Category Archives: DIY

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

Painting and proofs

Book News:

This week I’ve been working on the final proofs for A Dangerous Man and have just now sent them back to Cheyenne Publishing and Bristlecone Pine Press ready for publication date on 15 October. Nearly there, gosh. I’ve been thrilled today to see that the novel is included in the Lambda Literary October listings (Mystery & Thriller section), and that’s a seriously good place to be showcased, double gosh.

Meanwhile, Maloney’s Law gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, so many thanks for that, Nicci – so glad you enjoyed the story. I’m also very happy indeed that Tommy’s Blind Date is No 4 in the Amber Allure September Bestseller lists, and many thanks to those who’ve put it there. And I’m equally happy that I appear twice in Jessewave Reviews’ September Recommended Reads list, once with good old Tommy’s Blind Date and once with Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle – thank you, Wave!

Over at Vulpes Libris, you can find my review of Jane Green’s Girl Friday, which is a fabulous novel for the over-forties, and we so definitely need more of those. And the lovely Kirsty has also published a wonderful haiku-review of my Sunday Haiku collection – many thanks, Kirsty!

Here are this week’s meditation poems:

Meditation 438
Wine and women
are a heady brew;

they befuddle kings
and confound the things

that are true.
Who knew?

Meditation 439
Men become liars
and truth hides
in the deepest well

when the story we long for
is not the one
where we dwell.

Life News:

K has been in Dubai all this week and I have missed him LOADS. Thankfully he’s back tonight (hurrah!!) and is even now jetting his way towards Heathrow, so it will be totally lovely to have him back again. Goodness me but I was super-wimpy when he left at some ungodly hour on Monday morning – only barely managing not to grab him by the ankles and weep. Lordy, never say I’m not stylish, though what style it actually is must be anyone’s guess.

Anyway, it’s been strange rattling about in this old Victorian house all on my own for several days, but I have kept myself busy by doing bucketloads of DIY each evening when I got back from work – with the result that the spare room walls and ceiling are now painted with four coats, and the skirting board and door glossed with two. Oh and those proofs have kept me focused too, so that’s been good.

Work’s been horrendously busy as well, what with being the first week of term, and I simply haven’t had time to sit down, my dears. Not one second. I couldn’t even spare the time (or the energy) to go to Starbucks, and the wonderful Ruth had to bring me not one but two coffees where I sat pinned to my desk and panicking like a trouper. What a superstar that woman is. It’s the froth that keeps me going, you know …

Today, one of the vendors from the flat below has been in the house though, so I’ve not been entirely alone. I think we are studiously ignoring each other, which is no doubt best, and really I don’t have any desire at all to communicate with them again, to be honest. Yes, that probably means I’m a bad person but hey at least I’m honest about it. I’d feel happier about it if K was home as it’s a little unsettling, but as long as said vendor doesn’t try to talk to me I’ll be fine. Though if you do hear tell of a man being pinned to a landing wall with a screwdriver in a small Surrey town, I trust that all of you will vouch for my obviously impeccable character. Ho hum.

Anne Brooke

Dullness, Danger and Dubai

Book News:

Much to my delight, my latest gay short story, Brady’s Choice, has been accepted for publication by Amber Allure Press on 23 January, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to in the post-Christmas lull. Still much to look forward to this year however, as A Dangerous Man is due out on 15 October and can now even be preordered at Barnes & Noble, well gosh. You can find out more at Cheyenne Publishing, including a full blurb. I’m also happy that for a brief moment of time, Tommy’s Blind Date found itself at No 79 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts so that was distinctly nice while it lasted.

Meanwhile, this week, I have just finished the dullest poetry book I have ever had the trauma of reading so thank goodness that’s over. I daren’t say who the author was to avoid their blushes but it was pretty bad. So bad it made my skin itch. I’m hoping my next poetry book will be better, but really that shouldn’t be too hard …

This week’s meditations are:

Meditation 436
Sometimes the god
of the mountain

is also the god
of the plain

and what you say
to the sky in secret

will come down
to destroy you again.

