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June 2017 Update

It's been three-and-a-half years since I've written a blog. The primary reason I stopped is because I received a comment from a wise-ass. I'm sure he was an unsuccessful writer, and he said something snide that really angered me. So I thought to myself, "I don't have to do this. I don't need the aggravation, I don't need the angst, and I certainly don't need the anger," so I stopped blogging.

I've regretted it to some degree, largely because I hear from so many kind and wonderful people all the time. I get emails from all over the world now that come into my website, and 99.9 percent of them are genuine and positive and truly uplifting. The people that write them are interested in what's going on with my life and my writing career, so I thought I'd give folks a bit of an update. It'll be tough to condense almost four years into one blog, but I'll try.

As far as my career goes, it's better than I could have ever expected. We've sold more than two million e-book copies of the Joe Dillard series since 2013. We sell a lot of audio books and are selling more and more paper books each month. We're about to go into hardback sales, which should be interesting, but I'm looking forward to giving it a shot. Last year, between the months of April and September, I stayed in the top 15 bestselling authors on Amazon. We sold a ton of e-books and I made a pile of money, a great deal of which I spent on my wife. Everything just sort of came together. Kindle Direct Publishing promoted the entire Dillard series in April, and then my son, Dylan, who runs the business side of the publishing company, took the momentum we built, learned how to do some different sorts of advertising, built effective campaigns, and the money rolled in. It's slowed down some now, but we're still doing very, very well.

I'm also writing for a "traditional" publisher again, although this one is far different from the New York publisher I started with. I've written three books for Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon publishing imprint based in Seattle, Washington. The books are a series about a young lawyer named Darren Street, who is edgier than Joe Dillard. I've been very, very hard on Darren. Only one book in the series has been published thus far. It's called "Justice Redeemed" and went live in November of 2015. The second book, "Justice Burning", will be published next month, July 11. I finished the first draft of the third book, "Justice Lost", last month, and am going through the rewriting process now. It will be published in February of 2018. I can't say enough nice things about Thomas & Mercer. The people there are open and accessible, they care about me, my family and my word, and it has been a genuine pleasure working with them. I plan to write more books in the Darren Street series in the future. We're working out the details now.

In the meantime, as soon as I finish up this rewrite of "Justice Lost," I'm going to write another Dillard, the ninth in the series. I have the outline pretty well fleshed out and have been chipping away at it when I've been able. We (Dylan and I) plan to release it in October and hope to follow it up with the tenth Dillard next May or June.

So, as you can see, I haven't been sitting on my hands. I wish I could write faster, but life sometimes gets in the way. My wife, Kristy, who most of you know has been battling breast cancer for ten years and metastatic breast cancer for five years, is doing well right now, but there are have been some scary, scary incidents over the past few years. She had to undergo whole brain radiation last February and was basically in bed for about four months. She's had to endure spinal radiation a couple of times. She is on chemotherapy for the rest of her life, which we hope will be a long, long time. She's thin as a rail and is tired sometimes, but for the most part, she lives a wonderful life. I've never, ever encountered a tougher human being with a more positive attitude, nor have I encountered a person who wants to continue to live more than Kristy does. If you ask her about it, her answer is simple. She'll tell you, "The people I love the most are here. I want to stay with them." And she stays, and we love her for it, and we hope she outlasts every one of us.

I mentioned my son, Dylan. He has become a bit of a rock star in the indie publishing marketing world, at least among those who know about him. He's helped take me to the very top of the indie publishing world by constantly experimenting with marketing strategies and constantly keeping up with the trends in the publishing industry, especially when it comes to Amazon and their mysterious sales algorithm. He's twenty-eight years old now and knows as much about Amazon and the way their publishing arm works as most of the employees who work there. Dylan also started, along with a young man named Paul Hoilman and a couple of other partners, an indoor baseball facility three years ago. Dylan was a tremendous Division 1 college baseball player, so the business, called RBI, is a natural extension of something he's loved all of his life. It's doing exceptionally well and I'm proud of his entrepreneurial spirit.

My daughter, Kody, is pregnant with her second child. She was married in December 2013. Grandson Jonah came along in October of 2015 and granddaughter Zoe will be here in September of this year. Kody's husband, Andy Rowe, is entering his fourth year of medical school. He plans to become an intensive care pediatrician. Kody is running the dancing school that Kristy used to run. Kristy still goes, but just doesn't have the energy to handle it full time, and Kody and some other folks have done an incredible job of stepping in and taking it over. It was a natural for Kody. She started dancing when she was two, and wound up earning a dance scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where she was a member of their national championship team back in 2009.

My son, Jeremiah, is a firefighter in Altoona, Iowa, which is just outside of Des Moines. He's also been a paramedic for years and is very close to getting his degree as a registered nurse. I couldn't be more proud of him. He and his wife, Meghan, are raising my first grandchild, little Miss Adley Sue Pratt, who is a three-year-old firecracker. They live in Knoxville, Iowa. I wish they weren't so far away, but we see them as often as we can.

So that's it, four years in a nutshell. I live in a nicer house than I did back then, drive a nicer car, play golf some, try to stay in shape, and take the garbage out every day. Kristy and I love each other more than the day we were married and we do our best to fight her disease together. The kids, the grandkids, and the rest of the family all do whatever they can to help, and we, in turn, do whatever we can to help them.

And that, I've come to learn, is what life has been about. People - friends and families - sharing good times and helping each other through hard times. There is simply nothing like the bonds and the love shared by true friends and close family.

In closing, I feel I would be remiss, however, if I didn't ask you to check out my new novel, "Justice Burning," coming from Thomas & Mercer Publishing July 11. If you liked the TV series "Breaking Bad," you'll like "Justice Burning." I take a young man who I hope is an interesting protagonist and send him on a wild ride. I have no idea where that book came from, but I'm glad I wrote it and I hope people like it.

Thank you to all who have read and enjoyed the books, to all of you who have reached out with an email (I answer them all myself) and said kind things about my work, and to all of you who have expressed empathy regarding the situation in which Kristy and I and the family find ourselves. Rest assured, we won't quit. I wish each and every one of you peace of mind and nothing but the best.

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