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Read, Write, Dance

Read, Write, Dance . Those three words could almost be my epitaph. Certainly (bearing and rearing children aside) they are the three activi...

About Me

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

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

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, 28 January 2007

Aurealis Awards

I am very happy to report that two writers of my acquaintance whose work I much admire have been recognised in the Aurealis Awards for Speculative Fiction works published in 2006. The Best Fantasy Novel award went to Juliet Marillier for Wildwood Dancing (Pan Macmillan) and the Best Horror Short Story Award was won by Stephen Dedman for his piece Dead of Winter, published in Weird Tales. Juliet and Stephen are both on the Literary Board of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, where I have spent many happy hours sitting at the feet of masters such as these two very gifted writers.

Several others from among my Favourite Writers—Lee Battersby, Lian Hearn, Glenda Larke and Carol Ryles—were short listed for awards or were Highly Commended in their categories. I hope they will win next year or the year after that… In fact, I wish they could all win, every year!
Friday, 26 January 2007
Here's a neat little meme that's doing the rounds. I had it from Karen Miller, fantasy writer extraordinaire over at http://karenmiller.livejournal.com/

1. Reply to this post if you want to find out why I think you're awesome!
2. Watch my journal over the next few days for a post just about you and why I think you rock my socks.
3. Post these instructions in your journal and give your friends a much needed dose of love and adoration!
(NB: If I don't actually know you well enough to be honest, I'm just going to make stuff up. Actually, I might do that anyway.)

What with memes and personality tests you've probably gathered that I'm not writing a whole lot at the moment. Actually, I am doing a bit - about six chapters into the new novel, only I've now decided to start earlier in the back story so I've started a new chapter one. I'm also editing a thesis (isn't it strange how work comes in when you really need money?) and planning my trip to England. It's a headache trying to organise things so that I go everywhere I want to go and see everyone I want to see without spending the whole three months keeping National Express in business:-)

Only four weeks now. Excitement builds...
Monday, 22 January 2007

Personality Tests

Over at Live Journal, there's a bit of a craze for the funstuff to be found at http://www.blogthings.com/ I've just wasted half an hour there doing personality tests:-)

I'm afraid I am a personality test junkie - have been ever since I was eleven. Using a Myers-Briggs type of test I did my undergraduate dissertation on Personality Type and Religious Preference (religion was my major). It was fascinating! I studied groups of Christians (mainly Anglicans) Tibetan Buddhists, Pagans and serious Iyengar Yoga practitioners.

Now, you don't expect to be able to draw conclusions from undergraduate research, but the results of my study were amazing. The Christians came out almost diametrically opposite those who favoured what for want of a better expression we might call "alternative" religions. The average Christian subject was ESFJ while all the other three groups turned up averages of INFP. The huge divide was on the P/J scale. The Christians were predominantly J: the Alternatives almost universally P. The answers to the questionnaire were very telling - Christians like Christianity because it answered all their questions. The Alternatives liked their chosen paths because they left the gate open for choice in beliefs and practices. Typical Sensate / Judging as opposed to Intuitive / Perceiving answers.

Interestingly, almost all writers are NFs of one kind or another, despite the fact that all the Intuitive Feeling Types (ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ, INFP) added together make up only about 12.5% of the general population. I'm INFJ and here's the result of the quick quiz I did over at http://www.blogthings.com/ While hardly a full Myers-Briggs, it does seem surprisingly accurate:
Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Intuition
You are:
Multilayered and complex. Inspired and driven to achieve your goals. A visionary with a complete life plan. Intuitive enough to understand difficult problems, ideas, and people.

Go and give it a try. But be sure you've got at least half an hour to spare as it will suck you into doing test after test after test - if you're a PT tragic like me!
Monday, 15 January 2007

Reviews

In the last few days I've posted three new book reviews over at The Specusphere. Three more different pieces of reading matter it would be hard to imagine: Simon Haynes's third hilarious ripping yarn about the adventures of Hal Spacejock and his metal offsider, Clunk; two books from the States that are the first numbers in a YA series called Daughter of Destiny (I reviewed them as one since they are very short and very similar) and Glenda Larke's lovely new one, The Shadow of Tyr.

