Monday, October 15, 2018

Even More Winners!

I'll have some more info for you this week. Weekend was crazy here! Birthday celebration and all. Here's are the last of the winners!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to make a one time donation?
Buy me a coffee from Kofi:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cover Letters and More Winners!

It should be noted before I start that the poster from Vivianne is not 8x10 it's 12x18'. I changed it in the post but forgot to change it in the rafflecopter! I'm going to quickly talk about cover letters. You should do a lot of research on cover letters to craft a letter that compels an agent or editor to read your work. Here is an example of what a cover letter looks like. The letter is in regular text and extra info is bolded.

The opening of the cover letter should always be a specific person's name.

Dear Jane Doe,

1st Paragraph-- These first lines should tell the agent/editor why you are sending them your book and introduce your book. Some people like to leave this out, but I've heard more people say they prefer a personalized letter!

I have been following you for some time on Twitter. I love your thread about publishing mistakes! I heard you were looking for funny stories with heart. I believe my story "Two Peas Too Many" is just what you are looking for. Choose at least 2 stories that are like your book. It's a mix between "Baa Baa Black Sheep and Harry Potter" and is 490 words. (Always use picture books comps if you are pitching a picture book.)

2nd Paragraph -- This part is your pitch

Two peas are in an epic feud about which side of their pod is the best. Poor Little Pea is stick in the middle of the fight and the pod! Only Little Pea can see the danger outside the pod. Little Pea must push back against his pushy brothers so they can escape the jaws of hungry caterpillar.  I'm not saying this is a good pitch, but pitches are the most important part of your cover letter! If nothing else make sure this goes through several revisions before you hit send!

3rd Paragraph -- This tells about you. Include any formal training, publishing credits, memberships, your website with portfolio, email and your phone number. It's a good idea to have your name and your email or website on your dummy as well as it could be separated from the cover letter. 

I have a BFA in Illustration. My recent publishing credits include the June issue of "Highlights" and the October issue of "Cricket". I am a current member of the SCBWI. I received the cool award for my snowman drawing (Only include awards that you don't pay to have on your books). You can find my work at My email is and my phone number is (123) 555- 5555. I have many manuscripts and a polished dummy if you want to see more of my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Your Name Here   

Here are some more winners! I'll announce the rest on Monday! I'll have more information for you on Monday for finishing your work and publishing. I'm so sorry this week has been really busy! a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Smart Dummies Prize Winners!

Here are the first prize winners for the Smart Dummies! I will be emailing the winners soon, and then sending their details to the prize givers. Congratulations to all the winners! a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 5, 2018

Practically Porcupine Laura Renauld

Laura Renauld's first picture book Porcupine pie comes out on October 9th. Laura told me about her book and showed me the cover. I just had to know more. What's in the pie? Who is this wonderful writer who writes about porcupines and pie? Are there more pies in Laura's future? I just had to interview Laura to learn all I could!

You can buy Porcupine Pie here: or at anywhere online that sells her book. If you pre-order from the US now Laura will send you a signed book plate!


Dani: Who influenced you most in your writing career?

Laura: When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who encouraged my writing. She gave me Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home and was a valuable source of quotes and texts that she called ‘literary gifts’. With her by my side, I found the courage to begin. That was over ten years ago, but I will always be indebted to my friend for supporting me as I took my first baby steps as a writer.

Dani:  What kind of pie is Porcupine's Pie?

Laura: Good question! I decided that Porcupine’s specialty for Fall Feast Day was her Famous Cranberry Pie. But when she loses an important ingredient, her friends support her and together they create a new tradition: Friendship Pie! There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie at the back of the book.

(As a side note, my first inkling of this idea was a jot in my notebook that said “How to Make Porcupine Pie”. That sounded a bit too macabre! Needless to say, I pursued a different angle, making Porcupine the protagonist, instead of the victim.)

Dani:  Can you tell us a bit about the #KidsNeedMentors initiative and why you joined?

Laura: #KidsNeedMentors is a way for educators and authors to team up in pursuit of our common purpose: exciting kids about reading and writing! Authors Ann Braden and Jarrett Lerner, and fifth grade teachers Kristin Crouch and Kristen Picone, are the team behind the movement. During this pilot year, author/teacher pairs are encouraged to connect by mail, by video chat, and maybe even in-person. Students build a relationship with one author over the course of the school year.

I signed up to participate because #KidsNeedMentors sounded like a game-changer to me. Teachers and school districts often lack the resources they need to bring authors to schools. And writers feel isolated at their desks or amid the book-signing crowd where connections with readers are fleeting. With this partnership program, authors can bond with the very people they write for: kids! I am looking forward to sharing my writing journey with the learning journey of the students I’m paired with.

Dani:  What do you wish you knew about writing when you were younger? 

Laura: Oh my! Where do I start? I wish I knew that writing a “breakfast to bed” story is not very satisfying. It took me a very long time to realize (and I still need reminders!) that a picture book develops from one key moment; one emotion; one unexpected circumstance. It has to be super-focused in order to explore the heart of the story with insight and depth.

My foundation for creative writing actually came from teaching Writer’s Workshop to my third graders. I learned as much from those mini-lessons as they did!

Dani:  What's next for you?

