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Now on Google Play

All of my novels are now available on Google Play.

The Google Play app has been downloaded over one billion times around the world from the United States to Uzbekistan and sixty-three other countries. If you’re using an Android phone you can now buy all my novels using the app. Although I expect to have greater sales with more traditional book sellers, such as Amazon, by sheer numbers Google Play is the world's largest ebook store, with over 5 million titles available.

Countries where the Google Play store is available.

Titan Encounter, my first book was released in August of 2012 on Kindle only. The first few months I was thrilled when I sold more than one book a day. However, sales gradually increased and in July of 2013, Titan Encounter came out in paperback. The next month Through Many Fires was released simultaneously on Kindle and in paperback. Sales of the book started strong and skyrocketed, approaching 100 sales a day in September of 2013. The Through Many Fires audiobook came out later that month.

In early 2014 I had four books available worldwide on Amazon, Nook and Kobo. In May of that year I retired from teaching. The sales distribution network has continued to grow with the addition of Smashwords, Scribd, and Baker & Taylor. Google Play is an exciting new step forward in that process.

Great Release

Braving the Storms is off to a good start.

With the holidays I’ve been slow to write anything, except Christmas cards, but this deserves mention. The release of Braving the Storms, the third book in the Strengthen What Remains series, was released on December 18th. By the next day the book surged onto the Amazon war fiction best seller list and reached number 77 later in the day.

What thrilled me about the early sales was we hadn’t started any paid advertising yet. Braving the Storms made it to the best seller lists based on the support from fans of the earlier books. Thank you!

This is the Day

Today Braving the Storms was released worldwide!

I was barely out of bed this morning when my wife Lorraine said, “Check your sales—how many books have you sold?” Braving the Storms, the third book in my Strengthen What Remains series, released worldwide this morning as an ebook.

Kyle Pratt with the three books of the Strengthen What Remains series

If you pre-ordered it on Amazon, Kobo or Smashwords the book should be on your device. By the time you read this it should be available on Barnes & Noble (Nook), and iTunes.

The paperback also released this morning, but will take a while to show up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

So, I told Lorraine about the sales and was hoping for a quiet extended weekend leading up to Christmas. Then I remembered that Kevin Pierce, the narrator for both Through Many Fires and A Time to Endure, still needed the Braving the Storms manuscript. I emailed the script to him and we formalized the production agreement. The audiobook should be available by late January.

After that I recalled the newsletter for my readers still hadn’t been sent. Many of them had been waiting since the release of A Time to Endure. They deserved to be told that the next book in the series had been release. Then I needed to update the blog …  

Maybe I can take tomorrow off. 

Braving the Storms Update

The latest paperback copy of Braving the Storms is ready for release!

I received the proof copy of my latest novel today. The copy is identical to what readers get when they order the book and is my last chance to make changes before the release.

Kyle Pratt with the proof copy of Braving the Storms

After this picture was taken my wife sat down and proofed the book. She checks it page-by-page for errors. At this point we’re not looking for manuscript errors so much, as style and format errors, such as incorrect margins, wrong type fonts or pages numbered incorrectly. I’ll check it too, but she is better at proofing the books than I am.

The ebook edition of Braving the Storms is ready and, as long as we don’t find any problems, the paperback edition will go to press tonight. Both editions will be released worldwide on December 18th. Production of the audiobook will begin after Christmas with a release date sometime in late January.

This is an exciting Christmas season!

Merry Christmas

This month’s cover picture is a special one, for a special time of year.

Usually these blogposts are about the pictures, but not this one. As we gather together to celebrate the birth of Christ, I like to reflect upon the blessings of family and faith.  

The cover page of my website is titled, “Finding the narrow path to hope and survival.” Readers of the New Testament will probably spot the Biblical allusion. My books are written for the general audience, but I am a Christian. I don’t try to hide my faith, but it is usually a subplot, more hinted at than explicit. I enjoy writing about good people, but usually not Christians, searching for answers in extraordinary, even post-apocalyptic, situations. My characters search for a means to survive, but they also search for answers to the bigger questions. I know I search for answers. I think we all do.

