Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mirka Breen

I am delighted to bring you Mirka Breen's blog today. Mikra has written such books as "There's a Turkey at the Door" and "The Voice of Thunder". You can visit Mirka's blog here: And her website here:

I'll have to say that Mirka's "About Me" page on her website is one of the best I've read. I'm not sure if it was the writing style, or the fact that she keeps a copy of "The Little Prince" by her bedside... okay maybe it is the fact she keeps "The Little Prince" by her bedside as she says, "the way some keep the Bible". By the way... I love "The Little Prince". If you have not read this book go read it now! Well maybe after you have finished reading my review and Mirka's blog. Where was I? Oh yes, it isn't just her choice in books. Mirka's "About Me" page is very well written. While being well written is nice, it doesn't beat the fact of how open and honest she is on this page.

I will admit that I got lost for some time in Mirka's blog. This is far from the first time this has happened. Actually, this happens every time I go to review a blog! Of course she brings her strong writing skills into her blog, but also that openness and honesty follows as well. I read every article from this year and would have read more but I got sidetracked with a screaming kid and the need to finish this article before dinner. Mirka's articles are very engrossing. So big warning: You will get sucked in to her blog!

Mirka writes a lot about her writing life and other things related to this. Her first article is about shyness and the published author. She talks about how shy she was at the beginning and how she overcame much of this. Mirka's articles are rich, engaging and very entertaining. I can't stress enough how insightful Mirka's writing is in her posts. I'm sure you will be like me and keep reading, and reading, and reading and...

I think that I'm very lucky. I have so many great Writers and Illustrators who have me review their blogs and websites. The quality of these websites and blogs are very high. Each week I can't wait to review the next one. Thank you so much Mirka and everyone else who has allowed me to review their blog.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Apple

An Apple

Pretty apple in a tree
Hanging, swinging, oh so free!
So shiny, round, sweet and red
I'd rather have pear instead!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

SCBWI Here We Go Again!

Last year I went to my very first Writing/Illustration conference. I loved the SCBWI Canada West conference so much last year that this year I'm going again. This year I know what will happen so things will be a bit different. There are a few things I need to do before I go to the conference.

This year I may or may not do a portfolio review, but I'm definitely going to take the opportunity to have a table with my artwork on it. I may instead do a manuscript consultation, because I'm not just an artist and I'd like some feedback to my writing.

1. Post Cards/Business Cards I've been needing to design new post cards for some time now (not long after getting them made my phone number changed). This will give me the kick I need to finally get them finished.

2. Prints I need to get some prints made of my portfolio. I took the advice of my last portfolio reviewer and got a small portfolio, but now I need some new prints made to fill it.

3. New Artwork I don't know how much new things I will finish, but I'd like to have some newer things to show.

4. Dummy I would love to finish my picture book dummy. I may or may not be able to finish this in time, but I do want to work on this so I can send it into a publisher later this year.

5. Fun Surprises I have an idea of something I'd love to do for the conference, but I'm not sure if I'll have time to do it. I'll see how things go to what I'll do, because I may get some more ideas before the conference.

I may not be sure about all the things I'll do for this conference, but I will be giving a full report of the conference including photos of my table set up. I'm so excited!

Anyone else have conferences they've attended recently?

Monday, February 25, 2013


Last night before I went to bed I signed up for the 12 by 12. What is the 12 by 12? I want to write 12 picture books in 12 months. Julie Hedlund started this in 2011 and there are so many people who do this now. There is a huge support group and lots of nice people to work with. You can read more about it here:

There are several levels you can choose to join. I've been busy and haven't known which level to sign up for, so I put it on the shelf. Yesterday I signed up for the Margaret Wise BRONZE. I so wanted to sign up for the Little GOLDen Book Level. I think the highest level is well worth it if you have a lot of manuscripts to review, or if you can write really quickly. I have a few manuscripts and I'm not sure how much time it will take me to write up more.  I have tons of ideas, but I have such little time (she types as her 2 year old knocks over the TV tray). You know what the best part is? I can sign up for the gold level within 30 DAYS OF SIGNING UP!  So if I find I do have the time I wont miss out, otherwise I'll do it next year. Yay!

I am going to do my best to write all 12 books. I'm an illustrator as well, so it's tough to balance these things. It's definitely less time consuming for me to write over illustrating, but I enjoy painting just a bit more. I hope everything works out so I have some great stories to send out soon.

