Saturday, 30 September 2017

Spinning Pearls

Spinning Pearls (2007) Post 274


Spinning Pearls is the second volume of my retro-Victorian fantasy verse, following Fernseed for Fairysight. The title, as with the first book, comes from one of the poems, which is a rare (for me) piece of free verse. Well, free-ish. With my love of patterns, I'm usually more attracted to form in poetry, but with my dislike of the conventions, it's often a form I've invented. (I have one so ferociously difficult I wrote it only once. The sole existing piece on this form is called The Book of Anna and yes, it IS in Spinning Pearls. 
The book falls into parts, called, respectively, 
"Ring Around the Moon", "Bridge of the Air" and "Spinning Pearls". 

In between the pieces fall a few lines of explanation or background information. Here's an example... the piece of verse is a rhymed acrostic, called Political Necessity.

Political Necessity

Ah, that I never knew her!
Sleep has held her in its arms
Lullabyed by rustling roses
Eglantine; its thorny charms
Enhanced by fairy flickers
Poised on twisted candle tips
In solitude still dreaming
Note the smile upon her lips.
Golden threads adorn her,
Blended silk all bloomed with lace
Enchantment holds the stasis
Age shall never touch her face
Unless one day she wakens
To displace our noble king
Yes, should those eyes drift open,
What a sorrow it will bring!
Ah! that I'll never know her
Kindness forces me to keep
Enhancing her enchantment
Slipping deeper into sleep...

(acrostic, this time based loosely on the story of The Sleeping Beauty. The narrator is a kindly man, but political necessity would make it inconvenient if the maiden should ever wake.) 

I love writing rhymed acrostics (and I do reversed ones too) because the challenge is to produce a poem that some people might not even notice IS an acrostic. If it obviously is, that often means the lines are forced.

I really love this book but it's long out of print. I'll now present two more bits of verse... the title piece (which won a prize in a contest) and the weird form one.

Spinning Pearls is probably about mental illness, or maybe an enchantment. What do you think?

Spinning Pearls


Nandi sits alone, untended,
Quiet time at her command.
The silent moments
Slip on by her,
One by one;
A string of pearls
Made deftly out of fossil moonlight;
Nandi sits alone.

Her thin hand draws
A languid arc all spindled out of
Rainbow promise;
See it spill Picasso petals
in the humming of her loom.
The colors trickle through the chinks,
Escape her fingers,
Dance like motes
To dissipate in virgin air.
The other rooms are thick with words
While Nandi sits alone.

The sparking gems
Of Nandi's fancy
Leap to being
From her mind;
A china rose-
Her unicorn-
The horseshoe made of polished steel.
To scent the silence
Of the room,
To bear the wonder
Of her gaze,
To form a cornucopia,
A brightly walled repository,
For luck and rainbows
On the loose,
While Nandi sits alone.

Her solitude is not for pity,
Others pause to say hello,
But Nandi simply turns aside,
And weaves her pearls
Of silent moments,
On a thread of rainbow braiding,
Catching briefly on those eyes,
Indifferent glances
Slipping by...

She saves her smiles for unicorns
And China roses fresh and old,
A horseshoe basket for her fate,
The candlestick to light her darkness...
Though she sits alone in silence
With her mind encased in crystal
Nandi knows her unicorns
Will come. She sits alone.

The China rose was from her lover
Planted for St Valentine,
The horseshoe gift to bring her laughter
Tossed to clasp a fairing prize.
The unicorns are Nandi's virtue
Long preserved and veiled in tulle,
But moonlight took her warm intentions;
Rainbows stole her gentle voice,
So all she'll do is sit in silence
Hoarding luck and moonlit pearls.
Her lips may part in breathless wonder
Seeing love-inspired mirage,
But Nandi's gone... the girl I won
Is spinning pearls

And I'm alone.

Now, if you're still with me, take a deep breath and plunge into The Book of Anna.

(The next poem is a deeply odd form of reversed acrostic. Words are spelled vertically, and then used horizontally in the lines. The pivot is a word, "Book".)
  
The Book of Anna

Twining words in honeysuckle old style,
Hillsides witness my word-requited tale,
Etudes, preludes, alluding to my ink smile-

The book of Anna –poet of the grail.

Briar roses, innocent and blushing
Overhanging my white uncharted brow
Over, lover, roving words a’hushing,
Knowing rhymes in the long-forgotten now-

Book of Anna – poet of believing.

Odes to seasons, sonnets from my life
Free verse, reversed, synonyms of leaving,

Of this Anna – and metaphors run rife.