Over the years my family has strengthened my faith. I haven’t always been a good Christian, but I have been a believer. In those times that I search for direction, my wife has been the lighthouse that guided me. She has also been the one to instill Christian values in our children. Together, as a family, we shine the light down the narrow path for each other. I am very blessed.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year because of faith and family. I hope it is for all my readers. Merry Christmas!

Find previous cover pictures here.

Getting Closer to Release

Next Friday is the big day!

I’ve been working on Braving the Storms for over a year, writing, rewriting and editing all of the nearly 78,000 words. My wife has read each of the forty chapters at least twice. Micah Hansen worked with me to create the covers, while others have worked as critique partners and beta-readers. So, I’m really excited to say that the manuscript is done!

Braving the Storms by Kyle Pratt

Braving the Storms, is the third book of the Strengthen What Remains series. In the first book, Through Many Fires, nuclear terrorism strikes the nation’s capital and six other American cities. In the second book, A Time to Endure, society continues to unravel, and civil war threatens the divided and economically-crippled land.

Now a new and even more lethal problem emerges. A swift and deadly flu epidemic sweeps out of overcrowded FEMA camps and strikes the nation with horrific results. Caden Westmore struggles to keep his family and community safe, while others use the plague to advance their own military and political agendas. Caden must succeed, but how can he, when both the epidemic and chaos attack his hometown and family?

Now the harder job begins, getting the word out to readers about the new book. The paperback and ebook editions will be released worldwide on December 18th. Production of the audiobook will begin after Christmas with a release date sometime in late January. 

The Projects Page

Go to the project page to find out what’s coming up.

If you really want to know what I’m writing then you need to visit my projects page. That’s the place where I list all my current novel, novella and short story endeavors. On the left side of the page, I list the genre of the story, provide the estimated word count, a brief description, and expected release date. On the right is a graphic that tracks my percentage completed.

I update this page every couple of days and will soon be listing my projects for 2016. 

Thirty Days!

The release date is only 30 days away!

I’m meeting later today to review a chapter of Braving the Storms, the third book of the Strengthen What Remains series. After that I’ll be doing final editing. The release date for the ebook and paperback editions is December 18th.

In the first book, Through Many Fires, nuclear terrorism strikes the nation’s capital and six other American cities. In the second book, A Time to Endure, society continues to unravel, and civil war threatens the divided and economically-crippled land.

Now a new and even more lethal problem emerges. A swift and deadly flu epidemic sweeps out of overcrowded FEMA camps and strikes the nation with horrific results. Caden Westmore struggles to keep his family and community safe, while others use the plague to advance their own military and political agendas. Caden must succeed, but how can he, when both the epidemic and chaos attack his hometown and family?

Braving the Storms is available for pre-order in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia on Amazon, and worldwide on Smashwords and Kobo. Order now and have Braving the Storms load right to your device the moment it’s released!

Back in School

I had the chance to go back to school this week.

Author Kyle Pratt speaking at Centralia High School

Ten years ago, I taught at Centralia High School, near where I live now in Lewis County, Washington state. However, life and other opportunities drew me away, and I haven’t been back since. I still know many of the teachers though, and last week, counselor Jim Parker asked me to come back on Tuesday and talk about writing as a career.

So, you like working for minimum wage

Author Kyle Pratt speaking at Centralia High School

I did actually start with that, but as a joke. Okay, maybe it wasn’t entirely a joke. Many authors have to have a regular job to support their meager earnings from writing. Only a few make the big money. I don’t make a fortune, but I’ve been fortunate, to earn a living writing books that I enjoy.

The Internet, print-on-demand, ebooks, and audiobooks are changing the world of writing. I spoke for nearly an hour, and in that time explained how, as a mid-list indie author, I run a small publishing company, and use all those formats to distribute my books.

Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple, iTunes are all my business partners. It’s fun, but it is also a full time job.

Students asked questions before, during and after I spoke. I’m sure some of them were late for their next class. I had a great time and hope to speak with students again in the future.

Special Discount

The release date for braving the storms is only 56 days away!

As part of the celebration leading up to the release of Braving the Storms on December 18th, I’ve marked down the first book in the series, Through Many Fires, to 99 cents.

