Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Coffee

One of my weekend (unfinished) projects!
I did a lot of spring cleaning over the weekend. Well some of this was regular cleaning, but technically it's done in the spring so it's spring cleaning. My house is looking pretty decent right now, but I haven't been able to do much in the way of art or writing. Also, I'm afraid tomorrow morning (I'm writing this on Sunday) I might be in a world of pain. I overdid it a bit on the cleaning and I may have more neck and back pain than I bargained for. I have proved once again that I can't do it all!

I'm hearing a lot lately: "Well if I (or this person) can do it, then so can you!" This is meant as a positive message to hear, but to me it can feel negative as well. People who are older, have more kids, work a day job, have a disability, ect. are doing it, but I'm not. It makes me wonder, "What's wrong with me? Why are these people making it and I'm not?" The truth is there are a lot of reason why other people have made it big (or big-ish) and I haven't.

The problem is this is not an apples to apples comparison. It doesn't factor in so many things. Maybe these people have a more supportive family, a steady source of income, better health, more creative time, a better education, fewer hurdles that helped them succeed. Life is different for everyone Even siblings don't have the same experiences, so why would you have the exact same experiences/success story as someone else? I personally have a lot of hurdles to get over and just getting time to work on things is extremely difficult.

I probably took the long route to get to my point. You might not find the same route to success as someone else. You might have to work harder. You might have to fight for every second you have to work on things. When you can't work because of hardships, that's okay too. There is no place you are supposed to be right now. You might not be where you want to be, but it doesn't make you a failure. You do your best and I'm going to root for you! Surround yourself with positive people and and have hope you'll succeed. No pressure, though, at least not from me. If I can not put extreme pressure on you to succeed, then you can also not pressure me too. Right? 😁 

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Properly Improper Jordan J. Scavone

I met Jordan a few years ago on Facebook. It's amazing how many kidlit people I meet on social media. Anyway when I met Jordan had just released his book "Might E". Since then he's done a lot of school visits and learned a lot about the writing world. Today Jordan is here to talk about his experiences and his new book "The Mud Princess"!


Dani: How long have you been writing?

Jordan: Technically, I wrote my first children’s book when I was 7! It is 1000% bad, and I actually still have it. It’s called “The Animals Look for Food!” and I will give you one guess what it is about. I bring it with me when I do events sometimes, and a second grader once raised her hand mid-reading of it (they asked me to read it) and said “Okay…you can stop now…” So, more or less, I’ve been writing, and interested in writing since I was able to write!

Dani:  What is the hardest thing about doing school visits?

Jordan: Setting them up and not being able to give every kid at every visit a free book. As an independent author, I have to arrange all of my school visits on my own. This means, I have to contact schools (sometimes I am lucky enough to be contacted.) So, I have to negotiate appearance fees, if the school is ordering books. At my last school visit, because it was so close to my house, I actually only took half the payment they offered, and they used the rest to order books to raffle off to the kids.

Dani:  Who is your literary hero (author or fictional character)?

Jordan: Author wise it would be Sendak, with Mo Willems as a close second. Sendak’s ability to write stories for children, while keeping adults engaged as well is incredible. He had the ability to write dark stories that dug deep into the imaginations and minds of those who read his books.

Dani: Yes or no to monsters and why?

Jordan: Yes, all the monsters all the time. I have a decent idea brewing in my brain meats for a monster story. Fictional monsters, prepare kids for the real monsters of the world, and being prepared sooner than later is the best idea.

Dani: What is your new book “The Mud Princess” about?

Jordan: The Mud Princess, is about just that, a dirty, loud, and “unproper” princess who is mocked by the other princesses in the kingdom. Georgia (The Mud Princess) is a stoically strong silent type who doesn't let the other girls get to her. When she is invited to a party, under false pretenses, by The Princess Eating Dragon, she is forced to act, and decide if she wants to help those who mocked her or let them be eaten.

Dani:  How is your work different than other books?

Jordan: One of the thing that I strive to do when I write is write books that aren’t “dumbed down” for children. I hate that phrasing, but that’s the simplest way express it. My books are long, Might-E my first book is close to 1,000 words long, and The Mud Princess is around the same length, and I don’t shy away from unfamiliar words. I use the word “gusto” in Might-E and almost every time I read it to kids they ask what that word means. Which, ultimately is what I want. I want them to ask questions like that, I want the to learn things, and I know that they will sit and listen, or sit and read the books. Very recently a friend came up to me who picked up the book about a month before and said,

“Jordan, I have an issue with you.”
“Oh?” I asked quite anxious.
“My kid won’t stop asking to read your books, I’ve read it almost every day.”
“Just almost every day?” I asked jokingly.
“Yeah, I work nights so I’m only home at bed times a few days a week, my wife reads it every other day!”
That’s what I like to think makes my books different. I don’t talk down to kids, I keep adults interested, and I’m able to keep kids coming back more for, apparently every day for over a month.

