About Me

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Perth, Western Australia, Australia
I am based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops as is Book two, The Cloak of Challiver. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. 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.

My books

The first two books of my trilogy, The Talismans, (The Dagger of Dresnia, and book two, The Cloak of Challiver) are available in e-book format from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. Book three of the trilogy, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation.I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below - as well as well as a few poems in various places. The best way to contact me is via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/satimaflavell

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. However, The Dagger of Dresnia and The Cloak of Challiver are available as ebooks on the usual book-selling websites, and book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans

The Cloak of Challiver, Book two of The Talismans
Available as an e-book on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Mythic Resonance

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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Blog Archive

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 December 2007

My best reads of 2007

It wasn't hard to choose my favourite books this year. Collectively, these represent less than half the books I've read during the past 12 months, and although they are the ones I most enjoyed reading, they were not all published in 2007. Some of them, such as George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, I wonder how I missed earlier! I've made no attempt to grade them because I loved them all and will no doubt read them again and again. They are listed, therefore, in alphabetical order according to author.

Just Deserts by Simon Haynes (FACP 2007) Comic SciFi. Haynes can always be relied on for a smile a page and a chuckle a chapter.
The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey (Luna 2005) Fairy Tale Fantasy. An incredibly versatile author, Lackey knows her mythology well enough to take the mickey out of it now and then, in the nicest possible way.
The Shadow of Tyr and Song of the Shiver Barrens by Glenda Larke (Voyager 2007) Magical Fantasy. These constitute books 2 and 3 of Larke's Mirage Makers trilogy. Unusually, I feel the middle book was the best of this excellent series.
Eagle of the East by L.S. Lawrence (Scholastic, 2007) Historical YA. A book for young men about a boy who becomes a soldier for the Romans. A great read for both sexes and all ages in double figures.
Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier (Tor 2007) YA Historical Fantasy. One of the loveliest books I've read in a long time, rivalled only by this author's earlier YA offering Wildwood Dancing.
A Song of Ice and Fire (series) George R.R. Martin Sword and Sorcery I bought these one after the other in England and carted them back to Australia - at the expense of much clothing that had to be discarded to make room for them. I'm thoroughly hooked now and like all Martin fans I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the rest of the series. So far we've had:
A Game of Thrones (Voyager UK 1996)
A Clash of Kings (Voyager UK 1998)
A Storm of Swords (Voyager UK - in two parts, 2000)
A Feast for Crows (Voyager UK 2005)
The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller (Voyager 2007) Magical Fantasy. Possibly the best book to date by this author. Here again, I am longing for the third one in the series.
Crash Deluxe by Marianne de Pierres (Orbit 2005) Cyberpunk Fantasy. I've never thought of myself as a Cyberpunk person but I adore this series!
The Road to Nab End and Beyond Nab End William Woodruff (Abacus 2003) Autobiography of a self-made man who grew up in the industrial slums of Lancashire in the early decades of the twentieth century. A delightful read.

Several on the list have been nominated for Aurealis or other awards. It will be interesting to see how they fare.

What were your favourite reads of the year? Do leave a post and tell me!
Sunday, 23 December 2007

An Interview with Fiona Mcintosh

I have pointed out on this blog before that in recent years Australia has produced an amazing number of excellent fantasy writers, many of whom have made their marks on the international spec-fic scene. Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough interview one of them: the very popular Fiona McIntosh. You can read the resulting article here.

I'm pleased to report the muse is back, at least for now. I have half a chapter including a fixed plothole to prove it. However, given that this is the Silly Season it's quite possible that he'll flit off again before I pin him down to any more writing. I hope not. I'm dead miserable when I can't write.

Silly Season... mm. This has, of course, been a busy week and the next ten days will be worse. Every year I try excuse myself from the madness that is Christmas, but I've never yet succeeded and doubt I ever will, no matter how loudly I cry Bah! Humbug!. Never mind: it only lasts a fortnight and then we'll be back to normal. Well, as normal as most of us ever get!
Sunday, 16 December 2007

Visitor Counter

About a month ago I noticed that some bloggers have visitor counters. Ever acquisitive, I immediately wanted one for myself. It turned out there are several free trial versions and they are easy to download, so I nobbled one and started having fun.

