the blog

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

My Illustrations - Jan to March 2015

Bonus Challenge: COCOON

Some of you may know I left the 52-Week Illustration Challenge in the talented hands of my friend Nicky Johnston this year, as although last year was life-changing and glorious, I was spending far too much time immersed in the beauty of this initiative, and needed to spend more time actually creating.

2015's logo was created by the lovely Sally-May Lott

My goal has been {all along} to start illustrating some of my own books, and since the Challenge began in Jan 2014, I've been really thankful to have the chance to hone my skills and reconnect with something I used to love so much.

Late last year, I was fortunate to receive a highly-commended nod from the ASA for their Emerging Illustrator Mentorships. I receive some mentoring from one of my all-time favourite illustrators, Sue deGennaro {glorious experience!}, and we spent time going over some of my digital work for a picture book I'd been working on.

The great thing about receiving mentoring is that it's both incredibly inspiring and daunting! It's also enlightening and really helps bring focus. After chatting with Sue, I realised I was perhaps working on something that felt 'easier' to do {digital illustration} rather than something that really impassioned me {watercolour illustration}.

So, I think I'm going to make a shift and start again on a couple of my books. Daunting, yes, but every pen and brush stroke I've made have all been part of honing my skills. Every moment spent in practise is valuable.

I have a very busy year ahead and will be in book production for most of the first half of the year, so this, coupled with a refocus on my book illustration pathway, has meant little time to participate in the 52-Week Illustration Challenge. And I've missed it sooooo much. Not only for the people involved--my gorgeous admin team--and, of course, the stunning, daily artworks being posted--but because it's been such great practise--creating to a weekly theme.

I did managed to get a handful of weeks done earlier in the year--weeks 1, 2 and 3 ...

week 1: FAIRY TALE

Week 2: ITALY

Week 3: RETRO

I then had a break and didn't post again until Week 7 ...

Week 7: FARM
And week 11 ...

And tomorrow I'll be posting in Week 13 ...


I still have a long way to go, but getting back into my practise again has been so rewarding. So much so, it's made my heart sing. And I'm more inspired than ever to begin work on my aforementioned picture books.

Are you doing something that you love? Daily?

PS: if you're near Canberra and are a SCBWI member, come along to our next ACT meeting on Weds 1 April, where I'll be speaking about the Challenge and our recent exhibition in Perth. Details are here.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Review of This is Captain Cook on Buzzwords

A gorgeous review by the lovely Anastasia Gonis. Click the picture above for full review. Thanks, Buzz Words!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Review of This is Captain Cook on DeeScribe

Such a gorgeous review of This is Captain Cook from the lovely Dee White. Warms my heart. Click the image to read.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Author Profile in ACTWrite Magazine

Delighted to appear in this month's ACTWrite Magazine, put together by the ACT Writers Centre here in Canberra. The mag is always chock-full of fabulous content, inspiration and priceless information on the authorship journey.

I highly recommend becoming a member of your state or regional writing centre. The contacts, resources and information available is priceless, and I've always said a writing career is not only bolstered by--but quite often created by--solid networks.

Hop to it!

(Forgive me, it's almost Easter ...)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

52-Week Illustration Challenge Exhibition: Opening Night Wrap-Up!

The 52-Week Illustration Challenge Exhibition has been as surreal as it has been beautiful. Nicky and I were fortunate to be able to travel to Perth for the Opening on Monday 9 March--and it became a long weekend of creative happy.

We arrived on the morning of Friday 6th and went straight to Brookfield Place to meet with Emma Tearne, the Perth Marketing Manager, WA. Emma surprised us with a visit to the Linton and Kay Art Gallery--where Linton, Gary, Miranda and their team had taken each exhibition piece and carefully aligned it with the perfect frame.

Nicky and I were stunned at how beautiful the works looked. It was a real Moment! We couldn't get over the colour and detail that is so missed when digitally-viewed. And another thing that struck us was the size. So many pieces were so much smaller or so much larger than we had imagined. This phenomenon continued on when other people saw the art in person, too.

It was also overwhelming to finally see artworks we had fallen in love with and had known and loved since well into the start of 2014. So very special.

Dragging ourselves away from the gallery (it's stunning--you simply must go), Emma took us to a beautiful Japanese restaurant where we chatted about the journey so far, and ... the Opening Night.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Our This is Captain Cook Virtual Launch Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win a signed copy of This is Captain Cook and a stunning original artwork from the book, thanks to Christina Booth!

It was very tough choosing a winner--not only for the fact that all entries are superb, but because I know you all! So I asked a very impartial husband to choose, and he came up with our worthy winners.

Congratulations to:

The Book: Renee Price 

The Art: Rebecca Newman

We hope you absolutely love your prizes and enjoy them for many years to come1 I will be in touch with you shortly to organise your prizes.

Thank you, everyone, for launching the Captain with us!

Tania and Christina
x x


Thursday, 12 March 2015

#thisiscaptaincook Book and Illustration Giveaway!!

We are at the end of our Virtual Tour! Christina and I would like to thank you for joining us on this voyage, as we whack the sparkling wine against the bow of our bookish ship. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

To celebrate the end of our tour, we have some prizes!

WIN! a signed copy of This is Captain Cook!

We have one signed copy to give away to one lucky reader, valued at $24.95.

