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OCW Third Day

I should have kept a list—with pictures.

I mentioned earlier that one of my goals for this conference is to meet people and network. I’ve continued my practice of sitting at different tables for lunch and dinner. For today’s lunch, I sat with Jeff Gerke at a table of speculative fiction writers, including a teen working on his first novel.

Randy Ingermanson and Jeff Gerke discuss business trends

Jeff is an editor, author, graphic designer and the founder of Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave Publishing, which is the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. Since I write speculative fiction, this seemed a great place to eat lunch. However, it got even better when, moments later, Randy Ingermanson sat across from me. Eating occurred between talk of what those around the table were writing and trends in the genre.

Unfortunately, I’m meeting so many people, I can’t remember many of the names or most of the interesting books they’ve told me about. I should have taken notes.   

Barbara Blakey receives the Cascade Writers Award for unpublished historical fiction.

As fun and interesting as lunch was, the real excitement for me came later, at the Cascade Awards Banquet. This award, given by Oregon Christian Writers, has ten categories for both published and unpublished works. These include contemporary, historical and speculative fiction, young adult, poetry and more. I had known for a couple of weeks that my good friend and fellow author Barbara Blakey was a finalist. That meant her book was among the top three in her category.

I sat beside Barbara as the hosts, Jeff Gerke and author Susan May Warren, presented the first ten awards. Then it was Barbara’s category. Jeff read the first line of the winning book and I recognized the main characters name. Then he announced that in the category of unpublished historical fiction the winner was, “The Secret of Clara Rose, by Barbara Tifft Blakey.”

 I look forward to reading in print soon. 

OCW Second Day

Tuesday, my second day at the conference, was a 15 hour day.

I study to stay informed about author and book marketing techniques, but as much as I learn, I want to know more. That led me to take Randy Ingermanson Passive Marketing class. This is a three-day class and much of this first morning was on establishing your vision and goals for success. As they say, how can you get there if you don’t know where you’re going? Tomorrow and the next day are more on the specific strategies and tactics.

One of my goals for the conference is to meet people and network. People tend to sit at the same table for meals but, at conferences, I make it a point to sit at a different table for each meal. Today, for lunch, I sat at a nearly empty table. Gradually the table filled. As we talked I learned the man on my right was a newspaper editor. A woman on my left had just finished writing her first book.

Frank Peretti and Kyle Pratt at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference

Just before the meal was served, only the seat directly across from me remained available. Moments later, a gentleman sat there. I thought he looked familiar so, I glanced at his nametag. It was Frank Peretti, one of the best-known contemporary Christian authors. I can still remember reading his first adult novel, This Present Darkness when it came out in 1986, and the sequel Piercing the Darkness, two years later. He’s written ten novels and sold over 10 million books. I told him I was a longtime fan, asked him about current projects and got this picture with him.  

All of that happened before noon. There were still two classes on public relations, an editor’s panel, an author’s panel and another class with Randy Ingermanson on Scrivener software to attend.

I didn’t get back to my room until after ten o’clock. I don’t think I could survive many conference days like this one. 

OCW First Day

Dinner was the most interesting part of the first day of the conference.

When I say it that way it sounds like a bad thing, that the first day of the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was a bust, but that isn’t so. The time spent around the dinner table was simply the best time.

After getting checked in, and receiving my obligatory nametag, (I’ve never liked wearing a nametag) I found my room, but was only able to relax for a few minutes, before trotting off to the conference.

The first item was a panel discussion with literary agents. There were probably more than a hundred people in attendance. Every seat was used and they brought in more. Agents are important to writers. I listened to gain insight on their perspective, but I don’t need an agent right now.

Next was a panel of magazine editors. I don’t write for magazines, but I was willing to hear what they had to say. Ben Wolf of Splickety Magazine, intrigued me. His magazine specializes in flash fiction, entire stories told in 1,000 words or less.

Several years ago, my son James had written several flash fiction pieces. That was my first introduction to them and I had no idea where or how to market them, but here was a man asking people to write them. I wanted to tell James.

