Introducing Mercy Moonwing

I have been introducing all the new characters, week by week, to help celebrate the release of my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen.  Today is the final introduction! This is a character close to my heart: Mercy Moonwing.

Mercy Moonwing

Who she is:

Mercy is like another character I introduced earlier in this series of introductions, Timmons Thunderclaws, in that she is part of the underground resistance known as the Knights of Winter. She is a key member of the group because, as a character who can fly, she can provide critical reconnaissance for the group. So, essentially, she is a scout—though her long beak is also useful in a skirmish. The only problem is that Mercy is quite forgetful and often confuses or mixes up details, including the names of her fellow knights. So she also serves as a bit of comic relief.

Where she came from:
Since this was the last Kendra Kandlestar book, I decided I would base some secondary characters on the people I know and love. In earlier posts, I explained about Paipo Plumpuddle (a friend and dedicated reader) and Charla Charmsong (my goddaughter).

Well, Mercy is based on my wife, Marcie. To begin with, Marcie loves hummingbirds, so that part was a natural fit, especially since I had been wanting a bird character to be a member of the Knights of Winter.

And Marcie flies, too, in way—on her skates at least! Actually, on her feet, Marcie is clumsier than I am (and that’s saying something). But on her skates, it’s like she’s dancing on air.


And, then, there is this other photo of Marcie that I love, with her poising ever so gracefully near the edge of the Grand Canyon. When I saw her do this pose, I really did think of her as a bird.

Grand Canyon.

Here’s my first sketch of the Knights of Winter, including the character of Mercy Mooning.

Knights of Winter Woodsong - sketch

In earlier posts, I chronicled the dangers of basing characters on real people. In the case of Mercy, it was no different! I remember sharing an early draft of my Arazeen manuscript with Marcie and her getting upset because I broke “her” wing. To which I replied: “Er . . . you don’t have a wing.”

In any case, Mercy ends up without a broken wing, too—not because of Marcie’s request, but just because the plot ended up changing in subsequent drafts.

The Search for Arazeen goes digital

Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen - ebook cover

It’s been out in “real life” for a month or so—now, the final book in my Kendra Kandlestar series is available digitally. You can purchase it from your favorite ebook provider, including iBook, Kindle, and Kobo.

If you’ve already read it, be sure to rate it, review it, or send an Een-mail through!

I especially love getting Een-mails from kids! You can check out some of my favorites here.

Introducing Timmons Thunderclaws

As part of the celebrations for the release of my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen, I am introducing a new character each week. So far, I’ve introduced Tuttleferd T. Thistle ToePaipo Plumpuddle, and Charla Charmsong.

This week’s character is another animal: Timmons Thunderclaws.


Who he is:

In The Search for Arazeen, this ornery old badger serves in the underground resistance known as Knights of Winter. In his much younger days, he served in the role of captain of the Een Guard. He retired from that position to try and live out his days in solitude in the outskirts of Een, but his loyalty to to the sorceress Winter Woodsong  compelled him to return and join her resistance movement against the would-be emperor, Burdock Brown.

Where he came from:
To be honest, Timmons Thunderclaws isn’t an entirely new character. He was mentioned in Book 3, The Shard from Greeve. Winter Woodsong sent Kendra and her friends to go hide with the badger, but they never made it that far, and ended up getting sidetracked. Even though we didn’t get to meet Timmons in person, I liked the idea of the character enough to then show him in Book 4, The Crack in Kazah. Timmons appeared during a scene when Kendra travelled back in time and saw the badger guarding the Elder Stone during her parents’ youth. He was never mentioned by name, but he did get an illustration:

Timmons Thunderclaws.

Finally, in The Search for Arazeen, Timmons gets some proper page time, complete with significant lines of dialogue. He plays an important role in the events at the end of the book. He represents one of those minor characters who has turned out to be a particular favorite of mine.

Introducing Charla Charmsong

In my ongoing celebration of the release of my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen, I am profiling some of the new characters. So far, I’ve introduced Tuttleferd T. Thistle Toe and Paipo Plumpuddle.

This week I’m introducing the youngest of the new characters: Charla Charmsong.


Who she is:
Charla is a young Een girl that Kendra Kandlestar meets in the City on the Storm. The interesting thing about Charla is that she was actually born in the City on the Storm, which means she has never seen the Land of Een. Because of this, Charla serves as a symbol for a new beginning for Eens, and their possible future. She has a beautiful singing voice, and when Kendra first meets her, the young girl is singing I Dream of Clouds.

Charla also plays another important role in the book. So far, Kendra has always been the student. Now, she has someone who looks up to her, and Kendra finds herself thrust into the role of a mentor.

Where she came from:
I named this character after my goddaughter, Charlotte, who has pretty much been around since the beginning of the Kendra Kandlestar series. As a matter of fact, Charlotte has played Kendra at many of my book launches or other literacy events, as you can see by these photos . . .



Kazah Launch.

