Australia Illustrated Virtual Launch: A tour of my studio

Monday, 24 October 2016

I hope you enjoy this little peek at where Australia Illustrated was created!
Warning: I'm not the best filmmaker--still learning!

Click the poster below to go to my Virtual Launch 
homepage and follow along all posts! 

Follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with hashtag

Australia Illustrated Virtual Launch: WIN a copy of the book!

WIN! a copy of Australia Illustrated

Okay, picture book lovers, to kick off my Virtual Launch for Australia Illustrated, what better way to get things rolling than a giveaway? I'll also be giving away some original artwork from the book, so follow along on my virtual launch this week for your chance to win!

But let's get down to the Le Book...

Australia Illustrated is a cloth-bound 96-page picture book on Australia like you've never seen before.

Vibrantly illustrated with watercolour, ink, mono-printing and digital art, Australia Illustrated not only celebrates the more ‘typical’ Australian flora, fauna and landmarks, it showcases the everyday quirks and idiosyncrasies that make Australia unique. Types of rain, Greek street food, Sydney ferries, cattle breeds, plants of the Daintree—even the quokka selfie epidemic—will delight both children and adults.

Learn more about the book right here.
For your chance to win a copy of Australia Illustrated, all you have to do is leave a comment below, telling me your favourite Aussie quirk. Use as many words as you like. 

My favourite three responses will win!
Be sure to check back to this blog on 1 November to see if you're a winner, 
and so I can get in touch with you! If I'm unable to contact you within 
a week, I will choose another winner.

BORING DETAILS: The comp runs from 24 October to 31 October, 9pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time. The winners will be announced on 1 November, right here on this blog. The comp is open to anyone, world-wide, so long as the book can be posted to an Australian or New Zealand address. This is a game of skill, not chance. The winning decisions are final. Unfortunately, I will be unable to sign the books, but when I meet you one day, bring it along, and I can sign it then!


Click the poster below to go to my Virtual Launch 
homepage and follow along all posts! 

Follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with hashtag

Robert Ingpen and May Gibbs--a blissfully artistic day

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Today, at the National Library of Australia, a gaggle of art-loving peeps flocked to hear the illustrious Robert Ingpen in conversation with 666ABCCanberra's Louise Maher.

Robert spoke about his life as an illustrator, and regaled us with his creative processes and inspiration. Just some of his memorable quotes (I have paraphrased):

'...what is the difference between artists and illustrators? You stand up to be an artist and you sit down to be an illustrator. To be an illustrator is to be in control of a craft...'

'...illustrators work in service of the story...'

' school tried to push me to be either a fine artist, advertising artist or teacher; I instead learned book-making...'

'...we must treat nature with respect...'

'...we have two brains - one to add and subtract, and one to take you into magical forests, where dreams reside...'

'...we would dearly love to go to the creative brain but are too frightened because people told us it wouldn't do us any good, and that we must get on with life and be responsible...'

And my personal fave:

'...with children's books, I like kids to find the spaces in my illustrations for their imaginations to occupy...'

It was a true joy to hear Robert speak, and at the end of the hour, his collaborator on Tea and Sugar Christmas, and the soon-to-be-released Radio Rescue!, author Jane Jolly, spoke about her amazing journey with one of our country's finest artist/illustrators.

After the talk, guests queued to have books signed, and enjoyed an afternoon tea and a bookish mingle. Robert was also celebrating his recent 80th birthday--the only thing missing was cake!

It was great to catch up with Leanne Barrett from the CBCA ACT branch, author Stephanie Owen Reeder, CBCA judge Rosemary Thomas, author Cate Whittle, and many more friends. It was also great to see Margaret and Max Hamilton, and to finally meet author/illustrator Dub Leffler!

Alas, I had to go pick up my daughter from work, and didn't have time to stand in the queue for a signing, but I did pick up these divine book copies. You simply can't miss this stunning book--Wonderlands: The Illustration of Robert Ingpen. Gasp. It's just too beautiful. If you're an art/illustration lover, snaffle a book online, post-haste.

The Wind in the Willows illustrated edition is one in a series of remarkable classic tales featuring Robert's work. I'm going to collect these in the coming years.

Oh--and another glorious thing happened this morning... I won a raffle. I never win raffles! This one is particularly special because it was for the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature, and the prize was a May Gibbs quilt, exquisitely crafted by Trish Milne, using the most divine official May Gibbs fabric. The quilt was made in celebration of 100 years of May Gibbs' books.

This quilt is extra special to me because I have a deep adoration for May Gibbs, and something of a connection ... you know those people who just keep popping up in your life, as though they're aligned in some way? Like they're whispering to you from heaven?

I've long admired and adored May's work, and while reading about her last year, I discovered we had actually worked in the very same building at 4 Bridge Street in Sydney. And from memory, I'm pretty sure we even worked on the same floor.

May had what she called her 'little studio' there, where she would produce beautiful handmade creations--calendars, pictures, postcards--from her art, along with her lifelong friend and suffragette Rene Eames. Later, May used the studio to produce work for publishers, including book covers and magazine covers and internal art.

