now learning the guitar in between appointments. Good for her is what I say. People are always more than you think they are.

Anyway, after all that, I popped into Godalming with my super-smiley teeth and have bought two new tee-shirts and a jumper for my hols. Special bargain prices at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. I am indeed the last of the fashion icons. There was also a charity sale on in the High Street, so I have bought a selection of home-made chocolate flapjacks, which I have to say are utter bliss. So good for the teeth too, of course. It’ll be a miracle if any are left for Lord H, and I entirely blame Jason for all this who has tempted me to sin with talk of home-made chocolate cheesecake today. How could I resist?!?

This afternoon, I’ve been working away slowly on my short story about the threat of a very nasty letter – still can’t think of a title for this one so it’s currently going by the name of Post Story. Lordy, even I can see that’s not going to get anywhere. I’m hoping more title inspiration will strike by the time I finish the story itself, but that won’t be till after the holiday now. Plus I’ve fiddled around with my two upcoming Vulpes Libris reviews and put more links in them in order to encourage traffic to the site once they’re posted. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

I’ve also had my regular Alexander Technique lesson – I appear to be doing okay as next time we’ll be working on my front now that my back knows what it should be doing. Well, almost. And there’s no guarantee it will actually do it, but there you go. Tonight, there’s the usual Friday night comedy hour though I must video the poetry programme too. Not sure when I’m going to watch it, but I’m sure a space will reveal itself at some point. Ho ho.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Buying holiday clothes
3. Chocolate flapjacks
4. Working on that short story
5. Improving those VL reviews
6. Alexander Technique
7. TV.

Anne Brooke – the girl with the gleaming teeth … in my dreams

The invisible writer and putting the boot in

God, what a day. It’s really been one moment of crap followed closely by another moment of crap. On the whole. And ooh look another will be joining it shortly. Oh what joy. I am seriously pissed off. I don’t know but people have been getting on my wick today, and irritating me beyond measure. Is it Let’s Piss Anne Off Day and I missed the national email telling me so?? Deeep sigh …

Anyway, first off, the ruddy hospital send me another letter telling me to come for a scan in March. Well, I’ve only just had a ruddy scan last week – what do they want me to buy? A season ticket?? Are my bits just so incredibly fascinating that they must scan them on a monthly basis? Naturally I rang up to sort it out first thing this morning, and the woman on the other end of the line told me there must be something wrong for them to want to bring me in again so soon. Well, that made me feel cheerful, I can tell you. However, after a few moments of hyperventilating and wondering how many days (nay minutes) I might have left to live, she came back and said there was nothing untoward on my notes and it must just be an error. Well, phew. All’s well that ends proverbially, but I could have done without the ride. To be honest.

I then attempted to squeeze out some words for Hallsfoot’s Battle but Lordy it’s a total struggle today and I can’t seem to raise any interest in it at all, let alone inspiration. Whatever that is. I’ve stretched it out to just (barely) over 94,000 words but that’s quite a stretch and I suspect what I’ve attempted to add will have to be ditched in the eventual edit. And some. Sigh.

My headache really began to build up when I hot-footed it to golf and of course it’s half-term so (reasonably enough) there is a plethora of young people on the course. So it took so much longer to trudge round. Added to that the fact that I can no longer open my car boot and therefore cannot get to my golf trolley, which meant I had to lug the damn bag round myself. Totally exhausting, my dears, and my arm aches like anything now. It was gone 1pm before we actually finished.

I then leapt desperately into Godalming to do some shopping I’ve been putting off for weeks, and then found when I got back that I only had half an hour to eat lunch before going to my Alexander Technique lesson. This gave me just enough time to (a) eat, (b) add another 100 sorry-looking words to poor old Hallsfoot, and (c) ring the garage to ask if I could bring the car round so they could look at my boot lock problem. To which the answer was: yes, anytime up till 6pm and they’d be sure to look at it for me.

