the blog

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Riley and the Jumpy Roo is off to the Palace!

Riley and the Jumpy Roo is off to the Palace!

The ACT Government​ have most kindly chosen Roo as their official gift for the new Royal baby, Princess Charlotte.

What a thrill! Thank you, Chief Minister! and thanks, also, to Vanessa Little, and to Karen who coordinated this surprise.

Happy hopping, Charlotte!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Spectacular School Presentations Seminar

Want to expand your writing or illustrating career with school visits? Come join me for this intensive two-hour seminar at the ACT Writers Centre​ this Saturday 16 May from 10 to 12pm.

Just 2 hours out of your day to learn nearly a decade of school visit experience--including how to source and approach schools, organising a visit, what to charge, equipment needed, book signings and sales, author blurb, brochures and order forms. Various types of presentations will be covered, as well as creating great content, engaging children and making your presentation shine. Logistics, tips and tricks for success are also covered.

For creators wanting to take that next step, this a priceless two-hour session packed with resources and know-how!

Saturday 16 May 
10am - 2pm
Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members
Venue: E Block Seminar Room, Gorman Arts Centre (formerly ACT Writers Centre workshop room)
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.

See here for more.

If you are nowhere near Canberra, remember I provide all this information in my Fantastical Flying Creator e-workshop, which has over 300 pages and over 70 exercises on anything and everything to do with progressing your career as an author or illustrator. And for the month of May, it's on sale! See here for more.

Monday, 4 May 2015

My Illustrations - April 2015

Things have been pretty busy around here--with Easter, school hols and several books in production. In between moments, I'm spending every spare possible second practicing my art and I can't even tell you how calming and wonderful it's been.

It's also been immensely frustrating, as I spend time learning how to improve my skills. Things don't always turn out the way I'd like. What is it with that discrepancy between our imagination and what our hands produce!?

Anyhoo--one of my goals has been to start working on fully structured scenes and I can't even tell you how terrifying that's been for me. It feels like Mt Everest when faced with such a task, so yesterday I sat myself down and didn't budge until I had an outline.

This took some time, and late that evening, around 10pm, just as I was about to go to bed, the siren call of that outline drew me into the studio, and I began colouring the bricks. I was halfway done at midnight.

Today, I finished the image (above) and although I know I have much room for improvement, I must admit I'm awfully proud of this achievement. A full page scene. I mean, the colour goes to the paper's bleed line. It's amazing what you can do when you sit yourself down and tell yourself not to budge. When you give yourself the gift of that kind of time and dedication.

Oh--and can I just say I loved doing every brick??

Below are some of the illustrations I did for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge during April ...

week 8: coffee

week 15: whimsy

week 16: structure

week 14: whimsy

week 14: whimsy

week 17: fluffy

week 16: structure

week 12: costume

I also did around 50 pages of linework and practice illustrations during April, with a focus on improving my lines. Won't bore you with all of them! But here are some of the images I created based on the artwork of other artists I admire including Anna Walker, Carson Ellis and David Roberts.

I really recommend practising imagery in the style you admire. It's a great way to hone your own skills and come up with a unique style of your very own.

And lastly, here is an image I did for the Challenge (week 10: night), but I really really REALLY hated it when I was done, so haven't posted it. Now I think it's okay--and as my illustrator friends say, every line we make, every brush stroke, counts towards honing our craft.

And that's always something to be proud of.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Fantastical Flying Creator MOTHER'S DAY SPECIAL!


For the full month of May, I am offering The Fantastical Flying Creator for just $79 (normally $120). Take advantage of this special offer, month-long--and give Mum the gift of creativity!



Oh how I wish this had been around when I was starting out.
Tania McCartney is the real deal — she knows her stuff inside out.
And what’s more, she shares her knowledge with grace, wit and
unwavering enthusiasm. The Fantastical Flying Creator is a gift.
Grab it! I cannot recommend it more highly. 
- author Jen Storer

Peas in a Pod Book Launch!

I'm so completely delighted to be launching Peas in a Pod at the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore on 3 June. It's going to be a hoot! If you're in town, do come along! Sadly, Tina will not be there, but her gorgeous illustrations will!

You can see the entire AFCC book launch schedule here and you can also check out the workshops, presentations and other sessions (there are a vast amount--and all fabulous), including my sessions, right here.

Monday, 27 April 2015

ask Tania: How should I lay out my manuscript?

Dear Tania,
My question is related to the layout of the manuscript [when submitting to publishers]. Do I present it with page breaks? Do I need to include a vision for the artwork? It is only 450 words long and anticipate that it will be approx 10 to 12 pages long. The story line is aimed at preschoolers.

Hi, Kristy,

Great question, and I do have some suggestions and guidelines.

