About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

My first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia (Book 1 of The Talismans) is published by Satalyte - it's available from their website as well as from Amazon.com and other online outlets. Book 2, The Cloak of Challiver, is in preparation. I also have a short story, La Belle Dame, in print - see Mythic Resonance below.

The Dagger of Dresnia

Buy The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia, Book 1 of The Talismans Trilogy, is available in paperback and e-book from the publisher, Satalyte Publications - click on the cover to visit their online shop. You can also purchase it from Amazon.com and other online retailers. The paperback can also be found in selected bookstores in Australia.

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

A day for dancers




Yesterday I attended the inaugural Independent Dance Teachers Conference here in Perth. It was organised by my friend and colleague Angela Perry, and it was held at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts where Angela and I studied back in the 1980s! Angie did an amazing job of booking excellent speakers and planning a program that kept a bunch of dance teachers enthralled for a full day. In the evening annual awards were presented but sadly I couldn’t stay as I don’t like travelling home by public transport after dark.

The keynote speaker, Dr Shona Erskine, gave us a glimpse of the psychological tools that can help dancers to reach their full potential. Next came a lovely performance by a couple of dozen happy, fresh-faced students from the Charlesworth Ballet Institute, followed by a presentation by Sydneysider Penny Lancaster from the Australian Dance Institute, explaining the role of the Institute in organising accredited courses in dance education, teaching and management. In conversation later, Penny and I were surprised to realise that we had been fellow students at the Scully-Borovansky School of Ballet in Sydney back in the late 1950s and early 1960s! It’s a small world we dance in.

Then began the more practical sessions. I managed to stay on my feet for about half the Zumba class led by fellow Perthite Yannick Benoit, who teaches dance fitness in nearby Maddington. We were ready for a break after that, and then the ladies of my Theatrical Dance class at Trinity School for Seniors performed their party piece. I was proud of them – most of them have not danced since they were teenagers, and have come on by leaps and bounds in the time I have known them. Not that we do a lot of leaping or bounding – I keep seniors classes a bit low key, with a short ballet barre and centre followed by a dancey section that uses no deep knee bends, no jumps and no pointe work. My dear ladies acquitted themselves well and got some nice claps and cheers as they took their bows.

ZeeshanPasha was the next speaker. He offered an interactive workshop about branding and networking. I was pleased to find that I was putting energy into most of the right channels!

All in all, it was a fruitful and enjoyable day. Angela Perry did an amazing job of the organisational matters, and the speakers and audience were all interesting and likeable. I would love to see an organisation for independent dance teachers, providing more opportunities for professional development. Sometimes independent operators in any field can start to think they are roaming around alone in a huge, darkened room.


Monday, 28 December 2015

Message for blog followers from Google



The following info comes via Michael Goddard, Software Engineer for Google:


In 2011, Google announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. They made an exception for Blogger, to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. However, over time, they’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks Google will be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, Google will remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs.

So if you don't have a Blogger account, now is the time to set one up! It's quite painless, I promise you!


Friday, 11 December 2015

A very busy day



In fact, it's been a very busy week! The weeks that lead up to Christmas are invariably busy for nearly everyone, so I don't expect the busyness to ease up for another fortnight. I've also had an influx of editing work lately. I've had to tell people that I'll try to get onto the work between Christmas and New Year, but let's face it - some might not get tackled until January.


Busy-ness abounds from all directions. Last Sunday, for example, was the annual Open Day at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre (aka KSP) in Greenmount, a suburb that is almost a sleepy country village about a forty-minute drive from my place. Seeing as I don't drive, it's actually a one-and-a--half hour trip by bus-train-train-bus. If I lived closer I would spend more time there, since it is, in a sense, one of the cradles that rocked my writing ability. They have great workshops and talks from local and visiting writers, and several competitions every year that attract entries from all over Australia.


One event for the Open Day was the presentation of prizes for the poetry competition. My good friend Jo Mills was one of those shortlisted for the poetry competition, so early in the morning I girded my loins (I always gird my loins before leaving the house) and headed for the hills. KSP was packed with visitors. There were also interesting talks about the Centre and about Katharine and her family, and plenty of people to catch up with and new acquaintances to make.


The busiest day of the week, however, was yesterday. After an early chiropractic appointment, I hastened into Perth. It’s a bit hard to hasten a journey dependent on a bus arriving on time to meet a train. It didn’t, but thank heaven the next train was only a few minutes away. I arrived at my usual Thursday destination – the Citizens Centre on Perth Railway concourse, where our belly dancing class was gathered for its annual party. It was a happy-sad event, because our teacher of many years standing, Ayesha Watson, is retiring. I had promised to perform, but silly daft me hadn’t brought music. Thanks be to heaven for the resourcefulness of Lissa, our teacher–to-be, who just happened to have a version of the tune I wanted on her phone. I got up there and jigged about for five minutes, and no one actually booed so I guess I must’ve done OK! Anyhow, we all had a great time and went away full of food and champagne.


