Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Wiki Fiddling

July 22nd, 2008

Just out of interest I signed up to Wikipedia the other day. For anyone still living in the dark ages Wikipedia is a collaborative online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to.

The idea is that everyone can contribute in their own area of expertise thereby building up a community resource. The term “Wisdom of the Commons” gets bandied about which seems like an odd phrase to me.

Some wisdoms, it seems, is more common than others. For instance, if you want to know which movies starred both Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins the Wikipedia is an invaluable resource. On the other hand, if you want to know how to calculate wind-shear forces on a cable suspension bridge you would do well to look elsewhere. Either you won’t find the information in the first place or, if you do, there is a fair chance your bridge will collapse in a high wind.

Historical stuff seems to be somewhere in the middle. The bits I know about are mostly correct but tend to be careless in the finer details. Academic rigour, like engineering, is a matter of training not just native intelligence and some of the contributors are less than rigourous.

So, in the spirit of co-operation, I have added my own entry on a man with the curious name of Quilt Arnold. It is a fairly minor entry about a minor 18th century London criminal but I believe it has the virtue of being mostly correct. If I have the time and energy I might even do some more entries.

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New website

April 13th, 2008

Sometimes one website just isn’t enough. So I’ve decided to build another one.

Over the past few years I have been writing an urban fantasy novel set in London in the 18th century. I am about to finish it again (this must be about the fifth time) and I have hopes that it may actually be publishable sometime within the next year.

Anyway, since all successful authors have a website I thought I would try and short-circuit the process by building the website first. Build it and when they come it will be ready. Or something.

I’ve had to do a fair bit of research on the 18th century so I’ve put some of this up on the site in case anyone else is interested in the nuts and bolts stuff – the price of a new hat, the cost of a pub lunch, how to speak thieves’ cant and tell a bung-nipper from an autem-diver. Stuff like that.

It is named after the hero of the book(s) – Pascal Bonenfant – Let me know what you think.

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Book Launch

September 13th, 2007

The book launch of Pamela’s first adult novel, Blood Ties, happened last night at the Ashfield Library (or more accurately the Council Chambers upstairs from the library). The launch doubled as a meet-the-author night which the Library holds on a regular basis.

The book was launched by author and friend Marianne de Pierres who did a fabulous job of introduction. Pamela then gave a speech and read from the first chapter. The speech was totally unprepared due to Pamela being ill on the previous two days but you couldn’t tell just by listening to it.

The audience was a mixed bunch of friends, relatives and people who had come to meet the author and get a book signed. There were lots of questions – mostly intelligent and interesting ones. There were about 100 people all up which was a good turn-out. For some photos go to Pamela’s site.

The Ashfield Council Chambers were an alcohol-free zone so after the launch a collection of authors, publishers, booksellers and drinkers came back to the house to drink the celebratory champagne. It turned into a good party and hardly anyone talked about their kids (an occupational hazard when you have a child yourself).

This morning Ron Serdiuk – friend, bookseller and publisher in Brisbane – called from the airport on his way home. Blood Ties was on sale in the airport bookshop! Add this to K-Mart and the major booksellers and we might sell a few copies.

Hachette Livre have done a fabulous job on this book – great cover, great sales team. We have been really impressed.

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Blood Ties

September 5th, 2007
Pamela’s new book, Blood Ties has hit the book shops.Blood Ties represents Pamela’s first foray into the adult market. It is the first volume of an epic fantasy trilogy.   

For a lot more details visit Pamela’s Website.

The booklaunch is 6.30pm on Wednesday 12th September at the Ashfield Library. All Welcome.

Blood Ties Cover

The book has been not-quite-dominating-but-nevertheless-significantly-influencing our lives for the past four years. It formed the basis of Pamela’s DCA which took three years and for the last year there has been publishers and editors and all sorts of angst. But now it is out. RRP $24.95. Go and buy one.

Current angst involves overseas publication or the possibility thereof. At the moment it is only being published in Australia and New Zealand. While we have the highest per capita reading population in the world the actual number of capita is fairly small so it’s very hard to earn a living without selling overseas.

We have been told by the publisher that overseas is likely to be a goer it hasn’t actually been confirmed yet. Watch this space.

In the meantime, go and buy the book. It’s good.

 Blood Ties at Pulp Fiction

This is the window display at wonderful Pulp Fiction books in Brisbane. Thank you Ron and Ian. You can mail-order Blood Ties (and lots of other great titles) from Pulp Fiction –

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Pamela’s Website

June 8th, 2007

After much stuffing around, we now have a website for Pamela: It was getting scandalous that such a well-known author did not have a site.

The site is mainly informational. It contains details of all her books, teaching resources for said books, biographical stuff, FAQs and all the things that authors get asked about. This is particularly important in her case as her books are often used in schools.

The site does have a couple of design restraints:

  1. Some schools still have only dial-up connections – graphics must be small
  2. It was designed and built by me with input from Pamela. Bits of it, especially the front page, need to be redesigned by someone with artistic pretensions.

