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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, 27 September 2009

Family stories

I suppose all families have their little stories that get handed down from one generation to the next, often growing in the telling - or sometimes shrinking by the convenient omission of embarrassing bits, like the one told by a man who said his great-great-grandfather was sent to Australia as a convict because he stole a length of rope. When a family member researched the family history she found that the said great-great-grandfather had conveniently forgotten to tell his descendants about the thoroughbred horse that was tied to the other end!

My family doesn't seem to have any stories that were handed down from many generations back, but we do have oft-repeated tales from the last two or three, and I've often thought that these should be written down for the entertainment of my own descendants. What's more, some of them might trigger ideas for stories, if not for me, for my friends and relations. Since many of my readers are also writers, I guess this blog is a good place to start recounting.

One story, which I think could be the basis for a super adventure-romance with more than a dash of comedy, concerns a guy named Alf Hyde, a cousin many-times-removed of my father. Alf married a local girl but he was a restless soul and after a few years he began to talk about emigrating to America. His wife, however, refused to leave her family and friends and eventually Alf went without her.

Years passed, and the wife became quite a local identity, even having a place on the local council - very unusual for the early C20. She ran a little corner shop and did very well for herself.

Meantime, Alf, in America, married again. No divorce from his first wife, mind you - Alf was apparently not one for formalities. He and his new wife had three children, or so the story goes, but after twenty years or so his wife died and Alf had a hankering to return to England. So back he came, and was pleasantly surprised to see his old wife was doing so well. He persuaded her to take him back and he lived the rest of his life helping to run the shop, taking occasional trips to the States to visit the children whenever he became restless. Of course, Alf's descendants may have a different version of the tale, and if any of them read this I hope they will share their version with me.

Family tales often involve bigamous marriages. Another distant rellie, or so I've heard, married a girl who turned out to be a kleptomaniac, addicted to shoplifting. This man, too, left his wife and went to America. He never returned, but rumour had it that he'd married again - also bigamously.

Another marriage tale of ours does not involve bigamy, but what would in those days have been considered an incestuous marriage - and still would in many parts of the world, although no longer here in Australia. My great-grandfather James Gaunt married a girl named Jane Suffill (1840-1874) who died at the age of only 34 from tuberculosis, (that's Jane in the photo, probably taken not long before she died) leaving him with three young children, one of whom was to become my grandfather. Within three months James had married again - to his sister's daughter! Her name was Eliza Partington and she bore James six more children. My mother remembered her - James died before my mother was born, but Eliza, who was much younger, lived to a ripe old age. Mother said that she followed the old Victorian custom of wearing an apron in the mornings to do the housework and taking it off at lunchtime, when she would add a little frill of lace to her hair to show that she was now available for socialising, which of course was generally tea and sandwiches with the neighbours. Sadly, no photos of Eliza have been passed down to us.

One really funny thing about this tale is that Mother had the facts right but the second wife's name wrong. She told me it was Hannah Woodstock. I spent years looking for this woman, and it was only when I thought to look up the 1881 census for her children's names that I discovered her real identity, for she and two of the children were staying with her family of origin on census night. How mother converted Eliza Partington into Hannah Woodstock I can't imagine, but it's a lesson in not taking family stories too seriously until you've researched the facts for yourself!

Do you have any strange or amusing stories from your family archives? I'd love to hear them if so!
Sunday, 20 September 2009

Back with my doggie friends

After a lovely quiet week in my friend Pam's "spare" flat I've moved back to the home of Timmy and Lucy, a pair of crazy little canine friends - you might remember this post where I uploaded a photo of the terrible two. I will try to get a better shot of them this time around but as they are seldom together and still for long enough to get a picture the only time I might get one would be if I were to sneak up them as they slept!* The house-sit is for two weeks while their "mum" is over in Adelaide, spending the school holidays with her granddaughter. Then I move on to another canine house-mate that I haven't met yet. Watch this space:-)

I haven't been doing much writing lately, and I'm missing it. I've become used to the rather strange cycle I go through, which goes something like this:
1. Get inspired and write anything up to ten hours a day for a few months
2. Run out of ideas and play with the piece for a while
3. Give it up as a bad job and don't touch it for a few weeks or months
4. Start to feel really cranky and distressed because I'm not writing
5. Get inspired again

Often what stops me writing is the realisation that I'm not doing nearly as well as I thought I was. This last time I got so fed up with not getting anywhere that I decided to start sending the book out in any case. After all, I've been struggling with the darned thing for three years - my reasoning was "If it's no good yet then it never will be," which is really not a good enough reason to inflict the work on agents and publishers. A couple of friends have read the opus recently and said I'm being premature in sending it out in so raw a state. Now I actually didn't think it was all that raw, but apparently it's raw, or at least somewhat undercooked, due to my usual problem - not enough setting.

It's not only setting. Good writers have a knack of including setting and characterisation very subtly but as one of my critters puts it, I tend to segment things - first THIS emotion, then THAT piece of information, then THIS conversation, then THAT battle, then THIS little bit of description... "Layer things" says my friend. "Multi-layer. Interweave"

It's that multi-layering and interweaving so that nothing is left out but everything serves the whole - which, if the thing works, will be greater than the sum of its parts - that I really don't have the hang of. It must take ages to learn, unless you're absolutely brilliant, for the writers I know - both published and unpublished - who have the knack of it, have all been writing for quite a while. Mind you, I've been trying to write fiction for fourteen years, so surely I should be getting the hang of it by now!

