CHINOOK, Wash. - Author Wendy French is doing a lot of reading lately. Reading rave reviews of her work.

A Chinook resident since July, French's two books of humorous fiction - "sMothering" and "Going Coastal" - have been featured in Entertainment Weekly and Publishers Weekly.

A book signing is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Time Enough Books, 157 Howerton Ave. at the Port of Ilwaco.

A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, French, 32, moved to Portland with her husband, David, in 1995.

"We'd wanted to move to the peninsula for years," French said. "For the past year, we've wanted to live in Chinook."

The Frenches got their wish this year and will begin building a home in Chinook in the spring.

Forge, French's publisher, is a subsidiary of Tom Doherty Associates, and has mainly published works of science fiction. "This is the first women's fiction Forge has done," French said.

French graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor's degree in writing and English before she moved to Portland where she took an intermediate novel writing class at Mount Hood Community College. "The people in the class were mainly writing romance novels," she said. "But the weekly deadlines were good practice for me."

Her third novel, "Waiting for Directions," she "put in a bottom drawer for five years and wrote the next two. I got 137 rejections for them all," she said. "'sMothering' was half completed when it was accepted. I finished it in a week, plus working full time."

French is a disciplined writer. "I try to write a chapter a week," she said. "I have a lot of fun writing." And she has her husband's encouragement. "sMothering" is dedicated to her parents, Stuart and Sally McDonald, and her husband. She says her father is "the funniest person I know" and her mother "laughs until she cries" - both a good basis for her very funny books.

French says she had inspiration to write "from the beginning. My parents are both retired teachers. We always brought library books along on vacations and my dad let me use his typewriter while he was working grading papers. I loved the feeling of writing. It's something I've always wanted to do."

Last month, "sMothering" came out in paperback with a printing of 110,000 copies. It's available at Safeway, North Coast Fred Meyer and Sid's in Seaview, Wash. French said when she saw copies of the book at Sid's, "It was more shocking than seeing it in bookstores, a real culture shock." She said her publisher is "happy with the sales" and there has been interest in a movie script.

Although French works full-time at Northwest Natural gas company in Astoria, and her husband works at Englund Marine in Astoria, she said she would write full time if she could.

With reviews like "French's novel stands out from its fluffy chick-lit sisters with snappy humor, charged family dynamics and a plot twist that will throw readers for a loop" from Publishers Weekly and "Unexpectedly poignant ... the emotions ring true" from Entertainment Weekly, and "This one's a hoot," from Seattle Weekly, French just might be able to quit her day job sometime soon.

Besides Thursday's book-signing at Time Enough Books, French will be making appearances at other bookstores in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia in the coming months.

Her Web site is (www.wendy-french.com)

Time Enough Books can be be reached at (360) 642-7667.

Nancy Butterfield writes for the Chinook Observer

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