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A new lease of life for my books

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 novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books 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. 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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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Book review: Just Desserts by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock 3: Just Desserts
Hal Spacejock 3: Just Desserts by Simon Haynes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review first appeared in the now-defunct webzine, The Specusphere, in January 2008.

Hal and Clunk are back! (Did they ever go away? Their fans would say not.) Again they create inter planetary mayhem and somehow manage to come out unscathed. Well, almost unscathed. Simon Haynes is a master of the close shave, contriving to rescue his unlikely heroes from all manner of danger, including their own stupidity, with nothing worse to show for the adventures than the odd bruise or blazing headache.

As usual, it is Hal, the human half of the partnership, who is the stupid one: his metal off-sider, Clunk, is both the brains and brawn of this outfit. Without Clunk and good ol’ Navcom, Hal would no doubt be drawing the dole on some obscure planet while he drinks his coffee and dreams his Walter-Mittyish dreams. But with the help of his long-suffering nursemaids, Hal actually manages to live out his dreams, albeit precariously, and that is perhaps half the charm of this series. There is a bit of Hal in all of us. He often embarrasses us, frequently annoys us and repeatedly amuses us. And in the end, he saves the day, convincing us that no matter how limited we seem to be, we might, one day, win out over forces more powerful than we are.

In this episode, Hal and Clunk are pitted against a robot enemy who engages hit men to see them off. In fighting for their lives and their cargo, they find themselves stewarding aboard a shuttle, risking arrest for impersonating army officers, enjoying all the fun of the fair while shying at coconuts and making utter fools of themselves at a formal dinner. How Haynes dreams up his improbable scenarios is a mystery to an unimaginative clod like me, but I’m glad he does it.

This is the third book in the series and there is a strong possibility of more. This brings one to wonder just how long a writer can get away with the same formula. Mind you, this is a formula that works – and it sells, too. Many a writer would like to dream up such a formula. Yet now Haynes has really hit his stride, one feels that perhaps he could start to take the odd risk; to play with the formula and subvert it – or lift it to greater heights than even Hal might dream of. The potential is certainly there. But meanwhile, enjoy another fast and furious ride with Haynes's zap-happy, zany rapscallions.

Between books, readers can continue to follow Hal and Clunk on their blog: http://haldiary.blogspot.com/ Their official biographer also has a blog: http://halspacejock.blogspot.com/ and a website http://www.spacejock.com.au/ They are all worth checking out.

View all my Goodreads reviews
Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Book review: Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew Mc Gahan

Wonders of a Godless WorldWonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This review first appeared in the now-defunct webzine, The Specusphere, in January 2010

Allen and Unwin, Sep 2009: ISBN 978-1-74175-809-2

Andrew McGahan is a mystery man. He does not appear to have a blog or a website — and he hasn't, so far as I can tell, written any other science fiction. Yet he's been around for fifteen years and has produced six novels and three plays. And he burst onto the SF scene with this very different book — immediately winning an Aurealis, even ousting Sean Williams, the undoubted King of Aurealisland.

Whatever else our mystery man may be, he is undoubtedly highly versatile. His first novel, Praise, won the Australian Vogel Literary Award. His third, Last Drinks, won a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing, and his fourth won multiple awards including the Miles Franklin and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. This dude is one seriously talented scribe.

Did he intend to write science fiction when he began work on Wonders of a Godless World? Or is he, like Margaret Atwood before him, somewhat bemused and embarrassed that he should win awards for genre writing? To win any award is a noteworthy event: to win awards for crime and science fiction as well as the highest literary ones must be very rare indeed. Not bad for a guy who left uni before finishing first year to work on the family farm.

Wonders of a Godless World is a good read. It does have certain literary features, such as having no named characters (not many genre writers would dare to try a trick like that, at least, not in a full-length novel) and we are never quite sure whether the events in the story are real or only happening in the mind of the protagonist. But it is certainly speculative, and it works.

The gist of the story is this: the orphan finds she can hear the foreigner speaking inside her head. The archangel, the duke, the witch and the virgin start behaving strangely and bizarre deaths occur. Although the archangel is not really an archangel; nor is the duke a duke, nor the witch a real witch. And as for the virgin – well, let's say she's not a virgin by the time the climax arrives (Yes, bad pun, I know…)

The blurb claims this to be a head-stretching story and one can only agree. It questions the nature of consciousness and even of what we call reality. Highly recommended, but don't expect it to be like any other work, speculative or otherwise, that you have ever read.

To learn more about Andrew McGahan, you have only to Google. There is an article worth reading on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_M...




View all my Goodreads reviews
Sunday, 9 June 2013

Out of the madhouse



A friend recently posted on Facebook –‘Been looking for freelance writing/proof-reading work in
London. Amazed at how many jobs are advertised as “unpaid but providing a wealth of experience and a well-known name for your CV”.  Next time I need the plumber, I'll tell him I won't pay for him to fix my tap but he can certainly list my name on his website. Actually, I might just try that at the supermarket.’