Randy Ingermanson, Kyle Pratt and Ben Wolf at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference

Next was dinner in the banquet room. I saw my friend Julie Zander and we walked in together. Each table had a centerpiece with the name of a speaker at the conference. The named person would sit at that table. I noticed the table with Ben Wolf’s name on it. We sat there with Julie on my right.

Ben arrived moments later and sat one space over on my left. The chair between us was empty. I had just starting talking with Ben about his magazine and what type of submissions they were looking for when Randy Ingermanson sat between us. I’ve read several of Randy’s books including Oxygen and The Fifth Man. Julie knew Randy. Randy knew Ben and Julie and for the next hour I got to know both Randy and Ben as we talked about Amazon, the future of writing and magazines.

It was a great start to the conference.  

Exciting Events

I’ll be attending writer’s conferences in both August and September.

On Monday, August 4th, I’m heading south to Portland for the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference. This four day event is jam packed with nearly 30 workshops, more than a dozen coaching class and opportunities to network with many publishers, agents and fellow writers. I’ll be blogging, tweeting and posting to Facebook each day of the conference.   

Click to enlarge

Even more exciting in some ways is the Southwest Washington Writer’s Conference on September 13th. This one day event will be held not far from where I live, at Centralia College, and I will be conducting one of the 12 workshops.

Even though it is only a one day event it’s loaded with great writers and exciting workshops. New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni will give the keynote address, This Day We Write, at the conference. Others who will be speaking or giving workshops include the Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen, award winning author Melanie Dobson, and friends and fellow authors, and friends, Barbara Blakey and Shannon Winslow.

My workshop is titled, Author Entrepreneur – The Business of Writing. I’ll be blogging more about the Southwest Washington Writer’s Conference, and my workshop, after the Oregon conference.

Now on Wattpad

In an effort to reach more of you, my readers, I’m refocusing my social media endeavors. 

Facebook is becoming less and less useful as they filter content and only a fraction of my subscribers see what I post. If someone cares enough to friend or follow me, I want them to see everything that I have available.

That’s one reason I started using Goodreads, a book cataloging site useful writers and readers. The thing I like about Goodreads is that everything I post is up on the site for all my readers to see and the audience is made up of people who like to read.

That dynamic led me to Wattpad, another reader focused social media site. Wattpad is used by authors to post their stories, articles, or whatever. In addition to reading the material, users are able to comment and like stories or join groups associated with the site.

I’ve posted the Final Duty novella to Wattpad and I’m serializing Through Many Fires to the site one chapter a week as a promo for the sequel, A Time to Endure.

Check out my sites on Goodreads and Wattpad and let me know what you think.

Fun to See

One of the hardest tasks for a mid-list or indie author is just getting noticed.

In this digital age there are more authors writing more stories than ever before. So, no matter how interesting and entertaining my stories might be, it is difficult to spread the word and find readers.

That is one reason I don’t care how often it happens; it’s always fun to see advertisements like this one sent to me by one of my readers.

Unfortunately, for both of us, she already had both of these books.

Meeting Sandy Crowell

I recently met Sandy Crowell as she led a meeting of the Southwest Washington Writers.

This group of local writers is planning a one day conference for September. She and the others in the group seemed nice so, at the end of the meeting, I volunteered to help.

Sandra Crowell, author of A Land Called Lewis, and Kyle Pratt

A week later, as the next planning meeting wound to a close, Sandy and I were talking about our writing when she mentioned, “I wrote a book called, A Land Called Lewis.”

“I bought that book,” I said. “I’ve got it at home.”

My wife later reminded me that it was a Christmas present from my sons, but I did have it, and when I got home I found it on the shelf. Since receiving it, I have spent many hours reading and leafing through the 200-page volume. For Lewis County, the land I call home, it is the definitive local history book.  

Sandy agreed to sign her book at the next planning meeting. While I was there I also got this picture of both of us with it.

I’ll be posting more about the conference the Southwest Washington Writers are planning, in the days ahead.

