Category Archives: glbt fiction

The house buying queen …

… hits the road today. Goodness me what a whirl it is. Yesterday, 3 estate agents came round and valued our flat rather higher than we actually thought it was going to be, 2 of them estimating it at the £240k mark, though the other agent valued it ridiculously highly. So, with cautious smiles on our faces, we have discounted the latter and gone with one of the other two agents and it should be on all the usual house-buying websites sometime fairly soon. Gosh, I almost sound like an adult, ho ho.

In the meantime, I have been viewing. I didn’t like yesterday’s house in Bramley though it was very well done indeed. The rooms simply felt a bit small and the garden ditto. This morning was a riot – the first house the agent took me to see we couldn’t actually get into as the lock was jammed, poor chap. It’s burglar-proof for sure … Though now I’ve seen the location, I’m not as keen as I was. The second viewing was then cancelled as the house-owner couldn’t get home in time (I’m not really sure why they need to be there at all – is it my criminal past??), but that one I would like to reschedule if we can. The third viewing was of a property in Normandy which is our favourite so far (K managed to make it there during his lunch hour, hurrah!), though there’s not much to compare it with yet. The rooms downstairs were a bit small but two of the bedrooms were spacious and it had a good garden, though whether we can manage one-third of an acre is anyone’s guess, frankly. And the location is pretty dang good too. We’ll see, eh. A lot depends on whether we can get a buyer for our place – then and only then do people start to look at us as a serious option.

Other life excitements this week is that I’ve had my annual flu jab – though I nearly forgot to pay and was halfway down the Tesco aisle before I remembered and hurried back – they were very grateful! And isn’t Whitechapel just great – I can’t wait for next Monday’s episode. It’s utterly bizarre, but gripping and the characters are wonderful.

Book news:

I have a fabulous new cover for my upcoming GLBT short story, Brady’s Choice, which I love as it’s incredibly strong as an image in my view. The story is due out on 23 January and you can read the beginning here.  I’m also pleased to say that The Hit List found itself at No 64 in the Amazon charts though it’s dropped a little now.

And my review of Natasha Solomons’ Mr Rosenblum’s List can be found at Vulpes Libris today. A decent enough story, but not very meaty and I think the real plot lies in the war …

Anyway, here are this week’s meditations:

Meditation 446
Under this dry river bed
the secret water flows

diamond-bright
when it comes

and blood-red
when it goes.

Meditation 447
All you really need
for a miracle

are a few drops of oil,
a lot of empty jars

and the will to begin.

Anne Brooke

Dangerous Men and Executioners

There. That’s a title to conjure with, on oh so many levels. Never say I don’t put some kind of effort into this writing lark, ho ho. Anyway, here’s this week’s news so far – my first few days of being 46, you know.

Book News:

I’m utterly thrilled with this new cover for A Dangerous Man which has been created by Scot D. Ryersson – what a genius. It’s incredible and I really love it. Thank you, Scot. I’m very fond of the original one too, of course, but this seems to be perfectly suited for the times now and, hey, it’s always good to have choices. I love it.

In terms of recent reviews, I’m pleased that literary short, Dancing with Lions, has gained a very enthusiastic 5-star review at Goodreads – many thanks for that, Rick. And it’s a particular pleasure as it’s this story’s first review. I was starting to think nobody had much time for a Biblical historical and feminist perspective on King David, so nice to know I was wrong, tee hee. Let the women of the Bible loose is what I say – there’s much modern value in them.

I’m also happy that the lovely Stephanie Watson has given The Secret Thoughts of Leaves a 4-star review, and also given a 5-star review to The Girl in the Painting – gosh, thanks, Stephanie! You read at a rate even faster than mine – do you not allow time to breathe?!…

Finally, in the reviews section, Martin and The Wolf and Angels and Airheads both received a very kind mention at Tam’s Reads – thank you, Tam! Though I do think that your admission that you appear to be on an “Anne Brooke diet” in terms of reading is scary for you and I believe I know a doctor who can help … Lord H at least has every sympathy for your predicament.

