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I am a writer, editor and reviewer based in Perth, Western Australia: my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia (Book 1 of The Talismans) is published by Satalyte and available from their website as well as and other online outlets. As both writer and editor, I specialise in historical and high or epic fantasy. If you have a manuscript in preparation, don't waste money on editing too early. Instead, let me help with a mini-assessment of your work, based on careful reading of your synopsis and first 20 pages. Then, when you've worked on the manuscript in line with our discussions, I will be happy to do a full edit before you send it off into the big wide world. My fees are very reasonable - for more about my editing work, CLICK HERE

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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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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Dagger of Dresnia is launched!

The big event of the recent Swancon (Western Australia's annual state SF convention) was for me the launch of my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia. It's the first book of The Talismans Trilogy, which is about three kings and three talismans.

The main character, Ellyria, is an elvish princess married to an ordinary mortal king and the mother of identical triplets. On the death of the king, the kingdom, which consists of three islands, is to be split in three according to his will. But splitting the kingdom is likely to cause havoc in more ways than one - and Ellyria decides to use magic to keep things on track. As you can imagine, the main theme of the story is 'What kind of things might happen if we do the wrong thing to get a right outcome?'

The answer is Chaos. Big Time. Especially when there's a Dark Spirit involved.

Many fantasy readers are of mature years (like me!) and they will probably enjoy seeing a middle-aged woman centre stage, but The Dagger of Dresnia has plenty of romance, battle scenes, family arguments and youthful misdemeanours to keep it rocking along, so it will appeal to younger readers, too.

You can buy it in either hard copy or as an ebook from Satalyte Publishing or as an ebook from
All my stock sold at the launch, but I should have more soon, so if you live in Perth you can get the book from me to save postage.

See Carol Ryles's amazing cake in the above photo by Lee Battersby? Carol's father was a pastry cook, and she has obviously inherited his talent. Did you ever see anything as gorgeous as that cake? The little cakes, inspired by the poppies on the book's cover, were gluten-free and tasted really yummy, as did the totally indulgent Big Cake! And that lovely Dagger was the finishing touch to a beautiful display.

Three of my beloved mentors, Michèle Drouart, Glenda Larke and Juliet Marillier, kindly agreed to cut the cake. The proceedings were expedited by MC extraordinaire Lee Battersby, who kept things rocking along. Lee was the one who started me off on this trilogy. Read all about it here if you don't know the story. The pic at right shows Juliet, Glenda and Michèle debating cake-attack tactics, watched by cake maker Carol Ryles in the background. (Photo by Lee Battersby)

That's Lee and his lovely wife Lyn on the left. The picture on the right shows me and my keep-fit teacher, Renate, sharing a joke. Renate is also a pretty mean belly dancer. Both pics by courtesy of Cat Sparks.


Below left, Rivka Berger and belly dancing editor-publisher Liz Grzyb. (Pic by Cat Sparks)


On your right, me showing off my handiwork. (Pic by Keira McKenzie)



More friends: on the right, Kylie Ding and Martin Livings, and below left, Stephen Dedman and Alex Isles, and  And below right, an astonished Keira McKenzie takes a pic of the cake! All these pics are by Cat Sparks.

A huge thank you to all the lovely friends who came along to the launch, and apologies for not joining you afterwards - I was busy signing books for quite a while!

Swancon 2014

Well, another Swancon has come and gone. As always, there were excellent speakers and interesting panel topics. 

I was on four panels. The first was the most exciting for me as I was up there on the podium with a trio of well-known authors: Anne Bishop (The Black Jewels Trilogy) Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files series) and Dave Luckett (The Tenebran Trilogy - and writing as LS Lawrence, several YA historicals, including The Eagle of the East and Escape by Sea). We discussed worldbuilding and what pitfalls and problems can trip up the unwary writer. We had an excellent moderator in Doug Burbridge.

Swancon 2014's guests-of-honour: Isobelle Carmody, Sally Beasley, Jim Butcher and Anne Bishop. They are all excellent speakers and Jim Butcher is a very funny guy. He had the audience in stitches most of the time! (Photo: Sandra Chung)

On Saturday, I sat with Stephen Dedman, Sarah McFarlane, Ian Nichols and moderator Andy Hahn on a panel about remakes of Shakespeare. Seeing as there have been over 400 films and TV shows created from Shakespeare's life and works, I concentrated on ballets and operas. There was lively discussion from the floor and we all came away knowing a bit more about the greatest writer in English - and maybe in any other language, too.

Sunday's effort was 'How to Piss off a Publisher' with Andrew Harvey, Dave Luckett and Cat Sparks. As one who supplements her pension by mentoring and critiquing new writers, I had a lot to contribute to this one. The biggie, of course is 'READ THE F-ING GUIDELINES  FOR HEAVEN"S SAKE! and the second biggest is 'DON'T JUST READ THE GUIDELINES - DO AS THEY COMMAND!'

