Saturday, 29 April 2017

Pride: Bridgeover-Sundown

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

Pride: Bridgeover-Sundown (Post 119)

Pride: Bridgeover-Sundown (2007 / 2017), is one of my favourites. It's one of the most ambitious books I ever wrote (others being Candle Iron, The Peacock's Pearl, Translations in Celadon, Replay, Under the Waterfall, Shakedown and Trinity Street) and it allowed me to play with many of my favourite themes.

The cover you see here is the tenth anniversary cover. Initially, it was published in 2007. It's set in 2027, so this year, 2017, marks the half-way point. I've been wanting to re-release this one as I did with Replay, and have had my eye out for a good cover for a while. I found one that had a compass, a map and a highway. These elements are perfect for the story, but when I put in the title, the effect seemed both cluttered and lacking in impact. I haivered for a while, but generally if I don't love a cover I don't buy it. When books are published commercially, as most of mine are, the cover is provided by the publisher sometimes in consultation with me, but sometimes not. Publishers have much more experience than I have in what will sell, so I'm happy to leave it to their expertise. However, when I do a self-publishing venture, I have to make the decision myself. Lacking that professional eye and knack, all I can go on is that the cover is something I choose to use. I always want to be able to have a positive reason to choose it, and one I can articulate.

Having decided the first one (though it had those perfect elements) didn't do what I wanted for this particular book, I looked at another cover with a highway and compass. It was good, but the highway curved through a green scene. A feature of the highway in this book is that it's straight and heading through the outback, which soon segues into The Outback. I wasn't looking for a figure cover, because finding a cover with a very young ANZAC soldier or a teenaged boy from 2027, or a Bradman Pride car seemed implausible. I put "highway" in the search field, and got lots to choose from, but this is the one that caught my eye. 

The two protagonists are young men; Arthur Steele, born in 1898 and Glen Steele, born in 2010, but there's an important girl character in it as well. Clio is the young woman whom Glen's father once loved. She died before Glen was born, but her story and her image are part of his psyche as he struggles with being a dependent teenager at an age when his forebears were men. Clio has become his ideal, so her influence on him and on the story is strong. As soon as I spotted this cover, my mind said, "That's Clio!" The straight highway, the menacing clouds and the weird light just clinched the deal.

So, what's the story about? It has a new blurb to go with its new look. Here's what it has to say:


It's 1915 and Arthur Steele lies bleeding in the sand. Gallipoli is not where he wants to be. He's just a boy, but he's had to be a man.

It's 2027 and Glen Steele is trapped in a world that won't let him be a man.

Glen takes his sister's car and sets off on a trip that will take him right out of his life, and into the mysterious world of the Outback. It's all surreal, a place of ghosts, and in the blazing shadows the legends come to life.


Glen meets Arthur, caught between life and death. Arthur can't go home anymore. Maybe Glen still can... but does he want to?

This book would have been a logical post for ANZAC Day, but I hadn't got the cover on at that point, so here it is a few days late.

The anniversary edition of Pride is available as an ebook HERE and as a paperback 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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Great!

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

Great! (Post 118)

Great! (1997), is part of another book in the series commissioned, as far as I recall, to supplement existing texts and to replace some that were deemed too far removed from Australian children's experience. I seem to remember someone saying the originals contained vicars and pony traps.
Like Peace and Quiet , Post 117, Great! is about Rebecca, Josh and Marcus. Mostly, it's about Josh and Marcus when they first arrive at the camping ground. Josh is much attached to Old Bear, whom he hugs throughout the book. His cousin Marcus is much more extroverted. He has a monster mask, and he wants to play monsters, tell monster stories and camp out in the tent although it's raining. Marcus is not being deliberately unkind; he's just a loud child with boundless enthusiasm. Everything is Great! to Marcus... until the tent falls down!

This is a story about differing personalities, how they interact, and how introverts and extroverts might manage to enjoy themselves without abandoning the monster masks and Old Teds in their lives. It's also one of a very few of my books with punctuation as part of the title. Kayak! (Post 59) is another.

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Peace and Quiet

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

Peace and Quiet (Post 117)

Peace and Quiet (1997), is part of a series commissioned,m as far as I recall, to supplement existing texts and to replace some that were deemed too far removed from Australian children's experience. I seem to remember someone saying the originals contained vicars and pony traps.
Anyway, Peace and Quiet is about Rebecca, who is enjoying a beach-side camping holiday with her family. She loves building castles, reading in the shade, swimming and helping cook barbecues. Her problem is that the boys, Josh and Marcus, are forever hanging about where she is. They invite her to race, run around where she's reading, nag to spin her in the revolving egg and knock down her castle. They are not malicious...just THERE. They want her to go to the fair and she snaps at them. Mum leaves Rebecca at the camp with Granny and takes the boys off for the day. Rebecca has a delightful day of peace and quiet.