Follow Jordan:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What Progress? April 25th

I'm now officially over being sick. Not completely, but most of the icky is gone. Toddler has something now. Maybe it's just teething, or maybe it's a cold. Either way there is a lot of screaming! I did not have this post scheduled for today, but this Friday's interview is already set up.

What I'm Creating

I got started working on a kitty story of mine again. Worked on it last night. I've sent several character drawings to my critique group. I got a new idea for Kitty's look (after showing my work). So now I have a lot more work to do! 


I think I'm up having 8 people lined up for interviews. I still have a lot more searching to do. I may not get 20 by the end of the month, but I'm fairly confident I'll be able to have interviews continuously. If you want to be interviewed please let me know: will tell you more of what I'm looking for.

April 28th - Send out more work for potential jobs.

April 30th - Try to get at least 20 people lined up for interviews (and hopefully have questions sent out). 

May 5th - Have drafts for all the new/changed pages of my dummy "finished".

May 19th - Have reasonably good pencil drafts for my dummy.

May 30th - Have kitty dummy finals finalized.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Coffee

I spent the whole day yesterday cleaning and rearranging my art studio. It's not finished yet (but I survived the webs and spiders that were hidden under canvases so far. I might actually be able to post pictures when I'm finished!

I'm posting today because I NEED YOUR HELP! I'm going to do an interview series on my blog and I need you to help me keep this going. I have 6 people who have agreed to do interviews, but that won't last long.


Interview posts run on Fridays. 

- These interviews are for kidlit people only.  Board Books - YA. Graphic novels for a younger audience is okay. 

- Anyone being interviewed must have web presence. Something beyond a basic web page and may include non-private social media pages.  

- People with professional experience will be given priority. Teachers, Graphic Designers, Fine Artists, Librarians and even Parents could have an insight others might not. Having a book/art to sell helps!

- Unless a specific date is needed posts will run in the order I receive the completed interview.

- If you know someone who should be interviewed please have them contact me. I may not contact them otherwise as I have a lot of people I could ask to interview!

Send me a message if you are interested! You can email me directly with If you don't hear back from me in a week feel free to message me on any social media. 

Here are some old interviews for you to check out:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Progress?

Somehow I'm making writing blog posts on my phone a habit! I'm sick this week with a cold that the whole family caught. I'm hoping to be spared the horrible headaches and nausea if nothing else (fun fact: runny noses can cause nausea!

What I'm Creating

I'm working on getting people together to do a continual series of interviews on my blog! If you are interested please let me know. You do not have to be traditionally published but you should have a web presence! It doesn't help you to be interviewed if people can't find any information about you after!


I'm actually doing okay sending out work. I've sent out work to 6 publishers online. My goal is to send out at least 4 more by the end of the week. I will probably take a pause after this. I don't mind rejection, but if I get a lot I want to give myself a chance to make changes to my approach. I hate the idea of making the same mistake over and over. Also if my materials aren't right I want to be able to change them before everyone sees them.

I'm going to leave the artwork as a blank for now. I'm thinking of multiple things I'd like to do but mostly I'd like to fix up at least one of my dummies to send out. I'm working on preliminary drawings and will see where it goes before I settle on a schedule. I may start a new dummy as well, so once I figure things out I can get started!

April 20th - Send out work to at least 4 more publishers online. Have questions sent out for the 6 people who have already agreed to interviews!

April 28th - Figure out my next goals for illustration/writing. 

April 30th - Try to get at least 20 people lined up for interviews (and hopefully have questions sent out). 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Coffee -- Art vs. Plants

Admit it: You wouldn't know these were plants
if they weren't so clearly marked.
I've been busy lately getting my garden in order. This is the first year that I've attempted to do some indoor growing before the growing season gets underway. Right now it's raining so I'm not going to be doing anything outside. Since it's so rainy the pictures are a bit dull. I added in some drawings to make them a bit more lively.

I made these little planters out of old egg cartons. I cut off the lids and put them on the bottom of the cartons. I probably didn't have to put the foil around the bottoms (but this isn't my place and I'm afraid of big messes especially on the wooden storage shelves). I'll see how things go this year and maybe I'll skip that step next year. The nice thing about these is the egg cartons soak up some of the water so it's hard to accidently overwater and the dirt stays moist longer. I used potting soil and old pots for the bigger plants. In the past I've bought plants for my garden. planting my own seeds made a lot of difference!

