serving your industry - thank you, Laurie Copping

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

I'm a big believer in sharing, supporting and giving back. It's an essential thread in human nature, stemming from our need to survive, but evolving into so much more as WE evolve. Benefits include a sense of belonging, safety, community and of course, warmth that begins in the toes and courses upwards to the eyebrows.

Supporting and promoting the children's book industry has always been a no-brainer for me. Supporting publishers and creators, promoting juvenile literacy, speaking to kids, sharing books, being involved in bookish events and initiatives is not only a joy, it's vital to the expansion and presence of our industry. Operating from the concept of lack and scarcity, hiding and squirrelling away information and aid, is counter intuitive to the creative soul. Sharing, supporting and harnessing talent is part of our core--and its sum rewards are incalculable.

Also, it's a lot of fun. It's a hoot meeting new people, learning about their work and helping, in even the smallest of ways, tout it to the world. Our Australian children's book industry (most especially per capita) is one of the strongest in the world. We produce an eye-popping book contribution to the world's bookshelves, and are a close-knit and supportive community--which absolutely forms the backbone of our success.

It's been so rewarding to be a mere fragment of a vertebrae on that backbone. Kids' Book Review, the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, mentoring emerging creators, visiting schools and participating in juvenile literacy programs have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

So, I was humbled and honoured to receive the Laurie Copping Award for Distinguished Service to Children's Literature (CBCA ACT) last night. This means so much to me because it highlights the need to be there for each other and to operate in an inclusive and openhearted way. That is, after all, the core of creativity.

I've heard endless glowing reports and stories about Laurie Copping and what a huge supporter he was of the industry. I feel so honoured to receive this award in this name. If you don't know much about this amazing man, principal of Hall Primary School, CBCA mover and shaker, and champion of children's literature, earn more about him here (PDF).

Ask Tania: How do I make the most out of writing festivals and conferences?

Friday, 10 March 2017

Dear Tania
I'm so excited to be going to the KidLit Conference in Melbourne this May, but I'm also nervous. I'm having a manuscript assessment with a publisher, too. How can I make the most out of the conference, and do you have any tips when dealing with the publisher?

Hi, Stace,

So exciting you're off to KidLit this year; I'll be there, too! It's going to be wonderful, and can I just say what a brilliant decision it was for you to book in for this. Attending conferences and festivals will really fast-track any creator's career, so this is great news.

Festivals and conferences can be overwhelming. Combine stacks of passionate people with creative ideas and passion on tap, bundle it up with a barrel full of nerves, especially when it comes to meeting publishers, and it can all become a little fraught.

Thankfully, kids' book industry folk are warm, inclusive, fabulous people (and if you meet the rare braggart who is not, smile politely and find someone else to talk to!) and you'll have the most gorgeous time chatting with people you've either met online, know of or meet for the first time.

Here are my tips for a really productive and successful time as a festival or conference delegate. I'll follow this up with tips on meeting publishers.

Have a great time, and see you there!


1. TALK TO PEOPLE. Don’t stick with who you know—stretch yourself and meet new people. You never know where it will lead professionally—and you might just make a new friend or begin an exciting collaboration.

2. CARRY COLLATERAL. Festivals are a priceless opportunity to make contacts. Take everyone’s business card and offer your own (I keep mine in the back of the festival pass which hangs around your neck). Take your books or works with you but only haul them out if appropriate. Show and tell is fun, is it not?

Interview, HerCanberra magazine

Friday, 3 March 2017

HerCanberra is a local website founded by the inimitable Amanda Whitley--and is one of the most stylish, informative and dedicated sites you'll come across. The HerCanberra brand expanded to a quarterly magazine and issue 8--Back to Basics--has just been released.

It's the most beautiful creation--matte pages and exquisite photography--with rich, stylish and fascinating content, testament to the brand Amanda has built.

I met with editor and all-round gorgeous soul Emma Macdonald end of last year for this piece on local writers, and the importance of books as a life basic for children. It was a true joy. And Martin Ollman's photography--wow. Stunning.

Also featured are local creators Ingrid Jonach and Carlie Gibson. 

Do look up the magazine. It's so beautiful. You can find stockists (it's free) on the HerCanberra website here. You can also view online here.

Thank you, Emma and Martin!

SBCWI ACT event: Excellence in Children's Books

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Canberra and region peeps, you simply cannot miss this amazing event, featuring National Library creators and visiting talent Susanne Gervay and Deborah Abela. This is your chance to meet National Library publisher Susan Hall and come away with some phenomenal insights and resources.

Here are the deets; hope to see you there!

Register, greet and meet. Tea, coffee and light refreshments.

