Scrapbooking a character

In the next few days I’m leaving for Korea to lead a creative writing camp based on “The Wizard’s Library.” I’m always looking for new ways to teach character-building and my teaching partner, Kallie George, has come up with a new idea: scrapbooking a character.

We are going to ask each of our students to develop and design an apprentice character. They can draw their characters—this is certainly an important part of developing  character—but we will also get them to construct a scrapbook page, in which they chronicle their characters’ wizardly studies through a collection of memories.

This is also a fun activity if you just want to think about an existing character from a different angle. I ended up making a scrapbook page for Kendra Kandlestar, so that I can show my students an example of a finished project. I decided to do mine purely through illustration, though this is certainly an activity that you could do by assembling a page of actual objects. Feather, buttons, “photos”—you name it! Personally, I would love to see the scrapbook of some of my author friend’s characters!

Kendra's Scrapbook page

My masked visitor from the Land of Een

Ratchet Ringtail

Friends, family, students—you’ve all heard about the visitor who so frequently comes knocking on my door from the Land of Een. I wish I could say Ratchet Ringtail was coming to introduce his latest zany invention, but the truth of the matter is that he’s coming for Griffin’s cat food.

Usually he comes during the darkest hours of night, but yesterday I was sitting in my studio (drawing flags for the Land of Een; but that’s another story) when I heard a crunching coming from my kitchen that sounded not AT ALL like Griffin. I poked my head around the corner and there he was, that ring-tailed rascal, eating his fill.

I have NO idea how Ratchet fits through the cat flap. He looks to be at least twice the size of Griffin.

In any case, Ratchet kind of looked at me dolefully, then kept eating. I went to snatch my camera, but the mere sound of its electronics beeping to life sent him scurrying through the cat flap. I followed after him and did manage to get a few pictures of him as he stared me down from outside. Eventually, he sauntered off—only to return an hour later for more grub.

I closed the cat flap, but Ratchet decided to just sit on my doormat and chill. Peering out the window at the top of the door, I couldn’t see Ratchet sitting at the bottom—just his striped tail. So there Ratchet spent most of the night, as if patiently waiting for me to let him in. Griffin sat on the inside of the door, offering the occasional threatening growl—but I think that was for me amusement (secretly, I think they’re best of friends).

Ratchet Ringtail.

Ratchet Ringtail

Take a vacation in the Land of Een

I finally completed the map of Een that I’ve been fiddling with the past couple of weeks. It shows all the nooks and crannies that I’ve never shown readers before, including the outermost borders of Een, as well as some new locations that I hope answer some questions for readers. (I also hope it makes readers ask a few more!)

Map of the Land of Een

This whole exercise didn’t come about because of my work on the fourth book, but because of my preparation for the upcoming fantasy camp I’m teaching at the end of the month. We’ve decided that one of the world-building activities we want to deliver will be to construct a “bewitching brochure” to entice visitors to come visit a magic kingdom.

As such, I’ve prepared a brochure for the Land of Een. It’s a hard place to find, of course, but I hope this brochure will prompt you to do a little exploring for that land hidden between the cracks of here and there.

This is meant to be a tri-fold brochure, so you’ll have to imagine that in the two “spreads” I’m showing below.

Een Travel Brochure

Een Travel Brochure

Now, I know what all of my author friends are thinking: I want to make MY own brochure! Well, go for it! I’ve made a template for you. Just download it by visiting my activities page on the Kendra Kandlestar website.

February is world-building month

The Wizard's LibraryIn addition to spending some time working on Kendra Kandlestar IV, I’ll be leading a series of workshops on world-building. I’ll be appearing at the Pemberton library on February 18th, and then the very next day I’m off to Korea to teach an entire writing camp.

We’ve decided to call the theme of our camp “The Wizard’s Library,” and our main approach is to show how authors (including some very famous ones) use a variety of illustrative techniques to help construct fantasy worlds.

We’ll be rolling out some of the tried-and-true activities such as dragon eggs and wand construction, but we’ve also come up with some new ideas that I’m excited to share with you—but not quite yet.

Professor Bumblebean's map of EenStrangely, preparing for this camp has forced me to do something I’ve never done before—and that is to map the entire Land of Een. I say “strangely” because you’d think that it would be the story itself that would prompt me to map my world, but it’s actually one of these pesky activities for the camp that has inspired me to really roll up my sleeves and map the the Land of Een from corner to corner.

Of course, we’ve seen part of the Land of Een before in the map that Professor Bumblebean drew for The Box of Whispers. The map is shown at the left (click on it for a larger view), but it only shows the top part of that land hidden between the cracks of here and there.

This time, I’m going to show some of the other famous locations mentioned through the series, such as the Whispering Grove. Here’s my rough sketch of the new map. Don’t laugh; my first drafts are ALWAYS this messy!

Sketch for the Land of Een