No need to Eek! Or to Humph! Or to get in a to-do—Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers is waiting for you!

This is your last chance to take advantage of amazon’s promotion to download Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers for free! And be sure to “like” the amazon page and check out the other three Kindle editions of the series as well.

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Kendra Kandlestar contest: We have a winner!

Kendra Kandlestar Prize PackCongratulations to Emily, who submitted a question for the Kendra Kandlestar contest over at Ten Stories Up and won herself a Kendra Kandlestar prize-pack (all four books, plus some goodies!).

Lindsey at Ten Stories Up has posted ALL the questions submitted, so it serves as a sort of interview about me and the Kendra Kandlestar series. So if you want to find out how I name my characters or see a picture of my studio . . . then head on over to Ten Stories Up!

 

Kendra KINDLEstar

One of the fun things about producing the Kindle editions of the Kendra Kandlestar books was designing the new covers. (By the way–did you get your free copy, yet? Only three more days!)

I may decide to use these covers for future print editions—what do YOU think?

One thing about electronic editions of books is that they don’t have back covers. As a book designer I find this a bit disconcerting, like walking in the Shivering Wood without a torch. So last week I decided to design back covers to match my new fronts. Perhaps in a future update to the electronic editions I will add these.

In the meantime YOU can look at them. And, perhaps, if we go with this new look for the next print run, then my work is already done!

In search of Stolen Whispers

Lost in a Maze of Mystery

Trapped in a Pit of Monsters

A Splinter in Sorcery

The heart of an Unger

Shuuunga.Last year, I posted a sketch of a new villain that will appear in Kendra Kandlestar 5 ~ the Unger Witch. Today, I was able to ink a final drawing of a close up of this character. It will go along with a chapter I plan to call “The Heart of an Unger.”

I have actually yet to write any scenes with this character—but I can’t wait to do so. I think she will be one of my favourite characters to develop for this book. And when it comes to drawing, there’s no two ways about it; villains are just more fun!

As I was working on the sketches for this character, I came up with a few candidate names, which included Shungaaala, Tuuunga, Ooonga, Sooonga, and Rooonga. Well, you can see I was going for a hard “g” sound. In the end, I decided to call her “Shuuunga.” (And, yes, Ungers must have three vowels in each of their names.)

The power of props

Props

I am so proud of my creative writing students! Yesterday they came to class with some absolutely wonderful props to go with their novels.

I wasn’t sure if they would take this quest to heart, but they each were able to discover their own path to success.  Some of them built their own props, while others went on a hunt to find the object. Others found an existing object and modified it.

What I find interesting is that some students went to seek or build a specific object, while others found an object that inspired them enough to include in their stories. In either case, texture will be added to their novels. Their plots, characters, and settings will be enriched. Plus, I hope they had some fun—and let’s face it, writing needs to be fun.

Here are some of the photos I snapped . . .

This wand looked so fantastic that I at first thought Danny had actually bought it somewhere. Turns out, he made it with a chopstick, some paper, gold paint and (the tool of all good prop-makers) a hot glue gun.

Wand prop

This student sought a magical key; when she couldn’t find the right one, she just built one of out clay. Then she decorated this box to be its container. Both were pretty amazing; I especially loved the ornamentation on the box.

Box prop

Below are some examples of props made from existing objects. Amy took an existing bracelet and added a green “jewel” to it, while Michelle took an old diary from her past (complete with a lock busted by her brother!) and added some decorations to it. This diary prop is really important, as her whole novel is written in diary format.

Props

This is another prop that I thought was purchased, but upon closer inspection it was made. Sarah crafted it from clay and added some jewels to either end. This is definitely a magical device!

device prop

This is another handmade prop. Rachael made the cover with a leather-like material and added all of the decorations.

Book prop

These props by Michelle were really interesting. They were little amulets that called forth a type of “familiar” in that shape. She even made a sample of what one looks like after it dies.

Character props

Jun’s hunt for inspiration led him to purchasing this boat in a bottle, which gave him a brand new idea for his novel. I can’t wait to see how this is incorporated!

Boat prop

Great job, guys!

You never know where you’re going to find inspiration . . .

Just before spring break, I gave my creative writing students a task to find, build, or cannibalize an object that they could use to inspire them for the novels they are writing. Just to be fair, I gave myself the same homework.

Of course, I love props and already have my very own Een museum:

A good book cafe.

But I didn’t want to use any of my existing props for my homework assignment (wouldn’t that be cheating?). I made a plan to visit one of the local antique shops, which always are brimming with inspiration. However, before I could get there, I found myself stuck on the latest version of my Kendra Kandlestar 5 manuscript.

I needed something to provide a warning for Kendra and her crew as they journey through a dangerous jungle. And then I remembered my recent trip to Korea and the interesting “guardians” I found at the entrance to a folk village. Called “jangseungs,” these totems are usually made of wood (though you can see one made of stone, below) and were meant to ward off demons.

Wooden totem.

Stone totem.

I was reminded of that great scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones is trekking through the jungle with his guides and the bats swarm out of a similar stone guardian. And anyone who has read Joseph Campbell’s writings on the hero’s mythological journey will be familiar with the term “Threshold Guardian.” A threshold guardian serves as that marker between worlds—the world the hero is leaving behind, and the strange, unfamiliar one he is about to enter. Of course, you see these threshold guardians all the time in western culture in the form of lions, dragons, or unicorns. They “guard” important or official buildings, or even homes.

With all this in mind, I decided that Kendra needed to encounter a type of jangseung in her own journey. I produced this sketch:

Sketch of stone guardian.

I decided that I would then build my prop. It’s not quite done, but I’ve done all the heavy lifting, carving it from foam and giving it a few coats of paint:

Sculpture in progress of stone guardian.

I may try to add some vines encircling its body, or growing from its crevices. But otherwise, it’s pretty much complete and I can say that my homework is done! (How about you, my dear students—is YOURS?)