• 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,  Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies Week 6: The Week That Time Forgot

    Have you ever forgotten about a number? I sure have. At the beginning of Smart Dummies I completely forgot about the number 6! I couldn’t think why this upcoming week was so off with the schedule (we will be working on finals next week, not this week). Now that I know about the number 6. I will be working to come up with good stuff for this week. I will also be recalculating my age based on this new information! 

    I’m hoping to have some process videos to show you soon. Fingers crossed that I can make or find people to post some process videos or posts. I’ll also come up with a post of links to different techniques. The following schedule is subject to change!

    Smart Dummies Week 6

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 7 Schedule

    Tuesday – Process Post!

    Thursday – Links to Techniques 

    Friday – Possible Book Blog

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 7 schedule

    If you have not signed up for Smart Dummies yet go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/ You can sign up, pick up the booklet and badge and find out everything you need to know about the event!

  • Art,  Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Making Models and Getting Ready For Finals!

    Modeling Your Characters

    Here is a special video from Rachel Armington. You can visit Rachel’s website here: https://rachelarmington.com/ Her Youtube channel has some great videos like organizing your portfolio for an illustrator showcase, creating promotional material and lots of great watercolor painting tips and techniques. Rachel’s Youtube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ7Eosyn2nYbNbkokKrmPcw 

    She just finished it and wanted everyone here to know how to make a clay model for illustration. This is especially helpful for complex characters. You could also make up sets and photograph your models rather than draw them (need to have a good camera and light set up)!

    5 Things to Do for Final Art

    1. Set up Your Substrate

    I have adjusted my layout page. I use to work at a print shop and it was so much easier if there was a bigger bleed. This also more accurately reflects how I set up my digital images. I create my digital images 11″ x 17″ and am aware that half an inch will be trimmed from all sides of the final image. 

    If you are working traditionally you need to place an extra 1.5″ around the image. You will want your paper to be 14″x 20″. You can work on smaller paper if you need to practice before your final. This is where the printer will touch your image.  When your digital image is printed it will have the same border, but it’s added after the art is finished. 

    2. Stepping Back 

    This is very important in the process of creating. Move a few feet back from your image an look at it. This helps for both digital and traditional artists. Another thing you can do is take a picture of the art. Seeing an image smaller can help with noticing any flaws. 

    3. Polish Your Image

    I made a post about how done is done here:  https://www.daniduck.com/how-done-is-done/ this relates to your sketches for your dummy. This does not have anything to do with your finals. You want your images as polished as possible before you take them into finals. You don’t want to both color an image and still be trying to figure out the positioning of an arm or the perfect smile for your character!

    4. Work in a Familiar Medium 

    It’s not wrong to work in an unfamiliar medium. Just know that your finals are going to take longer without having practiced the medium. You are learning how your style works in the medium. This makes it more likely that you are going to be using more pieces of final paper (if working traditionally), so it’s better to practice on a smaller sheet!

    5. When Things Don’t Work Out

    Sometimes things don’t work out. Be nice to yourself. If you have to start over that’s okay. Even when big mistakes are made, set the work aside and come back to it later. It could be that the work can be saved, but not if you crumple it up and throw it away! Also possibly not if you continue to work on something that’s had a problem. Frustration can often lead to more mistakes. 

    Be nice to yourself and take a break if you aren’t having fun!

  • Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies Week 5: Dummy Drawing

    This week is a very busy week for me. You may have noticed that I did not do a book blog last week and I wont be able to do one this week either! 

    Smart Dummies Schedule Week 5

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 5 Schedule

    Monday – Quick Notes

    Wednesday – Share Day! (Send me your work and I’ll post it on my blog!)

    Thursday – Getting Ready for Finals

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 6 Schedule

    If you have not signed up for Smart Dummies yet go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/ You can sign up, pick up the booklet and badge and find out everything you need to know about the event!

  • Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies Week 4: Dummy Drawing

    We are already in week 4 of Smart Dummies! This week I’ll be asking you to tell me which areas you are having trouble with. You can tell me below or go to the Smart Dummies Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/548159692008535/

    Smart Dummies Schedule Week 4

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 4 Schedule

    Monday – How Done is Done?

    Wednesday – Art Share Day

    Thursday – Don’t Give Up!

    Friday – Book Blog

    Sunday – Smart Dummies Week 5 schedule

    If you haven’t signed up for Smart Dummies do so here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/

  • Books,  Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Review of Teach Your Giraffe to Ski

    Inside of my copy of Teach Your Girafee to Ski!

    “Teach Your Giraffe To Ski” is a fantastically fun story about a child teaching their giraffe to ski. The story is written by Viviane Elbee and illustrated by Danni Gowdy. I picked up this copy because Viviane is one of my wonderful critique partners! Unfortunately (or fortunately) she had submitted and had this book accepted before we were in a critique group together! I can not claim to have helped her with this one, but she obviously didn’t need my help, because she wrote a wonderful story! 

    This is one book I’m happy to have on my shelf. I was so excited that my local indie bookstore could get the book in. Since Viviane lives so far away she sent me a lovely bookplate which I love. My kids were so excited to get this book as a gift for Christmas!



    This story is written in the second person. I don’t know that “Teach Your Giraffe to Ski” could have been written as well in a different P.O.V. I’m not sure how many other kids books are written in the second person. The second person usually doesn’t work for most books. It’s  especially hard for picture books to use the third person, but Viviane did a wonderful job writing this book. 

    I love the humor in this book. The illustrations and words meld perfectly together to make this a laugh out loud story! One thing about the story, be sure to read this on a full stomach. All the french fry and pizza talk was making me hungry. Be sure to have lots of french fries and pizza before starting this book! Especially pizza, pizza, pizza. That word is used a lot in this book. 

    My toddler wants you to get this book!


    I love the color scheme in this book. The colors are cool and perfect for a winter scene. I love the beautiful soft colors.

    All the characters have big, beautiful, outlines. It makes the whole story more comical. I also love how Danni makes the images so expansive. I believe that there is a whole wonderful world beyond the confines of this book.

    The expressions on the characters faces are priceless. Especially the poor child’s face who is just trying to get the giraffe to ski. It’s a very big task teaching a giraffe to ski!

    Buy the Book

    Buy the Book: https://vivianeelbee.com/wheretobuytygts.html

    Viviane Elbee’s Website: http://vivianeelbee.com/

    More about the book: http://vivianeelbee.com/teachgiraffetoski.html

    If you can’t afford to buy this book consider leaving a review or requesting your library buy this book!

  • Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Marla Lesage — Picture Book Layout

    To start out the community blog posting, Marla Lesage has found a great post on her site. This is all about picture book layout! You can find out more about this on her blog post here: https://marlalesage.com/2019/08/12/picture-books-length-layout/

    Have an art process you want to share with the rest of the Smart Dummies community? Let me know below or go to my contact me page!

  • Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies is Coming Soon!

    This year Smart Dummies is going to be a bit different. My year has had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. My options were either to skip the year, delay it (which caused problems last time), or rethink the event.

    The more I thought about it the more I realized that it might be a good idea to change up Smart Dummies a bit. The changes that will be happening this year may or may not be a permanent change.

    This year I’d like Smart Dummies to be more community oriented. I’d like to be able to spend more time with the community and for us to help out eachother.

    Over the next week I’m going to gather some people who are willing to show some process posts about their work. These can be old posts you’ve already made, and hosted either on this blog or your own. Below is a copy of the post I made in the Smart Dummies group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/548159692008535/

    Contact me below, using my contact form, or DM me on social media if you are interested:

    Looking for people who have a technique or process they’d like to share. Your post about this does not have to be on my blog (but it can be). It can be something from an old post of yours. Here are some of the subjects I’m looking for, but it doesn’t have to be limited to these:
    • Turning Public Domain Stories into Picture Books
    • Marking up a Script for Illustration
    • Researching Images
    • Doodling
    • Character Design
    • Character Emotions
    • Thumbnails
    • Loose Page Drafts
    • Preparing Substrates (traditional artists)
    • Any Posts About Technique
    • Anything Else to do with Art or Dummies
  • 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! 


  • Uncategorized

    Look at the Week May 19th – 24th

    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 19th-24th:

    Monday, May 20th: Ksenia Anske https://www.kseniaanske.com/

    Tuesday May 21st: Facebook Live event with my kiddos! 

    Wednesday, May 22th: Robin Martin: http://sbpra.com/robinmartin-duttmann/

    Friday, May 24th: Jennifer Cole Judd: http://jennifercolejudd.com/

    Saturday, May 25th: Look at the Week May 26th-31st.


    How are you liking the event so far? Let me know. One of these posts this week might have a prize. I just need to remember what said prize is and if there was indeed a prize.