Smart Dummies

  • Art,  Events,  Fun,  Smart Dummies,  Updates

    Doodles & Dreams

    I meant to announce this sooner. I’ve been extremely fatigued this past week and before that I’ve been so busy. 


    Unfortunately, there won’t be any Smart Dummies this year. It’s something I wrestled with a lot. It’s been an extra busy year for me. COVID has really messed things up. Also, I feel like I need a break. 


    This year I’m running a relaxed event called Doodles and Dreams! This will be an event much like my Spring into Writing Event. I will be releasing the Smart Dummies booklet again this year. If possible I’ll also do a fun booklet for Doodles &Dreams as well. 


    Doodles & Dreams wont have prizes, but I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun! We’ll do some art sharing and maybe even have some chats. I’ll be talking more about this before September starts. I hope to see you there!


    Sign up here:

  • 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! I will be taking the Smart Dummies booklet offline November 15th, so be sure to pick it up here:

    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:

    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! (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:

    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.

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  • 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.

    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.

    Twitter Events:



    #PB Pitch

    Pitch Wars

    #MSWL  (not a pitch Event) on Twitter (Manuscript Wish List).

    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:

    The Children’s Book Academy writing class is over, but there is time to sign up for her illustration class here:

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  • 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

  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    1 Cat 3 Ways to Shade

    I wanted to show a little bit of shading from flat colors. I used the same cat in all of the paintings and used flat colors as a base. These were all done fairly quickly in Clip Studio Paint so they are a little messy. I’ll be posting 2 more ways to shade a cat on my Patreon next month!

    The first cat was created using the crayon tool. The second with the pen tool and blurring the edges with the running color on fiber blur tool. The third is with an oil paint brush and the blur tool.

  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    More Great Tips and Tutorials

    Smart Dummies is winding down. I have a few more great sites for art tips and tutorials. I wanted to share these before Smart Dummies ends!


    Gabrielle Patrick:
    Robin and Lorenzo: Eterington:
    Griz and Norm Lemay:


    Natalie Merheb:



    SVS Learn has a #Inktober special on right now. Sign up in October and get 30 days for FREE:

    Mira Reisberg’s the Craft and Business of Children’s Book Illustration class has been delayed, which it means there is still time to sign up for the 2020 class. This may be the last live Children’s Book Academy class so sign up now!

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  • Smart Dummies

    Smart Dummies Week 8 Schedule

    I hope you are doing well finishing up your finals. I’ll have a couple posts for you yet this week. Next week we’ll finish up with a bit about submissions!

    Smart Dummies Week 8 Schedule

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 8 Schedule

    Tuesday – More Great Artists

    Thursday  – Process Post

    Friday  –  Possible Book Review

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 9 Schedule

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  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    Mark Mitchell Interviews Me and an Inking Video

    I have a couple of videos for you today! The first is a video of me inking an old painting. I go through the steps of first redefining certain areas of the drawing with pencil and then I go over it in inks. I like how Clip Studio has a vector layer that can be adjusted after drawing lines.
    Final Image

    Mark Mitchell interviewed me recently about Smart Dummies. I thought you might like to see the video! I always enjoy talking with Mark. He has a great class! You can find out more about Mark here: A new semester of his class “Make Your Marks and Splashes” starts in a few months and I’ll let you know about that soon.

  • Art,  Smart Dummies

    Support Me on Patreon!

    I hope you are enjoying Smart Dummies this year. I love helping out other people and I hope you are learning a lot, or at least getting a lot done this month. Smart dummies is not an easy event, so be nice to yourself and celebrate what you are able to complete.

    Today is my birthday! What better way to celebrate than to update all my reward tiers and give presents to all my patrons on Patreon? I feel like I’m winning my birthday already: I don’t have presents on Kofi, but you’ll have my love if you can only make a one time donation there.

    It is not free for me to run this blog and the events do take a lot of my time. If you have the money, please consider helping me out. I will be working to giving you lots more value for your donations. Check out the new tiers and know that I’m open to suggestions! 

    Smart Member
    $1 or more per month

    Basic Membership Includes

    + Monthly Art Process Videos

    + Monthly Challenges to help encourage creativity in your writing and art

    + Your name listed in a special post before Smart Dummies and  Spring into Writing!

    Smart Fiver
    $5 or more per month

    All of the previous tier benefits plus:

    + Your questions answered on a short video every month.*

    + Extra entry on all Patreon giveaways and contests.

    + Your name listed in a future Smart Dummies/Writing Challenge Booklet.

    *You ask me 1 question a month and I’ll give you a video answer of your question on Patreon. Access will be given to everyone in this level and above.

    Smart 10s
    $10 or more per month

     All of the previous tier benefits plus: 

    + 1 Hour Chat with me and other Smart 10s every month.

    + Exclusive Smart 10s only content.

    Want to make a one time donation?  (This will not give you access to patron rewards, but I will love you forever. Even if you don’t donate.) Feel free to contact me about other ways to donate!