Category Archives: domestics

Blind Dates galore

Book news:

I’m happy to announce that Tommy’s Blind Date is published today and available at a first week discount at Amber Allure Press. Enjoy!

I’ve also spent a really wonderful day today at the inaugural UK gay fiction writers & readers conference in Ely – it’s been fabulous and we’re definitely going to do it again next year. It was fascinating to meet some of the writers whom I’ve known for a while on the Internet and via email, and to meet some new faces/names too. Great stuff. Special thank yous to Alex Beecroft for organising it all, and for Sarah & Jo who had to put up with me in the car – a special medal for them for sure! Can’t wait for our Christmas get-together either.

Meanwhile, The Executioner’s Cane has finally made it to the 70,000 word marker so well over half-way now. Phew. And the first-round edits for The Prayer Seeker are looking interesting, with my editor/consultant (a new one to me, but she deals with religious fiction) describing it as “quiet and luminescent”. Gosh, I didn’t think any of my stuff would ever be described in that way and it certainly feels nice. Still a lot to do to improve it but I’m on the road. Somewhere …

This week’s meditation is:

Meditation 424
Beware of dogs
and vultures,

beasts that bite
and beasts that fly:

no good will come
of either.

The Sunday haiku is:

Girl in a pink top
and purple skirt is dancing
amongst the fuchsias.

Life news:

K and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday which was great. We spent most of the day at Wisley Flower Show – it’s amazing what they can do with flowers, don’t you know! – and had a picnic there as the weather was just about okay to sit out. At least it wasn’t raining. And we opened a bottle of champagne in the evening – which always goes down well. I’ve never met a champagne bottle I didn’t like.

Earlier in the week I spring-cleaned most of the kitchen. I have to say the under-the-sink cupboard was utterly gross in every way and took 2 buckets of hot soapy water to clean it properly. I don’t know what had died in there but I spent a long time mopping up a vast and evil lake of what appeared to be a gravy and soy sauce mix that had flowed everywhere without us noticing (we are such slobs). Honestly I had to prize the tins of peas away from its sticky grasp, so it was not pleasant! All clean now, thank the Lord, and at least I didn’t find the head of John the Baptist, or Shergar, both of whom would be grateful not to have spent time there, I imagine.

Finally, the news on the house remains distinctly disappointing and, really, I just don’t want to talk about it that much. It just makes me too angry and upset. Suffice it to say we made another slightly higher offer in response to the vendors’ new apparent reasonableness, and they have come back with another rude and unnecessary email not really responding to our offer but just expressing their personal opinions about us, so seem to have reverted to type somewhat. All very exhausting – don’t these people have any idea how to do business??? Well, obviously not …. Anyway, we will send another letter to them and their solicitors reminding them that our new offer is still on the table if they wish to consider it again and see what that brings out of their very peculiar communications pot.

In the meantime and on a happier note, we continue the efforts to spruce up our flat and are busy admiring the lovely number of buyable properties in the local paper this week. If the vendors want to keep us as potential buyers which is after all the easy and cheap option for them as we’re already in the damn house for goodness sake, then they’re going to have to be a lot nicer and work much harder than they currently are. Hmm, don’t wait up, eh …!!

Anne Brooke

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Highly unlikely scenarios

Life news:

Ah, the house, the house. We are now so very deeply perplexed and bamboozled by it all that who knows what will happen with it. The latest ins and outs over the weekend were that the vendors didn’t appear to like us doing something they hadn’t expected, ie objecting to their fluid understanding of exchange and completion dates (Gawd bless ’em), and so kept ringing us asking us to ring the particular vendor who is unexpectedly on holiday in Croatia to sort it out. Um, no. There seemed little point doing this as (a) it’s expensive, (b) if the vendors don’t seem to speak with one voice then there’s no point chatting to one of them without the other, (c) if they do speak with one voice, what’s wrong with the one in the UK? and (d) we now want everything in writing so we can have some kind of confidence that any agreements made might actually happen.

