Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Personal Website

A few days ago I started something that I haven't done in a long time: I updated my website. It doesn't seem like that big of deal, but it's something that's pretty important for illustrators.

My website on a PC
Updating my website was more work than I thought. I have a wordpress website and it's a lot of work to make a wordpress blog look like a portfolio website. The moral to this part of the story is that wordpress is evil for website building. Especially when I know what I want!

My website is www.daniduck.com if you want to see more!

I wanted a bit of my artwork at the top. This image will likely change soon, but I wanted something at the top to fill that space until I design something different.

It's really important to have easy navigation on a website from one part of a website to another. It may seem silly to have a "home" button on my landing page, but it's important to have the same navigation on every page. This makes for easier navigation and less distraction when exploring a website.
Website navigation

It seems to be standard practice to have a white background on portfolio websites. (Mine was brown before and I hated it.) White is used so the images become the focus of the webpage. Using other colors in the background can distract from the art. Black can be used as well, however white allows the eyes to have a bit more rest.


One of the hardest things about creating the portfolio is pruning the images. I had more than 18 images in two portfolios before I started. This isn't hideously awful, but I wanted to get rid of most of my older work. I'm now down to 10 images in my portfolio. It's small, but I feel confident with each image in the portfolio. Something I didn't feel before the pruning. Honestly, I hate having so few images in my portfolio, but I think it gives a better feel overall.
 
My website on a Smart Phone
When designing any website it's important for a webpage to look good on all devices. If I were to create a webpage from scratch, then I'd have to design code that will make my webpage look good no matter where it's viewed. When using a template (like I did) one still has to design the website to look good on different devices.

Don't depend on a website builder tool to give  accurate information on how a website will look on  all devices. I know for a fact that mine looks different on my cell phone than GoDaddy (my website builder) says it will look. Make sure the webpage can be viewed properly on a PCs, Tablet and Smart Phones. Check out the website on as many different devices and web browsers as possible (borrow from a friend!). Sometimes a device or web browser won't be compatible with the template that was used. It's impossible to know which device an editor, agent or art director will view my work, so I try to make my website as accessible as possible!
My website on a Tablet.

The reason my name is so small on a PC is because it has to be that small so my full name can be seen on a Smart Phone. I'm sure there is a way to edit each page separately, but I don't think I want to be that picky (plus I hate messing with code. It's boring).

My website is far from perfect, but I feel like I finally have something that looks professional. I welcome any questions or comments on my website. Please let me know if anything looks horribly wrong!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why I'm a Failure

I totally and completely failed over the past few months. One thing you may have noticed is that I haven't been posting much. I've been completely overwhelmed with everything.

The following is a list of things that I've failed doing:

1. I failed to blog. I've been meaning to do this, but I just haven't had time.

2. I failed to finish my story for the Chapter Book Challenge.

3. I failed to write my March story for the 12x12.

4. I'm way behind in critiquing the April stories from my critique group.

5. I haven't updated my website in forever.

6. All of my personal projects are at a stand still right now.

The list could go on forever, but these are the main problems.

Failure is the first way I tend to look at things when I don't get to complete all the tasks I want to get done. There are reasons I haven't been able to do the above tasks. I'm still experiencing pain/fatigue/sleeplessness from my car accident. My whole family has been sick for over a month. I have an illustration job. I have two kids, one of those kids are under 2 years old (and is refusing naps). I have family and friends I spend time with. I also have to do the laundry and dishes once in a while.

Often I feel like the above things are excuses instead of legitimate reasons for not getting things done. They would be excuses if I was letting them take over my life and not getting anything done. It's important to look at the positives when then negatives seem to outweigh the positives in your life. I don't do this enough, so I'm going to do it now.

Here is the list of things I've accomplished over the last few months:

1. I worked on Smart Dummies (with the Smart Dummies Planning Group) and we came up with some good leads for the event. Also some great ideas to make the event better.

2. I got over 10,000 words written in March for a new story thanks to the Chapter Book Challenge.

3. I wrote a new story in both January and Febuary for the 12x12 and April is not yet over!

4. I feel like I gave the best feedback I could for my critique group January-March. I will be able to do the critiques for April -- just late.

