CKT’s A year in review – 2016


In December each year, we give you a snapshot of ‘the year that was’, with – A Year in Review.

2016 was a year of growth for us with many new authors and illustrators joining our family. We introduced a few new features to our site such as the CKT Blog, CKT Writer’s Workshop, Tours at the Tales and Publishers in Focus. We reviewed hundred’s of new releases and welcomed lots of followers on our social media pages.

We introduced a few new CKT Kids Club Crew, whilst saying goodbye to some of our older ones as they moved on with their schooling.

We chatted with a multitude of talented people, both through our featured guests and our blossoming authors and illustrators.

For me personally, Lulu has continued to do well, and soon I will be making a little announcement regarding Lulu in 2017.

Stay tuned… I’ve signed my second picture book contract; this time with Little Pink Dog Books, who will publish Clover’s BIG Ideas in 2017, using beautiful illustrations created by Emma Middleton.

I met lots of up and coming creative people and enjoyed visiting my old author and illustrator friends.

We hope you enjoy our 2016 Creative Kids Tales – A Year in Review.

Word Tables – Social Media (Facebook)

In 2014, on our Facebook page we promoted 12 Inspirational months. In 2015, we featured our Quote of the Week. In 2016, we offered you alternatives to common words through Word Tables.

How often have you been writing and thought I just can’t use ‘said’ anymore. I need alternate words!

We provided alternate words in place of: said, walk, Oh my gosh!, tasty, really, small, important, I don’t like it, I think, went, I don’t know, laughed, asked and lots lots more.

You can revisit them all by typing in 2014 under the search option on our Facebook page. Enjoy!

‘Getting to know you’ (Facebook)

In 2016 we introduced you to our emerging authors and illustrators through our ‘Getting to know you’ series on Facebook. We took a snip-it from the bio of the day’s chosen emerging artist and included the link to their full profile.

Our Facebook page is another way in which we can promote our emerging talent. All our Facebook posts automatically post to our Twitter account securing more traffic for our members.

CKT Kids Book Club Crew

Our CKT Kids Book Club Crew continued reporting in the playground and reviewing the latest releases from children’s publishers around the country.

Each month we send our CKT Kids Book Club Crew a question. Our dedicated reporters discuss the month’s question with their friends and report back to us on their findings.

Here are a few of the questions we asked our Crew this year:

  • What book would you like to see made into a board game or App?
  • If you were made into a character in a book what sort of character would you be?
  • If you were able to spend a day with your favourite book character what would you do?
  • Which book character would you want as your best friend?
  • If you could change one thing about your favourite book what would it be?
  • Tell us about a book character you didn’t like, and why?
  • If you wanted to convince someone to read your favourite book, without giving too much away about it, what would you say?

Thank you Aijay W, Bridget M, Grace D, Kabir G, Kailani C, Katie H, Leith B, Maddy W, Mitch B, Sol M, Stefanie H and Trisha C.

Manuscript Assessment Service

Earlier this year we introduced the Manuscript Assessment Service.

Through the Creative Kids Tales Manuscript Assessment Service we provide vital feedback regarding your manuscript’s plot, structure, characters and voice so that you may improve your work.

Beginning a manuscript is easy but making the journey to the end is the hard part.

We have a small team that completes our assessments to ensure you receive feedback from more than one assessor. We offer our clients honest, constructive feedback to assist them with their writing.

Authors receive a full length report in addition to a score sheet and summarised comments.

We have been inundated with bookings and offer cost effective prices to ensure our assessment is affordable to those looking to take that next serious step. For more information about our Manuscript Assessment service visit CKT’s Manuscript Assessment Service.

Festivals & Conferences

If there is one thing we love it is attending festivals and conferences this year we were able to visit several.

Meet the Publishers – In May we attended the inaugural Meet the Kids Publishers Conference run by the Melbourne KidLit team of Dee White, Alison Reynolds, Nicky Johnson, Jacquelyn Muller and Coral Vass. I’ve been to quite a few conferences, but this was the first where all the sessions were publishing focused. What was different about this festival was all the sessions, apart from the on-on-one publisher sessions were held in the main hall. Often at these events there can be two great sessions and you can be torn as to which you will attend. It was a very informative day and the one-on-one publisher sessions were an excellent complement to a positive day. It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey this day had something for everyone.

They will be running another event in 2017. We hope to see you there.

Kids & YA Festival – The 9th Kids and YA Festival at the NSW Writers’ Centre was again organised by the talented Aleesah Darlison. This bi-annual festival showcases an array of talented authors, illustrators and publishers who cover topics in a panel session presentation.

The centre was filled with authors and illustrators from a variety of creative stages. The day did not disappoint, with panels on: Picture Book Parade, Turning Books into Fiction, Collaboration Think Tanks, Writing for the World Stage, – Publishers and Agents: What They’re Looking For and How to Impress Them, I Wrote a Series and All the Way.

