• Art,  Events,  Fun,  Writing

    Announcing #QueerKidlit

    I want to invite you all to a new Twitter chat! The chat is called #QueerKidlit and will be Wednesday nights 5:30pm PT/ 8:30pm ET. It’s hosted by Jenette Bradley (@jeanettebradly) and myself (@daniduck). The very first event will be Wednesday August 12th! All LGBTQIA+ people and allies welcome! This event is for both kidlit writers and illustrators.

    There are lots of things we are working out about this chat. Please come with ideas for things you’d like to see! 

    Logo art by Jeanette Bradley.


    Comments Off on Announcing #QueerKidlit
  • Art,  Books,  Writing

    Wednesday Updates

    I’m going to start doing weekly updates again! I will be posting my own creative goals (and maybe some artwork), my current reads, and any art/writing events and fun stuff that’s coming up. The format and name for this may change a bit, but I’m really excited to have time to do these updates again.

    Creative Goals:

    I just got an iPad Pro. I’m currently using it to work on some illustration work! I have a cat book that I think will work well with on the iPad.

    I have another cat graphic novel that I’m doing on my desktop. I am almost done with the images for this, but it is taking some time. I’m hoping that the work for this will give me more things to share for Smart Dummies later this year! 

    Currently Reading:

    I have honestly not had much time for reading in recent years and that’s been very sad for me. I am listening to a TON of audiobooks right now. It’s easier for me to listen to something while I’m working on art or cleaning the house than it is to sit and read. I can read so much faster than I can listen, so I was resistant at first. I found that I do love listening to these books. I’ve had so much fun hearing these stories.

    Stories I’ve read in the last little while:

    Full Disclosure by Cameryn Garrett

    Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

    Tarnished are the Stars by Rosilee Thor

    The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

    A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow

    The Black Flamingo By Dean Atta

    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

    King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

    The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

    Most of these are by Black authors other than Tarnished are the Stars and The Henna Wars. These are both queer stories! I highly recommend reading all of these books. 

    Currently Reading: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson  

    This book is different from all the books I’ve been reading lately, because it’s nonfiction. It’s a memoir/manifesto. I’d also say there are CW for this book of sexual abuse, general abuse, homophobia, transphobia, racism and repeated use of the f-word and n-word. The writer of this book is Black, queer and does not put the bad things that happened in his life in a good light. 

    More Fun Stuff:

    Just around the corner is the SCBWI Summer Spectacular conference! I’m attending this event. It starts Friday  July 31st and runs through August 4th. I’m very excited for this to start. I honestly keep forgetting the start date, so posting the date here is as much for myself as it is for you! https://www.scbwi.org/events/scbwi-summer-spectacular-2020/

    The Children’s Book Academy is having their Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books starting August 31st. This is an absolutely fantastic class. You will learn so much in this class. The fantastic Larissa Marantz is a new teacher in this course. She is absolutely fantastic! It will be the best year to take this class. ADs, Editors and Agents will be looking at your work at the end of the course so sign up now! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/2020-craft–business-of-illustrating-childrens-books.html

  • Books,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    2020 Book Releases!

    I had so wanted to do a Black only book release post today to support Black Lives Matter.  Unfortunately, I didn’t responses to my Tweets yet (I’m still going to try). It’s expected because it took me some time to get responses to my author posts. If you are Black you can still comment here and hopefully I can get several people for a dedicated post.  https://twitter.com/DaniDuck/status/1267504987367587847

    Even if I’ve already posted your work please feel free to submit you book again for a second post! 

    I do have some Black authors below, and am also including other POC to the list. I may have missed a few people, so feel free to let me know if I missed you!


    Books for Grown-Ups

    Dragonborn by Whitney Rines

    Five Amaranthine coveting godhood commit horrific actions against mortals and the world they share and are granted twisted versions of their desire.
    Dragonborn follows the story of Fayet and his own journey to humanity, by watching mortals over time. He eventually falls for a mortal woman named Ayshir and assuming a mortal shell builds a family and home with her.

    However, the events preceding their union and the ones that that follow after, slowly bring a darkness that threatens to destroy his family.


    Website: https://www.whitneyrines.com/

    Buy Dragonborn and preview Whitney’s Other Books: https://www.whitneyrines.com/publications



    This is My America by Kim Johnson

    Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

    Preorder the Book: 


    Kim’s Website: https://www.kcjohnsonwrites.com/



    I Should Have Worn A Curtain by Samyra Alexander

    This quick read follows one woman’s struggle to accept her childhood trauma, face her relationship with food with honesty and bravery, and overcome an illness that has kept her silent too long.

    Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088KBYT6C

    Folow Samyra: https://twitter.com/SamyraTell





    Fears and Love by Halima ADISA

    Get the Book: https://twitter.com/leemah_deesah/status/1256860072401006593

    Follow Leema: https://twitter.com/leemah_deesah





    Island Seas by V.E. WilchCombe

    Can 12yr old Michael Jones survive the night alone on Lightning Cay? It belongs to them, everyone knows this! Island myths and legends come to life in my new fantasy novella.

    Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084LL15MD

    V.E. Wilchcombe’s Website: https://starbeam88.wixsite.com/mysite-4




    Calculated Murder by H.G Ahedi

    In New York, Roumoult Cranston is infamously known for his keen interest in bizarre cases. So, when Garner Moss, a millionaire playboy is murdered by rich ex model, he is not intrigued. Fate intervenes when Roumoult becomes a prime suspect who was not only at the crime scene but also benefits from the dead man’s will.

    With only seven suspects, including Roumoult, who killed Garner Moss might be a simple question to answer, but why? When motives like jealously, revenge, lust, money, power do not apply, the quest to answer this question will open a Pandora box because, in the case of the Calculated Murder, the living and the dead tread on dangerous terrain.

    Buy the Book: amazon.com/H.G-Ahedi/e/B0


    H.G’s Ahedi’s Website: https://harbeerahedi.wordpress.com/hedi


    Older by Emily Schaubeck

    A collection of poetry and prose for the lost and broken hearted. As everyone is on their journey to healing as I am.

    Buy The Book: https://www.amazon.com/Older-Emily-Schaubeck/dp/1082090662


    Kidlit Books

    Not Your American Girl by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang

    Lauren and her best friend, Tara, have always done absolutely everything together. So when they don’t have any classes together in sixth grade, it’s disastrous. The solution? Trying out for the school play. Lauren, who loves to sing, wonders if maybe, just maybe, she will be the star instead of Tara this time.

    But when the show is cast, Lauren lands in the ensemble, while Tara scores the lead role. Their teacher explains: Lauren just doesn’t look the part of the all-American girl. What audience would believe that she, half-Jewish, half-Chinese Lauren, was the everygirl star from Pleasant Valley, USA?

    From amidst the ensemble, Lauren tries to support her best friend. But when she can’t bring herself to sing anymore, her spot in the play and her friendship are in jeopardy. With the help of a button-making business, the music of Patsy Cline, and her two bickering grandmothers, can Lauren find her voice again?

    Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VVTB9Q2

    Madelyn’s Website: http://www.madelynrosenberg.com/

    Wendy’s Website: http://wendyshang.com


    The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

    Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled, but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

    As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

    Buy The Book & Adiba’s Website: https://adibajaigirdar.com/the-henna-wars

    Adiba’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/adiba_j


    The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho Illustrated by Jess X. Snow

    Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.

    Buy The Book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/609075/the-ocean-calls-by-tina-cho-illustrated-by-jess-x-snow/

    Tina’s Website: https://www.tinamcho.com/

    Jess’ Website: http://www.jessxsnow.com/


  • Events,  Spring into Writing,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    A Spring into Writing Thank You!

    Thank you so much for participating in Spring into Writing this year! This was only the second year for the event. I have a survey you can fill out if you’d like: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CCTXW3Q

    Here is a badge for anyone who wants an “I Won” badge. If you did any writing at all this month, congratulations you won Spring into Writing!

    You have until next Monday (June 8th) to enter for the following 3 prizes

    1. A critique with Kaitlyn Sanchez of your work.


    2. Website building help from Dani:





    The third prize is 3 pieces of promotional material for your book!

    If you have a book coming out soon you might need help with making post cards, bookmarks, posters, book plates ect. I will do the set up and design for these with simple art if wanted. (If you have a different business I can help with that as well).*

    To enter: Comment below to tell me how you liked Spring into Writing!

    Please comment on as many posts as possible! 

    *If you would rather me help you set up a website I can do that. Prize winner must contact me 30 days after winning. Prize must be redeemed within 6 months after  prize is announced.


  • Art,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    The Not So Whiny Whiny Lisa Chen-Wing

    Lisa Chen-Wing is just hilarious. Anyone can write a story about their life, but it takes a special kind of person to make other people laugh about that experience. Lisa’s  webcomic Whiny Whiny Pancakes is all about Lisa’s life with her kids. This comic is hilarious and very dear to my heart. I love reading this comic and I hope you will too!



