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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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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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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.

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.

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.