Meditation 437
If the bible
has taught me one thing
it’s this:

that lions and prophets
simply don’t mix.

The Sunday haiku is:

All week long the sky
lets fall its burden of rain,
soothing all my dreams.

Life News:

The redecoration of our spare room is now nearly done. We’ve tackled the last alcove and added two coats of paint to it today, plus I’ve put an undercoat on the skirting board there. We’re also slowly putting the rest of the spare room together again, including bookshelves and book cabinets but are reorganising it  to make best use of the space. Today, I’ve done another run to the council tip and also got rid of 4 more bags of books, and have this afternoon created another three book bags to go. It’s so cleansing, you know, and the good news is that the spare room that we’ve basically used as a dumping ground for 17 years now looks like a room someone might want to buy, hurrah. Ooh, and yesterday, we drove round looking at places we might like to live, and our favourites so far are Normandy, Fairlands and Wood Street Village (the latter two are in the outskirts of Guildford). We also liked Ash and Ash Vale/Ash Green, but it does depend where in those cases. We also looked at Tongham, but I think that’s third level on our list.

Church this morning was good too, especially as it seems like we haven’t paid God a call for ages (we haven’t), so nice to catch up. He’s having a quiet time before Christmas kicks in, if you’re asking. In addition, the poor vicar has apparently contracted pneumonia whilst on holiday (holidays: they’re not good for you, you know) but is being ministered to by the ladies of the parish (Gawd bless ’em) so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. In our absence, the church also seems to have given birth to a music group, which K and I looked at with horror when we turned up as any whiff of evangelical happy-clappyness and we’ll be running to the door screaming. However, we needn’t have worried as it was clarinets only adding to the whole ambience of the hymns (very good indeed) and the singers sang a marvellous Latin chant during Communion. Bliss. Bring back Latin chants – they really do put the zing back into church-going. So the music group gets our vote, and I hope they keep that whole approach: it was great.

Alas however, next week I shall be sad and lonely as K is going to Dubai on business tomorrow and isn’t back till Thursday, so I will be Queen of this old Victorian house in truth. I can’t decide whether I want to be Miss Haversham or the Mad Woman in the Attic, but they are probably much of a muchness anyway. Thank goodness that Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV to keep me company or I shall indeed run mad. You have been warned …

Anne Brooke

Reviews, queues and haikus

Book News:

Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle gained a review at Tam’s Reads today (scroll down to view) so thank you, Tam! And yesterday I was lucky enough to be the featured author at Michelenjeff Reviews and, at the same time, they gave a 5-star review to Tommy’s Blind Date – so thank you also for that.

Meanwhile, determined not to be forgotten, Martin and The Wolf received a 5-star review from Two Lips Reviews – many thanks, Tina. All this is a nice boost for my current gay short story, Brady’s Choice, which is slowly, oh so slowly, being written and I’ve finally struggled my way up to 5,000 words (hurrah!), with another 2000 to go. I think. I’m hoping to get it finished sometime over the next couple of weeks or so but my rate of writing is distinctly not speedy at the moment, so who knows, eh. There’s just a hell of a lot of other stuff going on (see below).

However, I’m pleased to say that my latest poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, is currently being advertised at Goodreads so if you catch it on your travels, please do say hello and maybe even add it to your book list there – poetry’s not as weird as you think! Speaking of shopping, the good news is that there’s 20% off all my Dreamspinner Press titles this weekend so still time to bag yourself a bargain before Monday is upon us.

Here’s a meditation poem for this week:

Meditation 433
There on the mountain
the wind shatters rock,
ground heaves
and strange fire
scorches your skin

but it is only
when your mind eases open
for that still, small voice
that you sense at last
the possible nearness of God.

The Sunday haiku today is:

Nameless shadows drift
across my heart; they stifle
hope and fortitude.