    Lisa’s website: http://whinywhinypancakes.com/


    9 Reasons Why

    By Lisa Whiny Whiny Pancakes


    2 Reasons why I started a semi-autobiographical web comic

    1. My friend looked at a web comic and said ‘Hey, you could do that!’
    2. I said ‘Hey, I could do that.’


    5 Reasons why you should start a web comic.

    1. Making more social media accounts is extremely easy.
    2. The best way to get better at something is to do it regularly.
    3. It’s a great way to practice new skills and techniques.
    4. Getting a few likes from randos on the internet is a great ego boost.
    5. It’s not a huge time commitment.


    1 Reason why you shouldn’t start to draw a web comic

    1. Nobody really cares about your web comic.


    1 Reason you should draw your web comic anyway.

    1. Outsider artists, the ones who toil their whole lives in obscurity, are the real heroes. 

    Since I don’t have the integrity of an outsider artist, only the same number of followers: (Instagram @whinywhinypancakes, Twitter @WhinyPancakes, Facebook @whinywhinypancakes, URL: whinywhinypancakes.com, other URL: elsiedub.com)

  • Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Count on Fun with Dawn Young

    Dawn Young is on my blog talking about everything writing and fun. That’s right, Dawn has taken on the spirit of Spring into Writing and is talking about her favorite ways to write. So grab a hot drink (or a cold one, I wont judge) and curl up with this wonderful post by Dawn! 

    You can read more about Dawn and her work here: https://www.dawnyoungbooks.com/ 

    The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. It’s springtime and here we are in Spring into Writing – a perfect time to take that “leap forward” and have some fun!

    So how exactly do you have fun writing, when sometimes it’s hard to even start writing, especially when that blank page of paper sitting in front of you seems to be daring you to even try, staring at you as if to say, “So, whatcha got?” or, “Ha! I knew it! You’re as blank as I am!”?


    But there are ways to start and definitely ways to have fun! I’m sure what’s considered fun is different for everyone, but here are some things that work for me to make writing fun and they may work for you too…

    Humor. To have fun with writing, I go for humor. I love to write funny, wacky stories. In my books, The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids, December 2019), Counting Elephants (Hachette, March 2020) and the soon to be released, The Night Baafore Easter (WorthyKids, January 2021), my goal was to make kids laugh. Since some of my best memories include reading to my kids while they were plopped in my lap, all giggling at silly, clever picture books, I wanted to create that experience for other children. In these books, I went for craziness and chaos.

    Rhyme. I love writing in rhyme. To me, it’s fun to write andread. Some of my favorite books are written in rhyme. I love when the rhyme creates a rhythm that makes the words flow, as if your reading was set on cruise control. The Night Baafore Christmas is written in rhyme because, other that the fact that I think it’s fun to write in rhyme, I thought the rhyme created a rollicking rhythm which complemented the Christmas chaos.

    Figurative language and specifically alliteration is fun to write and even more fun to read. Think back to being a kid. Remember how fun it was to try and say “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” and “She sells seashells by the seashore”? Although I wouldn’t advise that level of alliteration, otherwise you’d find yourself tripping over your own tongue, certainly some is fun. My book vThe Night Baafore Christmas is full of alliteration, like these lines:

    Bo reads them a story, they listen and look, till 10 licks a page and devours the book.

    Sheep 9 scared of monsters hides under the rug, while 8 missing mommy, holds Bo in a hug. “

    And “Bo races to rescue his mother’s new wreath.” The r sounds make the sentence roll off your tongue.

    Wordplay. The Night Baafore Christmashas word play in the title. I used Baafore instead of Before because, as you may have guessed, there are sheep in the story, and many of them. The Baafore was a fun way to introduce the sheep without actually saying there are sheep in this story. Then in the story I have them discover the fridge and bellow “baaffet!” to add more word play.

    Internal rhyme. Again, think back to being a kid. Remember how fun it was to say “The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.”? In The Night Baafore Christmas, I tried to add as much internal rhyme as I could, like “while Bo saves the angel, sheep 1, 2 and 3 nibble non-stop to the top of the tree.”

    Unexpected twist. Well, I can’t reveal the twist in The Night Baafore Christmasbecause it would spoil the ending, so you’ll have to read it for yourself…

    Write about things you love. Your natural love for the subject will inherently come through, so think of the things you like to do and use that as material for your stories.

