February deadlines and new books and bullet journalling and awards and bears - oh my!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

You could have bowled over with a lightly-fragrant glass of bubbles when a friend pointed out Merry Everything on the CBCA Notables table last night at Harry Hartog bookstore. You see, the lovely people at CBCA ACT organised a Notables Announcement event (complete with lightly-fragrant bubbles and other treats) and I went along because I have a severe children's book addiction... totally UNsuspecting any kind of Notable.

Yet--there it is. A Notable! Friend and Merry Illustrator Jess Racklyeft and me... we are humbled and absolutely thrilled (as is our gorgeous publisher, Windy Hollow Books) for our little book with its esteemed sticker. Thank you, CBCA. It will be a very smiley week, this one!

You can see all Notables here--congrats to my many friends and colleagues who have also been stickered. It's such an honour to sit alongside you. The shortlist for 2018 Book of the Year will be announced in one month--on 27 March, and the winners will be revealed as Book Week kicks off on 17 August.

from Mamie, HCP, Dec 2018

Typical of the author life, I've kicked up my heels last night and now back to my desk this morning.

Tomorrow is deadline day for Mamie, my picture book about the life of May Gibbs, and methinks there might be tears upon completion. I still can't believe this is happening. After many, many years wanting to write about May--it's literally a dream come true, and I'm pinching myself black and blue. Lisa Berryman and Eve Tonelli at HarperCollins have been divine to work with, and I can't wait to show you some peeks as we head towards publication date this December. I'm hoping to have a launch in Adelaide late November, so watch my Events page for more on this.

1 April is the release of See Hear, a sequel to Smile Cry--illustrated by the amazing Jess Racklyeft. I ADORE this book trailer Jess put together. Wait till you hear the original music concocted by Jess's husband and kids--it's utterly adorable! It brings tears to my eyes (in a good way!!).


Stay tuned for more on See Hear as the pub date approaches. There'll be peeks and peeps and giveaways.

Speaking of giveaways ... tomorrow I'm having my first random print giveaway on Instagram (@taniamccartney). This darling (from Australia Illustrated) is the first ...

... and all you have to do is follow my Insta account and leave a comment. Winners will be chosen at random. Good luck!

And now ... what you've been waiting for ... drum roll please ... recent book purchases!

I celebrated a milestone birthday recently, and yes, I binged. Big time. Here are my latest, treasured finds. And more are winging their way to me as I type, so I'll pop them in my next post. HIGHLY recommend them all.

One of my idols, and my daughter's namesake

Completely obsessed with James's buildings series of books

Flying Colours is one of my favourite books in this batch. I spent five solid hours reading this last Sunday. It's an astonishing creation and one of those books I could finish reading then turn to the first page and start again.

I was so enamoured by the content, I took some notes and posted them on Facebook. Non-fiction addicts, I know you will appreciate this!

  • There are only two square flags - Switzerland and Vatican City
  • Afghanistan's flag has changed 21 times - more than any other flag in the world
  • Nepal is the only flag with more than four sides 
  • Every world flag, except Mauritania and Jamaica, has either red white or blue in it
  • The world's most complex flag is Turkmenistan, featuring a strip with a carpet pattern
  • Saudi Arabia is the only flag featuring writing as its central design 
  • More than 40 per cent of the world's flags use a triband in their design (think France)
  • Qatar is the only flag to be more than twice as wide as it is high
  • The only difference between Monaco and Indonesia's flags are their dimensions
  • The flag of Cyprus was designed by a school teacher. Its design elements had to be neutral (between Turkey and Greece)
  • India's flag can only be made of specialised hand-spun cotton or silk. Flying a flag of other fabric means three years in prison
  • Japan's flag has been in use over 1000 years but the oldest national flag is Denmark's. Other Nordic nations also modeled their flags on Denmark's Nordic cross
  • The four trigrams surrounding the Korean flag's central yin yang disc (called a taeguk) represent: Heaven (justice), Moon (wisdom), Sun (fruition) and Earth (vitality)
  • When the USSR dissolved in 1991, Russia reverted to the triband flag introduced by Peter the Great in 1697
  • In 1912, after the Qing dynasty was overthrown, China's flag consisted of five horizontal stripes of red, yellow, blue, white and black, representing five ethnic groups - Han, Manchu, Mongol, Hui and Tibetan (interesting!!)
  • The US flag's upper left star pattern (this section of a flag is called a 'canton') has been through 28 variations since its conception in 1777, including stars in the shape of a ring and stars formed into star shapes
  • Mozambique and Guatemala are the only flags to includes a firearm in their design
  • The use of a star in a flag's design has been most popular in countries formed in the 20th century
  • Stars are also frequently used in flags that have achieved independence (stars can represent revolution)
  • The Union Jack is not symmetrical. It is thought to be named after King James I who united Scotland and England in 1606
  • Which flags, in my humble opinion, are the most appealing, design-wise? South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, Greece, UK, Iceland, St Lucia, Cuba, Greenland, Israel, Kenya, Botswana, Japan, Macedonia, India and Cyprus.