Keeping to the subject of reviews, my take on Malcolm Pryce’s Last Tango in Aberystwyth can be found at Vulpes Libris today. It’s the first in my Happy Reads series of reviews for the Book Foxes, and isn’t really an auspicious start, I fear. I’m hoping for better things.

In terms of current works, I’ve sent the final edits for Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle back to Amber Allure Press, and that’s due out on 18 July. And, in a truly miraculous feat, I have forced myself back into the game (steady, people, steady …) in respect of actually writing more of The Executioner’s Cane. A bit of a shocker that, as I’d all but forgotten what the hell was going on and what the characters were like. Hmm, still don’t know really. It took a while to get into it again this morning (lots of sighing, playing on the computer, mad displacement activity and groaning etc etc, but then again that is usual for me …) but yes I’ve done 1000 words. Phew. Ye gods and little fishes, Lord knows what the scribe thinks he’s up to now but I suppose it must be something. Probably another month before I hit the dang thing again then at this rate. Hey ho.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Martin and The Wolf is now available at Amazon Kindle, and there’s still time to win a free copy (hurrah!) at the Dancing Dove competition – it ends on 25 June (tomorrow) so best to rush!

I’m also delighted to say that I’ve joined the GLBT Author and Reader Yahoo Group, which looks a great place to be. So if you read or write GLBT fiction, do pop along for a visit. I’m especially pleased with my fun new Fiction Photo Album, which brings together all my gay fiction in one place. Not sure if you can see that unless you join as Yahoo in many respects remains a mystery to me but, believe me, it’s worth the 10 seconds it will take to apply for membership, honest! And you get to meet lots of really lovely people who are far, far less scary than me, so what are you waiting for?…

Life News:

I have time for a life?? Well, goodness me, who’d have thought it. I must squeeze it in somehow (as it were) between crazed book work. Anyway, my birthday (I’m 46 now, don’t you know – have I mentioned that already?) was fab-u-lous, in all respects, and I received some lovely presents from Lord H, and some totally strange presents from Mother. As usual. Bless. Still, I admit that though, at first, I laughed at her floral open-toed slippers gift (Mother has always bought presents for the lovely, fluffy, girly daughter she really wanted but, sadly, didn’t get …), now in this heat I can’t take them off. Even to go outside. I am softening towards them and wearing them even as I’m typing this. Perhaps in the end, Mother will indeed get the daughter of her dreams, and Lord H will hurtle off into the sunset wondering where the off-kilter, kick-ass woman that he married went to … Um, here’s hoping not, please God! On all counts. Anyway, one of Lord H’s gifts was a wonderful summery, dark blue dressing gown that is just what I wanted, as all my dressing gowns – Lordy, is that sad that I have several?? – are way, way too wintery. I am wearing it all the time too – with the slippers. Never say I am not stylish.

And it was a good job I had such a fabulous time on Monday, as Wednesday was UTTER crap, I must say. Depression City all round – exhaustion, heat, PMT big-time all came together to create the World’s Weepiest Wife all day, dammit and big groan. It was soooo bad that I took 2 St John’s Wort pills, 2 calming pills, a herbal sad person’s pill and some Rescue Remedy spray. Still didn’t work but at least I rattled a lot, so people could tell I was coming and still have time to escape. Weird how today all that crap has gone and I feel fine again. I am indeed a slave to my hormones, sigh. Thank God that’s over for another month.

All of which is probably something similar to what those astonishing and surely exhausted Wimbledon players must be feeling after yesterday’s game. Ye gods, but it’s made tennis interesting again – and you must read the article in the link as it’s laugh-out-loud good, even if you’re not a tennis fan. Which I’m not any more, but both Lord H and I wonder if the match will ever end as it enters its third day. Gosh! Don’t they have homes to go to, and how do those two men keep standing at all? Though let’s not go into the mysteries of how the umpire managed to go so many hours without a courtesy break … scary biscuits indeed.