In the end we turned the phone off to avoid the calls and withdrew our original offer on the grounds that they weren’t taking the situation seriously enough. Interestingly our simple conveyancing case has been booted upstairs at our conveyancer and the Head Honcho is now dealing with it – and even sending very sweet and supportive emails at 10.30pm on a Sunday night. Well done to her, and we did need some support!

The upshot is that we have made a much lower offer, with provisions attached, and eventually (after recovering from the shock of us not jumping through all the hoops quite so willingly, if at all) the vendors have come back with another price slightly lower than their original one, but with a fair gap still between us, so we’ll raise our offer slightly and then see what happens. In the meantime, we’re also looking at Plan B which is do up our flat, put it on the market and move elsewhere. After all, though it would be nice to continue living here, our house isn’t the only property in the area we can afford.

With this in mind, we have been spring-cleaning! A good thing for whether we stay or whether we go, for sure. I have washed the kitchen cupboards and have spent 4 hours today washing everything in the bathroom and clearing out the stuff I no longer use in there. I expected to find the head of John the Baptist, or possibly Shergar, in the bathroom cupboard but they must have moved out … Which probably isn’t too surprising as I did all the scrubbing (as it were) whilst wearing a shower cap on my head to keep my hair clean, as I couldn’t find a suitable scarf. Thank goodness no-one came to the door! If it had been our vendors, that might have been the final straw for them, ha!

Later this afternoon, I am off to the clinic to see yet another gynae expert to work out if I might need any further operation at some point – my life is so glamorous this week, as you can see. Though this evening, we’re off to the theatre so the day will at least end on a fun note.

And, is it just me, or is there just too much Stephen Fry on TV at the moment? I do love QI and admire some of his programmes, but that utterly dreadful advert for his latest book is just so self-obsessed that it turns my stomach. I was thinking of getting the book but I definitely won’t now – at least until he rediscovers his English sense of humour again. Should have taken a tip from the Peter Mandelson advert, I think, Stephen …

Book News:

I have to say how fed up I am with the number of writers’ Yahoo groups I’m in, one of which has been irritating me so much with its general snippety attitude that it was a great relief to leave it last night. At last – freedom! I took the opportunity to leave some of the other ones too as I never read or take part in them – so am left only with the Yahoo groups that are publisher-specific as those are the most useful ones. It seems a sensible way forward anyway.

Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me paid a brief visit to the Amazon charts once more, at no 69 no less(!), but it ain’t there now. Ah well.

This week’s meditations are:

Meditation 420
If you want
to commit sins

don’t just copy
your father’s crimes

but do at least try
to be original.

Meditation 421
The quietness of stone
and the warmth of wood

are an everlasting counterpoint
to war’s harsh music.

Meditation 422
Blood leads to blood
and wars never cease

so no-one remains
who might speak of peace.

Meditation 423
It’s not the sin
you commit
that kills you

but the sin
you make
others commit.

Anne Brooke

Golf and glittery frocks

What a glorious day it’s been today – an Indian summer indeed. Here’s today’s verse:

Meditation 227

Sometimes the only thing
that counts
is the wild shedding

of blood:
from the small agonies
of ancient kings –

names long forgotten –
to the murderous fury
of Paul

as he condemns to darkness
those he’s come
to hate,

it has always been so.

Not really suited to the weather, I know, but what the heck eh. This morning, I have played a rollercoaster game of golf with Marian, which she rightfully won, as being far and away the most consistent player. I had an utterly appalling time on the sixth hole, where astonishingly I missed my first tee shot entirely, but managed somehow to knock the tee itself backwards (backwards?! I ask you!!) whilst leaving the ball still in its place on the mat. Just slightly lower. Ah, the shame. Though it was in some respects a shot of true genius. My second attempt knocked the ball a foot or so in front of me so I decided to try again. My third attempt sent the ball so high that it landed in a tree and then fell between the three split branches so it was completely unplayable. When I took my shot from the nearest point to there, it then went straight into the pond. Lordy. Marian by this time was beside herself with hysterical laughter, and I did wonder whether I should call for an ambulance. Just in case. Never say I’m not caring … I eventually finished the damn hole in 12. 12!!! Shocking for a par 3 hole. Mind you, I managed to partially redeem myself by getting four apiece in the next three holes, but of course Marian still won. By a good mile.

