• Uncategorized

    My Goals for 2020

    Without any prior preparation let’s go into my 2020 goals!

    What I'm Leaving Behind

    The main thing I’m leaving behind is book reviews this year. I have so much going on right now and book reviews just don’t seem to be in the cards for me right now. I love book reviews a TON, but doing book reviews is stressing me out a bit. I may be doing a few book reviews, but I’ll be focusing mainly on people I know personally. I am still always happy to do book announcements with a press release or other announcements on my blog. 

    Goals for 2020

    1 Finish the Children’s Book Academy’s Class And Make Your Mark’s and Splashes Class With Flying Colors.

    I’ve taken “The Craft & Business of Illustrating Picture Books” already but know that it will be a lot of work to get this done. I’m helping out with the class this year so it’s a different experience. I am also finishing up Mark G Mitchell’s “Make your Marks and Splashes” class this week. SO much is going on these next two months my head is spinning!

    2. Send Artwork to Art Directors/Editors 

    I have a special art director that I want to mail a package out to in February. I will also be sending some post cards to other editors hopefully in February or soon after. 

    3. Finish Off Some Dummies 

    I’ve got 2-3 dummies that I want to finish up in the next 5 months.

    4. Send Out Work to Agents

    Once I get my dummies finished I want to send them out to agents. I’ve got a few agents on my list, but I will be making a longer list soon.

     5. Improve My Blog and Patreon

     I’ve already made some changes to Patreon, but I’m thinking about some changes to my blog now as well. I will be getting rid of reviews as per my statement above, but I want to replace it with something. Hopefully that something will come to me soon!

    6. Personal Goals

    I’m going to see if I can find more time to spend with my kids doing fun things. We are already taking a swim class as a family. I’m also going to continue working out several times a week. I started working out more seriously last year and I will continue to do some in the coming year.

    But Wait, There's More

    I will be working out a calendar for myself this month sometime soon. I have a lot of important dates coming up and I can’t miss any of them! I’m setting alarms on my phone, but I need to write them down so they don’t get forgotten! 

    What Are Your Goals This Year?

    A reminder for myself to also join the 12x12 this year before time runs out!
  • Art,  Writing

    Give Yourself a Break

    The last couple of days I’ve been feeling really off. I’ve been tired, irritable, so and did I mention tired? I’m sick again for the 3rd time in 2 months (The first two sicks maybe should be considered 1 because I didn’t fully recover on the first antibiotics). In any case I’m not here to complain about my sickness but more to talk about what happens when I get sick.

    When I’m sick I generally try to work through it. I have 2 kids and I have to take care of them if I’m sick and often I do the same thing when working on my art. This leads to me being sicker in the end and I actually get worse because I don’t take that break.

    A bit ago I was worried about doing a book review. Part of the problem was that I don’t understand the full logistics of doing book reviews, and the other part is being sick is making everything harder. It may be that book reviews aren’t my thing and I will look at that again with a clear head. I also don’t HAVE to do a book review right now. It’s not in anyway necessary. I wanted that to be a regular part of my blog, but no one is depending so much on my book reviewing skills that it’s a necessity for me to finish this one review.

    There are times in life where you will have to work through being sick. If you don’t have a strictly enforced deadline then give yourself a break! Only you know when you are sick enough to take that break. Many publishers and workplaces will give you a break if you let them know what’s happening.

    If you are pre-published or working on your next book project then know you can and maybe should take a break if you are really sick. If you have a family emergency you are allowed to take time off. In many cases you will get more done and be under so much less stress if you give yourself a break!

    Be nice to yourself my friends!

  • Art,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    What Are Your Goals for 2020?

    I am making some goals for the coming year. If you know me, you know that I don’t like making resolutions. They are pass and fail. I want to make goals that will help me in my career!

    Are you making goals for the year? You should! Start by making a list of SMART Goals.

    Specific- If your goal is to create some illustrations or some stories, that’s not specific enough. Your goal could be I’m going to write 4 stories. I’m going to finish 3 illustrations. If you need some ideas for stories check out Storystorm: https://taralazar.com/ it’s a great event for coming up with ideas!

    Measurable- You can measure the amount of things you do physically and mentally. If you are doing something with no measurements involved you wont know when you have achieved your goal. 

    Achievable- You can send your work out to 50 agents. You can send your work out to 50 editors. You have no control over how those agents and editors will react to your work. At least you can do your best to make your work strong, but art is subjective and maybe someone else will like it and maybe they wont. Make sure your goals are focused on things you can completely control. 

    Relevant- Make sure your goals are relevant to your ultimate goals! It might seem like a good idea to write a short story for an anthology or help a friend out with an illustration, but neither of those things are likely to bring you closer to finishing your work!

