Empty Nests

Empty nest syndrome is when your children grow up and leave home, leaving their parents alone in the family nest. I believe writers have the same emotions when they come to the end of a character. At the moment, the last in the Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers is at the editor. I feel as though she has gone away to university and will return to make a few appearances with her bags of dirty laundry in the holidays before that’s it forever. She’ll be back in the new year for me to finish off the formatting and implement any changes the editor suggests, then she’ll be published.

So, how can I deal with my “empty nest”? Well, Autumn Pugh is already being developed but I still can’t let go of Sabrina and her friends. And so, welcome Sabrina’s little sister! When I spoke to a group of Gifted & Talented students in Lincoln, NZ a few weeks ago, one child asked for stories for younger readers. I took her request seriously, and Sally Summers is on her way!

She’ll be starring in her own short story soon, but who knows – she might have her own books too.

Oh yes, one more thing – Merry Christmas!

A Writer’s Companion

I am well underway with writing Sabrina Summers’ Second Saga, and having great fun plotting things to do to the Beast and to Witchy Wu. I am being kept company by Cleo, who has taken over the best chair in my study, and Twinkle, who has made a nest from the brown paper that wrapped up a delivery of the dyslexia-friendly version that arrived yesterday.

I recently wrote a short story for the New Zealand Society of Author’s Canterbury branch’s upcoming anthology on Cats. It was a diary of a typical day in the life of a writer who is kept company by her cats (I didn’t have to stretch too far to think of a subject matter!) But it started me thinking about how perfect cats are as companions for writers. They are someone to talk to (because I think it is slightly less crazy to discuss plot points with a cat than to talk to thin air, don’t you?); they add interest even if it is sitting in tiny boxes or standing next to a closed door and then walking away when you open it; and they love and appreciate you. Cleo and Twinkle were rescue cats, and as I say in the print versions of  “The Uncooperative Glass Slipper”, animal rescue centres are desperate for kind and loving homes for their charges, and I am sure that my two cats are happy to be with their forever family. And, because my cats are on an expensive diet food from the vets, they keep me working hard at my writing to pay for their needs!

Review from Bob Docherty

I was proud to be reviewed by Bob Docherty, who used to work for the New Zealand Library Service. He now visits schools and libraries and advises them about books their children would like to read. Check it out below.

Bobs Books Blog

Childrens and Young Adult Book Reviews by Bob Docherty

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie

May 15, 2015bobsbooksnzComments off

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie. https://www.mcmauthor.com 2015.

This clever, witty, imaginative novel is a self published work and is Saga 1 from a series titled The Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers.

The father of Sabrina and Rory marries Bridget Bishop, a woman he met on the Internet, on a Friday 13th June. While they like her they think she is up to something strange and so they follow her one day with Sabrina’s friend Persis. By some magical spell they are transported into the magic land of Dralfynia (an anagram of Fairyland) along with Clyde, a horse and Olive a rich girl who is Sabrina’s enemy at school (she was barfing over the fence at the time)

In Dralfynia Sabrina resembles Rapunzel, Rory Ali Baba, Persis, Red Riding Hood, Olive, Cinderella and Clyde a unicorn. Interesting you say? It’s all part of the cleverness of this tale.

Dralfynia is a magic land in turmoil as the King and Queen have stood down to live ordinary lives and their son, The Beast with 9 Fingers has taken over in cahoots with goblins and Witchy Wu a nasty witch who lives in a gingerbread house. The true leader is the princess who has disappeared for 14 years. I can tell you no more you will have to read it to find out and you will not be disappointed.

Very well written in concise language and divided into 63 chapters of 2/3 pages each. You can pick it up and read for ten minutes then come back but you won’t it is too exciting for that.

Believable fantasy and behind it all is a sharp sense of humour that even adults will appreciate.

A book that demands to be read aloud to children from 8 – 13 years old.

Categories: Intermediate Fiction, Junior Fiction Tags: Friendship, Imagination, Magic

Planning the Second Saga

While I am waiting for the first Saga to come back from the wonderful editor Sarah Nisbet (http://www.inkshededitorial.com/) I have started plotting the middle saga of the Dralfynia trilogy. At the moment, I am at the “what would happen if …” or “what would this character do if …” stage, which is very exciting. I am also choosing the traditional fairytale characters that the team of Sabrina, Olive, Persis and Rory become on their return to Dralfynia, and hope I am thinking ‘outside the square’ with some of my ideas. No spoiler alerts, though, because it’s all at the preliminary stages.  This trilogy has made me reflect on how popular the traditional stories are again. TV shows such as Grimm and Once Upon A Time, movies such as the upcoming Cinderella as well as old favourites such as  Enchanted (one of my personal favourites because my stepdaughter loved it when she was six years old and so I’ve watched it dozens of times) and Ella Enchanted, and newer movies like Into The Woods, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Mirror, Mirror are evidence that we still love a wicked witch, stories with magic, and good overcoming evil. There are plenty of twists on these stories which date back hundreds of years, but the Dralfynia Sagas are, I believe, the first trilogy where people from the modern world have to understand what it’s like to cope with being a fairytale character.  Some amazing actors have played the wicked witch and I wonder who would be a great choice for Witchy Wu!

 

What’s in a name?

I recently had a question on my amazon author page, which I thought I would share. I was asked about the inspiration for my character’s names, and I know that many writers also struggle to choose names that really suit their characters. I even downloaded a great app to my iPad Air which gives me the option to roll a pair of dice again and again until I name I like comes up. In the first Dralfynia Saga, I spent a long, long, time picking the right names. For the family name, I knew I wanted something seasonal to fit in with the other two book series that I have under development (my teen girl detective Autumn Pugh, and my mother and daughter detective team, the de Winters Women) – Summers was an easy choice. As for Sabrina herself – well, the Latin name for the River Severn is Sabrina, and that’s the river that flows through Shrewsbury, my hometown. Also it means “from the border” but the reason for that will become clearer as the Sagas progress! The same goes for Rory (which means “the red king” and fits with his red hair). Olive and Persis are named for my late grandmothers, but both are great, strong and unusual names making a come back. Other names honour family members, and the di Kristi royal family celebrates my favourite crime author when I was growing up – Agatha Christie. As for Bridget Bishop? You definitely need to Google her to find out why I chose her name. It might give you a clue about what Melas is an anagram for. And Dralfynia? Another anagram – see what you come up with 🙂