Friday, October 30, 2015

An Interview With Jennyann Carthern

I've known Jennyann for almost two years now. We met in the 12 x 12 (12 picture books in 12 months). Jennyann is never short of ideas and this keeps her very busy with her art. Though Jennyann is busy, she always makes the time to support to other Illustrators.

Jennyann has been working hard on some fantastic projects over the years. In late 2014 she got the idea for "Monster Chores" coloring book that I worked on her with. Monster Chores is a collaboration of 13 illustrators and is filled with lots of fun monster illustrations to color. You can download the book free here:

Jennyann has a lot of big projects going on this year. She's got a Bookplate creation project for Etsy (link is for the Patreon page), a her Painting Black Faces Project, and she's also creating some course material for teachers and afterschool programs!


Dani: Why Children's Literature?

Jennyann: I love children’s literature because it’s magical, and engaging. It ignites the unknown realms of our imagination, where almost any idea, creature, or creation can be told.

Dani: What are the main projects you are working on right now?

Jennyann: I’m not currently working on a specific children’s book right now. However the main projects I am working on are creating bookplates. Which are fancy illustrated labels that you glue in the front pages of your favorite books. I’m planning to sell them on Etsy. My store will be opening real soon, in a matter of weeks. I’ve also created a special page on Patreon to offer a limited edition set of bookplates to Patrons only each month.

Other projects include my Painting Black Faces Project, in which I’m collecting photos of African American youth in K-5th grade. I want to create a picture book of portraits, that I’m painting of them. This is in service to more diversity in picture books and more students loving the skin their in.

Then last I’m creating some course material for teachers and afterschool programs to bring more art into their classrooms and programs, along with courses for adults who just want to have fun with art.

There are a whole lot of other projects too, just not ready to release the hounds yet.

Dani: Finish the following thoughts:

Painting is...whimsical, dreamy, and inviting .

I focus on joy.

Dani: What's special about your work?

Jennyann: My work makes people happy. It’s engaging, a whole lot of fun, and it’s a journey worth taking.

Dani: What is your ultimate goal?

Jennyann: My ultimate goal is to live my life with purpose while making a living doing what I love. I want set up better life experiences for myself and my family. I want to impact others to live the life they want. Regardless of their circumstances. It just takes a yes, then a whole lot of learning, mistakes, and work. It’s possible.

I think that’s why I also love children’s literature. It’s always full of possibilities. As some of us grow older, we just stop believing. I’ve never stopped. I just kept going, even after falling a gazillion times, and if I fall again. As long as I can look up. I’ll kept getting up. I just know that all the work I’ve put in will pay me back one day. So if I stop, or refuse to keep going. It won’t ever get the chance to do that.


My Patreon Page to become a Patron:





My New Etsy Store/Coming Soon:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Smart Dummies Survey - One Last Prize!

Thank you all one last time for participating in Smart Dummies!

Here is a survey I'd like you to fill out if you have time. Please send all answers to daniduckart(@) (remove parenthesis) with the subject "Smart Dummies Survey". You can also comment below or catch me on Facebook if that's easier. To bribe you to do this I will be sending out a hand-painted greeting card to one random participant. If I have time I may send out a few other prizes! If you did participate in the event, but did not get a chance to sign up you are still eligible to win.

Feel free to answer as many of these questions as you like. Please be candid. Don't be afraid to hurt my feelings. Please answer at least 3 of these questions to be entered to win! I will be picking a winner from the entrants on November 14.

1. What did you like about Smart Dummies?

2. What did you not like?

3. Who would you like to see doing a guest post next year?

4. Would you like to write a guest post next year?*

5. Did you finish your dummy? (If yes, skip question 6).

6. If you did not finish your dummy
      A. How far did you get?
      B. What got in the way of completion?

7. What would you like to see changed for next year?

8, What kinds of prizes would you like to see next year?

9. Do you have a prize you would like to donate for next year's event?

*I'm mostly looking for published Writers/Illustrators to post, however there may be other posting opportunities surrounding the event.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Even More Winners!

Even more winners today! I will be getting in touch with everyone over the next week. If you want to send me a pre-emptive email please feel free. Use the subject Smart Dummies Prize (so I don't lose it) and email daniduckart(@) 

And the Winner of the

Sussu Leclerc 

Thank you all for participating! I will be having a survey soon about the event, so I can improve things for next year!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Winners!

I have a slight problem with one of our big winners Meaning I have to make an adjustment. The big prize winner, Meridth Gimbel, is already in a critique group with Mary Uhles. While Mary will be giving her friend a portfolio review, she has asked me to choose another person!

The new (or second) winner of a Portfolio review by the wonderful Mary Reaves Uhles is:

Marla Lesage

Since Meridth already had access to the prize awarded she will  receive Two Girls Want a Puppy from Maple Lam

More Winners because giving out prizes is fun!

I'll announce the final winners tomorrow! 

