Sunday, 24 September 2017

All the Sea Between

All the Sea Between (1991) Post 268


All the Sea Between is a YA theatre romance/ school story, a direct sequel to All the Sea Between which was Post 16.
In the first story, four teenagers wrote a musical play for their school, working on their own after their mentor had to drop out. Along the way, the mercurial Amber and Herrick became slightly more than friends, which left the quieter Dominic and Helen, who are both musical, more in one another's company. In this story, Dominic has to deal with the sudden return of his long-absent dad, Pat, who is very like him. The play, Another Good Friend, a historical musical, is about to be cast and performed. This play is based loosely on real events, (both in the story AND in reality) but as the casting begins, the four discover they've made a tactical error - there are three major parts (Sarah the convict girl, Robert the soldier and Francis the convict man)... and there are four of them. The boys are suited - obviously Herrick will play Robert the cocky soldier, while Francis will take the quieter part. Sarah, however, is up for grabs. Amber is the better actress, while Helen is the better singer... so what to do?
The auditions are held and the boys get their expected parts, but when it comes down to the girls, opinions are divided. Finally, the part goes to Amber, who, as a vibrant redhead, looks more like a rebel than quiet blonde Helen. She also balances the brunet Herrick and blond Dominic better. Helen is understudy, and also playing one of Sarah's sisters, with her own understudy, Anna Dove (from The Magician's Box, post 266). This causes a rift between the four friends, which is exacerbated when Amber gets the flu. Dominic, sympathetic to Helen, is busy sorting out his feelings for his dad. Finally, everything is sorted out, and the play is a big success.

I originally intended to write a third book about the aftermath, but although I did write "Waiting on Amber", it never came out.  


ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Kissing Cousins

Kissing Cousins (1999) Post 267


Kissing Cousins is a contemporary romance, related to both In Mara's Case (post 39) and Heather and Heath. In Mara's Case featured Cousin Trina, a fashionable young woman who annoyed the prickly Mara quite a lot. Kissing Cousins is about Trina and shows something of what was going on behind that doll-like prettiness. Trina, a serial monogamist, has got herself mixed up with yet another possessive male, and, unlike the others, Trevor refuses to accept it's over. Soon he's making Trina's life difficult both at home in the flat and at work, and also harassing her many relatives, including Cousin Mara. There's only one thing for it--with the connivance of her eccentric mother, Deb, Trina bolts to stay with her aunt Jenny on a farm in Tasmania, a place Trevor has never associated with her.

Now comes a twist that dates this book to its pre-21st Century period. Trina and Deb both try to contact Jenny by letter and telephone and email, but to no avail. The phone is forever engaged and the letter gets no response. On the grounds that Jenny, a farmer's wife, is never away, Trina sails anyway, and finds herself to the remote Glen Heather, a place she's never been. Here, she discovers no one but a distant cousin, who has enough troubles of his own without taking on Trina's. 

Kissing Cousins is a comedy romance, with every title being a quote from a classical source. It features amateur dramatics, sheep, a rogue Houdini of a bull, boots and all sorts of other things, and is set in a fictitious part of a real place.

For those who have read Heather & Heath, my big historical novel, Trina is a descendant of Rosalind, while Alister is descended from Alice. If you want to read this prequel romance, it's available as a kindle and ebook from here. It's been continuously in print (well, e-print) for eighteen years. 

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Magician's Box

The Magician's Box (1991) Post 266


The Magician's Box by Sally Odgers
The Magician's Box is one of those books that has a kind of prismatic effect when I think of it. This is because of the peculiar circumstances of what happened after it was contracted. I wrote the book as The Calf and the Chemistry Set. It was based very loosely on a calf we had that was very fond of molasses, and which could climb. Most calves can't climb, but this one could. The main character, Jessica Dove, is a middle child, with an elder sister named Anna and a little sister named Arabella. Her mother is a writer, who tends to get immersed in her work, and her father is a rather short-tempered person who finds himself obliged to take over the family farm.

Jessica loves animals, and gets involved with a molasses-loving calf. At the agricultural show, she wins a chemistry set at a sideshow which is being minded by Dominic Grant, a boy who also appears in two theatre books called Another Good Friend and All the Sea Between. Anna Dove also appears in those two books, playing a role in the school musical. The chemistry set is fun, and Jessica concocts some sludge that smells just like molasses. The calf, naturally, eats some, and shrinks to mouse-size. Jessica is horrified as her father won't have any non-productive animal. 

