If Kendra was on The Simpsons . . .

. . . she’d look like this:

Kendra Kandlestar as a Simpsons Character

Yes, I should have spent more time writing and illustrating today, but I got sidetracked by this activity for my class, and ended up “Simpsonizing” everything.

For the record, this is what I would look like in The Simpsons World:

Lee Edward Fodi as a Simpsons character.

Oh, and of course, my cat:

Griffin as a Simpsons character.

Okay, now back to some real work . . .

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This is why I’m so slow at drawing

There’s more than one kid who will tell you I’m slow at writing. As far as they’re concerned, it takes me eons to finish a Kendra book. They’re right, of course. Well, in my defense, I’m just as slow at drawing.

Problem is, I like to redo stuff. And when it comes to writing, that’s easy. You can always just change a word here or there.

In the world of illustration, it’s slightly different. Sometimes I can make some digital edits after I’ve scanned the drawing into the computer, but sometimes I get so frustrated with a piece I just want to start over from scratch.

Like with the picture I just finished.

When it came time to depict one of the most important scenes in the book—the Een festival known as Jamboreen—I knew I wanted a drawing bursting with characters and carnival excitement. I started with a thumbnail sketch:

Jamboreen - thumbnail

I then produced a more detailed pencil drawing:

Jamboreen - pencil drawing

At last, I did a final illustration in ink:

Jamboreen - first version

Problem is, I didn’t like it. So I redid it. This was much to an amusement of one of my best friends, Alex Walton. See, even though he himself is a very talented artist with a keen eye (in fact, you should check out his website RIGHT NOW), he couldn’t see much significant difference between my first version and my final version:

Jamboreen - final illustration

Well, I’ve seen Alex fret over the tiniest detail in a painting, so I’m not sure what gives him the right to mock me in this instance. And besides, maybe YOU can spot the differences.

Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m finished the illustration now. Hmm. Unless . . .

Kendra Kandlestar Ten Stories Up

I feel like I haven’t been blogging much lately; happily that’s because I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I’m getting down to the nitty-gritty of the book and I’m feeling pretty good about how it’s all coming together. As I keep saying, I feel like this is the mother of all Kendra books.

Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to UngerWell, keep checking this blog because there will be news: I’m planning to announce the official title of the new Kendra book in October.

In the meantime, check out this wonderful review of Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger I received from Lindsey Carmichael on her Ten Stories Up blog. Feel free to chime in by leaving a comment on her review!

Oh, and by the way, the Door to Unger and that mysterious temple built by the Wizard Greeve just might be a place that we all get to revisit in Kendra Kandlestar IV . . .

Workshop of Dreams

It’s another school year, and now another year for Dream Workshop, the creative writing program that I helped to start for kids way back in 2004.  Since then, hundreds of kids have run through Dream Workshop, writing, illustrating, and publishing their own books. In just a couple of weeks, we get up and running again, offering classes all over the Greater Vancouver area.

This year we start with a splash—we finally have our own website! Check it out here.

The Creative Writing for Children Society

Kevin Sylvester cooks up a great interview

Authors Like UsThe latest podcast for Authors Like Us has just been posted. This time we have an absolutely delicious episode with Kevin Sylvester, children’s author and illustrator, CBC radio host, world traveller and—as you’ll find out in this interview—gourmet cook. Speaking of cooking, Kevin is probably best known for his Neil Flambé books, which focus on the adventures of a young prodigy who cooks by night and solves crimes by day.

You can listen to this episode (and some of our past goodies with the likes of Kari-Lynn Winters, Susan Juby, and Meg Tilly) by visiting the Authors Like Us website or subscribing on iTunes.

Kevin Sylvester

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders

Pets should be more helpful

I’ve been writing and drawing up a storm lately (at least for me). Right now I’m trying to design some new characters that will be on the Een council, and I hope to share these with you in the coming weeks—that is, if the sketches survive. See, my cat likes to think that my sketching area of my studio is his personal domain.

Just this morning I watched him saunter into my studio, leap up onto my desk and unceremoniously plop himself on top of my drawings. I gave up on trying to stop him from doing this long ago. I have even made his own bed for him on my desk. Okay, it’s more or less just a fluffy towel, but what else does a cat need?

Apparently, a bed of Kendra Kandlestar sketches.

Sigh . . .

Griffin Chills

Why do Eens wear braids?

Kayla Kandlestar.It’s one of the questions I get asked all the time. The answer I usually give is that it’s just part of Een culture. Every Een—yes, even the boys—wear at least one braid (of course, as you know, Kendra has seven). But then the next question I always get is, “Why is it part of their culture?”

Well, Book IV is going to answer that question (plus, a whole lot more). I’ve been writing up a storm this week, moving at a far faster speed than my usual, plodding pace, and I’ve just finished up the draft of one of the most climatic and dramatic scenes in the entire series. Well, at least that’s my opinion. I guess you’ll have to let me know yours once you read it.

I think part of my “flow” this week has come from my extremely lucky symbol of seeing a giant grey whale yesterday. I was cycling around the sea, on my usual route around Vancouver’s Stanley Park, when lo and behold, there was the behemoth, spouting water not a hundred feet of the shore. It was marvelous.