• Spring into Writing

    New Logo!

    After posting the logo for Spring into Writing I felt that it felt very kidlit oriented. While I love all my kidlit friends I want everyone to feel welcome. I thought of this bunny a couple of days ago and just now made them into another image you can share with your friends for Spring into Writing!

    If you haven’t signed up yet for Spring into Writing go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-spring-into-writing/

    I’ve made the giveaway a bit easier to enter: https://www.daniduck.com/win-a-25-gift-card/ you do not need to give links for all your social media posts now.

    Join me on Discord: https://discord.gg/mEt4PGr

  • Events,  Fun,  Giveaway,  Spring into Writing,  Uncategorized

    Win a $25 Gift Card!

    Bunny Banner

    I just realized that my post about Spring into Writing registration being OPEN may not have been sent. You can register at the link below.

    Help me get the word out about Spring into Writing and you could win a $25 USD gift card to an indie book store of your choice! You can enter every day by mentioning the event on social media.

    Spring into Writing is a free event to help writers have fun while writing. Since it’s all about having fun you win just by being a part of the event. There will be a free downloadable workbook.

    I can manually add in entries, so if you’ve gone over and beyond what’s in the Rafflecopter  please let me know! Also let me know if you have any trouble entering.

    You must be signed up to Spring into Writing to enter. The new guest list is up, but still in progress! Sign up to Spring into Writing here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-spring-into-writing/ (Signing up is absolutely free!) Feel free to use any of my Spring into Writing images to share with your social media posts! 

  • Uncategorized

    Register for Spring into Writing 2020

    Register for Spring into Writing Here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-spring-into-writing! Challenge starts May 1st.

    If you have trouble registering (or anything else) you can email me at: daniduckart@gmail.com


    The free version of the writing workbook/planner will be available for download before the event starts!

    FAQs: https://www.daniduck.com/spring-into-writing/

    Find me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies <- Page will be edited soon to add things for writing supporters!


    To Sign Up for Spring into Writing: Sign up by commenting below!

    I will be using this list of names to choose the prize winners. Most of the prizes will be given to those that complete the challenge, but there will be some prizes for everyone. Sign up starts now and runs until May 7th. There will be a list of guests added to the bottom of this page soon!

    Also plug your email in to the right bar where it says “Enter Your Email Address”. If you have already signed up to my old blog, you’re in luck. I’ve transferred everyone’s name over here.


    To Win Spring into Writing:

    You chose your own goals in this event. Get halfway through and can’t make your goal? Change it. It’s done and you didn’t finish? Change them again. The most important thing is to have fun!


    Spring into Writing on Discord: https://discord.gg/mEt4PGr

    Spring into Writing Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117605075090170/ (the name will change for the group later, but the group itself will be at this link).


    You do NOT have to identify as an writer to participate in this challenge. It helps to have a love of writing! If you do not have a love of writing, then a love of writing will be assigned to you soon.

    Spring into Writing 2020 Guest List TBA

    Last Year’s Guest List:

    Nancy Vo — http://www.nancyvo.com/

    Becky Fyfe — http://chapterbookchallenge.blogspot.com/

    Julie Hedlund — http://12x12challenge.com/

    Kensia Anske — https://www.kseniaanske.com/

    Mason Deaver — https://www.masondeaverwrites.com/

    Ken Rolston — http://kenrolston.com/

    Yvonne Mes — https://www.yvonnemes.com/

    Nick Patton — https://www.patreon.com/picturebooking

    Jennifer Cole Judd — http://jennifercolejudd.com/

    <pMelissa Stoller  — https://www.melissastoller.com/</p

    Robin Martin — http://sbpra.com/robinmartin-duttmann/

    Jennifer Ward — http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/

  • Uncategorized

    Make Your Marks and Splashes

    How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator Banner
    Meet Your Instructor Mark Mitchell

    Mark Michell runs an absolutely wonderful class called “Make Your Marks And Splashes: A Natural Approach to Children’s Book Illustration.” It’s a wonderful illustration course for illustrators of every level. He is currently an instructor at the Contemporary Austin Art School in Austin Texas. He has illustrated a multitude of books and magazines. His Marks and Splashes course comprehensive and allows students to learn in a safe environment. 

    To read more about his course and enroll go here: https://illustratechildrensbooks.com/childrens-book-illustration-school-2/

    Spring Semester classes start April 16th!

    1. Creating your Dummy

    Mark shows you everything in this course you need to know to create your Children’s Book Dummy. You’ll learn everything you need to know including: Thumbnailing, character design, sketching and how to bring your images to a final rendered illustration. You’ll have all the tools you need to send out your illustration submission package.

    2. Watercolor

    Mark shares his knowledge of watercolors and what they can do for your paintings. You’ll learn color theory, paint application, and everything you need to know to get your watercolors to behave.

    3. Classroom Feel Without the Classroom

    In Make Your Mark’s and Splashes you’ll get everything you’d get in a traditional illustration course without ever leaving home. You’ll learn a lot about the history of illustration and how it applies to contemporary illustration. You will be able to listen to lectures on your own time and have no fear of missing anything if you need to step away from your seat. You also wont have to fear that you are missing anything from a college degree, because everything is right there in this class! Even better, because you have time to absorb the information. If you miss something you can always go back and review.

    4. Huddles

    Huddles are meetings where everyone comes together as a class and talks about eachother’s work. Mark offers detailed fixes for anything wrong with an illustration piece. It is a safe space, though and he always offers corrections in the nicest possible way. The students in the class also share their knowledge and the result is a beautifully strengthened illustration. 

    If you have taken an art course before you may be surprised on how different the reviews are in this class.  The feedback given on work is thoughtful and helpful. The classmates honestly care about the other members and work hard to get your work to be your best work. 

    I highly recommend you take this class no matter where you are in your career. Already working on a dummy? Great, take the class. What I find wonderful about this class is you are working on your own work. You aren’t working on a strange assignment that doesn’t apply to what you want to do. Make your Marks and Splashes specifically and directly applies to the project you want to do!

    Spring Semester classes start April 16th!

    Learn more about Make Your Marks and Splashes: https://illustratechildrensbooks.com/childrens-book-illustration-school-2/

    Mark’s How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator site: https://howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.com/

    Mark's & Splashes Course Image and Link
  • 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!