Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"Fred, how is your book doing?"

Quite well, thank you. We've sold a lot of copies at the Next Chapter in LaConner. I'm getting it placed in various bookstores from Bellingham to Seattle.

I will have a book-signing and informal reading this Friday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at the Bookworm Exchange in Columbia City in Seattle.

Several newspapers will be reviewing the book this week, and that should ramp things up a bit.

Meanwhile I've been getting good reactions from the readers. One fellow bought a book, started to read it, loved it, and then bought three more books to send to his friends back on the East Coast.

The Wilson County News, down in South Texas, where I used to work -- they've ordered some books to sell on their website and over the counter at their newspaper office.

That's a great deal of support. And they're not just doing me a favor -- they think it's pretty good book.

Frog Hospital is not a local or regional book. It's about America. It starts in LaConner, because LaConner is my home. But Texas is part of my home too, and Boston and California, and everywhere in between.

Like Kansas. There's a piece in the book about Kansas called "Lunch with Bob Dole." It's funny. You try to make a joke about Kansas -- that's not easy, but I did it.

It's not really a funny book, but I keep it light with some jokes here and there.

Take this piece, "The African Woman." It's tragic and even harsh:

The African Woman

The African Woman told me that long ago she was Our Mother. She said, “I borned you. I taught you to breathe and I taught you to speak. Are you a Greek, are you a Jew, are you Chinese, are you a Celt, are you from America? I borned you all and I taught you. I loved you very much, all you children. I protected you, I fed you....”

“I don’t remember that,” I interrupted. “Can you prove it? Do you have evidence or any records that say that you were my mother?”

“No, I have no records, I have no proof. I only know it, I only say it.”

“You have no proof?”

“Then you must be my slave. Go back to work and don’t bother me with your foolish stories.”

This is so compact that it's a poem. It tells the whole story of Africa and African slavery in America. I could explain this at length, but that would ruin it.

The Publisher. Frog Hospital was published by Cello Room, a small outfit in Anacortes. The publisher himself is a private person, so I won't share that except to say we made a good deal.

He made the offer to publish my book in November. We drew up a simple contract and he paid me a generous advance for the manuscript.

He did not tell me how to write the book and made only the most general inquiries as the work proceeded. That was very good -- what any writer would want.

The Editor. Jim Bertolino edited the book. He's a poet and retired professor of creative writing. Jim lives in Bellingham and working with him was really an excuse to go to the pub and drink some beers. It was pretty easy.

The Cover. It shows me standing in a boat in front of a shack on the river. The river is the North Fork of the Skagit. The cabin was the summer home of Robert Sund, a poet who died in 2001. There is quite a bit of back story to this image and this place, but I won't tell that story and you won't find it in the book.

Better to see it as some quiet retreat -- it could be on any river, someplace near where you live, perhaps. The image is an invitation to look at the book inside.

You can buy the book at some local bookstores, or get it online at or

I will mail you a signed copy, if you send me a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or you can hit the PayPal button on the Frog Hospital blog for the same amount.
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

send mail to:

Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257

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