Witch of Unger

I’d like you to introduce you to one of the important new characters that will appear in the next Kendra Kandlestar book; this is Shuuunga, the Unger witch.

Unger Witch

As is always the case when I start on a new book, I’m a bit hazy as to what are the nuances of the plot. I usually have a general sense of the story’s direction, but it’s how to get from start to finish that is the challenge. Well, just by sketching Shuuunga, a significant part of the plot came alive for me and now the story is shooting off in a new and certain direction. I’m excited!

By the way, I had a great suggestion for a character name: Crogus. This came from a reader who emailed me all the way from Dubai. I love the name Crogus, so may have to see if I can Ungerfy it (as you know, Ungers always use three vowels in their names). Or maybe Crogus can be a name for a non-Unger character. We’ll have to see—but as you know I LOVE a good character name!

Have you heard the news: Kazah is nominated for a Cybil!

Mouse with hearing horn.

While I was away presenting at the NCTE conference in Chicago I received some wonderful news: Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah has been officially nominated for a 2011 Cybils Award, in the category of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It’s up against some stellar competition, so we’ll just have to see if the book can “eek” out a win (as Honest Oki would say).

kc, we’re not in Chicago anymore

Oz Park.After delivering our presentation at the NCTE conference today in Chicago, kc dyer (my intrepid pal in tights) and I embarked on one an odyssey to find Oz Park.

Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my influences were the fourteen original Oz books by L. Frank Baum. It just so happens that Chicago is Baum’s birthplace, and there is a park to commemorate him in the Lincoln Park area of the city.

kc and I hopped in a cab—and wouldn’t you know, our driver was from Korea, so we had a good chat about his homeland and I even made sure to thank him in Korean. My only regret was that  I didn’t have any Won on me with which to pay him.

Well, it took us a while to track down this otherwise obscure park. I was a little disappointed that the pathways weren’t paved in yellow brick, but there were some neat statues of the famous Oz citizens.

kc’s trademark veggie pink Doc Martins were a perfect match with Dorothy!

Two Dorothies.

I think my favorite statue was that of the Tin Woodsman (though kc had to nearly stand in the street, braving zooming cars, to take this shot).

Tin Woodsman.

Here’s the Scarecrow and the Lion too:

Scarecrow.

Cowardly Lion

Earlier in the day, kc and I went to the Chicago Art Institute, where I saw some of my all-time favourite art pieces, including American Gothic and Sunday on La Grande Jatte. This art gallery covers over a million square feet and, true to form, kc and I wandered around hopelessly lost for the better part of the afternoon!

Thankfully, we were still able to find our way to Oz. (And by the way, thanks to kc for all of the photography.)

Be safe, Box of Whispers

Lee Edward Fodi at Chapters in Kelowna

I had some wonderful events at Chapters and Mosaic Books in the city of Kelowna this past weekend. One problem: what was a gorgeous highway across the mountain passes turned into one choked by snow and fog in just two days. Which is all to say I had to leave my car—and most of my props—so that I could fly home in time for my next events.

Let’s hope the Box of Whispers remains safe and sound! There are no dragons or Ungers that I know of living in the Okanagan, though famously  there is an Ogopogo. As far as I know, he (or it) has no appetite for enchanted chests filled with secrets.

In any case, I’d like to shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who turned out at my events  in Kelowna this past weekend. It was a joy to connect with some long-time fans and to meet some new ones. If you’ve already read the new book, I ask you to send me an Een-mail and let me know what you think! I love to hear from my readers.

Authors Like Us – Sarah Prineas

Authors Like Us

Sarah PrineasAuthors Like Us is back, and we’re starting Season 2 with a bang! We are so thrilled to present an interview with fantasy author Sarah Prineas, creator of The Magic Thief series.

I’ve taught The Magic Thief to several classes, so I was particularly interested in gaining insight into Sarah’s creative process and to discover just what makes her tick!

The Magic ThiefYou can listen to the podcast at the Authors Like Us web page, or subscribe for free on iTunes (please do!).

And stay tuned for some of our other great Season 2 shows, featuring the likes of Frieda Wishinsky and Vikki Van Sickle.

In the rhubarb capital of the world . . .

A Good Book Cafe book launcyh.