I then popped into Godalming to restock my essential supplies of Quiet Life pills (over the next week I’m definitely going to need them …) and peppermint oil. I aim always for a state of calm alertness. As you can tell, ho ho. I’ve also been working away on the edit to The Hit List and am now on p106 and a quarter of the way through. Robert’s arrived. He’s pretty damn hot. I forget how much I like Robert – nice to reacquaint myself with him again after so long. I’m enjoying this more than I anticipated I would, I must say.

Oh and I’m fighting a losing battle with trying to get DHL to deliver a parcel to me. They tried it yesterday, but were confused by the door arrangements and left a card without knocking. When I rang up this morning, I find the parcel number on the card is wrong, so they weren’t sure for quite a while who the sender might be, and when I asked to change the delivery address to be Lord H’s work one, I was told I couldn’t do that as only the sender can change details. The sendee is too untrustworthy for such dizzy responsibility. After much argy-bargy, I gather they might try and redeliver here tomorrow, but of course I’ll be out at the University welcoming Freshers with a bright smile and a lot of leaflets. Ah well, we’ll wait and see then …

Tonight, we have a Strictly Come Dancing TV extravaganza. I have promised Lord H I will be strong and not vote for anyone, but I told him that last week, and rushed to the phone back then to vote for Chris & Ola as soon as I could – so I fear my husband does not entirely believe me … I must also do some kind of cleaning before I need to get my sparkly frock out. Bring on the glitter ball. As they say.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Trick golf
3. Editing The Hit List
4. TV.

Anne Brooke – bamboozled by golf balls
The Bones of Summer – a truly sizzling read, naturally …

Poetry and packages

I’m very pleased today (well, at last, we cry! – and what a week it’s been …) that two of my meditation poems are now published at Grey Sparrow Press, so that’s been a nice boost. Talking of which, here’s today’s poem:

Meditation 216

The landscape
of contemplation

grows bleak
with the onslaught

of words.
They crowd the air

like lost birds
crying for home

and do not find
a resting place

with you.

Also today, I’ve managed to complete the more structural edit of Hallsfoot’s Battle so that’s very satisfying. Though it’s meant that my word count is now below the “standard” fantasy novel expectations of 120,000 words at least. I’m at 117,500, if you’re interested. Still, as the mainstream press are even now preparing to ignore the beast, why worry, eh? There are compensations for being unpopular, ho ho. So I’ll give it a close read-through now before sending it off to the agent for his opinion. I doubt he’ll be rushing to read it either as he still won’t be able to sell it, poor chap. Ah well.

Anyway, bah to the standard press gods, bah we say. Because we are more than delighted with the kindnesses of the independents: the lovely Dreamspinner Press have totally unexpectedly sent me a huge parcel of The Bones of Summer goodies, which has really put a big smile on my face – so thank you, Elizabeth! So I now have a Bones of Summer t-shirt, countless Bones postcards and bookmarks, plus Dreamspinner pens and bookmarks. It’s like Christmas here in the shires, you know. I intend to wear my t-shirt every day and put a big BUY THIS BOOK notice on my head, whilst parading round town until somebody takes pity on me. Or puts the shirt in the wash. I also need to sign some of the postcards and bookmarks (rather than just slobbering over them and crying with delight …) and return them to Dreamspinner for use in book fairs etc. Sounds like a marketing plan for sure. I am already practising my very best signature.

I’ve also played golf with Marian this morning – which turned out to be a game of three thirds. As it were. I was okay to begin with, total rubbish in the middle, and then redeemed myself with two neat little pars (one from off the green even) at the end, hurrah. In fact, our state of play in the middle of the game was so distinctly odd that when we teed off from the fourth, we both ended up on the fairway of the third, so simply played the previous hole backwards, as it were. Well, there was nobody playing behind us, so it seemed reasonable. But probably not quite in the golf rules, I suspect.