On the topic of picture books, here is another picture book by My Queen. I've spent hours poring over it, both text and image. Yes, I read recipes for pleasure. Doesn't everyone? But then I'll barely actually use a single recipe. Why do I do that? What is wrong with me?

Another endless peruse was the latest Flow magazine. Sigh. Eye candy, heart and mind candy personified.

More eye candy. Some birthday presents from my daughter, below. Marc Martin whales. I have a thing with whales. A major thing. And now I have Marc Martin whales. And accompanying these treasures are some Schleich whales (you can find them at Dymocks or toy/gift stores). All this scene needs is a snorkel and an ocean.

More prettiness ...

Have you heard of bullet journalling? BuJo for short. Devised by Ryder Carroll, it's a little complicated to start with, but my goodness, it's worth pushing through. Learn more about it here. Part diary, part drawing book, part schedule, part to-do list, part brain dump, what it does for me is take Everything out of my head and put it in one place--a pretty place I can doodle in, flick through and check off. I've seriously got more done in the past month than I have in the past six months, thanks to this journal.

Fundamentally, it involves finding the prettiest journal you possibly can and setting up your own, custom pages. Rachel Wilkerson Miller's book How to Bullet Plan beautifully explains the system, and offers heaps of tips, practical advice and inspiration. For more inspiration, head to Instagram with #bujo or peruse Pinterest, searching bullet journals.

You can use any journal but I recommend Leuchhturm1917, pictured below. I have A5 which is plenty large enough, and I adore the dot point pages which eliminate the need for lines but still allow you to write straight, and do lots of drawing (you can hardly see the dots in the image below). Milligram and Book Binders Online have fabulous journal ranges, or you could try ebay.

Below is my March header (I'll add more illustrations to this) and a peek at how I'm laying out my weeks (after much trial and error!). The boxes are for weather diagrams. For each day, I'll list upcoming events, things to do, work commitments, appointments, birthdays, things to buy, etc, and I'll use the bujo system of symbols (as bullet points) for each of these entries. This really helps me keep on top of things.

You'll notice the botanical drawings I've been adding to my bujo, and I'm a bit obsessed with them right now. Can't stop flora-doodling. Below is a little botanical notebook that came with the latest Flow magazine, and I'm determined to fill every single page with illos. I've always dreamed of filling a notebook with endless illustrations and have never committed, so this will be my first of many. I'll do a little video when I'm done!

More on flora ... at the end of last year, my friend Leanne Barrett gave me this divine May Gibbs calendar. Tomorrow I get to turn over to March, and my fingers are twitching at the thought. The smallest things bring us so much pleasure, do they not?

Now let's leap to fauna. Jess Racklyeft's beautiful collection of bird pins is available on her Etsy store. They sell out fast, so keep one eye on her Instagram feed. I have every single pin she's created, since the dawn of time, and these latest four now join my menagerie. Loving the little Bilby pin, too. Part proceeds go to the Save the Bilby Fund.

Some more gorgeousness--my current crush is illustrator and surface pattern designer Asa Gilland Soeprapto. Look at her work--I mean, wow. You can follow her on Instagram by clicking her artwork, below. I'll share more of my Instagram crushes in the coming months. They're so inspirational.

Asa Gilland Soeprapto

Finally, A Bear a Day (Instagram auction) is in its final month tomorrow (finishes 31 March) and here are the most recent round of bears that were up for bids. Just two unsold, and I'll be having a Second Chance to buy unsold bears from 1 April (till 7 April or until sold out).













This auction has been so much fun--I didn't expect such a wonderful response, and creating these critters has been such a joy. Another unexpected joy has been how it's inspired others, particularly 8-year-old Elli from Germany, who was inspired to create these amazing images (she's 8!) of my bears...

What a lovely note to finish this mega lengthy post on.

I hope you are all enjoying the segue of summer to autumn. We received a day of rain here in Canberra which is more than we've received in the last eight years, it seems, and the weather is gradually beginning to cool. My favourite season is on the doorstep and I think some autumn leaf drawings will be coming up soon.

I hope autumn inspires you as much as it does me. Happy creating!


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