Boots on the Ground (Leave it all and move off to Panama or Costa Rica)

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, About Publishing

How many times have you thought to yourself that you’d like to just sell everything and leave the country? Over the years, the temptation has touched many Americans and some have even had the courage to take the plunge. Take Nadine and Rob, for example. A couple who were trying to live the American dream but finding out that to have it took a little more of their soul than they were willing to give. Eventually, they decided to tempt fate and see what life in Costa Rica held for their future. Nadine’s book, Happier Than a Billionaire, was one of the first books I read when I got the ‘let’s get the heck out of here’ bug. The book is not a how-to book on moving to Costa Rica, but it chronicles the ups and downs (and hilarious moments) that Nadine and Rob go through as they follow their hearts to find a new normal. Nadine’s journey is simply incredible and she’s now working on book four in the series, but each book can be read as a standalone.


Reading Happier Than  Billionaire lit a fire inside me to know more about moving overseas. And which country? Costa Rica or Panama? Nadine also addresses this a little bit in her blog post, Panama vs. Costa Rica. Soon, with more research, we decided that while Costa Rica sounded heavenly, Panama might be the better choice for us. Of course the idea made us nervous, but we were still curious. Could we find a better life there? Could we overcome the culture shock and language of yet another country?

One thing we knew for sure, we weren’t going to get it out of our system until we went and saw Panama for ourselves. After much discussion, we booked a trip and for the first part of it, signed on with Panama Relocation Tours.

What came next was two weeks of exploring a new country and the possibility of a new life there. The Pursuit of Panama is my short memoir/travelogue that details that tour and the days that followed, as we determined if moving to Panama was to be our next dream. Between the pages of my book, you won’t find a list of what to do in order to move to Panama, but you’ll find some helpful tips to get you started on that process as well as learn firsthand what two weeks in Panama can be like to a gringo like me. You’ll also get a peek at some deep soul-searching as I try to figure out just what it is that will bring me the peace I yearn for.


Amazon Reviewer says: If I was planning a trip or a move to Panama, The Pursuit of Panama would definitely have helped in my decision. I love how she added her own personal story along with describing the many attributes of Panama, including describing the food, hotels or resorts, activities, and transportation along with the costs of each. Most importantly I love how she described the beauty of Panama. Definitely somewhere I would love to travel.



In Love and In Panama


The Banana Trucks are Everywhere


A Boquete Rainbow



A Hostel in Bocas Town


A Sweet Girl Selling Bracelets to Feed her Family




From the Balcony of a Condo in Coronado


From our Hotel in Panama City


Hotel in Bocas Del Toro


A Bookstore for Kay!


A Bar for Ben!


Still not convinced? Then you’d better read it for yourself…


The Scavenger’s Daughters FREE to read or listen to for Amazon Prime Members!

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing, China-Inspired Book Recommendations, For Dog Lovers

A Bargain Alert! If you want to see what all the fuss is about and why my series, The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, has hit many best-selling lists and sold nearly half a million copies, then you might want to grab it now. For a limited time, it’s FREE for US Amazon Prime members to either read or listen to!


The Scavenger’s Daughters is the kind of novel I’d love to write, but never could. Simply told but beautifully rendered, the reader is swiftly transported into the hearts and lives of a Chinese family after the Cultural Revolution. Powerful and poignant, this story captures the heart of humanity. This is the kind of book that will get shared by friends and chosen by book clubs. A phenomenal story of life and love.”

—Karen McQuestion, bestselling author of The Long Way Home


And I hope many of you have already grabbed my brand new novel, Wish Me Home. It’s getting rave reviews and I can’t wait for you to sample something new in a different genre from me.

[I hope if you’ve read it that you’ll do me the favor of posting a review on Amazon/Goodreads!]

“With its resilient protagonist, secret that kept me guessing, dog I wish I could adopt in real life, and story that tugged at my heart, Kay Bratt’s Wish Me Home grabbed me and held me all the way to its heartfelt resolution. Readers who enjoy novels like Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers will find it a delight!” —Nancy Star, bestselling author of Sisters One, Two, Three

As always, Happy Reading!


Goodbye, 2016… Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, About Publishing, China-Inspired Book Recommendations, For Dog Lovers


Hi ya’ll,

2017 is here and not a moment too soon! Can I get an amen?

Last year was brutal. Not just in politics (won’t go there) or in reference to the violence around the world, but also to me personally and I’m glad to see it gone. I can’t say nothing good happened, because through the trials and tribulations, towards the end of the year I finally found the courage to put on my big girl pants and say no.

