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Two Books Released

And a third one is coming!

This last month has been very busy with the March 17th release of Seekers of Earth, the first book in the Guardian Knights of Terra series. This was followed on April 7th by the release of book two, Recall the Earth. At this time both books are available exclusively on Amazon.com.

I planned the Guardian Knights of Terra series as a five book series. Just like movie sequels and television series, money determines the length of a book series. However, I pleased to report that I’m writing Return to Earth, the third book in the series. No release date has yet been set.  

About Seekers of Earth

Lucas Baldwin, the young son of a powerful lord, is on his first deep space training mission. Advancing through a captured facility he encounters a lunatic girl about his age. Only later does he realize that the girl, Rachel, is speaking English, a long dead language. Rachel talks of an Earth still in existence and more advanced than the horse-and-buggy world that had supposedly been destroyed. Seekers of Earth is a 38,000-word introductory novella to the Guardian Knights of Terra series. Click here to buy Seekers of Earth on Amazon.com.

About Recall the Earth

Lucas’s sister, Katherine, smuggles Rachel to their home planet in the Devon system, but when they arrive, Prince Draven and the soldiers of Nightwatch are waiting to kill them.  

Seriously wounded in battle on another world, Lucas has no idea of the danger facing his sister and Rachel, or that the Valac are fighting to surround his home world. His entire family may die before he can do anything to save them.

But stories of Rachel and Earth are spreading, even as Nightwatch strives to arrest or kill all those who learn the truth. Click here to buy Recall the Earth on Amazon.com.

Hiving the Bees

Spring is bee time on the farm

Yes, those are bees on the box.

Yes, those are bees on the box.

The bees didn’t arrive yesterday, a warm and sunny day. No, they arrived today when it was cool and wet. We prefer driving to the delivery site in the farm truck. We can put the bee boxes on the truck bed and drive home, but because today was so inclement we took the car for the forty-minute drive. Have you ever driven with ten thousand bees in your car? Our bees were inside two boxes, but it’s still an experience. Some always find a way out.  

On our small farm, we keep bees both for pollination and for honey production, but we lost our last hive during the winter. This video, filmed on April 22, 2017, starts with me retrieving one of our two new colonies of Carniolan honeybees from the greenhouse where we left them while making final hiving preparations.

Lorraine, my wife, went ahead and waited to assist me in the apiary. My son, James, is the cameraman and isn’t wearing a protective suit while he films.

Hopefully, these bees will store up lots of pollen and honey during the summer and survive the upcoming winter.

Contest Unboxing

Hurry and enter my FREE book giveaway contests!

 In celebration of the release of my next two novels, Seekers of Earth on March 17th and Recall the Earth on April 7th, I’m running three book giveaway contests.

Why I said hurry is because the contest to win five signed copies of Seekers of Earth closes in just five days. Go to my website contest page and enter. While you are there, enter the other two contests for copies of Through Many Fires and Strengthen What Remains stories. Those contests close in just under a month.

In preparation for all the winners, I ordered copies of all the books mentioned above and a couple more. One of those books could be yours. All you have to do is visit the contest page on my website and enter. It’s all FREE!

Simple Pleasures

In most ways yesterday didn’t stand out from the normal. Dreary and wet are what you get in the northwest this time of year. But living on a farm with forest all around means that you’re going to interact with animals and they often make the day interesting.

Six deer in the backyard

Recent construction required removing part of our backyard fence and I haven’t felt the need to repair it in the cold and rain. One reason we put up the fence was to keep the deer from eating apples from our orchard, but this time of year there’s nothing on the trees.

While I enjoy seeing deer wandering around the farm, the fence downtime has allowed an increasing number to amble into the yard looking for food. They’re welcome to eat the grass and they help themselves to any birdseed or chicken feed they find. Despite my protests that it will only encourage them later in the spring, my wife Lorraine has started throwing apples to them.  

One strolls by while I'm writing

Yesterday was a record setting day with six deer in our backyard at one time. One yearling was camera shy and ran out of frame, so there are only five in the picture.

Lorraine made sure they were fed.

As I finished this blogpos I looked out the window and spotted this deer stroll by the window. I’m going to have to fix that fence before the trees start to bud.

Twelve Years with the Inklings

The Inklings have been meeting for nearly twenty years.

