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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

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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Favourite Reads of 2008

Several of my blogging buddies are listing their favourite books for this year, and that always seems an appropriate thing to do at the end of December. So, in the order in which I read them, here are the books I loved best in 2008...

The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills. This is by Karen Miller's not-so-altered alter-ego, so you don't need to be told how good it is! Funny, frightening and fantastic, this one got K.E. Mills's Rogue Agent series off to a flying start.

The Last Realm: Dragonscarpe by Pat McNamara, Michal Dutkiewicz and Gary Turner. An utterly lovely fantasy coffee-table book, richly illustrated and decorated.

Escape by Sea by LS Lawrence. Another excellent YA historical adventure from this author, who under another hat is a fine SF writer.

Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch by Simon Haynes. Just as funny as its predecessors and showing more character development. Another winner from Haynes.

The Two Pearls of Wisdom by Alison Goodman. A beautfully conceived and written tale set in an alternative-world far eastern country. We can hope for great things from this new author.

Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. A new edition of the first five books in Zelazny's signature series. I needed no encouragement to read them again - for about the sixth time!

The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Comprising The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and The Last Argument of Kings, this has to be one of the best first trilogies to come out in years. Dark, bitter, cynical and incredibly entertaining, this set is on my keeper shelf for sure.

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan. A quirky, different kind of fantasy set in Elizabethan London, well-researched and well worth reading.

The Siege of Arrandin by Marcus Herniman. This is the first of a trilogy and I'm still trying to track the others down. The world building in this book is amazing - lovingly detailed descriptions of sumptuous clothes and settings almost overpower the reader with their immediacy.

Time Machines Repaired While you Wait by K.A. Bedford. A new twist on an old trope: a murder mystery set in two times. This one has the distinction of being set in Perth, Western Australia - my favourite city:-)

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. At last - another Sevenwaters book! Just what so many Marillier fans have been waiting for! That is not to decry this fine author's other works - but there is something magical about the Sevenwaters world of medieval Ireland, and the books are a great introduction to Marillier's oeuvre.

Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. A richly realised medieval setting from the creator of the Sharp series. Cornwell writes and researches impeccably, so his novels are always convincing.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A mid-life story of a woman who did just as I did - packed her bags in middle age and went a-roaming in search of Life, The Universe and Everything. Any other dharma bums out there? You should read this. And if you've never gone dharma-bumming you should read it anyway, to see what you missed.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. A truly original fantasy that includes favourite stock characters, thus giving the reader the comfort of familiarity while opening new doors. One of the best coming-of-age novels I've read in quite a while.

Hammer of God by Karen Miller. The third book in the Godspeaker trilogy, and perhaps the best. A very strong trilogy, this one. The first book, Empress of Mijak, shook many readers to the core - some were so horrified they did not want to read the others! - but when we read the other two, we can see why book one had to be so unremittingly dark. Be assured that if you got through the first book, the others will seem easy:-)

That's about half the books I've read this year, so I've been lucky. Not that the others were awful, but these are the ones that grabbed me and have stayed with me. Let's hope 2009 will bring even more excellent reading our way!

And to close, here's a progress report on Fenris the Furred, as Ru christened my son Kurt's new "baby". He's grown - and keeps on growing! (Fenris, BTW, is the name not only of the guard dog to the underworld in Norse mythology, but of the scariest fighter in print, found in The First Law trilogy - Fenris the Feared.) Here is the less scary version with my dinlaw Erinn.

I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve and a super year to follow. Roll on 2009!
Sunday, 28 December 2008

When a post is not a post

This is a post to apologise for not having posted. I have spent much of the day fighting with a set top box. I've finally realised that it has to go back to the shop and now I'm staggering to bed, exhausted.

I'll do a Real Post sometime during the week. Be well and happy meantime. And Happy New Year, in case I don't get back before then:-)
Sunday, 21 December 2008

Meditation - lifeskill extraordinaire

Oh my goodness, not only is it going to be Christmas in four days; it's also less than a fortnight until the next issue of The Specusphere goes live. I love the work I do for this great little zine, but the days before an issue comes out can be positively traumatic. There are reviews and articles to write, reviews to edit, pictures to find and contributors to hassle, and if it were not for the expertise of our webbie, Amanda Greenslade, I think I would chuck in the towel and make a run for the nearest tall edifice. Don't worry: there are no buildings in Mount Gambier tall enough to leap from and in any case I'm scared of heights, but you take my meaning. I get majorly stressed out.