    Something I think is fun is math. As former mechanical engineer turned writer, I don’t get many opportunities to do math, except of course when I help my kids with their homework, which usually doesn’t go well, since they do not appreciate my math enthusiasm. We all know most kids roll their eyes at the thought of math, so I wanted to get kids to have fun with math. With Counting Elephants, my goal was to make the book fun to read so kids would feel that sense of enjoyment, connect that feeling to math and have a more positive view of math in general.

    Shake things up. I’ve read counting book after counting book with my kids, but they were typically the same ̶ a number on the page and some items that add to that number. And that’s great for the really little kids, but I wanted to take counting to the next level. I wanted kids to do more than count. I wanted them to add and subtract. I imagined an addition character, counting items, while a subtraction character made them disappear. I put them together and Voilà! I came up with a Counter who tries to count her ten elephants while her magician friend – POOF! – makes it impossible. Ten, nine, eight… each time we get back to counting, one of the elephants has been changed into something unexpected. In Counting Elephants, kids are adding new things in and subtracting elephants out to come up with a total of 10. And what better way for kids to have fun than to have things go a little crazy.

    Unexpected twist. Once again, but this time in Counting Elephants, I can’t reveal the twist or it will spoil the ending, so you’ll have to read for yourself.

    Pay attention to what makes you smile, laugh and fill up with joy. Use what you’re passionate about when you write to take that leap and Spring into Writing and have some fun.





    Dawn Young bio:

    Dawn graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and later with an MBA. For years, Dawn worked as an engineer and, later, manager at a large aerospace company, until her creative side called her to pursue her dream of writing children’s books. After reading and writing hundreds of corporate documents, none of which were titled The Little Engineer Who Could or Don’t Let the Pigeon Fly the Airbus, Dawn is thrilled to now be reading and writing picture books instead.

    Dawn is also a math enthusiast. When she’s not busy writing and reading, she can be found doing math problems, sometimes just because… In high school, Dawn’s dream was to have a math equation named after her, but now, she believes having her name on the cover of books is a million times better! Dawn lives with her husband, three children and golden retriever in sunny Arizona. She is the author of The Night Baafore Christmas (WorthyKids, Oct 2019), Counting Elephants (Hachette, March 2020), and the soon to be released The Night Baafore Easter (WorthyKids, Jan 2021).

    Buy Dawn’s Books:

    Counting Elephants: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/dawn-young/counting-elephants/9780762466931/

    The Night Baafore Christmas: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Baafore-Christmas-Dawn-Young/dp/1546014586/




  • Spring into Writing,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Rainbow Connection Robin Stevenson — Plus a Winner!

    While writing this intro for Robin Stevenson I can’t help but hear the song, “Rainbow Connection” in my head. It’s not just because I’m listening to the song while I’m writing. Robin just gives me all the warm feeling I get when I hear the song. 

    I wish that I had Robin’s books when I was a kid. I also wish that my parents and the world would have been supportive in me reading such books. It’s wonderful knowing that not alone in this world. I love that feeling and I know that Robin’s books will help our and future generations feel this way as well! 

    Robin’s Website: https://robinstevenson.com/


    Photo of Robin Stevenson

    Hello! Hope you are all doing okay and finding support and ways to cope during this strange pandemic spring. Despite having lots of time due to cancelled tours, launches and events, I’ve been finding writing rather difficult lately…so I was glad to get an email from Dani asking me if I would share something about why I love writing about LGBTQ+ characters and themes in my books. 

    Pride The Celebration and the Struggle - Cover

    Over the last few years, I seem to have become known for writing LGBTQ+ books. My first non-fiction book, PRIDE: CELEBRATING DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY (https://robinstevenson.com/books/pride-celebrating-diversity-and-community/), came out in 2016 and was a Stonewall Honor book. Many of my novels include LGBTQ+ characters and several, including INFERNO (https://robinstevenson.com/books/inferno/) and UNDER THREAT (https://robinstevenson.com/books/under-threat-2/), have been selected for the ALA Rainbow List. My board book PRIDE COLORS (https://robinstevenson.com/books/pride-colors/) is currently a Lambda Literary Award finalist, my picture book GHOST’S JOURNEY: A REFUGEE STORY (https://robinstevenson.com/books/ghosts-journey-a-refugee-story/) tells the story of two gay men and their cat, and this spring I launched a second, expanded edition of my original Pride book: It is called PRIDE: THE CELEBRATION AND THE STRUGGLE (https://robinstevenson.com/books/pride-the-celebration-and-the-struggle/). 

