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An outstretched hand

I have a wonderful life.

Yes, I made some good life choices, but I also know that the grace of God has shined in my life. I am fortunate to have been born here in America and at this time. I thank God that I met and married my wonderful wife, and that I can do what I love for a living.

So, when my writer and friend Julie Zander asked if I’d be willing to donate a copy of one of my books to the Lewis County Gospel Mission fundraiser, I quickly agreed.

Author Kyle Pratt with Gospel Mission director Fay Ternan

Earlier today, I met with the director, Fay Ternan. She told me the mission was formed in 1996 as an independent Christian outreach to the widows, runaways, the homeless, poor and those just out of jail. In addition to clothing, bedding, shows, and other essentials, the mission provides thousands of meals every month. This is the work of Matthew 25:35 and 36.

The fundraiser is a dinner and live auction at the Centralia Christian School this Saturday. I’ve donated a copy of each of my four paperback books to the effort. I hope to see you there.

Planning for the Conference

We’re already planning the next Southwest Washington Writers Conference.

 Julie Zander, Scott White and Andy Skinner

Julie Zander, Scott White and Andy Skinner

The rains came down hard and steady today, but still I ventured to downtown Centralia for a meeting at The Station Coffee Bar & Bistro across from the Fox Theatre. It seems to be something of a hangout for local authors. Lately, I’m there at least once a week to meet with other authors. Planning for the 2016 Southwest Washington Writers Conference bought me out on this rain soaked day. Over warm drinks, I met with fellow writer Julie Zander, Andy Skinner from the Lewis County Historical Museum, and Scott White of the Historic Fox Theatre Restorations.

Much of the planning for our local conference is done. New York Times bestseller author Jennifer Lauck will be the keynote speaker and will teach three workshops. Bestselling author and Christy Award winner Leslie Gould will teach a workshop called “Romancing Your Novel.” I will be teaching a workshop with bestselling author Carolyn McCray on indie publishing. Several other workshops will be announced soon.  

Planning today centered on finalizing the schedule, getting the registration page of the website ready and approving the new logo. We hope to have everything up and ready by the end of the month. For more information visit the Southwest Washington Writers website and, if you’re going to be in this area on September 17th come by and visit. It’ll be a fun day!

Concert Night

As an author much of my time is spent in my office writing.

So, when I can, I like to get out and interact with people. One of the ways I do that is by attending the concerts of the Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra.

The area I call home is Lewis county, Washington state, a largely rural area of farms and timber. The largest town is Centralia, 16,000 people, where the concerts are held. All the performers are local music lovers.  These talented individuals should be paid for the performances they provide to this community, but they aren’t. They pay to be members of the organization, and their concerts are free. Wow, what a fantastic way to give back to the community.

Last night, for their second performance of the season, the theme was show tunes. For almost two hours the PNCO played arrangements from Les Miserables, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, James Bond, Titanic and Fiddler on the Roof. They closed the night with the theme from the Pink Panther.

I look forward to their next performance in June.

At the Fair

Today I spent a couple hours at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds

It’s fair time once again and I was asked to help judge the writing competition for the Grays Harbor fair. Earlier this year I helped judge the Cascade awards for the Oregon Christian Writers conference. That was fun so, when fellow author Janice Clark asked me to help with fair judging I thought that would be fun also. I was right.

Kyle Pratt and Janice Clark at the Grays Harbor Fair

I made the drive out to Elma this morning and pulled into the fairgrounds. However, I’d never been to this fair before and wasn’t sure where to go, but I happened to park beside Jan and she showed me the way.

The writers ranged in age from about ten to adult. Several were very impressive and it wasn’t easy to selection the winners. I hope they all continue to write.

I’ll be back at the Grays Harbor fair on Wednesday for some meet and greet time.

Gathering Together

Like most writers, I’m an introvert.

I spend most of the day alone, in a small office, writing. The room is in my home so, my wife is near, but she leaves me to do my work. Hours can go by and the only people I talk to are the characters in my stories.

From L to R, Wayne, Anthony, Holly, Amy, Lisa, Larry and Kyle Pratt.

Picture by Jennifer Vandenberg

Staring at the page I’ll ask, “What are you going to do next?”

“Why did you do that?”

“Are you going to take that? Are you angry? Do you want to hit him? Do something!”

Writers get a bit crazy when they’re left alone for too long.