In Through Many Fires, terrorists smuggle a nuclear bomb into Washington D.C. and detonate it during the State of the Union address. Army veteran and congressional staffer, Caden Westmore, watches as a mushroom cloud grows over the capital. The next day as he drives away from the still burning city, he learns another city has been destroyed, and then another. America is under siege. Panic ensues and society begins to unravel.

I don’t know how long the book will be available at that very special price, but the goal is that everyone who wants to start reading the series can do so now, before the release of Braving the Storms. So, if you haven’t read the novel, now is the time to snag your copy!

The ebook version of Through Many Fires is available on Nook, Kobo iTunes, Smashwords and on Amazon sites, in the U.S., Canada, Britain and Australia.

Pre-Order Braving

The release date is only 61 days away!

However, you can pre-order the ebook version of Braving the Storms now and have it load right to your device the moment it’s released.

Braving the Storms is the third book of the Strengthen What Remains series. In the first book, Through Many Fires, nuclear terrorism strikes the nation’s capital and six other American cities. In the second book, A Time to Endure, society continues to unravel, and civil war threatens the divided and economically-crippled land.

Now a new and even more lethal problem emerges. A swift and deadly flu epidemic sweeps out of overcrowded FEMA camps and strikes the nation with horrific results. Caden Westmore struggles to keep his family and community safe, while others use the plague to advance their own military and political agendas. Caden must succeed, but how can he, when both the epidemic and chaos attack his hometown and family?

Braving the Storms is available for pre-order in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia on Amazon, and worldwide on Smashwords and Kobo.

The Cover Question

Why not let us know more about the picture?

That is the question I have for photographers. I can understand that photographers post pictures so people can see, enjoy and use them, but many post fantastic pictures with little information. Why not tell us the date and location of the shot? Why not add a bio section to your website?

That is the problem with this month’s picture. The photographer is Caleb Ralston. You can see this and many others superb pictures on his website. Unfortunately there is no bio on the site and he didn’t respond when I tried to contact him.

It’s a great picture. I just wish I knew more.  

Find previous cover pictures here.  

The Upside of Indie Writing

There are serious reasons to be an indie writer, and not so serious ones.

This is a look at a few of both.

Author Kyle Pratt at the office

1. No Alarm Clocks. I live on a small farm so I still get up early, but almost never to the blare of an alarm clock. Usually I get up to the morning sun coming in the bedroom window or the sound of chickens clucking to be fed. On those rare occasions when I must get up early for a flight or other trip, I struggle to remember how to set the fancy alarm clock by my bed.

2. My Three-Step Commute. Auto insurance agents always ask, “How long is your commute?” I love explaining my morning trip to them. The door-to-door commute from my bedroom to my office is three steps. However, I usually take a fourteen-step detour to the dining room for breakfast.

3. Casual Days. I wear slippers to the office because every day is casual Friday. If I wake with a great story idea I might start the day working in my robe. No one complains about my beard and I can go days without trimming it or shaving.     

4. The Daily Schedule. I still have busy days and enough appointments that I keep a synched schedule on all my electronic devices, but it is MY schedule. If an old friend calls or my wife wants to go out for lunch, things get moved around. My time is my time, and the schedule is always clear for Seattle Seahawk games.

5. It’s My Company. I probably work more hours than I ever did for an employer and I still have deadlines, but now every book I write, every promotion, conference or blogpost is part of building my company and my future.

There are downsides to being a writer, and even more so to being an indie writer. We’ll talk about those in future posts but, for me, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Carol Award Winning Friends

I’m pleased to know three Carol Award winners this year. 

The Carol Awards are the American Christian Fiction Writers recognition for the best Christian fiction. This year the ACFW conference was held from September 17th through the 20th in Dallas, Texas. While I didn’t attend several people I know did, and received awards.

Nadine Brandes

Carol Eaton and Nadine Brandes at the 2015 ACFW Carol Awards.

A Time to Die, the first book by Nadine Brandes, came to my attention because of the praise it received from both readers and reviewers. I found the plot, pacing and characters to be superior to that of most speculative fiction and planned to watch her progress. I’ve also recommended the book several times. Earlier this year I joined an online critique group. Only after become part of the group did I discover that Nadine was one of the members. While I’ve never met her in person, I look forward to working with her.

