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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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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.

After a hiatus

One thing I enjoy about the Matrix is the different types of writers.

After a brief hiatus for an anniversary celebration, music and other summer events, the Lewis County Writers Guild is back meeting at the Matrix Coffeehouse.

That is where you will find me most Friday evenings. While writers regularly meet at my home, larger groups are easier at the Matrix. Also, more varieties of food and (non-alcoholic) drinks are available. However, the thing I enjoy most is the wide variety of writers that attend. Some are novice writers, others are professional. Most write fiction, but some prefer non-fiction. Many different genres are represented.

However, the motivation that keeps me coming is that we all wish to say something with our writing and so, together, we work to improve our skills. 

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.