CKT’s A year in review – 2019


What a year! It’s been go, go, go at CKT HQ this year.

This time of year, we like to reflect on our achievements and celebrate our member’s successes. We hope you enjoy the 2019 edition of – A Year in Review.

Creative Kids Tales Writers’ Festival

We kicked off the year with our second sold-out writers’ festival. Under the theme of INVEST, our guest speakers, included Jackie French, Jacqueline Harvey, Deborah Abela and Emma Quay.

Each presenter shared personal stories of how they have invested in their careers to gain maximum returns.

Jackie French’s key points:

  • Writers are like cows. Your words are the milk. However, you need publishers to turn your words (milk) into the book (the cheese). Publishers have been whipping words into books for a long time; they know what they are doing.
  • Seven Seconds is all your book gets to hook a potential buyer.
  • Everyone is capable of writing better; all you have to do is learn the craft.
  • Invest in the time to write. Then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite.

Jackie also engaged the audience on a mooing exercise. It helps calm the nerves and regulates breathing. Try it before you next have to speak in public. It really works.

Jacqueline Harvey’s key points:

  • Learn the craft of writing. Attend courses, workshops and read extensively.
  • What makes you stand out? What’s your point of difference? Create a brand.
  • Network with – writers, illustrators, readers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, parents, schools and media organisations.
  • Invest in competitions, courses and conferences.
  • Invest in the time to write. Invest in reading in the genre you are interested in. Invest in the time to write. (It’s mentioned twice because it is crucial)
  • You’ll need patience. It can take ten years to become an overnight success.

Emma Quay’s key points:

  • Draw every day. It doesn’t matter how long or how little. Just draw!
  • Let your mind wander – don’t rush the creative process.
  • Invest in time to draw. Draw over and over again.
  • Allow yourself to develop your own voice.

Deborah Abela’s key points:

  • Invest in yourself as a writer. Back Yourself.
  • Every word needs to earn its place on the page. Write and rewrite your story.
  • Play with your words. Channel your inner child.
  • When it’s hard to write, remember why you fell in love with your story. Stay at the keyboard.
  • Always cause trouble for your characters.

Publisher’s Panel key points:

  • Never deviate from the submission guidelines.
  • Publishers want to fall in love with your character. They need to be relatable.
  • Stories should be written from the heart.
  • Publishers do Google you.
  • Listen to the publishers/editor’s suggestions. They, as you do, want to create a winning publication.
  • Don’t continually challenge the editor’s decision. You don’t want to get the reputation of being difficult to work with.
  • Publishers will generally only sign up to two books in a series at a time. Don’t pitch a three or four-book series.

Serge Smagarinsky was the winner of this year’s Pitch Ya Book session. He received the first prize of a manuscript assessment with Creative Kids Tales. Serge was also invited to submit his winning pitch to Clare Hallifax.

In the Shadow of an Elephant – Book Launch

What would a festival be without a book launch? I was lucky to be able to share my latest book, In the Shadow of an Elephant with festival attendees and the publishers, Little Pink Dog Books.

My dear friend, Jacqueline Harvey, gave the most beautiful introduction, before I shared the back story of how this book came to be.

It was wonderful to see how the book was received, with many audience members moved to tears. To strike such emotion in readers is why writers write.

Manuscript Assessments

Publishers, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, HarperCollins, Little Pink Dog Books, Wombat Books, Big Sky Publishing, Sue Whiting and Mayfair Literary Agency, carried out manuscript assessments throughout the day.

And I’m happy to say we are now two from two. Victoria Mackinlay was scooped up by Scholastic in 2018, and this year Sarah Wallace was contracted by Little Pink Dog Books.

CKT Committee

As Creative Kids Tales continues to grow, the day to day jobs seem to multiply faster than rabbits. I decided it was time to enlist some help and the CKT Committee was formed – Karen Hendriks, Hayley Hunkin, Susan Hili, Fiona Lloyd, Michelle Wanasundera, Dannielle Viera and Jeffrey Doherty.

Our Committee also help oversee the Creative Kids Tales Network Group Facebook page.

These guys have been great! They’ve helped me bring some initiatives to fruition and suggested some new ideas we’ll be implementing in 2020.

Creative Kids Tales Story Collection 2


Thirty-four of Creative Kids Tales authors and illustrators crafted 74 stories, verse and illustrations to enchant and thrill you.