Want to join the 12 by 12?  You only have until MARCH 1st TO SIGN UP! You can sign up here: I hope to see a lot of you signing up so we can chat on the 12 by 12 forums! If you are joining leave me a comment here! Hope to see you in the 12 by 12 this year!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blog Updates

I've been working today to get my blog more well known. Every little bit helps right? Put in some badges and I hope they don't look too awful. Even though these things might be on my site I don't want them to take over. I hate seeing sites (especially ones with little to no viewer ship) overrun by ads and whatnot. Even too many badges can detract from what is otherwise a nice site. My viewer ship is a long way from warranting ads, and even then I don't think I'd ever use them, because they're ugly. Sorry it's not a great new post today. Hopefully soon I can post another illustration!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Picture Book Workshop

If you don't yet know about this yet, please check out J.C. Phillips blog "Ninja Woman". She has a wonderful picture book workshop that she updates often. Her most recent post is the fourth instalment but you can't start there! To start at the beginning you should click on this link and scroll to the bottom: If you want to become published or just want to learn more about picture books you can't go wrong reading J.C. Philips' Picture Book Workshop!

I Won Some Books!

Shannon Grogan recently had an ARC give-away:  "The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door" by Karen Finneyfrock and "Surfacing" by Nora Raleigh Baskin. I got an email today saying that I've won! I'm so excited! You can read about it here,

I was not awake (and still am not now) when I received Shannon's email. I do what I do every time I find out I win a contest. I stare at the letter (or person if they are in the room) and think a mistake has been made. It wont be until I actually receive the items that I'll actually believe it! Thank you so much for your contest, Shannon! If you missed entering keep checking back to her website She plans on having another one soon (which I will try to announce here or on twitter)!

You may have noticed that I have been posting more about contests and events related to the world of children's literature and art. I don't believe I'm going to stop any time soon! As for the book reviews, well that is going to be shelved for a while. I'll still be posting my artwork from time to time, and as always there will be website reviews on Thursdays!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stephen Macquignon

I completely forgot that today was Thursday. Okay, that's not true, I completely forgot it was Thursday as far as it relates to my blog. I am glad that I remembered and just in the nick of time to review Stephen Macquignon's website and blog. It has been some time since I've had the chance to review an illustrator's blog and it's a fun change. You can view Stephan's blog here:

If you visit Stephen Macquignon's blog often you wont be bored. Several times a month Stephen posts new artwork to view. I wish that I could post illustrations so often! The colours in Stephen's artwork can be bright and colourful, but the colours always have a way of creating a serene effect. His line work is delicate and full of movement. It is a lot of fun to see what new illustrations he does every week!

Besides his illustrations Stephen has other fun things on his blog. He had a big section where he talked about his experiences at the SCBWI conference. Stephen shares things about his friends who are also artists to help them out. He also shares a lot about his experiences and inspirations, which makes his blog very inspiring to read. 

Stephen's website is very well laid out. You can visit it here: The main layout is in black and white, but it fits perfectly with his style. There are a lot of nice illustrations, many I didn't see on his blog, that you can pursue here. There is also a bit of extra information about Stephen here that you might not find on his blog.

If you have trouble keeping up with all of Stephen's blog and twitter (@macquignon) postings then you should check out his Jacket Flap account: Here you can get updates on all his new blog and twitter posts. You can also find more ways to connect with him here. 

Please go and explore Stephen's site. You will be subjected to beautiful pictures and a fun atmosphere. If you don't like beautiful pictures and a fun atmosphere then why are you reading my blog? Ha ha ha

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fashion Illustration Anyone?

Whether you are an Illustrator who loves fashion, a Fashion Illustrator, or just a fashionista you will love this announcement! Katie Rodgers of PaperFashion is now doing online classes! That's right you can sign up for a class with Katie Rodgers! It's really expensive, though. Twenty USD is what you'll need to take the class. Yes, just $20 dollars US! *squee* Can you tell that I'm excited? Sign up quickly because classes start March 11th! If you miss this you can always take the classes later, but there are lots of bonuses for doing it now. The link is here:   I look forward to seeing what you all create!

Christina's New Site and Contest

I know it's late, but before I went to bed I wanted to point you towards Christina Farley's new website: It is just gorgeous! Orrr breathtaking. I'm going with breathtaking.

In celebration of her new website Christina is giving out lots of neat things: Books, swag and a lot of shiny things await. Don't waste any time and hop over to her blog and website to check it out!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Really Real New Illustration!

