An Aussie Year – Writing Tips + Win a Mentoring Package

Today, I’m pleased to welcome my good writer friend Tania McCartney to DeeScribe Writing to celebrate her newest picture book, An Aussie Year.

WIN A MENTORING PACKAGE:  Leave a writing tip in the comment’s section on today’s post and you could win a mentoring package valued at over $100 including editor’s report and feedback on your first ten pages (double spaced) plus synopsis. The package also includes a free e-book on writing.



Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda take us on a journey through a year in the life of Australian children, from cultural celebrations to traditions and events, to our everyday way of life.

An Aussie Year is a picture book bursting with national pride.

One of the things I love most about this book is that it covers a diversity of cultures and traditions that make Australia the colourful and fascinating nation it is today.

I love An Aussie Year‘s lively, fun text and the vibrant illustrations. I think my favourite is the ‘May’ picture of Ned swinging from the Hill’s Hoist clothesline that is so much a part of my own childhood memories.

An Aussie Year combines so many important traditions of both the present and the past.  It introduces the reader to things they might not have experienced. It depicts the busy life we all lead today and introduces us to new possibilities and fun things to experience.

Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda provide a ‘personal’ narrative, showcasing a variety of cultures and experiences.

The humour and colour of this book will delight young readers. There are so many things I learnt like apparently “when SANTA visits Australia, he goes surfing.” I’ll definitely be sure to look out for him this Christmas:)

An Aussie Year gives young readers the chance to absorb so many important things about Australia’s history and culture without even realising they are doing it.

An Aussie Year is a smorgasbord of vibrant images and lively information. I can see this book finding a place in many homes and classrooms.

Book Info

An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Australian Kids by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

(Oct 2013, EK Publishing, $19.99, hard cover, 9781921966248)

Visit the An Aussie Year website ( to meet all the characters from the book, see updates and behind-the-scenes work. There’s also some Fun Activities for kids.


photo Tania McCartneyTania McCartney is a book-obsessed author, editor, reviewer, photographer, traveller, mum of two and wife of one.

She simply adores words and paper—and would ingest them if she could (though she’ll settle for a good coffee).

She frequently flits around cyberspace but can also be seen visiting schools and libraries, running workshops, reading to kids or pushing tomes onto unsuspecting shoppers in bookshops.

Tania lives in Canberra, but would like to live inside a book.

photo Tina SnerlingTina Snerling is a designer, illustrator, artist, web designer, seamstress and mum.

She adores Paris, fabric, design and paper. She lives a very illustrated life—one day she’s creating children’s books, the next she’s creating websites (in between the washing and school lunches!).

She’s the type who has a notebook by her bed because most good ideas happen when you’re supposed to be sleeping.

She lives in Brisbane with her two gorgeous poppets and one gorgeous husband.


Tania’s Five Writing Tips – Non-Narrative Creativity

When I first wrote the text for An Aussie Year—a faction book celebrating our Aussie childhood—I lamented the lack of a narrative storyline, which often allows more creativity in regard to text.

In the final stages of text editing, as the words were cut and honed for both brevity and relevance, I realised something. Creative word choice doesn’t have to give way when writing fact or faction. I’ll admit it’s slightly more restrictive, but there are ways to bring in delicious word-usage without compromising clarity.

??????????For the above January entry, I wanted to include the iconic Aussie tube icy pole, but instead of simply stating ‘we eat icy poles’, I instead tried to look at this treat from a kid’s point of view: January is hot. What happens to icy poles when it’s hot?

Recalling my own childhood, I clearly remember cutting these icy pole tubes from a sheet of frozen block colour, then snipping off the top and warming them in our hands before sliding the ice up the tube. Of course, like kids today, our hands invariably became sticky, and I wanted to evoke that feeling in the text …

Icy poles melt and make our fingers sticky.

When writing your own non-narrative children’s books, these tips can help make your text more effulgent:

  1. Think like a child. Imagine the scene from their perspective and write in a way that will evoke a feeling rather than stating a fact.
  2. Bear in mind your target audience; the younger the child, the more childlike your voice can be.
  3. Use evocative words within a clear sentence structure. Keep your information-intention in mind but then stretch it a little to include interesting word choice or out-of-the-box word placement, as shown in my icy pole example.
  4. Take time to choose content that resonates with your target age group. Sometimes this means being really ruthless and cutting sections or elements that may go over kids’ heads. This will allow you to spend more time making text extra shiny.
  5. Consider your text in a layout and design capacity. Perhaps your text can be creatively presented—swirling, coloured, differing typeface or font size. Visuals can positively enhance the way your text sounds.

WIN a Mentoring Package and Writing Ebook!

As I mentioned earlier, leave a writing tip in the comment’s section on today’s post and you could win a mentoring package valued at over $100 including editor’s report and feedback on your first ten pages (double spaced) plus synopsis. The package also includes a free e-book on writing.

