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The Internet is down

Well, at least at my house.

As I write this, the service has been down for eight days. Fortunately, the phone part of the service still works so I’ve been able to call (nag?) my provider, CenturyLink.

Author Kyle Pratt writing at The Station in Centralia

Author Kyle Pratt writing at The Station in Centralia

I have DSL service through CenturyLink. That’s the only option I’m aware of for high-speed Internet.  The service comes over the same copper wire that the phone uses, and is much faster than dial-up (which I had before) but it does go down every once in a while, usually for just minutes or a couple of hours.

Now CenturyLink is saying they’re waiting on something called a DSlam and have no estimate for the restoral of service.

As a writer, I’m online all day. So, for the last several days I’ve traveled to The Station Coffee Bar and Bistro in Centralia and done my marketing, and social media work there. Maybe the big monopoly CenturyLink doesn’t appreciate my business, but The Station seems glad to see me.

My Best Year

This has been my best year ever.

Since I released my debut novel, Titan Encounter, in 2012, my book sales have grown each year, but this year has been exceptional. With more than a third of the year remaining, my sales have already exceeded those of 2015.

When I released Titan Encounter I was a novice writer with a minimal website and no mailing list. While the novel received good reviews, sales were slow.

In August of 2013 I released Through Many Fires, and readers loved it. However, I still had only a basic website and no mailing list. When sales continued to be strong beyond the opening month, I talked with my wife, Lorraine, about quitting my job as a teacher and writing fulltime. It was a scary proposition. Typically, the sales for Through Many Fires would peak soon and then slowly decline. I had started writing the next book in the series, but it could bomb.

Despite my fears, Lorraine encouraged me to write. So, I turned in my resignation with the end of the 2014 school year. Sales of Through Many Fires remained strong well into 2014 and, when sales did slow, the second book in the series, A Time to Endure, was ready for release.

I've released other novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories since then, and remain thrilled with how you have received them.   

Because of you, my readers, I have never regretted the decision to become a fulltime writer. Thank you, for everything, especially this incredible, year!

Oregon Christian Writers (Day 3)

Tonight the Cascade Awards were presented at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference.

During the awards dinner I sat with friends Barbara Blakey and Kristie Kandoll. Barbara is a past Cascade Award winner and Kristie was up for the Unpublished Historical Fiction Award tonight along with another friend, Julie McDonald. I really expected one of them to walk away with the award, but the winner was the third finalist, Kathleen Freeman, with her book Children of the Revolution.

Kyle Pratt and Ben Wolf with his Cascade Award winning children's book

Another friend, Ben Wolf, won in the Published Children’s Book category with his story, I’d Punch a Lion in his Eye for You. Last year Ben won in the Speculative Fiction category with his debut novel Blood for Blood, and I was the runner-up with, A Time to Endure. This year neither of us competed in that group, but next year I’m planning to enter the Speculative Fiction category again with a my unpublished novel, Seekers of Earth. Ben edited the book for me so, I’m hoping it will be a good year for both of us.

Oregon Christian Writers (Day 2)

I had a chance to talk with author and editor Ben Wolf on my second day at the Oregon Christian Writers conference.

Ben edited my upcoming novel Seekers of Earth, and will be editing the second book in the series, Recall the Earth.

Authors Kyle Pratt with Ben wolf

In those stories, humans live on hundreds of worlds and believe that over three hundred years ago pre-industrial Earth was destroyed by the advancing Valac hegemony. The Mage, a benevolent and highly advanced race, are only able to save a few thousand people. These surviving humans are offered sophisticated technology in return for their help in the fight against the Valac. Humans become the guardians of the Mage.

Seventeen year old 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. Lucas wonders if the history he has been taught is all a lie—but such thoughts are treason.

Ben and I sent many emails back and forth during the editing of Seekers of Earth, but having a chance to sit down and discuss the series was an exceptional opportunity. Thanks Ben.

Both Seekers of Earth and Recall the Earth will be released next year.

Oregon Christian Writers (Day 1)

I traveled down to Portland, today with my friend and fellow author Barbara Blakey to attend the Oregon Christian Writers conference. While we will be attending the same conference we go for different reasons. 

Kyle Pratt with Sue Brower of Gilead Publishing

Barbara is talented, traditional published writer. While she enjoys meeting and talking with people, one of the main reasons she attends conferences is to network with agents and publishers.