It's amazing how many beginning writers not only don't follow the publisher's guidelines but haven't haven't even bothered to learn basic English grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax. These are the tools of the writer's trade, and without them you'll do about as well as a plumber trying to clear a blocked toilet with a screwdiver. There were some very long faces in the audience by the time we'd explained that it's a buyer's market and less than 1% of submissions to traditional publishers ever see the light of day.

Because of being on that panel I missed Glenda Larke's launch of her new trilogy, The Forsaken Lands. Book one, The Lascar's Dagger, is a great read. I haven't finished it yet but I'm deeply impressed by Glenda's poetic descriptions that subtly set the scene and her pacy narrative that is nonetheless full of juicy prose. How about 'He pushed himself up, blinded, utterly vulnerable, dripping blood and sneezing, blowing out clouds of gold-coloured powder'. I feel really sorry for Saker, while nonetheless laughing my head off as I imagine the scene.

On Monday, my fellow-panellists were Susanne Akerman, Stephen Dedman and Gina Goddard. We discussed what libraries meant to us: how they both informed and catered to our tastes in books and fulfilled our yearning for knowledge. Once again, there were animated contributions from the audience, all of whom, understandably, appeared to be well-read bibliophiles!

But the most exciting part of Swancon for me was the launch of my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, book one of The Talismans Trilogy. It was such a giddy-making event that I'm going to be really self-indulgent and give it its own post!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Interview with Jan Butterworth

A quick note - Kiwi blogger Jan Butterworth has just uploaded a nice interview with me to
Saturday, 12 April 2014

Book Review: Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, #6)Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pan Macmillan Australia, November 2012: ISBN 9781742611624
This is the sixth Sevenwaters book from the pen of prolific author Juliet Marillier. This author has produced fifteen books in all, and every one of them is eminently enjoyable.

For Maeve, daughter of Sean and Aisling of Sevenwaters, going home is a hard journey. Brought up by her aunt and uncle in England, she has not wanted to return to Sevenwaters, the place where, at the age of ten, she lost her beloved dog in a fire and lost the use of her hands in trying to save him.

Now twenty, Maeve has spent her formative years in quiet pursuits. She cannot even feed herself, let alone help with the household tasks. All that keeps her sane, we suspect, is her love of animals and her remarkable ability to calm them.

She is surprised when her Uncle Bran suggests that she might travel to Ireland with a valuable yearling horse that he is sending to her father’s stables. The animal will be a gift for a local chieftain, for Sevenwaters is beset by strife and local leaders need placating. With some trepidation, Maeve agrees, only to find her fears are realised – she cannot settle at Sevenwaters because of the tragic memories it holds for her. What’s more, she finds the reason for the strife – Mac Dara, ruler of the Otherworld, is causing men from surrounding estates to disappear. Most of them have turned up dead, and their families and employers are restive, blaming Maeve’s family for the troubles.

Maeve achieves a measure of equanimity, however, when she finds that her parents have planted a beautiful garden on the site of the fire, a garden containing all her favourite flowers and other plants that are meaningful to her, What’s more, she has a new young brother, Finbar, who at only seven years old already displays signs of being a seer, like his older sister Sibeal. Finbar’s tutor, the druid Luachan, also befriends Maeve. Further, she earns the respect of the household because of her way with animals. When she finds two stray dogs she quickly adopts and trains them, and this act is the start of a great adventure: one in which Maeve and her companions must face Mac Dara himself.

This book is, perhaps, a tad darker than the last one in the series, Seer of Sevenwaters. Marillier has a great gift for building tension, and we are on tenterhooks when confronted by what is surely the most duplicitous villain Marillier has created – worse, even, than Mac Dara himself. We also meet old friends – Ciaran the druid leader is one – and make new ones. Fans of the series will no doubt want little Finbar to have his own story eventually and who knows? Maybe that will come to pass, for even after six books, fans still cry out for more Sevenwaters. The stories have a charm that is usually lacking in long series, the characters draw us back again and again, and the forests and rivers of Sevenwaters continue to beckon us long after the book is closed. And in Flame of Sevenwaters we once again have a lovely cover based on a painting by Waterhouse, this time his delightful work The Soul of the Rose.

Check out for more on this popular author and her work. Be sure to check out the artwork, too!

View all my Goodreads reviews
Friday, 4 April 2014

A gorgeous cover for my book

Over at the Egoboo blog, my friend and colleague Helen Venn has written a post listing links to websites that list ideas for prompting creativity in writers.

I know a lot of writers find prompt-based exercises useful triggers to spark their creativity, but by and large they don't work for me. I just finish up writing the beginning of something that could be a novel but I haven't the faintest idea where it's going, so it just fizzles out when the buzzer goes.

However, the one time a prompting exercise did work, I started the Talismans Trilogy, the first book of which, The Dagger of Dresnia, has just been released by Satalyte Publishing. It's is a classic ‘traditional’ fantasy with a medieval setting, complete with elves, battles, love scenes and the odd dragon! Isn't the cover gorgeous? It was created by the very talented Marieke Ormsby. By the way, you can read the full story of how I came to start The Dagger of Dresnia here. (It's all Lee Battersby's fault!)