You can learn all kinds of things from modern counters. They don't just tot up a head count: they're far more sophisticated than that. It's possible to see where your visitors come from, geographically speaking, and also how they found the site - through a search engine or another web page or by typing the address into a browser. You can see how often they come, how long they stay, and what they typed into the search engine.

In the last regard, some of my visitors must have felt quite frustrated when they got my page instead of what they were looking for! People tend to type whole sentences into a Google box and then wonder why they get so many irrelevant hits, not realising, perhaps, that if you put relevant bits of your query inside quote marks you're far more likely to get what you're looking for. For example, here are some of the searches that landed people on this blog:

• time to say goodbye in russian
• what is the background music to the tibetan personality test?
• fancy doorstops/paperweights
• coffee maker certificate, adelaide

If these seekers had typed instead, for example…

• "time to say goodbye" russian
• "tibetan personality test" music
• "fancy doorstops" paperweights
• "coffee maker" certificate adelaide

…they would probably have landed on more helpful sites. Although I don't recall ever discussing paperweights or doorstops, fancy or otherwise, so Google only knows how that shopper landed here!

Not that I mind them coming, of course. I'm delighted to see that I'm getting so many visitors. And there are many more regular visitors than one might imagine from the number of comments. Several people have come back over and over again, reading a few of my archived posts each time. That's flattering! If you are one of those, do please write a message to say g'day and tell me what brought you to my blogstep. I would love to hear from you.

It's great to see that my visitors come from everywhere - at least one from each continent, with the worldwide breakdown showing most visitors are from Australia and the Pacific; then North America; Eurasia West; Eurasia East and finally South America and Africa clocking in at just one each.

Hmm - how to get one of those little maps onto the blog? I feel a new project coming on:-) And the counter only goes to 500 before it turns into a pumpkin, so maybe I need to upgrade. Oh dear: technology, like Christmas, tends towards proliferation!
Sunday, 9 December 2007

When all else fails, keep busy

You know how you get those times when life is full-on and you feel as if you're running uphill to no good effect? Well, that's what the last two weeks have been like for me. A lot of it has been very enjoyable: I figure that if the muse has temporarily abandoned me I might as well enjoy myself. I must admit I waste a lot of time on Facebook, and judging by the site's popularity, so do a great many other people. We compare our scores on a plethora of quizzes, pet and feed each other's imaginary pets, pit our imaginary dragons against each other in races and generally fritter our time away. Delusion reigns! It's a far cry, let me tell you, from the austere daily routine of the monastery I lived in twelve years ago:-) Life is full of amazing contrasts, or at least, this life I'm doing has been so far.

More soberly, I've signed up for a program run by the Job Network, designed to try to get retirees back into the workforce. There is a whole industry out there centred on frequently fruitless activities that purport to help people find employment. I have had several chats with officials; signed an activity agreement; had a brand new résumé drawn up and attended a full-day seminar, which has a series of weekly follow-up ra-ra meetings. It's keeping lots of other people in jobs, even if the chances of my getting one are very remote indeed. In fact, the advice given to me so far is that I have two strikes against me – I'm over 50 and I'm not a local. It's a fact that employers not only prefer younger workers, they tend to give jobs to people they know. Less than 20% of positions are filled by advertising in the newspapers, or so they tell me. So it's the old thing of "not what you know, but whom". Never mind: it's keeping a few pensioners off the streets. The last thing we want is OAPs running riot because they have nothing to do. (Actually if we don't do much it's because we are trying to live on about 50% of the income that is supposed to mark the poverty line in this country, which is why I really truly do need to find work. Wish me luck.)

Nothing to do? I can't believe I just wrote that. Another good-fun time-waster is the start of the Silly Season. I went to my first Christmas luncheon for the year last week, with the Coastal Quills writing group from Millicent. Most of the attendees were from Mount Gambier, though, so that's where the break-up was held, and very nice it was too. The place we went to allows patrons to munch ad lib on the salad bar for only $7, so it didn't break the budget, either.

