My explorations of Jeju Island continued yesterday and had a decidedly volcanic theme. In the company of two of my students, I visited Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak.

Here are some more dol harbang (stone grandfathers) greeting us at the entrance. I could never resist taking photos of them whenever I came upon them.



Here’s a view of the crater from afar.


This is a glimpse of the stairs we had to take up the tall crater. Needless to say, it was blazing hot.


Along the way, we saw some neat rock formations and many beautiful flowers, butterflies, and dragon flies.

sunrisepeak03 sunrisepeak04

And then, finally, we reached the top. My pictures hardly do it any justice.

sunrisepeak05 sunrisepeak06

After we climbed down, we went around to the other side of the peak and took a boat ride to go see the black cliffs from the side.

sunrisepeak07 sunrisepeak08

Even the sand is black!


After we were done visiting the crater, we took a short drive to a lava tube. We walked the full kilometer through the cave, which doesn’t seem long, but it was absolutely freezing down there and dripping with water. It was so strange to be in blazing heat at one moment and then in such a cold environment straight afterwards!


Well, that’s it for Jeju Island! I’m back to the Korean mainland to teach my Secret Worlds camp!

In between some of the writing camps I’m teaching in Korea, I’ve had some time to tour around Jeju Island, which is just off the main Korean peninsula.

Jeju is a volcanic island, so I’ve found the landscape and rock features very inspirational. I feel like I’ve gotten all sorts of fuel for world-building in my own books. There’s one world in particular that I’ve been developing, and I feel like this place has really helped me solidify it in my mind.

Here’s just a sampling of some of my inspirations . . .

This is a dol harbang (stone grandfather). You can see them everywhere here. And I love them. In fact, I wish I could cart one home to put in the front garden.


Of course, I found an old door to add to my door collection!


And now, lots of neat tropical scenery and cool rock formations . . .

jejuisland02 jejuisland03 jejuisland04 jejuisland05 jejuisland06 jejuisland07 jejuisland08

And, just because I’m terrified of spiders, here’s an ENORMOUS one I saw on one of the trails I walked. Thankfully, it was dead. But no less disgusting, because it was being tugged along at ferocious speed by some sort of beetle that had a very ravenous attitude in its step. I barely snapped off this photo before it managed to whisk away its dinner. Blech!


Yesterday, I visited a rock garden on Jeju Island in Korea. I ended up getting all sorts of inspiration for some new worlds, but what was interesting is that I ended up being reminded of a world I had already created.

The Elder Stone is a major setting in my Kendra Kandlestar series. I introduced the Elder Stone back in the first book in the series, The Box of Whispers:

The Elder Stone

While at the rock garden, I saw all sorts of “Elder Stones” in the museum portion of the site.

stonegarden09 stonegarden08 stonegarden07 stonegarden06

Out in the gardens, there were all sorts of interesting rock formations. (Jeju Island is volcanic, so that accounts for much of the interesting natural sculptures).

This forest of rock people reminded me of another scene in Kendra Kandlestar. At one case, Kendra and her companions happens upon a forest of stone trees, some of which turn out to be Ungers standing in guard of their sacred temple.


As for the rock below, a tree is growing out of its cracks. I suppose this reminded me a little bit of the Elder Stone as well, though it actually gave me inspiration for something else . . .


Here’s a close up of the tree . . . the single berry growing from it made it seem quite magical.


Finally, here’s one last interesting rock formation. I’m off for more adventures on Jeju Island, today!


Somewhere amidst the writing camps I’m teaching in Korea, I’ve found some time to do some writing and sketching. So I thought I would post some sketches.

This one is a villain that I’ve been working on for the past few months. I draw him, then I write him, and one thing feeds the other. I’m still not exactly sure what he’ll look like.


These are just various characters and concepts. Rough drawings, to be sure, but they help concretize some of the ideas I’m working on.


For my fifth and final day at my CBIS camp in Seoul, Korea, I had my kids design intergalactic postcards. Since this was the last day of the camp, this meant the kids had got to know me pretty well. In particular, they became well versed in my hatred of eggs and ketchup.

It didn’t help that the kids were served hard-boiled eggs for snack one day and that the cafeteria had egg soup on offer one lunch time. The day earlier, we had designed our own clubs. Well, if I could design my own club, it would be ERG (Eggs ‘r’ Gross). And my slogan would be, “Get eggs out of my face. And while you’re at it, ketchup, too.”

But I digress.

The postcard activity is fun because it is a good way to explore setting and get the students thinking creatively about a remarkable landscape.

Here’s some of their designs. Surprise . . . one of the planets designed involved an Extremely Grotesquely Gross Substance.

