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Weigh-in time!

We are more than half way through November and I have not written a blog post. Life goes on as usual: Mondays and Tuesdays I teach dance. W...

About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. I trained in piano and singing at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. I also trained in dance (Scully-Borovansky, WAAPA) and drama (NIDA). Since 1987 I have been writing reviews of performances in all genres for a variety of publications, including Music Maker, ArtsWest, Dance Australia, The Australian and others. Now semi-retired, I still write occasionally for the ArtsHub website, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

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

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Versatile Blogger Award

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

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Weigh-in time!

We are more than half way through November and I have not written a blog post. Life goes on as usual: Mondays and Tuesdays I teach dance. Wednesdays and Fridays I go to keep fit class. The third Saturday of each month (that's today!) is devoted to the Shakespeare Club of Western Australia's monthly meeting.

So I should be getting plenty of exercise. That's the theory, anyway. In actual practice I only do two or three fitness activities in a week. However, a friend and dance colleague of long standing teaches an adult ballet class and I've been going to that for the last two or three weeks. I'm spoilt for choice, in fact, as there are several excellent adult ballet classes available in Perth. Some, like the one I teach at Trinity School for Seniors, are for beginners or near beginners: others are open classes for more experienced people. However, my class is the only one, as far as I know, that's intended for people over 60.

Dance, especially ballet, is a very healthy activity. It can help develop and improve strength, flexibility, balance, grace and co-ordination, to say nothing of musicality and confidence. It saddens me to see the number of people of all ages who are grossly overweight. I am glad I will not be a pallbearer at such a person's funeral!

Even so, I'm ashamed to say that over the last couple of years my exercise program has slipped and.I am now well over my 'working weight' - the 7 stone 10lb  (about  55 kg) I used to be when I was dancing professionally. A love of cakes and ice cream accounts for much of that, but is hardly an excuse. I've generally managed, as an adult, to keep my weight under 80 kg, but if I don't watch out, it quickly shoots up to as high as 95kg. Some people, and I appear to be one of them, seem born to be fat.

We have all, I'm sure, met people who seem to stay slim no matter what they eat. Anorexia and induced vomiting aside, it seems our genes must have an important role to play in our weight.

That's my excuse, anyhow, and I'm sticking to it!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Read, Write, Dance

Read, Write, Dance. Those three words could almost be my epitaph. Certainly (bearing and rearing children aside) they are the three activities that have eaten up the greater part of my time since I was a tiny tot. I know most of you are readers and many of you are also writers and/or dancers, and you will know what I mean. We read because we read because we read. Ditto writing. Ditto dancing.

I envisaged an old age that would be taken up by these three beloved interests, and over the last few years I've purchased lots of books. I bought them intending to read them, of course, but somehow reading has dropped to the bottom of the list. I have been writing, of course (although not nearly as much as I should have done) and I do attend fitness classes three times a week (at least in theory -  it's more often once or twice a week).

Until a couple of years ago, I read religiously for an hour before going to sleep at night. It's essential for a writer to keep up with the latest books, especially in one's own genre, so whenever a colleague publishes a new book, I dutifully visit the online bookshops to seek out a copy.

But buying isn't reading. All that's happened is that I have a To Be Read pile which, if I stacked all the tomes one atop the other, would be about twice as tall as I am. I open the new book, read the blurb and possibly the prologue or first two or three pages, and that's as far as I get.

Partly, friends, this is due to disillusionment. I was over the moon when I sold my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, to Satalyte Publishing. But Satalyte is no more, and The Dagger of Dresnia (published 2014) has sold fewer than 500 copies. It is back up on Amazon now, due to the kind offices of my friend Andrew Partington of Submarine Publishing, but sales are still few and far between. (If you'd like a copy, contact me via Facebook.)

I think, friends, the self-publishing craze has resulted in a market swamped by enthusiastic writers, each of whom has written a magnificent novel that could change the world, or at least entertain a few people for an hour or two. But self-publishers and small press don't have the same access to publicity as the Big Five, and most of us can only expect to sell a few hundred copies at most.

Edward II
Some writers do very well out of self-publishing — they are usually prolific writers who can turn out three or four books a year. My creative machinery just doesn't work that fast, and nor, I think, do those of most writers. A book every year or two is about as much as most of us can manage.

Enough whingeing.  My current fiction reading is The Rune of Life by Dave Dunn, a long-time colleague from our Online Writers Workshop days, and non-fiction  - Edward II, The Unconventional King by Kathryn Warner, a dedicated historian with a passion for this often overlooked man and his times.

Carry on reading!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Dancing again

This morning, I attended a superb dance workshop with visiting American professor, Scott Putnam. I was too exhausted to stay for the afternoon session!

In fact, I must admit that I find contemporary dance heavy going - I only got through it at WAAPA by staying back to attend the evening classes for extra coaching, and I'm sure the examiners threw in a few charity marks so I at least got a pass in the exams.

It was lovely to watch all the keen young dancers (I was by far the oldest there!) and to see their inventive short choreographies. Professor Putnam is an excellent coach and I'm sure the dancers learned a great deal - as indeed I did, although whether or not I'll remember any of it this time next week is a moot point. The body feels worn out and I suspect the mind is heading in the same direction!

I was disappointed not to see more older teachers there. Perhaps Contemporary Dance is a young person's game. Classical ballet can also be exhausting, but at least you don't have to throw yourself onto the floor ten times a minute. (That's an exaggeration, but it does seem to be the default move when a contemporary dancer is wondering what to do next!)

As a young woman back in the late 1950s, I was deeply impressed by Contemporary Dance - it seemed so different from classical ballet, and so very modern. (Well, yes, Satima - that's why it's called Contemporary...) I first saw it when I attended a course of lectures by Beth Dean, an American dance ethnologist who had recently opened a school in Sydney. I was so impressed by this very new and different technique that I persuaded my mother to let me go to classes. It was an added expense for my parents - they were already paying for me to learn ballet at the Scully-Borovansky school, and piano, and singing, plus speech and drama, all at the Conservatorium.

But I enjoyed Miss Dean's classes, and started to take classical classes with her now and then. I eventually danced with her company, called Australian Dance Theatre. (It had no relationship to the later, Adelaide-based company of that name.) I am wont to boast about my appearance in a show before the Queen in 1963. I was dressed as  brolga, and while I'm sure the Queen wouldn't have noticed me as one of six people in brown all-overs with hoods, it was an experience to remember!

Dance has been my main love since I was four, when I saw the lovely pictures in a Ballet Annual owned by one of my sisters. However, I didn't start learning until I was eleven, and for the first year I had to pay for lessons out of my pocket money as my mother considered dancing to be a waste of time and money.

Then we moved house, and my new teacher, Joan Ashton, taught me free in return for helping with the junior classes. She even paid for me to have classes with her teacher, the late, great, Isobel Anderson. But young people don't always value or even see what people are doing for them, and I abandoned Miss Ashton and Miss Anderson to study at the more famous Scully-Borovansky school.

Somewhere about that time, I saw a performance by the Bodenwieser company at the Conservatorium. That means I must've seen the now centenarian Eileen Kramer!

Well, here I am sixty years later, loving dance as much as ever but unable to perform  many steps and exercises that at one time I would have done easily and with gusto. Tempus has fuggitted, and stolen just about all my flexibility and most of my strength as well! But I won't stop dancing until I become absolutely incapable of doing a plié!

Many thanks to Robyn Cooper and Angela Perry for their organisation of today's workshop. It was a joy to attend!
Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A poem, just for fun!

I wrote this bit of doggerel one Saturday afternoon when I either had nothing better to do — or was in work-avoidance mode! This is the new, improved version, which clarifies the story-line a bit.

Long, long ago in a place far away,
There dwelt a fair princess: her name was Aimée

Her parents decided ’twas time she was wed
But Aimée was not keen to share her fine bed
Not with prince, not with pauper, nor poet, nor priest
She just didn’t care for men, not in the least

Meantime, Aimée’s father was angry and sad
And wished that he’d sired not a girl, but a lad.
But he had forgotten that long, long, before
He’d loved a sweet farm girl whose name was Amour

An adventurous fellow, her son (named Ticoam)
Set off for the city his father called home
Expecting adventures and fortune to boot
He left his home whistling, and tootling his flute

In the city, Ticoam beheld a parade
With the princess on horseback - oh what a fair maid!
Ticoam was lovesick and wished he could stay
With the gorgeous, the beautiful, lovely Aimee!

But the love of her life was a charming young girl
Whose father was neither a duke nor an earl
But a farmer who planted and weeded and reaped
And bred the best horses and fine woolly sheep

Aimée and her darling girl plotted and planned
To sail on a ship to different land
Some place far away where their names were unknown
Where Aimée would never succeed to a throne.

So the lovers took sail to a place far away
Where they could be happy and merry — and gay!

Ticoam soon found an amazing new pal
A fairy, who taught him a magical spell
A spell that would make any woman he liked
Welcome him into her bed every night!

So Ticoam had him a wonderful time
With dark girls, with fair girls -  whoever he liked!
But still he remembered his darling Aimée
And thought of her beauty all day, every day!

The King, Aimée’s father, a promise decreed
That the man who found Aimée would win a fine steed
An estate in the country (and a townhouse of course)
No wonder our hero was whistling, perforce.

So Ticoam went sailing, a-sailing went he
To bring back the princess from over the sea
It took him some months, but he found her alright
And he kidnapped the lady one dark stormy night.

Aimée's friend, whose name, by the way, was Katraan
Fought Ticoam but couldn’t deflect his strong arm
Weeping, she followed him back from abroad
And took a cheap place where she got bed and board.

A funny thing happened - where Katraan stayed
Ticoam took up board since the prize was delayed
He patiently waited for his fine new estate
Still longing and wishing Aimée was his mate.

But when he saw Katraan, he fell deep in love
And the feeling was mutual – like two turtle doves
They cuddled and kissed and they billed and they cooed
With poor Princess Aimée forgotten for good!

So she took up her place as her father’s true heir
While Ticoam and Katraan built their own little lair
Living long lives and happy on Ticoam’s reward
And loving and faithful in bed and at board.

Ticoam and Aimee. - well, they never found out
That in fact they were siblings within and without
Both favoured their father in hair and in face
And both were good dancers, with rhythm and grace.

So what a good thing that they never did wed
For no-one should have an incestuous bed.

Aimée swore an oath that she never would love
A man or a woman, but only a dove
So alongside her duties at court and in town
She bred the best pigeons, the white and the brown.

Let this be a moral for women and men –
Try hard not to fall in love ever again!
Saturday, 3 June 2017

Are you a Mystery Blogger?

Fellow author-blogger Sue Burztynski — https://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.au — has honoured me by nominating me as one of her Mystery Blogger awardees. The award was founded by Okoto Enigma — https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com/my-greatest-creation-yet/ — It’s intended to be an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts, and it’s a great way to get our readers to check out more blogs! Are you one of my ‘followers’? (Scroll to the very bottom of the page) Or are you listed in the ‘Blogs I follow’ at left? If so, you are welcome to join in.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. List these rules.
3. Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog.
4. Mention the creator of the award (Okoto Enigma) and provide a link as well. (See the first para of this post)
5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
6. Nominate roughly 10 – 20 people for this award.
7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
8. Ask your nominees five questions.
9. Share a link to your best/favourite post that you’ve written.

 OK, three things about me:
1 I was born in Manchester, England, and lived there for the first five years of my life. (My mother used to say that all her children were born during thunderstorms, but I had to have an air-raid as well!)

2. I have lived at well over sixty different addresses in five different countries: England, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Scotland.

3. I have tried several different lines of work over the course of my life: mostly I’ve been a dance teacher, but I’ve also tried retail, clerical work, farming, dancing in cabaret and clubs/hotels and in a small contemporary dance company (we actually performed before the Queen and Prince Phillip in 1963!) In my old age I have taken up writing and editing, and have had many reviews and articles published as well as two novels and the odd short story.

Want to join in the fun? I do think Helen Venn http://imaginemeatclarion.blogspot.com/ and Jo Wake http://henderson-jo.blogspot.com.au/ are good sports and might give it a whirl, but all followers (see the very bottom of this page) are invited to join in if they wish, as are all the bloggers I follow.

Here are my questions for my nominees
1. Your favourite book of all time?
2. Where would you rather live, and why – Alice Springs or New York?
3. If you could marry a famous person from history, who would you choose?
4. First two lines of your favourite poem?
5. List five authors who specialise in historical fantasy.

And here are my answers to Sue’s questions to me:

 • Three desert island books?
 #Well, let’s not count Robinson Crusoe, but there have been plenty of others: Cocos Gold (Ralph Hammond), The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss), Lord of the Flies (William Golding) spring to mind. And while it’s a play, not a novel, I can’t resist adding The Admirable Crichton (J. M. Barrie).  Since I uploaded this, Sue Burztynski — https://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.au — has  reminded me that a 'desert island book' is one you would like to have with you if you were abandoned on a desert island. I would like a book on 'how to survive on a desert island'. Any suggestions?

• You have been offered your choice of place, money no object, (a fictional place is fine) to write your new book. Where is it?
#The French Riviera, of course. All the best writers go there, don’t they?

• Which three fictional characters would you invite to your New Year's Eve celebration? Why?
#Jerome K. Jerome and his two mates in a boat. Their bumble-footed actions would keep the entire party entertained all night.

• Favourite book-to-film adaptation/s?
#Not a film, but Game of Thrones, the HBO adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, is brilliant.

 • Reincarnation exists! What will you be reborn as? Or, who would you like to have been in a previous life? (Doesn't have to be someone famous. For example, you might want to have been a cat in ancient Egypt, they had a great life and people could get into huge trouble for killing them.)
#Marie Curie. She was a woman who saw what needed doing and did it without a qualm, despite the obstacles and difficulties.

My favourite post on my own blog? It has to be the one that gets the most hits, but it’s a bit annoying that people aren’t googling me and my deathless prose. They are looking for a translation of a German saying: http://satimaflavell.blogspot.com.au/2007/04/hopfen-und-malz-gott-erhalts.html

All yours! Have fun!
Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Life has its ups and downs!

A rather exciting day, what with one thing and another. On my way to keep fit class, I stopped off at the clothing shop attached to the Senior Cits Centre, and wow! — the recycling gods had saved two garments that must have had my name on them. One is an utterly lovely, brand new, pink jacket: the other, a delightful long red skirt which I bought just in case anyone suddenly decides to hire septuagenarian belly dancers. (If no such gigs are forthcoming, I can wear it out to posh dinners, although there aren't too many of those on my agenda these days, either.) And I paid — you won't believe this — seven dollars for the two garments. Not each, both! The jacket alone would have had a price tag of well over $100 new, I suspect. It was definitely new - the pockets were still stitched, as expensive garments are often sold, and the maker's labels had been carefully cut off. There is a story there, I'm sure!

Keep fit was strenuous, as usual — I rather think that our fit, enthusiastic instructor sometimes forgets that he is coaching a bunch of senior citizens. A quick glance around the gathering suggests that many attendees aren't working to capacity and I can't blame them, but neither can I take leaves from their books. From force of habit I work as hard as I can, with the result that I sometimes have to sideline myself for part of the time. Only the advent of old age has taught me to do that. Old-style ballet training taught one to grit one's teeth and keep going, with no leniency for tiredness, sore muscles, bleeding toes or puddles of sweat on the floor. (No, I ain't joking!)

Then, on the way home, the bus driver had to hit the brakes and horn. I was sitting in an area where the seats face each other, and I had, heaven be thanked, the presence of mind to grab the safety rail to my left with my right hand, with the result that I was thrown and half turned so that I wound up sitting in the (fortunately empty!) seat opposite. The first thing I did was to grab the bag containing my precious new purchases in case they got tipped out onto the floor. (Vanity, thy name is Satima ...)

No, I wasn’t hurt, but I downed two cups of coffee in quick succession once I got home!

(No news on the rebirth of The Talismans yet. Soon, I hope!)
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