One side THINGS THAT GO BUMP contains spooky short stories while the other side of the book ENCHANTED features fairy tale style stories.

Launched on Saturday 26 October at Harry Hartog Miranda, 12 children’s authors and illustrators came together for the launch of the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection 2 Anthology. We dressed up, we shared stories, we laughed, and we celebrated. Many of us were spoiled with the invitation from local media for interviews. Thanks to our talented CKT family – Hayley Hunkin, Karen Hendriks, Geoff Richards, Davey Tross, Dannielle Viera, Sandra Bennett, Ruth-Mary Smith, Susan Hili, Anita Kenny, Fiona Lloyd and Janelle Ballenden.

There were several launches around the country – Maria Parenti-Baldey and June Perkins launched in Queensland. Janet Stutley in Melbourne and Jo Saunders launched at a school in Somerset, Qld.

Our second publication sold out all 1400 copies in just a few short weeks.

The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection 2 was compiled by Creative Kids Tales Founder and Author, Georgie Donaghey.

Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency

What’s the buzz at CKT HQ?

You may have noticed we’ve been dropping a few teasers on social media of late. There’s been lots of chatter around the industry, and we were finally able to share our BIG announcement.

Formed in 2011, Creative Kids Tales has grown to become a highly respected name within the children’s writing industry. We continue to build on our exemplary services and reputation by launching the Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency.

We know Authors and Illustrators subsidise their income through talks, presentations and workshops. It’s a competitive market, we get that. That’s why we feel Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency is a natural progression for us. This new initiative will enable us to further assist and promote children’s authors and illustrators to a broader audience.

Our experienced authors, illustrators and storytellers will engage with children and adults at schools, preschools, libraries, festivals and conferences around Australia.

We look forward to providing our customers with the perfect match for their next literary event. For more about the Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency, we invite you to visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


CKT Crew

A few words from our AMAZING team.

Fiona Lloyd

Fiona Lloyd continued to rock her role as our CKT Intro Writer. This role involves a lot of research around our upcoming monthly guests, preparing the introduction that is both informative and fun.

My second year with CKT has been a busy but enjoyable one.

Following on from 2018, I continued to write introductory profiles for the CKT website giving me the opportunity to learn so much more about the industry and to help expand the wonderful resource that is CKT.

The second festival held in April was yet again an experience not to be missed. With an addition this year of a dinner the night before, we got to meet new friends and share our passion for writing, making it a full and rewarding weekend. I was particularly honoured to talk about our critique group, sharing the podium with the high calibre of guest speakers that Georgie organised.

The CKT critique group plays a major role in improving my writing and this year proved no exception. I feel that through the group, friendships have been formed with like-minded people and we share our passion with honesty to improve and encourage each other on our individual journeys.

Also in April, a very busy Georgie formed a committee which I was proud to be invited to join. Our committee have been a pleasure to work with. The creative ideas have certainly flowed!

Rounding up the year, the publication of the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection 2, in which I had two short stories published, was an absolute highlight. To see my words in print and beautifully illustrated by talented CKT members was a major step for me and proof that persistence and hard work pays off. I’d like to thank Georgie and all her family for the incredible amount of time and dedication they put into helping emerging authors.

I wish your CKT journey to be equally fruitful!

Emma Cameron

This past year, Emma Cameron and I have assessed dozens of manuscripts. In fact, we celebrated our 100th assessment in October. To celebrate we ran a competition and gave away two assessments.

Here’s what Emma had to say about her year with CKT:

It’s been great to think about what we’ve achieved this year.

The highlight of the year was seeing Author Personal Training come into its own. Participants have embraced our targeted guidance to quickly fill gaps in their learning. Watching authors build their skills in the craft so readily proves how right we were to develop and offer this service.

The rewards of editing another anthology were enormous. I was delighted by the creativity of so many submissions and am proud to say I contributed to helping present a finely polished collection of inventive and enjoyable stories.

As always, it’s been a pleasure to help assess manuscripts. What’s been particularly pleasing is an increase in the number of chapter books submitted. There’s so much more to get my teeth into and offer feedback on with these and I hope to see more of them.

Susan Hili

Not only was Susan Hili busy illustrating the winning cover for our ‘Things That Bo Bump’ side of the Anthology, but she also continued as the fearless Captain of the CKT Critique Group.

