Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Monsters

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

The Monsters (2001) Post 173

The Monsters is the story of the First Fleet's arrival in Botany Bay as recounted by an old kangaroo. As he rests on his tail in the sun, he recalls his young days, when he was not long from the pouch. His mother taught him to listen to the Old Man, his father, and together they told him the things a joey needs to know to survive. Watch out for the fast ones, the two-legs, the wild one and the bitter water... The old man didn't warn the joey about the monsters that came on the great white wings. Soon there was nothing left to do but to move far away from the new danger. Now the storyteller is old, and he wonders if the monsters are still at the cove.
This little story was an exercise in telling a story from an unexpected angle. All things are relative, and for every settler despairing of losing food to the local wildlife, there's an equally discombobulated kangaroo whose life has been upset.


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, 21 June 2017

Plants

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

Plants (1997) Post 172

Plants is one of a set of non fiction titles for young readers, illustrated with photographs. The text goes through a definition, then moves to trees, mosses, ferns, cacti, grasses, fungi, clover and wild flowers. Twenty years after writing this book, I can't remember why I included clover, since it doesn't seem to go with the rest. I also can't remember why I didn't include eatable plants such as vegetables. Maybe the brief was for a particular set of plants and indeed, it's probable there was another one in the series that did cover vegetables, and another for flowers.


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, 20 June 2017

Lucas is a Pest

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

Lucas is a Pest (2001) Post 171

Lucas is a Pest is written under my Theo Georgiou pen name. It's told in emails, and is an updated version of the old told-in-penfriend-letters story. Eliza, from Canberra, is e-pals with Maggie from Denver in the US. Eliza tells of her family (especially her little brother Lucas, who is a pest), a visit to the War Memorial, and going to Anzac Day service. Maggie, who thinks it would be neat to have a little brother, responds with information about her pop's Maine Coon, Hiram, and the Fourth of July. Finally, each girl independently concludes the other is a thicko-dingbat because everyone knows what Anzac Day and the Fourth of July represent, and everyone knows how much fun/what a pain it is to have a little brother.
The technology in this one hasn't dated too badly, as I expect some kids still have e-pals. Eliza's visit to the War Memorial is based on one I made myself. I still remember how amazed I was to find that their memorial is a huge museum complex. Ours is a statue. The stuffed horse, cockatoo and not-really-stuffed rider, the four pictures (or is it one?) and the ease of losing oneself all reflect my experience. The puzzlement that people over the pond have no idea about our Anzac Day whereas we know about their Fourth of July also reflects my experience at the time. Hiram the cat reflects my interest in cats... I always loved the idea of a Maine Coon!

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, 19 June 2017

The Lonely Dragon

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

The Lonely Dragon (1997) Post 170

The Lonely Dragon is the story of a dragon who is, well, lonely! Most are afraid of him, and there are no others of his kind around. Wanting company, the dragon decides to visit the only other being he can think of who might be as lonely as he is; the king! As he approaches, asking to see the king, the gardeners, the guards and the household staff all flee. When he arrives in the throne room, the king receives him kindly, but regrets he has all the help he needs. To prove it, he calls his guards, gardeners and household staff but no one comes. The dragon happily takes on the role of defender (using his long sharp tail), gardener (using his dexterous claws) and housemaid (using his long beard as a duster and broom). The picture even shows him toasting the king's marshmallows!
I've always loved the pictures of this one; a kind a soft, rich pastel.

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, 18 June 2017

Sandstorm in a Sleeping Bag

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

Sandstorm in a Sleeping Bag (2001) Post 169

Sandstorm in a Sleeping Bag came into being after I worked as writer in residence at a school camp at the very venue in this story. Roscoe, the hero, is a boy from the Atherton Tablelands, and he finds the sea altogether suspicious. From school camp, a place he is not especially thrilled to be in, he writes some creative but misleading accounts to his parents, using the teachers' laptop. The fact that multiple teachers use the same laptop shows the story's age. After each dramatic account is a chapter telling the reader what really happened.
When Roscoe's parents come to collect him, his father tells one of the teachers, Mr Felix, that they must have had a hair-raising time. To prove it, he shows off Roscoe's accounts. He further suggests that he hopes Mr Felix doesn't take anything Roscoe might write about his life on the Tablelands as gospel truth.
This story, like Visiting Day, (post 92) plays with aspects of truth.

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, 17 June 2017

Nightlands

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

Nightlands (2001) Post 168

Nightlands is the story of a kidnapping. Or is it an alien abduction? The narrator, whose name is never given, goes to his cousin Simmo's place while his mum and dad are at a reunion. Simmo has a new CD by the group Diamond Drill (hey... it's 2001!) and wants to take it along to his friend Marty's party. Aunt Didi is reluctant, and so is the narrator, but Simmo prevails and Aunt Didi says the boys must wait at Marty's place until she collects them at ten.

