Thursday, August 25, 2016

Computer Life & Updates

I am not sure what is more stressful: Having a computer die or getting a new computer. There is so much to do when getting a new computer. It was tough making the right selection especially since most places don't allow for computer customization. In the end I decided on a gaming computer (even though I don't use my computer for many games) that would allow me to upgrade in the future. Now I'm spending hours installing all of my old programs.

Most of my work and photos were backed up, but it still hurts to lose what I've lost. Remember to back up all of your work, pictures and anything worth saving. My laptop died with little warning.

Despite all the problems I've had with my computer things are going pretty well! Smart Dummies will be in October as planned. I just have 1-2 more people to create posts. Lots more info to come on this next month.

Kids are doing well. Both crazy. David is starting kindergarten on September 6th! Michael has been cruising for about a month now and is threatening to walk soon. So much for getting any rest while David is in school!

Hope everyone is well and will post again soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Computer Death

Dear Readers,

I regret to inform you that my computer has died a horrible death. He's not getting a funeral, because he purposely died early. His name is being written on the wall of computer infamy as we speak.

Currently, I am using two rocks, three blades of grass and a bug to communicate with you. I'm pretty good with using the two rocks, but the bug is constantly flying places it doesn't belong and the blades of grass are useless. As such, I will not be able to access much more than email on these rocks, and even then I could catch on fire at any moment. It may be a month or so before the issue is fully resolved.

I am bravely surfing the internet without the proverbial surf board. I will be vigilantly using most of my time looking for illustrators for Smart Dummies, using social media on my iPhone and braving the depths of many video game dungeons. If you don't hear from me within a month, please note that this is a blog and most of my posts are in text format. I shall do my best to post when I can!

Scuttlesleeps and nufferbottoms,


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Call For Cover Art for SFU Anthology

Emily Stringer, a friend of mine, just told me about this Call for Art. Emily works in the The Writer's Studio, in Simon Fraser University's Creative Writing program. The cover artist they choose will get their artwork on the cover and receive two copies of the anthology. Here are some of the details below:
  • Open call for Cover Art, seeking art that considers the theme: "places where stories come from." Variations on theme, including creative interpretations of broader themes such as “emerging” or “discovery”, are encouraged
  • Deadline: noon, July 20th
  • Please email submissions to: emergecoverart(AT)gmail(DOT)com
  • The image should have the highest dpi possible, the minimum size being 400 dpi, in TIFF or JPEG file format
  • More details are at
  • emerge 16 is a student anthology from The Writer's Studio (TWS), SFU's Creative Writing program; the anthology launches in October, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016

What Will Fat Cat Sit On?

Today I'm going to write about on of our favorite books on my son's bookshelf: "What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. Michael has agreed to help me out with this story. This book is about a fat cat that desperately needs a place to rest. It's a good thing this book has a narrator or else Fat Cat would just squish everything in Fat Cat's path.

"What will Fat Cat Sit On?" is wildly hilarious. It is even more so when you have a tiny baby trying to grab 2-D animals while your read. If you don't have a tiny baby, then borrow one. If you actually want to be able to turn the pages easily I suggest reading it in the bookstore first.

It's not just the words that make this book funny. The fonts and colors of the words add so much depth to the book. In many books you may have to guess (or have read the story) to know how to read said story aloud. With the fonts that are used in this book it makes it easy to read the book as it was intended by the Jan herself.

 The pictures help to make the book. Jan uses thick lines and flat, ((mostly pale) colors. The expressions on the animals are priceless. David, my 5 year old, loves looking through each of Jan's books after I read the story so he doesn't miss anything in the pictures.

I hope you will check out "What Will Fat Cat Sit On? It's a tasty treat for all ages.*

*Please do not actually feed this book to your kids. Any book eating in this post is purely fictional. No books were harmed in the m

Friday, June 24, 2016

I Want a Puppy

Last night was an anomaly in the Duck household. I read David a book (which is nothing new) and after my husband read David a book. So what's the problem? We both read him the same book. It wasn't really a problem because my 5 year old did not complain.

So what was this book that was so good that it could be read twice in a row? It was I Want a Puppy by Mo Williams. It would be just as good if we had read it three times thrice. And we did over the week that we had it. 
I love that this is not another book where a kid asks for a puppy. In this book it's a pigeon who asks for the puppy. The story is funny and the resolution is fun. 

I love the drawing in this book. They are simple, but very expressive. The colors are muted so that the beautiful thick lines stand out. I love the humor that Mo Williams conveys in just a few lines. David loved this book so much that he made us get a ton more books by Mo Williams.
This is just one of the many books that David brings home from the library every week. There are so many we both love. I hope to continue sharing some of our favorite books (both new and old) with you on my blog! 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interview with Intisar Khanani

Kate Tilton has introduced me to another wonderful writer to share with you. Intisar Khanani writes Young Adult Fantasy Novels with strong female heroines. Since I'm a sucker for fantasy and awesome female protagonists I jumped at the chance to interview Intisar! "Sunbolt" is the first book in the Sunbolt Chronicles. Her new book "Memories of Ash" is out today (May 30th). Be sure to read to the end of the interview. Intisar is giving away her book on rafflecopter and you can win!

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five.

Intisar currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Until recently, she wrote grants and developed projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department—which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar’s latest projects include a companion trilogy to her debut novel Thorn, featuring a new heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife … and of course, she’s hard at work on the remaining installments of The Sunbolt Chronicles."

Dani: Why YA?

Intisar: YA is where the hard questions are. Teens are getting to know their world, and they're dealing with real, deep issues in their lives. It's awesome to have the opportunity to write for an audience that is thinking about the hard things in life, that is fine with grim, or dark, or complex, but in the end also has an amazing amount of strength and hope for the future. Half the time, adult books end up having these cynical, jaded endings (especially literary books, but also fantasy). YA keeps its fire. I love that. I started reading YA as a teen, and never grew out of it. Oh, I read adult books, but at the end of the day, I come back to YA. Again and again and again. No wonder I write it!

Dani: Swords or Sorcery?

Intisar: If I have to choose, sorcery! Though I like a bit of both in my books.

Dani: Finish these thoughts:

1. Vampires are... not my idea of the ideal dinner guest.

2. If only... werewolves were real, we'd have some true champions for the protection and reintroduction of wolves into the wild.

3. Magic is... quite a bit more trouble than we muggles necessarily realize.

Dani: What's special about your work?
Intisar: I write strong heroines living in diverse worlds, and all my stories are strong in character development. While Thorn and The Bone Knife are "quieter" stories, if you will, Sunbolt is a fast-paced action-packed tale. So I guess I write different kinds of stories, but you can always count on those first three things.

Dani: What is your ultimate goal in life?

Intisar: I'm not really sure. I've got a few goals--I would love to earn a living as an author, see my children grow up to be positive forces in their own lives and in the world, and... oh, a whole host of other things!

Title: Sunbolt
Series: The Sunbolt Chronicles, Book One
Series Type: Serial Novella
Author: Intisar Khanani (
Cover Designer: Jenny Zemanek (
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 17, 2013
Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
Price: US$1.99 (eBook), US$5.99 (paperback)


The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Archmage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Book Links:
Amazon: (all marketplaces)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's Talk Coloring Books - Digital Hardware and Software Notes

I'm posting this today because I realized that I'm just not going to be able to get to this information in my presentation. This is more technical information than you may actually need. I have my thoughts on the software first, and underneath is information about hardware. While this is originally intended for my Coloring Book Presentation it's something that may be of interest to illustrators getting started in digital art.

Photoshop is great for creating digital images – it's arguably the best Program for creating digital images but not necessarily the best for coloring books. I do highly recommend it for illustration, but it's not necessary to buy if you are only creating coloring books or black and white art.

Illustrator - takes time to get use to if you've never used vector software. Like Photoshop: It's great if you are creating certain color images with a certain look, but not necessary for coloring books.

Painter – Best for creating digital paintings that look like traditionally created paintings. The software crashes a lot (I own painter 11), but is nice when it runs smoothly.

Gimp – Free Software. I'm only including it on this list because it's free. Useful and is similar to Photoshop. I feel like I have one arm tied behind my back when I use this.

Inkscape- Free software like illustrator

Krita – Free Software like Photoshop

I have not used Krita or Inkscape personally (other than a few minutes each) so I can't tell you how well they work. There interface is nice and for no money, it's worth it to download these and take a look. These free programs may not have all the same options as the programs they are meant to copy, but they can still be used professionally.

Manga Studio/Clip Studio – My personal favorite. I own EX4. I like the inking feature in this because you can come back an manipulate the image easily even after you save the image. The inking feature is much like illustrator's in that it's done in vectors. Unfortunately you can't save your image to work as a vector image (.eps in illustrator but you can save the ink lines as a layer and use it in Photoshop or other program to color your backgrounds. Don't buy this full price. Smith Micro often has great sales.

InDesign. - The best and easiest program for laying out a book. It takes a bit of work to get use to, but if you know how to use Power Point (or any Adobe software), then you can learn how to use this program. It is actually more intuitive than Power Point, and with all my years in computers, I find using InDesign easier than Power Point. If you are thinking of having a book printed of your work, you must get this software. The bonus is it's the easiest software for your local print shop to use, so they should be able to print your work fairly easily and quickly.


Processor – Intel is important. AMD always gives me problems. Get a reasonably good processor. This will help the speed of your computer.

Hard Drive (Storage not to be confused with memory) – Up to you. 1TB is the norm and should be enough for most people

Graphic Card: Go with NVIDIA® GeForce® if you are going with color and possibly black and white. Go with the best graphic card you can afford. If you are 

Memory allows multiple programs to be open, helps your computer to run faster and allows you to work on large files. Get at least 8GB of memory. Most people don't know that it takes 2GBs of memory just to run Windows (it may be more with Windows 10). Memory is important so ideally get more (12-16) if you can afford it!

Printer: Inexpensive printer. Don't go with a photo printer. Often photo printers wont let you print (or scan) if all you haven't replaced an empty cartridge. If you are making high quality prints go with your local print shop. Because of the high cost of ink print shops are still cheaper than printing from your own printer.

Scanner: Epson with a large bed is best, but you can get by with a lower quality scanner.

Tablet: Wacom tablets are the best. Bamboo is okay, but it works basically like a mouse. The Intuos pro is very nice and likely the tablet you'll want for your work. The Intuos mimics the pressure and tilt of drawing traditionally.