Category Archives: friends

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

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

Reviews and DIY delights

Book News:

I’m very happy to say that Tommy’s Blind Date gained a lovely 4.5 star review at Jessewave Reviews – so thank you, Wave, for that! It’s also been lucky enough to gain two 4 star reviews at Goodreads, one from Ami and the other from Chris – many thanks, both. It’s much appreciated.

Determined not to be left behind, Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle also received its first review at Obsidian Bookshelf, which I’m very pleased about. Thank you, Val! I’d been worried nobody liked it at all so nice to know some do.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing the edits for The Prayer Seeker and hope to have finished them by the time we get to Freshers’ Week (aarrgghh!!!) at the end of September. I like to have a clear head for battle, don’t you know.

Here at the meditations so far this week:

Meditation 425
For everything on earth
there is a price;

the only question is
when you pay it.

Meditation 426
If I’d been king
for only seven days

I too would want to die
in fire and heat and agony

if only so the buggers
remembered me.

Meditation 427
Another year, another king
leads to more disputes,
one new town,
not much action
and no-one’s learnt a thing.

Meditation 428
For the city’s foundation
you lose a son

and for its gates
your youngest dies:

so God’s sacrifice
when it is done

should come to you
as no surprise.

Life News:

Hmmm, ruddy vendors. What can I say? I’ve really lost interest in them and in their flat myself now, so if that’s what they were aiming for, they’ve certainly succeeded. What’s happened most recently? Well, they were fairly unhelpful over the weekend (which is becoming something of a hobby for them really), accusing us of chopping and changing our demands. We responded by saying that may indeed be true, now, but it is after all a skill we have learnt from them. No response to that, yet, hey ho. We have therefore returned the plants we were tending on their behalf to the flat – well, we don’t want to be accused of taking them without permission even though that’s what they agreed to (vendor memories don’t last long, I fear …)! We have also removed the items of our neighbour that have been in our outer hall cupboard and put them back in his flat (neatly, of course – how could you think otherwise, ho ho?! – and we have at least informed them that’s what we’ve done), and taken the precaution of fixing the cupboard with a padlock and marking it as ours. Just in case of dispute, don’t you know. Really, it’s been nice to store some of our larger items in it and creates much needed space for us.

Therefore, in the interests of making our flat as purchasable as possible, I have scrubbed the outer hall stairs and window, tidied and dusted the shared hallway, sanded and washed the bathroom door and skirting board, cleaned the fridge, and K and I have washed the kitchen walls. Lordy, we’re good! Actually, if the vendors do unexpectedly start playing nice and taking our offer seriously, I’m now at the point where I actually don’t want it any more. I think it will be far nicer to move elsewhere, frankly. Their loss. And I do think it’s high time K and I moved on.

Today, Liz came round for tea (hello, Liz!) and we had a lovely chat whilst she admired our sparkling new hallway. We then put the world to rights, and the universe is now perfect. Don’t blink in case you miss it!

Anne Brooke

Holidays and haikus

Life News:

We had a totally lovely time with the Egypt Gang oop north (hello, all, and thank you again!) and catching up was as grand as ever. The only problem was that I spent the whole weekend and indeed the rest of this week being not very well at all, so I hope nobody else has caught what I’ve had – keep taking the tablets … Lord K and I then moved a little further south to County Durham and spent a few days at a hotel before coming home. I must say the hotel was rather too Fawlty Towers than was good for it but the food was good and the staff meant well so all was not lost. I did spent a lot of time asleep and/or using up the whole of the UK tissue supply blowing my nose so I can’t really say it was the best holiday ever but the weekend with The Gang made it all worthwhile, hurrah! Am definitely not looking forward to the return to work though – I could do with another week’s holiday, sickness-free indeed.

Book News:

I have a new webpage for upcoming gay short story, Tommy’s Blind Date, which is due out from Amber Allure Press on 12 September.

Meanwhile, the guns are pointing in my directions with tricky reviews here and here – obviously no-one like male hookers or wolves, but sorry for the trauma, Hayley … Martin and The Wolf did slightly redeem itself however with a 4-star review at Goodreads – many thanks, Ami. In addition, Painting from Life gained its second 5-star review at Amazon US.

I’m also happy to note that during the week (though they’re not there now), Maloney’s Law unexpectedly found itself in the Top 100 Gay Books at Amazon UK, whilst The Bones of Summer was No 74 in the Amazon UK Gay Erotica charts, well gosh. Not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me came back in at No 39 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts and, to my astonishment, three of my Untreed Reads stories were in the Waterstone’s Short Stories Top 10 chart, although one of them got a 1-star review (which is much like being blooded at the hunt …), but you’ll have to click on the link to find out which one. I do rather enjoy these 1-star ratings – it’s always better to be hated than tolerated, as my grandmother used to say.

