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As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

About Me

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

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. 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. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

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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Monday, 20 May 2013

Book Review: The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie



The First Law TrilogyThe First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie



My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Blade Itself 2006 IBSN 9780575079793
Before They Are Hanged 2007 ISBN 9780575082014
The Last Argument of Kings 2008 ISBN 9780575077898
All published by Gollancz

This review originally appeared on The Specusphere, a now-defunct webzine, in 2008

In The First Law, UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie has produced one of the most impressive first trilogies ever to hit the market. It is remarkable not only because of its brilliantly complex plot and characters, but also because of its fearless investigation of the dark labyrinths of the human condition. Here be no dragons, and hardly a mage or a McGuffin is in sight, either. Instead, we have a blood, sweat and tears tale of the first water, incorporating, as the author puts in on his web site 'all the grit, and cruelty, and humour of real life'. Good and evil depend on who’s talking. Good actions are not necessarily rewarded and neither do the bad guys always get their comeuppance. In fact, there are no real 'bad guys': rather, we see the skilful and unskilful behaviours of which we’re all capable held up to us as in a dark mirror of gut-wrenching veracity.

Abercrombie doesn’t write dialogue: he writes characters, and they speak to us. They speak of our own foibles and failures, sins and successes. What’s more, he writes fight scenes where valour and chivalry are in very short supply and love scenes that are heart-aching because we see all too clearly that nothing, not even the flawed emotion we call love, can save us from our own blindness. Technically, Abercrombie achieves this through his deep understanding of the close third point-of-view. Immersion in Abercrombie’s invented world is not optional.

The trilogy is centred on a man the author calls the 'thinking man's barbarian', one Logen Ninefingers. For the most part, Logen does what he has to do and does it well, with as much—and as little—exertion as is needed. Yet in battle he can be a berserker, when his alter ego, The Bloody Nine, takes over and he is as likely to slaughter friend as foe. The story is not only Logen’s: other point-of-view characters include Collum West, a career soldier; his friend, the spoilt aristocrat Jezal Luthar; Glokta, a war hero turned Inquisitor – and Ferro, a runaway slave whose only interest in life is vengeance. Each one has friends and foes and as they interact with each other’s milieus we begin to understand the politics of their world as well as their interpersonal relationships. We meet Bayaz, First of the Magi, and his hapless assistant Quai; Ardee West, Collum’s wayward sister; Brother Longfoot, who will steer a team led by Bayaz on a quest to find the magic stone that will destroy all the enemies of Bayaz, and an assortment of self-seeking politicians and military personnel. But be warned: none of these apparently stock characters turns out to be what they appear.

In book one, The Blade Itself, war is in the air and many look to the return of Bayaz to save them. We see Bayaz gathering his team together and realise the conflicting interests his presence arouses. Book two, Before They Are Hanged, shows the struggle of the poorly-trained and equipped Midderlands army against the Northmen who have invaded their province of Angland. It also deals with the quest of Bayaz, and has the most surprising ending that any quest story could possibly have. Book three, The Last Argument of Kings, deals with the war’s climax: an army of religious fanatics led by flesh-eating priests is attacking Midderlands, but their army is still in Angland and the king, newly elected and disastrously married, must hold out until the fighting force returns.

And 'The First Law'? The expression refers to the injunction against using magic from the Other Side. What are the consequences when that law is broken?

Abercrombie can only be compared to George R.R. Martin, but he is, thankfully, rather more succinct, having managed to squash his story into the customary three volumes. And you must read all three books, in order, as close together as possible, if you are to get the most out of this epic. Although each book is well-rounded and skilfully crafted, none truly stands alone. It matters not: once you embark on this tale you will not want it to end.

If you like your fantasy harsh and gritty, can stand a great deal of death and destruction, and if you don’t want everything tied up in neat packages with 'happy ever after' stamped on them, you must read this trilogy.

View all my Goodreads reviews
Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Book review: Scary Kisses by Liz Grzyb (ed.)