I then went and had my AT lesson – which was okay but I wasn’t sure I was relaxed enough to take anything in. Let alone how to be relaxed. Even the two calming pills I’ve taken today aren’t helping me there. After that, I got to the garage (Lord, but Guildford traffic is serious crap) at just before 4pm. Only to be told that all the technical people leave at 4pm and can’t look at my car until next week anyway. Then why the hell didn’t they tell me that on the bloody phone when I rang???!!? God, but sometimes I think I’m totally invisible and nobody pays me a blind bit of notice. Are my perfectly valid questions simply the distant sound of soft bleating to them?? But fear not – I expressed my disappointment in reasonable yet firm terms and did not (as I longed to do) fall screaming to the floor in the ruddy showroom and start biting the tyres of the nearest sales car. Maybe I should have done. The upshot is that I’ve booked an appointment for the car to have its boot opened in a couple of weeks’ time when we’re back from holiday – on a day that Lord H can take me in as I couldn’t have hired an alternative car apparently until the end of March. God, but it’s so bloody complicated. Till then, at least I know the bloody things in the bloody boot are safe, even if the ruddy car gets stolen. Deeeep sigh.

Meanwhile, back at the work ranch, I see the very sweet lady from the Arts Office has sent an email round to the University Book Group telling us that when we’re making our choices of the next tranche of books to talk about, we can’t choose self-published books, even though last year they looked at “Anne Brooke’s self-published novel, A Dangerous Man, as she is a staff member.” Self-published?? A Dangerous Man?? I don’t think so. Or, at least, it’s the first I’ve heard of it. I’m sure Flame Books would be delighted to find out that their whole company is in fact run by … me. Even deeeeeper sigh. I sent back a (rather less reasonable, but hell it’s lucky I can still put words together in any kind of calm order at all) reply saying that while half of my novels are self-published, A Dangerous Man actually isn’t and so was never part of any special dispensation to the rules, and I wouldn’t expect to be treated differently anyway. As I has said at the time. Though in actual fact, it’s also true to say that all of my available novels bar one are now commercially published, whether by paperback or eBook, and the next one off the press will also be a commercial production. Not that any of this will matter of course, as it now appears that anything I say is disregarded as random witterings or thought not important enough to remember – good to know my invisibility continues to widen its remit – at least something is working in Anne’s World then, if only in a negative way … In the meantime, it would be terribly refreshing if the facts about something I said or produced were actually listened to or regarded as remotely memorable – just once in my ruddy life!!…

In addition to all this, I’ve just had to speak to the middle neighbour (always tricky at the best of times) who somehow seems rather more tricksy than usual. He said something that particularly irritated me (and believe me my irritation levels are off the scale today, as you can probably tell) and instead of saying something jolly or soothing as I usually do (which is I know what I’m expected as a woman to do and which again he doesn’t listen to, as a matter of course), I just didn’t reply and stared at him. I think that took him by surprise, and I managed to escape earlier than anticipated, thank goodness. Any more conversation with people of any shape or form and I might just have to punch them, scream loudly and run away. God but that seems like a plan.

And here’s today’s meditation – the writing of which frankly seems a damn long time ago. Really I am pissed off with the whole of this day already and I want no more of it. I’m tired, that damn headache won’t let me go, nobody listens to a word I say, I have the housework to face and I can’t even open a bottle of wine any more to take the edge off. Bloody hell.

Meditation 74

The land breathes riches
for six years

and sleeps across your senses
for the seventh.

What you have not planted
will nourish you

and what you release
from your hand

will lighten your weight
upon the earth,

help you to dream again.

But do not fear, people – astonishingly, all is not lost. At the end of all this sludge and existential misery, Lord H has come back from work (hurrah!) and allowed me to pummel his chest in order to get rid of some of the angst – an essential duty which really should be performed by every husband. And I do feel a bit better now. Thank the Lord. Oh and I’ve had my third chocolate of the day – so my insulin levels will be crap but at least it raises the happy hormones …

Today’s nice things (um …):

1. Chocolate
2. Lord H
3. Chocolate
4. Lord H.

Anne Brooke
Anne’s website – if you blink you’ll miss it …

Web mania and the chocolate festival

In spite of the rain, Lord H and I have made the effort to go out today, and ended up at the chocolate festival at Polesden Lacey. Mmmm, lovely. Though we were noble and did the house first – our attempts to dodge the Room Dragons were fairly successful, thank goodness. Mind you, there were children around so no doubt they had other things on their mind … We also had a lovely walk across the always stunning grounds and the sun even shone for a while, astonishingly. Then we hit the Chocolate Tent, and were quite restrained, well for us – though I did have to drag Lord H away from the chocolate fountain before he plunged into it. And I discovered a really wonderful chocolate & courgette cake (yes, you are reading that right), with cinnamon. Lovely. We had it warmed with ice cream as pudding today, and even have some left over for tomorrow. It’s the healthy option after all – no doubt being an extra portion of vegetables for the day.