There’s been one new poem this week:

Unseen
The thing seen
stands for absence
in grey and blue:

part blemish
part blessing
understood by you.

And two haikus:

The north swallows us:
skies of brindled blue and grey,
the woodlands’ dark song.

Alnwick Garden
Poison infiltrates
my skin: henbane, rosemary,
wormwood and willow.

Anne Brooke

Royalties, rifles and reviews

Book news:

I’m frankly astonished to find out that my royalties this quarter from Amber Allure Press are one-third up on what they were last quarter, well gosh. Perhaps I’m not doing quite so badly after all, then. Does this justify raising my status from Z-list author to Y-list author? Who can tell …

Not only that but sales of The Bones of Summer in paperback have actually risen since last quarter also, though ebook sales are alas down. It’s all something of a mystery, much like the book itself. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me reached No 12 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts, a fact that caused me to have to lie down in a darkened room whilst hyperventilating for a while, though it’s fallen somewhat now.

Speaking of Amazon, new in the Kindle this week is The Boilerman and The Bride, and good grief but some kind soul must have bought a copy as it actually has a rating – thank you, kind buyer! Also new at Kindle is Tuluscan Six and The Time Circle, and this also now appears at All Romance Ebooks. I’m also very pleased to say that The Girl in the Painting is on sale at Rainbow eBooks, and that Creative Accountancy for Beginners is mentioned at Spalding’s Racket – thanks, Nick.

Turning to future and hoped-for future publications, I’m thrilled to see that A Dangerous Man is now up at the front page of Cheyenne Publishing, noted as Coming in October – so that’s getting dangerously (sorry!) exciting. And I’ve not only written a draft ending of The Executioner’s Cane, the third and final part of my Gathandrian fantasy trilogy, but I’ve reached the 60,000 word marker in it, which puts me at about half-way through, hurrah.

Also in this section, up at Vulpes Libris this week is (a) my review of Sara Shepard’s All The Things We Didn’t Say and (b) the Coming Up post for next week – in which the real name of Lord H, together with Lord H’s fabulous new photographic website, is revealed for the first time. Readers paying close attention will of course notice the startling similarity in design to my own website, but hey it could be worse – we could be wearing Howard & Hilda jumpers (scroll down to view …), ho ho. Two of my favourite ever characters, don’t you know.

I’m also incredibly thrilled that the aforementioned husband (who perhaps can now be called Lord K in future …) has also produced his very own Daily Office app for the iphone – so even on the move you need never be far from a church service or an apposite prayer for the day! Never say that as a team my husband and I don’t look after your every need.

Ooh, and I am very happy indeed to see that Amazon UK will now be producing a UK-friendly Kindle, so I have already pre-ordered mine, and it should be delivered at the end of August, well gosh. How long I’ve waited for it indeed – so I hope it lives up to my very high expectations.

Meanwhile, I fear that sales of my e-poetry collection, Sunday Haiku, are regrettably poor – so far only 4 copies have been sold, so I am as yet a little below my best-selling poetry collection, which sold … um … 11 copies. My mission is to match that target by the end of August, so if there are 7 lovely readers out there who might like some nature-focused and really pretty good poetry to inspire their year, please don’t be backward in coming forward – in all honesty, my sad-writer ego can’t take it. Thank you!

And here’s another little haiku to whet your appetite:

Sparkling green water
ripples in the wind’s warm touch,
embraces the dance.

This week’s meditation poems are:

Meditation 401
They knew how to party
back then:

seven days’ worth
of spilled blood,

the dark aroma
from burning meat

and the laughter
of men.

Meditation 402
Behind the prayer,
that sense

of strange connection,
the desert

of abandonment
stretches far away.

Life news:

I’m very happy to tell you that my old University friend, Jane, is currently captaining the Great Britain Rifle Team in Canada, and you can find out how Great Britain is doing on their blog. Go, Jane, go! And huge good luck to all. Mind you, the one time I’ve been lucky enough to see Jane shoot in a national competition, she spent the first 20 minutes of her alloted 30 minutes doing absolutely nothing at all except checking wind speeds and directions and seeing what her competitors were up to, and then took up her rifle and fired all her shots almost perfectly in the space of about 3 minutes. I did wonder why none of her team members bothered turning up to support her until the last 10 minutes – apparently, that is the Jane Messer way, and very good it is too.

