Friday, 26 May 2017

Elizabeth

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Elizabeth (Post 146)

Elizabeth (1986) is a rhyming picture book text written around the same time as Dreadful David (Post 4) and Emma Jane's Zoo (Post 65). Like them, it's about a child whose behaviour challenges his or her family, like them, it tells the story with verses and refrains, but unlike them it was published as an educational reading scheme book. It's an easy book to read aloud and lends itself to singing. (It was indeed done as an audio cassette.) 
What can we do, what can we do, about Elizabeth... What could we do, what should we do...

Elizabeth does all sorts of things, and her inventive mind and agile body get her in and out of trouble. Finally, one of her experiments pays off handsomely. For once, Elizabeth is not a pest.

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, leave me a message.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Honey and the Harvest Hob

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Honey and the Harvest Hob (Post 145)

Honey and the Harvest Hob (2017) is the fourth story in the Fairy in the Bed series, written under one of my pen names. 

Honeycomb Bakewell considers her name clunky, and blames her parents and their sense of humour. The name is joke-bait for her so-witty classmates, but Honey has her own unique way of delivering set downs. At eighteen, Honey emancipates herself from her loving and, despite appearances, loved, parents and starts work. At twenty-six she engages herself to a widowed sculptor who likes to consider himself avant-guarde. On the day of her wedding, Honey experiences the first real failure of her charmed life. In the aftermath, she flings her engagement ring over the church roof, slams her mobile into smithereens on the church floor and sets off into her alarming and uncharted future on a honeymoon for one.

Honey and the Harvest Hob is fantasy. It's a saucy romance with comedy and pathos and a cranky heroine who is not about to lie down and be beaten by one little set-back. It features a mysterious woman named Linda who intrigued me so much I'm currently putting the finishing chapter to her story. Honey's story is packed with ideas and themes garnered from a lifetime of reading and writing, a fascination with English country lore and myth, theories of creativity, luck, chance and causality. I had a wonderful time writing it so, it's the book of the day, available for pre-order and due out very soon. This story is for 18 readers, and if you happen to read and enjoy it, there are three more in the series out now and, at the time of writing, three more in the publication pipeline, two in "resting" mode, one awaiting its last couple of chapters and one due to be written at some point this year. 

Check out Honey and the Harvest Hob here.
The Pinterest board devoted to this series is here
Lark Westerly's website with synopses, character lists, and glossaries of terms is here


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, leave me a message.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

How to Handle a Vivid Imagination

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

How to Handle a Vivid Imagination (Post 144)

How to Handle a Vivid Imagination (1987) is a tall tale of a story, told by a narrator, addressed to you. If your vivid imagination runs away with you and you find yourself... is the premise of each episode. The scenes, involving sharks, Bengal Tigers, a Wicked Wizard of West Wooloomooloo, an old woman wearing a Snow White is an Enemy of Society tee-shirt, an earthquake and cannibals are painted in dire and cumulative detail, and our narrator then, having whipped up the terrible situation to the Nth degree, defuses the it in a few lines, recommending pole vaulting, pretending to be a film director, declaring an allergy to apples, claiming Tarzan as your big brother and teaching sharks the backstroke. All well and good until we come to the scene involving a toad... then- you might as well give up. You've had it.

This bit of subversive fun was suggested by an editor with an idea. I asked why she didn't develop it herself and she replied airily that she was an editor, not an author... How to Handle a Vivid Imagination was an early recorded book, released as part of a set of audio cassettes for schools. I still remember the background music.


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, leave me a message.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chat

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Chat (Post 143)

Chat (1999) is the story of Halley Starr, a twelve-year-old going into Year Six. During the holidays, Halley has been practising affirmations, so she is all ready to succeed. A virus means she starts the year two weeks behind her classmates, finding all the cool kids and nearly-cool kids already settled into friendships and alliances. 

