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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.

Night Owl Critique

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Day Two

The second day of the 2015 Conference ended with a critique session.

 

I started the day with the first session of a coaching class taught by authors Susan May Warren, James Rubart and Jeff Gerke. Today, in both small groups and the class as a whole, we discussed the building blocks of great fiction. In particular we covered the opening line and paragraph of our stories. The class will continue tomorrow and the next day.

Later I attended a class with Sheila Seifert, editor of Focusonthefamily.com. Her presentation on Developing Your Voice was interesting is an aspect of my writing that I need to work on. Next I attended Greg Johnson’s, Finding Readers: The Ultimate Key to Success. Greg is the founder of WordServe Literary Group. I’m a writer and would prefer not to market, but in the changing publishing world it is a growing part of my business day. I need to understand this aspect of the business.

Kyle Pratt helping critique manuscripts at Oregon Christian Writers conference

In the hotel ballroom for dinner, I sat with Harvest House publisher and senior editor Nick Harrison, author and editor Jeff Gerke and my critique partner Carolyn Bickel. We talked about the changing book market and how it affects companies like Harvest House.  I finished the day helping with critiques. I attended at least one critique group for many years and believe they are a vital part of the editing process for new and mid-list authors. So, when Julie Zander asked me to help, I was more than willing.


Back to Boot Camp

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Day One

The first day of the 2015 Conference started with Boot Camp.

Susan May Warren and Kyle Pratt at the 2015 Oregon Christian Writers summer conference

The morning started even before the regular conference with a marketing “boot camp” taught by bestselling author Susan May Warren and Nicole Miller of Buffer.com. For three hours they discussed the creation of a marketing plan that included a platform website, mailing lists and the use of social media leading up to the release of a new book. Since the release of my fifth book, Braving the Storms, is coming soon, this is a topic on my mind. I’ll be implementing several things they discussed when I get home.

After the boot camp, I registered with the conference and attended a panel with book and magazine editors. This session was not as pertinent to me as the boot camp, but I enjoyed hearing what they were looking and what they paid. The bottom line is, the editors on the panel were not interested in what I write and they don’t pay enough for me to care. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.

For dinner in the hotel ballroom, I had the pleasure to seat with Barbara Blakey, Carolyn Bickel, Kristie Kandoll and across from Karen Ball of the Steve Laube agency. She seemed to be interested in my writing. I’ll be following up with here and see if we can work together.

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.