Susan is a magician! She manages with ease the needs of our 38 members who are divided into five groups. She doesn’t flinch when I send out calls for new members instead taking it all in her stride as she co-ordinates the weekly rosters.


Now to Rod, my long suffering husband, who supports my crazy ideas for CKT, all of them. My requests usually begin with the line ‘I’ve been thinking’ which is met with a deep grumbling ‘yessss’. Creative Kids Tales would not be possible without his incredible support, his superior knowledge of building websites and SEO’s.

As we embark on the Creative Kids Tales Speakers Agency together, I know there will be many more times I hear that grumble ?

Do you want to know more about our team?

Creative Kids Tales Critique Group

We have five individual groups that make-up our online Creative Kids Tales Critique Group community.

Our group members continue to flourish with more critiquers achieving their dream of publication.

Here’s what some of our members had to say about their experiences with the CKT Critique Group:

Carole Lander

It is a privilege to be involved in a CKT critique group. As emerging authors, we are advised to be in such a group and I have tried to find a face-to-face one in my area – without success. Even though I never meet the writers in my CKT group I now feel as though I know them to a certain extent. This is through each one’s writing style, their stories and their comments. And of course, I benefit greatly from their comments. Thank you, Georgie, for making this possible. And thank you Susan Hill for coordinating all of us – no mean feat.

Caroline Tuohey

The critique group is a fundamental part of my ‘professional development’. It not only provides a platform for testing new ideas and manuscripts but offers unconditional support and encouragement. No matter what the mix in each group, each member provides valuable, insightful feedback and advice that is underpinned by the desire to have everyone in the group achieve their full potential.

Linda Wright

As an emerging self-doubting author, I found my place among friends in a CKT critique group who encourage and guide me along my journey. The support and feedback continue to be amazing and the insight gained by being a part of this CKT critique group keeps my going.

Sandra Bennett

Having an online critique group like CKT is like having a familiar friendly group to bounce ideas off from the comfort of your own home. Living in a rural area this is particularly important as I find it difficult to get into town to often for personal meetups. My critique group offers a friendly, safe environment where we can explore ideas and receive positive helpful feedback. Questions are raised and discussions ensure our writing path is continuously improving.

Creative Kid Tales Network Group

Members of our Creative Kids Tales Network Group continue to share information about their personal writing journeys. With the introduction of PYLTD – Promote Your Latest Title Day members are able to promote their latest releases.

We encourage you to join the Creative Kids Tales Network Group and start a conversation.

People we’ve chatted with in 2019

There are many organisations that offer services and support for emerging authors and illustrators. We thought we would help shine a light on some of these organisations and show just how we are all connected.

Wai Chim – February 2019

One More Page (podcast) – March 2019

Pinerolo – the Children’s Book Cottage – April 2019

Books in Homes – May 2019

Story Box Library – June 2019

Faber Writing Academy – July 2019

Kids’ Book Review – August 2019

KOALA – September 2019

Australian Society of Authors (ASA) – October 2019

Kinderling Kids Radio – November 2019

The Australian Writers’ Centre – December 2019

We’ll be chatting with more organisations in 2020.

Creative Kids Tales YouTube Channel

Still one of our most popular features, the Creative Kids Tales YouTube Channel has 32 interviews, including 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.

KOALA Awards

For the past three years we have been the major corporate sponsor of the KOALA Awards.

KOALA is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers (teacher/librarians, public librarians, teachers, publishers and other supporters of children’s literature).

Every year, young readers from all over New South Wales judge their very own literary awards. By voting in the KOALA awards they can reward the Australian children’s books that have most inspired, amused, terrified, enlightened and engaged them.

KOALA need more sponsors. If you are interested drop me an email ().

What’s next?

Social media is flooded with sites to help authors and illustrators, there are more popping up every week. Creative Kids Tales is unique in what we offer our members and our readership. We remain committed to promoting our authors and providing services that will help build on their existing talents.

In 2020 we will be offering new services, including online courses and face-to-face networking opportunities.

From Emma (MS Assessor & APT Coach), Fiona (CKT Intro Writer), Susan (CKT Critique Captain), Rod (website guru) and myself (Georgie) we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support. Thank you for welcoming us into your lives and allowing us to share in your creative journey.

See you in 2020.

Take care and happy writing!

Goodbye Smiley

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