More Scary KissesMore Scary Kisses by Liz Grzyb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I love this anthology. It is, I think, the best antho so far from Liz Grzyb and Ticonderoga. The stories are varied, so there will be some to suit any taste, and they are all well-written and well-edited. Despite the title and the cover, the stories are not all romantic and in several, the romance is implied rather than explicit.

The story I loved best was The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker, by Martin Livings and Talie Helene: in fact, I would go so far as to say this is one of the best short stories I've ever read, and I have it filed away in my memory alongside The Monkey's Paw and The Nine Billion Names of God.

Felicity Dowker's Berries and Incense is another worthy of note, along with Jason Nahrung's Resurrection in Red and Nicole R. Murphy's The Protector's Last Mission. But your mileage may vary - as I've already said, there is something here to suit any taste.

Thoroughly recommended!

View all my Goodreads reviews
Saturday, 4 May 2013

Conflux 9 - Natcon 52



I don’t often get to interstate conventions because of the high cost of flying across this huge country of ours. We have two or three enjoyable conventions here in Perth most years, and they provide a lot of fun for locals and even a few interstate adventurers. But there’s something about a national convention that makes the interstate trip well worthwhile if cash can be found for plane fares and accommodation. The convention itself is not expensive. All the work is done by volunteers, so the subscriptions of attendees can go toward expenses, including paying the airfares of the international and interstate guests-of-honour.

Nalo Hopkinson
This year, those guests-of-honour were great fun to have around. Jamaican-born Nalo Hopkinson,  author of The New Moon’s Arms, gave us a taste of a different culture as she sat on panels, knitting when she wasn’t talking and dropping in salient comments on topics as wide reaching as cultural appropriation in speculative fiction and ‘the secret lives of authors’ – i.e. what authors do in their spare time. The other overseas guest, Marc Gascoigne of Angry Robot Press, was a mine of information for would-be authors, as were local guests-of-honour KarenMiller and Kaaron Warren. Fan guest-of-honour was Rose Mitchell, who has held a range of senior positions in various clubs or on convention committees. She was Co-chair of Aussiecon 4, the world science fiction convention held in Melbourne in 2010, which was my first – and probably only! – Worldcon. It was a wonderful experience.

Other local guests included some of my favourite wordsmiths. Glenda Larke, recently returned to live in Perth after many years of domicile in Malaysia, not only spoke knowledgeably on a variety of panel topics, but gave us a lovely kaffeeklatch, generously sharing her writing expertise, as did Karen Miller, Trudi Canavan, Kate Forsyth, Keri Archer and many other local authors. Glenda announced news of her latest sale - I can’t wait to read book one of this exciting new trilogy!

We had several book launches, too – Nicole Murphy launched her crowd-funded mentorship’s anthology In Fabula Divino (some great new talent there!) and Jason Fischer launched his latest, Quiver. We also got a peek at Rob Hood’s new opus, Fragments of a broken Land-Valarl Undead: the title alone sounds terrifying! The Canberra Science Fiction Group also launched its latest anthology, Next, and Tom Dullemond and Mike McRae introduced us to The Machine who was also a Boy.

In lieu of a Guest-of-Honour Speech, Karen Miller gave us a magnificent slideshow presentation on her
Karen Miller
recent research tour of Europe. Things that interest everyday tourists were not Karen’s quarry: rather, she was after shots of the quirky, the dangerous, the places that stimulate the imagination. She felt, after the tour, much more confident to begin her project because she had immersed herself in its settings.

Patty Jansen
I took part in three panels. The first was at 10.00 PM on Thursday night. I wasn’t going to participate because I fully expected to be brain dead after the flight over from Perth, but to my surprise I was wide awake and rearing to go. I’m glad I went on the panel because we had a most interesting discussion about the value of editing for self-published authors. Patty Jansen pointed out that editing is such a big expense that someone hoping to make a living from self-published works would find having every story professionally edited too much of a financial burden. She has overcome the problem by relying on a corps of knowledgeable beta readers who serve as an editing panel, and this works for her as a good compromise. The other panellists (Abigail Nathan, Ian Nichols and I) agreed, though, that many self-published authors do not have Patty’s experience and neither do they have a band of well-read, well-educated beta readers who have some knowledge of the editing process – hence the terribly low standard of some of the material that turns up on Amazon and other sales sites.