For the rest of today, I have been setting up various Goldenford sites on the web. So we now have a Facebook page and a MySpace page – so do come along and make yourself known if you use either of those facilities. It will be lovely to see you in the online world! I make a damn good cup of virtual tea, you know.

I must also say how utterly wonderful yesterday’s TV was. “Dr Who” was stunningly good and incredibly deep. It should really have been the first episode, to my mind – it deserved it for sure. And “Pushing Daisies” is an absolute Must See – quirky, wise and funny, and totally, totally off-the-wall. Like “Spaced” but set in America. I loved it. If you missed it, do make the effort to catch it next week – it’s wonderful! Tonight though I shall be glued to “Foyle’s War” and am already in mourning for the fact that there’ll only be two more episodes ever after this one. What is wrong with programmers?? Foyle is amazing – why the hell are the idjits ditching him?? It’s madness out there.

This week’s haiku:

Through the cold sunlight
you spike the day with silence.
I wave a goodbye.

Today’s nice things:

1. Chocolate festivals
2. Building up the Goldenford web profile (hey, I have the lingo, you know! Almost …)
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne’s website
Goldenford Publishers

Insane writers and the shallow chocolate-eater

Rushed into town this morning to get a shed-load of stuff which has been waiting to be bought for weeks. However, commerce is – once again – against me. I couldn’t find half the stuff I wanted (deep sigh) and when I got home some of the stuff I’d actually bought was the wrong ruddy stuff (deeper sigh): it’s just that the ruddy retailer had put the oil in the place where they usually put the soap and in the same packaging. So I’m no further forward. Plus I have something extra I don’t need yet. And I still have to go back and get the things I really wanted at some point. Bloody hell – is it just me or do other people go haywire and get utterly stressed out when simple things don’t go to plan?? I mean I could probably cope with style and finesse if World War Three broke out in Godalming (that den of crime and unrest), but I fall into a sobbing wreck when I can’t find my soap. Hell, maybe I really am mad. This reminds me of a quote from a book I’m currently reading where Person A (reader) comments on what a glamorous lifestyle writers must have, and Person B (writer) thinks that there is surely nothing glamorous about being indoors for seven hours at a stretch trying not to go insane. There’s wisdom in that, by George …

Anyway, while in Godalming, I did manage to buy a Cadbury’s Creme Egg to take as a small Easter present to my friend in hospital. However, by the time I got back in the car, I was so jazzed up and unable at all to cope with any more social interaction of any kind that I actually drove home instead and ate it myself. Even though I know chocolate is bad for my insulin problems, it went nicely with the De-Stress pill I found. Which only goes to show what a shallow, heartless bitch I am – taking chocolate from the mouths of the sick … Shocking. I am sure that, in this Easter season, this is Not What Jesus Would Do. As that wretched evangelical bracelet doesn’t say …

Anyway, back here on the ranch where I am safe from meeting any people at all, I have made good the extra time gained from my day by finishing the whole of the edit to Irene’s Darshan for Goldenford. Another wonderful literary novel, Irene! And what an ending – utterly fabulous.

I’ve just seen that A Dangerous Man has been included, along with other Flame Books publications, in the Amber Square listings (which is a new project to market books from small independent publishers – more power to their elbow, I say!) here. I’m hoping it might even sell a few more copies – well, you never know your luck.

And I’ve managed – in superspeedy mode – to solve the latest “Torchwood” mission, hurrah! Mind you, I’ve had to as the answer needs to be in by tomorrow night, dammit. They’re obviously building up the tension to the grand finale, as they normally give us a week to solve the mystery. Still, I’m pretty pleased that I managed it on my own – it wasn’t easy, I can tell you. You had to be damn quick at writing stuff down in order to get it. Still, writing damn quick is my middle name, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

Tonight, Lord H and I are having dinner at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre and then seeing The Late Edwina Black – which in that photo looks deliciously camp and just the sort of thing we warm to. Here’s hoping it fulfils its promise, eh.

