Publication Day and Kindness

Pigs in the news!
Abigay’s Farm. Designing the cover.

Good morning!  Today, 27th October 2021  is a big day for my book Abigay’s Farm by Odette Elliott.  It is Publication Day!


I began writing the story at least four years ago, but had been thinking of it long before then.  The inspiration was our cousins who ran an Open Farm in Herefordshire for twenty five years. We used to visit and rejoiced in seeing the children’s expressions of delight as they moved around the farm, seeing the animals and even getting a chance to feed some of them. Some of them were city children from Birmingham. It was usually the first time they had seen farm animals and could even touch them.


   The first visitors walking to Shortwood Open Farm over twenty five years ago.

   Eagerly gathering food to feed the pigs.

Recently I wrote a short article on “Kindness” for our church magazine.  “Kindness” seems to be an IN thing nowadays.  This is probably because too much unkindness is going on via social media.  There is an advertisement on the underground about Being Kind and I think there have been programmes on television about kindness.  Maybe it is strange that people are being encouraged to be kind.  Doesn’t it come naturally?  Certainly I have experienced so much kindness and in the Acknowledgements page of the book, I name the many wonderfully kind people who have helped this book along its journey to TODAY!

Abigay’s Farm is my first children’s novel.  I have written several picture books and a collection of short stories. Picture books can take ages to write and critique sessions are most helpful.  However, since Abigay’s Farm is my first novel, I had even more to learn.  I attended Writing for Children classes at the City Literary Institute in Holborn, London.  I attended our long-standing critique group in Islington (Islington writers for Children).

I remember one moment at the Islington group.  I had just completed writing the whole story (or so I thought. . .).  I chose to read Chapter One to the group.  Was I expecting them to say “Brilliant! Now send it off to agents, and publishers?  Maybe.  However, one by one, members of the group said what they thought “does not work”.

I am used to having my work critiqued.  On this occasion, I actually saw what people meant and sort of agreed with them, but even then, I felt a bit deflated as we prepared to take a mid-session tea break.  The kindness of one of the group kept me going.  She said “Odette. If you’re going to re-write that chapter, I’d be happy to read it. You can email it to me if you’d like”.  And that kindness, that simple offer kept me going.  Her verdict on the re-written chapter was that “It positively zings.  Keep going!”

The next act of kindness lasted nearly eighteen months! John, another member of the Islington group, offered to help me edit the whole script if I would like that idea.  I DID like it.  What followed was a great collaboration between us.  I think that at first, he was not sure how much I could “take” but we developed a great working relationship.  He is very kind and has great writing and critiquing skills.  He even improved the plot in two places.  What kept me going was that he always said he loves the story and believed in it – (even when thirty four agents turned me down.)

I have just paused for a moment in writing this and I realise that the long journey of Abigay’s Farm to reach this publication day owes so much to kindness from a host of people.  They are not all mentioned by name in the Acknowledgements but I believe I have thanked them all personally. I hope so. Their kindness is much appreciated.

** The book is available from any bookshop.  ISBN 978-1-80042-133-2. paperback. Or 978-180042-188-2 (ebook) Or,, via this website


Odette Elliott
Odette Elliott
I love writing stories for children. I have had six books published and am working on others.

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