    (I was also going to launch my latest– and very queer– YA novel, WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE (https://robinstevenson.com/books/when-you-get-the-chance/) , co-written with Tom Ryan, but due to the pandemic it will now be delayed until spring 2021).

    So…why LGBTQ+ books? Well, when I wrote my first novel fifteen years ago, I drew heavily on my own experiences and memories of being a queer teen. Of course, that was a long time ago—I was in high school in the 1980s. It wasn’t a great time for queer teens: we didn’t talk about LGBTQ+ identities, we didn’t have books about LGBTQ+ characters, and many of us didn’t even have the language that might have made it so much easier to talk about these subjects, to understand our own identities, and to find community. 

    So my first novel, OUT OF ORDER (https://robinstevenson.com/books/out-of-order/), came from that place and those memories. It is about a bisexual teen, Sophie, who is just beginning to figure out who she is and how she wants to be in the world. After it was published in 2007, I began hearing from readers who related so strongly to Sophie—and I began realizing how important this kind of representation was. The following year, my novel BIG GUY (https://robinstevenson.com/books/big-guy/) came out. It was about a gay teen boy, and again I received emails from readers to whom this novel really mattered. One young gay man told me that he read it over and over– and that it helped him to understand and accept himself.

    Cover of When You Get the Chance

    And of course, it isn’t just important for LGBTQIA+ kids and teens to see LGBTQ+ characters in books: I think all children, parents and teachers need these books. For young people who don’t know a lot about LGBTQ+ people, books can help them learn, have empathy, and hopefully care more about issues of human rights. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still common, and they hurt people—and I think books can be an important part of working to change that.

    Although I started out writing for teens, I have begun writing LGBTQ+ books for much younger kids as well. Things are getting better but when I visit schools and talk to students, I still meet many who are afraid that if they come out as gay, or bi, or lesbian, or trans, that their parents won’t support them, or will be angry or disappointed. So I think kids need to hear from the people that love them that it is okay for them to be themselves and to love who they love. Our teens and our older kids need to hear that, of course—but there is no age that is too young to begin giving your kids that message. So I wrote my board book, PRIDE COLORS (https://robinstevenson.com/books/pride-colors/), for the very youngest kids–babies and toddlers. I hope it gives parents an easy way to tell their children that it is okay for them to be who they are, love who they love, and that they will always be accepted and adored.

    Cover of Pride Colors
    Cover of Ghost's Journey: A Refugee Story

    My picture book, GHOST’S JOURNEY: A REFUGEE STORY (https://robinstevenson.com/books/ghosts-journey-a-refugee-story/) , is for slightly older kids. It tells the story of two gay men, Rainer and Eka, who fled Indonesia and came to Canada as refugees—along with their cat, Ghost. It is based on a true story and the illustrations are created from Rainer’s photographs. I wrote it to raise awareness of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people around the world, and my hope is that it can be used in classrooms as a gentle introduction to human rights issues. All my royalties from this book go to support LGBTQ+ refugees—I am hoping it will raise funds as well as awareness! 

    Writing about LGBTQ+ history and rights has strengthened my own connections to the queer community. It has led to so many conversations with queer young people, peers and elders; taught me more about my community’s past and its ongoing struggles; made me part of a wonderfully supportive group of queer writers; and connected me with other LGBTQ+ people around the world. And of course, all of that makes it even more likely that my future books will include LGBTQ+ characters…because my writing reflects the world I live in. 

    I am curious about the stories and books that will come out of this current period in our lives. How will the pandemic and all we are experiencing filter into our writing? For myself, I am returning to a long neglected and half written mystery novel this week and am hoping that the words will start to flow again…wish me luck! For those of you that are also finding writing challenging this spring, I hope you will be gentle with yourselves and do what you need to do to cope. The words will come eventually. They always do.


    Follow Robin:

    Website: https://robinstevenson.com/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/robin_stevenson

    Books: https://robinstevenson.com/books/





    The winner of the $25 gift card is Tonnye Williams Fletcher!


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  • Books,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Delightfully Dark Dea Poirier

    Write What You Love

    Dea Poirier is just delightfully dark. If I could name one Twitter feed that is just full of fun, it’s hers. Did I mention she’s hilarious? I laugh so much when I read her posts.