While I also enjoy meeting with fellow authors and discussing trends in the world of writing, I never set out to make book proposals to agents and publishers. I’m a successful indie publisher, what could a traditional publisher do for me? Well, I put that question to Sue Brower, vice president of acquisitions for Gilead Publishing, at the first dinner of the conference.

Sue spoke on a panel of editors at the start of the conference, and mentioned that if an indie writer had a platform and was reasonably successful Gilead would be interested in talking to them. So, at dinner I sought her out and ask my question.     

We discussed the books I’ve published and the projects I’m working on, and she told me several ways Gilead might help me. I don’t know if I’ll be working with her in the future, but it is something I need to consider and a great start to the conference.   

I hope the first day was as interesting for my friend Barbara.

Prepping for Tomorrow

This Thursday, August 11th, I’ll be on the Prepping for Tomorrow podcast with bestselling author Bobby Akart.

Bobby is a five-time Amazon Top 50 author of seven number one bestsellers in both fiction (Blackout Series and Boston Brahmin Series) and non-fiction (Prepping for Tomorrow Series) genres.

The Prepping for Tomorrow podcast features interviews with leading post-apocalyptic fiction authors, such as Steve Konkoly, Franklin Horton, and Claire C. Riley, as well as experts in the field of survival and preparedness. Bobby, the creator of Freedom Preppers, focuses on tips, techniques and the importance of prepper fiction in developing a well-rounded, but comprehensive, preparedness plan.

I really don’t know where Bobby gets the time for all he does. The podcast will be live at 6:00pm Thursday, Pacific Time (Friday, 1:00am UTC). I’ll be joining Bobby after his introductory remarks. We’ll be talking about my Strengthen What Remains Series, writing, and the real concerns about being ready in an uncertain world.

If you don’t catch it live you can still hear the recorded version, simply click here, and check the archived shows. I’m thrilled to talk with him and I invite you to listen and be a part of the conversation. For more information, or to listen live, click here

Long Way to a New Release

When I began writing The Long Way Home I planned on it being a novelette of about 8,000 words.

Sometimes a story has a mind of its own. The completed manuscript turned into a 21,000 word novella.

As with Nightmare in Slow Motion, readers of the Strengthen What Remains novels have seen part of the story, and many have asked me to fill in the blanks. The Long Way Home takes place as chapters eight through twenty-two unfold in the novel Through Many Fires.

This story focuses on Trevor, the father of Caden Westmore. Five cities had already been decimated by nuclear terrorism when Trevor sets out on a mission to bring Sue, his pregnant daughter-in-law, back to the relative safety of the family farm. He also hopes to find his daughter Lisa and bring her home. But, almost immediately upon finding Sue, in the suburbs of Seattle, terrorists detonate another nuclear bomb and the two must flee amid the chaos and fallout.

It took me much longer than expected to write, but it was released earlier today and is available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. The novella will be available soon on other sites. Readers, let me know what you think, and please review the book. Thanks!

Courageous Debby

My friend Debby Lee is changing.

Many writers are shy, solitary, individuals that like nothing more than writing their stories and sending them off to agents and publishers. When I first met Debby I saw that reticence in her.

Debby Lee signs a copy of The Courageous Brides

She already had thirteen books on Amazon, before the recent release of The Courageous Brides Collection. About that time she signed with Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and began writing for Barbour. With the upcoming release of the Mountain Christmas Brides anthology and the  Pony Express Romance Collection scheduled for release in April of next year, Debby will be asked for more interviews and to be at more events. 

Debby was recently interviewed, and has been written about in several blogs. A few days ago she was at a book signing. The shy woman I met a few years ago is evolving into a more confident outgoing author.

I’m happy for my friend.

No Regrets

Someone once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I’m not sure that’s true, but in this case I was very happy to see my name mentioned several times in The Chronicle, my local paper.

A friend of mine, Julie McDonald Zander, writes a column for the newspaper, and recently called me. Her first questions were when and why I started self-publishing. I told her I started my business in August of 2013, but I prefer the term indie-publishing. Self-publish has the image of boxes of books stacked in the garage that will never be sold. I keep a few copies of my books to give to reviewers and bloggers, but other than that I have no inventory. I should have added that my books are sold in over sixty-five countries and on every inhabited continent. I’m trying to find a way to get my books to Antarctica.

I’ll be speaking this September at the Southwest Washington Writers Conference on using Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords for broader ebook distribution. I’ll also talk about how to use print-on-demand and audiobooks for greater reach. The conference is in Centralia on September 17th. If you’re interested you can register here.