This year I was honoured to host the Illustrators Incorporated panel with guests, Michael Salmon, Serena Geddes and David Hardy.

The two pitching sessions; one for picture books and one for YA at the conclusion of the day’s festivities, are always popular. Creative Kids Tales was proud to again sponsor the picture book pitch session.

CYA Conference – Our emerging author, Artelle Lenthal attended this year’s event and reported back for us. It was her first CYA experience and it clearly left an impression on her.

Here is a snippit from her report.

The CYA Conference this year was once again a triumph! For my first year as an attendee, it was a wonderful opportunity to see how it was done and be able to personally thank Tina and the other conference organisers for all their hard work. The conference began with the awarding of prizes for the CYA Competition and I was truly amazed at how many full requests were made of the winners AND runners up in many/most of the categories. Apparently this was more than usual, but they have been steadily growing over the years. It seems the CYA Conference and Conference Competition are honestly a step up into the publishing world.

Artelle found the Conference, an exhausting emotional, informative, collegial, enjoyable, day!

SCBWI SA – Our wonderful CKT Assistant, Eileen Magee attended the October SA SCBWI Conference

Here is a snippet from her report:

As many of you know, these sorts of things are great for inspiration and motivation to us, the lone writer/illustrator, and we typically come home exhilarated and more committed than ever.

At events like these, we meet new acquaintances and friends—and are reunited with long established ones. We know too, there is a great deal of difference talking about your writing/illustrating with a fellow writer/illustrator than talking about it with a ‘normal’ friend—with a kindred writer/illustrator friend, there is an understanding, recognition of each other’s journey, and an appreciation of creativity.

I came home with an armful of books, all signed by their author or illustrator. Three of which were purchased after the six-minute pitch session (per book) by the relative author and/or illustrator!

We are looking forward to the 2017 events in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Queensland.


In July we added our long awaited new addition to Creative Kids Tales – the CKT blog.

Our bloggers are: Georgie Donaghey, Eileen Magee, Megan Higginson and Julie Anne Grasso.

We’ll be regularly blogging about hot topics from the children’s book industry.

So far we have covered topics such as:

  • Author Etiquette in our two part article by Georgie Donaghey
  • Write, Read and Illustrate with Abandonment by Eileen Magee
  • Ask the Authors – Balancing Writing and Family Life by Megan Higginson
  • Picture Book Authors Writing Routines by Megan Higginson
  • Should I be paid? by Georgie Donaghey
  • 4 Tips for making your descriptions shine, People watching included by Megan Higginson
  • Get Yourself Out There. One Emerging Author’s Story by Eileen Magee
  • Building Your Author Platform by Georgie Donaghey

We have also thrown in a little international flavour with our International Author series. So far we’ve chatted with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author, Jeff Kinney, Maisy’s very own Lucy Cousins and Timmy Failure author/illustrator Stephan Pastis.

We will be focussing more on our blog in 2017 and would love to hear from those interested in blogging for us. Simply drop Georgie an email if you are interested ().

Tours at the Tales

Over the years we have been asked to host people on their blog tour. In October 2015 we launched Tours at the Tales which you might call an extension of our Pitch ya book! page. The difference is Tours at the Tales includes an interview with the author/illustrator, book information such as pricing, ISBN etc and a synopsis of the book. It’s been warmly received and we’ve hosted a string of authors including Sandy Fussell, Dianne Bates, Hazel Edwards, Aleesah Darlison, Robert Vescio, Wendy Orr, Tania McCartney, Bill Condon and more.

Next time you are looking for sites to include on your blog tour, count us in.

Publishers in Focus

Have you ever wanted to be that little bird sitting on a publishers shoulder when they are selecting manuscripts for publication?

I’ve lost track of how many times we are asked ‘how does the selection process of a publisher work?’.

With Publishers in Focus we are able to take a sneak peek into the world of Australian Publishers.

We’ve chatted with Publishers from around the country and asked them the questions on every author’s lips.

What common mistakes do authors make?

Do you only accept published authors manuscripts?

And the very important question

What are Publishers looking for in a submission?

What did these publishers have to say?

  • EK Books
  • Wombat Books
  • Little Pink Dog Books
  • Black Dog
  • HarperCollins
  • Allen & Unwin
  • Hachette
  • Magabala
  • About Kids Books
  • Windy Hollow Books
  • Walker Books
  • Celapene Press
  • Ford Street Publishing
  • Christmas Press
  • Scholastic Australia

We look forward to chatting with more publishers in 2017.

