• Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Final

    I think I’m done for this week! I think I got all the shading right. Let me know if you see anything I’ve missed!

    Dough nuts final3

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Color

    Flat coloring today and text isn’t so rushed. I think I’ll adjust the background color and the text a bit in the final. Oh maybe even make the mom squirrel’s mouth more like a mouth. Created in in Clip Studio paint. Let me know if you have questions about how I made this!

    Dough nuts flat color

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Art,  Kidlit Collage

    Dough Nuts – Kidlit Collage Inks

    I’m still working on this image a bit, but this is my June Kidlit Collage! I’m going to fix up the inks for next week and create some flat colors. Will be aiming to get this done in 3 weeks instead of 4, because I missed last Monday. Fingers crossed I get it done! 

    Dough nuts

    Want to join me  and Christy Ann (@christyillustrates on Instagram) in Kidlit Collage? There is no sign up! Just post your image on Instagram (and other social media) and tag #kidlitcollage. That way we can see your work! This month’s theme is donuts!

  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Spring into Writing Winners!

    Is anyone else sad that Spring into Writing is over? I’m sad! Also happy because I can move on to other things!


    Have 3 minutes to fill out a survey about Spring into Writing? https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P2R5B9Q

    Want to help out with Spring into Writing? Donate: https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies 

    Or on Kofi: ko-fi.com/daniduck



    Donated by Becky Aren’t “The Coloring Book for Writers” by
    Linda Faulkerson. 

    The winner is: DEBRA M DAUGHERTY!


    Melissa Stoller donated 3 books and the winners are:

    The Enchanted Snow Globe — BECKY AREN’T 

    The Magic Paintbrush — LAURI MEYERS

    Ready, Set, Gorilla! — LAURA HARTMAN


    Congratulations everyone!


    How you can help out Spring into Writing:

    If you’ve enjoyed this event please consider helping me out. The easiest ways is commenting on posts and filling out the survey I’m going to post next week.

    I am looking for people to help me figure out some things for Spring into Writing and Smart Dummies. If you want to help please let me know! 

    Please Donate:

    If you liked the Spring into Writing event please consider a donation. This website costs a good amount of money to keep going, and 

  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Spring into Writing Finish Line

    Spring into Writing is unfortunately done for this year. Well the actual event is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop having fun with our writing. There are some things I didn’t find time to talk about for the event and I fully plan on talking about them throughout the year. I will be announcing winners soon so you still have a little time to go back and comment on the posts you’ve missed. I hope you’ve enjoyed Spring into Writing! Let me know below what you’ve achieved this month. 

    I will be taking down the booklet at the end of this month, so download it now here: https://www.daniduck.com/spring-into-writing/

    How you can help out Spring into Writing:

    If you’ve enjoyed this event please consider helping me out. The easiest ways is commenting on posts and filling out the survey I’m going to post next week.

    I am looking for people to help me figure out some things for Spring into Writing and Smart Dummies. If you want to help please let me know! 

    Please Donate:

    If you liked the Spring into Writing event please consider a donation. This website costs a good amount of money to keep going. It also takes a lot of time to make the booklets for these events. I want to keep the downloads free for everyone. If you are able please consider donating:

    https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies (There are levels where you can get booklets sent to you every year).

    One time donations: https://ko-fi.com/A484NS9


    Thank you all for being a part of

    Spring into Writing 2019!

  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Picture Book Inspiration Julie Hedlund — Plus a Prize!

    Julie Hedlund is just fantastic. She not only creates picture books but she has some wonderful programs to help writers to create their picture books. I have met most of my current critique group members (for both writing and illustration) though her 12×12 event. The 12×12 is a year long challenge that helps picture book creators to write 12 manuscripts in 12 months. On top of this she has helped create the Picture Book Submission System (which I have and it’s wonderful) and the Picture Book Summit!

    Julie Hedlund’s 12×12: http://12x12challenge.com/

    Dani Duck: What’s one thing that all writers should do?


    Julie Hedlund: Write. And write and write and write and write and write. Yes, there are plenty of other things that will help you become a better writer (reading, taking classes, etc.), but the only way to truly improve and hone your voice is to write. A lot. 


    Dani: How does the 12×12 help picture book creators?

    Julie: Speaking of the advice above to write,12 x 12 is a place that provides accountability to get the writing done by setting the goal of completing one picture book draft per month. It’s also where accountability meets massive amounts of support. There’s a Facebook group to get questions answered immediately, a Forum to get feedback on manuscripts, and monthly webinars to both inspire and inform.

    Dani: What’s your favorite thing about the 12×12?