5. I am working on an illustration commission. I feel like I'm not over the biggest hurdle for this and will be able to finish up soon.

6. I have tons of ideas thanks to Storystorm. I may not have times to work on those ideas, but they are written down and will be stored for later.

7. I have a wonderful family. My house isn't clean, but no one died. Having kids that live is relatively important.

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Think about all the things you did since the beginning of the year. How many failures did you have? What was the reasons behind those failures? Write down the things you accomplished and focus on those. Life will get in the way, but you can still get things done.

I had an art teacher who use to say that with art you are always getting better even when you aren't creating. If you stopped creating art for many years you still would be better than you were when you stopped because you bring all your experiences into your work. The same goes for writing. If you can't work, then absorb as much of the world as possible. You can use it later in your craft!



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Are Your Dreams Worth it?

I was at the local McDonalds today chatting with my friend and letting the kid's play. Just as we are about to leave the words "I'm worth it." start blaring on the radio. Something about me and this song don't mix and I happily leave the restaurant without hearing the end.

Even though it's a song I like the words keep repeating in my head. I've been meaning to write a blog post anyway, and I know that the subject of worth often comes up when working in a creative field. I can tell you, without a doubt, you are worth it. I don't even have to know who you are to say this. I could not, however, tell you if your dreams are worth pursuing.

In general I could say that dreams are worth pursuing. When you get more specific by saying: "Is _____ worth it to _____, then the answer is much less clear. For the purposes of this blog I feel as though the question is "Is it worth it to become a Children's Writer or Illustrator." The answer to this is an undeniable yes and no.

Let's be specific by answering some questions Would the journey be worth it if:

I never get a book published?
It makes me hate my work?
I never become famous?
It means my house is a mess?
I never get any work?
It affects my health?
I become estranged from my family?
Someone else raises my kids?
It makes me feel bad about myself?
No one likes my work?

Think of the worst thing that could happen. Could you live with this?

The list could go on forever. There is no right or wrong answers, only what is right for you. Think now and see if you could be happy if some or most of these were true.

It takes a special kind of person to be a writer or illustrator. Take moment look at all these scary possible outcomes and tell yourself (out loud) it's worth it to follow the dreams you love.  You are worth it.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Coffee for Smart Dummies 2017

It's nice to see the words in print even though the actual event is still a ways off! Right now I'm early in the planning stages of the event. I'm hoping to add new features to the event and make the event more accessible to writers. I want to keep the event free to enter, so I could use a bit of help keeping everything going. This is where you come in.

If you have enjoyed being a part of Smart Dummies in the past, please consider buying me a coffee. This is a low cost way to help keep the event going. I spend $25 out of my own pocket for the Amazon gift card each year. I also spend a lot of time planning and hosting this event. I have 2 kids (1 and 6 years old) so it's not always easy to find the time. It's much easier justifying a babysitter (or asking family for help) if I have a bit of money coming in.

I would much rather make money off of my own picture books (or other creations) than off of Smart Dummies. I do, however, want it to continue to run even if I'm not able to physically do the work myself. I will keep the coffee button on my blog, so even if you can't donate now, maybe you'll be able to do so in the future!

Please donate a cup of coffee to keep Smart Dummies going!


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 30

I hope you all enjoyed participating in Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I also hope you enjoyed my bad ideas this month. How did you do for ideas this month?

Bad Idea 30:

GLITTER BOOK. A book that shoots out glitter every time you turn each page. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Monday, January 30, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 29

Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 29:

A book written by a baby for babies. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Sunday, January 29, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 28

Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 28:

A nonfiction book about making cakes with no ingredients, no pictures and no cakes mentioned throughout.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Saturday, January 28, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 27

Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 27:

A book of illegible signatures that may or may not all be mine. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/  

Friday, January 27, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 26

Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 26:

The League of Assassin Babies. A picture book with extra gore. Because we all know how much kids love gore!

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 25

Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 25:

A narcotics counting picture book. 
Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 23 & 24

I can't believe I forgot again! Oh well, two for the price of one. Thanks to Tara Lazar for creating Storystorm!