Anthems penned in a fine soprano ringing,
Nevermore the silence of the night-
None but I need mind the rhythm winging
Ashes, roses, disposes of the light.

Anna – poet – B(r)ooks not black and white.

Flinging phrases out along the sunset,
Overreaching the syntax of today,

Of fun, so one, wordplay often unmet,

Kicking, clicking, all along the way.
Only Anna may venture to the deep end
Often swinging her dictionary’s tail,
Bringing, stringing, words both large and wee, penned,

Book of Anna – encrypted – cannot fail.

Even roses must twine about the ladder,
Hearts and thorns form poetical bouquet,
Torn, unspoken, broken, dyed with madder,

The Book of Anna, elliptical ballet.

What was I thinking when I created that? God alone knows, and He's not telling.

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, 29 September 2017

Finding Farholt

Finding Farholt (2012) Post 273


A few years ago, I had the bright idea for a fantasy adventure series; a full-blown quest, but written for readers of mid primary school. I had a lot of fun developing the plan for the whole series, and wrote the first book. Just for fun, I also wrote the non-fiction story of how the series/book was conceived and how I went about things thereafter... This companion, Finding Farholt is the story of the first month of this project, written especially for those interested in how stories become, and also for those who dream of finding their own version of Farholt - the book of their dreams. There is a not-so-happy sequel to this series, but in case you're interested, the website is at http://www.thefairiesoffarholt.com/

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, 28 September 2017

What Really Happened?

What Really Happened?(2009) Post 272


What Really Happened? is a collection of three stories, each written to show the difference between fact and opinion. In the first story, Angie discovers the roster for looking after the school garden can work properly only if everyone follows it and passes on messages. A literal bull in a china shop has witnesses confused, and when two houses burn down, there's some confusion about the culprit. Scenes are shown from different points of view, and then an unbiased report gives the facts. It was fun writing these. I always make educational reading texts as entertaining as possible. One of my favourite illustrators did one of the stories, which adds to my pleasure in this little 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.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Wintersong

Wintersong (2007/2017) Post 271


Failure is never easy, but it's especially difficult if you've been programmed to succeed. Amara of Flutewood is the daughter of champion Valourns, and her elder sister is already winning medallions. Amara herself has been training at the elite Shuancamp for four years, but now, just as she should be flying, she's stalled instead.
   Mediocrity isn't an option, but what can she do? Sometimes working harder is not enough. To succeed in her chosen field, Amara will have to change the rules.
Wintersong is set in the same world as Amy Amaryllis (1992), Shadowdancers (1994) and Candle Iron (2000). It was first printed in 2007. This 10th anniversary edition is expanded and rewritten. Available in paperback and ebook. Details will be added to this page as soon as they're available.
Buy ebook

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, 26 September 2017

Just Like Emily

Just Like Emily (1992) Post 270

Just Like Emily is an easy-read story about the dynamics of friendship. Jade and her best friend Emily are joined at the hip, but Emily is generally the leader. They like the same things, and dislike the same things, and they're united in despising Genevieve Watson, because... hey, she wears pink socks! Then Emily starts ballet lessons. Jade asks to start them too, but her parents can't afford it.
Emily has a crowd of new ballet-mad friends. She's still friends with Jade, but Jade can't talk ballet... One day, lonely Jade actually stops to talk to Genevieve Watson and discovers there's a lot more to her than she thought. Emily discovers this and mentions pink socks. Jade points out that Emily is wearing pink tights...
Emily grins, just like the old friend she is, and proclaims there is nothing wrong with pink socks OR pink tights, and a girl can have lots of friends...
Jade may no longer by Just Like Emily, but now she is learning to be just like Jade.

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, 25 September 2017

Soggy Doggy Dot Com

Soggy Doggy Dot Com (2004) Post 269


Soggy Doggy Dot Com is one of three stories narrated by twelve-year-old Baker. The other two are A Horrorday to Remember (Post 101)  and Creature Cottage (Post 86). This time, Baker puts his own spin on the dog-washing business, into which Aunt Kris has entered after losing her job as a vet nurse when the vet got married and employed his wife instead. Cousin Tiffany has turned into a Teenager, so Baker helps out, but what with stuffed dogs, puns, inappropriately-named animals, a missing mouth, a goat called Dog, green shampoo and a tiny dog called TTT with a penchant for bath plugs, Baker has his work cut out. Naturally, he is equal to the fray.
Tess Toad Tummy, the little plug eater, was named and styled after out own little old lady who also enjoyed eating plugs. Vale TTT at the age of 16. Plugs were not involved.
I had lots of fun writing about Baker. He's quite like Justin Archer, another character I always enjoyed writing.

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, 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.