The information is good though. Pamela did all that.

Anyway, the site is there now. If you have any feedback, please let Pamela or myself know.

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Improbable and Unfortunate

November 29th, 2006

The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild has had to undergo an unfortunate name change due to Mr Lemony Snicket who has tied the word Unfortunate to the phrase Series of Events in the public consciousness. Curse him. After kicking around several ideas, the working title is now The Improbable Deaths of Jonathan Wild. Unlikely but no longer unfortunate.

Pamela’s agent was so kind as to look the IDJW for me. She had good news and bad news. The good news is she thought the synopsis was terrific and a wonderful story.  The bad news is she didn’t like the other 95,000 words.

That’s overstating it slightly – she only read the first 50 pages or so. She has given me a lot of helpful feedback about what I need to do and has offered to read it again when I have done so which is generous. Unfortunately (rather than Improbably) this is going to require a lot of work.

Once more unto the drawing board. I will finish this one day. However Improbable that may sound.

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The Black Dress – 2006 History Prize

October 9th, 2006

Congratulations to Pamela on winning the Premier’s History Award for 2006 in the Young People’s History Prize category for The Black Dress – a book about the childhood of Mary McKillop. A just recognition for over 5 years of work (and worth money as well!).

For those who don’t know, Mary McKillop is the nearest thing Australia has to a saint. She has been beatified (or, as the tabloids would have it, beautified) making her officially the Blessed Mary McKillop. Sainthood is the next step.

Mary McKillop is an interesting character – one of the strong women of Australia’s 19th century history. She founded an educational order of nuns (the Josephites or, in the vernacular, the Joeys), committed to the education of children in far flung areas. She was always in trouble with the Establishment of the church. One bishop even went so far as to excommunicate her for a while.

The formative years of her childhood are fascinating. But don’t just take my word for it – go buy the book and read it.

The Black Dress: Mary McKillop’s Early Years by Pamela Freeman, Black Dog Press 2005

Awards and Commendations

Shortlisted for NSW Premier’s History Award
Children’s Book Council Notable Book 2006


The Catholic Leader
Catholic Voice
Catholic Weekly
Good Reading
Inside a dog
Read Alert


Catholic Weekly: Conversation with Pamela Freeman

Bookshop Notes and Reviews

Abbeys 50 Best Books of 2005
Abbeys Review

Publishing Stuff

Publishers(Black Dog Books) (includes teachers’ notes)
Australian Licensing Corporation

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Rule Britannica

September 25th, 2006

Encyclopedia Britannica have recently produced a facsimile edition of the 1st edition of the Encyclopedia – published between 1768 and 1771. A special offer in New Scientist offered it for $299.00 (Australian dollars) which is a steal.

It comes in three volumes and is a photo-facsimile of an original copy – right down to the little brown marks on some of the pages. Back then, the letter ‘s’ still looked like the letter ‘f’. The attached pamphlet suggested that this arose from the manuscript tradition where using the long s meant you didn’t have to lift your hand from the paper to go on to the next letter. Trailing s’s are not long but are the normal s. Thus you have one ftephen but two ftephens.

Unlike modern encyclopedias, it has a few very large entries (Agriculture, Algebra, Anatomy, Arithmetic, Astronomy) and lots of small one or two line definitions rather like a dictionary. It is fascinating to see the level of scientific and engineering knowledge at around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Given that I am working on a series of 18th century novels (see earlier blog entries about The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild) it is proving an invaluable resource. This should be especially true as the series progresses – the first book ends in 1725.

The long s’s are causing a few problems in terms of easy reading but I dare say I shall get used to it. If at firft you don’t fucceed…

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Version 0.2 complete

August 27th, 2006

The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild moves forward another step with the completion of version 0.2. Following comments by Pamela on version 0.1 I have re-written several scenes and added several more. It’s turning into a monster.

A friend has now volunteered to read it and give comments. He’s a bookseller so he can be expected to know if it might sell.

I’ll let you know if 0.3 is a goer.

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Thieves’ cant for dummies

July 19th, 2006

Version 0.2 of UDJW is well under way following lots of constructive comments by Pamela. Apart from all the rewriting and new scenes, I am also having to adjust some of the dialog to thieves’ cant appropriate to the period.

This is not as simple as it sounds. In fact, it doesn’t even sound simple.

For example, it’s one thing to claim that you get your balsam on the rattling lay but if you can’t tell a rabbit sucker from a running snobbler then the rum coves will be up to your rigs and, if you don’t pike on the been, you’re in danger of a slug in the quarrum.

I have a canting dictionary I am working through. Its coverage is excellent but unfortunately too large as it goes right up to the early 20th century. Also it has no reverse index.

What I need is Early Georgian Thieves’ Cant for Dummies. Amazingly, no one seems to have written one. I might have to write it myself. There has to be a market out there somewhere.

Anyway, at least I can now tell the rabbit sucker from the running snobbler.  If you ask me nicely, I might even let you in on the secret.

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