. . . they love their Kendra Kandlestar. Yes, I’m in the rhubarb capital of the world, otherwise known as Sumner, Washington, where I am currently enjoying brisk but sunny weather.

I had a wonderful time at the Good Book Cafe, celebrating The Crack in Kazah with many wonderful readers, young and old alike. As you can see, many young fans sported some wonderful braids. I also brought my Een Museum, full of such wonderful artifacts as a peryton feather, Kazah stone, and buttons from Kendra cloak. Many of the visitors were thrilled to explore (thank Een—it wasn’t easy to track down all of these artifacts).

Famously, it’s at this store where book aficionado Paige dances through the aisles showing off her Oki tattoo. So, of course, this store made the perfect spot for me to officially celebrate the new Kendra book in the US. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, go check out this wonderful bookstore (and, of course, Paige’s tattoo!).

A Good Book Cafe book launch.

A good book cafe.

Thank you for a wonderful HallowEEN!

What a great way to celebrate the launch of Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah! Thank you to everyone who turned out on October 28th to help my party, Een-style. Here’s just a few of the photos from that whirlwind of an evening (thanks to Luke for this particular batch of photos).

Teenling and Kendra
The Teenling and Kendra Kandlestar both came all the way from the Land of Een for the festivities (Kendra dyed her hair green in true HallowEEN fashion). If you’re wondering why they are so BIG—well, Kendra tells me that she and the Teenling drank a special potion (courtesy of Ratchet) to enlarge them (seems they were worried about getting stepped on).

Kazah launch.

Kazah launch.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah launch.

Everyone knows that if you’re going to be an Een that you need to celebrate the braid. So there were plenty of helpers on hand to decorate hair with balls and baubles (and a few pipecleaners help too).

Kazah launch.

Een museum.

The Een Museum featured a variety of enchanted items from Kendra’s world, including a peryton feather, petals from the fireflower, a skarm egg, a Kazah globe, a wand of Eenwood, and a variety of magical ingredients.

Kazah Launch.

This Kendra was pretty amazing too!

Kazah Launch.

Somewhere behind all of these people (in fabulous costumes I might add) is me, furiously signing books.

Rumble Pit game.

One of the popular tables in the activity area was the “Rumble Pit,” where kids used specially-designed cards to battle against each other with role-playing dice. I’m told some funny combinations came up, such as Centaur with a pickle fighting an Een Wizard with an onion.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

How many people can boast Darth Vader as an attendee of their book launch?

Hermione and Kendra.

Actually, how many people can say Hermione was at their book launch? As you can tell, Hermione and Kendra got on famously.

Hermione and Kendra.

Eengels.

A few “Eengels” made an appearance at the party. These two actually won the costume contest (Eengels play an important part in Kendra and the Crack in Kazah). There was also an incredible Devileen costume. (Rats–I wish I had had more prizes, because that costume was also very cool).

Eengel.

Who says Eengels don’t like door prizes?

Een treats!

There plenty of Een treats on hand!

Een treats!

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

The Box of Whispers did double duty at the HallowEEN party, acting as a repository for door prize tickets.

Matthew presentation.

My student, Matthew, wrote and presented a poem to  . . . er “celebrate” me at the HallowEEN party.

Kazah Launch.

Kendra and the Teenling did a presentation too!

James saves the day.

My friend, fellow author, and super hero, James, saved the day by procuring me some computer equipment when my failed fifteen minutes into the launch! With my computer equipment repaired, I was finally able to deliver my presentation and show some of the background work that went into the creation of the new book.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

Kazah Launch.

An old student of mine decided to take the stage and help me during the reading (Oh, and you can just see part of the Devileen costume in the corner of the photo!)

Kazah Launch.

Uncle Griffinskitch.

Here’s the runner up to the costume contest. He was Uncle Griffinskitch—I don’t know what happened to his beard at this point; I guess it was so itchy, he took it off!

Book signing.

Yes, amidst all the chaos, I was able to sign some books!

Thank you to EVERYONE who helped out with this event: Marcie, Kendra, Danie, Brett, Stephanie, Dona, Danielle, Joy, Sarah, Joanne, James, Luke, Kallie, kc, Rob, Jaclyn, and all of the parents and their fabulous kids.