Opening welcome with Susanne Gervay, Regional Advisor, Australia East/NZ and Deborah Abela ARA.

5.40pm – 6.30pm
Susan Hall, Publisher, National Library Publishing, talks about NLP’s publishing criteria and process, submissions, and what they are publishing. Followed by Q & A.
MC: Tania McCartney

6.30pm – 7.00pm
Gina Newton presents on how to create successful non-fiction children’s books.
MC: Tracey Hawkins

7.00pm – 7.30pm
Tania McCartney talks illustration – working with text, creating your own style, mediums and more.
MC: Nicole Godwin

7.30pm – 8.00pm
Inside publication and creating a successful writing community with Susanne Gervay and Deborah Abela.

$20 SCBWI members; $30 non-members.
Bookings essential and places are limited:

Thank you for the generous support of our official bookseller, Harry Hartog

Uncontracted Works in Progress

Sunday, 26 February 2017

There are two things about being a children's author that sit at polar opposite ends of the Happiness Spectrum.

At the unhappy end is the waiting to have work accepted for publication. The uncertainty. The not-knowing. The agony. The at-times-sheer-desperation. The working your guts out only to have someone else (or several someone elses) hold your creative future in their hands.

It can be intense and it can be utterly happy-sapping. When you're passionate about something and dedicate such gargantuan blocks of time and energy to your work, deflation and even derailment become sad companions.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, is the When You Finally Get Published roll. Things DO shift once your work hits the shelves. Your publisher will always be happy to view more of your work, and the chances of being taken on by a different publisher are also higher, because they can see what you've already produced, and your name in the market is starting to catch hold.

February update . . . creative things a-happening

Monday, 13 February 2017

I love February. It's sunshiny and warm (though a four-week+ heatwave here in Canberra is getting kind of ridiculous) and there's always extra chocolate involved, even if it means melted chocolate--a February phenomenon exclusive to the Southern Hemisphere.

Some very special friends and colleagues have birthdays this month. Then the 14th is International Book Giving Day (#IBGD), Library Lovers Day and Valentine's Day all in one--could it possibly be a more heart-thumping date??


On the 17th, I have my beautiful son's birthday and mine is two days later, meaning a weekend of cake and quite possibly champagne, if I have my way.

February doesn't muck around. It gets down to business after the long hot summer holidays. The inbox starts flooding again, and all the publishers get back to work. It feels like I've done a year's work already and we're only at the month's midpoint!

It seems to have a creative energy about it, February. I'm always refreshed, renewed and ready for brand new projects and shiny new directions. Here's what's going down for Feb.

This month, Tina and Snerling and I have just sent off the next two books in the A Kids' Year series off to print (EK Books). We always 'appear' on the dedication page, and here we are, below. Any guesses where these books might be set? Wherever that first one is, I want to be there right now!

This is Banjo Paterson was just launched yesterday (illustrated by my February Friend Christina Booth). We had the sweetest event at the National Library (a wrap-up here).

I'm now working through the text for a new book book with the National Library, discussing illustration format. It's going to be a whopper of a book--stacks of pages and some incredible content compiled by a prominent Australian; very exciting. This is my first official illustration commission and I'm both nervous and breathtaken. I have lots of wonderful ideas for the illos which will be digitally rendered, and I'm going to feature a range of textures that I hope to achieve with some mono-printing. Will post some pics of my mono-printing setup.

On the National Library, my 2012 book Australian Story was reissued this month--and BigW are stocking it--my very first experience with the BigW phenomenon. So happy for this quiet little book that tends to slide under the radar and pop up all over schools and libraries, who rely heavily on its content. Fantastic to see it achieve some more commercial attention.

Jess Racklyeft and I worked on a Christmas book idea over the summer and we're thrilled to have signed with divine Indie publisher Windy Hollow Books. The book is out this October, so Jess will be a busy bee these coming months! On top of that, we're busy working on a sequel to Smile Cry, featuring Piglet, Bunny and Cat (EK Books). It's going to be adorable--the roughs are too cute for words. Hope to have some sneak peeks for you later in the year.

Smile Cry is actually coming out in paperback this March, too. Two copies arrived this week (below). Can you even believe this succulent plant I found at IKEA? If anyone knows what it is, please tell me. It's like peas on stalks. Obsessed.

You can see the paperbacks again at the top of this post, with my newest flamingo family member--a surprise from my gorgeous friend Coral Vass. More too cute for words.

Another recent arrival--my very first illustrator postcards. I'm showing my very first portfolio at KidLitVic in Melbourne this coming May, and these will sit alongside, along with my business cards. Scary! but beside myself for this conference ... will get to catch up with treasured friends and fabulous industry folk; some I'll be meeting for the very first time.