    Time- Try to have time limits for your goals! Make sure that you give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get things done, but do limit yourself. It will put some pressure on you to finish in a reasonable time. 

    Work on your goals for the coming year this week and let me know what you come up with!

  • Book Review

    Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows

    I’m starting a new thing for my book blogging. My son and I are going to start doing videos. It’s a way for me to spend less time on my computer! David has wanted to do videos for a while, but I want him to be limited on social media. Comments are available on the videos but I will be moderating all of them. 

    I realized after the fact that I was holding my phone the wrong way! Oh well, next time will be better. I may be appearing in some of the videos with him if I can figure out where to put my camera to film!

    Picture of "Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows"

    This week we are reviewing Kevin the Unicorn: “It’s Not All Rainbows” by Jessika von Innerebner. It’s a hilarious story of a unicorn who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Kevin tries to make the best of a good situation, but things just seem to get worse. Kevin, after all, is a unicorn and they are supposed to be all smiles and rainbows. This is a beautifully illustrated story that is a ton of fun! 

    Get the Book:

    Pick up “Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows”: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/608081/kevin-the-unicorn-its-not-all-rainbows-by-jessika-von-innerebner/

    Jessica von Innerebner’s Website: http://www.jessvoni.com/

    More about “Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows”: http://www.scholastic.ca/books/view/its-not-all-rainbows

    (With lots of fun for kids extras at the link above)


    Remember to ask your library to pick up a copy of this book. Also leave a review for this book on Goodreads and Amazon!

  • Uncategorized

    Preview of Patreon Yet to Come

    You may know that I’ve got a Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/DaniDuck This was created to support my blog and the events like Smart Dummies and Spring into Writing. 

    You may not know that I’m doing exclusive videos for Patreon every month! Everyone who joins Patreon has access to these videos! I already have a few up there and will be doing more in the future. I’m hoping to start narrating some of my videos soon.

    Starting next month there will be some monthly challenges for both writers and illustrators that will help you start thinking creatively and boost your career.

    At the $5 level you can ask me questions and I will answer via video. Right now there aren’t many $5 patrons, so for a limited time I am willing to answer more than one question! 

    If you enjoy Smart Dummies and Spring into Writing then join me for more fun on my Patreon page!

  • Book Review

    Puppy Truck

    What do you do when you want something so bad, but you don’t get it as a gift? Some kids cry, some complain, and some are happy. Carter made the truck he got as a present into the puppy he always wanted. 


    My son holding "Puppy Truck"

    “Puppy Truck” is a wonderful story of Carter who has a huge imagination. Brian Pinkney does a wonderful job of a boy who shows love to his truck as both a dog and a truck. Carter and the truck have lots of fun adventures. It’s a wonderfully imaginative book. Though the point isn’t to teach a lesson, the book could be used to teach children to be happy with what they have instead of being upset for what they didn’t recieve.


    The story itself is illustrated by lots great sound effects and words. These fun words merge wonderfully with the images. The words help so much to show Carter’s excitement and to carry the reader through the story.  


    The art in “Puppy Truck” is very whimsical. I love the big, bold, varied line that Brian uses. These were done with India Ink and it looks like he used a brush for his inks. The brush strokes make it feel like there is a lot of movement in the pictures.

    The acrylics are just as bold as the lines. Beautifully bold colors are used throughout the image.

    Cover of "Puppy Truck"

    Honestly I’ve never tried acrylics or inks on Canson Paper (as Brian did). The movement in these colors mimic those of the ink lines making the images look like they are animated.


    Get the Book

    Pick up Puppy Truck: https://indiebound.addlibra.com/store/cart?_ga=2.217285270.18093314.1576205787-890506729.1575063473

    Brian Pinkney’s Website: https://www.brianpinkney.net/main.html

    More about Puppy Truck: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Puppy-Truck/Brian-Pinkney/9781534426870


    Remember to ask your library to pick up a copy of this book. Also leave a review for this book on Goodreads and Amazon!

  • Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies Survey

    I just realized I haven’t gotten any replies to my Smart Dummies’s survey for this year! If you’ve got the time please fill out this quick 6 question survey. It will take you approximately 2 minutes to fill out and will help me to make next year’s event even better! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDG89YR

  • Books

    How About A Night Out?

    How About A Night Out?

    Have you ever wondered what cats do when the sun goes down? Sam Williams “How About A Night Out?” gives a glimpse into the life of a city cat. Illustrator Matt Hunt beautifully illuminates the night life of a city cat. The characters are cute and fluffy and I want to take them all home!


