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Twelve Years with the Inklings

The Inklings have been meeting for nearly twenty years.

Recently our local paper, The Chronicle, ran a front-page story about a critique group that has been in existence for nearly two decades and that I’ve attended for about twelve years.  As my friend Julie McDonald Zander questioned me about the group for the upcoming story, I dug through old pictures and information to find answers.

Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey and Debby Lee. Kyle Pratt in lower photo.

It surprised me that I had started attending in 2005. The group then consisted of Robert Hansen, Carolyn Bickel, and Joyce Scott. All three were original members. My son James and I joined at the same time. James left several years later due to work and Joyce and her husband have retired to the southwest, but both continue to write.

Others have come and gone over the years, but currently we’ve added Kristie Kandoll, Debby Lee, and Barbara Blakey. All of these writers have become friends and I’ve had a chance to watch as several honed their craft into burgeoning careers as authors.

We critique and comment on both the good and not quite correct writing of each member. Beyond that, we educate and inform each other. The group is very informal, with no elected leader, no treasurer and actually, no name.

While I enjoy the informality, as a busy man, I have to schedule my time. More than once I’ve noted, “Group Meeting,” on my calendar, but that always made me feel like I was going to therapy or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. In July of 2015, I began writing, “Inklings,” on anything to do with the group, just to keep me organized.

Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey, Debby Lee, Kyle Pratt and Robert Hanson with his back to the camera.

The original Inklings were an informal literary discussion group that met in a pub in Oxford, England during the 1930s and 1940s. Two of the original members were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis once wrote that the original Inklings had, “no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.” That sounded like our local group.

So, by the power vested in me by no one, I named this group, at least for my own purposes, “The Inklings of Southwest Washington,” or simply, “The Inklings.”

I hope to be a member of The Inklings for at least another twelve years.


 
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Book Credits

How many people does it take to create a novel?  

Braving the Storms, by Kyle Pratt

Recently I watched X-Men Apocalypse with one of my sons. At the end of the action we waited to see if there were any post-credit scenes (there is). As we watched the endless scroll of credits we discussed how many people were involved in the production of my last novel, Braving the Storms.

Over the next few days I jotted down names of people who either worked for me on the novel, or volunteered their time. I hope I didn’t forget to include someone on the list below.

Author:                 Kyle Pratt

Editor:                  Barbara Blakey

Copy Editor:         Joyce Scott

Line Editor:           Lorraine Pratt

Cover Design:       Micah Hansen

Critique Group:     Robert Hansen

                               Debby Lee

                               Kristie Kandoll

                               Carolyn Bickel

eBook Format:       Amit Dey

Audiobook:            Kevin Pierce

Beta Reader:          William Childress

Office Manager:      Lorraine Pratt

Accounting:            Robert Pratt, CPA

Legal:                      Christopher Vandenberg, JD

This doesn’t include people working for distributors such as, Amazon, Nook and iTunes, or the numerous bloggers and reviewers that I speak with on a regular basis.

While my list isn’t nearly as long as the movie credits, it still includes a lot of people, and I’m grateful to every one of them.

Therapy No Longer Needed

I meet with a group of local writers every week.

I’ve attended this particular gathering every week I’ve been in town for over a decade. While I think that is notable, the group has met for nearly twice that time.

Front: Carolyn Bickel and Bob Hansen.  Back: Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey, Joyce Scott, Debby Lee and Kyle Pratt.

We critique the writing of other members, but we also educate and inform each other. The group is very informal, with no elected leader, no treasurer and no name. While I enjoy the informality, as a busy man, I have to schedule my time. More than once I’ve noted, “Group Meeting,” on my calendar, but that always made me feel like I was going to therapy or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

I’ve suggest that we name the group more than once. Each time the conversation quickly turned back to writing and editing.

A few months ago I started writing, “Inklings,” on anything to do with the group, just to keep it organized. The original Inklings were an informal literary discussion group that met in a pub in Oxford, England during the 1930s and 1940s. Two of the original members were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis once wrote that the original Inklings had, “no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.” That sounded like our local group.

So, by the power vested in me by no one, I have named this group, at least for my own purposes, “The Inklings of Southwest Washington,” or simply, “The Inklings.”

While assuming such a notable name may seem presumptuous, I hope our local group continues, as an informal group of friends. Also, by using the name, I no longer feel like I’m going to therapy.

Writers Group Meeting at My Home

I meet with a group of five local writers on a weekly basis. This group started meeting nearly twenty years ago, but I’ve only been a part of it for ten.

Bob Hansen, author of A Bully's Doom.

The only time I don’t attend is when I’m out of state. 

While occasionally someone will leave, and a new person will be found, there are still two original members, Bob Hansen and Carolyn Bickel. Four of the five current members are published authors.

The group usually meets at a local church, but today there was a change of venue. The group met at my home and I decided to take a few pictures.

Currently I’m working on A Time to Endure, book two of the Strengthen What Remains series, and sequel of Through Many Fires. These pictures, taken in my dining room, show the group critiquing chapter 12 of A Time to Endure.

From right to left: Barbara Blakey, Debby Lee, Carolyn Bickel and Bob Hansen.

As readers of this blog will know, I write thrillers and science fiction, but the members of the group write everything from fantasy, historical fiction, romance to cat stories.

We also have different styles and methods. One thing we do have in common is our Christian faith, but often our stories aren’t so much faith based as faith friendly and beyond faith and friendship we share a desire to write good stories.

Afternoon at the Writers Group

I’ve mentioned before that for many years I’ve attended a writer’s critique group when I’m in Washington State.

Most of our six members are published writers. All have differing methods, styles and genres, but we have come to appreciate each other’s writing. I look forward to their opinion even if they tell me I’m going in a wrong direction.

That’s what happened at this last meeting. I released book one of the Strengthen What Remains series, Through Many Fires, in August. Since then I’ve been working on book two, A Time to Endure. They regularly mark up my stories, and yes, even draw little pictures on them.

Yesterday, when I presented chapter 3 of A Time to Endure, several said that I’d waited too long before I brought Caden, the protagonist of the first book, back into the story.

I’ve come to respect their opinion so, today I’ve been writing two new chapters for the novel bringing Caden into the story right from the start. 

The picture on the left shows the group pouring over my draft. Bob Hansen, the group leader, on the far side of the table. Then counterclockwise is Barbara Blakey, Joyce Scott, Carolyn Bickel and Rudine Mayfield.

Friends and Fellow Writers

For many years now I’ve attended a writer’s critique group.

Bob Hansen, Kyle Pratt, Joyce Scott & Barbara Blakey

Well, for the last seven years I’ve taught in Alaska during the school year, but when I’m in Washington state I attend the critique group. I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a meeting when I’ve been in the state.

Including me, there are six members, but today three of them, all published authors, came to my home. Taken right after the meeting, the picture shows Bob Hansen, me, Joyce Scott and Barbara Blakey. It was great to see them again, get caught up on their lives and hear what they have recently written.

I also had the pleasure of presenting the first chapter of my next novel, A Time to Endure. Before it is released later this year, these valued friends and fellow writers will hear most of the novel.