2017 is certainly shaping up to be a year of very firsts.

It was pretty special to be accepted for the Australian Society of Author's The Style File this month, too--alongside some wonderful established talent. Quite surreal. Just goes to show how things unfold when you dedicate yourself and practice fiercely!

An interesting thing has occurred since the start of the year. I've been working on some secret squirrel business--a picture book I've long dreamed of creating, about a well-known Australian. The format for this book is unusual in terms of its narrative structure (not typically biographical), and I've been having the time of my life creating it without deadlines--just full creative expression with no limits or constraints. I've never been so focused and happy.

I don't even know if I'll have this book contracted, but it doesn't even matter, I'm loving it that much!

What else?

Oh--it's often the little things that mean a lot, yes? When I lived in Melbourne, I developed quite the obsession with Readings in Carlton (est. 1969). Over time, the store has expanded, and--if you didn't already know--they recently opened a children's store. Gasp.

I could only dream of having one of my books on face-out display in this beautiful store ... and look! Australia Illustrated in the publicity shots! I not only did a double-take, I did a quadruple-take, AND it's sitting right next to Iggy Peck Architect which is one of my favourite books of all time. Too too much. It was a sit-down-before-I-fall-down kind of reaction, that one.

Yes, it's the little things.

This coming Friday, 17 Feb (which is Banjo Paterson's birthday), I'll be chatting with Genevieve Jacobs on 666ABC Radio Canberra, all about Banjo. You can listen live here (just after 9.30am). Then at 1pm, I'll be chatting with NLA publicist Candice Cappe in a live Periscope video (another very-first). We'll be showcasing the actual original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda, which I've never seen, can you believe it? View the Library's Periscope channel right here.

Right--I think that's it for Feb! I'll be head-down, paintbrush up these coming weeks, trying to resist the temptation to check in on the train-wreck that is US politics right now (horrifying but unable to look away). I know 2017 will be a hugely productive year for me, and I'll be online a lot less as a result. Since commencing my illustration journey, it's more important than ever to trade off sitting time with movement time--so this year will be all about physical and mental balance.

I hope your February is full of very-firsts, and creative pursuits that make you focused and happy.


This is Banjo Paterson launch wrap-up

Sunday, 12 February 2017

What a gorgeous event today at the National Library, launching This is Banjo Paterson into the stratosphere!

On a mega high-temps morning, we had a lovely turnout of adults and kids. After an intro by publisher Susan Hall, we enjoyed a rendition of Waltzing Matilda, sung by the amazing Sarah Wallace, accompanied on guitar by Candice from the National Library. They trilled like angels! And of course, everyone sang along.

Next was a book reading followed by a book signing and some Banjo-inspired activities. Kids made their own hobby horses and sheep masks, and hunted around for Banjo-inspired words.

I was astonished to see how much some kids knew about Banjo, and it was so much fun revealing more about his incredible life. The only thing missing was illustrator Christina Booth who is currently stranded on a beautiful island just south of Victoria (known for its apples; you may know it).

And the winner is ...

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the comp to win a copy of This is Banjo Paterson! Biggest congrats to:

Nella Pickup
The Gee Family

You have won a copy of the book! Please *email me booksATtaniamccartneyDOTcom with your postal address. I am popping into the National Library tomorrow (Thursday) and I can sign each book. If you can be in touch before tomorrow, I can personalise it to someone for you! Just let me know who you'd like it dedicated to.

*Please note, if you are not in touch within 10 days, I will announce another winner.

And if you are in Canberra this weekend, I'd love to see you at the book launch at the National Library Bookshop, details below.
Book Launch - This is Banjo Paterson
Sunday 12 February 2017
National Library of Australia

This is Banjo Paterson Book Launch at the National Library

Monday, 6 February 2017

Book Launch
This is Banjo Paterson
Sunday 12 February 2017
National Library of Australia
...more info / reserve a place...

Join Tania on Periscope on Friday 17 February at 1pm AEDST, where
she will be chatting about the book live from the National Library,
and showing various priceless Banjo Paterson items,
along with original artwork by Christina Booth!

This is Banjo Paterson Day 7 - win a copy of the book!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

It's launch day! And to celebrate, here's your chance to win a copy of This is Banjo Paterson! We have two copies to give away.

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below (or email it to me here if you can't access Blogger), telling me which historical Australian you'd like to see a children's book on.

My two favourite suggestions will win a copy of the book. If you miss out, you can snaffle a copy of the book right here, or come along to my book launch at the National Library on 12 February in Canberra--details below.