    Dea didn’t always think of herself as dark. She tried several different genres before she found her place in the book world. Today Dea is going to talk about her journey to find herself. 

    Dea has two books “Next Girl to Die” and “Beneath the Ashes”. These books have murder, mystery and lots of thrills. You can check out Dea’s website here: https://www.dhpoirier.com/

    Photo of Dea
    Cover of Next Girl To Die

    There’s a bit of writing advice that will still echo through the ether long after we’re all gone — write what you love. It’s great advice, really. Something I think we should all use as our starting point when we put pen to paper. But there’s something more than love that needs to be considered, what’s in your heart. It’s not just love that exists there, there’s so much more.

    When I started writing books—a thousand years ago—what I loved were historical books that had a lot of romance, fun fantasy books, oh and a lot of other books that are in no way representative of anything I could ever write. I thought I could craft books like the ones I loved, but the moment I tried, something very different came out of me.

    My first book was about a teenage version of God playing with the earth like it was an ant farm. He was super mean to the earth because he was bullied at school. Sounds like a fun premise, right? That is until you get to the villain—the dad that God didn’t know he had—that was literally destroying their planet by sucking the life out of it, and Earth was next. It got super dark, super fast.

     Whoops. My second book, I ventured into trying to write a fun paranormal romance about a teenage psychic. What did I end up with? Well, this particular psychic’s gift involved her being able to see and feel the exact way that someone would die if she touched them. An evil stage mother made her famous off this gift, and a radical doomsday cult thought the psychic had to die for the end of days to come… SUPER FUN RIGHT? Oh, and her boyfriend was dying. Good job bringing all the fun, Dea.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing these books, but every person that read them began comping my work with The Hunger Games and they’d always say first Wow, that’s really dark before saying anything else about it. Naive baby writer Dea had no idea why they were so dark.

    This went on for years. I’d write a new book and get told it was too dark for the market. ALWAYS. I shifted to historical hoping for a better reception. I mean, if it’s dark because it’s historical, that’s fine, right? Nope. Then on to romance. Haha. I wish I knew what I was thinking. I finally found my stride when my agent at the time suggested that I try writing dark romantic suspense with troubled characters… and mystery is what ended up coming out. Not a single person has told me that Next Girl to Die or Beneath the Ashes are too dark, so yay. I’m hoping that one day a historical fantasy of mine might make it out into the world as well.

    My journey through so many genres taught me that it’s not just about writing what you love, and it never can be. Darkness is what comes out when I write, it’s not something I seek out on purpose, but it’s the subtext in all my prose. It took me a long time—over ten years—to understand what it would take to find the balance of what I love and what’s in my heart. There are some parts of us we just can’t fight no matter how hard we try. Maybe I should have embraced the darkness sooner. 

    Cover for Beneath the Ashes


    Bio: Best-selling author, Dea Poirier was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she found her passion during a creative writing course. She studied computer science and political science at the University of Central Oklahoma. She later spent time living on both coasts and traveling the United States before finally putting down roots in central Florida. She now resides somewhere between Disney and the swamp with her son. Her books Next Girl to Die and Beneath the Ashes can be found wherever books are sold.

    Website: Dhpoirier.com

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/deapoirierbooks

    Find my books: https://www.amazon.com/Dea-Poirier/e/B07GNVZ9RK?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

  • Books,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Sharon Giltrow, Digital Trailblazer

    Right now it’s a difficult world for everyone. Sharon Glitrow is one of the authors who has had to release their books during a pandemic. She has written a wonderful picture book called BEDTIME, DADDY. Sharon is here today to talk about releasing her book during this pandemic. Lots of great information for both people releasing books now, and in the future where a digital launch may be just a bonus.

    You can visit Sharon’s website here: https://sharongiltrow.weebly.com/about.html

    Releasing a Book During a Pandemic

    By Sharon Giltrow

    Covid-19 has forced all of us to make major changes to our daily lives. We have all had to find ways to do things differently, to adapt and change. My debut picture book BEDTIME, DADDY was released this month, May 1st, through EK books.

    Bedtime Bear Cover
    Cover of BEDTIME, DADDY!

    When I signed the publishing deal for BEDTIME, DADDY back in August 2018, I could never have imagined that twenty months later a pandemic would be sweeping the world. As a result, I have had to adapt and change the way that my book is being released and promoted.