Life News:

Lots of redecorating, DIY and decluttering has continued to take place wherever possible. We’ve now all but finished the hallway – just one section of carpet to take up in order to gloss the skirting board near the front door. We’ve also given the bedroom a lick of paint where needed and cleaned the walls where they’re dirty. Yesterday, K did one trip to the council tip, and today I’ve done two trips, plus an extra trip to the local book recycling point with another five bags of books. I reckon I could probably do another 5 bags of books or more on top of that but I’ll sort those out when I put them back on the spare room shelves. Because at the moment I’m typing this in the middle of the spare room with, behind me, a bare painted area (where the computer usually goes but not now!), and in front of me an area of total clutter. Once the half behind me is fully done, ie painted with a coat or two more, we’ll swap over those areas. To enable this, our three tall book cases which normally stand like sentinels of learning (mainly theology) behind me as I type are now standing in the outside hallway, and the books are on the two smaller bookcases now outside our front door, or on the large bookcases on the remaining shelves (the movable shelves we have stored separately), or in the inner hallway in front of the mirror or in the middle and side of the living room. That includes our domestic and professional business files. Thank goodness there’s only one item to iron tonight, eh, as there’s no room for anything else.

Things I’ve discovered/rediscovered during the course of today: electric sanders are great fun and very good, and the spare room walls are in fact not as bad as we’d feared (there was great gloom and depression last night after we’d washed them but a lick of paint is a marvellous thing indeed even in an old Victorian house); roller painting is fun and fast, and very good for ceilings though I do end up with a white nose that amused K way way too much; my lost sock was hiding behind the bedroom chest of drawers and has after 18 months been reunited with its partner; the Henry Hoover double strength suction pad will try to suck in a shirt if aimed inadvertently in its direction; the cat flap on our front door is not a standard size but we will nail a piece of wood over the damn thing and repaint properly.

While all this has been going on, I spent a large part of yesterday at the University’s Move In Saturday, arriving at 7.45am and leaving at about 3.30pm. It seemed much smoother than last year, possibly because I knew better what I was supposed to be doing, and most students have settled in nicely so far. A fair amount of queueing at our key times but they were all very jolly. Tomorrow Freshers’ Week starts in reality and it will be all systems go at our Information Point from 8.30am to 6pm. Goodness knows how exhausted I’ll be when I get back but I’m planning on tackling the skirting board behind me in the spare room, and K has taken that section of carpet up in advance so I don’t have to think too much. I just like to Paint ‘n Go, you know.

Finally, is it just me, or do all our three main party leaders now look so much like each other that they might as well be triplets? Lordy, I really can’t tell them apart …

Anne Brooke

The Decluttering Queen

Book News:

This week I’ve been delighted that Martin and The Wolf gained a 4-star review at Goodreads – many thanks, Chris. Tuluscan Six and The Time Circle received a 4.5 star review at Jessewave Reviews, so thank you to Val for that.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s Blind Date has been doing well, with a review at Tam’s Reads (scroll down to view), and two 5-star reviews at Goodreads, one from Lisa and one from Stephanie, so a big thank you to you both! And, for the blink of an eye, The Delaneys and Me found itself at No 40 in the Amazon charts but has dropped out now.

Finally, in this section, K and I have been parsing the verb to Kindle, and have decided it’s an irregular verb: I Kindle; you don’t have a Kindle; he/she/it doesn’t know what a Kindle is … Really, I’m loving it.

My latest meditations are:

Meditation 430
To question God
with raw honesty

is better
than a thousand pleasant lies

told in the secret passages
of your heart.

Meditation 431
Sow in the field
of desire

and reap
a harvest of death;

sow in the field
of kindness

and reap
a harvest of life.

Meditation 432
A whisper from the sea
seven times softer
than the salty air
you breathe.

When the dark clouds dance
and the wind sings,
run before the promise
of rain, rejoicing.

