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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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Mentor Day

Author Kyle Pratt in his office with Houston 

I first met Houston two years ago when I spoke about writing as a career at Centralia High School. I read some of his work and noticed a definite writing talent. Then a few weeks ago my friend Julie Zander asked if I’d like to help her mentor a writer as part of the local Rotary/TRiO program. The program pairs students with adult professions for a job shadow and mentoring day. When I saw Houston’s name on the TRiO form I agreed to take part.

Houston and Author Kyle Pratt at the TRiO lunch.

Now a junior at Centralia High School, Houston writes very descriptive fantasy and, while Julie is an excellent non-fiction writer, she wanted my fiction perspective included in the mentoring. The three of us met at Centralia College. While there we discussed writing as a career and the training and education that advanced our careers. Houston also wanted to know how a typical work day looked. As part of that answer, we took him to my home office where I spend most of the day on a keyboard staring at a computer screen.

After that, we joined the 61 adults and about 80 students from area high schools for lunch at St John’s Lutheran Church in Chehalis. It pleased me to see so many adults willing to take time out of their day to mentor the youth of our community. I was also glad to see so many young people eager to learn more about careers.


 
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NaNoWriMo & Friends

I love National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

During the month of November, the NaNoWriMo goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel. I have a strong internal editor that always wants to correct or improve what I’ve written, so I’ve never been able to write 50,000 words in a month.  But, I love the comradery of fellow authors and enjoy watching as they work to achieve their writing goals.

Author and friend Lisa Brunette wrote a full page article titled, The World Needs Your Novel, for our local paper. The article focused on a local write-in at the library and quoted my friends Amy Flugel and Jennifer Vandenberg. The article also included a nice picture of Jennifer.

I didn’t attend that event, but a few days later Jennifer came to my house for a critique meeting and I was able to get this picture with her.

So, another year will pass and I won’t “win” NaNoWriMo but, the good news is, several friends, including Jennifer, have.

An outstretched hand

I have a wonderful life.

Yes, I made some good life choices, but I also know that the grace of God has shined in my life. I am fortunate to have been born here in America and at this time. I thank God that I met and married my wonderful wife, and that I can do what I love for a living.

So, when my writer and friend Julie Zander asked if I’d be willing to donate a copy of one of my books to the Lewis County Gospel Mission fundraiser, I quickly agreed.

Author Kyle Pratt with Gospel Mission director Fay Ternan

Earlier today, I met with the director, Fay Ternan. She told me the mission was formed in 1996 as an independent Christian outreach to the widows, runaways, the homeless, poor and those just out of jail. In addition to clothing, bedding, shows, and other essentials, the mission provides thousands of meals every month. This is the work of Matthew 25:35 and 36.

The fundraiser is a dinner and live auction at the Centralia Christian School this Saturday. I’ve donated a copy of each of my four paperback books to the effort. I hope to see you there.

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. 

Working on the Bucket List

Kyle Pratt with ham radio mentors Lorin and Veda Moline

In a blogpost titled Bucket List, I mentioned that I was studying to get my amateur radio or “ham” license. Well, I’m still studying the book and working with my mentor Lorin Moline and his wife Veda. I know I could have worked both harder and faster and been done already, but with writing deadlines and life in general, I thought it best to take it slowly. Lorin and Veda have been both understanding and encouraging.

Earlier this week I attended my first meeting of the Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society. I got a chance to meet several of the members and hear an interesting talk on 3D printing. Amateur radio enthusiasts are using the technology to make many parts for their radios, antennas and ham shacks.

I’m looking forward to taking the test soon, becoming more involved with hams here, and around the world.  

A Book for Bill

Nearly ten months ago I sold the first copy of Braving the Storms.

Kyle Pratt and Bill Radtke on March 20, 2015 with a check for the unnamed third book.

That was before the book even had a name. I had gone to deliver copies of Through Many Fires and A Time to Endure to my friend, Bill Radtke. I told him he could have them, but he wanted to buy them. That was back on March 20, 2015. As we talked he asked me about the third book in the series.

I told him most of the book had been plotted and I had written about 15,000 words.

Kyle Pratt and Bill Radtke ten months later with Braving the Storms.

As Bill wrote the check for the first two books he said, “I’m going to add extra for the third book.”

I shook my head. “You don’t have to do that. I’ll make sure you get a copy when it is released.”

He insisted on paying me for the unnamed book right then.