The story was accepted, but the editor wanted me to make Mr Dove shorter tempered, and up the hints that Jessica has some future knowledge. Oh, and change the title. I rewrote the story as directed, at which point the editor left. The incoming editor asked me to rewrite to make Mr Dove nicer and to cut the hints that Jessica has some future knowledge. Oh, and could the calf change colour instead of shrinking? And do change the title. I rewrote, but explained tactfully that a calf that happened to be green would be perfectly productive, so the size change was allowed to remain. One of the editors, (I forget which) asked me to change Arabella's speech to make her more intelligible. Her speech was the same as my daughter's at the same age (I'd taken notes) but I made the changes.

At this stage, that editor left and a third one came in. This one wanted me to make Mr Dove more impatient, and to change Jessica's foreknowledge hints... and to change the title. 

I set to work on a third rewrite for a third editor. I must remind you that this was pre-computer, so a rewrite meant a total retyping from the ground up. I did ask the editor if s/he was likely to leave in the near future. I did it politely. This editor stayed, and the book was published in 1991. There is a Bandinangi Books tie-in as the magician's box (that was what I had to change the chemistry set into) belonged initially to someone from that town. 

These weren't the end of the peculiarities in this book. I got in touch with someone from the sideshow guild to ask where the prizes came from so as to work out the provenance of the box. This person wrote back (a physical letter) and passed me on to someone else with a telephone number. I called this person and asked my questions and got my head bitten off. Evidently it was a trade secret. I'm not sure who hung up on whom. 

Altogether, it was a most peculiar experience. So--voila! The Magician's Box. It got good reviews and came out later in a paperback edition. There are still some copies floating about.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Yaks of the Mountains

Yaks of the Mountains (2006) Post 265


Yaks of the Mountains is a very short (sub 400 word) non-fiction title lavishly illustrated with photographs. It's a companion to Giraffes of the Savannah. I knew very little about yaks, but fortunately the research at this level isn't too difficult. The main problem is digesting all the material down to the word count and level for which it is intended.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Blinky Bill The Treasure Hunt

Blinky Bill The Treasure Hunt (1995) Post 264


Blinky Bill The Treasure Hunt is one of several
books I did in connection with the Blinky Bill series in the 1990s. This title is based on a TV episode which was story-lined by someone else. Blinky and friends hear the tale of a wombat bushranger from their friend Wombo and decide to look for his lost treasure. They discover a deserted wombat tunnel with a sealed chest... but of course the villainous dingo family wants it too. This story pops up on the net from time to time, but its cover picture appears not be be around. This photo was taken at night, but I think it's clear enough to identify the book.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Blinky Bill Rescues the Budgie

Blinky Bill Rescues the Budgie (1994) Post 263


Blinky Bill Rescues the Budgie is one of several books I did in connection with the Blinky Bill series in the 1990s. This particular title is based on a TV episode which was story-lined by someone else. As far as I can remember, (it is 23 years ago, after all...) the company would send me a video-tape of the episode, which I'd play on a VCR, stopping often to run it back, recap and repeat. Once I had a handle on the story, I'd use actual dialogue and create the narrative from the action on screen. It was an interesting project. In this story, Blinky and friends rescue a budge in a cage and try to find him an appropriate and comfortable home.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Snickers

Snickers (1997) Post 262

Snickers by Sally Odgers

Snickers is a short easy-read about Mei Ling, who has a pet named Snickers. A school friend, who loves dogs, keeps coming up with comments comparing comparing Snickers unfavourably to a dog.  "You can cuddle a dog. You can't cuddle a duck." Mei Ling proves that she can. For every comment,she has the proof that it's incorrect, but she's stymied when Annabel suggests a duck can't be taught tricks. This one, she admits... but then Snickers goes "up tails all" in the pond. Honour is satisfied. The girls, and Snickers, head off home.

Snickers is named for a duck that befriended my daughter. Every time she returned the duck to the river, it would come back...

