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Night of Writing Dangerously

 

I may never win NaNoWriMo, but I enjoy taking part.

During the month of November, several hundred thousand people worldwide take part in National Novel Writing Month or simply, NaNoWriMo. The annual writing event started in 1999, but I didn’t hear of it until about eight years ago. That year I joined with others and started typing away at midnight of November first. A bleary four hours later I went home. I typed at home and went to other NaNoWriMo events, but never finished the 50,000 story required to be a “winner” of the event.

Kyle Pratt receives a halo at NaNoWriMo event, November 2017

Freelance writer Chris Baty created NaNoWriMo in 1999. That first year the event was held in July, but the next year it moved to November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.” Living in the Pacific Northwest I totally understand miserable November weather.

In November 2007, NaNoWriMo organization hosted a fundraising Writing event they titled, “The Night of Writing Dangerously” in San Francisco. Like NaNoWriMo, this event has grown and today hundreds of writers attend, drink lots of coffee, socialize and write.

Friends around the table at the NaNoWriMo event, November 2017

The pictures you see here are from a NaNoWriMo event held earlier this month by the Lewis County Writers Guild. The guild usually hosts at least one event during November and there are often more.

Over these last few years I’ve realized I’m not a fast writer, but I enjoy writing and being with fellow writers. So I continue to take part, even if I never win.


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The Farm Pecking Order

 

I confirmed my position on the farm pecking order one morning a couple years ago.

For my city readers, pecking order refers to birds, often chickens. They establish their rank in the flock by pecking on another bird, lower in the social order without fear of retaliation. The pecking order rank establishes who is boss and who gets what food and when.

On this particular morning I rose from bed a few minutes late and stumbled out to the dining room. My breakfast of cereal waited for me on the table, but I couldn’t find my wife Lorraine. Finally, I sat and started eating. Then, the back door opened and she entered.

“Where have you been?” I asked after another bite of cold cereal.

“It’s cold this morning, so I brought warm oatmeal to the chickens.”

That confirmed what I already suspected. When it comes to being pampered with food, my position in the pecking order is below every chicken.

Okay, I admit that isn’t really true, Lorraine has cooked some fantastic meals for me, but she does take very good care of the chickens. They have a large area to roam and forage for food but, as you can tell from the picture (which my wife didn’t like, but after some pleading allowed me to use) she still gives “her girls” watermelon rinds and leftover grapes. If any bread or cake gets dry it doesn’t go into the trash or even the compost, they go straight to the chickens.

They are a pampered bunch of birds.


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Through the Storm Audiobook

 

The audiobook of Through the Storms is now in production.

Sean Patrick Hopkins

A few days ago I signed Sean Patrick Hopkins to narrate and produce the Through the Storm audiobook. Sean is a New York-based actor and Audible approved producer. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and his resume includes movies, television, off-Broadway and regional theatre credits.

The normal routine when making an audiobook is for the narrator to provide the first fifteen minutes for approval. This allows the author a chance to ensure the narrator has the voices, accents, and pronunciation correct. Sean did this perfectly and I’m thrilled to provide that clip from the book here. This will be my ninth story available as an audiobook and you can sample all of them on this special audiobook page of the website.

If all the production and post-production edits and checks go smoothly (as I expect they will) listeners can expect to see the Through the Storm audiobook available on Audible in early December. About a week later it will be released on iTunes.

I’m excited to hear the complete audiobook and hope you are also!


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My Busy Friend Debby

 

Debby Lee, my friend, fellow author and Inklings critique partner, announced today that she’s starting work on her fifth anthology with Barbour Publishing!

The Mountain Christmas Brides, Courageous Brides and Pony Express Romance Collection have all been released and are available on her Amazon Page, https://www.amazon.com/Debby-Lee/e/B006AY0USW

Author Debby Lee

Author Debby Lee

The Underground Railroad Brides is scheduled for release in June 2018 and The MissAdventurous Brides should be out in December of next year. She also mentioned to me that she wants to release a couple of short stories in the coming months.

I think Debby is going to be very busy for the next year.

However, there is still one more project she has agreed to do. Debby will be one of the writers on an as yet unnamed historical Christmas themed anthology with fellow Inkling writers, including Kristie Kandoll, Carolyn Bickel, Barbara Blakey and me. This as yet unnamed project is scheduled for October of 2018.

