Category Archives: theatre

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


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

Milestones and mortgages

Life News:

A slightly earlier mid-week blog than usual as I’m fiddling around with my days this week, so am working tomorrow and then straight out to London to see a friend. As a result today has been hugely busy and I appear to have driven at least 75 miles in the pursuit of health and happiness.

Had my appointment with the lovely gynae consultant at the hospital today, who is cautiously pleased with my progress thus far but is altering the doses of my HRT in order to take the St John’s Wort happy pills into account – so I’m a bit concerned about how that will affect things, but once again we’ll have to see. I’m also being referred to another gynae expert in Guildford to see whether I might at some stage need another op or not. I hope not, but you never can tell. Such is the exciting health life of we middle-aged Surrey women. Hey ho.

Immediately after that I drove across to near where Lord H works in order to sort out, with him, the conveyancing on our new flat purchase, so we’ve now instructed a conveyancer and a mortgage company, so I’m not sure there are any other orders we need to give anyone. Not yet anyway. So far, there are only a couple of issues that need sorting out – so I will I suspect feel calmer when they’re out of the way. All this unfamiliar stuff is making me terribly jittery – which doesn’t surprise me.

Thank goodness for tonight, when we’re out to see The Importance of Being Oscar at the Guildford Theatre, so an opportunity to relax and enjoy definitely beckons. How I need it!

Other life excitements this week so far have been the redoing of the tarmac at the University car park which means everyone is desperately juggling for spaces and we all have to get in early in order to find one. Not too much of a problem, and these things have to be done – my only difficulty has been attempting to find where the heck I’ve put the car at the end of the day as it’s not in my usual place and, being me and a creature of routine, I end up staring soulfully through the fencing at where I usually park and wondering why I can’t get there, and why indeed the car isn’t there at all. Really, how people live lives of adventure and change is beyond me – I like structure and for things to be the same. Lordy, what a wimp, eh.

Book News:

The Delaneys and Me continues its whistle-stop tour round the Amazon Kindle Gay Fiction charts, and was up as high as Number 20 earlier this week. Many thanks to those people who are buying – it’s very much appreciated.

I’m also very happy to say that I’ve reached the 40,000 word marker in my blogged novella, The Prayer Seeker, and you can read the latest episode here. I reckon it might end up being 45-50,000 words, but certainly no more.

Not only that, but I’ve reached my 400th meditation poem, hurrah! Here are the latest two:

Meditation 399
Through all the bustle
and clamour,

the demands, the dreams
and the night-waking fears,

the greatest desire of all
is simply to be heard.

Meditation 400
When all is done –
the words, the tears

and the hard-won hope –
what counts

above all
is mercy.

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

A Serious Business

Writing News:

I’m happy to say that the lovely Anders at Queer Magazine Online will shortly be offering my gay short story, A Serious Business, as a free download in his new eBook store – so watch this space. And I do love that cover. Thanks, Anders!

I’ve also signed and returned the contract for Angels and Airheads to Torquere Press so it’s great to be part of their author team as well. Meanwhile, The Delaneys and Me received a 4.5 star review at Goodreads – so thank you to Carole for that. And The Hit List gained a 5-star review at Amazon US, and many thanks to Amos for that one, as well as a 4 star review at Michelenjeff Reviews. Thanks, Michele!

In other book news, Thorn in the Flesh is now available (with free worldwide delivery) from The Book DepositoryThe Secret Thoughts of Leaves is now available in Kindle edition and I’m going through the text of A Dangerous Man to prepare it for its (hoped for) second life. So, never say I haven’t been busy and there’s surely something there for everyone.

Finally, my review of Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry is now up at Vulpes Libris. A fascinating book, but it rather lost steam in the final section, I fear.

Life News:

The week’s excitement so far has definitely been seeing a sparrowhawk in the garden – a first for this year, hurrah! Though I do rather fear for the fate of our nesting blue tits … we will have to see how it all pans out.

I’ve also been rather worried by the fact that the hospital didn’t like the results of my recent CA125 blood test, so I have to take the damn thing again in May when I go in for my scan. Lordy, but these medical types do like a rummage. I had a bit of a panic (um, a lot of a panic, if I’m being honest …) when the letter came through, but I was okay last year so I’m assuming it’s just my hormone issues playing up again. So I’ve calmed down now (hurrah) and will have to wait for May. Many thanks to the kind commenters over the last couple of days who’ve been hugely supportive – much appreciated.

Anyway, today, I’ve had a lovely time at my Clarins massage, and tonight, Lord H and I are out at Guildford Theatre to see My Darling Clemmie – which I’m looking forward to as I’m a real fan of the glorious Winston. What a superhero.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal

Chocolate, wolves and bones

Happy Easter weekend! I hope you all have a glorious time and manage to avoid the worst of the rather bizarre weather we’re having at the moment. Did summer already happen and I missed it??