Being prone to anxiety and depression, I've had to learn to deal with stress. Meditation and Yoga have been my saviours for about the last twenty years. I even lived in a Buddhist monastery in the States for a while, which is where I got the name of Satima. It means "mindful" and I thought it a bit of joke at first, because mindful I am not. Yet hearing others say the name is a constant reminder to work on keeping my mind in the present moment: to be aware of what's going on in the body-mind and in my environment, and now I prefer it to the name my parents gave me.

Now, I am not one for doing things by halves, and I know that joining a monastery will not appeal to everyone. Getting up at four in the morning and spending three hours in Yoga practice and meditation before breakfast isn't everyone's idea of how best to start the day. But meditation is not restricted to Buddhists or even to religious people generally, although all religions admit some form of it into their practices. Everyone, religious or not, can benefit from meditation. As little as ten minutes a day can help calm the body and mind, helping us to think more clearly and to regain equilibrium in times of stress. Because it has been such a life-saver for me, I love to pass on the skills to others, as I have been fortunate enough to have teaching from some wonderful people. I lived for almost two years in all at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts where I worked as Registrar while studying meditation under the wonderful teachers there. When I returned to Australia in 1998, I resumed my meditation studies with Eric Harrison at the Perth Meditation Centre, and when I left Perth he awarded me a teaching certificate, exhorting me to teach meditation here in Mount Gambier.

I finally had a chance to do just that last week, as my Yoga teacher asked me to conduct a workshop. Attendance was small but enthusiasm was great, and I came away feeling that I had done something worthwhile. I hope I have further opportunities to share my love of meditation with friends here and elsewhere. If you've never tried meditation, do give it a go. It's an incredibly valuable tool for peace of mind and self-knowledge.

I wish you all the joy of the season, whatever that means to you - Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice (summer or winter!) or just the joy of spending time with family and friends.

May we all be well and happy.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Fire breathing robot dogs!

Science fiction has long been noted for its ability to predict, sometimes with uncanny accuracy, things that will come into being in future years. Recently, though, technology has been catching up - it's very hard for writers to stay ahead of inventors, so fast are things changing.

This was brought home to me very personally yesterday. Over at LinkedIn, members of that network's science fiction group, including yours truly and e-buddy Dave Dunn, have started a "never ending story board". You might've done something similar; one person starts a story and each person in turn adds a paragraph in rotation, continuing until the story comes to a natural end or the writers give up on it (usually the latter, in my experience!)

In the first part of the story, Dave brought in a trio of robots, each fashioned in the image of a giant Jack Russell terrier! I thought they were very funny, so I added to the description when my turn came. They are metallic, probably put together out of bits and pieces of scrap. And they can give anyone who messes with them a nasty electric shock. How original, I thought. How very clever and creative we are!

HA! the very next day, Dave found this article about fire-breathing robot dogs. Someone had beaten us to it!

More imaginative writing can be found at a new site created by ROR (wRiters-on-the-Rise). The group, which includes top Aussie talent such as Richard Harland, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Dirk Flinthart, Marianne de Pierres, Trent Jamieson, Rowena Cory Daniells and Maxine McArthur, has started this site so you can download short stories and even chapters of their books. When I tell you that in recent months, Rowena has sold King Rolen's Kin, a 3 book fantasy series, to Solaris; Tansy has sold Power and Majesty, also a 3 book fantasy series, to Harper Collins; Richard has sold Worldshaker, a children's book, to Allen and Unwin and Marianne has sold Tara Tasse, a paranormal crime/romance, also to Allen and Unwin, you will understand the calibre of work I'm talking about. Go over there and taste for yourself!

Oh, and you might want to look at Edward II (Alianore's blog)
again, too:-) She has uploaded another lot of funny medieval names for our delectation and delight!
Sunday, 14 December 2008

David Gemmell 'Legends' Award - Aussie writers nominated!