As a late-starter, Halley is paired with the withdrawn Mel, a service child who has come from a military base to Edinburgh near Elizabeth. Along the way, Halley wins a contest giving her 100 hours of internet access. She uses this to log into a chat room, where she styles herself as "Comet", a pun on her real name. Soon she gets to know "Luna" who claims to live in the Horsehead Nebula. As "Comet" engages in witty chat with "Luna" Halley is struggling at school. Some of the things "Luna" says suggest she knows more about Halley and Elizabeth South Primary than she should. Could Luna really be cool Lucy from school? Lucy comes to visit, but Halley's plan to unmask her goes wrong.  

Halley gets advice from Mum, especially when she realises the person saying spiteful things about "the nonny" is Mel herself. 

This story shows its age. No one these days would be likely to win internet access. No one would invite a friend to watch videos. The kind of chat room Halley visits is a thing of the past. Oddly, the basic plot of the story, someone chatting to a person claiming to live in Outer Space, is true. My son had an interesting time chatting to someone from Out There. He used to report on the latest news! He also spent some time at Elizabeth, and when I visited there, I got to know something about service kids.

This story is under one of my pen names; Patrick Farrell.


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, leave me a message.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Blue Gold

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Blue Gold (Post 142)

Blue Gold (1999) is a sequel to Spiral Stairs, a science fiction story that forms part of the loose association that is the Bandinangi Books. In Blue Gold, three girls names Cambria, Albia and Erin are the youngest members of a pioneer colony on the planet Azuria. The premise is that for a colony to be viable, it must be suited to all ages, so the first human Azurians range from pre-teen to late middle-age. Azuria is a pleasant planet, but although it seems idyllic, there are hidden problems. Crops grow slowly, there is almost no rain and the various coloured rocks all prove to be the same kind, producing no oil or workable metal. To the children, this is a great adventure, not least because the mimic birds, the funny, friendly creatures that hang about the settlement, have become their friends.

A crisis meeting is held among the adults to decide whether or not to declare the colony a failure and return home when their ship returns. As Wyn and Autumn, two of the adults, point out, the colony can just about feed itself but there is no cushion and there is nothing of value to trade with Earth. Not knowing if this is the end of their time on Azuria, the girls go for a long-promised hike to the distant mountain. With them goes their friend Mimic, one of the local flock.

The girls reach the mountain but get lost in the fog. Mimic helps them construct a shelter covered with turf. It rains heavily in the night, and they discover the disturbed earth has washed away, revealing a rich source of the one interesting and different mineral that's been found- a substance dubbed sky pearl. Mimic collects what he can and puts in in his pouch. The girls also take some, but cover the main supply with turf.

They believe they have found something that could save the colony, but the mimic birds value the sky pearl. Is it fair to take it away from them? What if the adults want to take it all?

For once, it turns out the adults are more scrupulous than the children feared, and everything ends happily.

I had a lot of fun with names in this story, with the three children sporting the old names for England, Wales and Ireland, and surnames including Hibernia (another old name for Ireland) and Tudor.
 This is the kind of thing I always hope readers will notice and find intriguing. Alas, as usual no one has ever mentioned it.

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, leave me a message.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Cat Burglar of Pethaven Drive

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

The Cat Burglar of Pethaven Drive (Post 141)

The Cat Burglar of Pethaven Drive (1996) is a follow-up to 1987's What a Day! Once more it's told in the first person by Mr D. It begins with a howl of joy as Mr D's worst enemy, The Walking Dogfight, departs in a van for his new home. This leaves Mr D with his second-worst enemy, The Mean Monstrosity, but as he knows The Mean Monstrosity's embarrassing real name, he's sure he can cope.
Alas, The Mean Monstrosity is out for revenge.
Meanwhile, a new pet moves into The Walking Dogfight's old home. This is Sylvester Slink, a cat the colour of a school sock, twice as long and half as deep as a dachshund, with eyes the colour of ripe bananas. Sylvester Slink is obsessed with washing, and, unlike most cats, he doesn't object to the rain. When food items start disappearing in Pethaven Drive it's evident a cat burglar'a at work and Mr D and Sylvester Slink team up to discover the culprit.
     It was fun to revisit Mr D, the Missus and the crankiest ginger cat this side of Bandinangi. The artful illustrations are great fun, too.  