OK, I won't send the book out again until I've had another go at multi-layering. But I'm feeling too down in the dumps about my own apparent thick-headedness to do it at the moment so I'm at the cranky stage. I don't like the cranky stage, but I've started to realise there's nothing I can do about it. It's a natural cycle, like the seasons, and I can no more make the succession change of my own volition than force winter to give way to spring. What a good thing I have doggie playmates in the meantime.


*Update - I couldn't get around the front without disturbing them but on the third go I compromised and photographed the terrier terrors from behind. Butter would not melt, eh? (HA!)
Monday, 14 September 2009

A wobbly landing

Hurrah - I'm back in Perth! After a pleasant few days in Adelaide, catching up with friends and rellies, I flew into Perth on Thursday night - in the middle of the most godawful storm the city's seen in quite a while. We had head winds all the way across the Nullarbor, so we were already late when we began our descent.

Head winds aside, the weather at 30,000-odd feet was delightful, with clear sunny skies all the way. But the descent was something else. The cabin crew made a point of checking the emergency exits were clear and that we had all read the emergency instruction cards. They made a joke of it, but their faces were grim. We soon found out why - the poor plane shuddered and juddered and rocked and bounced its way down through layer after layer of cloud into drenching rain, and more than rain. Those witches from The Scottish Play had a hand in that storm, I reckon. I've flown into Perth many times but never before has a descent been so protracted - or so uncomfortable. When we finally hit terra firma (gently, I should add there!) the cabin attendants led us in a round of applause for the flight crew. The relief on all their faces was plain to see as we exited the plane.

Because I've been on the road this week and haven't quite settled down in Perth yet, I thought I'd post links to some of my favourite history blogs. Yes, cheating, I know, but I promise a "proper" post next time:-) And if you have any interest in history you'll love these.

At http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/ Geoff Chaucer hath penned a few words on the economique downturne and the use of Twittre for broadcastinge the lawes of Engelond. And at http://lostfort.blogspot.com/ you will always find a selection of wonderful photos by blogger, writer and history buff Gabriele Campbell

Climate change? Nothing new, apparently. Check out this post on Alianore's blog to learn about the weather in the early C14. And while you're there, be sure to read this screamingly funny one in which every badly-done-by queen in history tells her tale of woe to her support group. The comments are well worth reading, too!

See you next week, or maybe on Facebook in between. Be well and happy meantime.
Sunday, 6 September 2009

It's That Time again!

Yes, another issue of The Specusphere has gone live, thanks, as always, to the expertise of our webmistress, Amanda Greenslade.

As usual, there's lots to crow about. First the excellent Editorial on the current Hot Topic - Parallel Importation - by Astrid Cooper. Under Features there's a super piece on Zombies by our worthy Editor-in-Chief, Stephen Thompson, and a most scholarly article in our Medical Bag series by Brendan Carson. Stephen Turner continues his series on aspects of the genre with Mentors and the Hero's Journey, while Benjamin Solah contributes a report on the Melbourne Writers Festival. About People there's a tryptich of articles by Up-and-Coming editor Astrid Cooper, featuring interviews with K.J. Taylor and Stephen M. Irwin and a piece on Astrid's own work as a writer of spec-fic erotica.

Under Writing and Publishing we have contributions on writing a novel by Damien Kane, writing a novella by Benjamin Solah and a further argument against Parallel Importation by Paul Collins of Ford St Publishing.

And then there are all those lovely Book Reviews. Twenty-five of them! And we have a world exclusive - we're sure we are the only webzine to feature a review of an Iain Banks book - by Ian Banks! Here's the run-down:
Arrows of Time by Kim Falconer, reviewed by Satima Flavell
Book of Secrets by Chris Roberson, reviewed by Ian Banks
Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur, reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alistair Reynolds, reviewed by Simon Petrie
Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg, reviewed by Maurie Breust
Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston, reviewed by Maurie Breust
Hand of Isis by Jo Graham, reviewed by Satima Flavell
Horn by Peter M Ball, reviewed by Felicity Dowker
Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin, reviewed by Satima Flavell
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner, reviewed by Ross Murray
New Ceres Nights edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Tehani Wessely, reviewed by Simon Petrie
Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod, reviewed by Maurie Breust
Orphan's Triumph by Robert Buettner, reviewed by Maurie Breust
Outlaw by Angus Donald, reviewed by Joan Malpass and "Hypatia"
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, reviewed by Jennifer Kremmer
Shiny No. 5, edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Ben Payne and Tehani Wessely, reviewed by Ian Banks
Silver Dolphins Series Books 1 & 2 by Summer Waters, reviewed by Ian Banks
The Destroyer of Worlds by Mark Chadbourn, reviewed by John Paul Fitch
The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb, reviewed by Satima Flavell
The Fire King by Marjorie Liu, reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey
The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke, reviewed by Carol Neist
The Spy Who Haunted Me by Simon Green, reviewed by Simon Petrie
Transition by Iain Banks, reviewed by Ian Banks
White Star by Beth Vaughan, reviewed by Satima Flavell

Up and Coming features new books from Ford Street Publishers, Hachette Australia and Harper Collins, while under the Fiction banner we have stories from Martin Rusis and Greg Bishop.

Go on, get yourself over to The Specusphere and have yourself a darned good read!
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