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

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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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Friday, 23 December 2016

New Book!

I haven't told you much about The Cloak of Challiver, book two of The Talismans. It was launched at a very low-key affair during the recent convention in Canberra. It's available as an e-book, and you can pre-order a hard copy version, but I have no word on when that will be released.

It's a different book from The Dagger of Dresnia, although Ellyria is again the linchpin character, with her daughter-in-law Tamirayne as her sidekick. They are twenty-two years older, and as the story is basically a double romance, the plot highlights the adventures of Ellyria's two granddaughters, Milana and Lyrien, both of whom fall in love with men their parents would not consider to be suitable partners. The Dark Spirit is still around, as is Nustofer, the villainous cleric from The Dagger of Dresnia, and as with any good medieval fantasy, there are plenty of of love scenes, battles and mysteries. You can buy the ebook from Amazon and other online retailers, or direct from the publishers at http://satalyte.com.au/ - and if you're holding out for hard copy, just put in a pre-order.

Book Three, The Seer of Syland, will be a couple of generations later than the Cloak story. Don't hold your breath - it's still very much a WIP (work-in-progress!) I'm also playing with a novella, a spin-off from The Cloak of Challiver.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Just cruisin'

I've just returned from a most enjoyable cruising holiday with my sister Anne. We boarded Golden Princess in Melbourne on 4 December, and experienced two weeks of lovely cruising around New Zealand. As is so common in that part of the world, the sea was too choppy for us to visit all the ports on the schedule, but we had fun aboard ship and also on a very pleasant coach tour around Gisborne, which I'd never visited before.

As you can see from the picture, Golden Princess is a large vessel. Wikipedia tells me that she measures 109,000 gross tons and carries 2,600 passengers in twin cabins, along with 1,100 crew members.

There were plenty of enjoyable activities on board, although I was disappointed that the offerings were not as many and varied as those on the last cruise we did, on Dawn Princess. I had hoped for Yoga classes, but none were in evidence, and although the keep-fit classes were well-presented, they only lasted half an hour and didn't challenge us much.

There was plenty of entertainment in the evenings, though, and I reflected on how many entertainers must be kept in employment by cruise ships. At least a dozen were on the ship, and their performances were of high quality and well received, with packed houses in the theatre nearly every night. And the food, of course, was fabulous. (I've gained a couple of kilos, I fear!)

Now, of course, I am feeling the symptoms of whatever cruise lurgy was going around - dizziness and a slight headache are my constant companions. I'm getting stuck into the Vitamin C and Olive Leaf remedy in the hope of throwing the bug off before it gains too strong a hold.

The holiday season looms large, and whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hannukah or a Solstice (Summer or Winter, depending on where you live!) or something else entirely, I wish you all every happiness for the coming year.

Monday, 31 October 2016

A day to remember - or forget!

Isn't it strange how, now and again, you get a day when everything goes wrong? I don't know about you, but I'm sure I get more of those than I deserve. I get one maybe every month or two, whereas the other kind - the ones that bring nothing but peace, joy and satisfaction - come only once or twice a year at best. Nah, let's get real here - once or twice a decade is more like it!

Today, I had an appointment at one of the hospitals here in Perth. The public health system is underfunded and probably understaffed as well, so errors and misunderstandings are not uncommon. This was an appointment made ages ago, and as soon as I received the notice I phoned to say that Mondays aren't good for me because I teach dance then. Outpatients Direct, the mob in charge of the bookings, said they would try to get the appointment changed and I would hear about it in due course. What I received was another copy of the same notice - Monday, 31 October at 11.00AM.

'Oh well,' I thought. 'Perhaps they can't change it. I'll just have to cancel the dance class.' However, my students are dead keen on their work and they agreed to practise on their own today, while I went to the hospital. So I plotted out my journey - three rides (bus, train, train and a fair walk at the end) taking just over an hour each way.

