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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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 November 2008

Back in the Mount

Mount Gambier, you will be pleased to know, is still here where I left it. So is my flat, which desperately needs a good clean but apart from wiping down the kitchen benches I've done little to change that, the main reason being that my shoulder is sore, and has been for several weeks. Make that months. In fact. I can't quite remember when it started to play up, but it must have been as early as June or July, maybe even earlier. Funny how aches and pains sneak up on one, remaining only half in consciousness until the body part concerned starts to scream for attention.

Well, it finally screamed loudly enough to make me take myself off to the doc. She sent me for a scan and an x-ray, which revealed that I had damaged the supraspinatus tendon in the left shoulder. Such a small piece of equipment to go wrong, yet the pain had reached something like seven or eight out of ten before I finally got it seen to. Not just the shoulder was hurting, but the entire left arm, with shooting pains down to the wrist and constant aches and jabs in the upper arm and elbow. Yoga became more and more difficult and finally I gave up on it, since I was doing the poses so badly I figured it wasn't doing me any good anyway. Doing my hair has taken on the nature of an Extreme Sport as I try to pin up my ever-recalcitrant locks while leaning over to the left to avoid raising the left arm overhead. The wretched arm simply will not lift more than about forty-five degrees in any direction: abduction beyond waist height is agony and putting it behind my back, almost impossible. A few millimetres out of the comfort zone are enough to bring on tears. Isn't it amazing how we don't appreciate the body until something goes wrong with it?

The worst part is that it could take as much as two years to get better and even then it's unlikely to recover its full range of movement. Surgery might help, but then again it might not: apparently they don't recommend it for older people save as a last resort. So I'm stuck with a frozen shoulder, perhaps for good, dammit. Oh well, it's the best excuse I've ever had for the avoidance of housework.

I've tried all my usual therapies, primarily Chiropractic and Bowen therapy, both of which I've found very helpful in the past. Not with this baby. The only thing that's brought a bit of relief is an electro-magnetic device that I've hired from a man in Perth at great expense - $10 a week! On a pension, that's almost as bad as a damaged arm! But it the little gizmo does seem to help, so I'm pathetically grateful for it. Mind you, it set off the alarm at the airport when I flew out from Perth and it took ages for security to decide whether or not I should be allowed on the plane with it. However, we reached Adelaide in almost record time so who knows? Maybe it helped the plane as well as my shoulder.

Anyhow, my shoulder and I are back in Mount Gambier, where, as expected, it is still cold and damp. I'm looking forward to warmer weather within a few weeks. Summer is the main tourist season, largely because of the famous Blue Lake. It's a lovely stretch of water nestled in an extinct volcano, and it turns the most glorious shade of cobalt blue from November to March each year. This photo was taken last year by my niece, Linda, who is a dab hand with a camera.

Nothing's happening on the writing front; maybe in a week or two when I've settled back here...Meantime,I take my hat off to all those enthusiasts who have done NaNoWriMo this year, and I lift it even higher (with my right arm, of course) to the ones who have done the required 50K words and in some cases even more. Noble souls, the lot of them!
Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rainbow Quizz

Here we go again:-)

Your rainbow is strongly shaded brown and indigo.


What is says about you: You are a deep thinking person. You appreciate cities, technology, and other great things people have created. You feel closer to people when you understand their imperfections. People are loyal to you and see you as a natural leader.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

I don't know about the Natural Leader bit. I'll lead if it's thrust upon me but I'd rather just be given a job to do then left alone to do it. How about you?
Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Farewell Concert

I'm astonished at how sad I feel this morning as I complete last minute chores, including packing. In a couple of hours I'll be on my way back to South Australia for the summer.

Why am I sad? After all, I'm only going for three months. All being well, lots of house-sitting will turn up and I'll be able to stay in Perth for much of next year, as I have this. But I've lived longer in Perth than anywhere else, and it's come to feel like home. I've lived in various parts of Australia, England, Scotland, New Zealand and the USA, but no one city has ever held me for twenty-odd years, as Perth has done. So leaving even for three months is a wrench.

I cannot complain about the quality of goodbyes. I've caught up with several friends this week and yesterday a few visitors dropped in to wish me happy trails. But perhaps the most noteworthy of all was my own personal concert by Andre Rieu and his cast of thousands. This house is opposite the Subiaco Oval, home, as it states proudly on the billboards, of the West Coast Eagles and various other sporting teams. But last night the oval was transformed into an amphitheatre for Rieu's only Perth concert.

The build-up started at about 11.00am with the arrival of the sound people. They fiddled with the volume and quality, on and off, for several hours, giving the neighbourhood a tantalising taste of the program. Snippets of Scotland the Brave blended into Trumpet Voluntary and Bolero with bit of Puccini thrown in for good measure. About 5.00pm they got serious and we actually heard a couple of numbers right through. Then from 7.30pm onwards the musicians were almost in competition with the large and enthusiastic audience. In fact, it was hard to judge which party was making the most noise. And the wee small hours seemed to be devoted to striking the set. They did whatever they were doing reasonably quietly, but still...