I look forward to working with Debby on that project in the months ahead. 


 
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My NFL Protest

 

I do try to stay out of politics on this site.

I really do. However, with each passing week, I have become more displeased with the NFL players.

Deadline Hollywood reported that before the most recent Seattle Seahawks game, Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, Cliff Avril, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Quinton Jefferson, Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson, Nazair Jones, Justin Britt, Oday Aboushi, and Michael Wilhoite knelt during the anthem. CBS didn’t cover this news story and instead continued coverage of a golf tournament.

The players say their protest is about racial inequality, or due to insensitive comments from team owners, or a host of other things. This message confusion leads me to believe they don’t have a real reason for protesting. However, standing for the anthem or flag is a gesture of respect and should never be forced upon anyone. If you don’t want to stand, put your hand over your heart or salute that should be your choice. Peaceful protest is part of the freedom we have in the United States and should not be interfered with.

So, they have the right to kneel.

However, for me, the anthem, written during the dark hours of the War of 1812, is an expression of hope and freedom.

“Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Like the flag and the Declaration of Independence, the anthem is the ideal we strive to obtain. They are the goal, not the problem.

I am a United States Navy combat veteran. I stood in the gap and protected my family and country. I did my part. I’ve also been a Seahawks fan since the early Jim Zorn and Steve Largent days. However, now when the current Seattle players kneel during the anthem, they do it on the soil of a free country that it has been my honor to protect.

Kneeling is the protected protest action the players have chosen to do. I have also decided to take action. My protest actions won’t gain any media attention or threaten the profits of the league or players, but these acts are my choice and my right.

I will not buy any NFL or team branded items. I will not buy tickets to Seattle games or in any other way contribute to NFL or Seahawk profits. My wife is also a fan and wants to continue to watch the games on TV. I hope we can continue to do that together, but that will be up to the Seahawks and the NFL.


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A Sunday Surprise

 

Sundays I strive to take time for family.

Okay, that can include watching the Seattle Seahawks game, but my wife is also a fan. However, today I had a few story ideas I needed to write down before kickoff. In my home office, I turned on the computer and soon discovered that Through the Storm has risen to #42 on the Amazon post-apocalyptic bestseller list.

Through the Storm reaches the #42 spot on the Amazon post-apocalyptic bestseller list.

Since the release of the novel, the story has risen from the 750 spot into the top one hundred, and then moved up and down in the double digits. But, before today it had never risen above the fifty spot.

Eight places may seem small, but it sure made me happy.  

About those story ideas

At the start of this post, I writing down some story ideas. The success of Through the Storm has prompted me to dive into other stories in the series. This includes one that is called a sidequel. Wiktionary defines it best as, “A type of sequel which portrays events that occur at the same time as the original work, but with different characters in a different setting.”

In this sidequel, I’m focusing on the Major Franklin character that Neal Evans meets on day three of Through the Storm. Readers will see the events that brought them together, but this time through the eyes of the major. I’ll also reveal more about the militia group that raided the park where Neal had spent the night.

I hope to release this as yet unnamed sidequel early in 2018. 


 
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Climbing Higher

 

I’d like to be on top, but I’ll settle for the slow climb.

There is a saying in the writing world that an author is only as good as their latest book. Now with computers and the internet many authors can check their sales and rank in near real time. This can be both a good thing and bad.

On September 25th, the release day for Through the Storm, the novel stood at 750 on the Amazon post-apocalyptic bestseller list. I’ll admit that I felt a bit down. Sometimes the first day or two is the peak of sales and then the book starts a slow slide down to obscurity.

When I checked the next morning the book had reached the 303 spot on the list. A few hours later it stood at 320. I stopped checking.

This morning I needed to view the page for another reason and learned Through the Storm had reached the top 100.

At the moment, I’m thrilled and hope the novel continues its slow climb.


 
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Live on the Air

 

Today at 4:00 pm (Pacific Time) I’ll be live on The Write Stuff radio program with Parker J. Cole of PJC Media and WLUV Detroit to discuss my latest novel Through the Storm.