Recently our local paper, The Chronicle, ran a front-page story about a critique group that has been in existence for nearly two decades and that I’ve attended for about twelve years.  As my friend Julie McDonald Zander questioned me about the group for the upcoming story, I dug through old pictures and information to find answers.

Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey and Debby Lee. Kyle Pratt in lower photo.

It surprised me that I had started attending in 2005. The group then consisted of Robert Hansen, Carolyn Bickel, and Joyce Scott. All three were original members. My son James and I joined at the same time. James left several years later due to work and Joyce and her husband have retired to the southwest, but both continue to write.

Others have come and gone over the years, but currently we’ve added Kristie Kandoll, Debby Lee, and Barbara Blakey. All of these writers have become friends and I’ve had a chance to watch as several honed their craft into burgeoning careers as authors.

We critique and comment on both the good and not quite correct writing of each member. Beyond that, we educate and inform each other. The group is very informal, with no elected leader, no treasurer and actually, no name.

While I enjoy the informality, as a busy man, I have to schedule my time. More than once I’ve noted, “Group Meeting,” on my calendar, but that always made me feel like I was going to therapy or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. In July of 2015, I began writing, “Inklings,” on anything to do with the group, just to keep me organized.

Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey, Debby Lee, Kyle Pratt and Robert Hanson with his back to the camera.

The original Inklings were an informal literary discussion group that met in a pub in Oxford, England during the 1930s and 1940s. Two of the original members were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis once wrote that the original Inklings had, “no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.” That sounded like our local group.

So, by the power vested in me by no one, I named this group, at least for my own purposes, “The Inklings of Southwest Washington,” or simply, “The Inklings.”

I hope to be a member of The Inklings for at least another twelve years.

Now No to Meetup

I continue to get emails from politicized organizations.

I’ve tried to use a website called Meetup to find writing groups in and around my area. It never worked well. I found networking with other authors led me to far more people than the website, but I never deleted my membership with Meetup.

In a recent blogpost titled No to NaNoWriMo I spoke of my disgust with the National Novel Writing Month organization for stating they “join with the many voices standing against the presidential executive order that bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.” The NaNoWriMo email also stated that they were “concerned about … the President’s desire to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Sports organizations like the NBA, NCAA and recently the NFL have all deemed it wise to get involved in local debates regarding the transgender bathroom bills. Now Meetup sends me an email declaring, “after the recent executive order aimed to block people on the basis of nationality and religion, a line was crossed.” They went on to state that they created more than 1,000 Resist Meetup Groups.

From athletics to bathrooms to social gatherings, liberals want everything to be political. I don’t and none of these groups speaks for me. I resist such politicization and political correctness. I’ve deleted my Meetup account and, as much as I like the Seattle Seahawks and other local sports teams, I may be spending a lot less time watching them and much more time writing.

Death in the Apiary

We had a week of cold and snow on the farm. 

The weather made for some beautiful pictures, which you can see on the Facebook page, but it got very cold. On a mild day this week my wife came in from outside and said, “There’s no activity in the apiary.”

Author Kyle Pratt checks a hive

I like to keep two colonies, but one colony had died last year. I hurried to my one remaining colony.

Bees are very clean and will not defecate in the hive. So, on mild winter days they fly out to take care of business. As I approached it was clear no bees were busy doing business. I put my ear to the hive. No buzzing.

At that point I opened the hive. Thousands of bees were there in a tight cluster—all dead.

It really saddens me when a colony dies since I view them as being in my care. There is always something more I could have, or should have, done.
 
After a few days of mourning, I’ll clean out the hive boxes and order two more colonies of Carniolan honey bees through my local bee association.
 
Hopefully, next winter will be mild. 

Lost at Sea

The Lost at Sea scavenger Hunt has begun.

I’m taking part in a fun event with seventeen other authors, including Jill Williamson, Kerry Nietz, and Morgan L. Busse.

You, the reader, visit the websites of the speculative fiction authors, read a little about their books, gather clues, and enter contests along the way. My website is stop nine and I’m giving away five signed copies of Seekers of Earth, book one in my new series the Guardian Knights of Terra. Many of the other authors are giving away their books and two lucky winners with receive Kindles.

The Lost at Sea scavenger hunt has already started, but you still have a chance to join in and win the prizes so, click here to start and enjoy the hunt.

I'll be doing another giveaway for signed copies of Seekers of Earth starting on March 1st. So if you didn't win during the Lost at Sea Scavenger Hunt you'll have another chance.