Laura: Now I get to enter the world of book signings and school visits! Visit my website to see where I’ll be next:

My next book is a picture book biography called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers. It is scheduled to release in Fall 2019 from Atheneum, with Brigette Barrager illustrating.


Connect with me online at: and on social media:

Twitter - @laura_renauld

Facebook – @kidlitlaura

Instagram - @laurarenauld


Laura Renauld is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. This is her debut picture book.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Smart Dummies Oath!

Winner Badge!
Here it is! The Smart Dummies oath. If you completed at least 24-30 pages (or 12-15 spreads) CONGRATULATIONS are in order! You have completed the Smart Dummies challenge! Your images just need to be black and white. The images can all be done in pencil. If you did more than good for you!

Please do not send me your Dummies! We are on the honor's system. You MUST COMMENT on this oath in order to be eligible for the big prizes and have registered at the beginning of the event. You MUST comment on the posts of the prizes you want! I posted all the links yesterday.

Your dummy does not have to be perfect. You can even say that you will be changing everything. You just need a reasonable draft. Reasonable draft = Clean and clear enough that you can give it to someone for feedback. You can interpret this however you want.

The Smart Dummies Oath:

I do solemnly swear that I have completed the Smart Dummies challenge. I have completed at least 24 pages (or 12 spreads) for my Children's Book Dummy this month. I will continue to get my dummy submission ready so I can send it out into the world. 

I will give everyone about a week (Drawings will happen on October 7th and I will begin posting the winners on the 8th ) for people to comment on this and the prize posts. Thank you all for being a part of Smart Dummies this year!

I will be posting info soon for sending out your dummy!

Help out Smart Dummies:

If you enjoyed Smart Dummies this year please consider supporting the event on Patreon! Smart Dummies will always be free. Every year I will update the planner and have free downloads for the planner. Please support me so I can continue to motivate illustrators to create their dummies, and keep up with different costs that come up for the event!

Want to make a one time donation?
Buy me a coffee from Kofi:

Thank you for joining Smart Dummies this year!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Share Day Week 4!

It's Share Day. Week 4! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful work with me and everyone who reads this blog. 

While share day is over, I will still be sharing art over on Instagram! If you have an account let me know and I can share your art. My account is:

Diane Gronas --

Diane Gronas --

Arthur Haywood --

Katie Carrberry --

Lisa Burvant

Stephanie Hermanek-Olsen --

Tamar Dolev --

Tara Santoro --


Virginia Rinkle --

Virginia Rinkle --

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Giraffe Instructor Viviane Elbee -- Plus a PRIZE!

Viviane is one of the members of my fantastic critique group I found thanks to Julie Hedlund's 12x12! I'm very lucky to find two group (writing and illustration) that give me invaluable feedback. When any of my critique members get good news I think it's absolutely wonderful. I was over the moon when I heard "Teach Your Giraffe To Ski was now on Pre-Order!

I love Viviane's writing style. She has such animated characters and she puts so much hard work into all of her stories. I know this is only the first of many of Viviane's stories that I will be sharing with you!

Check at the end of this post for a PRIZE!

Dani: How did you get started writing?

Viviane:  I've always loved writing, but I started writing seriously for children after my first child was born. I had written a few rough drafts when I saw an ad in the newspaper for a local SCBWI critique group. Joining the critique group and SCBWI was one of the best decisions ever. I later joined 12x12, which is an organization specifically for picture book writers. Joining these organizations helped me learn so much, and I've met so many talented, supportive & encouraging people. (Dani is one of them!) :)

Dani: What is your absolute favorite animal?

Viviane: I love so many animals I don't think I can pick a favorite! Unfortunately, some of the animals I love are endangered. I hope that humankind can figure out a way to save them, because I'd hate to see so many wonderful animals disappear. Giraffes are on the endangered list, and so are some species of elephants, tigers, leopards, dolphins, whales, turtles, birds, honeybees, wombats etc... Some programs to help endangered animals are already making a positive impact - such as sea turtle conservation programs. Everyone can help, even by doing little things, like setting up birdhouses that are just right for endangered birds, or planting flowers that honeybees like.

Dani: Who inspires you the most?

Viviane: Kids inspire me the most. They're so smart and imaginative and fun.

Dani: How did you get the idea for TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI?

Viviane: I got the idea during my family's very first ski trip, which coincided with the 2014 Winter Olympics. My kids packed many stuffed animals. During the day they were learning to ski, and in the evening, the stuffed animals tried all sorts of winter sports too. This led to a lot of funny jokes about skiing giraffes.

I wrote a longer blog post about the inspiration behind this story -

Dani: How many giraffes have you taught to ski?

Viviane: None. But I keep my eyes open for giraffes on the ski slopes, because you never know, maybe one day I'll meet one!

Dani: What are you working on next?

Viviane: I'm working on several other picture book manuscripts. I'm still learning and taking classes to improve my craft too. Currently I'm doing some classes with Arree Chung's Storyteller Academy.


Follow Viviane:
Poster Prize!
Here is a pre-order link:


Here is my website:

For those who want to buy through an Independent Bookseller:


Viviane is offering an 12x18" poster from "Teach Your Giraffe to Ski"!*

*This prize is limited to those who live in the US.

a Rafflecopter giveaway