• Fun

    Fun For Kids!

    I've got a new page on my website titled "Home Fun For Kids". Right now it's got a few things listed that my kids love, but I'm planning on adding more things in the future. These are all free activities, though some (like prodigy) have and optional paid service. Please let me know of any resources you know. If it's a website of resources I'll post it if it doesn't overlap too much with the resources I already have. The page is: https://www.daniduck.com/home-fun-for-kids/

    These are the current links I have posted, but will be adding more soon to the link above!


    Coding:  Scratch Jr. https://www.scratchjr.org/ Works on both Android and Apple Devices. There is also a version of the program for older kids and adults called Scratch: https://scratch.mit.edu/ (This program is used at my child's school).

    Math FunProdigy https://www.prodigygame.com/ You can play in a browser or on a tablet/phone. Your child may have a profile through their school. (This program is used at my child's school).

    Roblox: Contains a lot of player created games. https://www.roblox.com/ Roblox Studio (for creating games): https://en.help.roblox.com/hc/en-us/articles/203313860-Roblox-Studio

    What Should I Draw?

    On Twitter @DrawWhat & include: #WSID Children's illustrators from all over the world are working to turn children's ideas into images! Parents can tweet children's requests. Children are encouraged to draw as well. Brainchild of Ame Dyckman and Charlene Chua.

    Printable Activity Sheets:

    Jarrett Lerner: https://jarrettlerner.com/activities/


    Draw Everyday: https://www.youtube.com/studiojjk

    Live at 2pm ET

    Homeschooling  and More Resources:

    Free Classes and more: https://www.khanacademy.org/

    More Resources: https://smartcoos.com/resources

  • Course,  Writing

    The Children’s Book Academy’s Writing Course!

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE The Children’s Book Academy! I am currently taking The Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Books. I loved it so much that I made a video about what I liked about the class: https://youtu.be/TBcMlOHDsDk 

    If you want to jump over to read about the Writing course go here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/p/2020-the-craft-and-business-of-writing-childrens-picture-books

    Registration for the CBA’s WRITING class is now open. The Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books is a fantastic class that will put you in a position to write your best stories. You could be just starting out or have several years under your belt and this class will be for you!

    I personally have taken many illustration and writing courses when I was getting my BFA The classes that Mira Reisberg has everything that a college degree has and more. There is a clear path to take from generating an idea to a finished product. With The Craft & Business of Writing Picture Books every single thing learned can be applied to future work.

    Personally I knew a lot before taking the illustration course. I had a BFA, taken an illustration grad class, was reading picture books for years and had been developing my style for years but things just weren’t clicking. I wasn’t able to shift into the right gear. Now with taking the illustration course twice I feel confident sending my work out into the world. I’m getting way more complements on my illustration work and able to follow through with creating submission ready work!

    The Children’s Book Academy is worth it. I still owe thousands on my student loans and if I could have taken the children’s book academy classes alone I would have! I did not learn more in a classroom setting. And while you may like going to a classroom (nothing wrong with that) you wont get the comprehensive experience you will here!

    At the end of the class there are editors, agents and publishers who will be looking at your work! You could literally end this class with a bang – er well you could end it with an agent or publishing contract. How cool is that? Not only are you trained for a job, but you have a chance of getting a position too

    If you are thinking about this course I’d really encourage you to enroll now. Mira’s one on one critiques are unfortunately sold out which means the classes are filling up fast! Allison Remcheck still has a couple spots less so grab that while you can. Believe me, you’ll be kicking yourself for not getting a critique after you see the first week’s webinar. Join now, and you’ll be glad you did. Let Mira know I sent you! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/p/2020-the-craft-and-business-of-writing-childrens-picture-books

  • Art,  Writing

    Join Our Free Discord Server!

     I’d like to formally invite you to join my discord server! This server is for both writers and illustrators! This app can be downloaded to your mobile device (both tablet and phone), used in the browser or in the discord app!

    If you are old enough you’ll remember chat rooms. Discord is like that, but better! It’s like a whole chat house of different chat rooms that only select people can access! You never officially leave the room so you can get messages that occur when you aren’t online. You can also share files, images and gifs. 

    I think this server will be a great tool along with our Facebook group to keep our community active and better connected all year round!

    This is a Private server, so please do not post on Social Media.  I would like to keep it to just Smart Dummies followers so please don’t hand this out to everyone. Here is the link to the server: https://discord.gg/JQHZefz

    This link expires after 100 uses. If you find that it’s not working please go to our Smart Dummies Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/548159692008535/

    Or Spring into Writing here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117605075090170/


  • Art,  Writing

    You’re Invited!

    I would love it if you could come join me on Patreon! I am posting lots of videos and images and posts. Some of the videos are instructional, some are for fun and others videos of me creating art!

    It’s just $1 a month for access to all these posts! It’s not much and you’ll be getting a lot of content every month. Please take a minute to check it out! I have more plans for both Patreon and this blog so stay tuned!


    Below is one of the images I posted recently along with one other patterned image. I’m going to keep making more great posts here, and don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about this blog either. To see more go here: https://www.patreon.com/DaniDuck

  • 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!