No to NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo), is an internet-based writing event that encourages people worldwide to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. This is a fantastic and fun event which I have participated in and promoted for the last few years.

However, yesterday NaNoWriMo.org, the organization behind the event felt, compelled to send me an email in which they stated, “Because of this core organizational value, we join the many voices standing against the presidential executive order that bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.”

Why is National Novel Writing Month involving itself in issues of immigration, foreign policy, and national security?

The email went on to state, “We are also concerned about upcoming issues that may affect people’s self-expression, like the President’s desire to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)….”

The National Endowment for the Arts is the government agency that used tax dollars in support of Piss Christ an art exhibit consisting of a crucifix immersed in a glass of the “artist’s” urine. I don’t know why that’s even considered art, but in the halls of our federal government, it’s worthy of $20,000 in National Endowment for the Arts funds. Imagine the outrage if it had been a Koran in urine. The NEA views Piss Christ and other anti-Christian art as acceptable uses of tax money. I do not. I support defunding the NEA and NaNoWriMo should stay out of the controversy.

In America, citizens can, and should, debate the merits of the government policy. I am very capable of speaking for myself. I do not need, nor do I want the help of NaNoWriMo in voicing political opinions.

Let me be clear, NaNoWriMo does not speak for me. The non-profit organization should confine itself to the promotion of the writing event and stay out of politics.

Mentor Day

Author Kyle Pratt in his office with Houston 

I first met Houston two years ago when I spoke about writing as a career at Centralia High School. I read some of his work and noticed a definite writing talent. Then a few weeks ago my friend Julie Zander asked if I’d like to help her mentor a writer as part of the local Rotary/TRiO program. The program pairs students with adult professions for a job shadow and mentoring day. When I saw Houston’s name on the TRiO form I agreed to take part.

Houston and Author Kyle Pratt at the TRiO lunch.

Now a junior at Centralia High School, Houston writes very descriptive fantasy and, while Julie is an excellent non-fiction writer, she wanted my fiction perspective included in the mentoring. The three of us met at Centralia College. While there we discussed writing as a career and the training and education that advanced our careers. Houston also wanted to know how a typical work day looked. As part of that answer, we took him to my home office where I spend most of the day on a keyboard staring at a computer screen.

After that, we joined the 61 adults and about 80 students from area high schools for lunch at St John’s Lutheran Church in Chehalis. It pleased me to see so many adults willing to take time out of their day to mentor the youth of our community. I was also glad to see so many young people eager to learn more about careers.

A Time to Endure Promo

This morning the ebook edition of A Time to Endure went on sale for 99 cents.

We’re planning more promotions this year with the purpose of getting more of my books into the hands of readers. In October of last year, we featured Through Many Fires. For our first promotion of 2017, we’re featuring the second book in the Strengthen What Remains series, A Time to Endure. Starting today and for the rest of the month, the ebook edition of A Time to Endure will be only 99 cents on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords.

Happy reading!

A Janus Look

This time of year I like to take a Janus look at my goals.

Janus, looking backward and forward in time.

Janus, looking backward and forward in time.

Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings. He looked into the future and to the past. So, as we end one year and begin another, I like to take a Janus look both back and forward in time.

I write goals every year and, as the year winds to an end, I enjoy looking back at those old goals and seeing how I have done. That look into my past helps me set goals for the coming year. While for us mortals, every look forward in time is seen as if through a dark glass, I still like to imagine what I may achieve in the year ahead?

So, here is my 2017 look back into the past and into the future. These seven points were my goals of 2016.

1. Complete the first book in a new series. As 2016 started this project was so new the novel didn’t have a title and neither did the series. It was planned as a three book series dealing with the issue of electromagnetic pulse. In the first novel, storms on the sun throw off massive Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that hit Earth over a twenty-four hour period. The resulting electromagnetic pulses set technology across the planet back a hundred years.

I failed on this goal and have only written thirteen chapters of this still unnamed novel. However, as 2017 starts, I’m updating this goal with a plan to finish the first book and release it by May of 2017. You can read more about this upcoming novel on the projects page of my website.

2. Complete the second book in the Guardian Knights series. At the start of 2016, I had completed the first novel in the series Seekers of Earth, a 39,000 word prequel that ends in a cliffhanger. I wanted to finish the second book, Recall the Earth, and have both available near the same time.