Not that the concert was unwelcome noise as far as I'm concerned. I have very plebeian tastes when it comes to music - I love all those hackneyed old tunes, even when they've been transcribed for combinations of instruments and voices far removed from the composers' intentions. So I had great fun singing along while playing Scrabble with Facebook friends. It was just like having my own farewell concert. But anyone who doesn't like classical music or is a purist about its performance would have been running for the earplugs.

I was lucky this time: it was my kind of music. But should local councils be allowed to rent space to events that are almost certain to annoy a considerable number of residents, not just for the duration of a football match, but for the better part of 24 hours? I don't know, but I'm sure glad it wasn't a dance party or death metal or a weird modern opera!

Back to the packing. I'll talk to you again next week, from South Australia!
Sunday, 16 November 2008

A lovely weekend with friends

This time next week, I shall be in Adelaide. That will bring its own pleasures because I hope to catch up with good friends such as David and Annalouise and maybe some of my children as well. Then before the end of the month I'll be back in Mount Gambier for the summer.

Mount Gambier is lovely in summertime. It seldom goes above 35 degrees and is usually in the mid-twenties to low thirties. What's more, it is dry - of recent years, Perth, which used to enjoy a classic Mediterranean climate, has become very humid for much of the summer, which makes the often over-40 temperatures (that's well over the century to my Stateside friends) well-nigh unbearable. We will not talk about the winter in Mount Gambier. Let's just say it's awful. But summer is lovely, and if I can go on having my winters in Perth and my summers in Mount Gambier I will be a very happy little fat gypsy indeed. Of course, it all depends on the house-sitting calendar filling up, and I'll just have to wait and see what happens on that front. However, the plan is to return on 5 March for the first housesit, which will quickly be followed by Swancon, Perth's Speculative Fiction convention.

But a return presupposes a departure, and I've already started to say goodbye to my friends. Yesterday there was a meeting of the Perth Shakespeare Club, with a reading of ActsIV and V of The Merry Wives of Windsor organised by Diana Day. Di asked me to fill in by reading Mistress Quickly, which was great fun. If there's one thing I love it's a good bawdy joke and this play abounds in them. There's one line where Evans, the schoolmaster, is instructing a boy in Latin declensions and he mentions "caret", which cues Mistress Quickly for the comment "And that's a good root!" It's nice to see some slang terms have not changed in 400 years!

Sadly there was a trilogy of last good-byes in the Club this year, as three of our dear members passed on, one of them very unexpectedly. The average age of members must be in the late sixties at least, and it's sad that a club with a history going back to the 1930s is gradually dwindling due to deaths, with no younger enthusiasts presenting themselves to keep the Bard's fan club alive.

Today we had a meeting of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre SpecFic group, which this month took the form of a workshop under the tutelage of Juliet Marillier. She spoke on voice, with particular reference to the close third POV and how it entails having not one narrative "voice", but one for each POV character. She drew on the works of Joe Abercrombie, Orson Scott Card, Angela Carter and Jacqueline Carey to illustrate her points and then gave us an exercise that involved writing two similar scenes in different voices. I did one in my own version of close third (I say "my own version" because it's not close enough yet!) and another in first person. Like many writers, I find first person much easier, although I don't actually use it often. It's easier because it's rather like acting in the Stanislavsky method - you start with "the magic 'if'". If I were such-and-such a kind of person in such-and-such a kind of situation, how would I feel? What would I do? Starting from that premise makes it much easier to portray different characters. Now, to translate that same feeling of closeness to the third person...A tall order, but I'll keep working on it.

After a very pleasant lunch in Guildford, I headed for home, caught up on emails, rang my sister Anne to remind her that I'll be there in ten days and wound up having a nice long chat, played lots of Scrabble on Facebook and now I'm just starting to think about bed. But I'm also thinking in happy anticipation of several meetings coming up this week, mostly involving my favourite activity: coffee with friends:-)
Sunday, 9 November 2008

Does length matter?

While I'm taking a break from the WIP I though I'd revamp a longish short story I wrote a couple of years ago. It doesn't quite work as a short story, and I’m planning on lengthening it into a novella or a novelette.

The trouble is that it is very difficult to sell works that are longer than 5,000ww but shorter than 90,000, unless they are intended for the Children's or Young Adults' markets. Some short story markets accept works up to 7,500ww, although many of them express a preference for shorter pieces. Stories between 7,500 and 15,000 words are especially hard to find homes for.

Occasionally, however, one does see markets advertising that they are seeking novellas or novelettes. But what is a novella? What is a novelette? How long is too long? How short is too short?