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, leave me a message.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Maya the Adventureless

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Maya the Adventureless (Post 140)

Maya the Adventureless (2001), was originally named Watch Dog and starred the Archer family from the Bandinangi Books series. It is very much a Bandinangi-style story. It was originally narrated by Rachel, Justin took the "Nick" role and Jeremy, the "Alexander" role. Granny, Grandpa, Peabrain, George and Mellie retain their own names and personalities.
I am not sure why the three children were renamed, but possibly it had to do with a requirement to use a pen name, in this case, Patrick Farrell. 

The story is about Maya, who complains that she never has adventures. This is a feature in One Weird Week, Post 56, in which both Jeremy and Justin have weird adventures while Rachel missed out. In this story, Maya's lack of imagination is mentioned, and she gets into a bet with Nick that there is/is not, something weird down Ticking Lane. This is a cumulative story as Maya get trapped in the attic of Clock House by a mysterious dog and, as each family member comes looking for her, each gets trapped in turn. The clues about the dog are there in the text, allowing alert readers to work it out. This is one of my favourites of this series and I wish I could remember why we made the changes.

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, leave me a message.

Friday, 19 May 2017

That's Enough

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

That's Enough (Post 139)

That's Enough (1989), is a picture book based on the simple premise of a boy who is supposed to be keeping his little sister out of trouble. He wants to read his book, so when she asks if she can build a cubby house in the living room, he agrees... as long as she doesn't make a mess. The cubby house grows as ever more items are added, and with every addition our hero lifts his gaze briefly from his book to say, "That's enough," before "I went back to my book." The adding of each new item is preceded with a cumulative roll-call of the earlier items, and there is a kind of casual rhyme and rhythm as the metropolis rolls on. It's not until Little Sister adopts "my pet puppy" as "her cubby house guard" that the boy really reacts... by visiting her in her castle.

That's Enough is about tenacity, the addictive nature of reading, lip-service to discipline and getting long lines read out aloud without gasping for breath. It's quite fun. There's a very interesting quote on the back of the book from the illustrator. I'd quite forgotten that until I got out the book to photograph the cover for this blog.

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, leave me a message.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Witch

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

The Witch (Post 138)

The Witch (1987), dates for the time before witches became unpopular subjects for school readers. This little story, though, told in rhyme (something else that later became unpopular) is less about witches than about perception and hearsay. Children tell one another tales of the witch that lives in our street... and add that various children can attest to the truth of each assertion because... "X has, (seen this), well, he nearly has, at least he..."

The story culminates in the children convincing themselves that "the witch that lives in our street has cast a spell on Jan. "We know she has. We're sure she has. That's why she calls her.... Gran."

It's not only the subject that dates this story. How many children are called Jan these days? And how bizarre that I can quote the last stanza over thirty years after writing the story?

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, leave me a message.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Bunyip's Lair

Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

The Bunyip's Lair (Post 137)

The Bunyip's Lair (2001), is the story of Elvie, newly rrived in the colony of New South Wales with her grandmother. Papa has been there for over a year, making a home for them, and Elvie finds everything new and exciting. Grandmother, who is probably not Papa's own mother, is unimpressed with the slab hut. Even her bonnet looks angry. During the first days while Grandmother recovers from the journey, Elvie meets Jennie Apple, their only near neighbour. Jennie is a Scotswoman who sings about her work. She tells Elvie the story of the bunyip. Elvie decides to seek the beastie out, and one day her patience is rewarded by a strange creature which is a mix of bird and mammal. Elvie is thrilled, but it is not a bunyip. Papa says Elvie was lucky to see a duck-billed platypus.
Grandmother is offered the chance to return to England, but she chooses to stay. Elvie might not have seen the bunyip yet, but she's still hopeful.
This is one of the books written under a pseudonym; Edward E.B. Cracker. It is one of three books (so far) featuring the word "bunyip" in the title. The others are Bunyips Don't (Post 23) and The Bunyip Wakes (Post 25). I did write a sequel to Bunyips Don't and planned one for The Bunyip Wakes, but neither was published.

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, leave me a message.