I succeeded with this goal. Seekers of Earth will be released in March of 2017, and Recall the Earth is scheduled for release in April. Since I’ve achieved this goal I’m adding a new one, complete the third book in the series, Return to Earth, by December 2017. You can read more about this series on the projects page of my website.

3. Write 130,000 words in 2016. I planned to complete the EMP book, Recall the Earth, Nightmare in Slow Motion and The Long Way Home. I finish all of them except the EMP book and wrote 107,342 words.

While I’m pleased with what I accomplished, I didn’t make my goal. I’ve updated the projects list with The EMP book and Return to Earth and set my writing goal for 2017 at 110,000 words.

4. Release the Strengthen What Remains omnibus edition. Planned for release in April of 2016, this ebook only edition would include Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms, a short story, Nightmare in Slow Motion and a novelette, The Long Way Home. The boxset came out late, in August, but is now available. Click here for more information on the boxset.

5. More book promotions. My only book promotion of 2015 was tied to the release of Braving the Storms. I planned for three book promotions in 2016 with two tied to the Strengthen What Remains series.

The promotions went off close to what I had planned making this fifth goal a success. So, I’m planning five in 2017, three large scale events and two smaller campaigns. The first major event, discounting A Time to Endure to 99 cents, has already been scheduled for January 19th.

6. Update the website cover pictures regularly. This turned out to be a burden and received mixed reviews from website visitors. As with goal number three, I’m pleased with what I did, but need to do better, or in this case, different. I adopted a more landing page style for the website and have been working on other changes that visitors will see over the coming year.

7. Make shorter blogposts. A year ago my wife looked at the goals blogpost and said, “People don’t have time to read long blogposts.”

Yeah, I’m still working on that.

Please don’t read this

At least not on Christmas Day.

I posted this earlier because, on this day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, I’m going to be with family and friends and hopefully having a joyful Christmas day.

So, I’m hoping that you aren’t on your computer reading my blog on Christmas Day. I hope, pray actually, that you, and all of my readers, also have a joyful day with family and friends.

Immanuel hallelujah

Three Pictures

As I gazed at three recently taken pictures it occurred to me that each had something to say about where and how I live.

Kyle Pratt, and friend Pat, standing in the road.

The first picture is of my friend Pat and me (blue shirt) standing in the middle of the dirt road that passes in front of his house. We were waiting for a friend who had never been there before and the road seemed like a good place to keep an eye out for her. During the nearly ten minutes we stood there her car was the only vehicle that came along.

Kyle Pratt in his backyard.

It doesn’t often snow here, but when it does it’s time to get the camera out. My wife Lorraine took this picture of me in the backyard. For many years I lived on military bases and suburban communities and my backyard looked pretty normal for those areas, small with mostly grass and some flowers. In this picture an apple tree obscures the view of the hen house behind it. The apiary is hidden by more trees and a blind. The greenhouse is out of the frame to my right and additional fruit trees are off to the left, but my backyard still looks pretty normal—for this area.

One of my summer jobs is filling the wood shed (also in the backyard) with an ample supply of logs. I do this gradually as I clear trees that have grown to close, are dead or have fallen during windstorms.

Kyle Pratt keeping the home fires burning

The recent snow arrived with arctic cold and was the first time this season we fired up the woodstove. We could use the electric heaters to keep the house comfortable, but we’ve learned that the woodstove actually keeps the house warmer and, since all the wood comes from our property, it costs us very little.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and perhaps I could write more, but I think these three photos say a great deal about the way I choose to live my life. I wouldn’t change any of it.

NaNoWriMo & Friends

I love National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

During the month of November, the NaNoWriMo goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel. I have a strong internal editor that always wants to correct or improve what I’ve written, so I’ve never been able to write 50,000 words in a month.  But, I love the comradery of fellow authors and enjoy watching as they work to achieve their writing goals.

Author and friend Lisa Brunette wrote a full page article titled, The World Needs Your Novel, for our local paper. The article focused on a local write-in at the library and quoted my friends Amy Flugel and Jennifer Vandenberg. The article also included a nice picture of Jennifer.

I didn’t attend that event, but a few days later Jennifer came to my house for a critique meeting and I was able to get this picture with her.

So, another year will pass and I won’t “win” NaNoWriMo but, the good news is, several friends, including Jennifer, have.

Digital Crime

I had to deal with a crime a few days ago.