Visiting a Beta-Reader

One of my beta-readers, DeLynn, is a longtime family friend.

Kyle Pratt with DeLynn

Life has taken her away from the area where I live; however, when she came back, to visit family and friends over the 4th of July, we visited.

Most of the time was taken up with reminiscing, eating and fun, but I also had to discuss some business. She was previously a beta-reader for Through Many Fires and has volunteered to do the same for A Time to Endure.

Some of you may be wondering, “What is a beta-reader?” Wikipedia defines it as, “a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling….”

Every author I know has a group of these precious individuals. My beta-readers receive a digital copy of the manuscript before it is released and, using the Microsoft Word track changes function, mark grammar, spelling and continuity errors. They need to be quick readers (2 – 3 weeks to read a book) and a bit of a grammar Nazi. In return they get a signed first edition of the book they read and my gratitude.

At one point, DeLynn mentioned she would like to have her name used for a “nice character” in A Time to Endure. I obliged. Such a sweet character, too bad she dies horribly in the last chapter. (Just kidding, DeLynn!)

My beta-readers will soon be getting chapters of A Time to Endure to read. I’m always looking for a few more readers. If you’re interested in joining the cadre of beta-readers use the contact page on my website to let me know.

Writers Group Meeting at My Home

I meet with a group of five local writers on a weekly basis. This group started meeting nearly twenty years ago, but I’ve only been a part of it for ten.

Bob Hansen, author of A Bully's Doom.

The only time I don’t attend is when I’m out of state. 

While occasionally someone will leave, and a new person will be found, there are still two original members, Bob Hansen and Carolyn Bickel. Four of the five current members are published authors.

The group usually meets at a local church, but today there was a change of venue. The group met at my home and I decided to take a few pictures.

Currently I’m working on A Time to Endure, book two of the Strengthen What Remains series, and sequel of Through Many Fires. These pictures, taken in my dining room, show the group critiquing chapter 12 of A Time to Endure.

From right to left: Barbara Blakey, Debby Lee, Carolyn Bickel and Bob Hansen.

As readers of this blog will know, I write thrillers and science fiction, but the members of the group write everything from fantasy, historical fiction, romance to cat stories.

We also have different styles and methods. One thing we do have in common is our Christian faith, but often our stories aren’t so much faith based as faith friendly and beyond faith and friendship we share a desire to write good stories.

A New Beginning

I’m late posting this because I’ve been so busy, but I need to make the announcement.

I’ve retired.

Kyle relaxing in his hammock

No, I don’t spend the day in a hammock (well, not all of it) and I haven’t quit writing. For the last seven years I’ve been teaching in Alaska during the school year and spending my summers working on the family farm in Washington State. Writing has been something I did whenever I could.

While I have worked on A Time to Endure every spare moment, finding those moments has often been difficult. However, with the release of Through Many Fires, sales have been strong enough that my family has encouraged me to write full time.

With much trepidation I gave notice in early April that I would be retiring from teaching. My retirement became effective at the end of May.

Now all I have is a small farm to maintain and finishing A Time to Endure.

Titan Audiobook Released!

Work began Titan Encounter audiobook in early March and now it is done.

We started by having Micah Hansen design a cover and moved on to listening to auditions. It didn’t take long to select actor Jeffrey Fellin to produce and narrate the novel. Jeffrey has extensive experience in both film and theater and the right voice for the book.

As Jeffrey completed the chapters my wife, Lorraine performed the first quality check, then beta-readers listened and finally it came back to me for a final QC.

There were delays and technical problems but by mid-May we turned the project over to Audible.com for final technical checks.

Titan Encounter is now available in paperback, Kindle, online in most other ereader formats and now as an audiobook on Audible.com. It will soon be available on iTunes.

The unabridged, five hour, Titan Encounter audiobook is available here on Audible.com.

A Weird Coincidence

A week ago Loni, the Eek School secretary, said, “I just met someone with your name.”

“My first name, Kyle?”