The prizes may be subject to eligibility rules found in earlier posts (ie Some prizes can only be sent to the US. I believe I double checked everything thoroughly, but if for some reason someone is not eligible for a prize I'll send them something fun through letter mail.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Reminder for #PBPITCH and Some Winners!

Before I announce any winners I want to remind you all about #pbpitch that's happening October 15th. For more information on this event look here: You can also search #pbpitch on Twitter to see past pitches (and what was favorited).

Since I'm a sharing person I'm going to share with you a link to help you get the most out of your pitch. I followed the instructions and got my first favorite ever on a pitch party during the last event.

PJ McIlvaine uploaded a wonderful guide to pitching Picture Books on the Kidlit 411 group. If you aren't a member of this Facebook Group you must join!

I'm not going to post all of the winners today. I have chosen most (if not all) of the winners already. The next two days will be devoted to winner announcements! 


Winner of the Dummy Critique 

Dyann Joyce

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quilling in Style with Stacy S. Jensen -- Plus a WINNER!

I asked Stacy Jensen on my blog today because I happened to catch this wonderful post of hers just before Smart Dummies began:  In this post she created beautiful work just using paper. Stacy doesn't see herself as a visual artist, but maybe she should reconsider this view. I could see illustrations like these in books!

Stacy is a wonderful Writer and a lot of fun. I think if she wanted to she could also be an Illustrator with this fun quilling style. I thought that her style could help you see another way of crafting your art. Whether you use this style for inspiration, illustration or just to relax I'm sure you'll be tempted to try this style. It looks like a lot of fun!


I write short picture book manuscripts.

My efforts to curl paper caught Dani Duck's eye, if you are wondering why a writer is among the guest bloggers.

I began quilling a couple years. I discovered quilling, as a portable craft I could take to a neighborhood meeting. I discovered this craft on Pinterest — not at the age of 12 like most people I know.
Thanks to the Internet, books and online groups, I've taught myself a variety of techniques and have an assortment of tools to crimp, coil, and pinch my paper strips into shape. I also have a large glue collection.

While quilling takes some time away from my writing, I find it feeds into my writing too.
I often put down my quilling to make a note for a new story idea or a story-in-progress.
I've used quilling over the last year to "illustrate" an image for a challenge:
I stretched myself really large in June when I participated in Susanna Leonard Hill's illustrator contest. I created a scene for the "Discovery" theme. ( It's a bit cliché with the large eye looking down into the grass. But it pushed me. I had a deadline and pushed myself to use new techniques.

When another friend asked me to participate in a #SpreadPoetryonFacebook challenge, I picked up my paper strips and glue. I created four projects for Emily Dickinson poems.


3- And another challenge to write a poem about Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill, resulted in two quilled images and a video. (

Dummies aren't really required for my one-panel projects, but I do create sketches for my work.
Dummies are part of my picture book revision process. They are more word based. I create doodles too. Since I write short, a dummy will often help me find mistakes in my writer logic.
I've researched a lot of quilling artists. While I haven't found one yet in a picture book, I have found several really cool paper artists.

Here are a few paper artist links for inspiration:
  • Yulia Brodskaya
  • Denise Fleming (
  • Brittani Rose Gothard. (
  • Marina Adamova (

Thanks for letting me to join you for the Smart Dummies Challenge.

Bio: Stacy S. Jensen writes picture books, eats chocolate, designs websites and quills paper. She lives in Colorado with her family.

Today I'm going to announce the Portfolio Review kindly donated by Mary Reaves Uhles! If you haven't read her post yet, you need to. Mary has excellent Time Management Tips you need to know!


The winner of Mary's Portfolio Review is:

Meridth Gimbel

Congratulations Meredith! I'll contact you shortly about your prize (if you don't contact me first).  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Don't Forget to Sign the Oath - Plus Some WINNERS

Starting tomorrow I'm going to start drawing names for prizes! Be sure to sign the Smart Dummies Oath if you haven't already: If you completed a strong draft (2nd draft or better) on your dummy this month you've won and need to sign the oath!
Remember that you need to comment on Mira's Photoshop Course (and have a finished dummy) to win that prize.

Tomorrow I have Stacy S. Jensen on my blog. She'll be talking about an art style she uses for relaxation. There will be a big prize winner on this post!

And because I can't wait until tomorrow here are some WINNERS! I have 3 sets of cards to give out that were donated by Stephen Maquignon. For the most part there will be only one prize per person. Since I'm not sure if everyone has signed the oath I'm going to make an exception (so don't think if you win this prize you can't win one of the big prizes). Winners are chosen through


Danielle Dufayet 

Sussu Leclerc

Danette Byatt 

Be sure to send me a mailing address so I can send you these wonderful postcards!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Laying Out Your Final

It's often confusing for illustrators in how to set up their illustrations for publication. If you are creating an illustration for your portfolio or for a gallery you don't need to know this information. If you are working in a traditional medium this is vital to know. I've done several of my own layouts, but I still attempted to fact check this. I was very irritated to find very little easily accessible information about page layouts for books! Let me know if you notice any mistakes.

I color coded this chart. It is for a 8 x 10 picture book.