Anyway--it was a joy--and yet another lovely coincidence to win this quilt--a little nod from on high that I kind of needed right now.

Learn more about May at

Australia Illustrated Virtual Launch!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

It's Virtual Launch time! 
24 - 31 October 2016

I'm delighted to mark the launch of my very first self-illustrated book - Australia Illustrated - with a week of celebrations, from Monday 24 to Monday 31 October. The book will hit Australian shelves on 1 November, as well as the US, Canada and New Zealand. It will be released in the UK on 28 November.

Click here to learn all about the book and what you'll find inside (or if you don't like clicking, you can scroll to the bottom of this post).

The following posts will go live through the week--they will not be active until the day and time they're posted on, so check back for live links as the week unfolds!

Monday 24 October
5am - WIN! A copy of the book - three to give away
5pm - A video peek at my studio

Tuesday 25 October  
5am - Sneak Peek!--see inside the book!
5pm -  WIN! An original illustration from the book - six to give away

Wednesday 26 October  
5am - Book Trailer reveal!

Thursday 27 October 
5am - Fun 4 Kids! - some Australia Illustrated activities

Friday 28 October 
5am - Please won't you name my characters? - your chance to name some of the kids in my book! 

Saturday 29 October 
5am - Before and Afters - some fascinating production peeks! 

Sunday 30 October
5am - Buy Australia Illustrated, with free postage

Monday 31 October
5am - Cups of Tea with Friends ... articles, reviews, interviews and more
5pm - Virtual launch thank yous

Tuesday 1 November
5am - Character name revealed! - was your name chosen?
1pm - Book winners revealed!

Wednesday 2 November
52-Week Illustration Challenge bonus challenge winner

You can also follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with hashtag #ausillo.

I hope you have fun!

And if you are Canberra-based or in town to enjoy our fabulous Spring weather, I'd love to see you at my launch at Harry Hartog bookstore in Woden on Saturday 5 November! Details below.

About le book!

Australia Illustrated
(November 2016, EK Books, $29.99, hard cover + cloth-bound, 96 pages, 9781925335217)

Australia. Big. Beautiful. Diverse. From First People to washing lines and crocodiles, football and sunshine, koalas and Akubras, skyscrapers and beaches that squeak, this 96-page tome is an illustrious homage to this wide brown land and its rich and varied multicultural communities.

Vibrantly illustrated with watercolour, ink, mono-printing and digital art, Australia Illustrated not only celebrates the more ‘typical’ Australian flora, fauna and landmarks, it showcases the everyday quirks and idiosyncrasies that make Australia unique. Types of rain, Greek street food, Sydney ferries, cattle breeds, plants of the Daintree—even the quokka selfie epidemic—will delight both children and adults.

Divided into Australia-wide entries and also elements from each state and territory, readers will learn more about the endemic plants, animals, foods, landmarks, sports and oddities that make the regions around Australia special.

Whimsical, humorous and high in detail, this is Australia like you’ve never seen it before. Grab your snorkel. Let’s dive in.

Australia Illustrated marks the illustration debut of award-winning author, Tania McCartney.

Ask Tania: What's with these book awards that authors can buy? Are they worth it?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Hi Tania,
I'm an emerging author, and I'm in the middle of self-publishing a little chapter book. I was wondering ... what's with these book awards that authors can buy? Are they worth it? I'm not sure how they work.

Hi, Caroline,

Oooh--the vanity book award. This is a tough one. About to get frank here!

You may have heard of the term 'vanity publishing', where authors pay to have their work published. Some vanity publishers prefer to call it 'joint venture' publishing, but it's still the same thing.

While this type of publishing may suit those who'd like to publish their memoirs for their family, it's not recommended* for anyone who wants to make a career out of writing books. There is no selection criteria with vanity publishers (even if they insist there is) and the outcome for your work is therefore nowhere near the professional level it would enjoy with a trade publisher (who makes financial, time and emotional investments in your work).

*Footnote: I think self-publishing is wonderful--I've done it and I'm a big supporter of it--but you can absolutely self-publish books well and with credibility, without having to use a vanity publisher (and you'll save yourself a tonne of money, too!). See my post on self-publishing for more.

Fundamentally, you should never have to pay to submit work to publishers, and you should never have to pay to have your work published. The reasons are far too many to go into here (you can google this topic for thousands of references), but suffice to say that 99.99 per cent of the time, using a vanity publisher is not only unprofitable (in fact--it can end up costing you a lot more money than you bargained for), it can be damaging to your career in terms of both the production quality of your book, and your credibility as a creator.

Christmas Gift Guide featuring Australia Illustrated

Saturday, 15 October 2016

I have a bit of an obsession with talented people, especially those with a strong visual aesthetic and a knack for grouping beautiful things together in a beautiful way. I also have a bit of an obsession with gorgeous kids' products and Christmas, and so it is with swelled heart that this blog post is about all three--talented people, gorgeous kids' products and Christmas!