What's more, as a result of meeting a new friend through Coastal Quills, I've also joined a writers group, aptly named The Write Stuff, here in Mount Gambier. I went to my first meeting on Monday night. It was a cosy little group, just about the right size, to my mind, for sharing ideas and work. One member read out a piece she was working on for comment, and after that we threw in ideas for exercises. There had been "homework" which I hadn't known about. It was to write something with the title Teddy Bears' Picnic.

Now, friends, one of my many completely useless and un-saleable talents is the ability to write doggerel at the drop of a hat, so I did the gist of the song into sonnet form, extempore, in less than ten minutes. (OK, it hasn't the depth or the epigrammatic ending of a proper English sonnet but what do you want in ten minutes?) Later, we did an exercise in which we each wrote down an emotion, an object and a colour on separate pieces of paper, which were mixed into three piles from which we took back one of each. I drew "jealousy", "dictionary" and "turquoise". The result was, of course, more doggerel. I brought the pieces home and did another five minutes work on each one. Sadly, they remain firmly in the sphere of doggerel. Neither verse is ever likely to see light of day unless I share them with you, so bear with me.

Doggerel One: Teddy Bears' Sonnet
If down into the woods thou goest this day
Methinks thou shouldst prepare thyself full well
For great adventures shalt thou there essay
With monster bruins hiding in the dell.
If down into the woods thou goest this day
'Twere best that thou shouldst well accompanied be
Full beauteous are the woods this day, but stay
If thou canst bear it, safe at home with me.
For picnic time for teddy bears it is
See how they shout and play in yonder glen!
But when night falls then homeward they will wend
In parent's care, far from the world of men.
Then teddy bears will all go off to bed
And you as well, my little sleepy head.

Doggerel Two: Three Little Words
We laughed and loved 'neath turquoise skies
But now, alas, it's over.
'Twas jealousy that split us up
And spoilt our field of clover.

Bereft of my true love I thought
That I should write a verse
I wrote a bit of drivel then
I wrote some that was worse.

The dictionary I have scoured
From cover unto cover
To find some words to pen a poem
About my faithless lover.

But words, alas, will never take
This anguish from my head
So I'll put the dictionary away
And have a beer instead.

If you like writing doggerel too, why not put some in your comment? Meantime, I'll get on with being uselessly busy while I await the muse's return. Oh, maybe not entirely useless: sometime in the next couple of weeks I may have a chance to interview one of Australia's most popular fantasy writers for The Specusphere. Watch this space!
Sunday, 2 December 2007

Displacement Activities

I've just had the pleasure of reviewing one of the best books I've read all year: Karen Miller's The Riven Kingdom. It is the second book in a trilogy but never fear – it's a discrete story and you don't need to have read the first one, although if you're new to Karen's work you'll probably want to go out and buy all her others once you've read this one! With wonderful characters, all very different from each other, and an exciting plot about an orphaned princess's determination to claim her heritage, it has something for everyone. If you like lovable characters opposing a Machiavellian baddie, adventure, romance, mystery and magic, go check it out! But first, follow the link in the left hand column to read my review on The Specusphere.

And my own writing? Still in the doldrums, I fear. I continue to get critiques that demand more depth of character; more detail, and what's more, I seem to keep falling into plot holes. Oh, to write like Karen Miller. Or Glenda Larke. Or Juliet Marillier. Or, right now, anyone but me:-( Perhaps I should read more while I’m not writing and make noticing details in other people's work the focus of my reading. I'm afraid I'm usually a great one for skimming detail.

In the meantime, there are plenty of displacement activities for blocked writers. Following blogs is one, and I've just found a new one to add to the list. It is called Writers Read, and in recent weeks two of my favourite writers, Juliet Marillier and Simon Haynes, have shared their current reading matter. It is fascinating to see the variety of tastes, even among genre writers.
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