Mariam Davis Pineno

            You play “Duckling-with-inquisitive-nature” and I’ll naturally do my best to play “Old Wise One.” Naturally, because I already have “Old” down pat and “wise” attributable to a teacher’s history for leading while ruffling the fewest feathers.

So waddle to the edge, shove off, and start paddling. Why not? Of 700-words (max) you may read one answer here that resonates in your fine-feathered head.

  • You have a story to tell and a desire to see it in kids’ hands being read in your lifetime. If accepted by most main-stream publishers, your book will remain submerged for years.
  • You have requisite skills and you like controlling the whole process from registering the ISBN (for a fee) to authoring your own front and back matter (i.e. Dedication, Succinct Synopsis and such). You will search your text and sometimes fuzzy head for a best-selling title.  (See Lisa Lickel’s February article)
  • You have kept your beady bright eyes on the latest and best kids’ books, observing and experiencing enough to claim confidence in your ability to write in age-appropriate voice.
  • You promise yourself with every downy feather on your body that you will not “quack” down-to or in didactic tones but rather leave young readers with a suitably subtle message, if any, and with satisfying take-away, for sure. Make it grow out of your test—your story.
  • You think economy of words throughout, clarity your watchword.
  • You build in effective page-turns and repetition (word, phrase, action) for Early Readers.
  • You will give thoughtful consideration to your Dedication and Bio (without telling your life story) and will compose a unique signature for signing your books. Example: When signing my chapter book IT DOESN’T GROW on TREES, I draw from the theme with “May your motivation work wonders,” as does Brenda Hendricks when signing her new picture book WHAT’S the BUZZ, BUMBLY BEE? with the phrase “Fly high and trust God!” As writers, not waitresses, we find “Enjoy!” lacking.
  • You will seek out fellow Odd Ducks’ help or will pay a Pro for experienced line-editing and/or proof-reading. Critiquing (welcome well-intentioned criticism) will roll off like water off… (you know).
  • You don’t mind going without a few bags of grain, realizing full well that it’s rare as orchids in a creek to make a great profit from sales. Quack! “I can afford this.” Quack it often.

(Note: Honest self-publishing companies will even tell you upfront, before accepting your manuscript, that you aren’t going to get rich quick—if ever. So plunge in and sink or swim at your own risk.)

  • You have (or someone you know who won’t charge you a wing and a webbed-foot has) studied and acquired the considerable skills to properly paginate, lay out text and illustrations to complement, and to scan into your computer. In other words, you, Odd Duck Designer, are about to assume the role of at least eight editors with no guarantee you’ll savor a single crumb.
  • You may set your own unit price, knowing the standard, universal arrangement is 60% for the Odd Duck and 40% for the owner of the pond.
  • You researched enough to know the term “self-publishing” is ambiguous. It encompasses various styles from do-it-all-yourself (from disc to printer, as are all of my picture books), to submitting manuscript, paying, and dealing with no less than twenty-five people. I’ve done both. So I can say, “WHY NOT?”

Detailed explanations and answers to your specific quirky quacks can be had by e-mailing Friendly-reader e-mail makes my heart sing. I always quack back.

Mariam has authored one chapter book entitled IT DOESN’T GROW on TREES for Grades  3-6 (Ages 8 and up). In collaboration with daughter/professional artist, Martha Pineno Hess, she has published four full-color young reader picture books: TALENTED TABBY; LEONARDO’S LESSON; A HAT for HANNAH; and A BOX of BEARS just released in October, 2009.  

Mariam’s delightful books can be purchased at the above links,, and Cygnet Studios in Elizabethtown, PA. IT DOESN’T GROW on TREES can also be found at the Walden Books store in the Susquehanna Mall, Selinsgrove, PA.



  1. Vie says:

    Brenda–when did the ODS move to this blog? I just discovered it via your FB post. Is the old newsletter gone? Viezy

    • I’m slowly switching everything to this blog. I just started a couple of weeks ago. It’s a lot easier to manage. And I think our readers will appreciate the interactiveness of the blog. They can leave comments easier, follow it easier.

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