I had the good sense to get a picture of him handing me that check and wrote about it here.  

Today, almost ten months later, I’ve completed the 77,000 word, 258 page novel, and delivered his copy of the now named book. Bill, I hope you enjoy your copy of Braving the Storms.

At the Fair

Today I spent a couple hours at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds

It’s fair time once again and I was asked to help judge the writing competition for the Grays Harbor fair. Earlier this year I helped judge the Cascade awards for the Oregon Christian Writers conference. That was fun so, when fellow author Janice Clark asked me to help with fair judging I thought that would be fun also. I was right.

Kyle Pratt and Janice Clark at the Grays Harbor Fair

I made the drive out to Elma this morning and pulled into the fairgrounds. However, I’d never been to this fair before and wasn’t sure where to go, but I happened to park beside Jan and she showed me the way.

The writers ranged in age from about ten to adult. Several were very impressive and it wasn’t easy to selection the winners. I hope they all continue to write.

I’ll be back at the Grays Harbor fair on Wednesday for some meet and greet time.

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.

Letter from a Friend

Yesterday, I received a letter from an old friend.

Several things were unusual about it. First, it was a real letter, the kind you get in the mailbox. I get close to a hundred emails a day, but very few letters. The other thing that immediately caught my attention was the picture that you see here.

Dave Larson with a copy of Titan Encounter

Dave and I were both stationed at R.A.F. Edzell, Scotland over thirty years ago. We worked in the same building even though Dave served in the marines, and I was in the navy. Dave liked to take pictures and always seemed to have a camera. Together, with other friends, we explored the nearby villages, hills and valleys of Scotland. I married Lorraine while stationed there.  

I don’t recall who in our group of friends left first, but eventually we all did, to different parts of the world. Even the base ultimately closed. In such cases friends become fond memories of people, places, and events.

I’ve lost touch with most of them, so it was nice to receive the letter from Dave. In it he said that he had just bought my book, Titan Encounter and was looking forward to reading it. I looked up his phone number, called him, and we reminisced for a while.

Send me another letter when you’re done with the book, Dave, and let me know what you thought and we can talk some more.

First Sale

Book three of the Strengthen What Remains series is off to a good start.

Kyle Pratt and and Bill Radtke with the check for book 3.

I haven’t finished the novel or even named it yet, but I’ve sold at least one copy.

Bill Radtke, a friend of mine, is a busy man, and has little time to read for entertainment, but he recently bought paperback copies of both Through Many Fires and A Time to Endure. While we talked he asked me about the third book. I told him that I haven’t come up with a title yet, but otherwise it was coming along fine. I’ve written about 15,000 words and plotted out most of the novel. (You can track my progress on the book here.)

As Bill wrote the check for the first two books he said, “I’m going to add extra for the third book."

I told him it wasn’t necessary, that I would make sure he got a copy, but he insisted. The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed the idea of selling a book I haven’t finished or even named, so I asked him to pose for this picture with me.

Bill, I hope you enjoy Through Many Fires and A Time to Endure and I will personally deliver your signed first edition copy of the third book (whatever it ends up being called) as soon as they are available. 

Visiting a Beta-Reader

One of my beta-readers, DeLynn, is a longtime family friend.

Kyle Pratt with DeLynn

Life has taken her away from the area where I live; however, when she came back, to visit family and friends over the 4th of July, we visited.

Most of the time was taken up with reminiscing, eating and fun, but I also had to discuss some business. She was previously a beta-reader for Through Many Fires and has volunteered to do the same for A Time to Endure.

Some of you may be wondering, “What is a beta-reader?” Wikipedia defines it as, “a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling….”

Every author I know has a group of these precious individuals. My beta-readers receive a digital copy of the manuscript before it is released and, using the Microsoft Word track changes function, mark grammar, spelling and continuity errors. They need to be quick readers (2 – 3 weeks to read a book) and a bit of a grammar Nazi. In return they get a signed first edition of the book they read and my gratitude.

At one point, DeLynn mentioned she would like to have her name used for a “nice character” in A Time to Endure. I obliged. Such a sweet character, too bad she dies horribly in the last chapter. (Just kidding, DeLynn!)

My beta-readers will soon be getting chapters of A Time to Endure to read. I’m always looking for a few more readers. If you’re interested in joining the cadre of beta-readers use the contact page on my website to let me know.

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.