Tag Archives: fred

A reader who gets it, except for . . .

I have sometimes described the Fred books as a seduction of language, you get swept up in the writing, but when you get to the end, you realize that nothing much really happened.

Imagine how gratified I was when I read this review of Welcome to Fred on Amazon by J. Bitney. Here’s an excerpt:

“I cannot really “get into” a book which has such a light plot and then does not really resolve in any way. I would have given it a “3”, but anyone who can write as beautifully as the author deserves better than that. I kept reading just because I enjoyed the author’s way with words and the clever turns of phrase, but what I kept waiting for did not occur; nothing happened.”

Of course, there really is a plot, however evanescent, and a resolution, however vestigial, but I think J captured the essence of what I set out to do in the Fred books.

I say that she gets it “except for” because if a story captivates you, there’s no need to ding it because it’s not plot-heavy.

Of course, if you insist on a more plot-forward story, you can always check out my other books, which bring more plot to the table while retaining the style.

Characters from Fred: Vernon Crowley

At the beginning of this millennium, I expanded a series of short stories into the Fred books. Jake was in the short stories, but as I fleshed out the story of Living with Fred, I wanted another way into Jake’s story, and Vernon Crowley was born.

In the Texas singer/songwriter tradition there is what I call “the old man” song. I drew my inspiration for Vernon from these two classic songs of the genre.

Desperados Waiting for a Train


A few days after Christmas 2003 I woke up at 3 a.m. and after an hour or so realized I wasn’t going to get back to sleep. I sneaked out of bed, into my office, and started writing Living with Fred. I didn’t start at the beginning. I wrote the scene where Mark Cloud meets Vernon Crowley.

After a few pages I realized I needed to know a whole lot more about Vernon before I could write him with any degree of authenticity. Months of binge-watching WWII documentaries and devouring a dozen or so books from the library of first-person accounts of the European campaign followed.

I ended up with one of my favorite Fred characters. A few years later I wrote a song of my own, The One That Got Away. It’s the first one in this video.

Who’s your favorite Fred character?

Dear Mr. Whittington

Dear Mr. Whittington,

I have been reading your book Welcome to Fred aloud to my children at night. Sometimes, I take it in the truck with us to read aloud as my husband drives us around town. (Sometimes we drive around to get the baby to sleep, other times to soothe the grown ups.) Most of the time, I sit in the hallway between the children’s bedrooms and read to them as they settle in for sleep.

I chose your book because my oldest son has just turned 14 and I thought he would appreciate the point of view afforded by someone around his age and stage in life. The younger two are not far behind in age and they all loved The Wonder Years. I figured this would be a light-hearted way to introduce a variety of subjects that they might have on their mind but not know how to bring up. Also, I am a preacher’s kid myself and I thought it might be nice to help them understand what is wrong with their momma. 🙂

I just wanted you to know that there has been a lot of laughter and good conversation. The-10 year-old has taken to saying “Bingo was his name-o!” as if it was his very own idea.

And I wanted to thank you for last night.

You see, three days ago we buried a friend of ours. He was killed suddenly in an accident at work. (Electrician) His name was Donald and he was a very good guy. He could always be spotted around the ball field with a great big smile. He was a friend to my kids but also to everyone he met. He always had a cooler full of Gatorade or ice water to give out to the kids who were running around the park all hot and thirsty. And a pocket full of bubble gum too. He was only 42. He left behind a teenage son, friend and teammate to my 14 year old.

It has been a sad week at our house.

Last night we landed in Chapter 15 where “Old MacDONALD” was in a tragic accident, and the town of Fred buried two people whose time was up too soon, and Sonia’s feelings mirrored many of the same ones we’ve been taking turns with around here this week.

I wanted to tell you about how the kids were drawing out as much from the chapter as they could to relate to their own pain. How they moved from lying in prone and supine positions to perched on the edges of their beds Indian style, leaning toward the hall to hear better, asking me to read a part again, looking for more connections than existed. (“Mom, what was the day of the week Mr. Donald died again?”)

I will admit, I had to stop and compose myself a few times in order to keep reading without a trace of tears in my voice. And then, from his fictional pulpit, Pastor Cloud spoke real words of comfort and understanding to a couple of real-life kids in their bed. Like in The NeverEnding Story where the ChildLike Empress begins to speak to Bastian.

Anyway, thanks for the timely words.

Cover for Postcards from Fred

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new Fred book on the way, and once again Amanda has created a great cover. Here’s the final cover for Postcards from Fred, coming out in October. Click to see it full size.

Here’s the book description:

Ever wonder what would Jesus do? On a date?

It’s been a bad weekend. Mark Cloud’s dreams of romantic bliss have been cruelly obliterated, and his friendship with the local moonshiner has drawn unwelcome attention from the local Pharisee, Deacon Fry.

Then two girls enter his life: one a lovely and sold-out-for-Jesus preacher’s kid who just might be The One for him, the other a prodigal wild-child who just might give Deacon Fry the ammunition he needs to rid himself of this troublesome pastor and his vexing family.

Mark’s romantic aspirations and his vow to fly under the church-politics radar crash into his vow to live his life asking the seductive but inconvenient question: What Would Jesus Do? His response will determine not only his dating life but possibly the future of his father’s career.

Sign up for the newsletter to get notified when it’s available, and also to get sneak peeks and freebies. The next issue goes out next week with freebies for the insiders.


All Christy award winners or finalists, at long last the Fred books are available on Amazon for the Kindle for $2.99 each. That’s a ton of Fred for $9!

In the next few weeks we’ll also release Nook and iPad versions.

Here are the Kindle links.

If you’ve ever held a Fred book in your hand, you know that B&H went the extra mile with high-quality covers (Living with Fred has an embossed cover) and graphics in the chapter headings. To preserve the high-quality reading experience even in ebook form, I hired a beKindling gnome to work his otherwordly magic.

We couldn’t emboss the covers, of course, but the graphics from the print versions are there, along with some new elements. The books take full advantage of the Kindle navigation tools, including skipping through chapters with the left/right navigation buttons. And of course, as with any Kindle book, you can download a sample before you buy.

You also get extras, such as discussion guides for readers groups, and a peek at three chapters from the next book at the end of each. The end of Escape to Fred has three chapters from my novel-in-progress, Muffin Man, planned for an ebook release in 2012.

And you can still get physical Fred books. Signed print copies make a great gift and are available through SignedByTheAuthor.com. Yep, I really sign them myself. Ha!

Of course, you can always get a used copy on Amazon for a penny plus shipping. At least you can get WtF and LwF for a penny. Looks like right now you’ll have to shell out at least #2.91 plus shipping for EfF, which is only fair, since it’s the best one. 😉

I don’t get any money from used copies, but I get a new reader, and I’m cool with that. Spread the Fred word.