Category Archives: gay fiction

Where be the happiness?…

(Held over from yesterday as Blogger broke …)

Life News:

Lordy, what a week. I have to say it’s been pretty bad really and I do feel quite depressed. Groan. I think the fact that, as per the doctor’s instructions, I’ve been slowing coming off the HRT to try to solve the cyst issues, and this is my last week of having it hasn’t been helping. The HRT really lifts my mood but, without it I feel utterly overwhelmed by everything and basically tired and tearful. Poor K …

Neither has the fact that I’ve had to work Monday, Wednesday and tomorrow (Friday) been easing the confusion – I don’t really know what hat I have to wear in the mornings, and I just get used to the work hat when the home hat must be worn and vice versa. And it’s so ruddy busy and difficult too in the office, there’s hardly a moment to breathe. God, what a moaner I am. No change there then.

In addition I’ve had a screaming/swearing/shouting/sobbing match with the other consultant and AXA Healthcare, as they for some unknown reason have involved me in the fact that the consultant hasn’t been paid yet – as AXA say he’s not sent them the report and GP letter which enables them to pay my bill, though the consultant’s secretary says they have sent it, so I then went back to AXA who say they haven’t got it, and could I ring the consultant’s secretary back to get them to fax it to them, and no they can’t ring the doctor’s to get their fax numbers direct as they’re too busy to do that (as if I’m lazing around doing nothing, eh, eh …) and I must do it even though yes they understand that I pay for their ruddy private health cover and I’m the client. By which time I’m barking mad and so tearful I can barely speak to the sodding phone-idiot. Eventually he tries to ring the doctor whilst I’m sobbing on the phone but he says (liar, I’m sure) he can’t get through so I must ring back and get the fax number. So I put the phone down on him and ring the consultant’s secretary again by which point I’m beyond reason and shout at her to give me the effing fax number without any chit-chat as I don’t have time or energy for this kind of thing which in my view she should ruddy well be doing anyway. I get the fax number, ring AXA back, chant it to them, tell them to sort it out if they haven’t got paid without involving me again because I’m the sodding patient and I can’t be arsed with their stupidity and put the phone down on them too. Plonkers. If I never have to deal with (a) ruddy AXA Healthcare or (b) the other consultant’s secretary again, then frankly it won’t be a bloody moment too soon.  All that whilst at work too – no wonder Ruth took pity on me and got me a coffee, fully-caff. Ruth is an angel. No argument about that.

But really, no wonder I’m pissed off …

Not only that but the troublesome absentee neighbours in the middle flat are causing a fuss about K very kindly paying their share of the house building insurance for them as it was due and we thought the building should really continue to be insured (well, it seemed logical to us …). Anyway, they’re querying the long-standing division of costs, the rebuilding costs, the lease, the contents, what we might do if we decide to flood them (oh the temptation, don’t even mention it …) and anything else that springs to their troublesome minds. In addition, they have now started questioning the very lovely downstairs neighbours about whether she has been using their lawnmower (um no, she hasn’t …) and whether the garage she owns is in fact hers (it is. We know it is as this flat sold it to them in the 1960s and so it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the ruddy middle neighbours, who really just try to get their facts right or simply butt out of what is none of their business). The crux of the matter is I understand they hate us (we hate them too so it’s fair dues) but why they have to interfere with the perfectly innocent downstairs neighbour is way way beyond us. Perhaps they are just insane? It’s a definite possibility.

So, what with all this, I’m now deeply worried about what will happen and what problems they might cause if we ever get a buyer for our flat (academic question at the moment as dammit but no-one’s come near the place and it’s been a week already, sigh …) and whether they’ll decide to block the sales agreement (their right as a one-third freeholder) and therefore prevent us from selling at all. Maybe I’m over-dramatising, but yes I am worried about this. Whatever happens, I do not want to be in this flat for my next birthday in summer 2011. I’ve really seriously got to be out of here by then, if only for reasons of mental wellbeing, even if we have to abandon it and simply buy a similar property elsewhere. I fear Flat 2 might become an albatross round our neck we’re never going to be rid of and therefore the dream of an extra bedroom we might use as a study plus a garden and a garage might be vanishing away. And if the neighbours won’t let us sell it, then they’re unlikely to allow us to rent it out either, further sighing … If all this has taught me one thing and a thing I will freely share with you now, it’s this: never ever buy leasehold, no matter how lovely the people are you’re sharing it with – as things move on and other people come in, and you can never ever tell what might happen. Still, I hope it doesn’t come to this, as I just want us or them to leave. Yes, I’m probably being paranoid, but it’s been a difficult week and getting perspective is really really tough. On the brighter side, I’m sure (sort of) that the middle neighbours must want us to leave – why wouldn’t they?? After all, from the evidence of this paragraph we are of course insane … In the meantime I’ve started to take 2 St John’s Wort pills per day instead of one to try to bring back the happiness though – I’ll let you know if it works, ho hum.