Until recently, most writers went through agents and traditional publishers. During our conversation, Julie asked me if I ever regretted not going the traditional route. I told her that if I had waited to be traditionally published I might have one or two books out by now, maybe none. Later, as I reflected on my comments, it occurred to me that I don’t think of my work in terms of Traditional or Indie. I can still sign a traditional publishing contract. I just don’t pursue one.

By using indie-publishing, I now make a living running my own publishing business and writing books.

No, Julie, I have no regrets.

Send Me A Picture!

A friend of mine sent me a picture, and that gave me an idea.

Chris reading Braving the Storms

My wife usually gets a worried look when I have ideas, but I think this is a good one. My friend, Jennifer, took a picture of her husband reading my book, Braving the Storms. An idea came to me as I looked at the picture. I’ve received letters and emails from fans across the United States, Canada, and Europe, Asia, and Africa. I love to get emails from you, I read every one, but it would even be more interesting with pictures.

What I’m looking for is a picture of you reading one of my books in an unusual or unlikely setting. So, if you live near a volcano, like I do, or you’re going on an unusual vacation, take my book along and snap a picture. Then send it to me at kyle@kylepratt.me.

 I’ll post the pictures with the most unusual locations and settings here, on the website.

Book Credits

How many people does it take to create a novel?  

Braving the Storms, by Kyle Pratt

Recently I watched X-Men Apocalypse with one of my sons. At the end of the action we waited to see if there were any post-credit scenes (there is). As we watched the endless scroll of credits we discussed how many people were involved in the production of my last novel, Braving the Storms.

Over the next few days I jotted down names of people who either worked for me on the novel, or volunteered their time. I hope I didn’t forget to include someone on the list below.

Author:                 Kyle Pratt

Editor:                  Barbara Blakey

Copy Editor:         Joyce Scott

Line Editor:           Lorraine Pratt

Cover Design:       Micah Hansen

Critique Group:     Robert Hansen

                               Debby Lee

                               Kristie Kandoll

                               Carolyn Bickel

eBook Format:       Amit Dey

Audiobook:            Kevin Pierce

Beta Reader:          William Childress

Office Manager:      Lorraine Pratt

Accounting:            Robert Pratt, CPA

Legal:                      Christopher Vandenberg, JD

This doesn’t include people working for distributors such as, Amazon, Nook and iTunes, or the numerous bloggers and reviewers that I speak with on a regular basis.

While my list isn’t nearly as long as the movie credits, it still includes a lot of people, and I’m grateful to every one of them.

Wattpad Serial Thriller

Wattpad and Smashwords are coordinating a promotion of thriller genre books. Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, selected the books and they are featured on Wattpad. Through Many Fires was chosen to be included and will be serialized on Wattpad over the next couple of months.

All of my novels are currently available on Smashwords, an independent ebook distributor, along with other distributors, such as Amazon.

Wattpad is a writing community of readers and writers. Stories are available for free reading either on the website or through a mobile app. Nearly half of Wattpad users are in the United States, but other countries include the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines, Australia and other countries.

In addition to Through Many Fires, I currently have the first chapter of Titan Encounter and the complete Final Duty novelette on Wattpad. Other stories will be added later in the year. 

The Volcano Erupts

A minor earthquake at 8:32 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, 1980, caused the bulging and weakened north side of Mount St. Helens to collapse into the largest landslide ever recorded. The gas, steam, lava, and pulverized rock that it exposed, exploded toward Spirit Lake. Then a column of ash rose 80,000 feet into the air.

Our home at the time in Centralia. Notice the brown sky.

I was twenty-five at the time and worked as an assistant manager at a drugstore in Centralia, less than seventy-five miles northwest, as the ash falls. But the winds were blowing east that day. Friends as far away as Indiana sent pictures of their cars covered with dust. Those of us in Centralia watched the awesome display of nature’s might from vantage points around town.

As the day progressed we learned that entire forests near the volcano had been leveled, homes and bridges were swept away in the resulting flood and over fifty people died.

But in Centralia that day, no ash fell.

The following Sunday was when Mount St. Helens came to Centralia. At 2:30 a.m. the mountain erupted again.

My wife and I were asleep, along with our infant son, but some time before dawn the phone rang. My wife picked it up. “Hello?”

The street in front of our home at 9:00 a.m. on May 25, 1980

“Lorraine, do you have any windows open?” my mother asked.