Here are a couple of meditation poems to keep us all going:

Meditation 371
The ultimately
unfortunate soldier
whose spear has a shaft
as thick as the bar
on a weaver’s loom

probably didn’t reckon
on such a brief mention
in scripture
or on meeting his fate
quite so terribly soon.

Meditation 372
After the battle
comes the poetry

full of glory
and song

but I think
skipping the massacre

and going straight
to the music

wouldn’t entirely
be wrong.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Discounts galore

Lots of treats on offer today. I’m pleased to say that The Hit List has gained its second 5-star review at Amazon where Sirius11214 describes the novel as “humorous and touching”. Thanks, Sirius – I’m deeply grateful! As a rather lovely coincidence you can now buy the book at a 25% discount all through June direct from Amber Allure – so stock up for the summer before the rains come down …

In addition all Untreed Reads books, including my own, are now available at a 20% discount from Coffee Time Romance, so it’s definitely time for some serious browsing. I’m also delighted that my quiet literary lesbian story, The Girl in the Painting, is a Recommended Read for June at Queer Magazine Online – so thank you, Anders, for that.

Meanwhile, I’ve reviewed Nik Perring’s Not So Perfect Stories at Vulpes Libris today – which is a fascinating collection even though, to my mind, some of these stories remain unfinished. Certainly much to think about there.

In terms of health, I’ve been pretty dodgy all week (so no change there then!) and have seen the specialist at the hospital today, who is a totally lovely woman and always cheers me up, hurrah. So the upshot of my appointment is I’ve taken another couple of blood tests – one for the CA125 marker and another to see what my oestrogen levels are doing, if anything. My, what fun I do have on my days off, eh – we Essex Gals certainly know how to live! At the moment, we’re going to leave my HRT as it is, pending on test results, but the doctor suggested that, in order to lift my increasingly grim and fragile mood, I should try taking St John’s Wort. Which I’m more than happy to do, as I’ve wondered about it before, so I picked up a bottle at the Health Shop today while I was in Godalming, and I’ve taken my first pill. I’ll start off at one per day, as per the Health Woman’s advice, but I can apparently take up to three if nothing happens. Even with the HRT, so that’s good news. So, if you hear tell of a manic woman downing her essential Happy Pills and running through the Surrey meadows whilst laughing hysterically, you’ll know it’s me. Just so you’re warned, eh …

But before that, here’s a meditation poem. I’ve only had time for one, what with one thing and another:

Meditation 369
When you judge a man
as worthless
from the start

then he’s likely
to live up to that charge
in good measure.

This weekend we’ll be on holiday for a few days, so I’ll catch up when we’re back. Don’t forget however that gay fantasy comedy, Angels and Airheads, will be published by Torquere Press on Saturday 12 June, and gay fantasy, Martin and The Wolf, will be published by Amber Allure on Sunday 13 June. Enjoy!

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Publishing and some personal thoughts

What a busy and sometimes vastly difficult week it’s been. Really, I’m astonished we’ve got to the end of it and are still standing. Just. Not that it’s been all bad news as it hasn’t, as there’s been lots of nice future publication activity, which has acted as a bit of a boost.

I’ve received and completed the contract for Rosie by Name from Bluewood Publishing and hope to post that back to them tomorrow, although I’ve also sent a copy by email. And I have a lovely new publication date for the new edition of A Dangerous Man from Cheyenne Publishing – it will be 15 October 2010, so it’s great to have something to look forward to after the inevitable exhaustion of the University’s Freshers’ Week.

At a less distant perspective, I’ve sent back the galley proofs of Martin and The Wolf, which now has a page at Amber Allure Press (NB: that page contains erotic content so be warned!). It will be published on Sunday 13 June, so not long to go now, hurrah.

