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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

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, 27 January 2008

Aurealis Awards, 2007

These were filched from the ABC website , where they were reported by SpecFic’s “inside man”, Gary Kemble.

Best Science Fiction Novel
David Kowalski: The Company of the Dead, published by Pan Macmillan

Best Science Fiction Short Story
Cat Sparks: Hollywood Roadkill, published in On Spec #69

Best Fantasy Novel
Lian Hearn: Heavens Net is Wide: Tales of the Otori, The First Book, published by Hachette Livre Australia

Best Fantasy Short Story
Garth Nix: Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz go to War Again, published in Jim Baen's Universe April 2007

Best Horror Novel
Susan Parisi: Blood of Dreams, published by Penguin Group (Australia)

Best Horror Short Story
Anna Tambour: The Jeweller of Second-Hand Roe, published in Subterranean #7

Best Young Adult Novel
Anthony Eaton: Skyfall, published by UQP

Best Young Adult Short Story
Deborah Biancotti: A Scar for Leida, published in Fantastic Wonder Stories (Ticonderoga Publications)

Best Childrens (8-12 years) Long Fiction
Kate Forsyth: The Silver Horse, The Herb of Grace, The Cats Eye Shell, The Lightning Bolt, The Butterfly in Amber. (These comprise The Chain of Charms, Books 2-6) published by Pan Macmillan

Best Childrens (8-12 years) Short Fiction - Co-Winners
Marc McBride, World of Monsters, published by Scholastic Australia, and Briony Stewart, Kumiko and the Dragon, published by UQP

Peter McNamara Convenors Award for Excellence
Terry Dowling, Rynemonn, published by Coeur de Lion

Golden Aurealis Award - Best Short Story
Cat Sparks, Hollywood Roadkill, published in On Spec #69

Golden Aurealis Award - Best Novel
David Kowalski, The Company of the Dead, published by Pan Macmillan

An excellent field this year: one that must have made hard work for the judges. While it’s good to see a novice writer take the Big Prize, it’s also pleasing to see some stalwarts of the SpecFic scene, especially Terry Dowling and Cat Sparks receiving well-deserved recognition.

I’m also pleased to see that David Kowalski spent ten years writing his debut novel. Maybe there’s hope for me yet!
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Vale Heath Ledger

I find myself really upset at the news of Heath Ledger's death. A West Aussie boy, he starred in one of my favourite fantasy movies, A Knight's Tale (I call it a fantasy because of its surreal elements and deliberate anachronisms.)

The horrible thing is that it looks as if it might have been suicide or murder. Either way, a terrible waste of a young life and a loss to the world of a great talent.

RIP, Heath.
Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Artist's Conflict

Last week I was complaining about a quandary that arose from my writing. This is becoming a regular feature of my bloglife: in fact, it’s starting to look to me as though writing a book is a journey through a multitude of quandaries, each treading on the heels of the one in front so that the writer is hard pressed to find a way through. Every week a different problem – no wonder we have a reputation for eccentricity. And, perhaps, for egocentricity, too, since these dilemmas can pull us into a lot of rather fruitless navel-gazing that leaves little room for outer concerns.

You might remember that last week my turmoil was about whether or not it is acceptable to leave one set of characters behind and bring in another lot once the novel is well underway. It was a double worry, because in this case I’m not only abandoning a cast of characters that many of my readers were already engaged with but I'm also skipping a decade and half before continuing – or, rather, starting afresh: a new place, a new time, all new characters apart from the main one. Time jumps are another thing that many readers do not like.

The nature of the current problem is not what brought me to write today, but rather the annoying frequency of such problems in a writer’s life. As I’ve pointed out already, they are all too common.

Every artist, whatever his or her field, must constantly deal with a certain kind of inner conflict, unique, I think, to the arts – the conflict between “what I need to do” and “what I feel”. In this case, my feelings are for the new situation. The early characters have done their jobs and I want to press on. But if we write what we want to write, the burning question is – will it sell? I know that if an author were to play such a nasty trick on me I would, very probably, be just as unforgiving as my critics.

There are writers, I know, who are able to churn out novels to order. They learn a formula: they know what people want. And they are able to produce it, again and again. This must, I believe, mean that the writer cannot engage emotionally with the work, because if he or she did, the aforementioned conflict would surely arise. The other side of the coin is the tortured writer: the one who takes ten years to write a novel; one who is constantly starting anew because his or her emotional engagement will not permit moving on until some set of unconscious parameters has been filled. I see the signs in myself and want to pull back from that road.