    The lights go out and the cats go out to prowl. Sam Williams story is both realistic and magical. He takes you through a the journey of cats throughout the night. My favorite page in the book says, “How about a night out? A walk about? A prowl about?” There are a lot of phrases in this book that are just a joy to read out loud.

    The story is in rhyme. In most stories this type of rhyme wouldn’t work, but the focus is more on the repetition of the words than the actual rhymes themselves. It’s a very fun story to read out loud. My 3 year old loves this book, but it’s fun enough that I’d read it to myself.


    These cats look like they are having a lot of fun throughout this book! Though the story is at night, and Matt Hunt uses a lot of black in the backgrounds, the pictures are bright and cheery. There are no drab pages. Matt uses bold, bright, colors in his art.

     Matt uses several angles to tell his story. Most of the story is close up to the cats or an overview of the city rooftops (but always with the cats in view). My favorite image is in the center of the book where silhouettes of cats travel over a bridge. The perspective he uses for the different planes of the top and bottom of the bridge aren’t accurate, but put together they make a strikingly beautiful scene. 

    Get The Book

    Pick up How About A Night Out: https://www.amazon.com/How-About-Night-Out-Williams/dp/1912757141/

    Sam Williams’s Website: Sam Williams doesn’t appear to have an official website or use social media at all. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/36802.Sam_Williams 

    More about How About A Night Out?: http://ww.boxerbooksltd.co.uk/uk/book/210/how-about-a-night-out

    Illustrator Matt Hunt: https://www.matthuntillustration.com/

    Remember to ask your library to pick up a copy of this book. Also leave a good review for this book on Goodreads and Amazon!

  • Book Review

    Queen of Physics

    Queen of Physics

    If you are looking for a fun non-fiction book as a Christmas gift look no further than “Queen of Physics”. Even if you think you want a fiction book this is the book for you! Queen of Physics is a realistic story that’s magical in it’s telling of the life of Wu Chien Shiung. The beautiful illustrations will have you going back and revisiting the lovely pages of this book. It’s written by Teresa Robeson and illustrated by Rebecca Huang.

    Teresa Robeson is a friend that I’ve been talking to on social media for a while. She has written a ton of stories for magazines. She’s also likes sewing, crafting and baking. I love her posts on things she has baked, and seeing the wonderful food her husband has made. I’m so happy that she has a book that I can share with everyone! She also has a second book coming out soon called “Two Bicycles in Bejing”. You can pick up that book here: https://www.teresarobeson.com/two-bicycles-in-beijing.html


    “Queen of Physics: How Wu Chein Shiung Helped Unlock The Secrets of the Atom” starts with Wu Chien Shiung’s childhood. As a child she left her family to study far away from home. Chien Shiung loved all kinds of science, but physics is the one science she adored the most. This book helps us see the journey Chien Shiung went through to become a great scientist. Teresa shows Chien Shiung’s struggles throughout her life and succeeds though the odds are stacked against her. 

    What I love the most about this book is that it features a strong female that did a lot for the world while she was here. She had a huge impact the scientific world. She also was a large social influence and organized protests and strikes to help her country.  Chien Shiung’s journey is wonderful for all children and shows them what they can achieve despite their gender or obstacles in life. 


    The colors in this book are absolutely lovely. Rebecca Huang did a fantastic job. She uses mixed media to create her pictures. I wasn’t able to find any more information on how she created these illustrations. The textured paper made the story feel more like it was a page out of history. The character expressions were wonderful. I love Rebbeca’s use of white space throughout the book. The white space (or negative space) wasn’t always white, but the pages that were white were particularly striking. 

    Get The Book

    Pick up Queen of Physics here: https://www.teresarobeson.com/queen-of-physics.html

    Teresa Robeson’s Website: https://www.teresarobeson.com/

    More about Queen of Physics: https://www.patriciamnewman.com/litlinks-connecting-nuclear-physics-to-language-arts-really/

    Illustrator Rebecca Huang: http://www.rebeccamhuang.com/

    Remember to ask your library to pick up a copy of this book. Also leave a good review for this book on Goodreads and Amazon!

  • Art

    Christmas Kitten

    I usually don’t do holiday things so early, so you’ll have to forgive me with this one. My toddler was watching a Christmas kitten video. One of those where kittens play and instrumental Christmas music runs in the background. If you want you can wait until December to watch the video. I don’t have a book review for this week so I thought this would be a fun replacement. 

    I’ll be finishing up this illustration as a Patreon exclusive! Go to https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies to see more. I will be updating Patreon exclusive videos and images there. Before I did this video I had an image and the process didn’t get recorded. I will be posting that image as a Patreon exclusive as well!