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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...

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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 available as e-books from Smashwords. 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. 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

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

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Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Getting closer



Part four of my path to publication
Late in 2005, I sent the MS of The Dagger of Dresnia out to four agents. They all politely told me that it didn’t suit their requirements at this time – the standard way of saying NO without causing offence when you’re an agent. Undaunted, I tried more agents and such publishing houses as were open to unagented writers. This went on for several years, and gradually I became disheartened. 
Nevertheless, every time the standard rejection letter turned up in my email, I simply read the MS again and rewrote vast tracts. I knew there was something I just wasn’t ‘getting’ and it took me a long time to realise what it was.
All this time – which actually covered several years – I was still a member of several writing groups. I got some very useful critiques from my group buddies, and gradually it dawned on me what was missing. I’ve written about this extensively elsewhere, but to put it in a nutshell, it’s the old chestnut ‘show, don’t tell’.
You read about this in virtually every ‘how-to-write’ book there is. What takes a while for new authors to cotton onto is the fact that ‘show, don’t tell’ is composed three elements: narrative, setting and point-of-view.
We tend to think of these as being separate components of the writers’ craft, but in fact they are all simply manifestations of ’show, don’t tell’. It took me literally years and years to realise this. Some people seem to twig it early on, but as I’ve said before, I am a slow learner. But with many rewrites I gradually got better at ‘show, don’t tell’. There were two catalysts for my dawning realisation of this ‘holy trinity’ of writing.
The first was the growing popularity of the ‘close third’ (sometimes called ‘deep third’ point of view. I started to come across this as far back as 2004, with the publication of Margo Lanagan’s collection Black Juice, which contained the amazing ‘Singing My Sister Down’. I read this story over and over again, wondering how to work that particular brand of magic. Lanagan did it again in 2008 with Tender Morsels and yet again in 2009 with Sea Hearts.
In the same time period, Joe Abercrombie was publishing his First Law trilogy. It had not occurred to me that this style of writing could be applied to full-length novels, but Abercrombie did it, and took the SF world by storm. I am nowhere near being in the same league as Lanagan and Abercrombie, but through emulating them I am at least approaching the edges of their marvellous ‘close third’. If you haven’t yet read their wonderful works, please give yourself a treat and hunt them down.
Incidentally, those of you who are into literary fiction will quickly realise that ‘close third’ has grown out of the Free Indirect Discourse style of James Joyce and his predecessors. However, it is eminently more readable than Joyce at his most abstruse.
Egoboo buddies
The second catalyst was that in 2009, five members of the KSP SF group who had completed novels – Carol Ryles, Helen Venn, Sarah Parker, Joanna Fay and I – formed the Egoboo group. (There we are in the picture at left!) In 2010, we went away on our very own little writers camp. We still share a blog at http://egoboo-wa.blogspot.com.au/ and critique each other’s work from time to time. Of that group, Joanna Fay has now had three novels published by Musa Publishing (USA), Sarah Parker has had short stories published, Carol Ryles has finished a PhD (and written a really excellent novel as part of it!) and Helen Venn has won several awards. So you can see that writing groups really do work.
That writers retreat with my four friends gave me further insights into ‘show don’t tell’ and its connections to the close third POV. Close third aims to ensure that narrative, setting and point-of-view are all written from inside the head of the POV character. There is never an intrusive voice from the author; there is no ‘fly-on-the-wall’ description. In order to learn how to write in the desired style, I rewrote the entire novel in the first person, then, using the same techniques, wrote it again in close third. It worked!
And then something wonderful happened. I started to get rejections that were not just the standard ‘Thank you, but (name of book) doesn’t fit our list at this time. Good luck.’ Rather, agents and editors started to give me pointers on how to improve the work and a couple made it clear that they really liked it but it genuinely didn’t ‘fit their lists’ for one reason or another. The fact is, to get a book published in the traditional way, that book has to be exactly what the acquisitions editor happens to be looking for on that particular day. If s/he has just bought a similar book, s/he’s not going to want another of the same kind that year. If s/he’s looking for urban fantasy and you write hard SF, it could be the best SF book in the world and the acquisitions editor will, sadly, have to pass it up. Traditional publishing is a very hit-and-miss affair.
But now I’ve been lucky. Satalyte Publishing, buyer of The Dagger of Dresnia, is a new small press, the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Stephen and Marieke Ormsby. They have signed a marvellous stable of writers and have already released an anthology, Great Southern Land. I hope for great things from Satalyte, and I’m sure they expect great things from me, too!
Watch me fly.

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