Perhaps I should explain here that I do not drive. I did try to learn once, but after putting my then husband's treasured Jaguar into a ditch, nose down, I decided that a tactical withdrawal was in order, and I never tried again. In our society, non-drivers are rare, and not being able to drive might almost be considered a disability. However, I don't think I would ever have been more than a mediocre driver, at best: the kind that gets women drivers a bad name among certain males of the species.

Eventually, I got to the hospital all right, but do you think I could find the relevant department? Of course not. The sprawling layout of single-story buildings that constitutes the outpatients section covers an entire suburban block on its own, and of course all the buildings look alike. My notice had a map on the back, but whichever way I turned the paper, I could not find the right way into the right section. Eleven o'clock came and went and I was still lost. I asked for directions, and of course with the cheerful confidence of people who know their way around, various staff members pointed me in one wrong direction after another. Finally, more by good luck than good management, I stumbled across the right building, only to find that yes, the original appointment had, in fact, been cancelled and that I would eventually receive notice of a new time, probably in January.

This is starting to remind me of the song about why Murphy's not at work today, so I'll stop griping now. But I do hope my lovely dancing ladies had a better time than I did this morning!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Canberra Con!

I am writing this post in a small dormitory in Canberra, Australia's capital city. Spring can be cold in Canberra, because it's inland and close to the aptly-named Snowy Mountains. I have found a nice cheap place to stay when I'm here - the YHA in Akuna Street, a really good, centrally placed hostelry for people who don't want to cough up several hundred dollars for a night's lodging!

I've had a turnover of room mates these last five nights, and tonight is a bit lonely as I am suddenly the only occupant of this four-bed dorm. I have a son and his family in Canberra, including newcomer Esther, my first great grandchild, but they live a bit too far from the centre of the city for me to stay with them. However, we had a couple of nice get-togethers during my visit. It was actually Esther's arrival that closed the deal, as I'd been um-ing and ah-ing about going to the convention. Overall, however, I'm glad I did.

Sean Williams
Alan Baxter
It was a pleasant, low-key event, with Guests of Honour Alan Baxter (fantasy writer and martial arts expert!) and David Farland (AKA Dave Wolverton when he writes hard SF) from America. South Australian author Sean Williams, one of Australia's best-loved SF writers, was there too, but wearing another persona - that of Master of Ceremonies!

I was lucky enough to be on a panel with Dave Farland toward the end of the four-day program. He's one of those people who can draw on vast experience on many topics, so is an excellent speaker. You can discover more on Dave and his work at http://davidfarland.com/

I sat on five panels, the first of which was called How realistic do you like your fantasy? To me, the essence of the topic is this: Fantasy implies the inclusion of elements that do not, as far as we can assess, exist on this planet. Furthermore, I do not like stories that include pornography or a lot of violence; however, those who have read The Dagger of Dresnia will know that I will include sex scenes if they are necessary to the plot or to bring out certain character traits.
Dave Farland

A second fantasy panel discussed Rhythm and form in fairy tales. Historian Gillian Polack had a lot to contribute on this one and my fellow panelists and I listened in awe to her erudite approach to the topic!

On the second day, another fantasy panel concerned itself with religion and how writers are likely to adapt elements of religions they are familiar with to create new ones for their stories. I think religions in my stories have a basis in High Anglican liturgy with a dash of Wicca for seasoning, and that is probably not unusual, given the typical fantasy author's prolific interests.

On Sunday, Jane Virgo, Val Toh and I discussed Chinese and European  systems of astrology on our one panel for the day. Some of you will know that I made my living as an astrologer for several years, but it was, of course, the European system. I have read a bit on the Chinese system; enough to know that it comes from a base that differs from the one we are used to. However, they can both be valuable tools for personal growth and counselling, and we agreed that, as writers, we would sometimes draw on our knowledge of astrology to help us with character development.
Kelli Takenaka

Finally, we ground to a halt on Monday with 'Writing for pleasure, not publication'. Dave Farland, Kelli Takenaka and I discussed this with the small audience and gradually the topic shifted around to 'Fan fiction', which is surely the best response to the idea that rewards can take many forms. Money is fine, but sometimes just having fun or learning something new about the craft of writing through our own work can be rewarding.