David Gemmell (1948–2006) was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. His debut novel, Legend, is still his best-known work. His oft-times violent stories explore themes of honour, loyalty and redemption. And he wrote better fight scenes than almost anyone else. Find out more on Wikipedia.

The David Gemmell 'Legends' Awards has been set up by friends and professional colleagues to celebrate the author's life and literary legacy. The Longlist for the 2008 award is available as a downloadable PDF from the DGLA website. There are several Aussies among the sixty-nine nominees, including Alison Goodman, Fiona McIntosh, Karen Miller, Jennifer Fallon, Sara Douglass, Russell Kirkpatrick and Juliet Marillier. Actually, New Zealand has the prior claim on the last two, but when it's us vs Rest of the World we must stick together. And we will not let the Canadians have Karen Miller back, nor the Poms Fiona McIntosh:-)

Voting opens on Boxing Day, 26 December. The five novels accruing the most votes will constitute the Shortlist, which will be announced during the first week in April 2009. Voters will be in the draw for a prize - a copy of each of the five shortlisted books. The ultimate winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in June.

So wherever you are in the world, get over to the Awards web site, look over the nominated books, and consider which you'll name as your favourite when you vote on Boxing Day!

Visit The David Gemmell Legend Award
Monday, 8 December 2008

Cool Names from long ago

Further to the last post, it must be admitted that some people don't need anagrams to be amusing. Over at Edward II: Cool Names Of The Early Fourteenth Century, Alianore has posted some gems from her historical period of interest. As historical novellist Susan Higginbotham says in a comment, Adam le Fuckere and Jordan le Cok so badly need to be the heroes of a medieval erotic novel...

Hie thee to yon blog and have a giggle.
Sunday, 7 December 2008

Anagrams, sweet anagrams! Who'll buy my anagrams?

Over at The Internet Anagram Server (or "I, rearrangement servant"!) you can create anagrams of anything you like. Some bloggers are showing off neat anagrams of their names. Good fun, I thought, so I went and played for a while last night. I tried several of the many handles I've had in my 65 years (my names are legion) and here are some of the results:

Lama flails vet (An eye-catching headline, that!)
Calf Veal Roll (New recipe, Jo?)
Cavalry feral moll (No, no, not me, surely. That's got to be one of those amazing women created by Glenda Larke or Marianne de Pierres.)
Calf Removal Rally (The Animal Rights Activists annual convention?)
Carload in (Yeah, well, these days I guess I am.)
Canard oil (I'm a carload because of all the duck oil I've ingested?)
Rani La Cod (Queen of the Fishes? Ok, so it was codliver oil.)
Lady Valve Elf (A hotrodding fairy?)
Anal cut Troll (Sorry, Troll lady - made a mess of the lad's circumcision.)

The best anagram for SATIMA on its own was "aims at". Yeah, and usually misses...

Strangely, there are no anagrams for FLAVELL on its own. If, as the site assures us "All the life's wisdom can be found in anagrams. Anagrams never lie", then I think we have a problem, Houston.

On the other hand, maybe uniqueness is a virtue.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Cut off short

Well, the Deed is Done. My sister Anne was going to the hairdresser yesterday and on impulse I had the cutter also make free with the scissors on the birdsnest that my hair has become since my shoulder's been sore. I'm quite pleased with the result and will try to get a photo of myself to put up for your edification and delight. Actually, the do probably won't look all that different in a photo, as it's still off my face. No, no, I'm not off my face, just my hair...

Although it's easier to take care of, short hair has the drawback of needing constant attention, and as the price of a haircut is about the price of a book, that's probably nine or ten fewer books I can buy in the course of a year. Mind you, I need more books like I need the bubonic plague. I had a parcel of eight or nine turn up from one publisher on Monday. I've sent off an SOS to a couple of reviewers whose tastes, I know, run to the sorts of books that were in the parcel, so maybe I shall find good homes for most of them. I have a pile of things to read on my bedside table already - books I "should" review; books friends have lent me with assurances that they are very, very good and I "should" read them, and a few that I just happen to want to read because they are by favourite authors. I read slowly these days, savouring every word. When I was younger I used to read about 500 words a minute and could get through a sizable tome in a day: I can't read that fast now and nor do I want to. The more leisurely approach, I think, makes reading more enjoyable.