Finally had time to finish this illustration for my son's room. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to hang it, but  that is another story. I hope you like it!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Blog and Link Update Finished

Sorry, no big post tonight, but I do have the link list updated so be sure to check it out! In case you looked at this post earlier I forgot to mention that I have a new blog. This will not mean that I am going to stop this blog by any means. It is a blog for me to write about things that I wouldn't normally post here. I'm not sure yet how much of this blog will be relatable for children, and may seem more adult oriented, however none of the posts will be terrible for children to read (if they do indeed read it). Probably the most dangerous thing on there is my odd sense of humour. So Warning This Blog Has Been Rated "O" for Odd Humour. Enjoy:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blog Updates

Been a long day today. I hope that tomorrow morning that I do a few blog updates. I'm just too tired tonight to finish. I especially need to update my links list (yes, I know it's not complete). There may be other updates so stay tuned!

Friday, February 15, 2013

On My Head

On My Head

My parent's always said
I shouldn't stand on my head
I don't know can be done
On your feet that's so much fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dianna Dorisi Winget

Before I start this blog review I just have to say that I love Dianna Dorisi Winget's name! It's so whimsical and magical. What a wonderful name to have as a writer! First look of her website you might think she's an illustrator, but you will have been deceived, because Dianna is indeed a writer. Here is her site:

The reason why I say that you might think that Dianna is a illustrator is because her website is so pretty! The colours are lovely and warm like springtime. They layout itself is quite lovely too! The design of the website is just a small part of what is wonderful about Dianna's website.

Dianna has a whole page about herself. Not just the normal blurb about the author, but actual fun facts! I personally love having details about the creators of books on their sites. She tells you what preferences she has. Does she like chocolate or vanilla? Cats or Dogs? Cupcakes or Cookies? Don't look at me! I'm not going to tell you. You have to go to her website to find the answers.

Dianna has written the book "A Smidgen of Sky". This book is about a girl who has a father who disappeared while flying his plane. Now her mom is about to remarry. Dianna has a great excerpt from her book to read. The characters are vivid, the wording flows nicely and the main character is just fun. I wont spoil the story, you'll have to read the excerpt for yourself!

If that excerpt is not enough for you, then check out her list of free stories and articles! She has five on her website to read. Read them all? Keep checking back because she's going to keep updating this every month.
Dianna doesn't stick to her own work, she also has a list of books she's read recently (although if you want to hear more, she has praise for her book on the site).

Before you leave Dianna's site be sure to check out her links. She has several wonderful links to interviews people have done with her,  her favourite authors, and resources for writers! I never miss out the chance to find out more about the children's book industry.

If you are looking for a neat author to check out please check out Dianna's site. BE FOREWARNED HER STORIES ARE ENGROSSING! You might be on this site for a while just reading her works. Don't read this at school or work... you will lose track of time. ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Kid Lit Chat

I don't have much time tonight to post. For all of you interested in children's literature I invite you to join me on twitter. Specifically #kidlitchat. This runs Tuesdays at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Twitter. It's a lot of fun and there is always good conversation.

The transcripts for kid lit chat are here:
And here is the link if you want to follow:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Can You Draw a Monster and a Kitten?

As promised here is a wonderful contest for you all to enter. Can you draw a monster and a kitten? No, you don't have to be a professional to join and KIDS are encouraged to join as well as other artists. Sound like fun? Well it is!

Just head on over to Dani Jones' website: She has a contest going on right now for her new Monsters vs. Kittens book. If you want to join in go to her website to get all the details. Hurry, though the contest ends on Feb. 22.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Busy Day

I had a really busy day today. My son was sick all night (up every two hours) and was needy all day. I meant to post a lot earlier.

I did get a chance, right at the end, to enter Jean Reidy's contest. It's a contest to have a picture book manuscript critiqued. I've recently revised this manuscript and have been wanting new eyes to look at it. Here's the link:

I'm sorry, sorry, sorry I didn't post this sooner. To make up for it I'll post about another contest I heard about tomorrow. I also want to say that there won't be a book review this week, but should be back next week!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Sippy Cup

My Sippy Cup

My sippy cup is orange and blue
I love it so, this much is true
And when I turn it upside down
My milk spills and I splash around
Then mommy comes to clean it up
Oh no, I lost my sippy cup!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

El Gato Diablo & POST 100

I had some time today so I decided to play around in Painter just for fun. I wanted to do a painting to celebrate my 100th post. I planed on doing a cute little kitty. Little did I know that I was painting el gato diablo. I didn't mean to paint him... he just snuck up on me and BAM!!!! 