Soaking up the sun in my kitchen.

In the next couple of weeks I'll be getting some new dirt in my garden. This will be my fourth year having a garden, yay! Last year was the first year that I had a decent garden. I started with seeds which made a difference. Also I think the soil was bad in the garden and it took a few years of adding soil to it to make it a strong garden. I did my research last year as well. Instead of just throwing the plants in the soil I actually looked something up. It wasn't that I knew nothing, but instead of just listening to advice from others I worked at learning things for myself.
Hoping somehow the sunflowers will survive this year.
We seem to have some animal life that like to kill sunflowers!
I was going to have a lovely story relating plants to art, but  I feel like I've already said so much in this post. Maybe next Monday. My plants should be a bit bigger then too.

Honestly, until I started with an outside garden I had trouble keeping my indoor plants alive. Last year it was even easier and I think it's because I started from seed. I was able to see wonderful results in my garden because of this.

Do you have a garden this year? If so what did you plant?
An example of how my garden looked last year. Last year
the bowling pins didn't grow quite so well. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What Progress?

I'm writing this on my iPhone again. I'm not willing to get out of bed to write this (even though typing on the computer is more comfortable). 

What I'm Creating

Nothing has come yet out of the submission I sent (not that I expected anything so soon) so I'm back to the drawing board literally. I'm working on some new illustrations. Hoping to figure out how I'm going to do them digitally. The programs I have aren't great for this so I'm hoping I can figure something out!

I have started a Patreon page for Smart Dummies: I just talked about this Monday so I won't say too much today!


This schedule is pretty much destroyed. I've had complications (most people call them kids) and haven't gotten to much. I also ended up sick without knowing I was really sick so that's weird. 

I got my copy of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. I went in and highlighted everything where I can email something right away. Email is not ideal but it works. I have several leads. I plan to do some emailing this weekend. 

April 13th - Send out some emails and work on art as time permits. 5-10 places. Contact 10 people on Instagram and ask to feature their work!

April 14th - Spend time with my husband. 

April 30th - Finish at least 3 digital illustrations. (At least inks). Have at least 20 emails sent out about my new idea I just got!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Monday Coffee

I've started a Patreon page! This page is to help get a little bit of funding for the Smart Dummies event. Smart Dummies is free and always will be, but there are things that are difficult to do for free. "Like what" you say? Well like having a logo contest and creating a planner for the next event. You can visit my Smart Dummies Patreon page here:

Everything is up and running, but please let me know if you have suggestions! I have it set up now as a monthly payment and you can donate as little as $1 a month. 

* The logo contest is so that I can skip doing one project that takes me a bit of time for the event. I'm asking for $50 and that whole amount will be used as prize money for the winner. 

* The second thing I'd love to do is make a planner for the next event. This planner will be half planner and half manual to guide people through the event. This will be offered as a FREE download! The money for this will be used for designing, editing, web hosting, printing and yearly updating of the planner. Patrons who donate at the $10 level for 2 months will get a printed copy in the mail free!*

 *US and Canada only. Please contact me with your address if you are outside this region. Also let me know if these payment plans don't work for you!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What Progress?


I'm writing this on my iPhone. Going to try to keep things brief. 

What I'm Creating

I sent out some work to one place because of a Twitter call for Illustrators. I didn't recognize the place until after I emailed. No news on that yet. I also applied for that SCBWI Don Freeman grant. Since I've been working on my portfolio what better time to apply?

This schedule is off, but I'm just going to leave it here. I think I'll be finishing up my postcards this week and won't be mailing anything until next week at least. I did order a copy of The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. I guess it would be good to find out where I should send my work before I actually send it! 

April 1st  - Have postcard finished and sent out for printing
April 8th - 2-3 color spreads finished or almost finished Delayed
April 9th - Send out 5-10  Submission Packages

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday Coffee

It's been a crazy weekend. We celebrated Easter on Saturday because my husband had that day off. That gave us plenty of room for April Fools on Sunday. I didn't plan a prank, but told David we'll pack away a few of his toys. He turned into "all of his toys" and started crying. 😒 He had two pranks for me. One was that he was going to do all of my chores. The second was that he was going to clean up all his stuff. We did neither. 😂 All in all it was a good weekend!
How did you spend your weekend? Did you celebrate Easter? Any fun April Fools jokes?