“No your whole name, Kyle Pratt,” she replied.

Kyle Pratt meets Kyle Pratt at the Eek airfield

She went on to say that he was there as part of the ongoing project to bring running water to the village and had already left. The idea that someone in the village would have the same first and last name was amusing. “If he returns to the village, let me know.”

A few days later, the agent for one of the bush airlines came up to me with a puzzled look. “I have a crate of weatherization materials with your name on it.” I told him about the other Kyle.

Alice, the Eek postmistress told me. “A guy came in and said he was Kyle Pratt. I said ‘No, you’re not.’ But he was.”

The next day I met the other Kyle Pratt just as I was getting breakfast ready for the students and opening the school. We didn’t have long to talk, but I found out he was from Washington state. “The whole thing just got weirder,” I thought.

I didn’t see him for several days and then on Friday it was time for me to leave Eek and this time for good, (More on that later.), I saw him walking from the school as I rode in a trailer behind the school ATV. I was on my way to the village airfield and thought that was the last time I would see him.

Our plane landed on the dirt runway as we grabbed our bags from the trailer. Suddenly Kyle, on another ATV, rounded one of the buildings at the airfield. He came up to me and said, “I just have to ask you a question. The woman at the clinic said we have the same birthday.”

I told him mine.

He shook his head. “That is unreal.” He told me his birthday.

We not only share the same first name and last name,

And we are both from Washington state,

And, that day we were both in the same remote Alaskan village.

We also have the same birth month and day. (But different years.)

I am still shaking my head in puzzlement. What are the odds?

Stamps and More Stamps

When you live in a rural Alaskan village the post office becomes a lifeline.

Eek is hundreds of miles off the Alaska road system. There is only one dirt road in the village. It runs from the airport through the village to an old airport on the other side. It doesn’t connect to any other road. This rough and often muddy lane is used by ATVs, snowmobiles and as a walking path.

There is one general store in the village but, as you can imagine, many things are just not available. But, when the weather is good, the mail plane lands in Eek six days a week. So, my family regularly sends packages. Post office flat rate packages are a godsend here. That is how I came to receive the package pictured here. I asked my wife if she put all those stamps on it. She said, “No, I just paid for it and left.”

I guess they had a few extra stamps they needed to use. Also, notice the five cent postage meter stamp in the corner.    

A Lesson in Irony

One definition of irony is an event that “seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.”

With that in mind I submit this picture. It was taken in the hall of our school here in Eek, Alaska. Posted above the lockers the sign declares both in English and the local Yup’ik Eskimo language, “We put our stuff in our lockers.” This is a small community, doors are often unlocked and theft is rare. Lockers are small and most have no locks. If space is tight things, like shoes, are often left out. That is why the sign was there, to encourage the students to be neater and put their personal items in their locker.

The shoes remained beside the sign, and on top of the locker, for days.  

A Good Weekend

Through Many Fires continues to sell well, but yesterday it did really well

The problem always is, how do you inform readers about your book? Yesterday we did some promotion with a company called eBookSoda and dropped the ebook price in the United States, Canada and Britain for this weekend. That worked really well. Yesterday Through Many Fires ranked #461 among all Kindle books and this morning it is #456.

Through Many Fires reached the #2 spot on the Amazon post-apocalyptic bestseller list and the #3 position, above a Tom Clancy novel, on the Amazon war fiction bestseller list. These are both the highest rank for the book since its release in August of last year.

It has been a good weekend.

Renewal at Easter

My oldest son James posted this picture online and I found myself pondering it.

Many think that Christmas, not Easter, is the most important holy day of the Christian year and many of them don’t know the story of Barabbas

Easter, of course, is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, but I always think of it as a time of rebirth and renewal. I don’t know if it is a coincidence that Easter comes in the springtime or if it is some Godly metaphor, but for me, Easter and spring shout renewal.

For us in the northern hemisphere of the planet the long winter is over, the snow is melting, and the birds are returning. There are flowers on the fruit trees, the fields are sprouting and tiny chicks are chirping. Chores on our small farm that waited all winter can now be done. Every year is much the same, but still glorious.