And there’s a new interview with me for your delectation at Shae Connor’s Journal – thanks so much to Shae for allowing me to take over her journal for a day. It’s much appreciated.

However, on the slightly minus side, I’ve been giving some thought to my novel-writing vocation (I hesitate to say career!) over the last few weeks on and off, and I’ve decided that when I’ve finished The Executioner’s Cane, then I won’t be writing any more novels for the foreseeable future. When I started writing novels in the year 2000, I gave myself ten years to make some kind of go of it and, in all honesty, that hasn’t worked, and is causing me on the whole more grief than joy. So I think it’s time to call it a day, as they say, and move on. In any case, finishing Executioner will without doubt take me well into 2011 so I’ve given it my best shot. Yes, I’m sad to have to take this decision, but not taking it will I fear be even more detrimental to my mental/emotional health so I’d be stupid to do anything else.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I won’t be continuing writing the short stories and, perhaps, the odd novella or two. The short story career (and there, I do dare say that word, though with tongue very much in cheek of course!) has been doing surprisingly well recently, particularly with my new gay and literary fiction publishers (special thanks for this to Amber AllureTorquere Press and Untreed Reads), and bringing in more royalties than anything else put together, so I think it’s best to concentrate on that. Plus it’s more fun. In terms of novellas, I’d like to finish The Prayer Seeker’s Journal at about 40,000 words or so, and then I’ve got an idea about a gay romance novella, but I won’t start that until the last novel is done. Onward and sideways for sanity then, as they say …

Talking of health matters, which we are sort of, I’m disappointed to note that my second CA125 blood test results weren’t great, though almost identical to the first one – so, hell, at least I’m consistent! And the scan I had at the same time wasn’t perfect either, though that’s probably my usual and there’s nothing horrible to worry about there. Which I hope is true on all counts, but I’m seeing the specialist on Wednesday, so I’ll wait to hear what she has to say. Ho hum. Thank you hugely to all the people who’ve sent very kind messages – I’m very grateful indeed. While I’m at the hospital, I think I’m also going to ask her if I can change my current HRT doses in some way – I haven’t really been very happy at all over the last couple of months, and have been positively weepy on many occasions and furiously angry on others, though I think I’ve kept that out of the public domain on the whole (poor, poor Lord H – what a lot he’s had to put up with since March or so, and how much of a Superhero he really is!!). We think it might be the hormones, sigh. But, honestly, I really really can’t bear a summer of this as I have no clue at all as to how I’m going to feel from one moment to the next or even how I’m going to act. God preserve Surrey! Is it premenopausal, I wonder??

Which brings me (though I trust the link is only coincidental) somehow back to the Cumbria Question. Not on the matter of what happened this time, but on the matter of what’s happening now. I would like to nail my colours to the proverbial mast and say that if I live in a society where the press can without any qualms at all interview a 9-year-old boy about his reactions to the killings he witnessed, then we are in all honesty no longer living in either a civilised society or a humane one. The press deserve a hefty fine for this kind of child abuse, and the parents a hefty warning. God preserve us all indeed. Enough said. As I fear that in this age of celebrity-at-any-price and news-at-any-price, then people will do anything and my views are meaningless.

Anyway, here’s some poetry to calm us all down:

Meditation 368
There will always be ways
of putting your point across

but what matters most
is the listening.

This week’s haiku, because getting up yesterday morning was just sooo tricky! –

Sunlight pierces air,
calls me to the crystal day.
Reluctant riser.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Girls, Doves and Angels

I’m happy to say that my literary lesbian short story, The Girl in the Painting is currently standing at No 71 in the Amazon Kindle Lesbian romance charts and is also, according to my publisher Untreed Reads, selling strangely well. So, it looks like quiet, literary lesbian fiction is the thing to read now – you heard it here first! Note to self – must write more of same in that case …

The Bones of Summer was also briefly holding its own (as it were) at No 53 in the Amazon Kindle Gay & Lesbian fiction charts but is now, alas, back into the shadows once more. Nice to have the glitter while it lasted, however.