So I think Charlotte pretty much deserves to have a character named after her!

The one problem is that Charlotte is a pretty opinionated person. She certainly didn’t like the first few drawings I did of Charla. Here’s the page from my sketchbook where Charla was first born (though, as you can see from the note, I had originally named her Charlo).

Tuttleferd and Charlo


And this is the first illustration I did, based on that sketch:

Charlo Charmsong

Well, thankfully, Charlotte eventually approved my illustration of her namesake, and that’s the one at the top of this page!

Introducing Paipo Plumpuddle

In my continuing celebration of the release of my new book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen, I am profiling some of the new characters. Last week, I introduced Tuttleferd T. Thistle Toe. This week, it’s yet another animal character: Paipo Plumpuddle.

Paipo Plumpuddle

Who she is:

Paipo Plumpuddle is a young Een rabbit who lives in the Land of Een and is a member of the underground resistance movement known as the Knights of Winter. You see, in this final installment of the Kendra Kandlestar series, all animals have been enslaved by the would-be emperor, Burdock Brown. As a member of the Knights of Winter, Paipo leads many secret missions to disrupt Burdock’s rule. Especially, she is involved in rescuing many of the Een animals who have been thrown into Burdock’s prisons.

Paipo is young and small, but known for her courage. She is also the great-niece of another famous Een animal, Luka Long-Ears.

Where she came from:
For The Search for Arazeen I did something I rarely do—and that’s specifically base characters on real people I know. I figured it would be a way to honor some of the people who have helped me with the Kendra Kandlestar series. Paipo is based on a bookseller named Paige from A Good Book Café in Sumner, Washington.

I only ever came to know Paige because of her love of the Kendra Kandlestar series. A few years ago, when I was midway through the series, Paige began corresponding with me and then I eventually appeared at the bookstore where she works. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. Not Paige—she wears it on her skin. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Paige got a tattoo of her favorite character, Oki:

Oki Tattoo

Yes, that’s real! Well, I think if someone is going to get a tattoo based on your books, then you pretty much have to base a character on them.

The name for Paipo Plumpuddle also came from Paige. You see, I have this handy form on my website that I give to kids so they can make up their own Een name (you can download it here). Paige completed the form and came up with Paipo Plumpuddle. So, after hearing that, it was just a matter of trying to figure out what role a character with such a name would play in The Search for Arazeen. I decided that Paipo needed to be someone who was important! Her page time may be short, but there’s no doubt that she is a significant character . . . especially at the very (and I mean VERY) end of the book.

Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen

The official trailer for Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen

Since I announced the official release of Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen yesterday, I thought I would post the book trailer here.

I wrote, designed, and animated (if you can call it animation) all the trailers personally, though I had some technical guidance along the way. In truth, I find writing a script for a trailer to be one of the hardest things to do. Since I’ve done a trailer for each of the five books in my Kendra series, one of the things I’ve learned to do is to do a lot, and I mean A LOT, of storyboarding before moving on to the production stage. It can save HOURS of effort!

In any case, without further ado, here’s the trailer:

The cover for Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen

I’ve been posting some of the different options for the cover of the fifth and final Kendra Kandlestar book: The Search for Arazeen. Everyone, it seems, has had an opinion along the way. After a lot of input, we ended up down to two choices for illustrations: one with Kendra standing on the tower and one of Kendra standing in a swirl of smoke.

We also ended up with many color variations.

All sorts of factors played in our final decision. But, at last, here it is . . .


And here it is with the back cover and spine.

Search for Arazeen - Cover - layout.indd

This is inevitably the part where people say they liked some of the other versions or options better . . . but I feel good about this one. Why? Mostly because I know how the story goes, how it ends, and what it’s all about. And this cover illustration and especially the colors match well with the journey that Kendra undertakes in this final book.

Stay tuned for a final, official release date. Along the way, I’ll post some sneak peeks of the text.



Working on the cover for Kendra Kandlestar (Part 3)

In recent blog posts, I’ve been showing some of the illustration work for the cover of my upcoming book, Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen.

In this entry, I’m showing those illustrations in our cover design, with some of the different color options.

Search for Arazeen - Cover - b&w.indd Search for Arazeen - Cover - b&w.indd Search for Arazeen - Cover - gold03.indd Search for Arazeen - Cover - gold & black.indd Search for Arazeen - Cover - gold02.indd

The colors gold and black became the main options since they are different from the other colors chosen for the first four books in the series. Also, both gold and black are very thematically important to Kendra’s journey in this fifth and final book.

Next time, I’ll show the final version of the cover, including the back cover.

Together again

Here’s an illustration I completed recently of two fan favorites from the Kendra Kandlestar series: Kendra herself, and Trooogul the Unger. Many of the questions I seem to get from readers revolve around the relationship between these two characters. Are they friends? Are they enemies? Will they ever meet again?

Well, I guess this illustration from near the end of Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen answers at least the last of those questions. Yes, they do meet each other . . . but only if the circumstances were different!