I’m finding I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for and I could tell you all the things I’ve said no to in the last few months, but let’s suffice it to say that here in my 47th year on this earth, I am going to try something new and put my own well-being and path to peace on the top of the priority list.

Personally, that means I’m going to take more time to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun, maybe meet some more turtles out on Amelia Island.


I’ll use the bike I got for Christmas to get out and feel the breeze on my face. There’ll be more breaks, stretching, and back to yoga I go. I’ll take every opportunity to consider and be thankful for my blessings, especially for my Ben and our ongoing love story. #Almost23YearsStrong


I’ll try to bridge the distance with loved ones I’ve broken apart from, but if it doesn’t work I’ll be at peace with the decision to let it go.


I’ll find a new avenue for volunteer work. Something different than I’ve done in the past but something that will fill the never-ceasing need in me to be of service to others. I’ll play with my dogs more. Give them more walks. More snuggles. More trips to the park. I’ll put more emphasis on family relationships and friendships, old and new, and work to let each one of them know their worth to me.


I’ll release my search for the proper medication to treat my autoimmune disease, and instead focus on diet, breathing, and emotional well-being as treatment for the chronic pain. I’ll return to a place of spiritual content, relying on a higher power to fill my soul and shelter me from life’s pain.


I’ll stop obsessing about the future and focus on the present, squeezing every drop of joy I can out of my days before they are gone in a flash. I’ll continue my goals to find ways to scatter kindness in small ways throughout my days.


Professionally, I will release my first women’s contemporary fiction book where I rely on my love for dogs and my experiences as a child advocate to bring the reader a story of a young woman battling demons from her childhood as she journeys toward her own happily ever after.


WISH ME HOME is available for pre-order now and will hit your kindles on March 21.

In the fall, I’ll release a historical fiction trilogy titled Sworn Sisters. It is set in the late nineteenth century and chronicles the saga of three young Chinese women, bound by fate and determined to overcome oppression and heartache to find a better life in America. Be sure to join my newsletter to be notified when all the new books are ready to go!
KayBratt_AWelcomeMisfortune_200  KayBratt_ToMovetheWorld_200


So those are my goals for 2017 and I hope that you’ve set some too. As always, thank you so much for supporting my work. And by the way, what is your main focus or goal for the new year?

Much love to you and yours,


‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, About Publishing

Kay Bratt

Dear Unsuspecting Readers,

Please sympathize with me and read to the end. Please! As an initial plea of defense, I almost never get into the fun (aka: non-complicated and opposite of mind-numbing) stuff on the internet. Usually because I’ve always got my head buried in research or writing, but this week I have fully committed to being a (semi-reluctant) team player on a blog roll!

What is a blog roll, you ask? Well, being the author hermit I am, I’m not totally sure myself but looking back at what others have done, it appears it’s sort of like sitting around the campfire telling tales. A group of storytellers (authors) all work together to contribute something, then pass the stick to the next person, to keep the spirit of the event (blog roll) alive.

My good friend and fellow author, Karen McQuestion, was kind enough to ask (drag) me into the fun. All kidding set aside, if you haven’t heard of Karen, then you haven’t yet tested the deepest waters of women’s fiction. What? Say you want a recommendation? I’d suggest you start with The Long Way Home.


But I also know from my undercover sources that she has a new book on the horizon that will blow your socks off. (I’ve beta read it so I know!) It’s called Hello Love and you can preorder it today. I promise, you’ll thank me when that baby hits your Kindle. You’re welcome.

Like me, Karen also answered questions about her writing process on her blog, McQuestion Musings, and then she threw the questions to me.  So here are my answers and as soon as I’m done I’m inviting (aka: torturing) the next writers on the list, so stay tuned to see who (willingly) posts about their writing process next.

QUESTIONS….drumroll, please…..


If you could see my office and the floor beside my bed (and the table in the screened porch), you’d think I was collecting Chinese history books. I’ve surrounded (buried) myself in research material for a book I’m working on that will be set during the Cultural Revolution. It will be a novel-length prequel to my bestselling series The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters.

Scavenger's Daughters4


My work probably doesn’t differ much from other China-inspired fiction. Authors like Lisa See, Amy Tan, and even the late Pearl Buck have used bits of history and inspiration from real life people to launch the ideas for their stories, just as I do. (PS. Did you know Lisa See just released a new novel called China Dolls, set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1930s? I can’t wait to read it!)


