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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 Barbara is a past Cascade Award winner and Kristie was up for the Unpublished Historical Fiction Award tonight along with another friend, Julie McDonald.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of us competed in that group, but next year I’m planning to enter the Speculative Fiction category again with a my unpublished novel, Seekers of Earth.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.

A Time to Endure

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Day Three

The third day of the 2015 Conference required endurance. 

Susan May Warren teaching in a cold room.

I know I’m late with my summary of the third day of the conference, but I have two things I must mention. The morning coaching class taught by authors Susan May Warren, James Rubart and Jeff Gerke, was always insightful—but cold. The weather in the northwest has been hot and dry this summer and the management of the Jantzen Beach Red Lion hotel must have turned up the air conditioning in an attempt to cool the entire region.

One person said, “They don’t need to give us ice water, just tap water and in a few minutes we’ll have the ice.” Another person bought coffee for the entire class. Bless her, Lord.

So, now you know why Susan Warren is wrapped in a blanket as she teaches class.

The Cascade Awards Banquet

The Cascade Award banquet climaxed the third evening of the conference. As a finalist for the Cascade Award in published speculative fiction for A Time to Endure, tension grew in me with each passing minute. At my table as my own private support group were my critique partners Barbara Blakey, Carolyn Bickel, and Kristie Kandoll. Other award nominees at our table were Cheryl Secomb, for unpublished children’s fiction, Bethany Hayes for unpublished nonfiction, and Shari Carroll, for unpublished devotionals. Shari Carroll went home that night as a Cascade Award winner, the rest of us remained finalists.  

Ben Wolf and Kyle Pratt after the Cascade Awards banquet.

The other nominees for the published speculative fiction award were Gary Bray, author of The Republic of Texas 2022 and Ben Wolf, editor-in-chief of Splickety Publishing Group with his novel Blood for Blood. I’ve never met Bray and didn’t find him at the conference, but Ben Wolf is a friend and I’m glad he won the 2015 Cascade Award for published speculative fiction.

I’ll try again next year. And maybe Ben won’t!

Looking Forward

The Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference may be over, but I’m still busy!

I said goodbye to Randy Ingermanson, Ben Wolf and others on Thursday. After song and praise, the OCW Summer Conference concluded and, with Barbara Blakey at the driving, headed north toward home. The four days in Portland were a truly an inspiring and fun time.

However, I’m the kind of person who looks forward, not back, and the next occasion before me is the Southwest Washington Writers Conference. This one day event is scheduled for September 13th, at Centralia College. I will be there listening to great speakers, and also conducting a workshop.

My workshop is titled, “Author Entrepreneur – The Business of Writing” and in it I will discuss the skills needed to manage a successful writing business. I’ll cover things like planning your workday, finding a niche, establishing a platform, product funnels, the 80/20 rule, marketing strategies, and more.

Until the conference I’ll be working hard on completing my next novel, A Time to Endure. The release date is coming soon, but more about that on Monday.

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.