Now I am planning a proper launch for my 'baby'. It will be officially launched at Swancon, Western Australia’s annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, on Easter Sunday - 20 April - at the Ibis Styles Hotel, 15 Robinson Avenue, Northbridge. It’s not necessary to be at the convention to go to the launch – you can just turn up in the hotel’s foyer at 1.30 PM. Fittingly, Lee Battersby will be MC, and many other writers from WA and interstate will be there to help me celebrate. There will be cake, and three lovely lady writers to cut it.

For more on The Dagger of Dresnia, click here. And if you want to be among the first to own a copy, you should then go to

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A thousand thanks to my myriad writing friends

The cover will be unveiled soon!

It's only a month now until my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, is released. It's been an exciting frustrating, overwhelming, journey from the day in 2003 when the first idea came to me, and I couldn't have done it without a lot of help. 

More experienced writers helped me in various ways critiquing my work, going the extra mile when teaching classes or workshops, even just making encouraging remarks in person or on my blog. If you have been one of the people who did these things or otherwise helped and encouraged me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The speculative fiction writing world is sustained by one of the most open, friendly and kindly communities I've ever been involved in. 

My publisher recently asked me to send him copy for the Acknowledgments page, and below you will see what I wrote. Many people are included as members of this group or that — to mention them all by name would have produced a book fatter than an encyclopedia volume!

For many years, I thought I knew how to write. I’d had many features and reviews published in national journals; I’d won the odd poetry competition — and of course, I could write a book if only I had a story…

Such vain imaginings! When a story finally came to live with me, I quickly found that getting that story down on paper needed quite different skills from the ones I already had. What was all this stuff about point-of-view, three-act structure, character and story arcs and many other terms I’d never heard before? I had never realised how divergent fiction writing would be from journalism and versification.

I am a slow learner and needed many teachers, and I was lucky that the ones who helped me were among the best. Here, in more-or-less chronological order, are some of the many mentors and colleagues who patiently gave me more assistance than I probably deserved: Julie Banfield, Michèle Drouart, Juliet Marillier, Dave Luckett, Glenda Larke, Karen Miller, Phillip Berrie, Patty Jansen, Ian Nicholls, Stephen Dedman, Fiona Leonard, Tom Edwards, Joanna Fay, Sarah Lee Parker, Carol Ryles, Helen Venn, Robert Denethon and all the lovely members of the Stromatolights writing group, the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre’s SF group, the Online Writers Workshop and the various other groups I've belonged to over the years. A special wave to Lee Battersby, Lynn Flewelling and Fiona McIntosh, who saw the potential in that little scene I wrote at Lee’s instigation while at Swancon 2003. You will get to read it in book two. Who knew that from less than a thousand words, a trilogy would grow?

And not forgetting, of course, my lovely publishers, Stephen and Marieke Ormsby at Satalyte Publishing, who have been generous, diligent and patient in making The Dagger of Dresnia into a real, live book!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Thinking of self-publishing?

There is an excellent 'buyer beware' post up at The Militant Writer, on what to watch out for when looking for self-publishing asssistance. Check it out at

I decided against self-publishing because I am not techie enough to get a book online without a great deal of help - and I really want to see The Dagger of Dresnia in hard copy, which I can't afford to pay for.

Hopefully Dagger will be ready to publish within the next month, thanks to my publisher, I had a sneak peek at a possible cover last week and am happy to report that it's going to be gorgeous!
Saturday, 1 March 2014

Still busy, and busier yet!

I'm on the second round of edits for The Dagger of Dresnia and guess what? I got a sneak peak at a possible cover yesterday! It's looking great and I can't wait to see the finished version.

Coverage of the Perth Writers Festival for Artshub went well. With my colleague Ilsa Sharp, I attended the three day event to hear such amazing writers as Lionel Shriver and Martin Amis. Here's our report on talks by these two guests of honour:

Our day one report is at

And you can find day two at

And here's day three

I reviewed several lovely shows in February, too. The wonderful Ballet at the Quarry is an annual event I always look forward to. You can read about this year's effort at

I also went with friends to hear a wonderful concert by the river with Perth Symphony Orchestra, but I didn't review that one. Aren't I lucky to live in a climate where outdoor shows can be mounted for at least six months of the year?

Another amazing dance show was the Batsheva Company from Israel:

Then last week I went to hear the ever-popular Chamber Jam, a monthly show at the Ellington Jazz club that I always enjoy:

That's all on the reviewing front - I pulled my horns in with this year's festival and fringe because I knew I would be busy with the edits. But there's more busy-ness: I'm now teaching two theatrical dance classes a week at the Trinity School for Seniors in Perth. And I do want to keep up my own fitness by doing at least one circuit class and one one belly dance class each week, otherwise I won't be fit enough to teach!

That's enough waffle - I'd better get back to the editing! I'm only a third of the way through the second pass and my deadline is in a fortnight.  I'll let you know when I arrive at the finish line, panting and puffing!

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