Several years ago, I was lucky enough to garner a 4 1/2 year respite from American life to become an expat in the mysterious and sometimes chaotic country of China. There I spent time with the locals and fell in love with the children at the orphanage where I volunteered. I’ll admit that I went into China and the orphanage with pre-conceived notions of cruel parents who abandon helpless children. After some years of experience, I came to realize there was so much more to the story, especially the fact that most parents would rather do anything than relinquish their children. Most times that recourse is their last resort to save their beautiful babies from a life of poverty, or worse, death or disability from a lack of medical assistance.

When I returned to the states, I found myself obsessed with continuing to raise awareness about the plights of the underprivileged women and children in China.


After Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, (my memoir) took off like a rocket, I decided to continue to use my love of writing to advocate. Now I use my books to entertain while covertly raising awareness about the difficult human affairs some choose to close their eyes to.

Children abandoned under bridges, women forced into abortions, girls abducted to be sold as brides, street children dying to try to stay warm—all of these are themes I explore as I create characters that will have readers rooting for them to overcome their dire circumstances. My stories are about family loyalty, loss, and the tenacity of the human spirit intent on survival.


Coming from a long history of being overly structured and self-critical (driven beyond sane parameters), it’s not surprising that I treat my writing like a fulltime job. When I rise in the mornings I immediately get dressed, take the dog out, pour a Dr. Pepper over ice, then sit down at my desk and prepare to make some progress. The first hour or so is spent updating social networking, sending/answering emails, and reading a few writing/publishing sites to see if I’m missing any breaking news that will affect me. Then once that is all out of the way, I get down to ‘bizness.

The ‘bizness may be research, editing, marketing, or actually writing new stuff. However, I only start a manuscript after sometimes months of gathering facts and tidbits that I can fold into the story. Reader reviews have shown me that the most appreciated aspect of my work is the tidbits of history I weave through, so getting those parts down into an organized outline or list is the first priority. Once I have a semi complete outline ready, I then begin writing. Each day I take on another chapter, even if only fleshing it out to return to it the next day and complete it further. As for the outline, it’s usual for me to deviate from it about halfway through the manuscript, as my creative juices and growing familiarity with my characters send me down unexpected avenues.


Simply put, my writing process doesn’t work worth beans if I’m not in my usual place at my familiar desk in my cozy office. I like (need) routine, so my writing process also doesn’t work if the house if full of unusual activity. I write best when I’m alone with only my dog, Riley, and my cat, Gypsy, to keep me company. If daughters or grandchildren (or pesky husbands) are underfoot, I focus on marketing or other writing stuff, anything but the manuscript. For that I need blessed solitude.  But when I’m not working, I love having visitors or enjoy just walking through our backyard to the lake, taking a moment each day to enjoy nature and all the blessings that we’ve worked for and those God has given us.


rosalind james

ROSALIND JAMES. If you are not familiar with that name yet, just hold on, because you soon will be. Rosalind sold nearly 225,000 books in her first 21 months of publishing! She is the author of several Amazon bestsellers including the two different series titled Escape To New Zealand and The Kincaids. If you want to read how Rosalind’s writing process enables her to crank out bestsellers, visit her at her blog here.


Then we have the always unpredictable Robyn Coden who I have the pleasure of mentoring as she wades into the shark-infested waters of publishing. But she’s not a total newbie. Have you heard of the blog called Dim Sum and Doughnuts? If not, you’d better head over there and see what kind of trouble Robyn is stirring up. Honest and provocative, Robyn is an up & coming author and for a hint of what she is about, here is her tagline: We’re an unconventional family and we live an unconventional life…but sometimes unconventional works. As for what she is working on to be published—that I can’t tell you because it’s super top secret. Please visit Robyn on Facebook to get to know her and be amused by her take on motherhood and life in general. And if you want to see her start a flame war and then put it out, check out one of my favorite posts of hers titled I Am Who I Am. You’ll either laugh or be ticked off—I promise you one extreme or the other. Oh, and to see Robyn’s take on her writing process, check out her writing process (and all the uber cool things she says about me!) at her website Dim Sum and Doughnuts.

Whew! Finished! I can mark being a part of an author blog roll off my bucket list.


So….if you’ve read all the way to the end of this rambling blog post, you deserve a medal…or maybe just an ice cream cone. Or both. So yeah, um…thanks.

Bitter Winds is now Available!

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing, China-Inspired Book Recommendations


Now available [here] on Amazon, the third book of the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, Bitter Winds continues the saga of Chinese couple Benfu and Calli, and the abandoned young women in their care.