Today’s nice things (more than three – ye gods, the pills must be working …!):

1. Guilty chocolate eating
2. Editing Darshan
3. Solving the “Torchwood” mission
4. Another marketing avenue for A Dangerous Man
5. The theatre.

Anne Brooke
Anne’s website
Goldenford Publishers

Back to the grindstone

First day back at work – argghh!!! Though actually it hasn’t been as horrific as I’d feared. I even got all my emails cleared by about 11.30am, which was nice. A ruddy miracle too! And the blessed Ruth had saved me some small chocolate eggs from Easter and left them on my desk as a welcome back, so I could have married her and had her babies there and then. Not only that but she’d left a large chocolate egg in the fridge, so it’s like heaven in Student Care Services at the moment. Chocolate heaven.

I spent lunchtime wandering round the lake and sitting watching it. The trees on the walk to the public carpark are absolutely stunning (and I’m not usually a great nature fan. Nature? Bah! Red of tooth and claw …) – a riot of pink blossom. I felt quite happy looking at that, and indeed at the lake. Two moments of happiness in one day? And at work? What in the world is happening to me??

This afternoon, we didn’t get a great deal done. It was Penny’s birthday so we went over to Student Advice (where she works) and had chocolate (surprise!) cake and an hour’s chat. You can tell the boss isn’t in … It was great. Penny’s actually leaving in two weeks’ time and I shall miss her like crazy though. She’s the voice of cynicism in a world of niceness. And how we need those!

Ooh, I’ve just finished reading Paul Burston’s (http://www.myspace.com/paulburston) new novel, Lovers and Losers. I really enjoyed it – I loved the characters, and it’s a warm-hearted and fun tale. Must admit to thinking that the book cover doesn’t do justice to the book, which is far warmer and more humane than the plastic-looking front cover would have you believe. So don’t be put off – buy it anyway! It’s great!

And the lovely Gillian (http://www.myspace.com/gillian75) has emailed me to say how much she enjoyed A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com) and that she’s in love with Michael. So thanks, Gillian – much appreciated – and that makes 3 of us now! Michael will be pleased. He never thought that, apart from me, he’d have much of an ardent fan club … Gillian has also been kind enough (thanks again, Gillian …) to leave a comment on the Flame Books Myspace site (http://www.myspace.com/flamebooks) so I hope that means they will smile upon me for a while. I can be Good Author sometimes, you know!

Tonight, once Lord H (now happier again and standing at the edge of his cave, phew …!) returns from the shops, I shall chill with a capital C, maybe with a well-deserved G&T in my hands, and look forward to “New Tricks” on TV. Just the thing to do the ironing to. Dammit.

Today’s nice things:

1. Lovers and Losers
2. Chocolate eggs at work
3. TV

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk

A review, a lot of laziness and some scribbling

Hell, that’s what Bank Holidays are for, surely? I’ve been soooo lazy today that I haven’t even been out of the flat, and I’ve spent a glorious two hours this afternoon napping on the sofa. Bliss. I am well up there for the shortlistings for the Lydia Languish Lethargy Awards. If they make it an Olympic sport, I’m going for Gold.

I’ve also been much cheered by a very kind and also very balanced review from Erastes (http://www.myspace.com/erastesdotcom), the author of the marvellous Standish (available from http://www.amazon.co.uk) and Director of the Erotic Authors Association (http://www.eroticauthorsassociation.com) about A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com), which I reproduce below (as for some reason I can’t persuade it to upload to my website at the moment, sigh!):