After weeks of writing, I looked forward to last Friday, when the Lewis County Writers group, pictured here, gathered at the Matrix Coffeehouse for a potluck. What do writers talk about when they gather together? Like most people, we talk about what we do and the people we know. So, while we ate we discussed writing, publishing and other authors. After that, we talked about everything else.

My mental battery is now recharged for many more days of writing.

Falls Terrace

Last night my wife Lorraine and I enjoyed a pre-anniversary dinner.

Kyle & Lorraine Pratt

This was the third time we’ve traveled north to Tumwater and ate at the Falls Terrace Restaurant. We enjoy the establishment for several reasons. It has good service and an excellent steak and seafood selection. However, in addition it sits across from the old Olympia Brewing Company and looks down on a series of cascades on the Deschutes River known as Tumwater falls.

The combination of service, food and view makes Falls Terrace a place we return to for special occasions.

An Evening with Charlie

For the first time in over ten years I had the chance to see, hear and speak with Charlie Albright.

Kyle Pratt and Charlie Albright

In 2004 Charlie Albright was a freshman in my civics class at Centralia High School. Even then I knew he would achieve things in life. He worked hard in class and turned in every regular and extra credit assignment. I don’t believe he got less than an “A” on anything.

While still in high school, Charlie earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College, but that was just the beginning. He was accepted into the joint program with Harvard and the New England Conservatory. At Harvard he earned a Bachelor’s in pre-med and economics. While at the New England Conservatory he earned a Masters of Music. Moving on to Juilliard he graduated with the prestigious Artist Diploma.

Today he performs around the nation and the world, but last night he was back home in Centralia at the Corbet Theatre of Centralia College. While I enjoy classical music, I’ve never studied it, and cannot judge Charlie’s performance except to say that for over two hours his hands flew across the keys in an incredible flurry of movement and created sounds which held me, and the others who were there, in rapt silence.

A quick way to see Charlie perform is to visit his YouTube channel

After the performance I was walking toward the door, when my wife encouraged me to stay, buy a CD and speak with Charlie. I didn’t expect him to remember me and there was a long line, but she persisted. It turned out Charlie did remember me, so with an autographed CD, a handshake and a picture we ended our evening with Charlie.

Afternoon at the Writers Group

I’ve mentioned before that for many years I’ve attended a writer’s critique group when I’m in Washington State.

Most of our six members are published writers. All have differing methods, styles and genres, but we have come to appreciate each other’s writing. I look forward to their opinion even if they tell me I’m going in a wrong direction.

That’s what happened at this last meeting. I released book one of the Strengthen What Remains series, Through Many Fires, in August. Since then I’ve been working on book two, A Time to Endure. They regularly mark up my stories, and yes, even draw little pictures on them.

Yesterday, when I presented chapter 3 of A Time to Endure, several said that I’d waited too long before I brought Caden, the protagonist of the first book, back into the story.

I’ve come to respect their opinion so, today I’ve been writing two new chapters for the novel bringing Caden into the story right from the start. 

The picture on the left shows the group pouring over my draft. Bob Hansen, the group leader, on the far side of the table. Then counterclockwise is Barbara Blakey, Joyce Scott, Carolyn Bickel and Rudine Mayfield.

Friends and Fellow Writers

For many years now I’ve attended a writer’s critique group.

Bob Hansen, Kyle Pratt, Joyce Scott & Barbara Blakey

Well, for the last seven years I’ve taught in Alaska during the school year, but when I’m in Washington state I attend the critique group. I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a meeting when I’ve been in the state.

Including me, there are six members, but today three of them, all published authors, came to my home. Taken right after the meeting, the picture shows Bob Hansen, me, Joyce Scott and Barbara Blakey. It was great to see them again, get caught up on their lives and hear what they have recently written.

I also had the pleasure of presenting the first chapter of my next novel, A Time to Endure. Before it is released later this year, these valued friends and fellow writers will hear most of the novel.

In the Local Bookstore

My Local bookstore now carries Through Many Fires!

Lorraine in Book N Brush

You can now find my latest novel, Through Many Fires, at Book N Brush, on Market Boulevard in Chehalis.  

One of the biggest problems for independent writers is getting their books stocked in bookstores. The reasons are space and profit. Amazon and other online outlets have unlimited space and can therefore carry countless books. A community bookstore has limited space and must be selective. Also, more and more people are shopping for books online. This cuts into profits for local bookstores. When profits are slim, the willingness to take a risk on an unknown independent author falters.

I’m thrilled Book N Brush was willing to stock my newest book, Through Many Fires and  as a writer, a member of the community and a bibliophile, I urge everyone in the community to support this locally owned independent bookstore.