Seven and a half thousand words is the cut off point for most short story anthologies, although occasionally one sees this extended to 15,000ww. Most people today would, I think, call anything in between those two lengths a "novelette", but really, the definitions depend on who's writing them. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America web site defines a novel as a work of 40,000 words or more; a novella as a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words; a novelette as a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words and short story as a work of under 7,500 words. These are the definitions they use for their annual Nebula awards, undoubtedly one of the most prestigious awards in the industry, so perhaps these lengths can be considered "correct" for the speculative genres. However, a speculative fiction writer would be hard put to find a publisher willing to buy an adult work of 40,000ww. Most novels today, not counting the ubiquitous "fat fantasies" that sometimes run well over the 200,000ww mark, are between 95,000-150,000ww.

But outside the speculative genres there is great variance in opinion. Over at Google books , The Book of Literary Terms by Lewis Turco suggests that while the term novelette (or novelet) is a synonym for novella in most dictionaries, experts make a distinction between them: the novelette is a sort of romantic formula story while the novella is a serious work of fiction. This distinction is maintained elsewhere, one site declaring that novelettes are more likely to be termed "frothy", "trite" or "sentimental". The Concise Oxford English Dictionary online defines a novelette as "a short novel, typically a light romantic one", while a novella is "a short novel or a long short story", without any reference to length as a determining factor.

Writer Sandra M. Ulbrich uses the following definitions:
Vignette Less than 500 words
Short-Short 500-2000
Short Story 2,500-5,000
Novelette 5,000-14,000
Novella 15,000-40,000
Novel 40,000+
while over at Blurtit.com, Louise Gorman offers the following:
Flash fiction: 2,000 words or less, or sometimes 1,000 words or less
Short story: no less than 2,000 words, but no more than 7,500 words
Novelette: a work that is much shorter than a novel, usually around 7,500 to 17,500
Novella: a piece of work that is shorter than a novel, but longer than a novelette, usually 20,000 to 40,000 words long
Novel: a work that consists of 60,000 words or more
Epic: a work that consists of 200,000 words or more

In other words, there is no agreement on just how fiction works should be defined in terms of length, and the writer must consider the guidelines of each publisher before submitting work. But do we try to tailor works to a specific market, or simply write the story and then look for someone who wants works of that length? I think most writers would say the latter: a story can only be as long as it needs to be: extraneous "padding" will quickly bore the reader, and exposition that tells without showing in the interests of saving wordage is just as bad. Even so, some compromise is possible: I have seen 8,000ww stories cut by a thousand words or more with skilful editing.

Which leaves me where, exactly? Plugging along, trying to write an interesting tale with a very slight plot and trying to put tension into a froth and bubble story.

I'll let you know how it goes.
Sunday, 2 November 2008

Another Specusphere successfully launched!

After nearly a week of solid work, The Specusphere Webzine #05 is ready for you to read here! Just look at all the goodies on offer:

The English Curriculum by Stephen Thompson
Editorial afterthought—The elephant in the room by Stephen Thompson

The quintessential speculative fiction album by Stephen Thompson
3 questions for The Specusphere by Stephen Thompson
Cyborg by Brendan David Carson
The Serendipity of Publishing by Astrid Cooper

Up and Coming
New Books from Gollancz for November-December 2008
New Releases from Orbit

Jaine Fenn in conversation with Maurie Breust
Juliet Marillier revisits Sevenwaters by Satima Flavell

Book Reviews
HEIR TO SEVENWATERS by Juliet Marillier reviewed by Carol Neist
AWAKENING by Lara Morgan reviewed by Carol Neist
THE BEAST WITHIN edited by Matt Hults reviewed by Maurie Breust, Brendan Carson, Felicity Dowker, Ross Murray and Simon Petrie
INFECTED by Scott Sigler reviewed by Felicity Dowker
THE NINTH CIRCLE by Alex Bell reviewed by Ross Murray
PRINCIPLES OF ANGELS by Jaine Fenn reviewed by Maurie Breust
THE BRIDE OF TIME by Dawn Thompson reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey
THE LAST THEOREM by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl reviewed by Ross Murray
NIGHT SHIFT by Lilith Saintcrow reviewed by Ross Murray
FLOOD by Stephen Baxter reviwed by Maurie Breust
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN Volume One (Comic) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely reviewed by Brendan Carson
GHOST WALK by Brian Keene reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey
BEFORE I WAKE by Kathryn Smith reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey
A DISTANT MAGIC by Mary Jo Putney reviewed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Nigel's Evening by David Schembri
Call Waiting by Bill Youatt-Pine
The forever-green by Ashley Hibbert

I would especially like to thank my lovely team of reviewers - they've really excelled themselves this time! And as usual, special thanks to webmistress Amanda Greenslade for all her hard work.
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