Leanne Barrett: Creative Kids Tales Writers' Festival 2019

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Creative Kids Tales Writers' Festival 2019

Georgie Opening the Festival
Invest was the theme and this year's CKT Writers' Festival was a great investment!

Georgie Donaghey organised another whopper festival, it included:
I didn't partake in any assessments on the day, instead I wanted to invest my time in listening to the presenters and socialising/connecting. This blog will look at the top tips that I will invest into my craft. 





Jackie French 
  • Seven Seconds - that is all you get to make an impression on someone that picks up your book. They evaluate it within SEVEN SECONDS!! 
  • Loved this new analogy. Writers are like cows. You produce the milk (words) but you need publishers to turn your milk (words) into the cheese - the book! Publishers have so many skills that writers don't have and they help turn your words into a book. 
  • Everyone is capable of writing far better. Learn the craft.
  • Invest in the time to write, rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

Jackie French
Emma Quay

Emma Quay
  • Quieten the chatter and allow yourself to develop your own voice.
  • Be mindful. Find moments to let your mind wonder.
  • Draw every day. 
  • Perfectionism is the best that you can do.
  • Invest in the time to draw, over and over again. It will make you looser.

Extra tips for illustrators:
  • Add movement to static scenes.
  • Look at your reference pictures then put them away, and then draw over and over again.
  • Don’t make animals too realistic, capture their essence.
  • Your characters need to stand out on the page. This can be done by adding white space and removing clutter.
  • If you draw small, blow it up afterwards and work on the larger image.
  • Look at your work upside down, what do you see?

For a more detailed blog post about this session see my post on Paula Stevenson's Blog.


Jacqueline Harvey
  • Learn the craft.
  • Create a brand. How do you stand out? What's your point of difference?
  • Patience. It can take 10 years to become an overnight sensation.  
  • Think about the different types of partnerships you can create: peers, publishers, booksellers, readers, librarians, parents, schools, media organisations.
  • Take lots of photos.
  • Invest in competitions and conferences.
  • Invest in the time to write. Block out writing times. 

Jacqueline Harvey
Deborah Abela

Deborah Abela
  • Sometimes it's hard to write but stay at the keyboard.
  • When it's hard remember why you fell in love with the story.
  • Cause trouble for your characters.
  • Invest in the time to draft and redraft your story. The words need to work hard enough to be on the page. 
  • Remember to Play!
  • Invest in you, the writer. Back Yourself.

Creative Kids Tales: Offers writers and illustrators the chance to belong to critique groups and so much more. (Andrew, Fiona & Artelle)


Emma assisting Susanne Gervay

SCBWI: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Susanne Gervay entertained us with her sense of humour while she shared all the fabulous reasons why creatives should belong to SCBWI:
  • community
  • events all over the world as it is a world wide organisation
  • there are many chapters in Australia East & New Zealand: Queensland, New South Wales, Newcastle & Central Coast, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New Zealand and SCBWI Australia West
  • critique groups
  • networking
  • retreats
  • support & friendship
  • opportunities to volunteer
  • connecting though social media
  • access to others that are passionate about children's books
  • conference in Sydney every two years (see blog here about the Sydney 2019 Conference)
  • and so much more so take a look at SCBWI

Publisher's Panel
During this panel publishers answered questions that Georgie received from participants. 
The main tips were:
  • Follow the submissions guidelines.
  • Your stories need to have lots of heart.
  • I want to fall in love with your character or your voice.
  • If you include links in your cover letter they will be followed.
  • The relationship between an editor and author is a dialogue and at the end is a publication of the best book possible.
  • Be respectful and open and listen to what the editor has to say.
  • You don't want to be thought of as a difficult person to work with, if you continuously challenge the editors suggestions this might happen.
  • When it comes to submitting a series think about the following, we only tend to sign up for two books in a series at a time...so aim for that.

Pitch You Book - Winner for 2019 was Serge - If you would like to read his wrap up of the Writers' Festival and what it's like to pitch a book see here


Georgie's Book Launch
On the day Jacqueline Harvey launched Georgie Donaghey's new book, In the Shadow of an Elephant, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini and published by Little Pink Dog Books. While listening to the story I was moved to tears. The story is about the loss of a loved one and the comfort from a friend, all wrapped up in a beautiful picture book. Poaching of elephants, the circle of life and learning to trust are other themes that this story explores. It is an amazing gift.


Georgie, Miss D. and Jacqueline 

More Photos:


Some of the Canberra Crowd
Holly, Maura, Me, Sandra & Sarah


Karen & Me


Some of the Duck Pond Members
Photo from Anne 

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