    Julie: The members! It’s amazing to be surrounded by such lovely, generous, talented people who are on the same journey. Their energy keeps me going through my own writing slumps.

    Dani: How is the Picture Book Submission system different than other courses out there?

    Julie: The Complete Picture Book Submission System is the only step-by-step, soup-to-nuts guide to crafting standout picture book submissions. Picture books are a unique format that require different things in submissions than do longer, un-illustrated works. Everything in the System is specific to picture books – how to format different types, how to use art notes, finding agents who represent PBs, finding picture book specific comp titles, etc.

    Dani: Why should people take part in the Picture Book Summit?

    Julie: It’s a blast! Seriously, though, it’s the only full-day conference of its caliber I know of that is entirely online (saving travel costs and time away from home), It includes submission opportunities AND gives you access to the replays from the entire conference for a full four months afterward. You don’t even have to attend live and you still get everything. Plus we have dance parties. How do we do that online? Join us and find out! 😉


    Follow Julie: 

    12×12 Challenge website & blog: http://12x12challenge.com

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieFHedlund

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieFHedlund

    Website:  http://www.juliehedlund.com/

    The Complete Picture Book Submission System: https://picturebooksubmissions.com/

    Picture Book Summit: http://picturebooksummit.com/

    My Love For You is the Sun: https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Sun-Julie-Hedlund/dp/0989668835/r


    Prize @%@%@%@%@%


    One lucky winner will win a copy of  “The Coloring Book for Writers” by
    Linda Faulkerson! This prize is generously donated by Becky Aren’t! 

    To win this prize: 

    Tell Julie how you liked her post in a comment.

    Also be sure to thank Becky for this prize in your comment!

  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Another Look at “Where it All Happens”

    I wanted to give you a quick look at what your rooms can look like. This comes from pages 12-19 in the Spring into Writing workbook. Don’t have the workbook you can download it here: https://www.daniduck.com/spring-into-writing/

    Below is a new room I created! The room my son and I created for the video is still up on the Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1117605075090170/ 

    While I was doing this I learned that it’s probably better to add in your notes with sticky notes/note cards. What I want in this picture can change at any time, so I don’t want any of it to be permanent. After I put in the pot lights I regretted it. I may not want them to be a part of my final room!


    If you find you don’t like a part of your room then just start over with a fresh background. If you have just taped or used pushpins in your image things should be easy to change. Since I had to remove the big image that David and I did from the cardboard backing I ended up taping everything to the background with masking tape. That way I can still move things around if we want.

    Upper Right Corner
    Lower Left Corner
    Upper Right Corner
    Lower Right Corner
  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Jennifer Ward: Avian Writer

    Jennifer Ward is the author of over 20 kids books including “Mama Built a Little Nest” and “Mama Dug a Little Den”. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer at the Children’s Book Academy’s “The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books”. Jennifer Ward was encouraged by her Illustrator Steve Jenkins to take the class and I’m so glad she did. She is an amazing illustrator and I can’t wait to see her illustrate some of her future books!

    You can see more of Jennifer’s work on her website at: http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com


    _MG_2025 (1)
    nest cover

    Dani Duck: How did your time as a teacher influence how you write now?

    Jennifer Ward: I am a naturalist and have a degree in education with a minor in science. As a teacher, I used picture books to enhance all subject areas of curriculum, including science. Reading picture books daily helped me to “know” picture books. I found myself creating my own picture books to use with my students to share scientific concepts  – expository nonfiction books that were simply made for classroom use when I couldn’t find books on the market with science concepts I wanted to convey. It’s exciting to see how the market of expository nonfiction has grown since my teaching days!

    Dani: Which bird most represents who you are? Which bird would you like to be? 

    Jennifer Ward: Hmmm. Perhaps a Carolina Wren represents my personality – they are SO curious about everything around them, and so am I. If I had to be a bird, I think I’d choose to be an American Crow. They’re family oriented, with multiple generations living together year after year, intelligent, and have a more varied diet than most bug-eating songbirds!


    Dani: What is the most fun you’ve ever had writing?

    Jennifer Ward:The most fun I have writing is when I experience that “aha!” moment. You know, that epiphany moment when the right words surface to make something work – such as the perfect ending to a story. Writing isn’t always like that, so it’s always a “rush”, or fun, when it all comes together as I envisioned.

    Dani: Why is STEM so important?

    Jennifer Ward: It’s important that we provide students authentic opportunities to explore, wonder, question, create, problem solve and practice STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), that they may pursue careers related to STEM. As our world becomes more populated and natural resources decrease, I believe the health and vitality of our planet and its populations will depend on creative and innovative STEM focused minds.