In The News

I was interviewed by The Chronicle, my hometown newspaper, earlier this week.

Kyle Pratt in The Chronicle of Lewis county

The reporter, Kyle Spurr, called me the day before I was to leave for Alaska.  It was my first interview and I’ve got to admit I was a bit nervous.  The article appeared in the paper today. 

Just before Through Many Fires was released we sent out press releases to local and regional newspapers.  The Chronicle was the first to respond.  The reporter had read over our press release and so knew all the basic information about the book, but still spent about 20 minutes on the phone asking me questions.  He wanted to know when I first get interested in writing, why I wanted to write about nuclear terrorism and much more.  Click on the image if you would like to read the article.    

I’m glad The Chronicle called me before I traveled north to Alaska.  The interview went well and I’m pleased with the article.

Promo Copies of Titan

The promotional copies of my debut novel, Titan Encounter, are in!

Kyle Pratt with copies of Titan Counter

As I mentioned earlier, the novel is now out in paperback and is available on Amazon for $7.78.  However, I have received a limited number of promotional copies to give away.  Friends, relatives and fans have already requested over half the copies, so this morning I took some time to sign books while my wife wrote out address labels.

 If you want one, there are still some available.  Just let me know you would like a copy in an email or Facebook message and provide your postal address. 

All I ask for the free signed copy is that when you’re done reading it; please write a review on Amazon. It can be short, but reviews really help sales.

 

Titan Paperback

Titan Encounter came out in paperback today.

The sun was shining and all seemed right with the world this morning when I received word that the paperback version of Titan Encounter was out on Amazon.  Thank you to everyone who bought the Kindle version and especially those of you who reviewed it.

Kyle Pratt with the first paperback copies of Titan Encounter

I had written several short stories and a novella earlier, but Titan Encounter was my first venture into full length novels.  To get the story out on Kindle involved a huge amount of work; editing, graphic design and formatting.  For the paperback edition we had to do that all over again.  

However, it was worth the effort.  By the end of the year Titan Encounter should be available in Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Now that Titan is done I still can’t rest, my next book, Through Many Fires is scheduled for release in just 23 days.

A Tribute to Nikki

My friend and companion of ten years died today. 

Nikki was my dog, or perhaps I was her human.  Actually, I’m certain that it doesn’t matter.  She grew from a tiny puppy on our farm in Washington State.  These last few years work has taken me away from the farm more than I would like, but if I was there she was nearby.  Whoever was doing the most interesting task, from her perspective, that was who she was with, but she was always close.     

Kyle Pratt and Nikki at a better time, Christmas 2009

When it was time for me to wake in the morning, she would wander into the room and lick my face.  Then someone, usually my wife, would take her on a morning walk around the farm and nearby woods.  I guess Nikki needed to be sure that nothing had ventured onto her farm.  There would always be several more patrols as the day went on.  As the sun was sitting she was usually on the grass near the front porch watching.

 

In her younger years she would chase the shadows of swallows as they flew to and from their nests in the nearby trees.  She also loved to snatch Frisbees or balls from the air.  These last few years those things seemed to have moved faster though.    

 

Intruders, such as raccoons, deer and postmen were never welcome on Nikki’s farm.  The chickens would walk right up to her in the barnyard while she merely watched, but predators never ventured there.  Deer never ate in the orchard because Nikki was on the watch.  I never worried about the house when we were gone.  Nikki was there.    

 

She was always there for us, but I’m sad to say that in the end I was not there for her.  Both my wife and I are up in Alaska right now at the village where I teach.  On Friday, my youngest son, Robert, told us that Nikki was in pain and after a thorough examination we were informed it was probably cancer. Robert said we would know more soon, but it looked grim.  That night I sent him this message;

Robert,

If it is necessary to put Nikki down tomorrow I want you to remember that she was loved every day of her life, that she had room to roam and explore, plenty to eat and a warm and comfortable place to sleep. As dogs go, that is just about a perfect life. She has no concept of personal death so she is not afraid of it. Remember the good times we had with her and do what needs to done to make the rest of her life (however long that will be) as good as it can be. If you do that, you have done everything you can for her. Thanks for being there for her.

Dad

I am thankful that Robert was with Nikki when she breathed her last.  I’m grateful that the last thing my faithful dog saw was a loving friend.  As painful as it would have been, I wish I could have been there to share the burden that they both had to endure today.

Goodbye Nikki, old friend, I miss you already.