So You Want Your Blog Reviewed

Today was crazy. My son is sick, so he kept me up most of the night and then didn't nap much. Around 3 I got a second crazy toddler and the two of them reeked havoc together. The next thing I know I'm working out and after watched a tv show. My husband looked at his phone and it was almost midnight. Crazy how time flies!


Today I want to talk to you about my blog reviews.  Now while it's not required, I prefer doing reviews on blogs of people who are interested in having their blog reviewed. That way they know it's coming and then can look forward to when it comes out. All blogs reviewed on my site will have a permanent link on my "Best Link List Ever" page*. Want your blog reviewed? There are just a few rules:

* You must be a writer or illustrator for children's books (board books - YA). You do not have to be published to be considered. I will not leave out a good agent or editor at their request!

* Your site must be reasonably organized, formatted. Grammar and spelling should be fair.

* You must have posted on your website twice within 30 days before I review your blog.**

* I may choose to change the rules at any time. I'm a woman and that's what we do!

*  I also reserve the right to NOT review your site if it is inappropriate, incomplete, or otherwise questionable. This goes on a case by case basis. I determine what's appropriate, so it doesn't hurt to ask me even if you think your blog is somewhat inappropriate. I might surprise you!

The best way to contact me about this is by email: daniduckart(@) Don't forget to remove the parenthesis when you email me. You don't have to give me much info when you contact me. Just your name and the site you want reviewed. You can also include any social media that you participate in (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, ect.) I am not rating your site, nor am I doing bad reviews. If a website is not worth going to, or I don't feel it fits into my blog, then I just wont review it. I do the reviews on Thursdays, but you may not see the review until Friday.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A BLOG:  I can review websites on their own, but they aren't my favourite. I'd prefer that you had something special on your website that you updated regularly for me to review. I will look at a website more critically. I consider Facebook pages (the kinds you like, not personal pages) to be like blogs, so Facebook is okay too. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

* Blogs that haven't been updated in a year may be removed until they are active again.

** If you have posted twice within the last 30 days when you ask me to to review your blog, but when I go to post you haven't posted enough I'll put you on my dormant list and you will be first in line once your blog is up and running. This is for your own benefit. I don't want to send people to a site that's not updated.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jean Reidy

I have a new blog to post about today! It's Jean Reidy's blog... or should I say blogs? If you have kids you should read this review! There are a few of Jean's sites that you should visit. The first is her webpage:  Her main blog: (you'll want to visit this one before Monday is over if you are a writer).  And her boredom relieving blog:  All three are well worth visiting and I'll tell you why!

Jean Reidy's website is a great place to get to know Jean. Yes it has the normal information about the books and articles she's written and an about me page, but this is not what I'm talking about. Jean has a rather lengthy FAQ section on her website. In this FAQ you can learn a lot about both who Jean is, and how to go about being a published writer. She also has great resources for Teachers and Parents (but check them out if you are a writer/illustrator) they are very well thought out and have lots of fun ideas.

"A Totally Random Romp" is Jean's blog. On her blog she writes about anything from book reviews to clearing out your clutter. She has many writers talking about their books. She's had great people on her blog too like: Anna Staniszewski author of My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (which I'd like to read soon) and Jennifer A Nielson author of the False Prince (read the False Prince and loved it... can't wait for the new book). These authors tell secrets about writing and publishing, so you don't want to miss these!  There are lots of things on this blog to inspire and enjoy so view it soon (after you finish reading)! One thing WRITERS WONT WANT TO MISS is Jean's latest post. She is offering a free critique for one lucky writer on Monday 2/11/2013!  Don't miss out on your chance for this.

The last site of Jean's is a great resource for parents, caretakers and maybe even teachers. This "Too Princessy! Boredom Buster Blog" is a really neat idea. There are many different games and crafts on this site to keep children busy for a really long time. The content is submitted by people who read this blog, so readers get the benefit of a range of projects. Right now there seems to be about a hundred different projects on the site. There will soon be a lot more because there is a contest (random drawing will be: March 1 2013). Enter now for your chance to win!