Bad Idea 23:

A story about cannibalistic dust bunnies. Important: Told from the perspective of the floor. Very Important: The floor is NOT a sentient being.

Bad Idea 24:

Baby gets 5 immunization shots and cries.


Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/  

Monday, January 23, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 22

This post is in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm!

Bad Idea 22: 

A harrowing story about unbridled mediocrity. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Sunday, January 22, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 21

Almost forgot to make a post in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm today!

Bad Idea 21: 

A story about mermaids that aren't really mermaids, but are really mermaids -- but not! At the end of the book the reader finds out that they are really mermaids, but not really mermaids but are really mermaids -- but probably not (or are they?????)

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Saturday, January 21, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 20

Almost forgot to make a post in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm today!

Bad Idea 20: 

A book about a dream within a dream within a book.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Friday, January 20, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 19

This post is in honor of  Corey Rosen Schwartz's s Storystorm post about "Titlestorming". If you read this Corey, know that I am very sorry.

Bad Idea 19: 

Pooppolis

Again, I'm very sorry to Corey and anyone else who reads this. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

(I accidently misnumbered my last post. I've fixed it now. I do know how to count to 30!)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 17 & 18

So I forgot yesterday. I have no idea why, but there it is. Here are two ideas to make up for the loss! I'm still doing Tara Lazar's Storystorm here and at home!

Bad Idea #17:

A sleeping baby (or cat) that must be in one's lap whenever the writer/artist is at the computer. Told from the P.O.V. of the computer. (Not at all autobiographical as I do not have a sleeping baby in my lap right now.) 

Bad Idea #18:

A book about rain. The book shall contain blurry photographs of rain. (Again not autobiographical. It's not raining here.)

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 16

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #16:

An educational picture book that explains (in detail) to kids all the ways they can die. With descriptive pictures and flow charts.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Monday, January 16, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 15

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #15:

Put pages of paper by my kids at night. Assemble drooled on pages into a book. Title is "Drool Dreams".

Another idea for the series: Coffee & Tea stained pages while I'm writing and illustration. Also tear stained rejection letters. Assembled they will be: "The Life of an Artist".

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 14

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #14:

A book where the ending is the beginning, the beginning is somewhere in the middle and the middle is in another book. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Saturday, January 14, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 13

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #13:

A book of lists. No indication to what the lists are about or any breaks to determine where a list begins and ends. It's up to the reader to figure that out for themselves.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Friday, January 13, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 12

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #12:

A book with no words or pictures. The audio book will be mimed on CD or Audio Download.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Thursday, January 12, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 11

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #11:

A novel length biography told entirely through ink hand prints. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 10

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm

Bad Idea #10:

A recipe book with no recipes. Just a critique of the food television cooks create, even though I've never tasted their food. 

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 9

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #9:

The incoherent ramblings of a drunk sailor. Written (and printed) illegibly in longhand.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Monday, January 9, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 8

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #8:

A collection of sentences. All on different subjects and each it's own story. Novel length.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Sunday, January 8, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 7

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #7:

Two Words: Mutant Ketchup.

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Saturday, January 7, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 6

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #6:

A fantasy series completely written with emojis. 😕🐪📯🕃🔆🎮😴😠😎😍😈

Want help generating good ideas? Check out Storystorm to help you out! https://taralazar.com/

Friday, January 6, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 5

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #5:

A Day in the Life of a Coffee Ground: a Memoir 

Think you can come up with a better idea? You can sign up for Storystorm before January 7th here: https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/

Thursday, January 5, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 4

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #4:

Sentient wrapping paper that feels pain. A heartwarming Christmas story. (Picture Book)

Think you can come up with a better idea? You can sign up for Storystorm before January 7th here: https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 3

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #3:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre but for kids. (Teddy bear is the main foe and has a mini-chain saw). Which kids will survive and what will be left of them?


Think you can come up with a better idea? You can sign up for Storystorm before January 7th here: https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 2

Every day this month I will be posting a new bad idea in honor of Tara Lazar's Storystorm! I'm also doing my real idea list privately. I hope my bad ideas give you good ideas. I also hope I show you that Storystorm can be easy & fun!