This afternoon, I’ve straightened out my extremely stressed back (too much typing, not enough walking) and got in touch with my inner reality (scary …) at my Alexander Technique lesson, so that’s been very relaxing. I do prefer the table work – as standing properly is just so exhausting, my dears …

And tonight we have a mammoth clean of the flat to face – which I really should be getting on with or Lord H will think I’ve given up tidying for Lent, or whatever season we’re actually in now. Roll on that pizza & ice cream moment though.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry publication
2. The continuing Hallsfoot edit
3. Bones of Summer goodies
4. Golf
5. Alexander Technique
6. Food, mmm …

Anne Brooke – the new Tiger Woods, but backwards
The Bones of Summer – comes with its own t-shirt, you know …

Reviews, pars and reports

What an exceptionally sparkly day it’s been – we had a glorious moment at lunchtime when it began to rain heavily whilst the sun was still shining and the raindrops were all glittery. Just like a Disney film. Wonderful. It could only happen in the shires, you know. Anyway, here’s today’s meditation:

Meditation 203

Some old men
won’t lie down

but keep knocking
on your door

to demand land
and armies

and honour.
Whilst younger men

won’t stay dead
but arrive at supper

to show you
blood and pain

and a strange
breathable peace.

I’m thrilled to say that Christina at Romance Junkies Reviews has given The Bones of Summer a 4.5 star review which you can read here. An extract of the review is below:

The Bones of Summer by Anne Brooke is an exceptionally well written and thrilling mystery novel. This novel grabbed a hold of me almost immediately and would not let go. I found myself reading until the early morning hours. The plot is quite interesting but what really intrigued me most about this book is Craig himself. He survived a terrible childhood. I admired his resilience. His father’s fanaticism is extremely disturbing and also very sad. The last few chapters are especially chilling and will stay with me for a long time.”

Thanks so much, Christina – I really appreciate that.

Golf this morning was fantastic too – my score wasn’t as good as last week’s dizzy heights (shame …) but I managed to get the grand total of three pars. Three!! It’s unbelievable, especially as the one on the eighth hole went in from a chip off the green. As it were (does this make sense to anyone but a golfer?). Who needs putters?… I parred the final hole too, which I felt pretty damn good about. Especially as when we walked back to the clubhouse, I was congratulated on it by not one, but two groups of male golfers. Result eh! It’s amazing I can get into the flat at all with a head this size …

Lynda has also arrived for my haircut and I now look almost sophisticated, my dears. Whatever next? I’ve also been working away on my review of Julian Fellowes’ Past Imperfect for Vulpes Libris. I’ve now got the basis of what I want to say. I just need to sort out the quotes to demonstrate it. The book really is a fascinating read, even in its not-quite-perfect state.

This afternoon, my back has been duly stretched and widened into the shape it should be at my Alexander Technique lesson, and it certainly does feel different now. Ah if only I could remember and put into practice what I’ve learnt during the week to come, then I’d really be laughing. Whilst looking tall and elegant. Ho ho.

I’ve also received my critique from The Literary Consultancy about Hallsfoot’s Battle and I’m happy to say that it’s not as damning as I feared it might be. They did give the original version of The Gifting something of a pasting (and rightly so), so I was worried about this one. Yes, of course there are fairly major things to alter or kill – but that’s par for the course (sorry) for me in the editing process. But I see what they mean and I think I can visualise how it might be, and that at this stage is certainly something. I might fiddle around with changes a little before our upcoming holiday, but I think the bulk of the next tranche of the editing process will happen afterwards. After all, it’s not as if there’s a rush for it …

Tonight, it’s mammoth flat-cleaning time (arrgghh!) and then there’s a programme about a British bull-fighter on TV later, which I absolutely have to watch. This will bring me brickbats and shame, but I have to say I do like bullfights. Sorry, but there it is. We used to go to Spain a lot when I was a child and I loved them back then (which probably says something rather disturbing about me, but then again rural children are rarely sentimental about animals), and I took Lord H to see one when we were in Seville a few years back and I loved it then too. Lord H was not so keen, but he possesses less blood-lust than I do. Considerably less. He did look rather startled when we exited the building but it’s no worse than a night out in Colchester when the army are on the razzle. Ah, my teenage years, eh … Anyway, back to Spain and bullfights, I think for me it’s that glorious combination of genuine danger, out-and-out machismo, blood and ballet. Not to mention the men in tight trousers. Marvellous.

