• 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!

  • Book Review,  Books

    I Wish You All The Best

    I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

    “I Wish You All the Best” by Mason Deaver is a beautifully written story. This book was extra emotional for me so it was hard to write about. I can’t even imagine how Mason felt writing this story. This book is amazing. I need more stories like this in my life

    I am bisexual and I really felt for Ben in this story. Their parents are much like my parents were when I was a teenager. I don’t know what would have happened if I had come out as (or even known that I was) bisexual in high school.

     I want to send a bunch of hug and love to everyone who comes out to their parents. If anyone lost their parents because they came out I will give you an extra special mom hug if you ask.


    This story starts with eighteen year old Ben coming out to their parents as nonbianary. Ben’s parents, who are very conservative in their values, kick Ben from the house. Ben leaves the house with just their socks and flimsy clothes in the freezing cold. Ben calls their sister who they haven’t seen in years. At a new school Ben meets Nathan. Nathan is nice to Ben despite the fact that Ben is withdrawn.

    “I Wish You All the Best” is an absolutely beautiful journey from start to finish. Ben is devastated with losing their family and the life they’ve known since birth. Ben becomes depressed and needs the support of the the people around them.

    The characters in this story feel real. Ben is such a strong character! Ben’s parents remind me of my own. Every character has a reason and a purpose in the story. There aren’t characters that fall flat. The story is realistic and can be sad at times. Even though there is a lot of sadness it’s overwhelmingly hopeful. This book is absolutely one of the best novels I’ve read.  

    I hate to give spoilers, but so many stories like this end in tragedy. If you are looking or needing a coming out or queer story that has a happy ending this is a great book to read! Just don’t forget to bring the tissues.


    Buy The Book

    Pick up I Wish You All the Best here: https://www.masondeaverwrites.com/buyiwyatb

    Mason Deaver’s Website: https://www.masondeaverwrites.com/

    More about I Wish You All the Best: https://www.masondeaverwrites.com/i-wish-you-all-the-best

    Jacket Art by Sarah Maxwell: https://www.sarahmaxwellart.com/i-wish-you-all-the-best

    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!

  • Course

    All About the Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Books

    I’ve talked about the Craft & Business of Illustrating Children’s Books several times, but I always felt like I had more to say. It wasn’t until now that I figured out just what I wanted to other people to know about the course. (Video is embedded below or you can go here:  https://youtu.be/TBcMlOHDsDk)

    This video highlights areas like the Facebook group, critique groups, webinars, the course itself, private critiques and golden tickets. There is also a section at the end that talks about putting your best foot forward in this class. Much of the info in putting your best foot forward is going to be useful information for any class!

    After doing the audio for this I filmed myself coloring a drawing. I may change this into a presentation later, but wanted to get this out before the scholarships applications closed! I am sick in this video, so I’m sorry if any of this comes through on the video.

    You can get a diversity scholarship for this course. There isn’t much time left! November 20th is the new extended date. There were not enough people who applied, so please take advantage of these. There aren’t many people applying so here is your chance to take advantage of this great scholarship! https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/rlpcscholarships

    Ready to just sign up for the course? Go here and make all your kidlit illustration dreams come true: https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/the-craft-business-of-illustrating-children-s-picture-books

  • Events,  Smart Dummies

    Smart Dummies Finish Line

    Smart Dummies is Over

    How did you do this month? Did you finish your dummy? If you didn’t finish how far did you get? However much work you did CONGRATULATIONS! Smart Dummies is not necessarily about finishing. It’s about making good habits and getting more work done!

    How did you do this month? Did you finish your dummy? If you didn’t finish how far did you get? However much work you did CONGRATULATIONS! Smart Dummies is not necessarily about finishing. It’s about making good habits and getting more work done! If you were able to finish Smart Dummies I have a special badge for you. Please link it to daniduck.com/blog! I will be taking the Smart Dummies booklet offline November 15th, so be sure to pick it up here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/

    Smart Dummies 2019 Winner Badge!

    Smart Dummies Survey

    I have a quick 2 minute – 6 question survey to help make Smart Dummies better. Please let me know any problems you had with the event. I can only make things better by knowing. Please include your contact info in the survey if you would like me to address anything. This survey is completely anonymous, so if you don’t give me your info I wont know who completed the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDG89YR

    Smart Dummies has changed a lot over the years, and next year will be no different, however some things will go back to the way they’ve been for several years. My 3 year old will be in school, so I will have more time during the week to run Smart Dummies. (YAY!) Please let me know if you like or dislike any of the ideas below.

    Smart Dummies 2020

      • Bringing Back Guests – This will possibly bring back prizes! The guest list will be short so you can spend less time reading and more time creating.
      • Process Videos – More videos will be made to help you create your art!
      • More Help – This highly depends on the Survey results, so if you want to see more help, then fill out the survey so I can see what you want! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDG89YR (You can also comment below.) 
      • No Pre-Smart Dummies – I loved Pre-Smart Dummies, but it seems as though I’m going through most of the same information twice. I think I can give better and more information if we skip this part of the event. It also feels a bit confusing and makes the event feel like it’s taking up more of the year which is overwhelming on my end (and may be on yours)!
      • Some Pre-Event Activities – I think I will be talking more about editing your story before Smart Dummies. I will be giving a few tips on the event, but wont be providing as much new information before the event. You can still do all of the prep work that Pre-Smart Dummies encouraged, before Smart Dummies begins.
      • A Booklet Redesign – I’m not sure how much is going to change, but I’d like to make some changes to the current booklet!

    Did you like Smart Dummies? Consider Supporting me on Patreon! There will be more great videos all year long plus lots of other great rewards: https://www.patreon.com/SmartDummies

    Want to participate in another great event? Try Spring into Writing starting May 1st! It’s a laid-back event that’s all about having fun while writing. https://www.daniduck.com/springintowriting/

  • Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Facing Rejection

    A few years ago I worked on this graphic novel/picture book. I was really excited about the story (it was/is awesome). I finished it and a couple of illustrations and sent it out into the world. I was rejected.  I sent it out to about 8 – 10 agents that I thought would like my work, but got crickets in return. Actually not crickets, but outright rejection. Every single agent was polite, but they didn’t give me the contract I so wanted to have!

    In this industry you are going to face rejection. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Just know that it might take dozens of submissions to get the right person or it might take hundreds. Even the best writers and illustrators have been rejected!  

    Before you send out your work you want to make sure you have the work as polished as possible. Trade manuscripts or dummies with friends. Make sure you research comp books, which are books that are similar to yours that sold well. Make sure your cover letter has a strong pitch, is personalized to the agent or editor you’re mailing it to and has a bio that relates to your career as a writer or illustrator.

    10 Reasons Why Your Story/Dummy Might Get Rejected

    1. You didn’t read the guidelines.
    2. A book like yours was just sold or the agent is trying to sell a manuscript similar to yours.  
    3. The agent/editor can’t figure out how to sell your story.
    4. A similar story didn’t sell well.
    5. It’s not the right time for your story.
    6. It’s the right time for your story, but the market is saturated.
    7.  It’s just not the right fit.
    8. There is a small part of the story the agent/editor didn’t connect with.
    9. The cover letter was terrible/too long. 
    10. There is a problem with the story or pictures.
    It is never personal when an agent or editor rejects you. Every time I’ve been rejected I have received a very polite letter. If the letter to you is not polite, then likely the problem isn’t your story or you. 

    Assess Your Submission

    It’s a good idea to send your work only out to a few people at a time. If you are rejected repeatedly then look at your work Look at the guidelines, cover letter and story. Did you send a YA novel to someone who just does picture books? Was your pitch good? Could there be something wrong with your story? You will likely never know exactly why your work was rejected. If you can’t figure out how to improve your work on your own then show it to someone else. Critique groups are a key component to getting published!

    Don't Despair

    It’s probably not your work. If you are following submission guidelines and writing a decent cover letter you are doing better than most people. You will not get rejected for a small error in your cover letter (but try not to have any errors). Rejections happen for a hundred reasons that may not even have anything to do with your work. If everyone you talk to is saying your work is ready, then ask new people to look at your work. If new people are saying your work is great, then just keep submitting. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

  • Smart Dummies

    Finding Places to Submit Your Work

    A Bit About Publishing

    There are lots of places where you could get your book published, but sometimes finding the right place is hard!

    In many cases finding an agent is extremely important. They can help you tweak your story for publication. Agents have a bigger pool of places to submit work to, so a person with a good agent will likely do better than a person without. They also can help you get better contracts, money and answer questions you need answered. If you are thinking about an agent, submit to agents first. They get back to you faster, and won’t be able to shop your manuscript to editors you’ve already submitted to on your own.

    You can find an editor before you get published. There are a lot of great publishing companies that do accept manuscripts/dummies from individuals. Do your research on these companies. Publishing companies should pay you, and you should not be paying anything out of pocket! 

    The Book by SCBWI — A publishing guide with kidlit places to submit your work. Must be a current member of the SCBWI to access. https://www.scbwi.org/online-resources/the-book/

    The Writer’s Market Books — A series of books created for writers and illustrators to get their books published. Recently acquired by Penguin Random House so the website may change. https://www.writersdigest.com/WritersMarket

    Twitter Events:

    #DVPit http://dvpit.com/

    #Pitmad  http://pitchwars.org/pitmad/

    #PB Pitch http://www.pbpitch.com/

    Pitch Wars https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-schedule/

    #MSWL  (not a pitch Event) on Twitter (Manuscript Wish List). https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/

    This is in no way a full list, but it will help you get started! Check out this post for more events and writing help: https://www.daniduck.com/writing-fun/

    The Children’s Book Academy writing class is over, but there is time to sign up for her illustration class here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/p/the-craft-business-of-illustrating-children-s-picture-books

  • Smart Dummies

    Smart Dummies Week 9 Schedule

    Smart Dummies has run longer than it ever has before, and I think it’s a bit too much. Next year’s event will be shorter and have prizes again! Look for more info next week for next year’s event.

    Smart Dummies Week 9 Schedule

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 9 Schedule

    Tuesday – Finding Places to Submit Your Work

    Thursday  – Facing Rejection

    Friday  –  Smart Dummies Finish Line