Book News:

A Dangerous Man did really well in the recent giveaway at Jessewave Reviews, so I’m very pleased about that. It’s also now available at Amazon UK and also at Rainbow Ebooks, so that’s nice. Apparently people are even buying it, well gosh.

At Vulpes Libris, I reviewed The Book of Happy Endings by Elise Valmorbida – she’s an author I do admire, but I don’t think true short stories bring out any of her natural clarity and humanity, which is a shame. Neither are they very happy either, but hey maybe that’s my mood. Who can tell.

Meditation 449

Any miracle
leaves its mark:

the memory of poison
thwarted; bread

too numerous to eat;
an echo of wonder.

Meditation 450

If only all diseases
could be cured as easily

by this simple matter
of washing

and understanding
the subtle magic
in the earth.

Anne Brooke

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On the market …

Life news:

Our flat is finally on the market (hurrah!) and can be found in all its Victorian glory at RightMove. All reasonable offers considered, naturally. Everyone does seem to love (or hate!) our zebra rug, but hey that zebra was one class act. Even had its own seat on the train when K brought it all the way back from north London some years ago …

We’ve also been continuing to view properties and have a list of 3 so far that we’d like to view again if they’re still available by the time we find our own buyer: one in Godalming in a location to die for, gloriously spacious rooms and with a garden you’d have to bring a telescope to see the end of; one in Normandy which was really lovely (apart from the bitchy owner who did rather put me off, what a cow …) and had a glorious set of coloured tiles in the pleasingly large kitchen; and one in Elstead (my favoured village) with so much in the not-very-large-but-very-cleverly-arranged garden that you’d definitely have to take tours round it. Next week I’m viewing another house in Elstead during the week, and then I hope to set up two Normandy bungalow viewings for K and me next Saturday. Really it’s all go.

We’ve also been filling in a mound of paperwork for the fast-start conveyancing service, and will send it off to the solicitors after we’ve seen the mortgage specialist next Saturday morning. I suspect they’re going to have fun with our leasing arrangements. Apparently the estate agents have already had a great deal of fun with them as part of our lease forbids anyone in the house to set up a brothel or a pub, and it’s the first time the agents have come across that one! I suspect it stems from the time when there was a brothel down our road a few decades ago and eventually they pulled the whole house down. Though one assumes not when there was someone still in it.

Also yesterday, I helped out with the open day at the university at the last minute (in between house viewings) as there was a gap we couldn’t fill and I didn’t want to leave one person on her own. Loads of questions about finances, naturally, but it’s all very fluid at the moment so we’re really not quite sure how the new system will all work out, or even if it will. Loads of people there too as they want to start next year before the fees are raised, so it was busy busy busy.

This morning, we graced the doors of church – the poor vicar’s not very well at all, so Jenny took the service and has apparently told the Archdeacon (giving him no room for contradiction) that the vicar needs time off, and she and the other priest will handle everything until December. Good for her – it takes a woman to sort things out when the men are faffing around, you know! And double good for her as Archdeacons can be tricky, as we all know from the recent TV series, Rev. K and I were also deeply bamboozled by the fact that someone called him Kevin during the peace and the server gave him the wine with the words: The blood of Christ, Peter … I reckon Kevin is my No 2 husband and Peter is my No 3 husband – lordy, no wonder we need a larger house. Really, it’s an utter mystery why K, Kevin and Peter haven’t ever bumped into each other in the 17 years we’ve lived here. Thank goodness for lofts …

After that we’ve had a lovely house-free time at Wisley where the peculiarly named Europom event has been taking place to celebrate autumn this weekend. Yes, I thought it was Europorn too when I first read it but actually it’s do to with apples. As an apple farmer’s daughter, I had to attend of course. And how lovely it is to see the Laxton apple on sale – the last time I saw a Laxton was thirty years ago, so it certainly brought back old memories. I also appeared to be the only woman in the apple-tasting queue who knew how to pronounce Pearmain – no, no, people! It’s not Pear-man, it’s per-MAIN

Book News:

Much to my delight, A Dangerous Man is now available at All Romance Ebooks, though someone hates it so much they’ve allocated it a one-star rating which somehow always cheers me. I have to say it’s a literary rather than a romance novel, so I suspect it’s not what that particular Cross Reader was expecting.

Meanwhile, I have posted about what’s coming up this week at Vulpes Libris Reviews, a week which is packed full of endings, orgasms and secrets, so well worth keeping an eye on each day’s review in the run-up to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (as I prefer to call the season …).

Today’s meditation poem is:

Meditation 448
Only a quiet room
and the faint echo
of weeping elsewhere

accompany this wild hope
that from death
something more will appear.

The Sunday haiku is:

The shadowed garden
whispers its secrets to me.
From next door: laughter.

Anne Brooke

Houses, books and nude women

Book News:

A Dangerous Man is now published for the second time (hurrah!) and you can buy the paperback at Amazon US. The blurb is:

Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we discover the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how. 