“Yes.”

“Close them. Mount St. Helens erupted again and we’re getting covered with ash.”

While Lorraine secured the house, I went outside. Standing on the covered porch with the lights off the darkness was so total I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. With my foot I felt for the steps. It felt like snow falling on me.

After a few steps onto the sidewalk, I returned to the house before getting lost.

It was well after nine in the morning before there was enough light to take the pictures seen here. We escaped the worst of the mountain’s fury, but those of us who were there will never forget that May.

Coming Soon

A new book and a new edition are coming soon.

 

The new book

The Long Way Home by Kyle Pratt

The final book in the Strengthen What Remains series, at least for now, is the 20,000 word novella, The Long Way Home. The story will be released on July 15th, but is available for preorder on Amazon and Smashwords, and will soon be available on Nook and Kobo.

Five cities had already been decimated by nuclear terrorism when Trevor Westmore sets out on a mission to bring Sue, his pregnant daughter-in-law, back to the relative safety of the family farm. He also hopes to find his daughter Lisa and bring her home. But, almost immediately upon finding Sue, in the suburbs of Seattle, terrorists detonate another nuclear bomb and the two must flee amid the chaos and fallout.

 

The Omnibus Edition

The Strengthen What Remains omnibus edition by Kyle Pratt

The Strengthen What Remains omnibus edition is scheduled for release on August 26. This ebook only edition will include the three novels, Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, and Braving the Storms. Also included is the novelette, Nightmare in Slow Motion and the yet to be released novella, The Long Way Home, described above. While the final price has not been set, the plan is to save readers money over buying the books individually. A pre-order page will be created later this month.

Nightmare Novelette

My latest release can best be described as a “sidequel.”

Sidequel isn’t a real word, not yet anyway, but it’s the best way to describe Nightmare in Slow Motion, my just released 12,000 word novelette in the Strengthen What Remains series. This story unfolds at the same time, or alongside, the first chapters of Through Many Fires.

Nightmare in Slow Motion by Kyle Pratt

Peter Westmore is the older brother of Caden and a police officer helping with the evacuation of Seattle when terrorists explode a nuclear bomb. In my novel A Time to Endure we glimpse the end of Peter’s life. In that novel his brother Caden is on a mission to destroy gangs and terrorists living on the fringe of the Seattle blast zone. During the fighting, Caden goes to his older brother’s abandoned home and discovers Peter’s body and two letters. The contents of one are revealed in A Time to Endure. The other is not. Nightmare in Slow Motions fills in the blanks of Peter’s last days.

Nightmare in Slow is Motion available in ebook format on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

I Love (and hate) the English Language

This is a short clip of real-life wife and husband Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz reading a children’s book on their 1950’s television show, I Love Lucy. While they perform the skit for its comedic value, it shows one of the many idiosyncrasies of the English language that as a writer drives me crazy. How can the same letters in the same order be pronounced differently?

As I write, I try to remember that the English language is a complex set of words adopted from a variety of languages. These nuances can be maddening, but they also give the English language its spice and variety. 

Spring on the Farm

The greening of the farm inspired me.

As many of you know, I live on a small farm and spring is always a very special time. After a cold and wet (Pacific Northwest) winter it is time to get outside and repair fences, gates and the broken hen house door.

The redneck joke is on me--chickens in the house.

The redneck joke is on me--chickens in the house.

The greenhouse is so full of budding vegetables that my wife has many in Styrofoam cups on south facing window sills. Peas grow in the garden and the forest is green once again. Tadpoles swim in the pond and chicks are in the house.

That last one may have surprised you.

Those who grew up in the city would certainly find it weird to have baby chicks in the house, but it is still early spring and many days remain still cool and wet. Chicks need a warm and dry location to grow. The picture shows six Ameraucana chicks under a heat lamp in our entryway. Chickens can be really nasty to each other so, in a few months, when they are older, we’ll put them outside, but in a separate area of the chicken yard, and gradually introduce them to the other chickens.

Ah, the rituals of spring! 

Spring Cover

The website cover picture this month was taken by award winning photographer Tim Swaan captured the picture that now graces the cover of the website. Tim is from The Netherlands, but he loves to travel and the picture shown here was taken in at Whangarei Falls in New Zealand. From other pictures he has taken I know that Tim likes the image of a road or path going away from the viewer. I like his style and thankfully he has made this picture available for our use.

You can find more about previous cover photos here.

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