• Art,  Spring into Writing,  Uncategorized

    Graphic What?

    I just can’t wait until Spring into Writing. It is going to be a fantastic event. I have so many wonderful people sending me their posts right now. Things are happening. You can register here if you haven’t yet: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-spring-into-writing/

    So what I should have done for the last few weeks is set up posts. What I have been doing is working on artwork. I swear sometimes I’m the only one who procrastinates working on work with other, more complicated work. I mean it makes no sense. There it is. I’ve been skipping out on my blogging duties with my art drawing.

    I am currently working on a graphic novel pitch. If you don’t know I have been working on picture books for the longest time. I was so devoted to making the picture book that I created the event Smart Dummies to help others do so as well. 

    Now I’m just cheating on picture books with my love of the graphic novel. My work is still for children. I’m working on a middle grade graphic novel, so that’s fun, but I didn’t know what I was doing when I started. 

    I started in Mira’s Children’s Book Academy making this book. https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/ I took the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books.  I finished two spreads and went blissfully on creating lots of sketches to send in. The graphic novel package is pretty open to interpretation and there is no one size fits all.

    I was pointed here not long ago http://www.mariavicente.com/blog/graphic-novel-pitch-package  This isn’t a new site to me, but I didn’t think that my book pitch would be longer than a picture book. Or at least not enough to change my submission style. I think I was wrong, so now I’m finishing up 3 more spreads for my submission. I am a bit frustrated that I spent so much time doing all those extra sketches, but I think it’s going to benefit me in the long run. It’s going to help me edit my story better. When someone picks up my story, I will have extra preliminary work done. In the end it’s a win-win for me. Now to work on setting it aside so I can get Spring into Writing up and running!


  • Uncategorized

    If I Could Save Ideas in a Bottle

    Sign up for Spring into Writing runs through May 7th. Find out more and sign up here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-spring-into-writing/

    The song “If I could save time in a bottle” by Jim  keeps playing in my head. For those of you who don’t know the song I’ve plugged in the Youtube link to the right so you can hear it. If the link doesn’t come up you can go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzLS5hUMdQo  

    I don’t know about you but I feel like I haven’t been able to spend my days as I’d like. It would be nice to stick my time into a bottle and save it for a later date. Even if the day itself wouldn’t change at a later date.

    I have a page that I want to put into my booklet that’s called Idea Jar. I don’t know if the idea came to me because of this song or from another writer’s post. It’s funny where we find ideas sometimes, and hard to remember where we found them. The whole idea behind the idea jar is to have that idea where you can find it!

    I put on that song just before I started writing this post, and one line from the song is “If I had a box just for wishes”. What a neat idea! A box for wishes. I think I’ll add that as a page in the upcoming booklet!  

    A Page From Last Year's Book

    Want to get a feel for what Spring into Writing is like? Here is a page out of last year’s booklet. Feel free to print it out!

  • 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
  • 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,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    What Are Your Goals for 2020?

    I am making some goals for the coming year. If you know me, you know that I don’t like making resolutions. They are pass and fail. I want to make goals that will help me in my career!

    Are you making goals for the year? You should! Start by making a list of SMART Goals.

    Specific- If your goal is to create some illustrations or some stories, that’s not specific enough. Your goal could be I’m going to write 4 stories. I’m going to finish 3 illustrations. If you need some ideas for stories check out Storystorm: https://taralazar.com/ it’s a great event for coming up with ideas!

    Measurable- You can measure the amount of things you do physically and mentally. If you are doing something with no measurements involved you wont know when you have achieved your goal. 

    Achievable- You can send your work out to 50 agents. You can send your work out to 50 editors. You have no control over how those agents and editors will react to your work. At least you can do your best to make your work strong, but art is subjective and maybe someone else will like it and maybe they wont. Make sure your goals are focused on things you can completely control. 

    Relevant- Make sure your goals are relevant to your ultimate goals! It might seem like a good idea to write a short story for an anthology or help a friend out with an illustration, but neither of those things are likely to bring you closer to finishing your work!

    Time- Try to have time limits for your goals! Make sure that you give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get things done, but do limit yourself. It will put some pressure on you to finish in a reasonable time. 

    Work on your goals for the coming year this week and let me know what you come up with!

  • Uncategorized

    Preview of Patreon Yet to Come

    You may know that I’ve got a Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/DaniDuck This was created to support my blog and the events like Smart Dummies and Spring into Writing. 

    You may not know that I’m doing exclusive videos for Patreon every month! Everyone who joins Patreon has access to these videos! I already have a few up there and will be doing more in the future. I’m hoping to start narrating some of my videos soon.

    Starting next month there will be some monthly challenges for both writers and illustrators that will help you start thinking creatively and boost your career.

    At the $5 level you can ask me questions and I will answer via video. Right now there aren’t many $5 patrons, so for a limited time I am willing to answer more than one question! 

    If you enjoy Smart Dummies and Spring into Writing then join me for more fun on my Patreon page!

  • 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

  • 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!