I know how my friend feels. I get the odd query from a first-time author with inflated expectations, asking if they can pay me a percentage of the book’s take instead of paying up front. No way José – I know how much most self-published authors make, and that’s 'very little'. If you self-publish, you must be prepared to do it for love. Even authors published by the big houses might not make a living wage – it’s said that the average author in Australia earns less from writing than they would on the dole. And given the tough economic times and the state of flux of the publishing industry, it's going to get worse.

It’s not just writers and editors who suffer, either. In all the arts, there have always been more good people than available jobs. It's more apparent than ever today, and part of the problem, I think, is that the tertiary institutions are turning out too many graduates. These graduates have to create their own employment, and usually their projects can’t be realised without some kind of subsidy. Or they work in community theatre for nothing. Or they self-publish books. As one of my writerly friends puts it ‘Centrelink’ (Australia’s social security department) ‘is the biggest patron of the arts since the de Medicis’.

As long as there is cheap or free labour around the arts will remain a buyers' market, and inevitably, this 'amateurisation' of the arts will continue. Yet if you are an artist of any ilk, you are probably also a rugged individualist. An office job would drive you insane. Routine bores you, and lack of a creative outlet can make you severely depressed. Furthermore, trying to be creative while selling your soul to the system is a sorry task.

It’s a conundrum, and I don’t think it’s a new one. As Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: ‘The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the collective. If you choose to fight, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened ... but no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.’

Nietzche is also reported as saying And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. May there always be those few of us who do hear the music, either as creators or consumers of the arts. We might be thought insane – but I do believe we keep the rest of society out of the madhouse.
Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Dance like nobody's looking



I recently attended my very first Middle Eastern Dance Festival. Middle Eastern dance, especially belly dancing, is very popular in Australia, and several states hold annual festivals. The Western Australian one, founded by Keti Sharif  enjoys national renoun. Several hundred participants turned up at the Juan Rando Dance Academy in Subiaco  to attend workshops for four full days, with four different classes running simultaneously. There were two evening performances and a one-day market as well.

Barbara Wolfencamp (Zahraa)
Guests-of-honour were Ozgen from Turkey and Tamalyn Dallal from the USA. I was fortunate enough to get places in workshops with both these fine artists, as well as those with Australian doyennes Belyssa   and Zahraa (Barbara Wolfcamp). It was a fitness trial for me as it’s been many years since I’ve danced for four hours a day, but although I was tired and sore I managed all the classes and did not notice my concentration slipping until the last couple, when I felt I was struggling a bit to stay focused and pick up unfamiliar material.

A quick rundown of the workshops' content – on Thursday I did Barbara's class on various Persian styles of dance. I especially loved the classical section as the movements are smooth and graceful and the music has varying time signatures. (Here in Perth the Egyptian style predominates and most of the music is in 4/4 time.) After lunch I took Ethnic Potpourri with Tamalyn, who taught us moves from Ethiopia and Zanzibar, among other places. Tamalyn has a wide knowledge of various folkloric styles, as has Belyssa, whose class I attended on Friday morning. She taught us moves from Morocco, Nubia, and the desert Bedouin tribes, some of which are very earthy. Very earthy indeed, in fact.

Then it was back to Tamalyn for an improvisation class using tools such as 'writing' our names with various body parts and drawing on the four elements together with the idea of 'consistency', thinking of substances such as honey and dark chocolate! It took me right back to my days at WAAPA,  back in the eighties, when I did a class of that kind several times a week.

Ozgen
I had a day off on Saturday, having realised before I registered that at my age I was probably not going to be able to sustain four days of classes, and I returned on Sunday with energy renewed, which was just as well because that was when I had my only workshop with the indefatigable Ozgen! Once again I was reminded of my days at WAAPA, but this time it was character classes that were recapped. Ozgen concentrated on Turkish Romany dances, and some of the steps are very tricky. The steps themselves would not be too hard, studied one at a time – most of them can be a seen as variants of what in ballet is called a pas de bourrée - three steps that travel in any direction. However, the time signatures of 9/8 and 5/4 were very challenging, and there was a lot of material to cover. 

Tamalyn Dallal
My mind had become a tad fuzzy by the time the last class rolled around, this one on Orchestral Taqsim with Tamalyn. She is very knowledgeable about Middle Eastern music and instruments, so this class was a fast study in music as well as dance.

Overall, the WAMED festival broadened my knowledge and understanding of Middle-Eastern and North African ethnic dance, as opposed to the more commercial ‘belly dance’ which owes as much to Hollywood as to the Middle East. I hope I will still be fit enough to do it again next year. I was very pleased to see that there were at least a dozen women of about my own age, proving that dance is not just for the young and beautiful!
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