When the boys come back, they're full of the things they saw and did. Rebecca tells of her day. The boys come up with a plan. If Rebecca will play with them in the mornings, they will play on their own in the afternoon. Everyone is happy.

The story is a reversal of the kind where younger children resent their bossy elders. Josh and Marcus like Rebecca. They want to include her. She probably did enjoy playing with them until recently, but the implication is she's reached one of those milestones where children change.

And no, I was never an elder sister! I probably did annoy my elder sister just as the boys annoy Rebecca.

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dolphin

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

Dolphin (Post 116)

Dolphin (2002), is developed from a fragment of a real story, but also owes something to the tales of resourceful serving girls. Ten-year-old Cathie is disconcerted when her father comes back from the docks with a maid servant to replace the one who left to be married. Dolphin, named because she born on a ship of that name, is three years older than Cathie, but smaller; a waif transported for stealing a horse. As Cathie tells the story, her mother at first insisted Dolphin should be returned and an older and experienced maid should be brought, but Cathie intercedes, asking that the child should at least have a cup of milk. Mother says she may stay until morning... but of course Dolphin immediately sets to to prove her worth.
   She is industrious, insouciant and never can remember to call Mother, Ma'am, preferring the more homely Missus. Sean Casey, rather than Master, is Mister to Dolphin. Treated well and properly fed, Dolphin develops into a happy and capable girl, admiring Cathie's good fortune of receiving a gold brooch without envy. Cathie is the one who feels the injustice.
   One day when Cathie and Dolphin are alone in the house, Bad Jack, an escaped convict, pays them a visit. Dolphin hides Cathie and puts her brooch in the bread she is about to bake.  Mister's guineas go into the syrup, and Missus's new vase into the flour crock. Cathie, listening to Dolphin helping Bad Jack to food and chatting on about her employers, goes cold. Will Dolphin betray them?
   Of course Dolphin doesn't, and it devolves she added Epsom salts and syrup of figs to Jack's meal. Mister is so pleased Dolphin kept Cathie safe (and his guineas) he offers her a gift. The wily Dolphin asks for a cow and by the time she earns her Ticket of Leave, she is well on her way to becoming a colonial success story.  Years later, Cathie reports that Dolphin comes to visit sometimes, bring her children to play with Cathie's.
   Dolphin gives a fairly rosy picture of a waif's fortunes, but there were convicts who were did well. Some were placed with decent families and some, once freed, married into local families and ended up at a higher social level than their one-time employers.
   Dolphin is named after a real woman of the era, who was named after the ship on which she was born. Cathie is named after an old friend in the writing business. As for the tale of the jewellery baked in a loaf of bread...maybe the original source was true and maybe it wasn't. Who knows?

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Game of Cat and Lucy

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

The Game of Cat and Lucy (Post 115)

The Game of Cat and Lucy (1999), is one of my favourites in this series. It deals with communication, friendship and family ties, and it's sf. 
Lucy, who is, by her own admission, an ordinary girl with brown hair and freckles, is part of an important experiment at the IAC - Institute of Animal Communication. For the space of a month, Lucy spends time every day with The Cat, a genetically modified feline who is the subject of the experiment. To put it simply, the Prof, who happens to be Lucy's dad, is working on a new neighbourhood watch system. Instead of human guards, who attract attention, or dogs, who need direction, he plans to use cats, which can prowl at night without being noticed and which are already in the habit or spending long hours in one place, snoozing. In order to get the information The Cat has, the Prof has fitted it with a vocaliser, which renders its answers in flat spoken English. The Cat cannot be paid, but it has been given a deal. It will work for a month (the space of a moon) and then may live in the place of its choice, and be cared for for life while the data is analysed its successors trialed.

Now it's up to Lucy to get as much information as she can from The Cat before his indenture ends. The Cat is an idiosyncratic beast, and, as Lucy soon finds, it has its own agenda.

I liked The Cat... and young Lucy. There was an Easter egg hidden in the text for anyone who might notice. I always hoped someone would mention it to me, but no one ever did. I did use the book once again in a much more recent story; The Peacock's Pearl (post 41), in which narrator Cat Mahal remembers a book from her childhood, given to her because her name is in the title.