Anyway, wiping that psychotic and lustful gleam from my eye, onwards and upwards. Here are today’s nice things:

1. Sparkly weather
2. Poetry
3. A review of The Bones of Summer
4. Golf
5. Haircuts
6. Working on another Vulpes review
7. Alexander Technique
8. The report on Hallsfoot
9. TV.

Anne Brooke – bloody but relatively unbowed
The Bones of Summer – guaranteed: no bull

The old person’s diet and a bit of a stretch

Ah, I have a confession to make today – I haven’t been blogging about it as it’s really rather dull, but I’ve been suffering from a rather painful right jaw for the last few days – the result of an unconscious teeth-grinding session on Monday night/Tuesday morning, I fear (yes, well , best not to think of it, really …). Unfortunately today it was so bad that I could barely eat (it’s tricky when you can’t chew, my dears …) so I managed to grab a dentist’s appointment this morning just to check it wasn’t something else.

Well, the good news is it’s not an abscess – hurrah! But the bad news is there’s really nothing particular that can be done at this stage, so the dentist advised eating food that doesn’t need chewing over the next few days until it settles down (hopefully soon, as I’m not good with pain!) and taking Nurofen to keep the worst of it at bay. She also suggested that at my next appointment in December, I should get fitted for a night guard, which you wear while sleeping to stop the grinding. As it were. Looks like I’m going to have to bite the bullet (sorry!) and resign myself to having absolutely no glamour at all during the hours of darkness. Hmm, no change there then. There’s not really a great deal of glamour during the hours of daylight either, but there you go. The dentist did say she can do it sooner if the pain continues or I waste away to nothing due to lack of solid food – but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and I still have four months of naked-mouth sleep time left. Ah well.

On the way back home – no golf due to the rain, alas – I popped into Godalming, and the pharmacist in Boots also suggested putting a hot water bottle on the jaw to ease the pain, so I’ve tried that once today and it’s quite helpful. I might try it later too – as I don’t really want to be reduced to simply licking the topping off my statutory pizza tonight, though I might reluctantly give the garlic bread a miss. Sob! Apart from that, I suspect a few days of soup and ice cream and yoghurt beckon …

Anyway, here’s today’s meditation:

Meditation 193

War stretches on,
filling the future

with blood, death,
pain. Warm yourself

by the fire,
wait for the questions

you cannot answer,
the grief you cannot name.

Meanwhile, I’m stumbling on with that ever-increasing short story. I’ve got one more mini-scene to do now, plus the ending plus the sex scene. Really, the more I write it, the longer it gets (again, as it were). Perhaps it really wants to be a novel after all? If so, it will have to wait its turn, the pesky beast – I’ve got other things I’d like to concentrate on first, believe me. This afternoon, I’ve also had my Alexander Technique lesson and am now learning how to be wider. Honestly, I swear Linda had my shoulder blades where they’ve never been before, at least not without a passport and a suitcase. Soon I’ll have to go through doors sideways.

And tonight, there’s the cleaning. Serious cleaning as I fear the Domestic Police would certainly judge us wanting this week. Plus there’s an episode of QI on later, I think, so that’ll be our reward for being good, hurrah.

Today’s nice things:

1. Managing an instant dentist appointment
2. Nice pharmacists
3. Poetry
4. Short stories, with minds of their own
5. Alexander Technique
6. TV.

Anne Brooke – definitely not biting off more than she can chew
Vulpes Libris – finding out what really happens at the Romantic Novelists’ Conference …

Rocks, reviews and requests

It seems to have been a day of getting things done and pleasant surprises on the whole, which is always nice. Let’s start with this morning’s poem:

Meditation 187

When the puzzle,
the parable, the shadow,
the mysterious everlasting dance

of the spoken word
is laid to one side
for a while

all that is left
is love: naked,
defenceless, perfect.