Writing News:

I’m really thrilled with the cover art for my upcoming GLBT short story, Martin and The Wolf, which will be published by Amber Allure Press on 13 June 2010. You can also read an extract from the beginning here.

What with having to update my website with the new information, I’ve also improved my Short Stories page at the same time so it’s now divided into 4 categories:

GLBT stories
Literary stories
Biblical stories
Comic stories

Of course, some of these fall into more than one category but I’ve taken that into account and put the various stories wherever I think they fit. I hope you enjoy the new look.

Meanwhile, Give and Take gained a 4-star rating at Goodreads, and The Bones of Summer was for a while at Number 93 in the Amazon UK gay romance charts, hurrah!

Finally, I’m pleased to say that All Romance Ebooks now stocks Dancing with Lions, How to Eat Fruit and The Girl in the Painting. All of which is very good news indeed.

Ooh, and I’ve just heard that Maloney’s Law is in Elisa Rolle’s Top 10 GLBT Referrals List for March, so that’s lovely to hear – thanks, Elisa!

Other news:

I rather enjoyed the University Administrators’ conference, which I returned home from yesterday. Though I must say my skills in the Learn To Juggle seminar were sadly lacking. The poor tutor had to put me back down to two balls when he saw the chaos I was creating with three. And, what with all that jumping about and picking up my lost balls for an hour and a half, I have to say my legs are aching in places I never even knew I had. I must be so unfit! It was so bad that yesterday when I popped into Tesco on the way home and accidentally dropped something out of my trolley, I could barely hunker down to pick it up. And there was a hell of a lot of groaning … Really, you don’t even want to know how long it took me to get myself out of bed this morning, and how Lord H laughed at the sight.

Other exciting conference news is that my room actually had a bath. A bath!! What luxury. All the other times I’ve been, I’ve had a seriously frightening shower that’s so powerful that it’s all but blasted me to the other side of the room and I’ve been unable to breathe, such has been the force of the water. So a bath was bliss indeed. Must be a sign of my age, I fear.

Tonight, Lord H and I are off to see The Graduate at the Guildford Theatre, so are preparing ourselves for “an evening of impure theatrical delight”, as the Evening Standard puts it. All that and nudity too, hurrah!

Happy Easter!

Anne Brooke – impure but utterly delightful, naturally
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal – the essential Easter read

Second novels and The Ministry of Fear

Book News:

I’ve had a fascinating review of GLBT short story, Give and Take, which you can read at Jessewave Reviews. I’m more than happy with the 4 star rating, but fascinated by the reviewer’s comments on the bleakness and realism of the story. Actually I’d thought it was fairly upbeat, and had even made the ending far more hopeful for the future than my first ending had been. Amazing how many different takes can be found in a story – it’s certainly opened my eyes! Perhaps my view of life is grimmer (more grim?) than I’d realised … In the meantime, it’s received both a 4-star rating at Goodreads and a 5-star review also at Goodreads, with a slightly different take on it in the latter link, I believe.

Another review received this week has been for Two Christmases which gained a 4-star review at Goodreads. Many thanks to all reviewers/raters – it’s much appreciated.

Meanwhile, at Vulpes Libris, you can read my disappointment at Maria McCann’s Orange Prize longlisted novel, The Wilding. Oh dear. I’d been so looking forward to it too as I absolutely loved her first novel, As Meat Loves Salt. Is it the dreaded Second Novel Syndrome??…

And I fear I missed offering you last week’s haiku in my Sunday posting (shame on me!), so here it is. Late, but still relevant, alas:

Rain drives away plans,
makes the umbrellas blossom,
quietens the world.

Other News:

I have chilled out this morning with a lovely Clarins massage from Romana – it was so relaxing that I actually fell asleep. Still I needed the down-time as I’ve been working like the proverbial all week. Both on book stuff and University stuff. Heck, I deserve a break – roll on Easter.

And Lord H and I have had a wonderful time at the Aldershot production of Fiddler on the Roof. To my shame (again!), we’d never seen it before, and what a marvellous musical it is. Such a brave ending and all those tunes. Fabulous. I loved it. Tonight we’re off to the Guildford Theatre to see The Ministry of Fear so I suspect all my relaxation points might well disappear sooner than I’d anticipated. Note to self: arrange massages for after thrillers, not before …

Oh, and a new car radio has been delivered today, so I’m hoping Lord H might do his magic and put it into the car so I don’t have to listen to the sound of my own voice singing for too long. Believe me, it’s not been pleasant. The neighbours would no doubt agree.

I’m also proud to say that Lord H now has official superpowers – he has perfected the technique of standing next to a dysfunctional computer until it operates properly again. Without even touching it. Honestly, it works every time! And at the office as well as at home, apparently. Really, it’s a pleasure to watch a superhero at the top of his game, though he does confess to rather preferring the ability to fly or be invisible – but superheroes must accept and work with the powers they’re given … Tomorrow: the world!

Anne Brooke – pondering what her own superhero status might be …
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal – rarely seen but somehow vital