Perhaps the first kind of writer – the hack novelist – finds other things in life that satisfy the urge to engage deeply with something. It’s the sort of engagement we have with our partners, friends and children, and indeed most of the “hack” writers I’ve met seem to have satisfying outer lives that must fill that need for engagement. For the tortured writer, there is not only no such outlet apart from the work-in-progress, but neither is there anyone to point to the outside world and pull the writer back to it. So the inner life takes over, leading the writer in ever decreasing circles, and we all know what happens to people who do that. (In this country, rumour has it that they will disappear up their own backsides.)

Is there a Middle Way? My Buddhist training has taught me always to seek that elusive track, but it is not easy in any area of life and least of all in this. How much of an eye for the commercial market is too much? How much emotional investment in the work is too much?

Perhaps the Middle Way always involves some compromise. I hope that by the end of the month – when I’ve promised to get back to the WIP – my unconscious will have figured out just what that compromise needs to be.

Wish us luck, the WIP and me:-)
Sunday, 13 January 2008

The horns of a dilemma

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I’m writing a fantasy trilogy and have achieved very little, writing-wise, for the last five months. The work stalled two thirds of the way through the current WIP. My mood has varied from despair to anxiety to a shoulder shrugging laissez-faire ever since. But even under the laissez-faire there lies a feeling of desperation. You see, I really do want to write this monstrous little opus. I love the story, I love my characters and I want other people to love them, too.

But before people can love the books, they have to read them. And before the books can be read, I have to write them.

Which brings me full circle. I’m stuck.

I suspect it’s because somewhere deep inside I know I haven’t got the story properly pinned down yet. The problem, I think, might lie in the fact that the overall storyline covers several generations, and I have skipped a decade and half about one third of the way into the present book. Now, I don’t know about you, but I resent it when a writer introduces me to cast of interesting characters and just when I’ve become drawn into their story, deserts them, jumps a sizable gap of time and starts anew with an almost completely new bunch of people that I have to get used to. I don’t like it. It’s not fair. I feel cheated.

Apparently I’m not the only one, because the only two people who have read the whole thing in one go both screamed in frustration. How dare I deprive them of those characters! Who is this crowd of strangers I’ve dumped on them? What happened to the other lot? Where are they? Bring them back!

Not bloody likely, sez I. To write the story I want to write, I have to move on. Those characters have served their purpose. If I carry on writing about them, I will be writing a different story. A story I don’t actually want to write.

Stalemate.

But to be honest, deep inside, I have more than a sneaking sympathy for my poor readers. As I’ve already pointed out, I also hate being cheated in this way. So I am working on ways to keep at least the main Bad Guy from the early chapters in the story, but that is, I think, the best compromise I can make. And I can think of no way to avoid the time jump. I have to allow the next generation to grow a little before the story can go on.

In any case, I have promised to leave the work alone for at least a month to give myself some distance from it, so I'm trying not to panic. But it's hard. I miss my imaginary playmates, old and new.

What do you think? Do you hate it when characters you’ve come to love or hate make a sudden exit? Do you dislike time-jumps in a narrative? What other pet hates do you have in stories? Don’t be frightened: your secrets are safe with me and the other forty or fifty people who read this blog every week:-) We are waiting to hear from you!
Sunday, 6 January 2008

A Trojan Tale

This is a very quick post to explain why I'm not posting:-) On New Year's Eve I found I'd picked up the Peacomm trojan, a particularly nasty one that you can get just by looking at an infected web site! It can only reliably be eradicated by re-installing Windows. Fortunately my son Scott was visiting and he undertook to reformat the hard drive and start again from scratch. Just as fortunately, I didn't lose any information. What I did lose, of course, was time. I'm only just catching up on things now.

To add insult to injury, I was not sure where I'd picked up the trojan, and to be fair, my machine appeared to have been infected with something for several weeks, because it was running extremely slowly and some processes had become unreliable. However, I returned to the web site I'd been looking at when my AV notified me of the infection and to my horror I picked up - wait for it - two more trojans! The AV was on the job and has, I hope, eradicated both of them.

I had no idea trojans could be passed on in this way. I imagine the hackers have done something to the site's cookies. It's sad that such people can't turn what is obviously a fine talent for software development to something that might benefit the world.

This was not, my friends, the best possible start to the New Year. I hope yours was better! I'll try to blog during the week if I catch up with commitments - and don't meet any more wooden horses!
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