Life News:

Well, it’s been inevitable really, and certainly since the beginning of September when it all went horribly wrong, but K and I have this week now officially withdrawn from the flat-buying disaster and have, in a brief email to them and their solicitors, wished the vendors luck in whatever they decide to do with their flat from now on. Well, a former boss of mine once told me – and he was right – always to end a quarrel with courtesy so that is what we have attempted to do. Time to lick our wounds, take a deep breath and move on, once our solicitor’s bill is paid, of course!

With this in mind, we’ve been continuing to paint and declutter our flat ready for potential buyers, and have managed to clear the place of nine bags of recyclable clothes and two bin-bags of clothes not even charity shops would take. We have also thrown away a lot of our old video tapes (though I can’t bring myself to part with all my Star Trek ones – no way!) and have therefore all but filled three wheelie-bins full of rubbish again. And the binmen aren’t collecting rubbish until Tuesday week as we’re on a fortnightly cycle so Lord knows where I’ll be putting the old/unwanted food leftovers … Help!

We have also given at least one coat of paint to everything in the hallway that needs lightening up, apart from the skirting board as we need to take the carpet up for that. And I have washed the spare room walls where I can get to them between the bookcases ready for giving that a coat of paint too. There’ll be more stuff to throw away from the spare room but some of that is a council tip job so I think K and I will have to tackle that together.

In the midst of all this, I’ve also had my regular hospital appointment with the lovely Alli, and we’ve now decided that I’ll be coming off the HRT to try to avoid the need for another operation to take my right ovary out, as it’s not very good really. Poor thing, I’m quite fond of it, you know – I think it’s called George – and I’d like to try to save it. But I am a bit worried as to what it might do in terms of my mood swings, which the HRT was helping a lot with, so I will have to try to keep a close eye on how I am (not easy when I could be either screaming with rage and brandishing the nearest weaponry or weeping like a klutz all over the dining room table, and sometimes both!…) and keep taking the St John’s Wort which is also marvellous for my happiness levels. We’ll see.

So, thank goodness for a night out on Tuesday with the lovely Jane and Tanya, the latter of whom I’d not seen for ages so it was great to catch up. The French restaurant Jane chose ( Cote in Guildford) was fabulous too and the food top-notch though we were all puzzled as to why there was a choice of having your mushroom soup either hot or cold. Yuk! The French are a mysterious folk indeed. We’re also at that age where none of us can read the menu unless it’s at arm’s length, which caused great amusement to our fellow diners. Ah well. We’re not getting any younger, you know …

Anne Brooke

Popes, Prayer and paint

Life News:

A hell of a lot of painting has gone on this week – we’ve painted the bathroom door and skirting board, the hall cupboard, the spare room door & cupboard, some of the hall skirting boards and two sets of the three wooden frames that are a feature of our hallway. It all lightens it up nicely, which is hugely pleasing – if we’d known it would look so good, we’ve have done it much earlier, but it certainly should make it more desirable at the very least. And it’s a lesson to us for our next home – paint everything light colours and watch the space increase!

Not only that but I’ve tidied the living room and spare rooms so they look much bigger – or the spare room would if we hadn’t today moved everything around in order to paint, but it will do when it’s back in its right place again! I’ve also recycled six bags of books last week and have created another nine bags of books today to take to the recycling point this week. We do have a lot of books – K did an estimate a while back and made it 1200, but it’s 15 bags less now! We’ve also chucked away a load of old videos and tapes that we never watch/listen to – Lord only knows why we were keeping them. Laziness probably.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon behind the Student Care stand at the University Open Day – not as hectic as the last time which was truly horrible, but I wasn’t feeling that well really, so I kept smiling inanely and hoping that people believed whatever it was I was saying. Most seemed to.