    My in-person book launch for BEDTIME, DADDY was booked for June 21st (Father’s Day in the Northern Hemisphere). My favourite book shop in Fremantle, Western Australia, Paper Bird Children’s Books and Arts, was going to host the event. However, as a result of the required and essential Covid-19 social distancing rules, my in-person book launch became a virtual book launch.

    On May 1st, 2020, via Paper Bird’s live Instagram, from the comfort and safety of my own home, I launched my book BEDTIME, DADDY. I still wore my favourite dinosaur pyjamas.

    Interior of BEDTIME, DADDY! "Time to Brush Your Teeth."


    I still had an audience, my immediate family, as well as family and friends from around the world. There were still fun activities from BEDTIME, DADDY. Signed copies of BEDTIME, DADDY were still available through Paper Bird’s online store, and signed book plates were posted around the world. Cakes and cookies were still eaten at the end of the launch. So, despite the world-wide pandemic my book launch still happened, just in a different way. Actually, I may even have had more people at my virtual book launch as people from all over the world ‘attended’ through Instagram. Here is how I promoted my book launch on social media.

    Virtual Book Launch
    Virtual Book Launch Poster

    In-person book readings, signings and story times were also now out of the question. So, my publisher EK Books asked me to do a sneak peek read aloud of BEDTIME, DADDY on YouTube. I quickly upskilled myself in selfie-videos and found out that it is tricky to hold up a book and read naturally even though you can see yourself the whole time. But by the end of the fiftieth take, I finally got the hang of it.

    My publisher also asked me to do a radio interview on ABC – Radio National, but I couldn’t go into the studio. So, with the help of Voice Memos, a script I prepared, and my family, I was able to record the interview and email it to the radio station.

    My next challenge, with book shops now closed – How would readers discover BEDTIME, DADDY? The answer, online. Online book shops are now the main place to sell books so I stepped up my online presence through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to let readers know that BEDTIME, DADDY existed.

    School visits are now on hold, but I have been sharing links to BEDTIME, DADDY’S teaching notes, for parents who are home-schooling and educators who are preparing online lessons. They can be found on EK Books and SCBWI – Australia West websites. I will also be recording and sharing short videos of some of these activities.

    Finally, as travelling is now out of the question, instead of going on an in-person book tour around Australia and possibly the world, I created a BEDTIME, DADDY blog tour,which can be found on my website. My book and I are now touring around virtual space.

    I hope that through this blog I have shown you that despite a world-wide pandemic, books can still be successfully released and that now more than ever they need to be released, purchased, read and shared.

    BEDTIME, DADDY! Interior Page: Your Daddy Will Ask, "One more story pleeeassse?"

    Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not writing, Sharon works with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB BEDTIME, DADDY, released May 2020 through EK books.

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  • courses,  Spring into Writing,  Writing

    Lyrical Lovely Renee La Tulippe

    I have learned so much about rhyming from Renee La Tulippe! She has a wonderful Youtube channel called the Lyrical Language Lab that gives all kinds of information, tips and tricks for writing in rhyme! For those who just want a touch of rhyme in their prose, Renee is great resource for that too (and so much more)! I personally am not great with writing poetry, but Renee does such a fantastic job that I can’t help but absorb the information she gives. I asked Renee for an interview so I could find out more about rhyme! 

    To visit Renee’s website go here: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/


    Dani: Where should writers start if they want to learn to write rhyming picture books

    Renee: There’s a lot of craft involved in writing a rhyming picture book, so here are my top three tips for learning to write them well:

    1. If you are brand new to the world of rhyming picture books, start by reading a WHOLE LOT of them! I know kidlit writers and children’s poets who read for a full year before even picking up a pen. They immersed themselves in the genre, studied the structure, typed out texts and picked them apart, and really delved into the author’s craft. Reading widely is the best “course” you could possibly take! And if you’re NOT brand new … keep reading a WHOLE LOT of books in your genre and out of it.

    No Water River Website

    2. Read, write, and listen to poetry, remembering that poetry and rhyming picture books are two different things. There are hundreds of amazing poets for young people out there, and adding a healthy dose of good poetry to your reading diet will do wonders for your imagination and your craft. I have an entire blog and video library dedicated to children’s poets at NoWaterRiver.com as well as a Big List of Children’s Poets That’s a great place to start!