I’m thrilled that Nadine Brandes won the 2015 Carol Award for speculative fiction for her novel, A Time to Die.

Carol Eaton

Carol Eaton is the moderator that brought me into the online critique group. When I joined I knew Nadine by reputation only, and Carol not at all. While I’ve never met her in person, after many emails and critiques, I feel I’ve gotten to know her. However, she never mentioned that any of her work might receive an award.

I’m very pleased to say that Carol Eaton has won the 2015 Carol Award for speculative fiction for her manuscript, Null.

Melanie Dobson

While I’ve met Melanie Dobson twice, I’ve never read anything by her. My wife has enjoyed reading several Dobson novels, but historical romance is not my usual read.  

Melanie Dobson winner of the 2015 ACFW Carol award for historical fiction

However, I’ve met her twice. Last year she presented at the Southwest Washington Writers Conference, which I helped organize and I spoke with her briefly. This year she presented again, but unfortunately brought a Mac to an all Microsoft facility. I was called upon to help, and together with Melanie we melded the two operating systems in time for her class.

I wish I had the opportunity to congratulate Melanie Dobson in person for winning the 2015 Carol Award for historical fiction for Chateau of Secrets. I’m sure I’ll be seeing the novel soon.

One of the nicest things about being a writer is the chance to meet such talented and creative people.

Pushing Toward the Goal

I like to set goals.

Each week I list chapters and blogposts that I’ll write, marketing plans to investigate or execute, people to contact and more. One long term goal I have is to write 120,000 words this year. Many writers do more than that, but this would be a personal best. To track my progress, I use an Excel spreadsheet.

Earlier this week, when I entered my word count, I discovered I reached something of a milestone. I’ve written 100,000 words so far this year. You can keep track of my progress by clicking here.

While I haven’t achieved my 120,000 word goal, I’m closing in on it. I’ll let you know when I reach the final goal. 

My Local Conference

The 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference is over.

Marketing expert Veronika Noize and Kyle Pratt at the 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference

Seattle has conferences for writers, and so does Portland, but until last year this area lacked that level of education and networking. The first year of the conference, I both presented and helped with the organization and operation. This year I just helped. While both conferences were a success, this year attendance rose and the operation ran smoother.

The morning of the conference we came in early to complete final preparations. Julie Zander soon discovered the main auditorium was locked. She got it open just in time for me to turn on the projector, computer, adjust the lights and test the microphone. I finished as the first few people walked in.  

Authors Kyle Pratt and Jennifer Shaw Wolf at the 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference

As with last year, we had both a Keynote address and a mini-keynote. Jane Kirkpatrick, author of more historical fiction books than I care to count, provided the keynote. She spoke on the skills a writer needs to develop and often needs to discover within. Scott Eagan gave the other keynote. As an agent, he spoke on what his profession could and could not do for a writer. He spoke well, but as a purely indie writer, I’m not looking for an agent.

This year attendees had their choice of twelve workshops on everything from writing poetry, to editing and marketing. Melanie Dobson spoke on putting romance into genre writing. Unfortunately she brought a Mac to an all Microsoft facility. Again, I was called upon, and together with Melanie we melded the two operating systems in time for her class.

Authors Lisa Burnette and Jane Kirkpatrick at the Southwest Washington Writers Conference

I attended the Writing for Young Adults and Story Structure classes by Jennifer Shaw Wolf. I think she did both presentations well, and I learned things in both. However, I looked forward to the class with Veronika Noize on Marketing. I missed it last year because our presentations were at the same time. I’m an author and have little interest in marketing, but as an indie writer, the responsibility falls on my shoulders. She had many good ideas which I look forward to trying over the next few months.

Both years the conference has been organized by a few members of the Southwest Washington Writers Guild. As I mentioned, I’ve been a part of both efforts. We’re already planning the event for next year and I’m looking forward to it.

Heinlein on Writing

The first book I read was Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein.

After that, I read every other book the master of science fiction wrote. I first toyed with the idea of writing as I read one of Heinlein’s novels. More than ten years passed before I completed my first short story and then another ten years slipped away before I attempted a novel.

 Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein

As I struggled with that first, still unpublished book, I came across Heinlein’s five rules for writers. Gradually, I set aside that first clumsy novel and went on to finish, and publish, others. Through it all, Heinlein’s simple rules have remained with me.