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hector's Garden

Hector's Garden (1999) Post 261


Hector's Garden Sally Odgers
Hector's Garden is the story of Hector, a centaur statue buried in a Greek hillside for hundreds of years and dug up during a routine construction job. The young workman who finds his leg is intrigued, and gets his friend to help him find the other fragments. They take them to a professor who pieces them together. The young men think there are two statues, or maybe an incomplete one of a horseman, but eventually Hector is revealed as what he is. Hector attempts to converse with his restorers as he did with the mad who sculpted him, but no one can hear. From a museum to a store room. Hector finds life too quiet, so he gets off his plinth and finds his way into a garden populated with plaster statues. Eventually, Hector arrives back on his hillside where Yanis, the young man who found him and who is now a professor, is setting up a garden. Hector is full of stories, and every night he talks to the plaster statues, telling them, reminding them, of who they once were. Finally, one of them listens. Hector's Garden is one of my favourites of the readers from this period. It allowed me to indulge in my interest in Greek myth.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Fools' Gold

Fools' Gold (2000) Post 260


Fools' Gold is a paranormal romance published as an ebook in 2000. It was supposed to come out in paperback, but the company ceased trading (I think) and so it never did. This is the only cover picture I can find, blown up from a thumbnail and so blurry. I'm sorry about that, as I like it and it's well representative of the book.
Fools' Gold is one of the twisty time-travel stories I love writing, and also one of those that, like O'Connor's Last Stand (March 17th post) turned up some nice logical conclusions more or less without conscious effort from me. (Gotta love writers' serendipity.)  There's an unsolicited review of it HERE.
Abigail Reed is out looking about an old goldfield close to where she lived as a child. She shelters from a rainstorm in what's left of a mine, and inevitably gets hit on the head in a collapse. Through the (painful) agency of a lump of gold known as the wandering nugget. 

Here is some material from a 2001 website (one of my own) where I showcased this book when it was new. 
The time is the 1860s, and Matthias Gilchrist is disillusioned with life. His betrothed, Jemima Snow, has been persuaded to marry someone else. Hoping to strike a fortune and persuade Jemima's father to change his mind and honour his promise, Matthias leaves his carpenter's shop and heads for the goldfields of Nugget Creek. With his taciturn companion Henry Boatwright, Matthias stakes a claim and begins to search for gold.
Here, in the aftermath of a thunderstorm, he meets the love of his life, who has fallen out of the future.

The time is 2001 and Abigail Reed, editor of Aurora magazine, is in limbo. Her fiancĂ©, John, has been called away on urgent family business. The wedding is postponed, so Abigail decides to walk down memory lane. With her cousin, Zac, she heads for her childhood home in the ghost town of Nugget Creek - and tumbles out of time to meet the love of her life.

Falling in love is easy, but how can Abigail marry her man when he believes she is a foundling who has lost her memory?
And what will happen when they hear that Matthias' first love, Jemima Snow, is dying? Jemima could be cured in the future, if only Abigail dares to make a stand.

There are so many questions and so many answers, but the key to them all is the wandering nugget.

The first chapter is there too, so if you'd like to read that, go HERE. If you want to read the rest, let me know in the comments. I probably have an old file somewhere and it would give me a reason to convert it to PDF or (finally) to paperback. The publisher who brought it out appears not to exist any more and after a decade and a half I can't even remember the editor's name.
ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)


The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Ringmaster

The Ringmaster (1999) Post 259


The Ringmaster is a short book and one of the few I have ever written in which the protagonist's name is never revealed. I didn't even assign her one in my mind.

The protagonist is a child whose family tradition is rooted in the circus. She assumes she'll be a performer when she gets older, but while still a child, she develops the autoimmune disease known as juvenile arthritis. Not only is this a painful and chronic condition, but it causes deformity in her hands and other joints. The doctors say she should be able to lead a fairly normal life, but that can't include performing in a circus.
The girl is devastated, but her school friends get together to put on their own circus. They come up with acts and yes- there's a place for her. She is the Ringmaster, the one who holds the whole performance together. There are now a few stories about children with this condition, but this was probably one of the first. One of my close relatives had (and has) it so I knew from observation just how much it affects the life of the child, and of the family.

ABOUT THE BLOG

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs http://www.affordablemanuscriptassessments.com and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service.