My second panel was less contentious, and it introduced me to some new colleagues. It was a big panel – Phill Berrie is a long-time crit buddy (and a brilliant continuity editor!), but Helen Stubbs, ZenaShapter LeifeShallcross, Tracey O’Hara and I did not know each other. That’s one of the great things about conventions – you get to meet lots of nice new friends! We had a productive discussion on the value of writing communities – I.E. critique groups both online and in person. There is little doubt that writers, especially when they first start out, derive enormous benefit from these. Even published authors usually have a group of trusted readers to show their MSS to. We swapped experiences and were able to make up a list of writers centres and online groups for new writers to check out.

My third panel was about the place of a mentor in one’s writing career. My fellow panellists were Valerie Parv, Joanne AndertonKaaron WarrenJodi Cleghorn, and Kimberley Gaal. We had all had experiences of mentoring or being mentored – some of us both – so the discussion centred on reminiscences and lessons learned from each side of the process!

There was much interest in self-publishing. I was on a panel on the topic (see above) and another one that impressed numbered Felicity Pulman among the panellists. She generously gave out some printed notes she’d put together to help intending self-publishers. As I am considering joining those ranks myself, I was deeply grateful to Felicity for sharing her experiences with us.

Perhaps the most fun I had at Conflux 9 was on the Saturday night, when the masquerade is traditionally held. This year’s theme was Steampunk, and there was indeed a surprising number of top-hatted gentlemen and bustled ladies around the Rydges Hotel in Canberra Avenue! However, I didn’t go to the masquerade. Instead, I opted for the other activity – the Romance Gauntlet

This is apparently an annual event, and what fun it was! It seems that Canberra is not only well-served for SF authors and fans, but for those of the Romance persuasion as well, and every year at Conflux they hold a duel of panels. Craig Cormick  skilfully wrangled the contestants in a blow-by-blow steaming reading romp. Panellists included Valerie ParvKateForsyth, Jane Virgo, Leife Shallcross,   Phill BerrieRoss Hamilton, Robert Porteous, Shauna O’Meara, Sam Phillips and Simon Petrie.  I’m not sure who won because everyone got a prize, including members of the audience – we had all contributed to a re-telling of the story of the Three Little Pigs and a list of delicate, sensitive ways (Ha!) to describe the sex act.

Other highlights included the various awards – the Ditmars (see list of winners here) the Norma K. Hemming Award (Margo Lanagan) and the A. Bertam Chandler Award (Russell B. Farr) I was delighted that my good friend Carol Ryles was placed in the Conflux Short Story Competition and had her piece, The Silence of Clockwork, featured in the printed program.

Of course, conventions and conferences are never long enough. I barely had chance to catch up with Tim Roberts, Gillian Polack and Deborah Green, among others.

Satima, Carol and Helen - this was taken at Swancon in 2010
The choice of venue can hardly be faulted. Rydges Capitol Hill has spacious public areas, a well-serviced and inexpensive restaurant, and free Wi-Fi for guests and pleasingly quiet rooms. My room-mates, Helen Venn and Carol Ryles, were a joy to share with. If I have a grizzle at all it is that the room was too small and badly designed. Why any room should need two queen sized beds boggles the imagination (let's not go there) and they’d crammed a pallet in as well. Surely a hotel of that standing should have a room with a double and two single beds, or three single beds?
 
My only disappointment was the printed program, which did not include the usual potted bios of panellists. There is a partial list on the website, but I always find it very handy to be able to look in the program book to find out more about panellists I’m on with or who have said something really interesting that I want to follow up by checking out their blogs or websites. As it is, I have no idea who some of the panellists were.

That’s a small grizzle, for the con was well organised and efficiently run by DonnaMarie Hanson  and Nicole Murphy. They are to be congratulated on putting together a winning team and getting Conflux 9 to the finishing line with flying colours. Bravo!
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