Oh, and Marian and I played an outrageously bad game of golf on Friday – we were so bad we became utterly hysterical at one point and couldn’t stop laughing. Thank goodness no-one was behind us. Marian managed to get both her tee shots on the 6th hole into the pond, which is at least consistent, and I managed to hit not one, not two, but three trees on the 8th, two of them with the same shot. Lordy, but I’m good, um not. Thankfully, Marian and her husband came round for dinner on Friday night (pre-painting extravaganza) so we were able to drown our sorrows in good measure.

Finally, rumour has it that some elderly Catholic gent has come over to the UK for the weekend, Gawd bless ‘im. I hope he enjoys his brief stay, though I do think the least we could do is give him a car he could actually get in and out of successfully. He is 83, after all, and Jaguar’s don’t really allow for much leeway … Mind you, K reminded me that he must have been greatly chuffed indeed during his private audience with the Queen and Prince Philip – to be at last the youngest person in the room must have fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition for him, hurrah!

Book News:

I’ve finished the edits for The Prayer Seeker, so I now feel happier with that. Now all I have to do (ho hum) is find someone who might want it. Suggest no-one holds their breath though! And I’m pleased to say that Tommy’s Blind Date is now available at All Romance Ebooks and, not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me popped briefly back into the Amazon Charts at No 78 though not for long.

This week’s meditation is:

Meditation 429
If you’re in a desert
where ravens bring you food
and God provides the water

sneak away quickly
as your odds for happiness
probably just got shorter.

The Sunday haiku is:

A sparkle of birds
wheels and dances in the sky.
Sunlight on water.

Anne Brooke

DIY and the church serial killer

Lord H and I put in an appearance at Shackleford Church today – not many of us there but some rousing traditional hymns, which I always love. There’s something about singing which raises the spirits indeed. In the best possible way of course. It does make me smile though that the man with the wine cup holds onto his responsibilities with grim-faced determination – so you always have to grapple with him in order to get a taste of wine at all. I suspect that the Good Lord Himself would prefer one to have a rather larger swig of the goodies. After all, that’s His job. Ah well. Other church amusements: the preacher got her robe caught on the pulpit steps so we nearly didn’t get a sermon at all. Which would have been a shame as it was bloody good. And quoted poetry, which naturally I approve of. And in our post-service vicarly chat, the vicar hoped that our DIY phase wouldn’t cause the usual stresses and strains between husband and wife. On the contrary, I told him, I’m extremely supportive of Lord H’s DIY skills, as I’m actually very sweet even though I do look like a kick-ass serial killer. The vicar found this all very amusing – evidently not realising I meant it.

Anyway, we have ordered our terracotta curtains for the living room – which we’re told will arrive in seven days. Much like the earth in its original form then. The woman who sold us the curtains in Homebase may not have been the best customer-friendly person in the world but, ye gods, she knew her stuff and was super-efficient. (Again, much like God, I suppose.) And really that was all we wanted. And the bathroom is finished! Thanks to Lord H’s and my painting skills – though mainly Lord H’s, I have to say. And it’s all put back together again. It looks fabulous, hurrah! We’re both extremely pleased with our efforts, and are already planning what we might do in the kitchen. Careful, people, careful …

In the midst of all this, I have edited a couple more chapters of The Bones of Summer and am now at the start of Chapter Eleven, page 107. Once Chapter Eleven is done, that’s Part One of Two out of the way. And I must say I seem to be packing a hell of a lot in. Rediscovering the story is always a surprise – it’s funny how you do forget what the hell it is you wrote until you rerun it again at the edit. Still, if it’s a surprise to me, one hopes it will be a surprise to the reader too.

Tonight, I am worshipping at the altar of Harrison Ford, as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is on – and even though we’ve seen it countless times before, it’s such a class act that we’re looking forward to running through it just one more time.

This week’s haiku (understandably) is:

Walls scrubbed clean, fresh paint
and white spirit: the real signs
of Spring’s arrival.

Today’s nice things:

1. Church
2. Editing
3. DIY
4. Harrison Ford!

Anne Brooke
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