Saturday, 1 July 2017


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

Charms (2013) Post 182

Charms had its genesis when I was writing a book called Clovie Trefoil and thought (just for fun) it would be nice to have a clover charm to go with the book. I looked on the internet and discovered there were many more kinds of (inexpensive) charms than I'd ever expected. I bought some with the idea of sewing them onto book bags. This wasn't very successful (I had to use dental floss to find anything strong enough to hold them) but I still got fascinated by the charms. It occurred to me at some point that it would be fun to write a set of stories based on charms.
I invited a few writers to join me in a just-for-fun project but far more showed an interest than I expected. I worked out a framework and set up some rules. Everyone who wanted to join in could choose a charm from the website I set up, and then write a story or poem (or do a picture) that was inspired by that charm. The stories had to be suited for children. No one would get paid (including me) but everyone involved could buy as many (or as few) of the books at cost as they wished.

Over eighty people were involved and as the stories and other pieces rolled in, I arranged them and wrote a novel which encompassed them. There was a wide range of age-suitability, so finally we brought out the book in three volumes, with the first having stories suited to children under seven, the second for children up to eleven and the third for older readers.

The bracket novel was about four unrelated children; Hannah, Josh, Imogen and Ashton, whose parents had formed a syndicate to buy an old house named "Charms" and make it into a boutique hotel. On three consecutive summer holidays, the families convened to clear and renovate. Along the way, they discovered an old bread crock full of charms, each of which had its own story. More discoveries followed, so the history of the house was slowly revealed. Just for fun, I based some of the historical characters on members of my family... or at least on their names. Thus "Pat" whose story fascinated Hannah as it drifts up from old newspapers, journals and pictures, was a real person; my mother, born in 1926. Her cousin Viv is real, and so was her mother, Elsie, and her aunt, Winnie. I invented Sarah, and some of the other characters. One of the real Pat's stories was included in the collection.

The house, "Charms" was invented. I did extensive research at the site Trove ( which I highly recommend to anyone writing fiction set beyond his/her own memory in Australia. It is comparatively easy to research the big picture historical matters, but old newspapers put things into context. Because newspapers were so domestic and parochial back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, it is much easier to develop a picture of what people really did, bought, worried about and discussed. It is even possible to find out quite a lot about quite obscure (by which I mean non-famous) people. How else would I have found out what my dad was given as a gift by his colleagues when he left one post office to work at another in the 1930s? How else would I have found out what my aunt wore as flower girl when her big brother married in 1923? Oh, and that my mother presented crystal jam bowls to family friends who married in 1931?

Because I wrote a fully-featured fantasy novel which had to incorporate stories and poems by so many other people, most of whom I had never met, and who were aged between nine and 80+, I coined the term Novel Anthology to describe the result. Other novel anthologies have followed, with The Toy Chest, due out this month, as the latest.

Charms was a very ambitious project, and it did have its complications, especially coordinating so many writers and setting and keeping to deadlines. One of the writers donated the cover art, and we finally had the books printed. They're still available. They gave me a taste for anthologising and spawned Prints Charming Books which is still flourishing at

Some of the original website is still available at and the resulting books can be seen at Want a copy? Contact me, or any of the writers involved.

About the Blog 

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs 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.


  1. I remember being involved in that project, such fun! I'm not sure where I've put my unicorn charm, somewhere hidden and safe, I expect.


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