All in all, a nice little con, thanks to the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. And while I've been writing, a new room mate has arrived!

Back to Perth tomorrow - a six-to-eight hour journey if the connections work as they should!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Another brilliant friend!

Almost every week I am reminded of the depth and spread of talent that exists in our community. I'll review a show, or read a book, or hear a play or a poetry reading that sets my pulse beating and my head whirling. This time it's an amazing book of verse and poetic prose that contains a lovely poem by my writing buddy Joanne Mills. The Light Within: A Collection of Peace and Prose contains many fine pieces, and none finer than Jo's lovely poem 'Heart of Light'.

Joanne Mills is a multiple award winner, with many poems and several novels to her credit. Her Siaris fantasy series (under the pen-name Joanna Fay) is one of the most imaginative I've come across. It must be something in the air here, I reckon. How else can a relatively small city such as Perth produce such a wealth of talent?
Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Book review: Den of Wolves

Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim, #3)Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was chuffed to receive an ARC of this novel, as it was penned by one of my favourite authors. Den of Wolves, the third book in the Blackthorn and Grim series, brings the adventures of this unlikely pair to a close. It does not, however, altogether preclude the publication of further novels featuring Blackthorn, healer and wise woman, and her only friend in the world, the quiet but reliable Grim.

In book one, Dreamer's Pool, we saw the pair escape from jail, where they had been incarcerated by the evil lord, Mathuin, and they have been on the road ever since, on a journey laced by adventures. The three novels demonstrate, as good fantasy should, the growth of the pair both individually and as a couple, on both outer and inner levels.

In keeping with this theme of growth, Juliet Marillier has demonstrated her own increasing development as a storysmith. Den of Wolves is a mature work in more ways than one: it's aimed at real live grown ups; the language and style are adult and the story extraordinarily well-crafted. Best of all, its depth and skillful use of language will engage 'literary' readers as well as SF fans.

To balance the increasing maturity of the lead characters there is Cara, a girl in her mid-teens who also needs to flee from an unbearable situation. Interestingly, Marillier gives Blackthorn and Grim the first person point-of-view, whereas the Cara chapters are in a close third, which gives readers a slightly different slant on the various situations (most of them difficult!) that the trio must endure. Another important character is the quiet, almost surly, wild man, Bardan. He sometimes carries the point-of-view (first person), and is the fourth important character, providing significant contrast to the others.

If you like well-developed characters, increasing tension and lots of adventures and misadventures, you're sure to love this book. I liked it so much I found myself wishing there were more in the series. I hope other readers are equally smitten so that Juliet Marillier might be persuaded to write more about these convincingly real characters.

There is a huge supporting cast (I gave up counting at about 55!) but there is a good character list and pronunciation guide to the sometimes strange-looking ancient Irish names.

Spoiler alert!

Unusually for this author, there is a 'real' love scene at the close of the story, to demonstrate the pair's new maturity and concern for each other. However, the entire novel is tastefully presented and not in the least bit obscene or awkward.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Another lovely interview!

Elizabeth Fitzgerald has interviewed me for the 2016 Snapshot of Speculative Fiction. 

You can find Elizabeth's work at 


The Snapshot seems to have settled into a rhythm of occurring every two years, and is well-worth following as a quick guide to the current state of Speculative Fiction in Australia.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dancing again!

Last weekend I attended another of Keti Sharif's excellent workshops on middle-eastern dance technique. Keti has to be one of the finest teachers of this genre in the world. Her work is thoughtful and carefully graded, so that each step of the way builds on previous ones. Her A-Z system is one of the best constructed syllabuses I have seen in any form of dance education.

