Friday, 20 October 2017

A Special Day

A Special Day(2006) Post 294


A Special Day  is another story that took a great deal of research. I was tasked with writing a story about a child playing in a mariachi band. For a start, I didn't know what a mariachi band was, and when I did my research and found out, I discovered children DON'T normally play in them. Okay. so it's a story and I made it up. Jobs like this one are challenges, and I always emerge having learned something or other. In this case, I found out a mariachi band is a Mexican band with trumpets and guitars. It's a long time since I saw a copy and I really remember little about it. I looked up an online blurb and it says, enigmatically, A boy plays his trumpet with a mariachi band on a festival day. Learn about the part music plays in his culture.
Hmm. This is a late reading scheme title and reminds me of how enormously reading scheme stories changed after the late 1990s.

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, 19 October 2017

Wattle We Do?

Wattle We Do?(2003) Post 293


Wattle We Do?  is another of my stories with a question mark in the title. I wrote this one under my Joseph Corella pen-name, and it was illustrated by the same person who did my trade picture book Dragon Mode. I love the design of this series, and only wish the books had been more widely distributed. The interior, as you see from Picture 2, is beautifully embellished.
My main memory of this story, aside from the pictures, is having to find out exactly what Wattle Day entailed before I could write a story about it! It's about a group of children who want to celebrate this festival and have to work out how...

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, 18 October 2017

The Day the Cows Slept In

The Day the Cows Slept In (1979) Post 292


The Day the Cows Slept In  was (I think!) my third published book, though how "published" it was I've never been able to work out. My memory of exactly what happened is pretty vague after all this time (38 years have passed, after all!) but my impressions are as follows.
After "Her Kingdom for a Pony" (1978, and my first published book) was accepted, I set to work to write a sequel. "Kingdom" was made up of linked short stories, set in and around the town of Springford. There were several repeating characters, and the stories took place over the range of about two years. In "Cows", (which I considered called "Till the Cows Come Home"), these characters and others are extended for a further two years. Hereby lay the problem. My editor at the original publisher's felt that readers of the first book would not be interested in reading about older characters, even if they had already met them younger; i.e. Susan at 15 probably wouldn't be of interest to someone who'd read about her at 11-13. The characters had got into teen years and yet the stories weren't "teen". This left the book orphaned, because selling a sequel to a different publisher is always difficult. For one thing, any publisher one approaches will know it was rejected by Publisher 1. 
Around that time, a local printer decided to put out a subscription book service. I believe this was a very early form of POD. He put out a magazine which went to households around Tasmania with "tasters" of various things. He was willing to put in a story from my ms. The problem was, all the stories were too long, so I wrote a new one especially. The books (at least some) were printed, and the magazine went out and I waited with interest to see what might happen.
You know how many orders came in for my book? 
None.
That's it-- none. 
I had my author copies, but as far as I knew not a single book was sold through subscription. The idea was quietly dropped.
However, that darned book kept on turning up for YEARS in garage sales, remainder sales and even as far away as New Zealand. I don't know how that happened and I'm reasonably sure no one made any money out of it. (I sure didn't.) I assume the publisher "dumped" the print run, which can't have been big, somewhere and it leaked out from there.
I just checked the net and yes, there is at least one copy for sale out there ($14...).

Here is the author's note from the book, listing the 13 stories though not the several poems also included. 



Author's note: People often wonder, when they read a book by a local writer, how much of the story is true and how much is pure invention. The answer, in the case of ‘The Day the Cows Slept In,’ is that the setting - Springford, is an entirely imaginary town in a very real district - the North West coast of Tasmania. The people are also invented - though I feel that something of myself may have sneaked into Jenny’s character. So never fear - you won’t find yourself or your neighbours or any of your friends (or enemies!) enshrined in the book. All the events are imaginary, and some of them are unlikely, but I feel that no story - except, perhaps, ‘The Ghost’s Field Day,’ is really impossible. As for Honey and her companions, and old Jim - maybe animals don’t really think like this. But they certainly behave as if they do!  Contents: The Ghost’s Field Day; The Nanny; Thanks to Julie; Dog in the Manger; Thomas’s Place; Honey’s Flood; The Day the Cows Slept In; The V.H.C.; Show Story; The Guest; House Cow; Bloat!; Springford Centenary.