If you would like to win this, just leave a comment below, headed with the word: BOOK, telling us in 50 words or less where you would like to voyage and why.

WIN! original artwork from This is Captain Cook!

The lovely Christina Booth has agreed to give away one of her beautiful original artworks from the book! She sooo lovely! Value: priceless.

If you would like to win this artwork (I wonder which one it will be!) just leave a comment below, headed with the word: ART, telling us in 50 words or less which famous Australian you'd like to see a school play on and why.

Both competitions are open to those aged 18 or over. This is a game of skill not chance. Entries close Friday 13 March at 11:56pm AESDT. The winners will be announced here on this blog on Saturday 14 March, so be sure to check back! Comps are open to anyone so long as they have an Australian postage address. Winners will receive their prize within three weeks of entering. Decisions are final.

Good luck!

With love from your intrepid voyagers, 
Tania and Christina.
x x

#thisiscaptaincook Book Signing

Here I am signing books!

Yes, that's me, signing YOUR books! If you want to order a discounted book and have it signed, click right here. If you'd like to try to win a copy, click here! (You could also win some original art from the book!!)

#thisiscaptaincook Reviews So Far ...

Here are some book reviews so far, with more coming soon - hopefully! Click on each one to read.
Kids' Book Review
Boomerang Books Blog
My Book Corner
Collins Booksellers, Chirnside

Pages & Pages Bookseller Newsletter

#thisiscaptaincook Activities for Kids

Hello, kids--so lovely to see you here! I really hope you love This is Captain Cook as much as I loved writing it and Christina loved illustrating it.

Here you will find some fun activities to download and enjoy--all about Captain Cook!

Word Search

Right-click, save, print and enjoy!

Colouring-In Page

Right-click to copy and print!

Make Your Own Captain's Hat

Grab yourself a large sheet of paper or newspaper and use the diagram below to fold your own Captain's hat! Decorate or colouring it in, if you like.

Captain Cook Quiz

Try your hand at this super dooper quiz. And yes, you may use the internet to help you!

  1. Which country was James Cook born in?
  2. What was the name of his wife?
  3. How many children did they have?
  4. What was the name of the ship Captain Cook sailed when he landed in Australia?
  5. What year was it?
  6. What did he name the first bay he came across?
  7. Which country did Captain Cook land on shortly before discovering the east coast of Australia?
  8. What did he call the east coast of Australia when he first landed?
  9. Which reef was the Endeavour damaged on?
  10. When The Endeavour made anchor, Cook actually wasn't the first person to set foot on Australian soil. He asked someone else if they would like to go first. Who was it?

PS: Click here to see an animated map of Captain Cook’s second voyage!

Teachers' Notes is Captain Cook.pdf

Tell your teacher about these fabulous teachers' notes that can be used in class! There's lots of fun ideas. Just click the poster above to see them.

The Real Life Launch at the 
National Library, Canberra

Kids, if you are based near Canberra, don't forget to come along to the This is Captain Cook book launch at the National Library! You'll need to RSVP--details below!

Click the poster to RSVP!

#thisiscaptaincook The Creation Process

This is Captain Cook, like all books, are created with time and, hopefully with care. Christina and I were really fortunate to be able to work closely on this book, alongside our editor and publisher, to create a seamless creation that works so very well.

Of course the first step of the creative process is in the concept. Then the writing. I did both of these things some time ago, submitting it to the National Library, who go through an acquisitions process similar to many large publishers.

Once the concept was approved and the text written, the next task was to appoint an illustrator--in this case, award-winning talent Christina Booth, who was almost as excited as me to be working on the book!

From there, Christina and I nutted out thoughts and ideas for the structure of the book, how narrative and image would flow, and how things should 'look'. We were equal partners in this process, and this made it a real joy--to be able to bounce ideas off each other and come up with new directions, whilst still retaining authenticity, was a lot of fun.

We did the entire process by email and the odd phone call. Christina would send in roughs according to how each double page spread would unfold.

Below are some of her initial roughs, with the final below them.

You can see from these roughs that slight changes occur along the way--this is due to flow and comprehension but it's often due to the need for accuracy, too.

While these images were being produced by Christina in Tassie, I spent time with my publisher, Susan Hall, and my editor, Stephanie Owen Reeder, on sharpening the text and making each word count. It's so lovely to work with professionals who bring so much more to a book than the basics required.

Once text was final and images were posted to Canberra, the scanning process began. A designer (thank you, Amy Cullen!) then set about designing and typesetting the pages with text. The font changed several times until we came up with the just the right one.

I viewed the proofs for This is Captain Cook late last August (that's me looking at them, below) and, after some intense proofing sessions, it was an exciting moment indeed when the files went off to print.

Below you'll see one of Christina's original cover ideas, too. I loved this so much, and I love the final cover, too!

Coming up - your chance to win a signed copy of the book, 
and an original artwork from the book!

#thisiscaptaincook Question Time

In Question Time, you, Dear Reader, have the chance to ask Christina and I a question! All you have to do is leave a comment below, asking your question, and we will respond in the comments as the day unfolds.

You might like to ask about our book creation process, our ideas, something specific about the book or even something about Captain Cook's life! Kids also welcome to ask questions.

Don't be shy! Send us your best!Just leave a comment below. Comments are moderated and need to be approved before publication, so may not appear immediately.

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