An overview of the CKT Writer’s Workshop by Eileen Magee

The CKT Writer’s Workshop has, in its eight short months, been successful in the usual ways you’d expect a critique group to be successful. That being: in helping the writer fine-tune their work and provide connections with other writers that she/he may not otherwise have. Helping them look at their own work, and that of others with an analytic eye; and teaching them to receive comments—not just praise—but suggestions, concerns and corrections. This helps the writer learn to separate the personal self from the writer self—an essential skill—to not take rejections as a personal affront. These factors combined, assist the writer to refine their work prior to submission to a publisher, and in the bigger picture, accept the inevitable rejections from publishers.

Yet, perhaps the biggest and best success has been sitting quietly on the side line. Watching, learning, growing, waiting. Building gumption with each piece the writer submits and with those that require their critique. It’s strengthened the voice of those who doubted their pen work and their critiquing credentials. Perhaps the CKT Writer’s Workshop’s biggest and best success has been…to inspire bravery.

Here is what some of our members had to say:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the different techniques with each story I have read. I’m extremely excited to be part of a group that will overtime witness stories evolving to their full potential. My reason for joining this group is to help me understand more about writing for children. I now believe by becoming a member my editing and writing skills will improve to another level.

Susan Hili

Even though I belong to a great writers’ group, I wanted more objective opinions on my writing. In comes CKT Workshop. The feedback has been excellent. I may not always agree with everything. However, the feedback has made huge differences to my writing. My writer’s group can see that my writing has improved dramatically, due in part, I believe, to the feedback that I have received (and lots of re-writing). I also think that because I have to look at other peoples’ work objectively, it makes me take note of those same things in my writing. Win win! All in all, it has been a positive experience and I know that I wouldn’t be the writer that I am without the support and encouragement of my fellow CKT Workshop members.

Megan Higginson

I have been a member for of the critique group for about 6 months and have found it to be a wonderful way to get advice about my projects, and has helped me no end to improve my work. I had never done a critique myself before but have found the more I do the more confidence I have in not only my own work but insights on fellow authors work. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to join.

Martine Miller

I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to join the CKT Critique Group. I find it really helps me to focus on all the things I learned when I did my Picture Book Writing Course with AWC. I haven’t had a chance to write for a while due to teaching commitments, so it’s good to be in a position where you have to focus on your writing or the writing of a fellow CKT emerging author, and really think about and dissect the text. It’s good to be involved in writing again, and to be privy to the fantastic offerings of the other authors. They are such an inspiration and there is so much to learn from them. I found their critiques of my manuscript to be so thorough and insightful … there were so many little issues that I just couldn’t see for myself. How good is it to have half a dozen willing critiques for your work! It’s the best way to develop and improve!

Jo Saunders

If you have been considering joining an online critique group, why not try the CKT Writer’s Workshop?

For more information about the CKT Writer’s Workshop contact

Member’s Forum

Our interactive member’s forum is exclusive to our emerging authors and illustrators. Here you can network with other CKT emerging authors and illustrators, participate in group chats or message members directly.

This is a secure private environment where you can talk about your current WIP, meet others from the CKT family and who knows, a collaboration might be born. We are hoping to create a buzzing hub where guest authors can pop into chat with members of the forum.

Only members of Creative Kids Tales have access to this site and are provided with login information upon joining CKT.

People we’ve chatted with

Over the past five years we have chatted with lots of wonderfully talented authors and illustrators, 2016 was no different.

Jack Heath
Jack Heath – Feb 2016
Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan – Mar 2016
Jules Faber
Jules Faber – Apr 2016
Felice Arena
Felice Arena – May 2016
Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis – Jun 2016
Isobelle Carmody
Isobelle Carmody – Jul 2016
Duncan Ball
Duncan Ball – Aug 2016
Stephen Michael King
Stephen Michael King – Sep 2016
Michael Wagner
Michael Wagner – Oct 2016
Emma Quay
Emma Quay – Nov 2016
Aaron Blabey
Aaron Blabey – Dec 2016

We’ll be chatting with more authors and illustrators in 2017.

Emerging Talent

Our CKT family has grown to over 100 members with 90 Emerging authors and 19 Illustrators and numbers are increasing.

We continue to assist them build their platform by offering a profile and services to help them along their journey to publication. Many of our emerging authors and illustrators have gone on to be published since beginning their membership with us.

Books reviewed

With almost 900 books reviewed on our site we welcomed some new reviewers and farewelled some of our favourites.

Our reviewers: Georgie Donaghey, Melinda McNaughton, Leonie Cheetham, Lynette Duffy, Brydie Wright, Artelle Lenthall, Debra Tidball, Paula Hayes, Stacey Gladman, Julieann Wallace, Lesley Reed, Lee Foyster, Lisa Haynes, Georgina Ballantine, Amanda Curmi, Elizabeth Paterson, Sam Sochacka, and Hayley Hunkin love reviewing the latest titles from publishers around the country.