The Ghost’s Field Day was the extra story I wrote to go in the magazine, so it is shorter than the others.
By the way, I obviously didn't learn, because I wrote a novel about some of the characters and called it "These Guests of Summer". No one wanted that either. This is the sort of thing that can depress young authors so much that they stop. I - um - didn't. Nearly forty years on I'm still in the writing game.


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, 17 October 2017

A Boy's Best Friend?

A Boy's Best Friend? (2000) Post 291


A Boy's Best Friend? is a short science fiction novel for readers of ten or so. It's what I call a "bonsai novel" in that it has a fully-developed plot and characters, and doesn't present as something to "teach reading". It's a rare theme for me, in that the protagonist's trust in a friend is badly misplaced and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. 

Sim befriends a stray dog, a grey mix he names Larry. Larry is trouble. He's a great escape artist and an all round pain, but Sim is devoted to him. One day, Larry escapes and in pursuing him, Sim finds himself late for school and faced with the dilemma of either entering a building site when he knows he shouldn't, or leaving Larry to possibly be hurt or to cause an accident or both. He chooses to find his dog and, hearing him barking from down a hole, he attempts to rescue him. 
Bad mistake. He winds up in the future, about to be sold as a slave. A girl, Mel, who has been in slavery for a while, brings him up to speed. Sim is still worried about Larry, and is pleased when he turns up unharmed, but Mel bursts his bubble. Larry, or Merlin as she knows him, is part of the slavers' gang, a dog who acts to befriend children and then lure them through building site time chutes. Seeing a crack in the chain to which they are both shackled, Sim and Mel arrange to run, but though Sim escapes, Mel can't- she is lame. Sim sees Larry setting off on a new luring job and chases him, capturing him as he surfaces in our time. He resolves to put a stop to Larry/Merlin's career and to rescue Mel.
The title is a take on the "man's best friend" saying, and one of a handful of my books with punctuation in the title. And yes, it takes a swipe at the notion that animals are always innocent. (Savage Garden... I'm looking at YOU.)

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, 16 October 2017

Shoo, Spider

Shoo, Spider (2001) Post 290


Shoo Spider 
Shoo, Spider is a short easy-read story about Patrick, a nice child who tries to relocate a spider from the family car. Patrick first spots the spider on the steering wheel. Deciding Mum won't like that, he brushes it away... onto the seat. A further effort sends it under the seat, so Patrick enlists Dad's help. Dad agrees Mum won't want a spider in the car, but he can't spot it... until Patrick sees it on the roof. Next step--the top of Dad's head.
Patrick enlists Mum, who relocates the spider outside where it climbs a tree. This kind of scenario is probably familiar to many people, because spiders do have a habit of hiding in cars. With luck, children will learn that huntsmen, while large and hairy, are fairly inoffensive, and will put them carefully outside instead of reaching for the bug spray.

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, 15 October 2017

Dangerous Ride

Dangerous Ride (1989) Post 289


Dangerous Ride is one of three longer novelisations I did

in the 1980s-90s. (The other two were Skippy and the Bird Smugglers and The Adventures of Blinky Bill. This is a story excerpted from some episodes of Home and Away. I was contracted to do the job, and given a fortnight to do it. I also had a word-count to handle... I think it was 40,000 words. In those days, I could quite easily write that fast, so I agreed happily enough. Then the scripts arrived. Not A script, but a PILE of them. I had to follow the plot thread through these scripts and pull out the story. Okay. Problem one. I had never seen Home and Away. It wasn't shown in Tasmania at that time, and videos of existing programs weren't really about either. This fact meant I kept needing to know who various people were and how they related to one another. Problem two. One of the scripts was missing, so I had to create a major pivotal scene from imagination. Needless to say, I got it wrong, as I had no idea what had happened or what the character looked like.  I have a feeling the final script was couriered to me the day I was meant to hand in the novelisation. Okay, I rewrote the scene. I probably sent it by overnight courier... anyway, I did the job and got paid, and eventually, some time later, I did see some episodes of Home and Away and finally knew who these people were. It was an interesting job and (I think) my first novelisation job. I used the pen name Sally Darroll because the characters and plot weren't mine. 