Then last night, joy oh joy! My dear son Bruce (please note that they are all dear, all four of them, and I have a dear daughter as well) took me to see
Florence-Leroux-Coléno-and-Dancers-of-West-Australian-Ballet-in-Cinderella.-Photo-by-Emma-Fishwick


the WA Ballet performing Cinderella, choreographed to the Prokofiev score by Jayne Smeulders. It was a simply lovely performance, and the score was beautifully executed by the WA Symphony Orchestra. I was deeply touched by Bruce’s generosity because, like all my children, he had to take ballet classes as a child whether he liked it or not, otherwise I would have had to pay for childcare! None of them was especially keen on ballet, and as far as I know, attending performances is not generally among their hobbies. However, all of them except Bruce have artistic interests: the eldest plays guitar and sings; the second also loves music and used to sing with a band; the third is a sound guy and a very competent heavy metal guitarist, and the youngest is also a sound guy – and a dance photographer as well. I am much blessed in my children and grandchildren.


So yesterday was a busy, but very happy-making day. May we all have many more such days this holiday season!



Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Complaints from a dilettante.


I've just been looking, as I often do, at my list of Facebook friends - all 1,177 of them. By anyone's standards, that's a lot of friends.

Why do I have so many 'friends'? It's because I love too many things. I love ballet. I love belly dance.  I love Yoga. I love fantasy. I love history. I love reading, writing, reviewing and editing. I love genealogy. I love music. I love poetry. I love Shakespeare. I love animals. I love environmental and political concerns. (On those and related issues, I'm an armchair activist!)  I love hanging out with friends, solving the world's problems over coffee - and like the rest of Facebook, I love pictures of, and stories about, animals. I reckon there must be more pictures of cats than of humans in the Facebook world. 

Some friends I have only 'met' online, and many I only see at conventions and conferences. Some are old friends from days of yore, many are my relatives. Some I see regularly in meetings, classes and workshops: others I have never met in the flesh and am never likely to do so.

I know that only a very small percentage of my friends will get to read my posts - Facebook only shows each post to a tiny selection of people on our friends lists. I guess they have to keep the octopus that Facebook has become caged somehow! But I can 'drop in' on any of my 1,177 friends and leave a few 'likes' on their timelines. I can do the same on pages devoted to the things I love. I can take side trips to other sites such as Goodreads and that Great Big Firm that sells books, and report back to Facebook if I find a good review or a book I want to read.

Yes, I spend far too much time on Facebook, but why not? It has to be the best means ever devised for keeping people in touch.Whatever did we do before it was invented? Not that Facebook is our only choice: however, I'm sorry, Mr Google, but I've never really taken to Google+, and nor am I very interested in Pinterest and other social media sites. I set up my Facebook status to be tweeted for folks who can cope with thousands of messages an hour, but I seldom actually visit Twitter.

Many thanks to Mr Zuckerberg and his friends for their wonderful invention!
Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Recent reading in fiction



I am a greedy reader, and my eyes are bigger than my stomach. (I will not bore you with laments on the size of said stomach.) I have a TBR pile that would stand taller than me if it were really one pile, but in fact it's several piles, which makes the total count a bit less daunting.

In recent weeks I've vanquished a couple of fantasy novels by favourite authors. Glenda Larke's The Dagger's Path continues the story started in The Lascar's Dagger. It begins with a murder, and thus the tone of the book is set. Yes, there's plenty of violence, but as usual, Larke gives us a tale full of exotic places and intriguing characters, which, as she says in her endnotes, pays tribute to her love affair with South-East Asia. The Dagger's Path ends with hints that book three will bring a whole new variety of magic into play. I'm looking forward to it already!

 

By contrast, Juliet Marillier's Tower of Thorns , the second Blackthorn and Grim novel, is set in an imagined ancient Ireland. Unlike the author's earlier leading characters, the protagonists of this series are mature adults, perhaps in their late twenties or early thirties. Blackthorn is a wise-woman: a travelling healer who has been unjustly imprisoned by the vicious Lord Mathuin of Laois. She and a fellow prisoner, known only as Grim, managed to escape at the start of book one and had a long and adventurous journey home. In Tower of Thorns, they once again set out on a long journey: one fraught with adventures and near disasters. 

Second only to fantasy in my preferred reading are historical novels. Good historical novels: the kind that display the writer's knowledge of the chosen period as well as telling a good story. Of all the people writing in this genre, perhaps my top favourite is Bernard Cornwell. I've recently read his novel called 1356 - a story that pays tribute to the Hundred Years War: the people who lived through it and the people who died because of it. George RR Martin is on record as saying that Cornwell writes 'the best battle scenes of any writer ... past or present'. 


It's impossible to disagree with Mr Martin here, because Cornwell's battles are the go-to pages for any writer wanting to learn how to master the art of mass bloodshed, at least on paper! In the past I have grouched about Cornwell's tendency to 'head-hop' - i.e. to tell us what character A is thinking then in the next paragraph to shift into character B's headspace. Many readers these days dislike this, largely, I think, because of the influence of film, where we tend to stay with the main character for most of the time and only shift to another character if and when there is change of scene. I was pleased to see that in 1356 Cornwell has abandoned this bad habit and given us an even better read as a result.

Right, that's run-down of my recent reading in fiction. I've read a couple of excellent non fiction books, too, which I'll save for next time!


Sunday, 25 October 2015

A little giveaway




With the help of my good friend Robert Denethon, I have created a sampler of scenes from the first two books of The Talismans trilogy. The sampler is free to dowload in mobi, epub and .pdf versions from Dropbox.



Sampler for Kindle readers
 

Sampler for epub readers

Sampler for .pdf readers 



I hope this tempts a few people to buy book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, and, of course, to stamp impatiently while waiting for book two, The Cloak of Challiver, which is due for release early in the new year.

Happy reading, friends!
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