You can also win great prizes at other participating blogs on the An Aussie Year blog tour. Here’s a link to the schedule

I look forward to reading your tips. Good luck for the competition.

Happy writing:)



27 thoughts on “An Aussie Year – Writing Tips + Win a Mentoring Package

  1. Thanks Tania, Tina and Dee for the tips and memories. I love tube icy poles and have introduced my children to them. I am always looking out for things to share with the kids that I associate with good memories. They love to relive billy cart races down the street, running under the sprinkler, furry friends and cricket in the back yard. Melanie

  2. When writing your first draft of a manuscript, enjoy the creative process and the flow of the words by switching off your brain’s editor function. Writing and editing are two different processes. Leave the editing process for another day. When you edit you will be focused just on that skill. I don’t know of anyone who wrote a perfect first draft, edited it as they wrote and had their manuscript published.

  3. I remember getting told off for swinging on the clothes line allllll the time! Never stopped us doing it. well done Tania.
    My tip… Try to find a critique group or fab assesor like Dee, who will look at your work and help to make it the best it can be…
    Leave room for the illustrations to tell their own story

  4. Thanks for an interesting interview Dee and Tania.

    My writing tip: Don’t wait for a big chunk of time you can dedicate to writing. Just sit down and write something – just get on with it! Writing small amounts often (or even here or there) adds up more quickly than you think. 🙂

  5. Great interview, Dee! And what a gorgeous looking and sounding book, Tania and Tina!

    With such a top prize on offer, i couldn’t resist posting a quick tip…

    Avoid Personality Lists

    ‘Linda was old, poor and kind.’
    This sentence is a shopping list of Linda’s personality traits. Lists do nothing to involve readers in your story. ‘Old, poor and kind’ are general words that lack emotional power. These words also don’t paint mental pictures. Far better to show that Linda has these characteristics, without actually naming them. Try making up a mini-story such as this one:
    ‘Linda’s face was a road map of wrinkles and crinkles.’ (showing us she is old).
    ‘At the shop, Linda opened her purse and thought to herself, “Oh dear, I don’t think I can afford to buy these yummy noodles.”’ (showing us she is poor).
    ‘Instead, Linda limped to the Pet Food section where she selected a can of no-name sardines. “At least Miffi won’t be hungry tonight,” thought Linda.’ (showing us she is kind).
    Readers can now figure out for themselves that Linda is a broke but generous senior citizen. When readers become involved in your story in such a way they are much more likely to enjoy the experience.
    The above sentences also give the reader some bonus information about Linda: she likes noodles and her cat likes sardines!

  6. Hey there – my tip is to create a mood board or a sensory board that contains colours, small items like shells, photos, quotes or whatever takes you quickly back to location and characters. I am very visual! Thanks for the chance to be part of this great opportunity.

  7. Hi Tania and Dee and congratulations on the lovely book, Tania. My tip is to use the ‘rule of threes’. When I look at many picture books they use this rule and it makes for a really satisfying story. There might be three things that the main character does wrong at the beginning and then by the end the three things are reversed to everyone’s benefit.

  8. Switch on your ARTIST mode – it helps to think visually – for example how the story will unfold as your little readers think up pictures in their head. Also, have your own inspiration at hand with lots of inspiring photos and pictures to inform your character (including location as character) development!

  9. Thanks Maureen,

    This is good advice too. I often gather character and setting photos, and maps and plans to help me visualise my story and characters. It makes them a lot easier to write about:)


  10. What a gorgeous book, both the writing and the illustrations. Congratulations!

    In addition to ‘think like a child’, sometimes it helps to act like a child (my excuse for throwing a good tantrum now and then), be with a child , read with/ to a child and listen to a child. Immerse yourself in reading children’s books and surround yourself with children, then find time every day and write for children.

  11. My tip is don’t give up! Keep at it. If it’s getting too hard trying to get the words or ideas out, it’s okay to take a break. Get outside and walk for a while.

    When you come back to your desk (or table or wherever the writing gets done), it’s amazing how different things can look. I also love but I forget where I read it: You can’t edit a blank page.

  12. I really appreciated Tania’s tips for writing in a non-narrative style. A variety of text forms brings a richness to the picture book experience.
    My tip? Write aloud.
    Talk to yourself throughout the crafting process: drafting, editing, rewriting, re-reading, the whole process. This allows each word choice, or sentence structure, an honesty that contributes powerfully to the finished product.

  13. Thanks Penny,

    I think that’s a really interesting tip and a good one – it really helps us identify things that need fixing in our work and it can be great for brainstorming too:)


  14. All of these tips are so fabulous–I love both sharing and receiving ideas for writing development and all of these are just brilliant and so thought-provoking. Choosing a winner is going to be tough! but I wanted to thank everyone for their lovely comments and for entering this comp. And thanks to the ever-supportive Dee!

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