The party is loud and messy, and comes to an abrupt halt when Marty's mum turns up and throws everyone out. She does make Simmo call Did to collect them early, but Simmo speaks to the answering machine.

The boys set off walking, Simmo realises he's left his CD behind and they turn back to get it. A light looms up and next thing the narrator knows, he's being dragged away, blindfolded and gassed. Later, he wanders the place he calls the nightlands, seeking a way home. He keeps hearing his dog Mixer barking, and his parents and great-grandfather calling.

Finally, he learns the truth about what really happened, and the significance of the single light and the narrator's black clothing become clear.

This odd story is credited to Patrick Farrell, a pen name based on my second name and maiden name. Oh, and I still think Diamond Drill is a fine name for a punk rock band!

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, 16 June 2017

A Wild Welcome

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

A Wild Welcome (2001) Post 167

A Wild Welcome is a historical story about Fleur Hastings, who sails on the ship Kingdom from England with her French mama, English papa, two little brothers and an Irish nursemaid. Kingdom is a privately owned ship, and Fleur's father is the captain. After a short stay in Sydney Town, Captain Hastings heads south to Van Diemens Land, very much to his wife's displeasure. A storm blows up, Mrs Hastings is knocked unconscious and the captain needs some straight talking from his daughter before he stops blaming himself and gets to practical work.

Kingdom runs aground but not all is lost; everyone, including Fleur's kitten, survives the wreck. It seems they have a new home on King Island.

Fleur's family is fictional, but there were private immigrant ships, King Island is the site of a great many wrecks, and there was indeed one incident in which everyone waded to safety, including the ship's cat.

My pen name on this one was Edward E.B. Cracker. Edward seems to have a penchant for sea stories.

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, 15 June 2017

Terrible Twinge

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Terrible Twinge (2000) Post 166

Terrible Twinge is the story of Ceridwen and Rhys Morgan, twins of around eleven, who have always been quarrelsome to the point where they are the subject of regular discussion by their parents and the teachers at their school. Ceri has reached a point where she is actually tired of the sniping and one up-man-ship. Their rivalry in sports has reached a point where Rhys is now pulling ahead simply by virtue of being male and having bigger muscles, and his gloating is so annoying Ceri wants to disengage. She realises she has come to dislike him and fantasises about being an only child. When she school receives funds for a six week extension program, offering Drama and Outdoor Education, both twins incline towards Out-Ed but Ceri deliberately picks Drama simply to avoid being with Rhys. The principal, needing to fulfil gender-balance requirements, shuffles several Drama-inclined girls into Out-Ed. This lands the Terrible Twinge as the Morgans are known back in the same activity, so the principal puts Rhys into Drama.

Ceri flourishes on the rope courses but Rhys, having failed to bargain, whinge and protest his way out of Drama, decides to make himself so annoying he'll be tossed out. This fails, when the principal, awake to his ruse, says he won't be tossed out, but coached every lunch time until the deliberate failure ends. Annoyed, Rhys is forced to comply but finds to his alarm that he has been stuffing up so long he now can't do well even when he tries...

Ceri, finding him moping after being mocked at school, feels reluctantly that just as she's been encouraging Trish, a natural wimp, out on the rope course, now she must, for the sake of her family pride, encourage her terrible twinge. The teachers are astonished to find Ceri has joined her brother voluntarily in detention and is actually hearing his lines.

This story has an interesting aftermath. Not long after it was published, I had an email from a man named Rhys Morgan who had a sister named Ceridwen... he was from New Zealand, I think, and was quite tickled to find his name in a book. Obviously, I was being aggressively Welsh at the time I wrote this. (I am fascinated by names and sometimes go a bit OTT just for fun.) This one came out under my Nicholas Flynn pen name.

Speaking of Welshness... many years later, in Long Ago Love Songs, (Post 96,2016), I Welshed out again in the following poem...


      The Swan of Llanlewellyn


Llanlewellyn’s a coal mining place
Where the badge of the locals
 is a smudge to the face
Where the voices peal on a daffodil night
And a leek in a cap is considered just right
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

The valleys and the coal are a grand cliché
And the men all sing
‘cause that’s just their way
Where the daffodils bloom
in a bitter spring
Then a leek on a banner is an obvious thing
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

Now I am as English as my mum’s tea tray
And a buttered Sally Lunn
and a long wet day
So what was I doing
in this leek-ridden place?
 I’m not a miner (and it’s no disgrace)
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

I’d come for a job
that’s not what you expect
It got some odd looks and really no respect
In my old home town so I answered an ad
That called for my talents…
(I must have been mad)
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself



I came to the place of too many ells
(And how to pronounce it I could not tell)
The station master shushed
with a wet sort of lisp
And the cloud on the mountain!
No filmy wisp
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