Yellow = Handling Area
Red = Bleed
Blue = Gutter
Green lines = Crop Marks

The areas that are red, blue and white will be filled with your image.

Masking area -- This is 2" so printers don't get your work smudgy. Mask this area off with masking tape. I recommend using cheap tissue paper on anything the tape didn't cover (including the back). Often the bottom of this area will be 3" instead of 2".

Bleed - This goes 1/4" into your 2" border. Your image needs to go out into this area. The bleed will be trimmed off your final book. You need the bleed on this (and anything you are printing) so that your image goes to the edge of the pages. Do not place text any closer than 1/4 inch to the bleeds.

Gutter - Unlike the bleed this 1/2" area will not be cut from your work. Do not put anything important in this area! In a picture book this area will likely not be seen (or seen well) because the inside of the picture is bound here. 

Crop Marks - This is where the printer will cut your image. This will be marked in black ink when you send out your final images. 

Measure your image carefully when laying out your image. A #2 mechanical pencil works well for lay out work. Draw your lines lightly. The image below shows more clearly where you need to make your pencil marks. Make them on the solid lines (edge of the bleed area) and down the middle. The only areas that need black ink are the crop marks, and that's only if the image is going to print.

If any of this is confusing please let me know! If you are color blind and can't properly see the above images, please let me know and I'll send you a black and white version.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Final Steps for Your Dummy

With the Smart Dummies event the idea is to get a submission ready dummy, but there are a few other things you should probably have before submitting to a publisher. If I missed something, please let me know. This is just a brief list!

1. Final Images - Editors, Art Directors and Agents like to see 2-3 finished spreads (4-6 pages finished). Spreads being the consecutive pages you see when a book is open. Generally these are done in color. There are a few artists that work in black and white. This can be incorporated directly into your dummy. I will talk more about this later. 

2. The Portfolio - Before you get hired, Editors and Agents are going to want to see what you've done in the past. The amount of images you need for this varies depending who you ask. You should have at least 12-15 images to get your portfolio started. This will go as a link if you send an email.

Because we live in a digital age you will want to have your portfolio online. Make sure you have your contact information on your website! Patricia had some wonderful tips for creating your website portfolio earlier this month: You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for your website to start. Using a free website creator like weebly is perfectly acceptable (that's the first service I used).

3. A Cover Letter - You should work to craft a good cover letter to go along with your dummy. Always address your letter to a specific person. You should have a brief introduction (Who you are and why you are sending this dummy). The pitch that describes your story. And your qualifications for writing this book including education, related professional information, and any publications where your work has appeared. 

4. Your Manuscript - You will have the entire text of your manuscript in your dummy, but Editors and Agents will want your manuscript. If you have a wordless book, don't worry about the manuscript. At this point Picture Book manuscripts should be 500 words or less. 

5. Don't Work in a Bubble - This isn't something you put in a dummy, but more of something to make your work stronger. If you are the only one to see your work before sending it out, then you will be missing out on some valuable advice. I strongly suggest joining a critique group or doing a dummy trade with someone you trust.

Be sure to check the full guidelines of an Agent or Editor before you send anything out! Not following guidelines is a huge reason why people get their stories rejected! 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Smart Dummies Prizes!

Before I get into the prizes I want to make sure everyone knows I made a mistake on Diandra Mae's Post: I somehow missed half the post and could not get it to re-send to your email. So sorry about that!

Please Comment on the prizes you want to show love to the people who have generously donated prizes. Mira's Photoshop course will only go to people who comment on the post! I had planned to make commenting required for all prizes, but that will make things unnecessarily complicated. I will use to choose the prizes in a week (or so) from now.

Commenting on other posts in the event is also fantatic. It helps the people who have donated their time to Smart Dummies. This will also help me in making an even better event next year!

I will also be following up the event with a survey. Anyone who participated can fill out the survey and be entered to win a thank you prize from me!

Prizes for Smart Dummy Winners: 

Two Girls Want a Puppy - Maple Lam

Prizes for Smart Dummy Entrants/Winners:

* Must have a US mailing address to win this prize.

The Smart Dummies Oath!

Here it is! The winner's oath. If you completed 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.

You do not need to send me anything this year. We are on the honor's system. You MUST SIGN this oath in order to be eligible for most prizes and have signed up at the beginning of the event. Please comment on the posts of the prizes you want! I'll post the links for all prizes in the next post today so you don't need to search.

The Smart Dummies Oath: 

I do solemnly swear that I have completed the Smart Dummies challenge. I have at least 24 pages (or 12 spreads) completed for my Picture Book Dummy. I understand that lying about this only hurts me and will leave me subject to a death by killer dust bunnies.* I will continue working on turning this dummy into an awesome picture book.

*Killer dust bunnies may or may not be a complete and utter myth.

That's it! You have about a week until I start drawing prizes. Thank you all for being a part of this event! Even if you didn't win this event know that you are a winner for just attempting a dummy. This is just one challenge. Stay in the Smart Dummies Facebook group so you can keep learning about dummies all year long!