How important is your creative space?  I have my own in-house studio, but decided this year that I needed to revitalize it, particularly because I’ve started doing some more author visits via Skype.

Originally, I was supposed to accomplish this project during Spring Break . . . but then one thing led to another and now, here I am in September, still working on it. The good news, is that I finally received my custom-built shelves . . .

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They’ll look great against my orange wall . . . now I just need to hang them . . .

 

 

Earlier in the summer, I posted some of the covers designed by my students who take my creative writing program (you can view those covers here and here).

Here’s another round of artwork. Most of these covers were introduced by the students, but in a couple of cases I worked with the young writer to pick and purchase some stock photography.

I have to say, one of my favorite covers is for The Holy Ketchup. (By the way, I famously despise ketchup, and it’s this hatred that served as inspiration for the entire book!)

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I kept getting harangued to undertake the ice bucket challenge. But it can be tough being a creative sort, because everyone so often expects you to turn it up a notch. Well, I did my best . . .

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This past week, my wife Marcie Nestman and I taught at the Write It, Read It Camp in Whistler, BC. We love Whistler and go there to escape the city all the time, so we thrilled to be able to go up during the summer and work with a keen group of young writers and readers. Other presenters during the week included Carrie Mac and Sarah Leach.

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I rolled out my famous monster-in-a-bottle workshop and Marcie followed up by delivering a workshop on building voices through character. I popped in at the end of Marcie’s workshop to hear all sorts of imaginatively peculiar voices emanating from the corners of the room. (Also, there were two girls dancing around like unicorns . . . not sure what that was about). In any case, there was no doubt that the students had an imaginative time.

Here are some of the work that Marcie helped the kids do during her voice workshop:

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And here are yet even MORE monsters in a bottle. I’ve posted a lot of them this year. But you know, they each seems so unique and imaginative . . . some of the creations are so fantastic!

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My Summer at St. George’s Book Publisher’s camp has finally ended.

Whew!

It was such a joy to work with so many great kids—and counsellors. It’s always bittersweet to end such a camp. In one way, I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted and am just relieved to be done. In another way, it feels like I’ve just been pulled from sort of magical life support, so feel, as always, a little sad.

Here’s a few photos of the kids’ work from throughout the week, to celebrate all their hard work and achievements . . .

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Yesterday I posted some photos of my students’ potions during the brewing process at the Summer at St. Georges camp I’m teaching. Here’s the photos of the potions after we distilled them into tiny vials. We tried to get a few of the essential ingredients into the final products, so that’s why you’ll see a few floating goblin eyes or bones!

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Today, I rolled up my sleeves and undertook a magic potions class with my junior crew at the Summer at St George’s Book Publisher camp. This activity is a fantastic way to talk about the five senses and to encourage interesting description in a story.

The young magic-makers have to pick from a wide selection of ingredients and then mix them together, recording their observations all the while. I have a variety of exotic ingredients to choose from, including Blood of Basalisk, Faerie Dust, Pixie Juice, Egg of Snarf, Gnome Poop, Goblin Eyes, Dragon Tears, Heart’s Desire, Mummy Dust, and Troll Snot . . . just to name a few!

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Below are some of our potions in “action.”

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This particular potion involved a healthy dose of Pixie Juice and A LOT of Faerie Dust.

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I’m not sure what exactly happened with this potion, but a sprinkling of Envy’s Curse tends to make a brew do peculiar things.

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This potion, of course, is a love potion. It feature some grains from the Heart’s Desire bottle.

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This potion is so thick that the stir-stick (the feather from a winged horse) is standing straight up in it. Unfortunately, someone spilled all the Blood of Baskalisk . . . so that’s the dark river you see winding its way across the table cloth in the background.

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I believe that’s a Snarf Egg sinking to the bottom of this inky potion.

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It’s not cream soda . . . this potion is mostly Mummy Dust and Blood of Baskalisk.

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I’m not sure how this student managed to get neon blue . . . but it’s a very pretty potion.

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That’s a Goblin Eye floating to the top of this lime green concoction.

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This potion seems murky and mysterious . . . but it is actually for healing.

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Well . . . there are always one or two explosions in the magic potions workshop.

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This is a Goblin Eye stuck to the ceiling of our classroom. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how it ended up there. What I do know is that it is very high up and it isn’t coming down anytime soon. Someone’s in for surprise when the regular classes start again in September.

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Here are some of the final potions all lined up on the staging table. The next step is to distill them into miniature bottles. I’ll post those photos later!

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Even though I’ve done this workshop SO many times this year, I haven’t tired of it yet. So, as part of my Summer at St. George’s book publishing camp, I decided to roll it out once again to help inspire my group of young authors.

In this activity, they imagine that their fictional characters have bought pet monsters from the “Magic Monster Shop.” The monsters come in a little bottle kit, and now it’s up to the character to hatch the little beastie. What will the characters end up with? Well, see if you can find any clues based on what you can see in the bottles . . .

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I’m on the last of four writing camps that I’m teaching this summer (whew!). The camp I’m teaching right now is at St. George’s school in Vancouver and runs for two weeks. Each student has the goal of publishing a book so, with this in mind, I decided to start the camp with some brainstorming and plotting to keep everyone on track.

I prepared a handy “snapshot” sheet, which—hopefully—helps them consider all the important elements of their story. Here’s some photos of their brainstorming. Some students “floated” off the worksheet and starting doing their own thing, which I’m always so pleased to see!

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