Since the night her sister was almost burned alive in a fire and they were taken from their mother, Ivy has been the self-appointed guardian and guide to her blind twin, Lily. When Lily is snatched away and put behind locked doors, Ivy will do whatever it takes to get her sister home, even it means putting her own life in danger.

After Benfu and Calli’s long-lost daughter, Li Jin, is finally reunited with her birth parents, she opens a shelter for displaced people, turning her fortune from destitution and abuse to family and fulfillment. But her friend Sami remains consumed by bitterness—and Li Jin soon realizes she needs to make a difficult choice between revisiting the past or nurturing her own future.  Buy now:

Amazon Reviews:

Not long ago life had me “too busy” to find time to read. Then, I read one of her books and her writing spoke to me, I can find time to read all the time now. This third book in the series is no different than the others, except perhaps better. This one is my favorite, but I say that after reading each one. I never believe a better book can be written, but then she does it. If you want to escape for a bit and be sucked in by a family, get some education on how things work in China and have real emotions — this series is for you!

Book Three is just as good as the first two in the Scavengers Daughters series (I hope there are more to come, so I won’t say Trilogy).  In each of the books we follow the story of one or two of the daughters of the Scavengers Daughters. Their triumphs, their tragedies, but always wih such amazing story telling, you don’t want to put the book down.

There is absolutely so much that is happening on each page! The story line is easy to follow and it doesn’t take long to be completely absorbed. Kay Bratt brings the characters to life by having their past experiences affect their personalities accordingly. She takes you deep into China’s cultures and neighborhoods and how the government affects their daily lives. This is one of those books where I didn’t want to come to the end. I would recommend you reading all the books in the Scavenger’s Daughter series.

House of Pleasure by Caddy Rowland

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing


Fueled by rage and disgust, Phoenix runs away from home. The situation there had become unbearable. In fact, things couldn’t get any worse. But they do. Betrayed in New York by a boy who she thought was a new friend, she finds herself taken prisoner by a low-class pimp. Then, when she thinks she’s on her way to her first seedy trick, Phoenix winds up locked in a limo with no way out. She wakes up in an illegal brothel in New Orleans. Phoenix vows she will find a way to destroy Antoine, the owner of the brothel. Instead of being Antoine’s prostitute, she’ll become his lover, his confidante, and pretty soon, his manager. And then, when he least suspects it, she’ll bring the entire house down. She better be damn good. There will only be one chance.

**Content Warning: This book is a drama meant for those over 18 and contains explicit scenes. Therefore, it contains adult themes and scenes which deal with a difficult topic.


What reviewers are saying:

The subject matter is disturbing, there nothing pretty about the sex slave industry. The sad truth is it’s a reality in the world we live in. Ms. Rowland’s creative writing style and storytelling brings you in to that world where most of us have never been and keeps us there rooting for the underdog. -Amazon Reviewer

This was a very well written book about issues that are happening. The story line was intense and shows the growth of a young woman forced into the life she didn’t plan for herself. Although this book makes you think and reach into your soul for answers of why and how this could happen, it is also a tale of courage for herself and others that are caught up there with her. I found this to be a very good read and I am looking forward to the next book to follow the story through. -Amazon Reviewer


If Amazon is the Big Bad Wolf, I’m Little Red Riding Hood

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing

As previously published on the JA Konrath blog at (this link) where you can see comments from other authors. Illustration below by Tanya Gleadall.

Big Bad Wolf 2

I self-published before self-publishing was cool.