I'm always happy to receive reviews of recently published work for the zine. Let me know if you'd like to submit one. Or two. Or more... No payment, I'm afraid, but why not grab the opportunity to hone your reviewing skills? If you've never written reviews before, never fear - I will edit your efforts and I've even written a how-to article to get you started. It's not currently on show, but go to The Specusphere, click "Articles" from the menu on the left, then click "Features". It's the eighth article down the list.
Saturday, 13 January 2007

Psychological Spec-fic

Over on e-buddy Ruv Draba's live journal he says "...if you want to write a psychological story, the speculative elements should help to: make the setting and characters more exciting and relevant, the plot more interesting, and the imagery more vivid....Actually, thinking about it, this probably applies to spec fic in non-psychological tales too."

This is a really important point that Ruv makes. There is nothing more inane than a purportedly spec-fic story in which the speculative elements are not an integral part of the plot. Yet there is nothing more tedious than a spec-fic story in which the characters are nothing but a means of carrying the plot along. This is one of the reasons I read very little hard Sci-Fi, as much of it, especially in the short story form, is all about problem solving and not about the human condition at all. (Don't jump down my neck: I’m not talking about all hard Sci-Fi here, just some of it!)

So how important is characterisation? For starters, how does a "psychological story" differ from a "character-driven story"? I'm putting this up for discussion, not delivering a lecture, so do let me have your comments. Is it possible to have a character-driven tale in which there is minimal or zero character growth? A baddy so bad and a goody so good that people go on reading the story just to enjoy the characters?

Perhaps it is, in a short story – in fact, there is little time in a short story to allow any character development at all, and some quite readable stories don't even try. It is possible to show considerable depth of character – or at least of one aspect of a character - in a short story, and some writers, such as Lee Battersby, do this extraordinarily well.

But can we have a character-driven novel in which there is minimal or zero character growth? I doubt it. A novel whose characters show little or no depth and growth has to be plot-driven, I think, and some novelists are masters of this style. Fiona McIntosh, one of Australia's best-loved fantasy writers, is a good example here. Her stories race along and keep her readers not only page turning but longing for the next book in the series when the last page is read.

OTOH, character without plot would be unthinkable in speculative fiction, (although not, perhaps, in some literary fiction of the post-modern persuasion!). Go back to Ruv's premise: that speculative elements should help to make the setting and characters more exciting and relevant. In a spec-fic work, there can be no setting, characters, plot or imagery without speculative elements.

So what has the kind of character development essential to a psychological story got to offer Speculative Fiction? A lot, I think. One of my favourite writers, Dave Luckett, once said in a workshop that the speculative elements should contribute to our learning more about the human condition: that we should see the characters grow and change through their contact with their world; the world the writer has invented for them.

I have always felt that good speculative fiction is, at least to some degree, allegorical – that the created world is a metaphor for the real one. The psychological speculative fiction story can do what any good tale will do – teach us something about ourselves, the world and our place in it. I think depth and growth in the characters is an important part of that. What do you think?
Monday, 8 January 2007

Planning and Flimmering

Ye gods and little fishes, is it really the 8th already? I've actually been writing - two new chapters of the first book of the magnum opus (a fantasy trilogy), editing of a lot of stuff already written and a revision of the entire outline. Isn't it funny how once you start writing, you have to keep changing the outline?

By nature, I'm what some call an "organic writer" and others call a "flimmerer". Whatever you call it, it's a tortured way of writing because you haven't a clue where the story's going until you get there. I've tried to get a decent outline down this time, with things like "precipitating incident","first disaster" and "denouement" marked in. That much, at least, I'll try to stick to. I suppose if you have a plan you have something to depart from - and something to go back to when the departures lead you astray. And they do lead me astray. At one point I found I had seventeen point of view characters and a storyline that was not so much a plot as a melee in a department store at sale time. I've promised myself - and my critters! - that I'll try to do better this time.

Wish me luck:-)
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