I often wish that for our nation there could be a similar renewal. In proverbs 29:18 we read, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” When the nation was young it was energetic and purposeful. As a nation we knew who we were. We were a free people in a free land, but more than that, we were a Christian people.

Today, so many have forgotten, or never learned, our heritage that we have lost our way. We are stuck in an endless winter. Many years ago C.S. Lewis said, “The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like…bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk.”

There is a Roman saying that has come down to us, “bread and circuses.” The Roman people, who had thrown out kings, established a senate and had the mightiest army and navy on the planet, had grown fat and lazy and now cared only for food and entertainment. So that is what Roman politicians gave them, cheap food and the mass entertainment of the coliseum.  

At one time the Ten Commandments and Judeo-Christian principles were the foundation of our law and government. Now the government that we elect literally tears down the cross of Christ, displays of the commandments and ignores the principles the Founding Fathers embraced.

Perhaps we are shirking lessons, or perhaps we never learned them from our parents, but we, as a nation have lost our way. We need to return to the faith of our fathers and those simple principles that we know are true and stop voting for the government that gives us more bread and circuses.

If we don’t we are just part of the crowd shouting, “Barabbas.”

Great Response

The response to the recent interview on ApartmentPrepper.com was great.

As part of the interview we gave away copies of Through Many Fires in paperback, Kindle and audiobook format. You can read the interview here.

ApartmentPrepper.com provides information on preparedness and survival aimed at a more urban readership. Also, over the last few years, they have featured significant books in the survival genre such as Expatriates, by James Wesley Rawles, and Apocalypse Drift by Joe Nobody. I’m pleased that Through Many Fires is now and will be a part of that group.

Because of good reaction to the interview and giveaway we are now advertising on this leading survival and preparedness website.

We Have a Book Cover

The cover design for A Time to Endure has been approved and released.

Because of the enthusiastic response to Through Many Fires I immediately started writing the planned second book in the series. Titled, A Time to Endure, this next book is now my number one writing project. Click here to see a progress bar graph of the writing.

While I’m still busy with the manuscript, the graphic designer, Micah Hansen, has delivered the final cover design. The first book in the series, Through Many Fires, was done in shades of red and we decided to go with that theme for the second book. The stark background is not one particular scene in the book but suggests a tone of coming events. Click on the image to see a larger version.

A Time to Endure, book two in the Strengthen What Remains series, will be available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and the iTunes Bookstore, in paperback, on Kindle, and Nook and most other ereader formats when released later this year.

 

More on Backdoor Survival

Through Many Fires is featured in Backdoor Survival’s fifth Book Festival

About two weeks ago the website Backdoor Survival, one of the top five survival and prepping websites, announced that Through Many Fires would was selected to be part of their Spring 2014 Book Festival. Today, as part of the ongoing event my novel was featured. The editor also interviewed me and asked about upcoming books.

I’m pleased to be a part of their survival book festival which, in the past, has featured a number of bestselling books in the post-apocalyptic genre including, Expatriates, by James Wesley Rawles, and Apocalypse Drift by Joe Nobody and The Long Road, by G. Michael Hopf.

As part of the book festival promotion I’m offering ten copies of Through Many Fires. Winners can choose either paperback, audiobook or ebook format.

I encourage everyone to peruse the site, read the interview, and if you don’t own a copy of Through Many Fires to register for a chance to win.

Review 100

Through Many Fires, my latest novel, received its 100th 5-star review today.

I am thrilled with the praise readers have showered upon the book.  One recent review compared Through Many Fires to the New York Times bestselling novel Patriots, saying, “If you enjoyed James Wesley, Rawles ‘Patriots’ you will most likely love this….”  Douglas Skinner the 100th 5-star reviewer said, “I found this story to be a very good read with well developed character relationships. The story was also very believable.”

Through Many Fires continues to sell well and now has 168 reviews with 147 4-star or above. It is time to celebrate!