Kelly of The Styling Mama is the talented people part of this post. Kelly shares my obsession with gorgeous kids' stuff and Christmas (as you can well see in these photos). These pics are from her Australiana Christmas photo shoot, which can be seen in her recent blog post entitled Christmas Down Under...neath all that wrapping paper.

In this post, Kelly lists the product creators (with links to their websites). Wait till you see these websites and what these talents are creating--seriously. It's enough to make your toes curl in delight (and apologies in advance for the temptation ... but it's almost Christmas!).

I was so fortunate to have Australia Illustrated in the shoot (thanks to Lisa-Marie of Bear and Sparrow!). I really need to hire Lisa and Kelly as my advertising director and stylist. Authors need book shots like these!!

You can see more of Kelly's gorgeous work on her Instagram feed right here, where you'll find more pics from this shoot, along with creator tags.

In the meantime, get set to drool! I hope you find some Christmas inspiration here. That koala cushion and Uluru cushion ...

Remember, head to Kelly's Australiana Christmas post if you want to locate any of these items--and stay tuned, as she has more Christmas posts on the way.


And too cute not to include ...

And then there's the above cuteness which appears in his own video ... click the still below, and wait till you hear him say 'nummy cake smile'.

Sorry, totally off track, but Smile Cry would make a lovely Christmas gift, too, of course!

Ask Tania: What makes a great author website?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dear Tania
I am keen to create my author website but want to know--what should I include? What makes a great author website?

Hi, Toni,

A website is vital for all authors and illustrators. It's a global, easily-accessed, inexpensive platform that takes minimal effort once set up--and serves as your Virtual Headquarters, not to mention your virtual marketing professional and sales rep!

I'm consistently looking at the work of other authors and illustrators, not only for Kids' Book Review, but because I have a strong interest in supporting emerging talent. One thing that consistently surprises me is the lack of strong web presence. In fact, I've lost count of the times I've looked someone up--or the title of their book--and literally found nothing.

And this lack of web presence is so hugely detrimental to any creator. If we can't find you, how can we find your books?

So, first and foremost, you simply must must must have a website. A website is a standalone 'centre'. Think of it as your home. Then, you have several satellite sites that link to your website, such as a blog, a bookstore, a Facebook page, an online gallery or illustration portfolio, book or character websites, etc.

With me, I have my central website then I link to my blog, my social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube). I also link to Kids' Book Review and the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, because both are directly associated with my work as an author illustrator.

It would be tempting to link to your travel blog or your cooking blog or other interests, but unless you're a travel or food writer, it can become confusing to pack too much into one website.

This brings me to my first website tip.

Australia Illustrated on Bear and Sparrow

Sunday, 9 October 2016

If you simply can't wait another moment to snaffle a copy of Australia Illustrated, my amazing friend Lisa-Marie Kerr of Bear and Sparrow has been granted permission to sell copies three weeks in advance of its release in Australia!

The $39.99 price includes $10 in shipping. Hurry--there are only 50 copies up for grabs.

Click the poster above to go to the Bear and Sparrow website, and be sure to check out Lisa's incredible kids' decor while you're there. Warning: it's the prettiest rabbit-hole you ever did fall into!

Christmas stocking stuffers

Friday, 7 October 2016

Books are the absolute best stocking stuffers, and Exisle Publishing's latest catalogue has some sensational ideas for Christmas--from adult books through to 'the cutest book of emotions for young kids'.

See the online catalogue right here!

Australia Illustrated Book Launch!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

If you're in Canberra, I'd love to see you there! 
If not, stay tuned for my Virtual Launch right here 
on this blog from 24 to 31 October

A Texas Year and A New York Year reviews

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I love Kids' Book Buzz because the reviews are by kids--and I just love what kids have to say!

unremarkable moments

Sunday, 18 September 2016

You know those magical moments--those really magical moments--that are literally just a moment? A snapshot that stays with you forever, on multiple levels, and elicits an intense flood of emotion where you are sent back in time... you can feel the temperature of the air, the breeze on your skin, the rain on your face, the water lapping around you, the aroma of coffee--it's as though you've been snatched up and tossed back into the past.

I'm not talking about Big Moments like babies being born or plucking choux buns from your wedding cake--I'm talking of unremarkable moments. The ones that seem so enormous because they WERE so unremarkable, yet they hold such magic in them--perhaps because they were a skerrick of time when you were so purely happy. When you were doing nothing more than smiling.

Not thinking. Just being.

Here is one of mine, Paris, 9 January 2013 when Riley threw a balloon (he had found lolling along the street) into the Seine. We had been walking in the rain, crossing the Pont de Sully towards l'Ile Saint-Louis--on the hunt for ice cream, and he just lobbed it into the sky.

It was one of those moments where time stood still. And it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. I don't know why.

It was nothing and it was everything.

Do you know what I mean?

I have others--particularly a time in the ocean off Langkawi Island (Malaysia), floating on my back, staring above at the palm trees swaying overhead and feeling nothing but the present moment. Pure happiness. Nowhere to be. Nothing to think about other than telling myself 'remember this moment, remember this moment'. And I do.

What unremarkable moments do you remember? I would so love to know.
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