14612552-1119852001436616-8556293945132524599-o.jpg

In this latest novel, Neal Evans is in Nevada when he hears that an immense coronal mass ejection will soon slam into the Earth’s magnetosphere. Will it cause only beautiful auroras to dance across the night sky or will it throw technology back a hundred years? Politicians and scientists are still debating when Neal decides to act. As night falls, he has ten hours to reach home before the first CME strikes.   

Drake Evans is a happy high school freshman. Conner, his older brother, has gone hunting, instead of watching over him while their father is away at the conference. So now it’s party time!

As the world sinks into darkness, Neal and Conner must confront a dangerous new world on their long journeys home. Drake, alone on the farm, must become a man even before he figures out his teen years.

No matter where you are you can listen to the program live via the internet at http://tobtr.com/10165105  


 
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Through the Storms Released

 

The worldwide release of my latest novel, Through the Storm, occurred this morning—while I slept actually.

Despite my sleeping through the moment, I am excited about this new book. The ebook released today, because of a few logistical problems the paperback will come out later this week and audiobook next month.

Below is the back cover blurb,

An immense storm on the sun has flung four coronal mass ejections at the Earth.

That’s the news Neal Evans hears while hundreds of miles from home at a conference in Nevada. Will it cause only beautiful auroras to dance across the night sky or plunge technology back a hundred years? As politicians and scientists debate, Neal drives north toward home.

On the family farm, Drake Evans is a happy high school freshman. Instead of staying home with his younger brother, Conner Evans has gone hunting. So, it’s party time for Drake!

As the world descends into darkness, Neal and Conner must confront panic, hunger, and fear on their long journeys home. Drake, alone on the farm, must become a man even before he unravels his teen years.

For the first ninety days the novel is available exclusively on Amazon. The paperback will be available in a few days, the audiobook will be released in late October or early November. The book will appear on Nook, Kobo and other platforms with the start of 2018.


 
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Publicity is Good

 

It usually surprises me when my local paper, The Chronicle, has a story that mentions me. I’m not complaining, they have written some really nice things about me. It’s just I rarely know when these articles will appear. I’ve sent them story ideas and even press releases and seen nothing in the paper and then suddenly something large and really nice like this full-page spread in the Life section will appear.

Admittedly, this article, titled Southwest Washington Writers Conference Bringing the Region’s Writers Together, is not all about me, not even most of it, but my picture is there, above the fold. That kind of publicity is a good thing.

The article is actually about the fourth annual Southwest Washington Writers Conference this Saturday, September 9th at the Walton Science Center on the campus of Centralia College.

With the rise of Amazon, the advent of ebooks, the growth of audiobooks, and the steep decline of traditional bookstores, the role of authors has changed dramatically. I’ll conduct two workshops at the conference on how authors can exploit those changes through indie publishing.

If you’re in the area I hope to see you there.


 
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Dorky Glasses and the Eclipse

 

What is it about an eclipse that brings out the child in us?

I know it was a rare event, the last one like it occurred in 1918, but several of my friends traveled hundreds of miles and camped out in farm fields just to experience the eclipse totality.

As the eclipse begins.

We read in the local paper that the recent solar eclipse would reach ninety-six percent of totality in this area so; I purchased dorky glasses and invited our sons over to watch from the backyard.

If I made a habit of sitting in the backyard, wearing paper sunglasses and staring up into the sky I think my wife might have my head examined, but on this day she joined me, along with the boys, and we looked like a rather eccentric family having a backyard picnic.

The backyard at ninety-six percent of totality

At first, as the moon moved across the sun, we didn’t notice any change. Even when half of the sun had been blocked we couldn’t tell any difference in the day. Only when the moon blocked the vast majority of the sun did the sky take on the deep blue of evening. As we continued to watch a cool breeze blew.

Still, it amazed me that with ninety-six percent of the sun blocked, it wasn’t even close to dark.

Then the moon moved out of the way, and the hot and bright summer sun shone once again and we returned to the house. What am I going to do with the dorky glasses?


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Hot and Cold

 

I put on a new chain, filled the gas and oil tanks and went out with my chainsaw to tackle a large pile of logs and limbs in the backyard. My tendency to procrastinate had allowed the pile to grow all summer, but my son James had offered to help and this needed to be done. So, on one of the hottest days of the year, I cut wood to use on some of the coldest. We will probably burn these logs in the woodstove around January or February.