I hardly understood the address I was told
‘Cause the accent of the valleys
is a sound to behold
Full of LL W and W again
With a Y at the end
that just tangles my brain
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

While I was there
with my disbelieving stance
I happened by a pond;
it was just by chance
And dancing on the grass
was a pirouette swan
With a crown of feathers.
That didn’t belong
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

I sneaked up closer
and I scrooched behind a tree
So the dancing swan couldn’t quite see me
And I gawked at the leaping ethereal bird
Who just didn’t look like a coal miner’s girl
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

She finished in a graceful
drooping sort of way
It meant that the swan was dying
you could say
And I felt silly tears
prick the back of my eyes
And a great big sniffle
caught my nose by surprise
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed

Had I not seen
For myself

The drooping swan
bounced up with a squawk
An unavian Oh made me cringe and baulk
I really didn’t wish to show
my guilt-full face
I wanted to sink
out of sight without a trace
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

But we don’t always get the exits we intend
So I squared my shoulders
and courage did pretend
[1]Pwy wyt ti?” asked the white-clad swan
And she stared at me 
with expression un-fond
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

“I don’t understand,” I said to the swan
And I gestured to her feathers 
and the pond beyond
She lifted up her arms in an elegant curve
And rose to her toes
as I gathered all my nerve
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

I rose to my toes and I strutted and I leapt
In my hiking boots I was not quite so ept
But I soared in the air and landed by her
And offered my arms for the pas de deux
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself

[2]Eich bod yn ddawnsiwr!”
said my swan at the end
[3]Llyn alarch.” But I couldn’t comprehend
I said, “Swan Lake!”
and she answered, “Odette,”
I responded, “Siegfried,” 
and that’s how we met
   Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself
It’s thirty years on and my swan princess
(Whose real name is Gwynneth… 
in case you didn’t guess)
Runs a ballet academy in Llanlew-er
I still can’t pronounce it 
but we’re still a pas de deux
Llanlewellyn is aggressively Welsh
I’d have never believed
Had I not seen
For myself
I’m still as English as my mum’s tea tray
But I’m glad I met my swan
by the pond that day.





[1] Who are you?
[2] You are a dancer
[3] Swan Lake



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, 14 June 2017

Tiger Trail

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

Tiger Trail (2001) Post 165

Tiger Trail is a told-in-journal-entries story about young Cassandra whose dad has brought them to Tasmania on a hunt for the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine. Cassandra details Dad's efforts as a committed Tiger-maniac as they travel in the Tiger Mobile, visiting various sites and possibly helpful people. The story has maps and facts and quite a lot of Cassandra's wryly affectionate opinions of Dad and his fellow Tiger-maniacs. Finally they meet an old timer who tells them the story of how he used to see thylacines when he was a boy. Old Mr Holland's story is true; it was told to me by a WW1 veteran back in 2000 when I was doing a residency at Eliza Purton Home for the Aged. I no longer remember his name, but I remember his stories, and this is just one of them.
The pen name I used on this story is Sara Chen. I don't remember where the Chen came from, but Sara is a version of my real first name.

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, 13 June 2017

The Lion in the Night

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

The Lion in the Night (1997) Post 164

The Lion in the Night is the story of Emma who goes to stay with Grandpa, who knows everything. At the zoo, Grandpa can answer Emma's questions. Emma is proud of her educated ancestor. That night, Emma thinks of the polar bear and the lion and suddenly-she hears the lion roaring in the night. It must have followed her home!

Grandpa, when appealed to, can't hear the lion and now neither can Emma. Emma goes back to bed. The lion roars again. Grandpa helps Emma check the house and garden, but the lion is elusive.
The next time Emma hears the lion she realises the sound is coming from Grandpa's room.
A pair of earmuffs solves that little problem.
One thing I remember about this story is that it was about a boy named Toby, but an editor changed Toby into Emma. This kind of thing quite often used to happen in publishing. The weirdest occasion concerned Bob's Gone, which was published as Bobbi's Gone (2002 - Post 12).

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, 12 June 2017

The Hoop Snake

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The Hoop Snake (2001) Post 163

The Hoop Snake is the story of Charles, a newly-arrived "pommy new chum" and Aussie Greg, who entertains himself by winding Charles up with tall tales of school and the mythical hoop snake. Charles gets his revenge, but regrets it and puts things right.

The story is set in the 1950s, which is just beyond my memory. Although I can't remember the '50s, I remember the aftermath. Our desks at school had holes for the inkwells used just a few years previously, people still talked about pommies, new chums, New Australians, since the war, and going home. I never did write with a pen nib, but a few of them lingered at home in drawers along with hair ribbons, odd buttons and fuse wire. As for the hoop snake, old timers still used that as a leg-pull. It was a time of the wireless, hard school shoes, Orlon cardigans and petticoats. So, although I cannot remember the 1950s, I remember its reflection...

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.