This week, I’ve also popped up to London to see Jane W (another Jane!) and had a fabulous time putting the world to rights and talking houses and what to do with them. Must be my age, you know, and our current house-buying efforts, of course. I’ve also played some rather appalling golf, which coincided with some incredibly good golf from Marian, who won by miles, and very deservedly. Perhaps I should take a cricket bat next time? I might well do better …

Yesterday, Lord K (ha!) and I were at Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni. Verdict: very disappointing and surprising poorly staged, although some individual performances, such as the man-servant and the bride, were very good indeed. However the big excitement was that we sat in the same row as antiques expert, Tim Wonnacott, who was extremely pleasant indeed when attempting to squeeze past me. And hey, I was good! – I didn’t giggle or scream: ooh look, it’s that man off The Antiques Roadshow on TV – so Lord K is very proud. I am indeed a prime example of modern dignity, well for an Essex Girl anyway.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Lions, Wolves and Angels

Book News:

I’m interviewed today about Dancing with Lions, so many thanks, Jenna, for that – much appreciated! I also think the whole concept of a 30-second “Drive Thru” interview is utterly grand.

I’m also happy to say that Maloney’s Law found itself at No 24 in the Amazon UK Gay Fiction charts, but has slipped down somewhat since then. A brief burst of glory is always nice though. Talking of which, The Delaneys and Me is lurking secretively at No 40 in the Amazon Kindle Gay Books chart, well gosh. People are obviously taking a shine to gay twins and off-beat humour – for which I am very grateful, thank you.

I’m also thrilled that Martin and The Wolf received a lovely review at Jessewave Reviews, so thank you, Jenre – glad you enjoyed the read. Not to be outdone, Angels and Airheads received a 4-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Ami!). Is the paranormal coming into its own? Who can tell …

Finally, in terms of news in this section, I’m delighted that the lovely Anders at Queer Magazine Online has published my article, entitled Things I’ve Learnt from my Fictional Gay Men, a subject which actually made me think fairly deeply about the eclectic mix of characters living somewhere in my head, Gawd bless them. If only I could take on board the good things about them all, then surely I might be a better, more together kind of person. I wish, eh.

Anyway, here’s a poem about bananas:

Banana Road


One lone banana
waits on an English road
for a banana tree

to rise up
out of English tarmac.

This week’s meditations:

Meditation 381
In matters of the heart
it’s true that mothers
may know best

as vengeance
and death
bring their men no rest.

Meditation 382
For a man
soon to be known

as the wisest
in the land

his first acts
are bathed

in blood and fear
proving that God

does indeed work
from the dark.

Meditation 383
You can vanish
in the city,

unnoticed by kings
or killers.

It is only when
the expansive skies

swallow you up
that your hours

are numbered.

Meditation 384
Finally he thinks
of asking
for wisdom –

a gift
willingly granted –
but many deaths

might have been avoided
if he’d only thought
of asking before.

Life News:

Bit of a difficult day today, as people seem to be proving tricky here and there, goddammit. So it’s very much a “retire to the nearest cave and wait for the storms to pass” sort of a day, sigh. Still, I had a great time earlier in the week seeing Jane & Ang (hello, both!) for dinner at our local Italian – which was fabulous on all fronts, hurrah! And I’ve had a lovely time visiting the neighbour today and catching up so that’s been nice too. I suppose we all have to hang on to the good bits of the week and let the tricksy bits go hang – sometimes easier said than done though. I just get cross!

Talking of which, I’m very angry and deeply disappointed that once again the Church of England has taken an historic opportunity and trashed it – a story which you can read here. When, oh when will gay people (not to mention women) be seen as equal in the church’s eyes? Honestly, surely this injustice and inequality is enough already. It does deeply sadden me that the church leadership fails every time to see things as most of us actual churchgoers do. When will we have leaders who really represent us, or who have the courage simply to stand up for what is right and just and generous? I do feel very let down by this. I’d like to see an openly gay bishop in my lifetime, and a female one too, but I wonder if that’s too much to hope for?…

Still, there are some things which remain good nonetheless: I must absolutely refer you to the totally stunning Rock Choir who are well worth your visit and who have produced a rollickingly good first album with some utterly toe-tapping tunes. I know this as I’ve just listened to the whole thing in the car and it’s sing-a-long city! I’m thrilled with this on two counts: first off, my friend Marian from golf and also the lovely lady, Alison, who does my reflexology are both in the choir, so it’s their first album – well done to both! And, secondly, if you buy a copy, profits from one of the tracks go to the UK charity, Refuge, which supports victims of domestic violence. A marvellous cause, I’m sure you’ll agree, so please do consider buying the album – it’s great!

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal