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A new lease of life for my books

As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

About Me

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

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books 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. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

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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Friday, 30 March 2007

On the continent

Hey, I'm in Germany! It’s my first time ever on the continent, and I'm delighted to be here with my friends and distant rellies-by-marriage Elfriede and Sam, who met me at Frankfurt-Hahn airport and immediately bought me a meal before whizzing me down the autobahn (pretty scary to someone who is used to a 120km per hour speed limit!) to their lovely home in the Rhine Valley. (It reminds me of an Australian house - single storey and open plan living, with a gorgeous new bathroom that's to die for and a lovely garden!) Next, we took the family's dog for a walk around the vineyards, which are reminiscent of those of Coonawarra except they are set on gentle slopes. I need to do lots of walking (did you ever expect to see me write that?) to work off all this good German/Indian food Elfriede cooks.

This is an utterly charming place. Small towns dot the riverbanks, separated from it only by an excellent road that links them while allowing travellers to gasp at a new and beautiful vista at each bend in the river. This morning, Elfriede took me inland a little way to visit the medieval town of Idstein - right up my alley, as the centre of town is maintained in as close a manner as possible to its medieval roots. There is an imposing ducal palace with a fortified gatehouse and a monstrous tower inhabited by falcons and crows that dates back to the fourteenth century. It overlooks cobbled streets and carved half-timbered shops and houses, some of which date back to the same period. The whole area is restricted to pedestrians, which enhances the timeless atmosphere.

The tower was the scene of a witch hunt in about 1676 that resulted in the deaths by fire of nearly twenty women. Nearby, there is an ancient church, much of which dates from the fourteenth century, with a painted ceiling executed by artists of the Rubens school - and a magnificent pipe organ. I know it is magnificent because the organist was practising when we arrived and on the deep notes it felt as if the vibrations must surely call down the hosts of heaven and destroy the forces of hell. Extracts from the scriptures are painted on the walls and I was both amused and saddened to realise that they were all exhortations to women to be dutiful wives. When viewed in light of the witch hunt they reveal glimpses of a time when our ancestral sisters copped a pretty raw deal.

Elfriede shouted me a yummy meal at an Italian restaurant before we set off for home. She and Sam are, like everyone else I've met, extraordinarily kind and generous - not only financially but time-wise as well. I feel really nurtured and blessed and I just hope I'm not using up all my good karma at once!

I'm taking loads of photos and I hope that together with all the brochures I'm collecting they'll suffice to convey just a little of the beauty and interest of this fascinating place, especially to my quarter-German children:-) I hope to see the church where your ancestors worshipped and were wed and maybe snap the very font wherein your grandfather was baptised.

I am struggling with Sam's German keyboard to say nothing of trying to read Windows' dialogue boxes in that language so will give up for the moment:-) I hope you are all well and happy. Sorry for not posting to your blogs, friends, but I’m not getting a lot of computer time while travelling. Hopefully I'll get chance to redress the balance soon.
Saturday, 24 March 2007

Reminiscing already...

I had such a lovely time in Yorkshire! So many new cousins, so little time. I love Richmond - it must be one of the prettiest towns in England and I gather it's a very desirable place to live.

The last few days oop north were spent very comfortably with Brian and Trish in Birstall. Like many of the people I've been meeting up with, B & T were strangers to me except for e-mail contact, but we didn't stay strangers for long. They very kindly drove all the way up to Richmond to pick me up and then we went to visit the lovely village of Kilburn, where our ancestors of that name lived while they were working on the building of Byland Abbey. Job completed, they moved on to Reviaux (gee, have I spelt that right?) and then on down to Leeds to work on still another abbey. Our mutual ancestor Roger KILBURN probably moved from there to Dewsbury, although we can't prove that because we haven't found a baptism for Roger. However, Roger was a common name among the Leeds KILBURN tribe, so that's our lad's most likely town of origin.

The village of Kilburn is a delight. The old church and a pub nearly as old lend real character to the place, but probably best of all is the workshop of one Robert Thompson, known as the Mouse Man because he carved a mouse somewhere on every piece he crafted. The tradition continues today, with the workshop turning out small masterpieces for those lucky enough to be able to buy such fine works. I just bought a postcard:-)

Brian and Trish also took me to Dewsbury Minster, one of the most meaningful places for me because so many of my ancestors were hatched, matched and dispatched there. It is a beautiful building - marred, some might say, by modern innovations such as putting the altar in the west and removing the old pews to replace them with what look like kitchen chairs - but nothing can alter the fact that it is a superb old church with some Saxon stonework still visible. There has been a church on the site for well over a thousand years, and it is obviously still a vibrant place of worship. Volunteers run a refectory with an excellent menu and others were eager to show us around the church and make us welcome.

Have to go now as time on the rented computer is running out. Scuse mistakes, no time to check!
Sunday, 18 March 2007

Sort-of Snow

A sunny-and-snowy-by-turns kind of day, with rough weather possibly forecast for tomorrow. Of course, it's to be expected up this way, even in spring - I'm in Richmond, Yorkshire, which is quite a long way oop north, staying with old friends Jag and Laxmi and their two lovely daughters. It is just like being with family, especially as today is Mothers' Day in England and I am missing my own children and grandchildren.

Yesterday Jag and Laxmi drove me to the Thirsk area where I oohed and aahed over the pretty villages of the district. My SUFFILL ancestors lived there for centuries before moving down to Barnsley in about 1840 and I was delighted to walk streets where they would have walked and to see the lovely old church at Felixkirk where they did most of their hatching, matching and dispatching. Thirsk is also James Heriot country and we dutifully posed for photos outside his old vetinary surgery.

Tomorrow I hope to travel south to stay a day or two with e-cousins on the KILBURN line who live close to the heartlands of our branch of that family, near Dewsbury.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007

And on the seventh day...

A rest day today after several exciting ones. I've washed my hair and clothes and generally sorted myself out a bit after my visit to Scholes and South Kirkby. John and two other e-cousins, Peter and Jane, took me to the cemetery of St Thomas's church, Kimberworth, where we paid our respects at the graves of many ancestors including that of my great-great-grandparents David and Susannah Jane (BROOKES) ALLEN, who moved over here from Sedgley in Staffordshire in the late 1800s. One of their sons is buried with them: he died a terrible death after an industrial accident in which a vat of molten steel tipped over on him. It took the poor boy several days to die. Tales of industry in Victorian times give me the shudders, not only because of their lack of health and safety regulations but because it's easy to see that we could return to those times of low wages and long hours that really amounted to slave labour. Will someone please remind John Howard?

Yesterday I met up with some more cousins from my father's side. Several families - the Allens, the Brookeses, the Harpers, the Flavells, the Hydes and the Porters among them - moved over here from Sedgley at about the same time and continued to intermarry with each other for a couple of generations, as ex-pats are wont to do. My dad was an exception: he married a real Yorkshire lass from Featherstone:-) John and Betty and I had a very pleasant pub lunch in South Kirkby with cousins Jan, Jean and two Evelyns. Then we went to visit a third Evelyn who is ninety-one years old and still looking after herself and doing her own housework. I would love to live to that age if I could be as fit and active as Evelyn.

On Friday I head north to Richmond to spend time with Jagannath and Laxmi, old friends I first met in Nepal in 1995. They subsequently spent a few years in Perth, Western Australia, where their children acquired Aussie accents. Now they sound on the phone like girls Yorkshire born and bred and I'm really looking forward to seeing how much they've grown!
Monday, 12 March 2007

Yorkshire cousins

After three very pleasant days with my cousin Sally and her husband John in Selby, I've moved down to Scholes, where one of my many Yorkshire "e-cousins", John W. lives. John and his wife Betty have made me most kindly welcome and I'm looking forward to visiting another cemetary tomorrow, this time at nearby Kimberworth. The burial grounds around Selby proved disappointing as the one where I think my 3xggf Timothy Rayner Mason was interred has had the stones laid flat and most of them are severely overgrown with moss. I shall try phoning the churchwarden tomorrow to see if there's any chance of a look at the burial register for the 1870s.

Yesterday Sally dropped me at Pontefract Castle for an hour's stone walking. Pontefract has, of course, been an important centre since Roman times and for centuries its castle was impregnable both as fortress and prison. I caught a glimpse of it on a my last visit in 1995 and it gave me the shudders. It is nothing but a crumbling ruin now but it still has what I, in my hippie-chick lingo, would call a Bad Vibe. When Sally told me what the place was I understood my reaction because I knew of the castle's infamy. I was subsequently to learn that several of my ancestors met their ends there, mainly during the Wars of the Roses.

This time, though, it didn't have that eerie effect on me. Rather, the place seemed forlorn, almost as if it were grieving for its past glories. I wish it could be properly excavated, as under the grass and rubble there must lie a huge amount of archealogical material. Time Team, where are you?

Today we visited another site famous for its part in the Yorkist / Lancastrian conflict - the pretty village of Towton. I paid my respects at the ancient memorial to the fallen on both sides that stands on the battle site itself. Sally and I had ancestors both red and white who died on that terrible day.

I am, of course, not doing any writing. There is a wealth of material seeping through to the unconscious, however, and I know much of it will re-surface to help me write the new version of my trilogy. History is in the air here. You can feel it if you can overlook telegraph poles and power lines that crowd the scenery even across the fields and meadows that separate the villages. The landscape, even in rural areas, reminds me of the outskirts of an Australian city. I hope to see some wilder country when I visit the more northerly parts of Yorkshire next weekend.
Friday, 9 March 2007

Points North

Another long journey today: this time from Exeter in Devon to Selby in Yorkshire. Transport is very expensive in the UK: for example. a return trip between Topsham and Exeter, which would be about the same distance as, say, Applecross to Perth or Hillcrest to Adelaide or Ashfield to Sydney, cost me nearly £4 (about $AUS10.00). Trains are terribly dear - anyone who can afford the fares could probably afford a private helicopter! But coaches are at least doable, if hardly cheap when compared to prices for similar trips in Oz. Today's fare (one way) was just over £26 (about $AUS70) for about 400 miles. It was a reasonably fast trip, too, taken in easy stages with several short breaks. The slowest part was getting from York to Selby by car, a distance of about 20 miles, which took over an hour in the peak hour traffic!

The long bus ride reminded me what a beautiful country this is. Spring has arrived early, even up here in the colder north. Yellow flowers - daffodils, celandines and gorse especially - abound. When gorse is in flower, they say, love is in season, for gorse can be found in flower somewhere almost all the time! Right now it is excelling itself in its profusion, so love must be in the air, big time:-)

There are crocuses, too, in purple and white as well as yellow, and the early prunus are in full swing. Trees are not showing much green yet, but they have a pensive air as if waiting for something - just a slight rise in temperature and they will wake up and start dancing.

The trip north took me through Birmingham. Although it is a bigger city than I would ever want to live in, I liked what I saw of it from the coach and the wait at the super-modern bus station. For one thing, it is multi-cultural, which reminded me of Perth and other Aussie cities. Chinese and Indian restaurants jostle with businesses with names like "Smith and Patel, Barristers" and "Jean-Paul, Coiffeur". (I made those up, but you get the drift!). It is a city of contrasts, with ancient buildings fronting the same streets as an incredible department store that looks like a giant hour glass crossed with a pearly king's costume. No kidding!

Then it was a cross-country leg to Nottingham under a chiaroscuro sky with sculpted 3D clouds interlaced with jet trails. I have never seen so many jet trails at once before. There must have been a dozen or more. The skies above Old Blighty are mighty busy.

This sceptered isle is indeed a beautiful place, replete with history and lovely scenery. It has, however, a major problem. There are far too many people here.

England, I've been told, is as densely populated as China. It's probably time they took a leaf out of that country's book and instituted a one-child policy. To one who has grown up in Australia the over-population is very apparent, but I guess it has kind of snuck up on the locals so they don't even realise its existence.

Sally and John have made me very welcome. Tomorrow Sally and I, who share in interest in family history, will visit a few cemetaries, weather permitting. OK, OK, quirky, quirky. Only a family historian would understand:-)
Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Exeter

I had a lovely day on Sunday: Clare took me to a beaut restaurant called The Hungry Fox for lunch. However, it was the wettest, most horrible day you could imagine and we almost had a head-on collision while getting lost looking for Mr Fox's eatery. There were several tragic accidents as a result of the flooding. One young girl drowned in a fast flowing swollen river and a couple were washed off a jetty in Cornwall and drowned despite all efforts to save them. It was much nicer yesterday, though - today is quite sunny. However, more rain is on the way. Pity we can't send some of it to Oz.

Yesterday, I visited Exeter, which is a lovely, historic city, with little old churches nestling among modern shops. When I return from my trip to the northern counties (see below) I shall have a day walking around the churches and the magnificent cathedral. As is so often the case in this country, the roads were built in past centuries when nothing but the odd cart or herd of sheep would have been driven along them, so for modern traffic flows they are dangerously narrow. Some don't even have footpaths, which turns walking into an extreme sport.

On Thursday I will set off for a bit of tour of the northern parts of the country, which means another 10 hour journey, dammit! However, it will be great to catch up with the many e-cousins I've met through my family history researches and to see the ancestral stamping grounds. Time and money preclude my seeing all the places I'd like, so I'm going to cram as much as possible into three weeks!

My friend Diana in London dragged me along to a yoga class last week. I could hardly walk for two days afterwards so I'd better get back into it while I'm in Perth in May!
Saturday, 3 March 2007

The West Country

I've been in Devon for several days now, staying with my sister Clare. This is a very pretty part of England but I haven't had much chance to appreciate it yet because of rain and lingering jetlag. I used to get over long haul flights in about three days but this one has taken a week and I feel as if I'm only just getting back to normal. I need to go to bed early, wake up extraordinarily early and am a right Grumpy Old Woman most of the waking hours.

Communications have become difficult. I didn't realise - or had forgotten - that people here have to pay for timed local phone calls and if your host is on dial-up that puts a severe limit on the amount of time you can spend on web mail and browsing. I'm on a public computer in the Topsham library right now, paying $1.50 (about $AUS3.75) per half hour. This will probably be an ongoing problem, so my blogging might be a bit intermittent for a while!

I hope you are all well and happy. Whether I post or not, I'm thinking of you!
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