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I am a writer, editor and reviewer based in Perth, Western Australia: my first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia (Book 1 of The Talismans) is published by Satalyte and available from their website as well as Amazon.com and other online outlets. As both writer and editor, I specialise in historical and high or epic fantasy. If you have a manuscript in preparation, don't waste money on editing too early. Instead, let me help with a mini-assessment of your work, based on careful reading of your synopsis and first 20 pages. Then, when you've worked on the manuscript in line with our discussions, I will be happy to do a full edit before you send it off into the big wide world. My fees are very reasonable - for more about my editing work, CLICK HERE

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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
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
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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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Monday, 2 January 2012

2011 - my personal retrospective

I’m pleased to report that 2011, while not the Perfect Year I’ve been looking for since 1943, was somewhat better for me than its seven or eight predecessors! I hope all my friends and family have enjoyed the year and can look forward even better things to come in 2012, Mayan calendar and end-of-the-world doomsayers notwithstanding.

I found late in 2010 that I had a pretty full calendar of house-sitting engagements for this year, so I decided to use the opportunity to move back to Perth. After due consideration, I gave up my flat in Mount Gambier, South Australia, and sold or gave away all my furniture and most of my personal effects. I even cut my wardrobe by half and my bookstock by two thirds! So all I have in the world now will fit into a few suitcases and 40-odd cardboard boxes of the kind you buy at the post office for $2.20-ish. Much of my stuff is stashed in the garage at the home of my sister Anne and her husband Brian in Mount Gambier and the rest requires a couple of camels or the motorised equivalent thereof to shift me from house to house! However, for the second half of the year I’ve been in one place. Since mid-June, I’ve been house-sitting for my friends Tom and Wendy, who are away on a protracted and very exciting world tour. A wonderful experience for them, and for me, it's nice to feel settled, if only temporarily!

In mid-January I move on again, this time out to York, which lies about 100 km inland from the city of Perth. I’m going to stay with my friend Pam, who has an enormous garden and is keen to have help with the hand watering, as she spends about half her time in Perth on business. Every summer she loses a few little plants and every winter she replaces them and adds more, a kind of three steps forward and one back sort of arrangement. So hopefully this year the losses will be minimal, since I will be there to keep the water up to them over the stinking hot York summer. It’s a tiny town of only about 2,000 people. You can find out about it in the helpful Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York,_Western_Australia. Those of you who live in gentler climes will wince at the climate details – in summer it seldom drops much under 30 degrees Celsius in the daytime and in winter the nights can sometimes be freezing. It’s also in a bush-fire prone area! All being well, I shall stay in York until Easter, and I’m hoping that after that I’ll rise to the top of the waiting list at the retirement village where I’ve had my name down for nearly a year. If not, I shall have to look for more house-sitting.

Having a rent-free year means I’ve been able to save enough to replace my furniture when I do find somewhere to live. Of course, despite my good intentions, I’ve already replaced with new titles a fair number of the books I sold or gave away before leaving Mount Gambier. However, my recreational reading time has been sadly reduced due to other commitments. With my Specusphere colleagues, Stephen and Amanda, I’ve been involved in the production of an anthology of short stories. (See my blog post Mythic Resonance to learn more on that one.) It’s our first venture into hard copy and my first time at helping to edit an anthology, and while it’s been very time consuming it’s also been very worthwhile from a personal and professional development standpoint. Mythic Resonance will be available sometime in the next few weeks, all being well. Watch this blog for details!

Another commitment has been membership of a judging panel for a national speculative fiction award. As it’s still in process, I won’t comment further at present, but it is also proving a most interesting and valuable, if time consuming, experience.

Due to all this busy-ness, my writing has been virtually moribund and even my blogging has suffered – I’ve barely kept this blog alive and haven’t posted on the Egoboo one since May! Fortunately, my colleagues there – Carol Ryles, Helen Venn, Joanna Fay, Keira McKenzie, Laura E. Goodin and Sarah Parker – carry the blog along. Sarah, especially, always seems to come up with something timely, even it’s just a link to another blog. Many hands make light work.

Being a glutton for punishment, though, I’ve started a third blog, this one for the Perth Shakespeare Club, at http://perthshakespeareclub.blogspot.com/ but there I can rely on other members to do at least some of the posting and if nothing comes through I can just report on the latest meeting!

I’ve also started a Facebook Page for the Shakespeare Club and have kept up my personal presence there, too. It’s by far my favourite of all the social media sites. However, through another site, Friends Reunited, I have been in touch with Gudrun, an old school friend from Tamworth, NSW, where I lived for about four years in late childhood. Gudrun has recently visited Perth and, and we met on Boxing Day – our first meeting in almost five and half decades!

I’ve also caught up with an old WAAPA friend, Angela, and through her I’ve joined a Dhamma group. It’s a private one, held at the home of some kind friends of Angela’s. They have set up a big screen TV with Skype so that talks by Buddhist teachers can be brought to us live from the UK. It’s great to be with like-minded friends to hear the dhamma and to meditate. We had a lovely end of year celebration with a ‘Buddhist Christmas tree’! That’s got to be multi-culturalism at its best!