Just like many wanna-be published writers years ago, I had queried literary agents to represent my memoir and received nothing but rejections. But tenacity is a long-ingrained trait and I was not to be deterred. I self-published my memoir in 2009.
Luckily, because I’d been active in online communities and had somewhat of a reputation in my field, within a few weeks, my memoir titled Silent Tears gained traction in the top 300 of all Amazon e-books. There it garnered the attention of Amazon Publishing and they offered to make me one of their very first published authors.
At first I was skeptical because I was unaware that Amazon had a publishing side. When I educated myself that it was legitimate, I was still unsure if it would benefit me long term. I reached out to a well-known agent for confirmation, then signed with her to negotiate my contract. Through her experiences in the business, I realized that Amazon Publishing was offering a fair royalty split, the perk of a marketing manager, and use of a top notch designer team for packaging. Even back then I also understood that Amazon was a machine that could reach thousands more readers than I ever could hope to on my own.
My memoir, Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, was re-launched by AmazonEncore in 2010 and even held spots in the Top 50 of Amazon’s Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store lists in Amazon US and UK. Eventually, the print rights were sub-licensed by Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt and the books have even made it into a few bookstores and hundreds of libraries across the nation and sold well over 60,000 copies.
As I worked hard to keep the buzz going on my book, I received a reality jolt when my local bookstore owner called and asked me to remove the first editions of my book from her store. She’d read about my re-launch by the Big Bad Wolf, a.k.a. Amazon Publishing, and basically said I was sleeping with the enemy.
Moving on, I spent a few years promoting Silent Tears and over time, with the increase of more websites and bloggers drawing attention to my memoir, I noticed my platform getting bigger and my sales increasing substantially. To continue building my readership, I made sure during that time (and still do) to respond to every reader email, letter, statement, or request. I also began speaking at different venues about my experiences in China.
A few years later, I wrote my first fiction book and submitted it to Amazon Publishing. I was excited about launching a novel with them, as they’d begun to really make a name for their publishing arm. They were introducing new imprints at a rapid fire rate, and I was sure with their power, they’d make my book a success. So far, they’d proved to be just what they’d offered—a partnership with me. I was impressed and wanted more. When they declined the novel, I spiraled into an abyss of self-doubt.
But only for a few minutes.
At that time, the self-publishing stigma was starting to fade and a new breed of authors calling themselves Indies were suddenly releasing new material and even work they’d always hoped to see published, but hadn’t been successful with placing. Again, I self-published the book, titled Chasing China.
At that time, Indie publishing was taking off and authors were hitting what they called the Indie Gold Rush. Determined to prove I could write something else Amazon Publishing would want to represent, I penned another book and again submitted it to Amazon. This one, A Thread Unbroken, was a novel woven around the tragedy of child-bride trafficking in China that required months of research. But my self-confidence was restored when my Amazon editor offered me a contract. In 2012, the book launched, and by then I’d already submitted yet another title to Amazon Publishing, this time a novella of shorter length. Because of the length, I thought for sure they’d decline it, and again planned to immediately self-pub upon their rejection.
Instead, my Amazon editor said he loved the novella but wanted me to dig deeper and expand it to novel length. With his words of encouragement, I was more excited than I’d ever been about any project. He gave me ideas on how to take the story from good to great, and I hung up and got to work.
Four months later when I submitted not just one expanded novel for review, but two—with an outline for a third in the series. He took a few weeks to review my proposed series, then came back with the good news that Amazon Publishing would like to offer me a 3-book deal and a very healthy advance for my series titled The Tales of The Scavenger’s Daughters.
Shocked speechless at first, I accepted their deal, then immediately left my corporate position to focus full time on advocating for children and writing.
When I finished the rough drafts of all three novels, I rewarded myself and my husband with a few days of sun on a balmy Mexican beach. There I sat back and realized that for the first time in my life, royalties as well as a boost from my advances had brought me in well over six-figures for the year. I’d been slogging at it for more than half a decade, writing guest posts, articles, sending out review copies, tweeting, Face-booking, speaking events, blogging and basically doing anything and everything to widen my audience, or as they say in the business—build my platform. I was receiving decent royalty checks all along, but I’ll admit, passing those magical digits made me feel like I was on top of the world.
Between drafts of the series, I’ve started work on book four for the series. I also have a rough draft of book one of a new series I’ve kept under wraps. I’ll submit both to Amazon Publishing and if the so-called Big Bad Wolf wants a bite, I’ll gladly don a little red cape and hand them over. After all, Amazon Publishing might be getting a piece of the pie, but there’s plenty left over to satisfy my appetite. In other words, I can’t imagine that I’d have been happier with any other publisher than I’ve been with Amazon Publishing. They’ve done all they’ve promised me as an author and more.
For other struggling authors out there, I would give this piece of advice: Find something you’re passionate about and make that your niche/genre. Be an expert in your subject. Do research, take field trips, and learn all you can about it. They always say write what you know….but I’ll take that a step farther and say write what you love. Communicate in depth with your readers, and if you don’t find success with your first book(s), just keep writing until you get there.
And good luck! Please connect with me on
*For those who have made it this far on my Pro-Amazon rant, I’d like to acknowledge that the first book in The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters was released on August 13 and along with my own aggressive launching campaign I had some help from my team at Amazon. Compliments of a snazzy banner on their Kindle book landing page, plus a GoodReads ad and giveaway, some Kindle screen-saver action, and probably multiple email blasts, by the end of day three the book reached a ranking of 55 in all Kindle books and hovered in the Top 100 the entire post-launch week.