“It’s taken me a day or two to mull over this book, because I wanted to think about how it made me feel. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, because mainly I’ve read gay historical stories, other than short stories – and contemporary is kind of beyond my ken. I don’t know how the modern gay man in London feels or what the scene is. (Ok I don’t know that for 1800 either but then neither does anyone else so that’s ok). I enjoyed it. Let me say that at the first. It’s well written by someone who obviously knows how to write, who knows how to use the language to describe place with what seems an effortless grace so you always have a sense of your surroundings, whether it be a seedy bar in Hackney, or a graceful house in Islington. You can smell the leather, feel the heavy crystal, feel the grit under your shoes. Michael (don’t call me Mikey) is an artist, struggling to make ends meet, and is not averse to a little part-time prostitution to help those ends meet. He lives with Joe and Paul, Joe owns a gallery but won’t hang his paintings – Paul knocks money off the rent for a little sexual action. Then one day Michael gets the chance of a commission in a City firm and falls head over heels in love with Jack, his potential new patron. And this is where it all kicks off. The plot moves swiftly on from this point, never leaving the reader bored. It’s a first person novel, but although Michael does spend a lot of time in introspection it’s rarely repetitive, not over angsty, and gradually as the book moves on and Michael is “forced” from one position to another, you slowly get the feel that all is not quite well with Michael and the title becomes clear. The choice of first person for this book is very clever, because you don’t really get into Michael’s head at all- and that’s because he doesn’t even allow himself in there. Characterisation: Each character is well done, and it’s interesting from my point of view that the one character that we don’t actually get a full picture of is Paul, but that’s probably because Michael has no interest in describing him more fully for us. I particularly liked Jack’s family because Jack’s mother reminded me very forcibly of my own, with her motherly concern. I also liked the landlord of the pub that Michael pulls tricks in. I was a little annoyed at Michael’s inability to work – he’s a bit of a sponger – and immediately turns tricks when he needs £500 when it’s not explained why he couldn’t just get a job. Artistic temperament, I suppose. But he’s not meant – or that’s how I read it – to be an attractive character. He’s an opportunist and he knows what he wants and that’s how he gets to be where he is by the end – by reacting to external stimuli and not thinking first. The artistic pieces were particularly well done; Anne Brooke thanks a friend for help with these and I would never have known that Anne wasn’t an artist herself, she seems to get right under Michael’s skin when he draws – if we can’t understand the feeling ourselves, she describes it so well that we feel what he’s feeling as he does it. I loved the section when Michael was explaining (to Jack’s father) how he draws, and it’s totally unintelligible to everyone except Michael. I could just see their blank faces, but to Michael it makes perfect sense. This book could easily have gone the typical romance route, and that’s actually what I was expecting, it even lulled me into a false sense of security at one point. But it’s not, so don’t go looking for happy ever afters. The ending is raw and bleak and wonderful, and I can’t say any more really without spoiling it, but there’s a lot of room for reader conjecture as to what actually happens – or at least that’s how I read it. I ended up, as I’m sure I was supposed to, feeling desperately sorry for Michael, when he’d annoyed me so much throughout. On a personal note, for a contemporary gay story, I would have liked the sex scenes to be more explicit. It was a very grown-up story, and the sex scenes were handled with a fade out or “We made love and it was very good”, perhaps not in every scene, as Michael does do it a lot, but I’d have liked some of the (no pun intended) seminal scenes to be more graphically described, particularly as the sexual aspect of Michael’s nature is so important to the book. But that’s just me and my dirty mind. But all in all a good book. If you are looking for a predictable tale of love, then this isn’t for you, but if you like a book that gets under your skin and makes you think long after you’ve closed the last page, like it has for me, then try “A Dangerous Man”. I’ll certainly be looking out for more of Ms Brooke’s work.”

Thanks, Erastes! Much appreciated. But I must admit I’m not even going to try for more sex content in my next one – I simply don’t have the skills to be an erotic author, I’m afraid. Must be something to do with living in Surrey …

So, fired up with enthusiasm, I’ve made a start on Simon’s big story-telling scene in The Gifting – not much done, but at least it’s a beginning. And, hey, it’s a bank holiday so I’m not pushing it. That’s tomorrow’s job. And I’ve also done some sudokus and the odd crossword, so my brain is now too tired for anything more.

Tonight, it’s sausages, chips ‘n’ beans, plus beer and ice cream. Oh and we’ve had chocolate too – so this is the ultimate anti-health zone right now. Though I did do some exercise this morning, plus stare at my Brite Light, so I am keeping flab and depression at bay. Sort of. And later it’s a new series of “New Tricks” on tv, so that’ll be bliss. Must remember to video the programme on Jackie magazine on the other side though – heck, everything I learnt about life I learnt from that magazine! If only I’d kept all my copies, I’d be worth a fortune now …

Today’s nice things:

1. Erastes’ review
2. Writing more of The Gifting
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
http://www.annebrooke.com
http://www.goldenford.co.uk