First off, in terms of literary matters, I’m pleased to say that my short story, The Rock, has now been republished by Einstein’s Pocket Watch – so if you didn’t catch it at the first publication, now’s your chance!

I’m also thrilled to say that Pink Champagne and Apple Juice has received a Five Diva review from Dark Diva Reviews, which can be found at the previous link and below:

“As I started reading this with my good ol’ cuppa joe on a lovely Saturday morning, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice was probably the first ebook that had me chuckling every two minutes. Anne Brooke must be a comedian at heart because right from the start you have the main girl, Angie Howard, running from her own mother to get on the train to find her Uncle John. Trouble and mishaps followed her nonstop. Angie wanted to have her own life and not have a sheltered life with her overprotective mother. Angie’s character is so easy to like and anyone can relate to her because all she wants is to have her freedom and live life to the fullest. She really does when she finally arrives at her Uncle John’s home, which is rather a racy nightclub with cross dressers and gay people relaxing and being themselves. As fun as it was for Angie to partake in Uncle John’s The Den, every vibrant character worked against her. She had to go through challenges and learn about her own flaws, as well as the family tension between her mother and her uncle. The ugly truth later rears its ugly head, but the endless twists kept me wondering how the story will end. This lively story was amazing in descriptions and situations, so it was very easy to play the story in my head like a movie. It fondly reminded me of the movie called The Birdcage, and the transvestite uncle John was very much like the one and only Nathan Lane, but was set in England and with raunchier innuendo. The French waiter gave Angie the time of her life, while the yelling German chef constantly fought with her due to his passion of cooking. Never diss the mushroom ice cream! Her uncle John was constantly the proverbial keeper of secrets and seemed to hide behind his cross dressing personality, Jolene. John/Jolene often caused trouble for Angie and the twists he caused kept me on my toes. This story had other twists, so much that I got caught up in all of them and was wowed by the final twist. It floored me and I kept saying ‘wow!’ when I finished. Anne Brooke truly mastered the art of keeping her readers drawn in and distracted so the ending isn’t predictable and boring. Her imagination was totally endless and hilarious. The only drawback in this story was some of the British words. It took me a moment to figure out what she meant, but the general idea was caught on. It was easy to follow for the most part. Overall, Pink Champagne and Apple Juice was a great, laid back story with many twists to keep you laughing. The fast paced flow of the wacky story was undeniably fun. I say that if on a rainy day or just when you need to laugh in a ‘The Birdcage’ feel, this book is for you. I recommend for anyone to read this book, and also the mushroom ice cream done by the German chef. He was a riot! Rated 5 Delightful Divas & Recommended Read.”

Many thanks for that, Karen – so glad you enjoyed the read! The other great surprise of this morning was a request from Amber Quill Press to submit something to them – so I’ve sent them The Gifting and will see what they think. I suspect it may not quite be what they’re after, but heck there’s no harm in trying, eh.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary miracle has happened and I have actually finished the first edit of Hallsfoot’s Battle – well double gosh and hurrahs and somebody pour me a brandy. My next stage is to print it out and send it to The Literary Consultancy, as really I can do nothing remotely decent without them and they are Worth Their Weight in Gold (Capitals Deliberate). Phew though – time for a summer break from novel-writing, I think.

Also today, I have been to my Alexander Technique lady, who tells me off for falling back into bad habits, alas. And there was me thinking I was doing so well … but hey what do I know? And I’ve had a lovely chat & tea with the neighbour and his daughter, so am now fully caught up on Life in Godalming, hurrah.

Tonight, I really have to turn my attention to doing a whistlestop clean of the flat, though I am fairly up-to-date with the ironing so at least we are not facing a crumpled weekend. For once. Domestics – they never really go away, do they?…

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Short story publication
3. Champers review
4. Publishers requests
5. Finishing the Hallsfoot edit Part One
6. Neighbour chats.

Anne Brooke – having a significant Champagne Moment or two
Vulpes Libris – Adventure Week comes in from the cold