Bad Idea #2:

Cats vs. Dogs vs. Birds vs. Mice vs. Aliens vs. Unicorns vs. Dinosaurs vs. Ghosts vs. Ice Cream. (Likely a PB.)



Think you can come up with a better idea? You can sign up for Storystorm before January 7th here: https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/

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Also don't forget that Mira Reisberg from the Children's Book Academy is having a special until tomorrow for her Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books.You can get $70 off if you sign up before January 3rd at Midnight! It's a wonderful program, so you should check it out!   http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-childrens-picture-books.html The course starts January 9th

Monday, January 2, 2017

There is no Such Thing as a Bad Idea: Day 1

We've all heard the old adage: "There is no such thing as a bad idea." I don't believe this is wholly true. Sticking one's finger in a light socket is generally a bad idea. There are instances where it might be a good idea. If sticking a character's finger into a light socket works to further a plot line, then that bad idea might not be so bad.  

As I look over all my past ideas I find that some of them are bad ideas. A bad idea isn't bad because the idea is bad. I see bad story ideas as ones that I can't put into a story, yet. If someone else looked through my list of ideas they might be better at turning those ideas into good stories.

I'm participating in Storystorm this year. In this I will be creating at least 30 story ideas in the next 30 days (which will remain private). For fun I will be also creating 30 "bad" ideas for my blog. These ideas will be intentionally bad. If one of my bad ideas inspires you to write then go for it.

I'm hoping this month I'll be able to give you a chuckle. Even more so: I hope to show you how easy and accessible Storystorm is for everyone. I will be taking Storystorm seriously and will keeping a private journal of my good ideas as well. Please join me in taking part of this event!

Bad Idea #1:

Pete and Repeat are in boat. They are stuck in a time loop that happens when Pete falls out of the boat. Half way through the story Repeat falls out of the boat and the story ends.


Think you can come up with a better idea? You can sign up for Storystorm before January 7th here: https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/

Also don't forget that Mira Reisberg from the Children's Book Academy is having a special until tomorrow for her Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books.You can get $70 off if you sign up before January 3rd! It's a wonderful program, so you should check it out!   http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-childrens-picture-books.html

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hello 2017 Goals!

I am hoping this year will be a lot better than last year. Yesterday I said how I didn't come close to completing all of my goals for the year. This year I want to do better. I hope that the problems I'm now facing wont keep me from my goals.

Please note that I usually make these goals with the understanding that I wont complete them all. I like to make big plans for every year. If I achieve even part of these I'll be pretty happy.

1. Win Storystorm 

Storystorm use to be PiBoIdMo, but has been changed for all ages/genres. You just have to come up with 30 story ideas in 30 days (they can be as short as one sentence or as long as a first draft). I'm super excited about this, so I want to make sure you all get a chance to register. I'm even making my husband try it out this year. Go to https://taralazar.com/2016/12/27/storystorm-2017-registration-is-open/ before January 7th!

For fun I will be posting ridiculous story ideas throughout January. 

2. Win the 12x12 Challenge

This is an important goal for me. I've competed in the 12x12 Challenge (12 picture books in 12 months) in the last 3 (or is it 4 now?) years and haven't focused enough to complete the challenge. This is an absolutely wonderful challenge that has wonderful webinars, prizes and support groups to help you achieve your goals. Sign up starts January 10th http://12x12challenge.com/

3. Look for Freelance Illustration Work
I love doing the freelance work I do get, but it would be lovely if I could earn a living off of art!

4. Finish 2-3 Picture Book Dummies

5. Submit at Least 6 Different Manuscripts to Editors/Agents 

6. Spend More Focused Time on Social Media
My time online really suffered in the past two years. I'd like to do more of it, if I only get a chance to #kidlitart on Twitter every now and again!

7. Spend More Time With Family

This is so not the last thing I'm going to do. If I'm being honest, then this is the first. Seven is my favorite number, so this is why I made it #7. This is also kind of a work thing, because I'd also like to document more of what my kids say and do so I can use them in books.

Happy 2017 Everyone!