My sisters and I went to see the film Australia today. I had no expectations as the reviews have been somewhat mixed, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. At least, I enjoyed it once it got going properly. The first half hour I found positively cringe-making - clunky dialogue and acting that was overdone in some cases and wooden in others made me grateful for the amazing scenery of the Northern Territory and the presence of Brandon Walters, the delighful, talented child who played the role of Nullah. Fortunately, the cast warmed up as the script took a turn for the better, and the three hours passed far faster than I would have thought possible. I loved the music - it shouldn't have worked, but did. There was hardly an original phrase in the whole score, yet the pastiche suited the era (WWII) and the themes of the movie. Clever references to - and in some places, out and out theft of - the works of composers old and new lent unexpected layers of meaning. I'm glad I went to see Australia, and I hope that if you go to see it, that you'll enjoy it too.
Monday, 1 December 2008

Reality Check - So you want to be a writer?

This meme was, I believe, originated by Charles Stross, who gave permission for it to be turned loose into the wild. My version is based on the one from Sharon Lee's blog . Lee Battersby has a version and that's where I first saw it. Some users have chucked the references to non-fiction publication, which is about all I can lay claim to, really. So I've put them back in.

* Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 8

* Age when I "wrote" my first story: 5 (A play ripped off from Oliver Twist, as I remember! I made my entire family take part, but reserved the lead for myself.)

* Age when I first had something published: 7 (A poem called "Dolly's Lullaby" in what was then the Manchester Guardian.)

* Age when I next had something published: 11 (Numerous poems and descriptive pieces over two or three years in something called "Chucklers' Weekly". Yes, really! I got paid a pound a time!)

* Age when I got my hands on a typewriter: 21 (An Oliver, manual and sort-of portable. My daughter still has it!)

* Age when I landed a paid magazine column: 45 (In the now defunct "Music Maker", later "ArtsWest". I didn't kill it: in fact, it died when I left. The editor said he was unable to find a decent dance columnist, despite trying out several. Then another writer also left and the mag folded. Sad.)

* Age when I wrote my first novel: 53. I'm a slow starter.

* Age when I wrote my first short story: 58. I don't believe in rushing things.

* Age when I first submitted a short story for professional publication: 58

* Age when I sold my first short story: It depends what you mean by "sold" - so far, paying markets have seemed strangely resistant to my charisma. Non-paying ones seem slightly more appreciative.

* Thickness of file of rejection slips prior to first story sale: Unless you count FTL (for-the-love) pubs, that file's still in the fattening pen.

* Age when I first came close to selling a novel: Close? Not within scent of it yet!

* Age when that first book deal imploded (prior to publication): Heaven forbid that it ever happen!

* Age when I killed my first market: 59 - I submitted my first novel to an e-publisher and they went broke the next week. I've never sent it out again for fear of destroying the entire industry.

* Age when I first sold a non-fiction book: I haven't written any. (Addendum: I haven't written any for sale to publishers. I have actually written several family histories, for my own family and for paying clients. Do they count as "sales"?)

* Age when I first wrote a saleable novel: HAH!

* Age when that novel was published: I'll let you know...

* Age when the second saleable novel finally sold: Ditto

* Age when the second saleable novel came out: Hey, lemme get the first one out already!

* Age when the third saleable novel came out: Ditto

* Age when the fourth saleable novel came out: Give over, will you?

* Age when I first won an award: LOL

* Age when I finally shut down the day-job and became a full-time novelist: 59

* Age when the money coming in exceeded my previous salary: HEH!

* Age when I returned to the day-job because of publisher implosion: I'm too old for that to happen, goddess be thanked.

* Age now: 65

* Number of books/poems/articles sold: Not sure. No novels or paid shorts, but probably several hundred articles, a few poems and a smattering of family histories.

* Number of titles in print: 0

* Number of titles fallen out of print: 5 or 6 - all family histories.


Hmm. Maybe I should take up golf.


The original author says: if you write professionally, feel free to post your own equivalent of this list. (Obviously you'll need to customize it to track your career path -- but you get the idea.)
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