This workshop built on A-Z by using short sections of that system to suggest various choreographic moods, based on the four classical elements of fire, air, earth and water. Using appropriate 'mood music' made it easier to fall into the desired mind-space to express the gentle rhythms of wind and water and the strength of fire and earth. All these things, of course, are related to human moods. How often do we hear 'fire in the belly' or 'raining tears'?

I was delighted and relieved that Keti certified me (yes, OK, people are always telling me I should be 'certified'!) for both systems. I plan to try to interest my theatrical dance ladies in learning a middle-eastern routine this coming term. While dance is an excellent form of exercise at any age, classical ballet, with its complicated and difficult jumps and turns, is not the best choice for older people; at least not in the same format as one might teach children or teenagers. What I do with my class is to give them a simple but strengthening ballet barre and centre, and instead of the 'allegro' section of class which traditionally contains the most demanding material, I shift to energetic but not-too-demanding steps drawn not only from ballet but also from traditional dances of the world. One thing all nations have in common is dance. I have never heard of a society that has no dance culture, and I doubt such a society exists anywhere.

Keti Sherif (right) teaches world-wide, and is currently in (I think!) North America. Find out more on her website.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Books and authors meme

 Yes, it's another meme, courtesy of my friend Carole McDonnell. Copy and paste if you'd like to give it a go, and let us know in the comments below when it's done. Name all the influences you can think of within fifteen minutes. The fun of these memes, to me, lies in comparing my preferences with those of other readers and writers! Anyhow, here goes:

Rupert Bear, a children's comic strip character created by the English artist MARY TOURTEL. I was about three or four years old at the time, and my eldest sister was going out with a young man who, due to his European parentage, was fluent in both French and German. He translated Rupert into both languages for me, so I was able to read the story three times, with the English helping me to translate the other two. What a pity we lose our capacity to absorb languages as we grow up! But I do think it helped - I soaked up French in High School far more easily than most students did, and when I enrolled in German classes as an adult I was astonished to realise that I already knew how to conjugate the verbs, and could read out loud quite fluently, even though I had little idea what I was reading about!

The Famous Five series by ENID BLYTON kept me busy for several years after I started school. At seven I had a reading age of eleven, and at nine, a reading age of fourteen. They kept promoting me to higher grades in primary school because of my reading, completely ignoring the fact that I didn't know my times tables properly. I never did master mathematics. And I was nearly a year younger than my classmates when I started high school, which made it hard for me to make friends.

In about grade five, ARTHUR RANSOME's Swallows and Amazons series became my obsession. They are still a good read, I reckon! MARY STEWART's The Crystal Cave was my next influence, at the age of fourteen. I already knew the Arthurian stories slightly, but this was the book that really hooked me in.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, who should, to my mind, be posthumously knighted if not canonised, has influenced every writer in English since the C17, whether or not they realise it. What that writer didn't know about human nature, even as a young man, is not worth knowing, and his poetic and dramatic expression of probably every facet of the human condition has no peer.

DANIEL DEFOE, author of Treasure Island and Moll Flanders, is another who has influenced nearly every English-speaker who ever put pen to paper. His style is a bit dated, of course, but he certainly knew how to spin a yarn.

CHARLES DICKENS, whether we actually like his work or not, has also been a huge influence on the whole writing scene for the last century and more. Like many of you, I got Oliver Twist and Bleak House thrust upon me in high school or university. Others whose influence is inescapable for the same reason include CHARLOTTE and ANNE BRONTE and JAMES JOYCE, inter alios.

And then I turned eighteen, and I married a man who loved Sci-Fi. He introduced me to the work of DE CAMP and PRATT, and from there I went on to read URSULA LEGUIN, ISAAC ASIMOV, ROGER ZELAZNY, PIERS ANTHONY and the other giants of SF in that era. I kept up in reading in the genre (TIM POWERS was a longtime favourite, as was ANNE MCCAFFREY) for some thirty years before putting pen to paper myself.

And what about current writers? Main influences among my contemporaries have been JACQUELINE CAREY, NEIL GAIMAN, ROBIN HOBB, GUY GAVRIEL KAY, GLENDA LARKE, JULIET MARILLIER - and, of course, GEORGE RR MARTIN.

