The Magic Refrigerator?

Today I was presenting at a school and was thrilled to see some of the artwork the kids produced during my session of “Goblin Designing 101.” There were some incredibly talented illustrators!

But that was during my visit. An activity that the kids completed before my arrival was to take one of my colouring pages (from and make up a little story to go with the picture. They were all wonderful, but one in particular made me laugh out loud.

Check it out! Who wouldn’t want a magical refrigerator that has a never-ending supply of chocolate cake? Maybe we can get Ratchet Ringtail to get working on such an invention. I just might be the first in line to buy one!

Dastardly times . . .

So You Think You're a Villain

I was at a school yesterday, teaching a workshop on how to create great fantasy/adventure villains. Of course, I not only refer to some of the all time greats, but to some of those scoundrels that like to menace poor Kendra Kandlestar.

It’s such a delight meeting and working with the kids. My favourite creation of hte day? “Cheesehead,” who came complete with cracker-shaped henchmen. What a riot!

Help me, I’m falling!

Help me, I'm Falling

I don’t ever sit down  to write with a bunch of themes in my head. In truth, I think this is the wrong way to approach storytelling.Rather, I like to let certain patterns evolve. It happens naturally, I find.

Well, as I work on Kendra IV, I’m finding that this story is a series of falls. And I don’t mean  figurative, metaphorical falls, like a proud character getting knocked down a peg—I mean literal falls! In the first five chapters alone, I think Kendra  has fallen five or six times, and some of those falls have been looooooooooong drops!

We’ll I’ve never plummeted far as Kendra, mind you, but I once did stumble into a gaping pit at Kom Ombo temple in Egypt. But that’s a story for another time . . .

A Troubled Wizard

Shaden ShiverboneAs much as I love my existing characters, it’s always fun when I get to introduce some new ones.

This is a sketch of  Shaden Shiverbone, a renown wizard in the land of Een. Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re asking, “How come I havne’t heard of him before?”

Trust, readers, trust. All will be revealed!

And why does he look so nervous?

Well, his apprentice has been causing some trouble, so he’s being called before the Council of Elders to answer for his pupil. And just who is his apprentice? Well, I’m not going to tell you everything.

Oh, and the bug? Well, let’s just call him Ibb for now.

My favourite character in the Box of Whispers

EEK! I’m afraid I didn’t get any work done today on my book, mostly because I spent the day at Bonaccord Elementary, helping the students there create their own stories by helping them design monstrous characters.

Whenever I’m at a school, I get a lot of interesting questions and the one that comes up over and over again is: “Who is your favourite character?”

Surprisingly, it’s NOT Kendra. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Braids,” but I always seem to like the other, slightly more obscure characters. PLUS, it seems like I always attach myself to a different character with each book. In The Box of Whispers it was grumpy old Griffinskitch. Can you guess who it was for The Door to Unger?

Uncle Griffinskitch

This is why I don’t have time to write

My Vancouver class of Wiz Kids are nuts for Star Wars (kind of like someone else I know). We always have a lot of Star Wars in our class, but yesterday, we cranked it up a notch. I made some custom cards (don’t tell Lucasfilm) to help us play a roleplaying game I called “Order 66.”

Star Wars Role Playing Cards

We all created Jedi names (I’m Master Fodiwan, of course) and donned robes and lightsabers—and voila! We had our very own jedi council for the game. Afterwards, I photographed everyone and added lightsaber blades in Photoshop. I can’t wait to read the stories they are all writing, as inspired by our game and costumes!

Padwan Arski

Padawan Hyungakin

Darth Bael.

The Spell of Writing

Magic Potion
Ratchet Ringtail's workshop? No, just another one of "Mr. Wiz's" writing classes.

I just finished up my most recent term of Dream Workshop yesterday, and as part of it I produced a little iMovie slideshow to celebrate our fifteen weeks of chaotic creativity. This was one of my most favourite photos from the slideshow—just one of the many spills during my magic potions class. Hey, if you’re going to make kids write magic spells, they should at least actually concoct the potion first!

One of my students from a different class also gave me a cute little picture that she drew. She didn’t tell me why she drew them, or if where they came from (I’m assuming from her own unique coconut). Maybe these could be new inhabitants in the land of Een? Ratchet Ringtail wouldn’t have created them—they look far too happy.

New inhabitants for the Land of Een?

Hanging by a thread

Whew! I had a busy day planning out a lot of my trips and workshops that are scheduled for the coming months. I’m excited to have two big bookstore events in Sumner and Seattle in February. Check out my events page on my website for all the details. I’ve been booking a lot of school visits as well, and will be delivering a lot of fun workshops. My favourite these days is my “So You Think You’re a Villain.” I also have a “Heroes and Villains” workshop, but I really love sinking my teeth into the villains. They are so much dastardly fun to draw and write.

Well, all this planning means I didn’t get any writing done today (yet). I’m feeling a little bummed about that, because my resolution for this year was to write an hour a day. However, I did get in some drawing completed these last couple of days. Here’s what my table looked like at the beginning of the week:

Sketches for "Kendra faces the Skarm."

I really had some problems working out Kendra’s arms in this drawing; I was trying to capture how she would be hanging in a way that her face could still be seen as she stares at her fanged and drooling adversary. I had a few different attempts that I abandoned, but finally came up with a version that I’m happy with (at least for now). Hopefully, you like it too . . .

Kendra faces the beast.

Authors Like Us: CC Humphreys

Well, one of the many hats I wear (besides my wizard’s one, of course) is co-host of a podcast called Authors Like Us. If you want to learn about some fantastic authors (plus get a glimpse into my own coconut) I highly recommend this show, which I do with one of my favourite partners in crime, James McCann.

The latest podcast is actually the second part of our interview with CC Humphreys. He certainly enteretained James and I (and yes, that’s not THAT easy to do), so check it out at — or subscribe to it at  iTunes.

Authors Like Us

Character: Meet the “Delete” Key

Just today I was doing an author presentation in Surrey, BC, telling the kids all about my process. I had some fantastic sessions and met some really creative kids. It was the kind of day that leaves me feeling like I’m flying high, like a Peryton.

Captain Rinkle SketchOne girl (I think she must have been in Grade 4) asked me one of the best questions I’ve had in quite a while. She asked, “Have you ever had to delete a character, and how did that make you feel?” Wow! You can pretty much tell by that question that she is a writer.

I went on to tell her that I have indeed had to “delete” characters, and that is always a sad funeral to see them go. First, I put all this work into creating the character and even write scenes or whole chapters with them—only to then realize that they are superfluous to the plot, or that they are too similar to another character, and that they can be dropped all together.

Captain Rinkle name suggestions.However, there are those lucky times when I can resurrect a character. That was the case with Captain Raggart Rinkle who appeared in The Shard from Greeve. I originally wrote him into several scenes of The Door to Unger (though back then, his name was Captain Hatch). Well, sure enough, he just didn’t play an important enough role in the story, so I ditched him. When it came time to work on The Shard from Greeve, I realized I needed him again, so I dusted him off and reimagined him. Of course, by that time I was working with my eleven-year-old helper, Sarang, who was pre-reading my book and letting me know about all the terrible parts that needed fixing.

In particular, she helped me pick the name of Captain Raggart Rinkle (according to her, my suggestions “sucked”). So I showed her a sketch of the character. And the rest was history!

Incidentally, I also was able to resurrect another character, with a far more illustrious history than Captain Rinkle, but that’s a story for another time . . . you’ll have to remind me to tell you it sometime.

Captain Rinkle