A Meeting with Friends

For many years the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was the only conference that I attended.

Friends and Authors Debby Lee, Kristie Kandoll, Barbara Blakey with Kyle Pratt

These last few years I regularly attend more events, but OCW is the one where I feel most at home. I have friends here. Don’t misunderstand me; this is not some small gathering of casual writers. A few years ago I was eating lunch in the main hall and Frank Peretti asked to sit at my table. I can’t remember what I ate, but I’ll never forget our conversation about his books and writing in general.

Cascade Award winner and friend, Jill Williamson

Cascade Award winner and friend, Bethany Hayes

Several hundred attended the Cascade Awards dinner tonight, the last full day of the OCW conference, but despite the size, almost every year, I know someone who wins. This year two friends, Jill Williamson and Bethany Hayes were honored for their work. I laughed out loud when presenters James Rubart and Susan May Warren couldn’t find the right certificate for two of the finalists. Susan threw off her black gloves looking for the correct paper as laughter thundered through the room. Still smiling, I said to the woman beside me, “I’ve seen worse confusion at the ceremony.”  

After the awards dinner, I hurried out hoping to congratulate my two friends and nearly ran into Randy Ingermanson. I didn’t even know he was there.

Every year during the coaching sessions and workshops, I learn things and while that’s important it isn’t why I come back. I’m not sure how something this large can feel so comfortable, but it does, and that keeps me coming back.

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My Busy Friend Debby


Debby Lee, my friend, fellow author and Inklings critique partner, announced today that she’s starting work on her fifth anthology with Barbour Publishing!

The Mountain Christmas Brides, Courageous Brides and Pony Express Romance Collection have all been released and are available on her Amazon Page, https://www.amazon.com/Debby-Lee/e/B006AY0USW

Author Debby Lee

Author Debby Lee

The Underground Railroad Brides is scheduled for release in June 2018 and The MissAdventurous Brides should be out in December of next year. She also mentioned to me that she wants to release a couple of short stories in the coming months.

I think Debby is going to be very busy for the next year.

However, there is still one more project she has agreed to do. Debby will be one of the writers on an as yet unnamed historical Christmas themed anthology with fellow Inkling writers, including Kristie Kandoll, Carolyn Bickel, Barbara Blakey and me. This as yet unnamed project is scheduled for October of 2018.

I look forward to working with Debby on that project in the months ahead. 

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Courageous Debby

My friend Debby Lee is changing.

Many writers are shy, solitary, individuals that like nothing more than writing their stories and sending them off to agents and publishers. When I first met Debby I saw that reticence in her.

Debby Lee signs a copy of The Courageous Brides

She already had thirteen books on Amazon, before the recent release of The Courageous Brides Collection. About that time she signed with Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and began writing for Barbour. With the upcoming release of the Mountain Christmas Brides anthology and the  Pony Express Romance Collection scheduled for release in April of next year, Debby will be asked for more interviews and to be at more events. 

Debby was recently interviewed, and has been written about in several blogs. A few days ago she was at a book signing. The shy woman I met a few years ago is evolving into a more confident outgoing author.

I’m happy for my friend.

Excited for Friends

I recently received great news about two of my writer friends.

Authors Debby Lee, Kyle Pratt and Barbara Blakey

My friend Debby Lee was recently contacted by her agent about writing a 20,000 novella for a Barbour Publishing anthology. Barbour needed more writers for the project so Debby suggested our mutual friend Barbara Blakey. Both have now signed contracts to write novellas for the Hearts of the Pony Express Romance anthology.

Debby is the author several books including Harvest of Hope and Butterflies are Free, along with numerous short stories. Her story in the anthology will be titled, Ride into my heart.

Barbara is the author of Bertie’s War. Her novella will be titled, A Place to Belong. Over the next few months they’ll be preparing their stories for release next spring.

I’m not sure why they didn’t think of asking me to write a sweet historical romance, but I’m thrilled for Debby and Barbara. 

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.