    3. Once you have a feel for how rhyming picture books work, I always suggest taking a “how to write a picture book” class — and the one that I most recommend is Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic. I think comprehensive feedback on your work is essential, and I have made it an integral part of my own course. It’s especially important when you’re just starting out, and Susanna’s class is the only one that I’ve personally taken that offers helpful, in-depth feedback every step of the way. I also suggest that people take this kind of class before taking my course because the former is a how-to on the big-picture concepts of writing picture books (story arc, plot, character development, etc.), whereas my course focuses on the language itself. Another great resource is Ann Whitford Paul’s classic how-to, “Writing Picture Books.”



    Dani: What’s the biggest mistake that rhyming picture book writers make?

    Renee: Writing rhyming picture books is notoriously difficult to do well and can bring even experienced writers to their knees. I’d say there are three major areas that often present problems in rhyming texts:

    1. The rhyme dictates the story. The story and characters are suffocated by the constraints of verse and have no breathing room to develop organically. The result is a weak story that wouldn’t hold up if written in prose.
    1. Inexpert meter. The rhythm is uneven, inconsistent, and choppy so that the reader stumbles, or it is so sing-songy that the reader gets bored. Worse, stresses are forced onto the wrong syllables just to “get the meter to work.”
    2. Tired and forced rhymes. The rhymes are uninspired and cliché and/or exist just to make a rhyme and add nothing to the story and/or don’t make sense.

    So what is a writer to do? We can make sure our rhyming manuscripts are exceptional. That means studying the genre, reading successful rhyming texts, taking classes to learn the craft inside out, seeking expert feedback on our work, revising over and over, and even asking ourselves honestly if the story would indeed be better served by being written in prose.


    Dani: What’s your favorite way to relax?

    Renee: Making things! It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as I’m creating something. I dabble in lots of things—sculpting with Sculpey clay, designing and sewing costumes, building or refinishing furniture, stenciling my walls, baking, or even creating graphics in Photoshop or editing videos—all of these activities produce something and require some level of creativity. 

    Renee's Projects

    I particularly love working with my hands because I enter some inner world where nothing else exists. When I’m thoroughly involved in a project, I can go hours and hours without eating or speaking to anyone. I don’t even listen to music—I’m just there inside my head and at total peace.


    Dani: Can you tell me a bit about the course you teach?

    Renee: Of course! It’s the Lyrical Language Lab, a course I developed and have been teaching since 2014.

    Renee's Lyrical Language Lab

    As I briefly mentioned above, this is a language-level course that focuses on the craft of writing at the sentence level, including word choice, imagery, sound devices, rhyme, and meter. The course is geared to children’s writers and focuses on how to use poetic techniques in types of writing, both prose and verse, to make the writing more musical and engaging.

    Although I only teach the fully-guided course once or twice a year, there are two self-study options available as well.

    Renee's Peek Critique

    Dani: Do you have any news you’d like to share? 

    Renee: I do! I started a FREE resource for kidlit writers and I’d love to invite your readers to check out my Lyrical Language Lab YouTube channel Every Monday I offer short writing lessons on various concepts that are covered in my course.

    I have several video playlists for the different things I cover:

    • Peek & Critique – I offer my feedback on short writing samples sent in by viewers. You can submit your own writing sample right here.


    • BookLook – My analysis of various lyrical language concepts and poetic techniques in picture books


    • Meter Basics – The down-and-dirty techie stuff behind writing verse that flows


    • Lyrical Prose 4-part series


    • Revision – Real-time revision on submitted work and behind-the-scenes looks at my own revision process (in the works)


    I hope your readers will take advantage of this free service!


    About Renée M. LaTulippe

    Renée has poems published in many anthologies including ThankU: Poems of Gratitude (ed. Miranda Paul), School People (ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins), the National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry and The Poetry of US (ed. J. Patrick Lewis), One Minute Till Bedtime (ed. Kenn Nesbitt), Poems Are Teachers (ed. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater), The Poetry Friday Anthology Middle School, Science, and Celebrations editions (ed. Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong), and the forthcoming Night Wishes (ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins). Her debut poetry collection was acquired by Charlesbridge.

    Anthologies that contain Renee's work

    Renée developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and blogs on children’s poetry at NoWaterRiver.com. She earned her BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College and her MA in English Education from NYU; worked and played in the theater for almost two decades; and taught English, theater arts, and public speaking in NYC. She now lives by the sea in Italy.

    Renée is represented by Elizabeth Harding of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

    WEBSITE: reneelatulippe.com

    Lyrical Language Lab: https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/

    YOUTUBE: Lyrical Language Lab Channel

    BLOG: www.NoWaterRiver.com