Story acceptances this week have included my comic short story, Rosie by Name, by Bluewood Publishing, and also a comic SF story, Creative Accountancy for Beginners, again by Untreed Reads, so a big thank you to both publishers for that.

You can also find an interview with me at the Dancing Dove Journal, so I hope you enjoy that – I certainly enjoyed answering the questions, and thanks to Ralph for giving me “air-time”. I’ve also finished the edits for gay romance short story, Angels and Airheads, and have sent those back to Torquere Press. And my Hot Fiction Tip for June at Queer Magazine Online can be found here – it’s a totally strange title but a fabulous read.

Here are this week’s earlier meditations, some of which are strangely and sadly apt:

Meditation 365
Out of a time
of destruction and rage

a small heaven
of quiet words:

on this day
nobody dies.

Meditation 366
After battle
there is time

for kindness
but it’s a spare sort

when the loyalty of cripples
is called to account.

Meditation 367
At eighty years old
he can no longer taste

or see, or hear
the voice of singers

but still has chutzpah enough
to sweet-talk a king.

Finally, in the midst of this, we must absolutely spare many of our thoughts for the Cumbrian gun tragedy which took place yesterday and which left many dead and more injured. Nothing much I can say at all, except that violence is all around and within us, and my heart goes out to the victims, the perpetrator and all their families and friends. We live in tragic and frightening times, I fear.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Happy books and bitchy songs

All the doom and gloom I’ve been reading lately has recently become a bit too much for me, so if anyone knows any happy books out there they can recommend, please do let me know. The only rule is that it can’t be your own, for obvious reasons. Many thanks to those who’ve offered suggestions so far – I’m really grateful.

Speaking hopefully of happy things, Lord H is loving his new iPad, even though it can’t quite pick up the GPS signal to make the SatNav work. The good thing though is that the SatNav works on his iphone, even though it’s not the quickest of connections, and the blessed Mary (the SatNav voice) sometimes gives you directions that she’s already given you or that you’ve already done. So I think it works only as long as you do actually know your way anyway. Or simply take a map. The choice is yours.

I’m also pleased to see a good couple of episodes being broadcast in the latest Dr Who series – a brilliant two-parter, though I deeply mourn (SPOILER ALERT) the loss of Rory just as he was shaping up nicely, dammit. And I have to say I don’t like the pesky Amy – Spoilt Brat Alert springs to mind … Still, laughing at Eurovision and Graham Norton’s wonderfully snide commentary cheered me up big-time. How wonderful to be so gloriously last! And another middling career for a young hopeful UK singer gone for ever (say she, bitchily) … You think they’d have more sense than to enter, really. It only ends in tears. Theirs.

In writing news, I’ve uploaded the last part of chapter twelve to The Prayer Seeker’s Journal and in my offline writing of it I’ve reached the big milestone of 30,000 words, hurrah. Yes, I appreciate hardly anyone is reading it (thank you to the happy few, the very few who do) and so that experiment has been something of a glorious failure, but it’s still a big thing for me and I shall therefore continue until it’s done. Plus, as it’s a novella and I don’t expect will go beyond 50,000 words, tops, that cheers me greatly in terms of reaching my goal. Still, the mysteries of how exactly blogged fiction gets an audience remains as ever beyond me.

Meanwhile, at Untreed Reads, there’s a discount in operation over this bank holiday weekend, so if you put MEMDAYSALE in at the checkout stage for any of their offerings, you’ll make a nice lot of savings. Including on some of my books, so that’s double nice.

In terms of reviews, The Delaneys and Me gained a 4.5 star review at Rainbow Reviews and is also now available for purchase at Amazon Kindle.

Today’s meditation poems are:

Meditation 362
Victory balanced
by sorrow,

success matched
with loss

proving beyond
all reasonable doubt

that the worst gift
is to get what you want.