It took me far less than fifteen minutes to think of my influences, but over an hour to write this post. See how you go, and let me know!
Sunday, 24 April 2016

Another interview

I do enjoy being interviewed! Having been on the the other side of the process many times when I was eking out a living from freelance journalism, I know how hard it is to find enough interesting questions to ask.

At https://stanbrookshire.com/2016/04/22/qa-with-satima-flavell/ you will see that Allison Cosgrove has devised a nice interview technique that goes beyond 'What's it like to be published' and inanities such as 'What's your favourite food?' (The answer to that one is 'Cake', of course. Isn't cake everyone's favourite food?)

You can click through to other author inteviews, too, and you will find a wide variety of Q's and A's with many and varied interviewees.

Don't you just love Allison's logo? Almost makes me wish I was a horror writer!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Dancing, dancing, dancing!

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we appear to have all the time in the world, and can sneak snacks and naps into our schedules, and other times we seem to be flat out from dawn to dusk for weeks on end. Then, just as we are about to crawl into a hole to die in peace and quiet, things ease off again. This last month has been one of those busy times for me. It culminated in a very enjoyable but terribly busy week that is now drawing to a close.
Keti Sharif

Last weekend was a highlight. Keti Sharif, one of the movers and shakers of the Australian belly dance scene, held a three-day workshop at Margaret River. I joined seven keen dancers, including several other mature ladies, in an intensive timetable that involved up to five or six hours dancing a day. That’s rather a lot of exercise for a dancer in her seventies, but I stayed on my feet and, of course, learnt a lot.

Keti Sharif has devised a training system called A-Z. She has created a graded series of twenty-six short routines, and by the time the student has mastered all of them she will have a pretty good idea of the basics of the dance style. I am nowhere near mastery, but Keti gave me a tick for the first five routines. I sort-of stumbled through the others.

At my age, memory is problem. Because of my earlier dance training, I don’t find it hard to pick up new steps, but remembering to do them in a set order is, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. However, I am not easily discouraged and I plan to go to another workshop with Keti mid-year. You can learn more about Keti and her work at http://www.ketisharif.com/

Of course, I got home to find three-hundred-odd emails waiting for attention. Having an interest in conservation and human rights (among other things!) I get a lot of emails from political and charitable concerns. As a rule I do like to read their news, but even being a bit ruthless, it took me a couple of days to catch up on the backlog because more were coming in all the time. By the end of the third day I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of pixels. Add a few appointments and a couple of very enjoyable social outings and you have an exhausting week to look back on.

Next weekend is Shakespeare's birthday, and today we have a rehearsal for an extract from A Midsummer Night's Dream that committee members of the Shakespeare Club of WA are preparing to present at the club's party. Then, maybe, this busy period will be over. I'll let you know in the next post!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Another Easter, another Swancon!

If you've been reading this blog for more than a year or two, you will already know that I get all excited and flustered at Easter.  It's not due to chocolate overdose, but enthusiasm for Western Australia's annual Science Fiction convention, Swancon.

This year was no exception. I missed last year's event, which means I was doubly excited about this one! I sat on panels, listened to panels, looked at lovely artwork, bought a book or two and sold about the same number, and caught up with fellow writers and fans, spending a lot of time chatting with friends old and new. Writing buddy Keira McKenzie enjoyed deserved praise for her artwork. I bought a lovely card that I know I won't want to send to anyone because I like it too much!

The committee had invited a wide range of guest panellists. Jane Epsenson, an American television writer and producer, was the 'overseas' guest-of-honour. She has had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she shared a Hugo Award for her writing on the episode 'Conversations with Dead People'. In 2010 she wrote an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, and joined the writing staff for the fourth season of the British television program Torchwood. I only heard a couple of her panels, but they were enough to get me interested in Espenson's work, even though I am a reader rather than a watcher. (Although I must confess to a Game of Thrones addiction - I have the books, books about the books, and DVDs as well...)