I had some stamps left over from my recent CWC Galaxy Camp in Canada, so the students got to pick their favorite character-themed postage to send their cards . . .

cbis-postcard03 cbis-postcard04 cbis-postcard05 cbis-postcard06

cbis-postcard02 cbis-postcard01 cbis-postcard07 cbis-postcard08 cbis-postcard09 cbis-postcard10 cbis-postcard11 cbis-postcard12 cbis-postcard13 cbis-postcard14 cbis-postcard15 cbis-postcard16


For Day 4 of my writing camp at CBIS school in Seoul, I introduced an activity in which we imagined that I gave each student $25 for them to spend a Saturday. That then set them off on adventure that was to culminate with them deciding to start their own club.

To help the students better imagine the adventure, I gave each of them Mr. Wiz dollars. They also had to design the crests and mottoes for their clubs!

cbis_club01 cbis_club02 cbis_club03 cbis_club04 cbis_club05 cbis_club06 cbis_club07 cbis_club08 cbis_club09 cbis_club10 cbis_club11 cbis_club12 cbis_club13

For Day 3 at my CBIS writing camp in Seoul, we focused on character.

One project was to develop well-rounded characters to go with the Too Much Tales that we started the day before. We did this by exploring many examples of famous characters from books and movies, and then created detailed character profiles.

Here are some photos of some of them in progress . . .

cbis-characerprofile01 cbis-characerprofile02 cbis-characerprofile03 cbis-characerprofile04 cbis-characerprofile05 cbis-characerprofile06 cbis-characerprofile07 cbis-characerprofile08

The other project we had fun with was taking an existing character from books, fairtyales, and movies and imagining what they might be doing in their “off hours.” The students then drew their chosen characters in those scenes and wrote short poems about them.

Here’s some of their scenes and poems in progress . . .

cbis_playfulpoem02 cbis_playfulpoem03 cbis_playfulpoem04 cbis_playfulpoem05 cbis_playfulpoem06 cbis_playfulpoem07 cbis_playfulpoem08 cbis_playfulpoem09

For day 2 of my writing camp at CBIS school in Korea, we tried out a fun writing activity called Too Much Tales. In this activity, the students imagine an enchanted cauldron that can spew out any item a character might want. The only problem is that the cauldron is broken, and doesn’t STOP producing the item.

Anyone who has seen The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment from Disney’s Fantasia, will remember the kind of fun that can happen when you have too much of something.


I particularly like this activity because of the built-in problem.

Here are some photos of the students’ artwork, which will go with their final stories . . .

cbis_tmt_babies cbis_tmt_balloons cbis_tmt_books cbis_tmt_burgers cbis_tmt_gum cbis_tmt_hotdogs cbis_tmt_money cbis_tmt_swords IMG_cola

On day 1 of my writing camp at CBIS in Seoul, Korea, I decided to riff of my recent “Galaxy Camp” in Canada and make Aliens the theme of the day.

We started by taking my “What type of alien are you?” quiz. Afterwards, we worked on a project to imagine some evidence that was discovered at an alien crash site. After drawing some of this evidence, the students wrote a short story in the format of a newspaper article or a diary entry.

cbis_alienevidence_01 cbis_alienevidence_02 cbis_alienevidence_03 cbis_alienevidence_04 cbis_alienevidence_05 cbis_alienevidence_06 cbis_alienevidence_07

Then came the real fun part—alien lunchboxes! The students got to imagine and design their own alien menu and accompanying take out box. This really gives them an opportunity to gross it up. You’d think it would just be the boys who had the fun with this . . . but I’ve found it’s a universal truth that girls can be just as gross in their creations!

cbis_alienlunch_01 cbis_alienlunch_02 cbis_alienlunch_03 cbis_alienlunch_04 cbis_alienlunch_05 cbis_alienlunch_06 cbis_alienlunch_07 cbis_alienlunch_08 cbis_alienlunch_09

Tomorrow, I’m off to Korea to teach two writing camps. The first one will take place at a school in Seoul and will focus on a broad range of creative activities. The second camp has the theme of “Secret Worlds,” which will I will be co-teaching with children’s author and editor Kallie George.

I’m looking forward to Secret Worlds Camp, since it’s a topic close to my heart. No surprise, given my Kendra Kandlestar series, but in truth what I really love about our curriculum is that we will be delivering many new activities that we’ve never tried before. We’ll be building shrink ray models, writing with different perspectives, and coming up with small solutions for BIG problems (more on that later).

As part of the lead up to this camp, my wife made a mini-version of me, as if I’ve been struck by a shrink ray. Given the surprised expression on my face, I guess the zap caught me by surprise:



Other than Kendra Kandlestar, here’s just a few of the great stories we’re drawing inspiration from . . .



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 164 other followers