COMP DETAILS: The comp runs from today until Tuesday 7 February 2017 at 9pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time. The winners will be announced the next day, right here on this blog. The comp is open to anyone, world-wide, so long as the book can be sent to an Australian address. This is a game of skill, not chance. The winning decision is final.

Join Tania on Periscope on Friday 17 February at 1pm AEDST, where 
she will be chatting about the book live from the National Library, 
and showing various priceless Banjo Paterson items, 
along with original artwork by Christina Booth!

And for those in or near Canberra ...
Book Launch - This is Banjo Paterson
Sunday 12 February 2017
National Library of Australia

This is Banjo Paterson Day 6 - resources for teachers and librarians

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Welcome to Day 6!

As part of the National Library's commitment to educational (and entertaining!) books, comprehensive teaching notes for This has Banjo Paterson have been provided for curriculum levels kindergarten through to year 3. Notes include discussion and inquiry questions, and ideas can be adapted for older students, too.

At the end of This is Banjo Paterson, a beautiful full-page spread (broadsheet style) is dedicated to further information on Banjo's life. Ideal for adults and older students.

Click the poster above for the teaching notes relating to This is Banjo Paterson. 

All 162 of his poems can be viewed here at the Australian Poetry Library, and kid-friendly audio on the real story behind Waltzing Matilda, can be found here.

For further resources on Banjo's life, the following websites are recommended:

Stay tuned for Day 7, where you'll have a chance to win a copy of the book! Click here for the full list of launch posts.

Join Tania on Periscope on Friday 17 February at 1pm AEDST, where 
she will be chatting about the book live from the National Library, 
and showing various priceless Banjo Paterson items, 
along with original artwork by Christina Booth!

And for those in or near Canberra ...
Book Launch - This is Banjo Paterson
Sunday 12 February 2017
National Library of Australia

This is Banjo Paterson Day 5 - Banjo's poetry and influences

Monday, 30 January 2017

Welcome to Day 5 where you'll learn more about Banjo's poetry and influences. You may be surprised!

One of Banjo's (or 'Barty' as he was called by his family) earliest poetic influences was a man named Jerry the Rhymer. Christina has depicted him (as the young lad's father) above.

Jerry was a 'shepherd' or bushman who lived near the Paterson property, Buckinbah Station, near Orange, New South Wales. He had a habit of speaking in rhyming slang and young Barty found him fascinating. He loved spending time with him and his son Jim, who was a teenager at the time.

Another major influence was Banjo's maternal grandmother Emily Mary Barton. She lived in Sydney at a house in Gladesville (you can see current images here - it is now a restaurant). Barty went to live with her when he turned 10, so he could attend Sydney Grammar School.

As an accomplished poet (she began writing in the 1840s; you can read more about her here), Emily encouraged her grandson to read and write verse.

Naturally, much of Banjo's work was inspired by the bush, horses and justice; some of Banjo's early poems were influenced by his work as a solicitor. Clancy of the Overflow is said to have been inspired by a lawyer's letter he'd had to write to a man who hadn't paid his debts.

When Banjo first began submitting his work to newspapers and magazines in 1885, he quickly developed a relationship with The Bulletin (this is where he adopted the pseudonym, The Banjo). Here, many of his works were published, and it's also where he and Henry Lawson embarked on their good-natured rhyming 'battle'.

One of his most famous poems was set to music (arranged by Christina Macpherson, who adapted it from an old Scottish song 'Craigeelee'). It was, of course, Waltzing Matilda, another poem inspired by real life events.

During his life, Banjo was compared to Rudyard Kipling in terms of his poetic talent, and by the end of his life, he had become one of Australia's most enduring poets--a legacy that remains today.

Many of Banjo's books are still in print, and he even wrote a book for kids--The Animals Noah Forgot (1933, illustrated by celebrated artist Norman Lindsay)--a copy of which I managed to find online. Alas, it's not a first edition, but a still-perfectly-vintage 1970 edition.

You can view a complete list of Banjo's poems at the Australian Poetry Library. Do note that some of these poems have altered over time, and there are several versions of the most famous. Indeed, Waltzing Matilda has changed over time, and This is Banjo Paterson features the original text, not that which is sung today.

Stay tuned for Day 6, where we reveal fabulous Banjo resources for teachers and librarians. Click here for the full list of launch posts.

Join Tania on Periscope on Friday 17 February at 1pm AEDST, where 
she will be chatting about the book live from the National Library, 
and showing various priceless Banjo Paterson items, 
along with original artwork by Christina Booth!

And for those in or near Canberra ...
Book Launch - This is Banjo Paterson
Sunday 12 February 2017
National Library of Australia

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