Our house has electric heat and in the Pacific Northwest electricity is affordable, but on those really cold days, the woodstove heats our home better than anything else does.

There is a natural rhythm to life in the country. In March as the days grow longer and warmer the chickens go into full summer egg production. In April we hive bees. In May the garden is tilled and planted. During the summer we cut trees (usually the dead or fallen), tend animals and care for the garden. Honey is spun from the honeycomb in September. Also during that month fruits and vegetables are canned and preserved.

Part of that natural rhythm is the cold of January and February. Some years our woodstove will burn for days on end during this time.

By late in the afternoon the chain on the saw had gone dull, but the pile had been reduced to logs and hauled into the woodshed. We were hot and tired, but ready for the cold days of winter.

As I drank a tall glass of cold water I made a pledge to myself. Next year I’m going to cut wood on a cooler day.


Click on the links to read my author bio or read more about life on the farm.

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That Made the Difference

 

I’m reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and came across a passage that I shared with my wife.

On Writing by Stephen King 

 “If she (King’s wife Tabitha) had suggested that the time I spent writing stories … was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me. Tabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was a constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or husband). I smile and think, There’s someone who knows. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”

My first book, Titan Encounter, released in 2012, has this dedication; “Many authors say that their spouse is their biggest fan. My wife Lorraine most certainly is mine. This book would not exist without her constant encouragement and editing.”

Stephen King and I don’t have much in common, but it appears we share a love for writing and both have wives that believe, support and encourage.

Thank you, Lorraine, for all of your support. That made the difference.


 
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My New Shirt

The next day in my office wearing my new shirt.

When a friend and fellow writer, Pat, came to a recent critique meeting wearing a white shirt with “Writer” emblazoned in black letters on the chest, I admired it and was a bit envious. I asked where he got it and Pat said his wife, LeeAnn, made it for him.

About a week later he presented me with the shirt seen here. I’m told that LeeAnn contacted my wife about the size and colors and then made this shirt for me.

My wife knows I loved the television show Castle with Nathan Fillion and said she says she chose the colors based on Castle’s vest from the show.

Thank you all, I really appreciate the gift.


 
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Return to Earth Cover Reveal!

Since the March release of Seekers of Earth, events have moved rapidly with the Guardian Knights of Terra series. As I mentioned above interest in the series has allowed for the third book to be written. Since we already had the name for the third book and wanted to continue with a design similar to Seekers of Earth and Recall the Earth we went ahead with the creation of the ebook cover.

Here, for the first time in public, is the cover of the third book in the Guardian Knights of Terra series, Return to Earth.

On the left we see Lucas with a serious look on his face. On the right is Rachel. She appears to be in a better mood, probably because she is returning to her home planet of Earth. The Space Needle, a local landmark, is behind her.  

I’ve plotted most of the book and completed the first chapter, but we don’t have a Return to Earth web page up (but I’m working on it) and we don’t have a release date, but I’m shooting for late this year.

Hopefully, it can be a Christmas gift!


 
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Working hard, so I can rest

I decided to build a patio on a shady knoll beside my home. However, due to my writing schedule and other commitments, it took a couple of months to gather all the materials and find the time to construct it. Finally, on the evening of July 2nd, I had everything I needed.

Stiff and sore, but trying to relax (click to enlarge)

After breakfast the next morning I began construction. It occurred to me that it would be nice if the family could use the patio on Independence Day, but that would mean all the work had to be completed that day.

I worked hard, very hard, on July 3rd. 

July 4th was a lovely warm day here in the northwest. The blue skies were welcome after a long rainy winter and spring. Also, as you can see from the picture, my family and I did enjoy the patio. My relaxation that day was tempered by many stiff and sore muscles. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the patio even more after I’ve recovered from building it.


Click on the following links to read my author bio or read more about my life on the farm.

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Hate from the Stage

The Public Theater of New York City recently decided that it would be a good idea to stage Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” in a modern setting. In this version of the play the dictator, Julius Caesar, looks a lot like Donald Trump and, of course, in act three he’s murdered in order to save the country.

While I firmly believe that staging pretend assassinations of a president of the United States, such as done by Kathy Griffin, is bad for the country, the Public Theater is free to stage their plays and make any tasteless political statement they desire, but not with my money.