I fell into conversation with the national guest-of-honour, Lian Hearn (a.k.a. Gillian Rubenstein). I had read and enjoyed her earlier trilogy, Tales of the Otori, so I was delighted to find that there are now two more books: a prequel and sequel to the trilogy. Lian (pronounced like 'Ian' with an 'l' in front) loves all things Japanese. She has lived there and speaks the language fluently, so she has been able to draw convincingly on Japanese history and culture. I've started reading my lovely signed copy of  Emperor of the Eight Islands and if it continues as it starts I can promise that it's an exciting read with an excellent setting; interesting characters, and lots of action. You can find Gillian/Lian's website at http://www.gillianrubinstein.com/

I sat on seven panels and enjoyed them all:
    Do I need a Website? with Amanda Bridgeman, Alecia Hancock, Jon Hayward and Rebecca Laffar-Smith. (We found in the affirmative. Who can do without at least a blog these days?)
    Not Writing Yourself, with Claire Boston, Lian Hearn, Louise Helfgott and Pete Kempshall, turned into a fascinating discussion of how authors draw on their own characteristics and experience, often quite unconsciously.
    Let me read to you three minutes of something I wrote, with Evan Beasley, Louisa Loder and Dave Luckett was just what it said. We each read from our own work to a small but appreciative audience.
    Elegant Prose In Novels, with Claire Boston and Louise Helfgott.

   Defying Doomsday, a preview reading and discussion of the forthcoming anthology, with Sue Ackermann, Stephanie Gunn and Anna Hepworth, under the guidance of publisher Alisa Krasnostein.
    How Writing Changes for Adult, YA and Children's Writing, with PRK, Lian Hearn, Rebecca Laffar-Smith and Susanna Rogers.
    Editors: a New Hope with Sally Beasley and Michael O'Brien. A couple of other editors joined us, so we had a lively debate about the good, the bad and the ugly bits of editing.

Two disappointments marred the event for me. Firstly,  my second novel, The Cloak of Challiver, was to have been launched at Swancon, but, sadly, stock did not arrive in time. The current plan is a launch at  Conflux, the Melbourne SF convention, in September. Things may move earlier - I'll keep you posted! More positively, there was plenty of socialising, and I do hope that I'll see some of my new friends at future cons - or at least on our blogs and social media!

The second disappointment was that a lot of friends I'd normally see at Swancon had gone to a competing event in Brisbane, the national SF convention (Natcon for short). How the organisers could have made such a blunder is beyond me. I hope it future they will do as such eventualities have been dealt with in the past - give Easter to the Natcon and hold Swancon at another time.

Gripes aside, I'd like to thank the organising committee for another enjoyable convention in Perth! May there be many more.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Avian visitors

My friend Helen Venn recently created a blog post about watching birds play under the garden sprinkler. That’s one of the things I miss about living in an apartment – on the balcony of a fourth-floor flat there is no garden (unless you count a couple of dozen pot plants, mainly geraniums) and no sprinkler. I got very enthusiastic in my comments on Helen’s post, so I thought I’d better expand on the topic on my own blog rather than hogging Helen’s.

When I lived in a house (as opposed to a bed-sit flat) I used to love to watch birds playing in the sprinkler's fountain. Parrots seemed to be the main visitors, and they did a lot of excited squawking as they had their shower!

Where I live now I can watch flocks of birds at this time of year – often pink-breasted galahs, but sometimes the rare black cockatoo species – chattering excitedly as they feed in the trees across the road. The rest of the year is almost birdless, so it must be some kind of favourite seed they come to find when it’s in season. It seems to be part of a daily journey – they fly in from one direction and leave in another. I never see them going home at night: they must have a different route for that.