Meditation 363
When love is more overpowering
than the man
who contains it

then he will be happy
only if all else should die
and the lover live.

Meditation 364
It all comes down
to this:

after the war
the politics

and nothing
really changes.

And the Sunday haiku is:

Cool air bites my skin
and though morning comes too soon
the birds are silent.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

A Dangerous Man, books and interviews

Lots of exciting news this week, so hang on to your hats! I’m thrilled to say that Cheyenne Publishing will be publishing a new edition of A Dangerous Man later in 2010, so more news to follow shortly on that front. A big thank you to Mark for saying yes!

I’m also happy to say that all my Untreed Reads eBooks are now available at Books on Board and Powell’s so thank you to Jay for sorting all that out. It’s much appreciated.

Other writing news is that my GLBT fantasy short story, Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle, will be published by Amber Allure on 18 July and you can also read an extract here. Love the cover too! In terms of reviews, it’s been a nice week also: The Bones of Summer gained two reviews at Goodreads, which you can read here and here – two very different reactions, but thank you to both readers for sharing their comments. At the same time, Maloney’s Law gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, and Painting from Life also gained a similar review at Goodreads – so many thanks to those readers also.

Astonishingly, and thanks again to Jay at Untreed Reads, I’ve been interviewed twice this week, once talking mainly about The Delaneys and Me at Author Offerings, and once more generally about my writing life by Kipp Poe. I hope you enjoy finding out my little never-before-revealed secret in one of those! Ah, the shame …

Meanwhile, GLBT Week at Vulpes Libris comes to a stonkingly riproaring finish (oo-err, missus …), with my review of Clare London’s wonderful PI novel, FreemanSam’s review of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; and last but by no means least, Rosy’s amazing article on Brideshead Revisited – a big thank you to everyone for taking part and for reading. We’ve all had a fabulous time! Let’s hope we can do it all over again next year.

Speaking of things fabulous, Lord H and I had a great time out at the Guildford Theatre on Thursday seeing Headlong Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. I have to admit I wasn’t hugely looking forward to it, as I’ve studied the play in the past but have never seen it – it’s rarely performed, and though the poetry is rich and lush and amazing, it’s always been hard for me to really “get” it in my head. Well, Thursday was a revelation and it completely opened up the whole thing for me as a play rather than as a poem-drama, proving once again just what an astonishingly good playwright Wilde was, in whatever genre he was writing in. I loved the passion, the humour, the teenage angst, the hugely complex adult relationships shown, the setting and the actors. Everything really – especially that marvellous scene at the end where Salome drinks the blood pouring from John the Baptist’s head. Oh, yes, bring it on – I’m a Jacobean tragedy girl at heart and really can’t get enough of that sort of thing on stage – Lord H said when that happened I was the only one in the audience smiling and sitting up. Ah well – the more blood and death and drama, the better really … Anyway, the play was amazing – if you get the chance to go, for heaven’s sake do, as it may not be an opportunity we’ll see again in our lifetimes. And kudos galore to Headlong Theatre for having the balls to revive it when the audience can be counted on the fingers of one hand – hell, we may have been small in number, but we loved it.

But, keeping to the theme of poetry, I’m pleased to say that two of my poems have just been published in the spring edition of Mayo Review. And there’s been 3 meditation poems in the latter half of this week, plus the Sunday haiku:

Meditation 355
Just when you thought
everything you held dear
was lost,

someone you hardly know
steps forward
to stand with you,

taking with him something
of the pain and making
everything clearer:

even the wilderness journey,
even the wild river crossings,
even the grief.

Meditation 356
If you want to steal
your master’s life,

take as much
bread, raisins, fruit

and wine
as you can carry

to your master’s master
and wait

for your ship
to come in.

Meditation 357
Sometimes it’s necessary
to endure the stones

and insults,
knowing the truth

that lies
within them.

This week’s haiku:

A silent poem
drifts across the page, seeking
the margin’s embrace.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal