Words to Live By

Putting crayons in the dryer is an ineffective way of dying fabrics.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Interview With Margo Sorenson

Margo Sorenson is a writer who can boast that she has 29 books under her publishing belt. That's a lot for any writer and she's still going strong! Margo's most recent books include: Aloha for Carol Ann, Spaghetti Smiles, Island Danger and Time of Honor. Not only does Margo write both Middle Grade novels and Picture books, but she also writes in a wide range of genres. These genre's include: Humor, Non-Fiction, Adventure, Romance, Mystery and the list goes on. The sheer amount of Margo's work is staggering. I don't think there is anything this woman can't do. How does she create so much? Read on to find out more!


Dani: Are Picture Books or Middle Grade Novels your favorite?

Margo: Picture books are my favorite right now, because I love to write whimsy and off-the-wall scenarios, playing with words so I can use as few as possible to make each word really count. Picture books these days are usually fewer than 500 words, and to create a sympathetic character and a tight plot with vivid language with that word count definitely keeps the brain in gear. Some of my older picture books, such as AMBROSE AND THE PRINCESS (Liturgical Press, 2005) are longer. With ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN (Marimba/JustUs Books 2011), I needed to cut a lot of words, which was hard, because I loved living in Hawaii and the aloha spirit in friendship and wanted to communicate that to young readers. SPAGHETTI SMILES (Pelican Publishing 2014) needed serious cutting, too. I wrote so many more crazy scenes about Italian food in silly situations, but they made the story too long. Ouch!

Dani: Which genre is easiest for you to write?

Margo: There isn't any genre that is easiest for me to write—sadly, they're all hard! The challenge of being spare and economical is fun to try, however, and picture books definitely fill the bill. I loved writing my tween novels, though (ISLAND DANGER and TIME OF HONOR, MuseIt Up Publishing 2011) because I really enjoyed the main characters, Todd (spoiled brat) and Connor (smart mouth debater) and had a great time watching the trouble they got themselves into and out of (ooops! spoiler alert!). Vivid settings were really important to setting up the plot and conflict, so the settings in Hawaii and in medieval England were fun to research and write.

Dani: Finish the following thoughts:

Next Week...

Margo: I will be working on a new idea for a picture book (think of bunnies, like the ones who live in our backyard and write letters to our Adorables) and going to Grandparents' Day at our Adorables' (grandchildren) school.

Next Month...

Margo: I hope to have a first draft done of the picture book and keep revising and revising others. As all writers know only too well, that process never ends, honestly. It's all about being willing to make changes and then, in turn, change those changes, too! Also, the Adorables will get another visit, so I'll get my hug-fix!

Next Year...

Margo: I hope to have another picture book or YA manuscript accepted by a publisher! Hope does spring eternal! Keeping a notebook of ideas and listening and observing what goes on around me are always important for idea generation, and I'll keep that up. More author visits, both real at schools and virtual through Skype will be on the agenda, as well. It's always so much fun to meet with and listen to young readers!

Dani: What's special about your work?

Margo: As writer Anne Lamott says, we can do our work in comfortable pants. Seriously, though, I love playing with words and letting characters act out their lives in my head. It's like taking a vacation in your mind. Reading gave me such hope as a child and I hope to be able to give that same hope to my readers.

Dani:What is your ultimate goal in life?

Margo: My ultimate goal in life is to love my family and the Lord. Writing is something that I love to do, but it takes a back seat to that goal! (And besides, writing keeps me out of my dear husband's hair!)

Website: http://www.margosorenson.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ipapaverison

Margo's Books:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dani's Updates - May 13

I have not had a good time this past month. Been absolutely exhausted. Went to the doctor (after spending yesterday in bed) and was told that I need rest (more rest rather). I'm hoping the worst of it is over, but I will continue to take it easy this week.

Interview Schedule:
May 15 - Margo Sorenson

Not much of anything. Been too tired!

I have three dummies I'm excited about. I need to focus on one, though. Once I get more energy back I'll be working on these stories!

Every Day Possible

Wed 05/13 Write Dani's Updates... Done! 

Thursday 05/14-  Cleaning and spending time with family.

Friday 05/15- Spending the day with family.

Saturday 05/16- Sending out a dummy to an agent today!

Sunday  05/17 - Father-In-Law's Birthday!

Monday  05/18- Everything will be better by this day.

Tuesday  05/19 - Finding things for my son to do that don't require me to talk or move.

Wednesday  05/20 - Update Day!

Sleeping. Really isn't working, but still doing it a lot!


Toddler Minding 
He's eating things. Growth spurt here we come!

No ect. I'm too tired!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cynthia Kennedy Henzel's "Myth Rider"!

Today was not my day for posting! My electricity was out, so of course the internet was down as well. This will teach me not to schedule my posts! I have survived and now I bring you Cynthia Kennedy Henzel's "Myth Rider"! If you'll remember I interviewed Cynthia back in July of 2014. If you've forgotten or (*gasp*) never read my interview with Cynthia then you can read it here: http://daniduckart.blogspot.ca/2014/07/interview-with-cynthia-kennedy-henzel.html.  Read below to find more about Cynthia's book "Myth Rider" and to see the beautiful cover!



In 1910 a young girl races an ancient myth to return the Centaurs to their homeland in Georgia. As a shadow falls over the land and danger lurks ever closer, Tamara flees to a place that seems as strange to her as Dorothy dropped into Oz. With a new horse, new friends, and a daunting new challenge, she adapts to this land of opportunity. Now she must choose: race for the American dream or heed the cry of the Centaurs calling her home?

Cynthia Kennedy Henzel began her writing career at the Perry Daily Journal in Perry, OK writing the “An Optimist’s View” column. Since then, she has traveled the world and written over 50 books for young people. Her travels took her to the country of Georgia, where she discovered this story that led her home again.


by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel

Publication date: April 2015

ISBN-13: 9781940310251

$15.99 152 pages

5.5 x 8.5 paperback

Published by 4RV Publishing

What others are saying:

"Creating a bridge between countries and cultures, race and gender, science and story, Myth Rider is a beautifully written novel that will rope you in, take you for a ride, and ultimately bring you back home again."- Lindsay Eland, author of A Summer of Sundays.

Cynthia Kennedy Henzel lives in Tucson, AZ.

Please see

www.cynthiakennedyhenzel.com for more information about her books

www.Facebook.com/MythRiderBook to ride along with Myth Rider

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Winner!

I was going to announce the winner for Amberly Kristen Clowe's Axel and Theo Book and Lunch Bag yesterday but forgot. For those of you who have not checked the original post you can see the winner below. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday I have Cynthia Kennedy Henzel for a book announcement (Myth Rider) on my blog/

Next Friday (May 15th) I'm interviewing Margo Sorenson on my blog.

Stay tuned for more updates and exciting changes to my blog!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview with Amberly Kristen Clowe

Today on my blog I have Sci Fi Writer Amberly Kristen Clowe! She wrote the book Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy. Want to win a book and bookbag for the series? Click here to enter now!

I just got my copy of this book in the mail today (technically yesterday by the time you read this) and haven't had a chance to read the whole story. The story is fast paced and very cute. I love the colored illustrations done by Katy Huggins. They are so much warmer than the old black and white!
About Amberly: An avid story writer since elementary school, Amberly Kristen Clowe truly discovered her passion for writing after enrolling in a college, children’s literature class, where they read and analyzed children's books. After completing her BA in early childhood education she began her teaching career. “After my first year of teaching second grade, I had so many ideas swirling around in my head, I had to write. I might have gone crazy if I didn't!” Clowe expresses.

Axel & Theo is the first chapter book series for ages 7-12 written by Clowe, though
she already has two other children’s picture books in print, for which she has received
accolades and the Emerging Novelists “Children’s Novel of the Year” award in 2011.

Win a copy of the book and a Axel & Theo Lunch bag!*

*Contest is limited to those living in the US and Canada. Lunch bag colors are available in red, green and yellow. Picture of the lunch bag below!

Dani: Why write Sci Fi children's literature?

Amberly: This genre came very easy for me. I've always loved the idea of a different, often improved, world than our own, and who doesn't love cool gadgets! I still can't believe I get to imagine worlds with crazy characters for an actual job. I so enjoy the Axel and Theo series as an adult. I would have been ecstatic as a kid. Kids have the ultimate imaginations. They can truly lose themselves in what they're reading without that nagging thought that plagues many adults: “That could never happen!” Sci-fi for kids is the perfect fit for me.

Dani: Is your dog (or any of your fish) an emperor of a faraway galaxy?

Amberly: Unfortunately, we have no emperors at our house (at least none that have revealed themselves…yet). Believe me, if my dogs could snap their paws and get a t-bone, they’d be snapping away!

Dani:  Finish these thoughts:

Cats are...


Yeah, cat-people are so not going to like that one.

I want to write...

YA fiction. At the moment, I’m thinking about dabbling in the young adult genre. I love to read this genre but haven't taken that plunge. I think once I wrap up the second book in the Axel and Theo series, I might try my hand at an outline and go from there.

Readers should know...

Um…for me, coffee makes any bad writing day, a good one. And biscotti with coffee—well, that makes for a GREAT writing day.

Dani: What's special about your work?

Amberly: I’m really not one to toot my own horn, but you did ask, so…what I find, and have been told, is special about my work is its voice. I am one of those total optimists. I often use humor to make a situation bearable. I like humor. My writing reflects that. I enjoy one-liners, and the Axel and Theo series is full of them. To write a science fiction adventure and wrap it in humor, yeah, my eyes just fill with cartoon hearts.

Dani: What is your ultimate goal in life?

Amberly: Whew. I think I broke out in a sweat just reading that question.

Well, my main goal in life is to please God in all I do. To me, that means striving to be the best mother I can be, wife, daughter, sister, niece, friend, teacher, writer, and the hat-list goes on and on. I want to have the kind of love for others that Jesus Christ lived. I want to use my passions and gifts in a way that helps others and makes my creator proud.

Deep, right? You did ask for ultimate. 


Theodore Howard wants a white flag. The kind of white
flag that will show Riverwood Elementary’s biggest bully,
Theo’s given up on ever surviving the fourth grade, and
achieving his dream of becoming a real-life astronaut.
But, Theo’s seemingly pathetic future gets a glimmer of
hope in the form of a very talkative weenie dog named
Axel. Theo learns that his best friend on four legs, is
actually an alien from the planet Doglin, and just when
he begins warming up to the idea of having an alien for a
best friend, Axel is kidnapped by two cats from the
planet Catlat. Theo chases after Axel and his
kidnappers, embarking on an adventure he could never

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Update Post -- April 22nd

My friend, Dan Burke, sent me something in the mail today! It's a copy of his game Hollytown Talent Agency. It's got some beautiful artwork and the card games looks great. I can't wait to play. I have it hidden in my art room right now so little hands can't destroy this gift. While he's not allowed to touch I did allow David to model the game. I've got more pictures of the game (and my son as Vanna White) below so check it out. Of course my update post is there somewhere, too. Thank you so much for the game Dan!


Wed 04/22 - Update Post -- done!

Thursday 04/23 - Tweaking and polishing some artwork for Picture Books.

Friday 04/24- Interview with Amberly Kristen Clowe

Saturday 04/25- Attending the Creative Ink Festival today! I will be a part of two panels.
One at 2:00pm and the other at 4:00pm

Sunday  04/26 - Sending out a picture book package to an agent by this day. Fingers crossed!

Monday  04/27- Making up new names for my son.

Tuesday  04/28 - Maybe another trip to the beach?

Wednesday  04/29 - Update Day!


Toddler Minding 
So the diapers are gone. At least during the day!

I went to the beach Tuesday. We had lots of fun.

*What's up Wednesday is part of Jamie Morrow's summer writing intensive: "Ready. Set. WRITE!" There are other host 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Interview with Scott Soeder

Today I'm interviewing the fantastic Illustrator Scott Soeder on my blog. Scott is a digital artist that creates vivid and humorous characters. Earlier this year Scott received an AIGA award for his "Pop Wheels" series.

Scott has worked with startup company Reelio Inc., the band 311 and has his work in Highlights magazine. If you like Scott's work you can buy prints off of his website. For more of his work check out Scott's website at http://www.scottsoeder.com/

Dani: Why Children’s Illustration?

Scott: I suppose it's because all the cool characters are in children’s Illustration.

I grew up watching Looney Tunes, reading Dr. Seuss, reading Peanuts, and trying to draw all those characters (Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss and Charles Schulz are likely my biggest influences). I loved those characters and soon was drawing my own and making up silly stories to go along with them. Books, comic strips and cartoons all blended together. I loved them all. Among my friends I had the reputation of being a Good Drawer. I would get requests from my friends to draw Garfield, Bugs Bunny, and later I would draw some of our favorite rock stars. So I suppose it is just something I have always done.

Dani: What did the monsters tell you?

Scott: Oh, the Pesky, Chatting, Opinionated Monsters? All artists know them. Reminding us that there is someone better out there, that our ideas aren’t good enough, etc. I try to keep those kind on a diet. I don’t share my snacks with them.

The kind that show up in my sketchbook however, are great. Those kind thrive on imagination. I love feeding them!

Dani: Finish these thoughts:

My first drawing…

is often my worst drawing. Every now and then that first one works straight away. You keep drawing, but end up using the first one. It happens. But not all that often. A tennis pro doesn’t get good and stay good by NOT playing tennis. Drawing is a skill that has to be practiced and maintained. I remember reading in one of Chuck Jones’ books that everybody has about a 1000 bad drawings in them. The sooner you can get through those 1000 bad drawings, the better. Warm-up sketches help. I do some quick sketching at the beginning of a work session to loosen up which often are sketches of musicians that I like.

I won’t forget…an easel that my grandfather made for me when I was around 8 or 9 years old. I thought it was so cool and I felt like a real artist when drawing at it. I would sit for hours and work at that easel, churning out drawing after drawing.

I draw…and draw and draw again. I enjoy drawing and the process so much. I love looking at pencil sketches from other artists and pencil tests from animators. They are often packed full of life. My wife got me a DVD player years ago and included in the box was a Powerpuff Girls DVD. While the cartoon was playing you could hit a button on the remote to switch between the final cartoon and the pencil tests. I was thrilled. I don’t know many guys that would be excited to get a Powerpuff Girls DVD!

Dani:  What special about your work?

Scott: No one is making art with precisely the same ingredients. What makes my work special is that it is made by me. And by me I mean the unique mix of influences, personality, technique, perceptions, subject matter and so on that contribute to the artwork. Otherwise known as “voice”. We artists’ are always working toward finding, using and refining that voice. When seeing my kids off, I often say “have fun today!” When enjoying my work, I hope that the viewer thinks of the word fun or has a sense that I had fun making it!

Dani: What is your ultimate goal in life?

Scott: To create characters, stories and art as vivid as my heroes. To be a great father and husband. To be remembered.

And to drive a Lamborghini Countach just once. I love those cars. :)


Web: scottsoeder.com
Twitter: @sesoeder
FB: Facebook.com/scottmakesart
Insta: Instagram.com/scottsoeder
dribbble: dribbble.com/sesoeder