In a tweet, President Trump asked, “I wonder how much of this 'art' is funded by taxpayers?” Forbes Magazine provided the answer, “Data at OpenTheBooks.com shows that over $4.1 million in federal, state and city grants funded the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) – the parent company to Public Theater and its production, Shakespeare in the Park – over the past three years. The total amount since 2009?  Nearly $30 million.” The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), the people who brought us Piss Christ at taxpayer expense, gave the New York group over $630,000.

I think this taxpayer funded swamp could use some serious draining.

My revulsion with both Kathy Griffin and this play is motivated more by love of country than admiration for Donald Trump. Hate so deep and malicious that it expresses itself in decapitation or murder of the president is bad for democracy and the institutions of this nation.

Because of the play two corporate sponsors, Delta Airlines and Bank of America have withdrawn sponsorship. As I read about that I also learned that American Express has continued to fund the group while expressing dismay at this particular production.

I use American Express as my business credit card so I called them and stated, “You can’t have it both ways; either stop fostering hate or you lose my business. Your choice.”


Click on the following links to read my author bio or read more about my political views.

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Water and Rain in the Northwest

There is a saying that people in the northwest don’t tan—they rust. The coastal region of Washington is well known for ample precipitation. However, most of the rain falls in late autumn and winter. By the time the crops, garden, and orchard are really growing in the late spring and summer the rains have faded to a trickle. That means we irrigate and water.

Kyle checking the hand pump (Click for a larger image)

My place is small, more of a hobby farm than a real one, but watering remains a daily chore. In the picture I’m beside the well house, checking the hand pump. Fortunately, this is just an emergency backup and the electric pump is still working. 

This time of year we water the younger fruit and nut trees in the orchard and all the plants in the garden daily. Each beehive has a water bottle and there are several for the chickens that must be routinely checked. We also have flowers and ornamental trees.

Right now, with both my wife and I working, it takes about an hour each evening to water everything. As the summer continues, and days get warmer, we’ll be doing this in both the morning and evening. But, I'm not complaining, I love the life I have here and wouldn't trade it for anything.


Click on the following links to read my author bio or read more about my life on the farm.

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Three Important Announcements

Events are moving rapidly with the Guardian Knights of Terra series so, I decided to make three announcements in one blogpost.

1. The ebook edition of Seekers of Earth, the first book in the Guardian Knights of Terra series is on sale for 99 cents. This deal won’t last so, if you were thinking about getting the Seekers of Earth ebook now is the time to act.

2. We released Seekers of Earth in March and Recall the Earth in April. At that time no decision had been made on the third book. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve begun work on the third book in the series, Return to Earth. No release date has been set, but I’m hoping for late this year. Hopefully, it can be a Christmas gift!

3. Since we already had the name Return to Earth, we went ahead with designing the cover. The design work is now complete and we’ll have the cover reveal in the next newsletter which should be out in a few days. If you haven’t signed up for my FREE email newsletter, click here to do so.


 
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Trump Hate

I’ll start this off by stating that Donald Trump was not my first choice for president. Early in the primary season I believe there were seventeen Republicans running for the office. Trump would not have been in my top ten. I’m a conservative. During most of the primary I had no idea what Donald Trump was, other than a better choice than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

That being clear, Trump is now the president of the United States and the hate and vilification directed at him by liberals hit a new low the other day when Kathy Griffin, an alleged comedian, decided it would be funny to have a picture taken of her with the mock, bloody, decapitated head, of President Trump.

Kathy Griffin thinks this is funny.

Kathy Griffin thinks this is funny.

There is a saying in the media that all publicity is good publicity. Well, I’ll say that I’d never heard of Kathy Griffin before and her name is now fixed in my mind, but in what universe is a severed head funny? President Trump called it “sick,” and I agree with him.

I really didn’t like the policies of President Barack Obama, but it never occurred to me that pretending to kill the man would be useful or funny. Such actions are bad for the United States and they make me sympathetic toward Trump. That can’t be what liberals want.

The continued maliciousness toward Donald Trump the person has also led to my increased appreciation of the conservative actions he has taken.

So, to my friends on the left, disagree with President Trump’s policies, tell your senators and representatives what you think, and try to convince other Republicans and conservatives, like me with logic and reason, but restrain your murderous hatred.  


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Click on the following links to read my author bio or read more about my political views.