It is a long, long post today, but there were a lot of sites to cover! What's that? I would have written a long post anyway? Yep, probably true, but that's one of the reasons you love me. Umm right? Ha ha ha!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Woman of the Birds

I decided today to share a drawing that I finished a while ago, but didn't quite like how it turned out. I just felt like something didn't work quite right colour wise on this painting and it made the whole thing fall flat (scanner didn't help here either.. You are welcomed to comment on it if you like. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Sweet Dreams

My Sweet Dreams

My sweet dreams are funny things
Filled with pink cats on tall springs
Lions and bears skate on ice
Elephants carried by mice
Dogs hiding in small key holes
Frogs flying out of control
Tiny pigs dancing with grace
Huge mice don't seem out of place
Turtles faster than a hare
Wales smaller than a mare
Polka-dot birds wearing shoes
Glowing white fish in canoes 
When I think I've seen it all
Right out of bed do I fall

Monday, February 4, 2013

Oops! by David Shannon

I will admit that I didn't like these books when David first got them. I didn't like the drawings, but I've grown to love them. I honestly think it's the fact that my son's name is David, the main character's name is David in these books, and my son looks nothing like that baby! Ha ha ha. 

David Shannon has a nice series for his Diaper David books, but I chose this one for a very special reason. It's not that my son just loves this book, he can actually "read" it at 2 years old. He knows the book so well that he can sit there and tell people what it says. True, most of the words are based on pictures, however my little 2 year old is so proud of himself that he can "read" this book.  
There are tons of picture books out on the market, but I highly suggest these because they are whimsically drawn, are short for small attention spans, have recognizable words and relatable situations for babies. This is one of the favourites of my family and I hope it will soon become a favourite of yours as well.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Haikus For The Seasons


Fragrant flowers
Running in a field of green
When will this rain end?


Warm sun on my back
Waves splashing on sparkling sand
My skin is sunburnt


Brightly coloured leaves

Gently carried in the breeze
Soon there will be snow


Softly falling snowflakes
People Dancing on the ice
I miss my warm bed

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Look What I Won!

Before Christmas I entered this contest: Hosted by Calypso and the lovely Katie Rodgers. I had some time just before the contest ended and for a few hours I was obsessed with adding photos to my Pinterest board for this contest. Here is my entry: A short while later it was announced on twitter that I was one of the winners. I couldn't believe it but confirmed it on Katie's Pinterest account here:  

Today I was so happy to receive a package in the mail which contained my winnings wrapped in beautiful tissue paper. Inside were two watercolour illustrations from the wonderful Katie Rodgers herself, a Calypso St. Barth Mouse pad and a $200 gift card to Calypso St. Barth (Check out their website here:                                              

I just can't wait to get shopping. There is really nothing better than be able to shop without using money! I have no idea what I'm going to buy yet, but I'll let you know!

I absolutely love the illustrations I received in the mail (my phone photo doesn't do them justice). I immediately stored them in my artwork cabinet so little hands didn't grab them.  I plan to get them properly framed and hung when I have time, but for now they  are safe and sound in my cabinet.  I believe I found Katie's Paperfashion Facebook page when I was looking up paper dolls on Facebook. Katie Rodgers is a wonderful Fashion Illustrator, so please follow her on Facebook if you like what you see here! Her Facebook

Thank you, thank you, thank you Katie Rodgers and Calypso!

Friday, February 1, 2013

On New Year's Resolutions

Tons of people make New Year's Resolutions, but how many people actually keep them? I heard somewhere that if a person writes out what they plan to do they are a lot more likely to follow through. I don't know if that's really true, because I write down things all the time that I don't do. For instance I have never, ever made my husband sleep in the doghouse, though I believe I've threatened a few times (we actually don't have a dog). What is it then that make some people follow through with their goals and some not? I don't really know.

I am one of the many people who made a Resolution this year (you can read it here).  My number one goal was to make a blog post every day. It depends on your view on the matter to whether or not I've failed already. I know I have not posted everyday, but I am going on with my goal to make a post every day. I think some people make these resolutions, make a mistake, and decide to give up because of this. If you ask me I'd say I've been successful in my goals. I have made mistakes, and will probably make mistakes in the future, but I hope those will only strengthen me in my resolution.

I did start a sketch blog years ago while I was pregnant with my son. For the longest time I kept up with it (maybe missed a day or two), but I ended up quitting in the mid to late 100s. Though I did not finish my resolution (too much for me with a baby on the way) I think that this too was a success, because I learned a lot about myself along the way.

I'm interested in finding out who else out there is successful (or not so successful) with their resolutions. What is it that you learned about yourself when working on this goal? Do you think you'll be able to achieve your goals this year? Are their other parts of your goals that could be considered a success even though you didn't achieve your goals? Let me know.

I would like to say that New Year's Resolutions can be really rough. You'll do yourself some good if you don't get to upset with yourself when you quite meet your own standards. Even if you fall down pick yourself back up. If it seems too hard, then maybe you need to review your goals and take on something more reasonable. I do not know what it is that makes people achieve their goals, but I do know that one's journey is often more important than one's goals.