Or How I wrote my first book and why you should care
by Phil Houseal
Nov 30, 2011
In yet another in a long line of flimsy premises for a column, I am writing about myself.
Actually, I just completed my first book. When I asked the newspaper staff if they would consider doing an article about it, they generously said, “Write it yourself.”
Reluctant to blatantly self-promote, I called on an old friend - the one-named and cynical penner of questionable songs, Rex - to prepare this week’s column.
If you still want to order the book after reading this (or if you don’t want to read the column), you’ll find information on how to do that at the end.
Thank you for your indulgence.
Rex: So, they tell me you wrote something that has more than 500 words.
Me: Yes, I wrote a book. I haven’t counted the words, but it does have more than 100 color photos of historic Fredericksburg homes and businesses.
Me: Because it is a self-guided tour of Fredericksburg. I call it Finding Fredericksburg.
Rex: Just what the world needs - another book about Fredericksburg.
Me: There isn’t any book exactly like this one. I chose the more distinctive properties in the historic district, then related the most interesting facts on each one. I kept it to one property per page, so it is easy to read and not pedantic.
Rex: What does “pedantic” mean?
Me: Teachy or preachy. I wanted it to be an interesting read. My favorite reaction is from lifelong residents thumbing through it and saying, “I didn’t know that... I didn’t know that.”
Rex: I thought you said it was a tour.
Me: Thanks for paying attention. It is a turn-by-turn tour of the historic district, from the first log cabin to the new George Bush Gallery. I added interesting facts about the town, such as why it has the wide Main Street and why there are no front yards. I included detailed directions so it is easy to follow, whether walking or driving. It takes about 45 minutes to drive.
Rex: So how long did it take you to write?
Me: About 23 years.
Rex: Not very motivated, huh?
Me: Actually, it started as an audio tour, but technology kept changing. I couldn’t figure out how to rent out cassette players, then cassettes became obsolete. My rich brother said, “Why not make it a book?” Ten short years after that, I did.
Rex: So, why would I want to buy this book?
Me: You probably wouldn’t. But normal people who have lived in Fredericksburg, visited here, or plan to visit will enjoy it. Even those who plan to never set foot in Fredericksburg should read this book so they’ll learn about the colorful history of a town that draws 1.6 million visitors every year.
Rex: How much does your book cost?
Me: Less than one dollar for each year it took me to write it.
Rex: Does it have scratch-and-sniff?
Me: Only the one I dropped in the chicken coop. Do you want that one?
Rex: No. I can’t read.
Me: My mom says I could write before I could read.
Rex: Do you have other books in you?
Me: Glad you asked. My next book will be a compilation of the best of my Full House columns.
Rex: That will be a short book.
Me: Well, I know this column won’t be in it.