Something to get your teeth into for sure. You can find reviews from the original now out-of-print edition here, so if you missed it first time round in 2007, now’s your chance to catch up. It’s a book I’m particularly proud of too, though I say it myself and probably shouldn’t. Heck, even best-selling crime author Andrew Taylor called it: “a dark and chilling parable about art, love and murder”. So it can’t be too bad, I hope!…


There’s one meditation poem this weekend: 




Meditation 445
Cast your handful
of salt
into the vast waters


and wait
for purity to begin.




The Sunday haiku is:


Scent of strawberries
blossoms the air with summer
in this autumn chill.




Life News:


Rejoice! We have taken our last and umpteenth trip to the council tip, washed all the carpets and have put everything back into position in the flat ready for selling. I must say the spare room looks totally stunning and the faux-zebra African rug looks magnificent with the pale lilac walls, the black bookcases & blinds. If I wanted a two-bedroom flat with good-sized rooms, a fabulous gold-and-cream living room in a highly desirable part of Godalming, I’d be here like a shot, to be honest. We have three estate agents coming round this Wednesday so I hope it will be on the market by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.


In the meantime, we have created a list of about 23 properties we want to see by means of Right Move, and, from those, starred about 10 that are top of that list. I’ve made appointments to see four of these on Thursday, and I’m ringing up about another one tomorrow. The plan is for me to act as a vanguard to choose properties that K and I will both want to view during weekends when K is free, but those I don’t like or don’t think he’ll like can be ditched as I go along and then I’ll save us both the weekend trip. This morning we’ve driven round to look at some of them planned for Thursday, and I’ve already discounted one that’s way way too near the station. The current feeling is that Normandy, Elstead and Milford are good, and we may well concentrate our search there unless something comes up in Godalming or there’s something that’s really great elsewhere.


It’s not all been house-orientated this week however – I’ve played some extraordinarily bad golf (which I blame on having to lug the very heavy carpet cleaner we hired up 32 stairs to the flat on my own – Lordy, that was tough but I did it!…), and K and I also had fun (and some tears – mine) when we went to see Calendar Girls at Woking on Thursday. Lovely to be out at the theatre again, but goodness me what a lot of women came to see it. I had to dash like a crazed thing to get into the loo queue at the interval, and I’m sure there were no more than 10 men in the whole audience. In my innocence, I’d thought it might be the other way round, but the theatre-goers of Surrey are a law unto themselves.


Ooh and isn’t Pamela Stephenson magnificent in Strictly Come Dancing? Utterly magical to watch in every way. Good on her!


Anne Brooke

Miracles and men

Life News:

Such miraculous news to know that at last the Chilean miners are safe – so many things that could have gone wrong and they just didn’t, hurrah. Amazing news indeed! I just hope the world now leaves them alone to recover from such a terrible ordeal, but no doubt we won’t. But it’s seriously lovely to hear of something glorious rather than something grim for once.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we’re finally putting the flat on the market next week as three estate agents are coming round on Wednesday, so I hope there’s at least one there who’s confident about selling it. Great to be taking the next step in the process indeed. On the left you can see what the Victorian house itself looks like. We’re the servants’ quarters at the top. As it were. Because when it was built for one of the local schoolmasters in 1873, the servants would have lived where we do now. Plus ca change, eh …

Turning to television matters, it’s a serious delight to have the glorious Whitechapel back on our screens at last, though sadly for too swift a time. Though it’s a serious disappointment that the otherwise extremely classy Downton Abbey took a turn for the worse last Sunday and included a very ridiculous Midsomer Murders plotline, sigh. Don’t get me wrong: I love Midsomer Murders with a great and abiding passion, but not in the middle of Downton Abbey, per-lease. And it was doing so well too …

Book News:

I’m thrilled that today my author’s copies of A Dangerous Man have arrived and look lovely, hurrah. Publication day is tomorrow (Friday 15 October) so I’m really looking forward to that. Erastes has very kindly republished an original review from 2007, when the book was first published, so a big thank you for that! And I’m pleased to say that people do seem to be preordering the novel at Barnes & Noble, which is very nice indeed.

Also at Barnes & Noble (what great people they are!), you can find a copy of Sunday Haiku, which is a more meditative read. Meanwhile, Tommy’s Blind Date gained a really enthusiastic 4-star review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so many thanks for that, Kassa – it’s much appreciated. And The Delaneys and Me appeared briefly at No 58 in the Amazon charts, but has now slipped back onto the shelf once more.

Finally, I’ve reviewed Diana Wynne Jones’ magical children’s fantasy, Enchanted Glass at Vulpes Libris Reviews. It’s pretty dang good for adults too.

These week’s meditations are:

Meditation 442
A downbeat end,
the epitome of grim

when what one expected
was a rousing hymn.

Meditation 443
The first man
to fall off a balcony
didn’t make
particularly good choices
but he certainly
started a trend.

Meditation 444
A journey, an oath,
a cloak and divided water
show that a miracle

can also be
the beginning of grief.

Anne Brooke

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