The first is to carefully, meticulously research which publishers you wish to approach. It's vital that you do this, so you're not wasting their time--or yours! Publishers can take many, many months to get back to you, so ensuring you're hitting the right place, off the bat, is important.

The way to do this is to assess whether or not that publisher produces books along the same lines as your work. Once you've done this, check their website for their submissions process/requirements. If they are open to submissions, in the genre you've written in, submit it according to their guidelines. This is the best possible way to submit.

Having said that, there are general guidelines that are important for emerging authors.

The first is that you send manuscript ONLY. No images. An exception to this rule is if you have met a publisher at an event and have discussed the work, and they are happy to see both. Otherwise, only send the text.

You could send some kind of note on envisaged artwork but only if it's absolutely central to the story. Publishers generally like to appoint their own illustrators, and most don't like suggestions. If you are planning on illustrating the story yourself, you should absolutely mention this in your cover letter. Don't send any artwork, but simply state that you are an illustrator and are happy to show them your work if they would like to see it. You could also add a link to your work online, but that's it. Remember, succinct is best!

The standard way to send manuscripts is A4 paper (unless you're emailing), wide margins (3cm), double-line space, flowing text with natural paragraphs (no line breaks when not needed), left-hand justified, in a regular, readable font such as Courier, Times New Roman or Century Gothic. If your work is poetic/rhyming, you can send it in poetic stanzas.

Try to resist the urge to send your work in coloured text or exotic fonts, or with embellishments of any kind.

You can absolutely make notes on illustrations in the manuscript text but they should be really succinct, written under the accompanying text in italics or brackets. This should only be provided if the reader would not understand what's happening from the text alone. Too many illustration notes do impede your text. You need to trust the reader and rely on the fact that they will furnish their own interpretation from your words.

You can also do a very short informative intro if the manuscript requires any kind of explanation, but again, only if it's absolutely vital and central to the storyline, and if the reader won't understand it without the intro.

As for page breaks--short answer, no. Again, the reader wants to read a STORY. They don't want to be mucking around with page interruptions, unless, again, they're vital to the story in some way. As an emerging author, I would go with no page breaks, and once you're more established and understand how page breaks work, you could add some kind of division, as I do:

p1 verso: The first line of text in the story.

p2 recto: The second line of text in the story.


(Verso means left hand page. Recto means right hand page. I usually only do this if it's central to the story, though.)

Fundamentally, you want your story to be as easy to read as possible. You don't want the reader to be tripped up by anything much at all, other than the odd illustration note. When you trip up the reader, it does affect flow and enjoyment--and you want that editor to enjoy it!

450 words (or less!) for a picture book is perfect. Ideal, really, and it's actually a decent amount of text for a PB aimed at the very young. Ensure every word counts and earns its place. Be sure it doesn't just repeat what will be shown in illustration. Also ensure it inspires new and varied illustration on each double-page spread.

Book pages run by 8s. So a book can't be 10 pages (pages are counted by face not leaf--so a single leaf of paper is two pages). A book can only be 16 (which is too thin), 24 or 32, etc, the latter being standard. This is something you wouldn't need to worry about at submission stage, anyway.

I hope all this helps. Wishing you the best of luck with your submissions!

See all the questions so far ...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Captain Cook Book Launch Wrap-Up!


What a gorgeous launch at the National Library on the weekend! Held in the light-filled foyer, right outside the bookshop, we gathered to chat about the life of a formidable mariner, who sailed the seven seas not once, but three times.

Introduced by the lovely Candice Cappe {above}, I used a globe to show the kids where Cook voyaged and exactly how far it is across the Pacific Ocean! Then we got into the story--and had lots of laughs along the way.

It was such a warm audience, and these kids were so bright--every question I asked, they answered.

After the reading, I signed books while my gorgeous publisher Susan presented the kids with chocolate coins.

The kids, meantime, got stuck into some fabulous seafaring activities, including the ubiquitous newspaper captain's hat, paper boats, colouring-in and word searches--and of course, what would a launch on Captain Cook be without make-your-own telescopes??

So wonderful to have some of my Canberra home girls along for the ride--Tracey Hawkins and Stephanie Owen Reeder, who was editor on the book! ...

And a thrill to meet one of my members from the 52-Week Illustration Challenge--Richelle, with her beautiful grandson Charlie ...

A huge thank you to Candice and Susan for such a fabulous launch, and to everyone who came along to celebrate. Another whopping thank you to the amazing Nicole Godwin who took the majority of these absolutely beautiful pics--and also to Melissa Squire of Honeybee Books for the use of some of hers!

If you would like to add This is Captain Cook to your own collection, you can snaffle a copy right here


Note: As this was a public event, I have featured these photos online. If you have been featured here and would prefer to have your photograph removed, please don't hesitate to let me know.
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