Wikipedia: Calyptorhynchus banksii

I can see why some people get really hooked on bird-watching! (Glenda Larke,  for instance, is a master of twitching and has watched our feathered friends in many parts of the world.) However, poor eyesight prevents me from spending more time on the balcony, looking out for avian visitors. I can see the black cockatoos, but not distinguish the colour under their tail feathers. There are several subspecies, but the ones in question include a species with red highlights and another with white. Both are rare and becoming rarer, but the white-tailed one, known as Carnaby’s cockatoo, is closer to extinction than its red-tailed cousin.

Perth Now: Barnaby's cockatoo

The above picture comes from the Perth Now website. The accompanying article points out that government inaction on the destruction of habitat is largely to blame for the 'cocky's' rapidly decreasing numbers. 

It’s probably just as well I have poor eyesight, because I should be working on book three of the trilogy rather than watching birdlife! Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, is scheduled for release within the next few weeks! Watch out for the Big Announcement!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Perth Writers Festival, 2016

It took three of us to write up the Perth Writers Festival for Artshub this year! Even so, we really couldn't cover all of it. It was busy, busy, busy, busy, with four streams running at once.

Check out the links below if you want a taste of writerly wisdom from some of the world's finest:

The Opening Address (Thursday 18 February) was covered by Michèle Drouart

Day One (Friday, 19 February) was covered by Satima (writing as Carol Flavell Neist) and Michèle Drouart 

Day Two (Saturday 20 February) was covered by Ilsa Sharp

Day Three (Sunday 21 February) was covered by Satima
(writing as Carol Flavell Neist)

The Perth Writers Festival is incredibly popular. It attracts readers, writers, and purveyors of fine books by the gazillion. All right, all right - a few hundred of each, maybe fewer of the purveyors - but there could easily have been a couple of thousand people and more passing through the gates over the three days. This year's theme was 'Empathy' - something we could all try to develop to the advantage of everyone.

PS - the Writing WA Newsletter reckons the total head count to be around 47,000!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

A day for dancers

Yesterday I attended the inaugural Independent Dance Teachers Conference here in Perth. It was organised by my friend and colleague Angela Perry, and it was held at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts where Angela and I studied back in the 1980s! Angie did an amazing job of booking excellent speakers and planning a program that kept a bunch of dance teachers enthralled for a full day. In the evening annual awards were presented but sadly I couldn’t stay as I don’t like travelling home by public transport after dark.

The keynote speaker, Dr Shona Erskine, gave us a glimpse of the psychological tools that can help dancers to reach their full potential. Next came a lovely performance by a couple of dozen happy, fresh-faced students from the Charlesworth Ballet Institute, followed by a presentation by Sydneysider Penny Lancaster from the Australian Dance Institute, explaining the role of the Institute in organising accredited courses in dance education, teaching and management. In conversation later, Penny and I were surprised to realise that we had been fellow students at the Scully-Borovansky School of Ballet in Sydney back in the late 1950s and early 1960s! It’s a small world we dance in.

Then began the more practical sessions. I managed to stay on my feet for about half the Zumba class led by fellow Perthite Yannick Benoit, who teaches dance fitness in nearby Maddington. We were ready for a break after that, and then the ladies of my Theatrical Dance class at Trinity School for Seniors performed their party piece. I was proud of them – most of them have not danced since they were teenagers, and have come on by leaps and bounds in the time I have known them. Not that we do a lot of leaping or bounding – I keep seniors classes a bit low key, with a short ballet barre and centre followed by a dancey section that uses no deep knee bends, no jumps and no pointe work. My dear ladies acquitted themselves well and got some nice claps and cheers as they took their bows.

ZeeshanPasha was the next speaker. He offered an interactive workshop about branding and networking. I was pleased to find that I was putting energy into most of the right channels!

All in all, it was a fruitful and enjoyable day. Angela Perry did an amazing job of the organisational matters, and the speakers and audience were all interesting and likeable. I would love to see an organisation for independent dance teachers, providing more opportunities for professional development. Sometimes independent operators in any field can start to think they are roaming around alone in a huge, darkened room.

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