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Rockfall

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

Rockfall (Post 114)

Rockfall (1999), was written in response to a prompt from a publisher. The brief, as far as I can remember eighteen years after the fact, was to write a fictionalised version of events that occurred when a well-known landmark collapsed into the sea. I'm pretty sure it was in Victoria, but not one of the apostles. I did some research, and found original reports of the incident, but none of the ones I discovered said anything about the people who were tapped on the formation. I don't think it said whether they were adults or children or a mix. I consulted with the publisher and rather than invent people for the adventure and have a potential problem if someone who knew the facts happened upon the book, we decided to invent a rock formation and simply base the events on the real incident.
Thus Skate Rock came into being. The narrator, Angie, who is twelve or so and her previously unknown younger cousin Llewellyn spend a holiday with their mothers, who are taking a trip down memory lane to the place they stayed in childhood. The kids each wanted a different kind of holiday, but once Angie has laid down the law about being seen with Llew in public, she discovers her "gifted" cousin is reasonable company. Angie details the events that lead to their stranding, occasionally breaking the fourth wall by writing a highly embroidered account and then retracting it to say what really happened.
While stranded, Llew admits to being afraid, but his fear is not of the cold, wet night or of the rest of the rock collapsing; it is a more insidious fear of realisation. As he says, and Angie agrees, they have not been careless. They have obeyed all the signs and not taken any risks and yet... here they are.
As Angie says, after the rescue. Sometimes accidents just happen.


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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Beyond the Black Stump

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

Beyond the Black Stump (Post 113)

Beyond the Black Stump (2002), begins when Michael, at a boarding school, is offered the chance of a lift back to his home out of Brisbane with his friend Ben Smiley and Ben's big brother who is transporting an EH Holden. All is well until they pull in for petrol at an outback town and discover the radiator is leaking and the car is burning oil. The attendant say the mechanic will be back in a couple of days. Unable to travel on, the boys organise a place to stay.

The food is good, but Ben and his brother are much faster eaters than Michael so they go to their room while Michael finishes his meal. An old cove comes over to talk to him, and suggests he should visit the Black Stump while he's in Coley.

To kill time, Ben and Michael ask for directions the next day and go to visit the landmark. It's not very impressive, and they are about to go back when they hear voices. They track them down and found four men in 19th Century clothing planning a robbery. The boys report it, but are told it's a rehearsal for a play; part of an upcoming festival. 

Back at home, Michael gets his parents to take him back to Coley to the festival... but that's not the end of the mystery. 

Beyond the Black Stump, written under my Nicholas Flynn pen name, is another story making use of iconic Australian themes and ideas. 


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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Hugo's Reward


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

Hugo's Reward (Post 112)

Hugo's Reward (2002), opens with eleven-year-old Davy Towers being interviewed for the local newspaper. Davy introduces the reporter, Peter, to his placid cow Daff, whom he has trained himself. Peter asks if Davy is going to the upcoming junior show handlers' workshop. Davy has never taken Daff to a show, and thinks it might be fun. Why not learn to prepare her for a public appearance?

The registration form goes off but then the blow falls... Davy learns he can't take Daff with him. The young handlers are to work with untrained yearlings. 

As the youngest by far of the course, Davy has his problems, especially since the calf he's given to train turns out to be flighty, too clever and a bit of a clown. Poor Davy loses points at every turn and the grand parade at the end of the weekend finds Reward well behind the other calves in his training. And yet, although someone else wins the prize, there's a Special Effort Award for Davy; recognition of the difficulty of his task and his good humour during his trials.

Hugo's Reward has something to teach about cattle handling, about winners, losers and failures that are not someone's fault. It acknowledges that even if something looks like an equal playing field it isn't necessarily so, and that all the effort in the world can't make you a winner if you lack the basic material that others have been given. The calf Davy drew to train was a matter of luck, but the time wasn't wasted. The fact that some people have to work twice as hard for half the success would be a lesson Davy, and by extension young readers, might do well to remember.

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Cat and the King

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

The Cat and the King (Post 111)

The Cat and the King (1988), has forty words. What? Forty words still makes it a book! It has characters, (the cat and the king), a setting (the king's throne room), a plot (growing friendship) and a theme (friends are equal) and a teaching point (language modelling and showcasing of a well-known maxim.

The cat may look at a king... from all sorts of aspects, and as you see, the looking is perfectly welcome.

The Cat and the King is probably still my shortest published 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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Swag-Dog

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

Swag-Dog (Post 110)

Swag-Dog (2002), opens with Will, a thirteen-year-old swagman, stepping out with his suspiciously new boots, hat and bluey. With him is Tobor, his faithful dog. Will faces hardship and adventures, falling in a ditch, finding a gold nugget, rescuing Irish Pete from a goldfield's riot, making friends with the squatter's daughter and her huge horse, Tiptoes, and helping a trapped dog. In other words, Will the swagboy encounters a great many iconic characters and situations of the Outback. All is not as it seems, as you probably picked up from the name of the swag-dog.

Swag-Dog, another one done under the pen name Patrick Farrell, was written from research arising from two previous projects; a play which morphed into a book but which was never published (I can't recall the name, though I do recall some incidents and characters) and a book that did make it to publication; Pride: Bridgeover-Sundown. That one will be profiled for ANZAC Day. The general themes of the longer stories are The Outback as Character and the strength of belief. This one, though, is more about icons, with the denouement hiding in plain sight.  

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, post a comment and I'll get back to you.