I present them here with my thoughts and commentary.

Rule one: You must write

Many people tell me they have an idea about a novel. My standard reply is, “You should write it.” Very few ever do. It sounds obvious, but if you’re going to be a writer you need to write. Most never get beyond rule number one.

Rule two: You must finish what you start

The poet and writer Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Most that start a novel never push on to completion and so, never know the joy of “having written.” It’s a struggle to complete that first novel and, while it never gets easy, as you hone your craft, the task becomes less arduous. An author must persevere to completion.

Rule three: You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order

I know some fantastic writers that never submit their work to agents or publishers. Over and over again they edited and rewrite chapter after chapter. Their work is often spellbindingly beautiful, but few will ever read it. Write the best manuscript you can, submit it to a critique group, perhaps some beta readers and a final rigorous editor—then move on.

Rule four: You must put your story on the market

Another rule that seems obvious, but I know a writer with dozens of completed novels in his office. All of them are ready for the market, but aren’t on it. In today’s digital world there are three viable market options for authors, traditional publishing, indie publishing or a hybrid of both. Learn about all three and keep your books on the market.

Rule five: You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

If you want to be an author, don’t give up. Find a way to get your books to readers and, while continuing to sell your currently completed project, return to rule number one and start the process again.

Growing Reach

I received a surprising email recently.

Since I started, I’ve felt that the best way to promote and sell my books was online. While I’m thrilled when it occurs, I put little effort into getting them into stores and libraries. Still, over time, they have appeared in several brick and mortar establishments like the Strand in New York City, Powell’s in Portland, and my local store, Book N Brush.

So, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when my friend and fellow author Jennifer Vandenberg sent me these pictures. She was visiting the local Chehalis library and found the book just as you see it in the picture.

I went to the library the next day and talked with the only person I know working there, Amy Flugel. She checked the catalog and informed me the regional library system three copies of A Time to Endure, all checked out, and three more of Through Many Fires at other libraries.

So, thanks to someone in the Timberland Regional Library system, the reach of my books continues to grow.

Honey Harvest for 2015

The honey harvest this year was very good.

Kyle Pratt ready to harvest from one of his hives.

We have only two hives on our small farm, but even so, the harvest takes nearly all day. After breakfast we set up the equipment, including our honey extractor (basically a hand-crank centrifuge), stainless steel buckets, a couple of food-grade plastic pails, strainers and assorted tools.

Kyle Pratt harvesting honey.

Then we don all of our protective gear because the bees really don’t like what we are about to do. By nine in the morning we are at the apiary and I pulled off the lid of the first hive. The top of the frames in the honey super were covered with thousands of bees and more were inside. Every bee had to be brushed off before the honey frame could be taken. 

By the time my wife and I were done the bees were very mad. That’s why I do the harvest inside. If I harvested outside all those outraged bees would crawl over everything and try to sting me. After I removed the appropriate frames and brushed off the bees, I passed them to my wife. She took them to our garage, where we had everything ready for extraction.

Lorraine Pratt looks over twenty pounds of honey.

When I finished, and closed the hives, I joined my wife inside for the harvest. Using a long knife we cut the comb open and place the frames into the centrifuge. Then I cranked and cranked. It takes a lot of arm work, but the honey soon begins to flow and continues in a slow stream for hours. By the end of the day, my wife and I harvested 308 fluid ounces of honey or over twenty pounds.

Don’t worry about the bees. We take only the excess; most of the honey is left in the hive, so they can eat during the winter.

After a hiatus

One thing I enjoy about the Matrix is the different types of writers.

After a brief hiatus for an anniversary celebration, music and other summer events, the Lewis County Writers Guild is back meeting at the Matrix Coffeehouse.

That is where you will find me most Friday evenings. While writers regularly meet at my home, larger groups are easier at the Matrix. Also, more varieties of food and (non-alcoholic) drinks are available. However, the thing I enjoy most is the wide variety of writers that attend. Some are novice writers, others are professional. Most write fiction, but some prefer non-fiction. Many different genres are represented.

However, the motivation that keeps me coming is that we all wish to say something with our writing and so, together, we work to improve our skills.