    Dani:  What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about writing?


    Jennifer Ward: Writing involves A LOT of thinking, and sometimes thinking is hard – especially when you’re trying to make a picture book story. Sometimes a story works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Some picture books may happen quickly; some may take years. Writing is truly a process, and a creative one. 


    Follow Jennifer:

    Website: http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenwardbooks

    Momma Built a Little Nest: http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/nest.html

    Momma Dug a Little Den: http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/den.html

    More of Jennifer Ward’s Books: http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/books.html



  • Uncategorized

    Look at the Week May 26th-31st

    This is a schedule of Events for Spring into Writing. If you haven’t signed up yet then go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-the-writing-challenge/


    A Look at the Week May 26-31st:

    Monday, May 27th: Jennifer Ward http://www.jenniferwardbooks.com/

    Tuesday May 28th: Pictures of Where it all happens!

    Wednesday, May 29th: Julie Hedlund: http://12x12challenge.com/

    Becky Aren’t has generously donated “The Coloring Book for Writers” by
    Linda Faulkerson for one lucky winner! I will be adding this to one of the posts this week. 

    There may be more surprises later this week. Keep checking back (or look in your mail) for more fun! 


  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Jennifer Cole Judd’s Train to Creativity

    I love Jennifer Cole Judd’s work so much! I’m so glad that I get to have her on my blog once again. Years ago I received a copy of Circus Train from her. You might be looking at the cover and think “Is this book actually as beautiful as it looks?” Yes, yes it is, both words and pictures are absolutely wonderful.  

    Jennifer talks a lot about creativity, writing tips and all kinds of fun things! I hope this interview keeps you smiling as you go into the weekend.

    Jennifer Cole Judd’s Website: http://jennifercolejudd.com/


    Dani: What do you do when you aren’t feeling so creative?


    Jennifer: Creativity sometimes feels like a magical fairy or leprechaun. As soon as I decide that I *need* to be creative, that little muse backflips into a pile of laundry, or emails, or errands, (or Facebook posts and Acorn TV shows) and *poof*! She’s gone. For a looooong time. 

    However, there are a few things that help me find my creativity again.
    First, I cannot recommend Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY enough for a serious study in cultivating creativity. It’s a must-read for anyone pursuing a creative field. Cameron advocates writing “morning pages” each day (where you fill up three pages of brain noise–complete rush-write nonsense–to clear your brain clutter and unblock your creativity).I recommend grabbing a copy of this book, and a blank notebook, and see what happens when you dump all of the worries and distractions from your mind onto the page.  It sounds easier than it is! But getting all of that out gives you room to breathe creatively.

     The other thing that helps me is to take my creativity OFF the page (or the screen). These are what I like to call “creativity breaks,” and they really help get the juices flowin’ again, so to speak. A creativity break  could look a little like this: 

    1) Taking a walk, and counting how many different animals I find 

    2) Going to a grocery store and buying 3-4 foods I have never tried (or a bunch of random ingredients to make into a recipe) 

    3) Using a different medium, like clay, finger paints, etc., to get messy with and start exploring, 

    4) Holding a “Sensory Spa Session” with lots of scents, textures, tastes, pictures with multiple visual elements, music clips, etc.

    5) Playing games, especially with my kids (try the classics, like charades, “Would You Rather,” “I Spy,” and 20 Questions for inspiration).

    Dani: What is your favorite animal? 
    Jennifer: I love way too many animals. Aside from my pets, I love puffins, horses, chinchillas, any chubby bird, and sloths (though I may not love sloths quite as much as Kristen Bell, but puffins would definitely send me into paroxysms of joy 😀 )

    Dani: Do you use illustration notes? Why or why not? 
    Jennifer: I do use them, but I try to use them very sparingly. (I didn’t have any for Circus Train, for example.) I think a well-placed art note helps convey to an editor and illustrator your vision without going overboard on description or direction. An illustrator can do a much more amazing job bringing my words to life with her vision without me getting in the way, but there are some instances when an art note can add a little bit of insight.) 
    Dani: Where do you go for inspiration?
    The library, for sure. I’m a little bit of an addict, admittedly. I’ve been known to stagger out of the library dragging sacks of books behind me.
    Dani:  What’s the most fun you’ve ever had writing?
    Jennifer: This is hard! I love writing when you hit the zone and it just feels like words and ideas are flying out of your fingers like magical sparks. I do think one of the most meaningful and inspiring (and fun!) experiences I’ve had was when I collaborated with my critique group to write An Eyeball in My Garden. I made lifelong friends on that project and really got an appreciation for the good mojo that comes from a positive collaborative effort. It was pure joy to work on that project.