I’ve done well as a writer. Every year I sell more books than the previous year, but I’m still small enough to know all of my online book distributors, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes and a few more. So, when I received word that my novel Through Many Fires was available on Behance.net I was immediately suspicious.

I checked the pages on Behance. The price was wrong and the description was an old one used for a sale more than a year ago. Clearly the website was not legitimate. So, I did a Whois search and found the Behance.net is owned by Adobe Systems. I couldn’t imagine why Adobe would be selling illegal copies of my book. Further checking revealed that someone created a shop on the website to sell books they didn’t own.

I'm thrilled that people share my stories with friends. That is not a problem, the issue is when someone steals my work and profits from my labor. Several sites in China sell my books and there is little I can do about it, but Behance is here in the United States.

So, for the first time since I went into the publishing business, I filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown request with Adobe Systems, to remove content, and Google, to remove search results from the web. That took less than thirty minutes. Because I figured it couldn’t be that easy I emailed my lawyer asking him to be ready.

I’ve got to admit that I was surprised. Adobe advised me the next day that the site had been removed from Behance, and a few hours later Google told me that the pages were no longer in its search results.

Now, if I could only get the Chinese sites removed that easily. 

Author Rank

Author rankings change constantly, and I tend to be more focused on sales than my position on Amazon, but when I break into the top 10—well, I’ve just got to lean back and enjoy the moment.

Author ranking for Kyle Pratt

For several years, I’ve been happy to be a mid-list author writing stories I enjoy. Every year my sales have grown, but every business needs to advertise. So, we’ve been running a marketing campaign with Through Many Fires and, this has propelled sales higher—and moved up my author rank.

It will slide after the marketing campaign, but right now I’m enjoying the feeling. 

Halloween Special

Scary things are a natural part of Halloween. So, my contribution to this frightening time is to make the ebook edition of Through Many Fires available to more people. Now and through the end of Halloween, Through Many Fires is available for 99 cents.

We started yesterday with a Bookbub deal running in the United States, Canada, Australia, India and the United Kingdom. We continued today with ebooksoda, one of the larger British ebook marketers. After that we’ll be working with other marketers in the United States such as, Fussy Librarian, Reading Deals, EReader News and others.

All of this effort is to let everyone know that, if you’ve never read it, now is the time to turn the lights low, download Through Many Fires, and delve into America after nuclear terrorism.

Winter is Coming

Living close to nature means that there are annual chores that must be performed.

On a sunny day last week I took some time off from writing and prepared the farm for winter. I opened the one beehive we have this year and made sure the colony was healthy. The workers had sealed every crevice and joint with propolis, a good sign. I added a special insulation box to the top and slid in a bottom board. Winter is a hard time for bees, but the colony is now as ready as they can be.

Preparing equipment was my big job of the day. I did some last minute chainsaw cutting, then cleaned the saw and put it on the shelf. I may need it during the winter if a tree falls, but the woodshed is already full.

Lorraine with the last of the 2016 crop

This place is really just an oversized hobby farm so I use mowers and tillers, not tractors or combines. I cleaned each and emptied the last of the fuel and oil.  

While I performed these chores Lorraine cleaned the hen house. This has to be done often, but it sure is nicer to do it on sunny days. After that, she harvested the last of the fruit from the trees and vegetables from the garden. In the days to come, she will be making pies, applesauce and dehydrating the rest.

Spring has its own special chores, but that is another story.

A Few More Pictures

This year’s Southwest Washington Writers Conference is over and we’re already being asked if there will be one next year.

Yes.

Author Kyle Pratt teaching at the 2016 Southwest Washington Writers conference

As some of you know I’ve been involved in the planning of this conference from the start and this year, like those past, it did well. The organizing committee quickly decided to proceed with the fourth annual conference. Preliminary planning will begin soon. If you’re interested in attending the conference next year, the best way to stay informed is to sign up for the Southwest Washington Writers Conference newsletter.

This is our cookies. Cookies featuring the staff of the 2016 Southwest Washington Writers conference

Since I blogged about this past conference in the This is my Cookie post, I’ve received many more pictures. Some very nice pictures were taken of me, and I didn’t even know it had happened. I can’t show them all, but decided to share a few more in this post.

If you were there, let me know what you thought of the conference and, if you have pictures from any of the previous Southwest Washington conferences, send them also.

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