This year some overseas titles snuck onto our reviewing list.

We thank Scholastic, EK Books, Allen & Unwin, Simon & Schuster, Walker Books, Penguin, Random House, Ford Street Publishing, UQP, HarperCollins, Wombat Books, The Five Mile Press, About Kids Books and the National Library for allowing us to review your beautiful new releases.

We also received a substantial amount of books from independently published authors. It’s like Christmas every day!


We ran two competitions this year; Treehouse, Clock or Swamp and Aliens, Animals and Amazing Places. What can I say, we love a theme at Creative Kids Tales.

Treehouse, Clock or Swamp – We found with last year’s competition, offering our entrants a variety of themes gives writers a foundation to write from and can be helpful for those who are just starting out. We endeavour to select the most thought provoking themes suitable for adults who write for the children’s genre, to get their creative mind flowing.

As with our 2015 competition, Treehouse, Clock or Swamp again proved popular. The added bonus of receiving a feedback sheet is extremely beneficial and offers the entrants opinions and comments from experienced people in the children’s book industry. It can often be that ‘A-ha’ moment that is needed with a manuscript.

Here are the winners for the Treehouse, Clock or Swamp competition:

  • 1st place – Jasmin TaitSwamp Monster’s Can’t Tell Time!
  • 2nd place – Melanie WesterveldA Dinosaur Ate My Treehouse.
  • 3rd place – Anna QuinlanTreehouses for Two.

The number of talented authors who enter our first comp of the year are on the rise. Submissions are generally of high standard, making judging particularly difficult.

Aliens, Animals and Amazing Places – In 2014 our first anthology competition broke new ground for us and the response was overwhelming. In 2015 we continued with Deep within the Forest and this year Aliens, Animals and Amazing Places were on our mind.

This year’s anthology competition entries were by far our most successful.

Stories were submitted for the 3-12 year age market. Submissions were received for stories of either no more than 500 words for picture book texts or 700 words for a short story. We were amazed with the diversity of the stories and after much deliberation 12 winners were chosen.

You can download this year’s anthology along with our previous year’s through Smashwords. Just type in Creative Kids Tales for our full list.

Here are our winners:

  • 1st place – Zoe GaetjensThe Alien.
  • 2nd place – Kim StewartAndie’s Pet Project.
  • 3rd place – Gretchen WardDragon Daisies.
  • 4th place – Pamela UeckermanThe Owl Who Learned to Howl.
  • 5th place – Stephanie WardA Timely Tale.
  • 6th place – Jaz StutleyThe Possums Ate the Blossoms.
  • 7th place – Claire ThomasFeast.
  • 8th place – Kim StewartZolo Rules the Roost.
  • 9th place – Sharon BoyceAn Extraordinary Day.
  • 10th place – Helen ParrHumans are not very Observant.
  • 11th place – Elizabeth PatersonTrain of Thought.
  • 12th place – Angela CostiganRotter than Rotten.
  • 13th place – Sue KimAliens Aren’t Always Green!
  • 14th place – Robyn PhillipsMy Best Friend is a Human.
  • 15th place – Richard TaylorAnimals have no place in space!

The cover for our Anthology was again won by Michele Furlong.

We are looking forward to our 2017 competitions.

We have some exciting prizes for next year’s competition winners including a course with Faber Academy.


We’ve had a wonderful year with Creative Kids Tales reaching many people both in Australia and overseas.

On average we receive over 150,000 hits per month.

Children’s Publishers Australia

In 2013, 2014, 2015 and again in 2016, one of our most popular pages was our comprehensive children’s publishers listing.

If you are looking for an up to date list of children’s publishers in Australia together with their contact details then look no further. We have them all listed here; Children’s Publishers Australia.

Creative Kids Tales YouTube Channel

We had lots going on this year and didn’t get time to chat over coffee with many guests. Tristan Bancks is the only new interview added this year. You can still listen to all our 31 previous interviews on our YouTube. Included the interviews from my time on The Author’s Shelf.

Each interview has been matched with a slideshow of photos and book covers of the corresponding author/illustrator. The great thing about having an audio file is you can listen to our interviews anywhere like on the bus, the train, while gardening or even relaxing in the bath. However, you choose to listen we thank you and hope you find them informative and inspiring.

See you next year!

2017 is going to be one of our biggest years yet, with our first publication later in the year!

We will begin the year by changing a few things about our website and removing some resources that no longer serve our readers. We’ll refine our membership to meet the changing needs of existing members while still being able to assist up and coming creatives. We’ll endeavour to bring you the latest children’s writing information and updates from around Australia.

From Eileen (CKT Assistant), Rod (website guru) and myself (Georgie) we thank you for your support and including us in your journey.

Take care and happy writing!

Goodbye Smiley


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