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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.


Click on the following links to read my author bio, life in Lewis County or more about my life on the farm.

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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.

This is my Cookie

The third annual Southwest Washington Writers Conference was held this last weekend in Centralia, a nearby town to where I live in western Washington state. I’ve been involved in the planning and operation of this conference all three years, and believe this conference was the best one yet.

Author Kyle Pratt with his cookie.

One of the conference organizers had cookies made. Within the frosting of each treat was the edible image and class title of each presenter. This is my cookie. See, it has my name on it.

This year I taught a class with bestselling local author, Carolyn McCray, on indie book distribution or, should indie authors use only Amazon or use other distributors. I favored using many distributors, such as Nook, Google Play, Kobo and Smashwords, while Carolyn likes staying exclusive with Amazon.

Authors Carolyn McCray and Kyle Pratt

In the picture Carolyn says she looks insane. Because of the kind of books she writes, I thought it might be a marketing technique. I also attended a class on Social Media Strategies with marketing professional Veronika Noize and another class on on indie publishing with author Maggie Lynch.

I’m glad we’re done for this year, but I had a great time.

Now on Walmart.com

I’m excited to announce that the print editions of my novels are now available on Walmart.com.

Kyle Pratt with the four novels now on Walmart.com

Since writing is my business I work hard to expand the distribution of my stories, but I didn’t have anything to do with the addition of Walmart distribution. I didn’t even realize my books were on Walmart.com until a fellow author mentioned that their books were. So I checked.

Imagine my surprise.

From what I’m hearing from other authors this is all due to an agreement between Amazon and Walmart. I'm just thankful it happened.   

At least for now, Walmart.com is only selling print books, not audio or ebooks. The four novels that are available on Walmart.com are Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms and Titan Encounter.

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.