Angela has been my transport mainstay for nights at the theatre, too, now that I’m writing theatre reviews once more. It’s been wonderful to go to shows again, since being on the pension means most of them are out of range financially. Here’s a list of the shows I’ve reviewed so far. It’s more for archival purposes than to bore you witless, so don’t feel obliged to read any or all of them! But most of the shows were very, very good, demonstrating that Western Australia can come up with top-flight entertainment, both home-grown and imported.

The Enchanters (Prickly Pear Ensemble)
Helix (solo dancer Daryl Brandwood)
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) (The HOO-HA)
Julius Caesar (Bell Shakespeare)
Neon Lights (West Australian Ballet Company)
When Dad Married Fury (Janus Entertainment)
We Unfold (Sydney Dance Company)
The Taming of the Shrew (West Australian Ballet Company)
Chamber Jam – September (North St Music/Ellington Jazz Club)
Chamber Jam – October (North St Music/Ellington Jazz Club)
The Magic Pudding (Janus Entertainment)
When the rain stops falling (Black Swan State Theatre Company)
Symphony by the bay (Perth Symphony Orchestra)
Blood Brothers (IAJ International)

Family history-wise, the big find of 2011 was the will of my 3x great-grandfather, Samuel Flavell, who died in Sedgley, Staffordshire in 1864. The will, which was made in 1856, came to my attention through a link on the Sedgley mailing list (hosted by Rootsweb.com) and I acquired a copy via the Staffordshire Record Office. If this is your bloodline, too, and you’d like to purchase a copy, these are the details you’ll need to order it from the archives:
• Harwood and Evers, Solicitors, Stourbridge - Deposited by Messrs. Harward and Evers, solicitors, of 1 Worcester Street, Stourbridge, Worcs.
• [no title] D695/1/13/1/2 1856-1892
• Contents: Draft will and probate of wills of clients of Gould & Elcock including J. Greenway, J. Wakefield, R. Venables, E. Harvey, B. Jevon, J. Webb, J. Harland, S. Flavell.

The last one is our Sam and a copy of his will only costs six pounds. It tells us that he left a widow, Dianna, and three adult children – Edward, Samuel and Rosehannah – and he was wealthy enough to leave each child a couple of houses. What happened? Recent generations have been lucky to own one! I wonder if Sam fell on hard times in the last few years of his life and had to sell his properties. Such is life.


In October, I had a very pleasant break in Mandurah (see the Wikipedia article on this lovely town at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandurah) with my sister Anne, her husband Brian and their daughter Frances, together with canine friend Lulu, who is quite a dancer! She can stay on her back legs longer than any other untrained dog I've met. We had beautiful weather and enjoyed some lovely times at the shops by the jetty or just gazing at the yachts on the bay from the front veranda of our borrowed holiday cottage!

Health wise, things haven’t been too good for me this year, and it’s my own fault! Once I was settled in the longest house-sit ever, I decided to use my improved financial state and proximity to the city to participate in a number of keep-fit activities. I can walk into the city from my house-sit, and did so several times a week. However, I found I was getting out of breath every time. I’d already been doing belly dancing for several years and attending yoga classes on-and-off, too, but I decided I needed to engage in more aerobic activities. This turned out to be a bad idea, because my heart wasn’t up to it and after three weeks of classes I had to give up. More visits to the health-care professionals, more medication, more expense … So now I’m on a weight-loss kick, eating very little (for me!) and exercising only for short periods a couple of times a day. I do hope I can lose a lot – I should really be aiming to lose 30 kg, but being realistic I know that probably won’t happen. Nevertheless, if I can lose enough to get back to the fitness classes under medical supervision I’ll be happy.

Financially, things are looking up, though. I have had more editing work this year than in the previous two years together. This is largely due to the rise in self-publishing, and I’m pleased to see that many authors are having their work professionally edited before taking the plunge into print. I still do some academic work, but doing ‘mini-assessments’ for aspiring authors has accounted for much of my work this year. That’s got to be a good thing, because the standard of self-publishing, historically, has been abominably low. If I can do my bit to raise the standard a little I’ll be very happy.

And to finish with, here’s a list of the books I’ve read and reviewed for The Specusphere this year. It’s a pathetic effort compared to previous years. I really have taken on too much in 2011!

The Thief Taker’s Apprentice by Stephen Deas
The Folly Series by Ben Aaronovitch (first two books: Rivers of London and Moon over Soho)
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis
Horses for King Arthur by LS Lawrence

I have read a lot of other books, including nearly half the oeuvre of Bernard Cornwell and Ken Follet's medieval duology. Along with fantasy, my favourites are historical novels. Good, well-written ones that don't take too many liberties with the facts!


So off we go into 2012! A new year and hopefully lots of new adventures of the enjoyable kind! Best of luck to all of you for the coming twelve months. May we all be well, happy, peaceful and at ease with the conditions of our lives.

4 comments:

Jo said...

Sorry to hear about your health problems Satima, the joys of getting older. I have had quite a few probs myself lately. Ah well. Happy New Year to you and I do hope it will be an even better year for you.

Satima Flavell said...

Old age - well, lets face it, the alternative is dying young and we missed out on that years ago! So we might as well enjoy ourselves within the limits imposed by failing health. One thing we mustn't do is stop living before we die, which sadly, a lot of oldies seem to do, don't they?

Jo said...

Ain't that the truth. I am staggered by the people who become old before they are. Too old to party at New Years, etc. Incredible. Younger than us often.

Satima Flavell said...

As we older Aussies would say - 'Too right, mate!'

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