Kendra’s whisper

This is a photo of my latest prop: the bottle that contains Kendra’s secret from The Box of Whispers.

I’ve been working on this prop for ages. At first I wanted to suspend glow-in-the dark paint in a vial of clear glue. The result? The glue slowly absorbed the paint, so that I ended up with a murky mess. I tried putting in layer of glue and letting it dry, but eventually abandoned this plan in favour of using a strand of cotton lightly glossed with the glow-in-the dark paint. I hope you like the results!

Kendra Whispers

The girl who had never seen Een

Charlo CharmsongI usually don’t base characters on real people I know. However, since this will be the last Kendra Kandlestar book, I decided to name some secondary characters after people dear to me.

The character shown here is called Charlo Charmsong, and is named after my goddaughter, Charlotte. After years of campaigning, she has finally received her wish!

In the story, Charlo Charmsong is a young girl whom Kendra meets in the City on the Storm. Even though Charlo is an Een, she has never been to that land tucked between cracks of here and there, having been born in the city on the clouds. Charlo is known for her beautiful voice, and sings a song for Kendra and her companions during an important celebration in the City on the Storm (that is, until, Ratchet accidentally ruins the evening with one of his new inventions).

Picture Perfect in Korea

I’ve just wrapped up a creative writing camp in Korea with my teaching partner and fellow author Kallie George. I didn’t have a chance to do any blogging during our hectic schedule, but now I can post some of the photos from our week.

We packaged our Picture Perfect theme that we’ve been teaching in Canada and brought it to this camp. The whole idea is to inspire kids in their creative writing with art history.

Day 1 began with a brainstorming exercise in which our students contemplated what art meant to them.


We had a mascot for this camp—Pablo the raccoon. Just like Kallie and I, he needed lots of coffee too!


On the first day we also began our projects to design and build mummies. I was really impressed with the results. I’ve led this activity a few times and, finally, someone built me a crocodile!




One of our other activities involved designing miniature portraits.


One of my favourite activities was when we took a cue from Surrealism and thought about dreams. Students designed their own dream bottles and then wrote a story about them.




We also led a writing activity in which the students crafted a hand-written letter to their favourite authors. I think the students enjoyed our approach of embossing the envelopes with wax and a seal impression.


We also ran a Picture Perfect Tournament, in which the students had to engage in a variety of activities.We had stations for word scramble, Pictionary, and mix-and-match, but my favourite stations were the ones below, starting with “Feats of Architecture.” Here, the contestants had to try and build the tallest card castle possible.


In this station, the participants were blindfolded and had to try and pin the smile on Mona Lisa.


In this station the students had to draw portraits of myself, Kallie, and our mascot, Pablo the raccoon.


We wrapped up today with each student presenting a monologue in which he or she imagined being an apprentice, model, or inspiration for a famous artist. This was quite entertaining! Some of the points of view adopted included Mona Lisa, a mummy, and a Campbell’s soup can!

Now, it’s time for one final meeting, and then we get our rest and prepare for the long flight home!

Finding fire in Seoul

Insadong fire.

As many of you know from Twitter and Facebook, I’ve had quite the experience during my most recent trip to Seoul with fellow author Kallie George. On our second night here, the building behind our hotel exploded due to a gas leak. I had never seen such a large and ferocious fire so close up. We were forced to evacuate for a few hours, but came to no harm rather than smelling a lot of smoke and losing sleep. And, as my friend Kari Lynn-Winters said in response to my tweets, “What doesn’t kill you makes a good story!”

The shapshots I took don’t really do the event justice, but you can see some truly spectacular photos of the fire by checking out this link and scrolling down.

In any case, I managed to pull myself together the next morning and appear, as scheduled, at a school that operates in Seoul under the auspices of the British Columbia government back home in Canada. Turns out they follow the BC curriculum. The kids were fantastic, full of energy and enthusiasm for Kendra Kandlestar!



After the presentation, we travelled to Yong-in, where we are delivering our Picture Perfect curriculum at a writing camp for writers aged 8-15. I’ll be posting some pictures of that once things become a little less hectic!

Is love brewing for Kendra?

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I would address a question that I get a lot, especially from my older readers: “Is Kendra going to fall in love?”

Well, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been playing with that notion. In particular, I’ve always loved the idea of a love potion mix-up, much as happens in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But I feel that sort of scenario is better suited for some of Kendra’s sidekicks—and, if you have read The Crack in Kazah—you will remember that there are some unexpected situations that develop between some of them.

And, of course, there is the full-blown romance that occurred between Kendra’s parents, Krimson and Kayla, when they were teenagers. The Crack in Kazah covers that too! The illustration below shows Kendra’s parents at the annual Jamboreen festival. (I admit that Kendra’s mother doesn’t really look like she’s in love in this illustration, but, as Winter Woodsong says, “Love is a cruel master.”)

Kendra's Parents

As for Kendra, well let’s cut her some slack. After all, she is only twelve (though she does turn thirteen in the fifth book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen).

And, as always, I will leave you with this last statement, which is how I so often answer questions: “Be careful what you wish for, because I rarely deliver what you expect.”

Return of the Unger

Here’s a sketch for an illustration I’m working on for Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen:

King and Trooogul.

One of the number one complaints I’ve heard from readers about the last book is that it didn’t have enough Trooogul. Rest assured, he has a bigger role in this book—and a very important one, as is hopefully conveyed by the above drawing.

More world building at West Sechelt Elementary

I finished up my writer-in-residency at West Sechelt Elementary this past week, and thought I would show a few more pictures of the kids’ projects. I have been really impressed with their work, especially their brainstorming.Here are some wanted posters, to help get their stories going . . .
ws_posterdragonws_posterspiderHere are a few more kingdom crests . . .ws_crest_icefirews_crest_wolws_crest_midnightdustws_crestmustacheBelow are some examples of character illustrations and brainstorming . . .ws_brainstormingcharacterws_brainstormingvillainws_brainstormingweaponws_characterSome of the students even started mapping out their worlds . . .ws_map01ws_brainstormingmapAnd here’s a secret code that will play a part in this student’s world . . .ws_codeAnd finally, here are two small booklets that one student put together, during my time there . . .ws_books