Should you be interested in Home and Away novelisations, including mine, check out http://www.backtothebay.net/merchandise/books.shtml

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, 14 October 2017

Skippy and the Bird Smugglers

Skippy and the Bird Smugglers (1992) Post 288


Skippy and the Bird Smugglers is one of three longer novelisations I did in the 1990s. (The other two were Dangerous Ride and The Adventures of Blinky Bill. This particular version of Skippy was neither the Yoram Gross version (for which I also did some work) or the original 1960s version I watched as a child, but a sequel called The Adventures of Skippy made in 1992. In this version, Sonny, the child from the '60s series, is an adult, and his children are Skippy's friends. 

I think I wrote this story from a script rather than a video, and the major problem I recall was having a word count and finding insufficient material in the short episode to fill it. I solved that by using quite a bit of description, so whenever Skippy went somewhere, I made sure she took the scenic route...

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, 13 October 2017

Shakedown

Shakedown (1999) Post 287


Shakedown is a science fiction YA novel published back in the earlier days of e-books. I'm pretty sure it was originally available as a hard floppy disc, and then later maybe as a CD. I don't think it's
available any more. I do remember being EXCEEDINGLY annoyed when someone reviewed it and gave away the plot twist. Anyhow. Shakedown is the story of Sam Cool, who tries to sell a book called Joe Cool's Adventures but who finds it impossible. Sam is annoyed, on account of believing in that book. Okay then... why not fake a survival adventure? Sam goes to a lot of trouble to go missing, and writes two separate accounts of the whole affair; one a heartstring-tugging tale of loneliness and a refusal to give up, and the other, the tale of what really happened. Part of Sam's annoyance is
having a brother who can't put a foot wrong.
I thought at the time that Sam's scheme was pretty clever, and might even work. The mainline story was set in our (then) future, possibly in 2010, but more likely in 2017, and included a slipperboard (a kind of collapsible surfboard), changehue cloth and a plot-important change in the pronoun structure. The bracket story was set a century or so in Sam's future, and has a collateral descendant finally unsealing the records of a time capsule to reveal the true story of Sam Cool. Sam, you see, badly needed to boast, but couldn't risk it in the present, so lodged the tale with posterity...  


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, 12 October 2017

Sleepless in Space

Sleepless in Space(2002) Post 286


Sleepless in Space is a science fiction  story for young readers. Jed Star's grandfather is famous as the inventor of starspinner drive, a new starship drive that has reduced interstellar travel time to 1%. In his starship Starbringer, he's conduction colonists to the new world of Serendipity. Jed is travelling with him, and he's afraid... not of the journey, but of boredom. Jed has insomnia and the thought of lying awake for months while everyone else sleeps in hypnobeds horrifies him.
Grandad says it's all in his mind, but sure enough, one month into the journey Jed wakes for the second time. This time, however, his wakefulness proves a positive thing, because three Freespacers intend to hijack the Starbringer. Can one ten-year-old boy foil three space pirates?
Well, obviously... all because he's sleepless in space.
I've always loved the cover of this one. The colours are so rich... it reminds me of a crayon or oil painting.

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, 11 October 2017

Mrs Honey's List

Mrs Honey's List (1994) Post 285


Mrs Honey's List
Mrs Honey's List is a short easy-read story. Mrs Honey's class is getting ready for the school fete. Each child nominates a recipe she or he will make for the fete, adding "it's my favourite". Mrs Honey's list is nicely diversified, but the next morning, fete day, sees each child having made something else because of lack of an ingredient. Mrs Honey continually updates the list... but eventually all the items are as/was in the list, though made be a different child. At the fete, each child buys his or her favourite thing. Mrs Honey reacts by tearing up the list.

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.