CYA Conference 2015

by Georgie Donaghey

With more electricity than an outback thunderstorm and more action than an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, the 2015 CYA Conference was opened by CYA matriarch, Tina Marie Clark.

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary 160 delegates packed into the auditorium of the Southbank Institute of Technology to network, be inspired and absorb as much information as possible.

The announcement of the CYA Competition winners had many on the edge of their seats. The judging publishers presented winners who had made the rewarding journey with their certificates. Smiles, photos and rapturous applause helped fuel the winner's determination to plough through the rejections and secure that contract.

It was then onto the CYA Success Stories panel where my butterflies kicked into overdrive. Jennifer Loakes talked about her debut picture book with Windy Hollows, Mate and Me.  Illustrator Helene Magisson delighted the audience with her story of how her first publishing contract with New Frontier Publishing came to be. Then it was my turn. Gulp! I nervously took my place at the lectern. I wanted to give the audience an insight into my overall journey to publication and not just what happens once you sign the contract. I have always found it beneficial hearing how people got there, what paths they took along the way. Was there anything they did to help get them to publication? My four minutes flew by and judging by the people who came to thank me throughout the day my content had helped them.

Tina presented the CYA Success Stories past and present with a commemorative gold pin to celebrate the 10th Anniversary.

CYA Success Stories 2015

(photo by Peter Allert) Angela Sunde, Aleesah Darlison, Ben Long, Jennifer Loakes, Helene Magisson, Georgie Donaghey, Dimity Powell, Peter Allert, Karen Tyrrell, Tina Clark, Dee White and Kaz Delaney .

It was time to get the sessions underway. The First Page with panellists, Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing), Jacinta di Mase (Jacinta di Mase Management), Rochelle Manners (Wombat Books), Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing) and Karen Tayleur (Five Mile Press).

Ally Howard read first-page submissions to the panellists who gave tips, suggestions and feedback on what they liked, what was needed or how to further build on that first page.

Tweet - The First Page panel dissecting first pages of manuscripts. Don't be too wordy allow illustrators to compliment your words. #‎CYA2015

Kaz Delaney was inspiring the audience next door with her session, Ditch the Control Briefs! Holding Your Story Together Without Pain.

Paul Collins took over from the panellists with his session, Marketing Your Book. Authors enjoying various stages of their writing journey were provided with valuable insights and learnt secrets established authors have spent years learning. The importance of networking with local groups and grabbing every opportunity to promote your book, was a key component of Paul’s advice.

Tweet - Enter awards such as IBBY, CBCA, Premier's, Speech Pathology, etc.#‎CYA2015

Tweet - Fine tune your public speaking skills. Look up Toastmasters. With a little work, you'll be able to speak to packed rooms. #‎CYA2015

Attendees were left scratching their heads with How to be a Hooker next on the program. Were we at the right conference? Meredith Costain jumped right into her talk about creating hooks that keep readers turning pages. Ahhh! Every type of story hook was covered a few tips in the following tweets:

Tweet - The action hook - put your reader right in the middle of the action from the start. Meredith Costain

Tweet - Write with a voice that is captivating and different. Meredith Costain#‎CYA2015

Tweet - The dialogue hook needs to be razor sharp and have some bearing where the story is going and not waffle. Meredith Costain #‎CYA2015

Tweet - Hooker tips. Who, what, where, when and Why. Give your reader a brief glimpse of what is to come. #‎CYA2015 Meredith Costain

Ben Long’s informative session on Self-Publishing Picture Books began with Ben reciting some of his tongue-twisting rhymes followed by the ins and outs of self-publishing. This was a great session! Everything you needed to know about the self-publishing path was covered, from ISBN’s, crowd funding, agreements between author and illustrator from marketing to royalties.

Tweet - Ben Long - tongue twisting rhymes read without missing a beat.

Tweet - Self Publishing Picture Books - Don't be overwhelmed it's a piece of cake.

Upstairs in the pitch room, aspiring authors were eagerly waiting for their 30-minute opportunity to get up close and personal with their chosen publishing professional. These sessions are rewarding for authors to learn what is hot, what publishers are looking for and how close they are to achieving their dream.

Over in the Art Room, Sarah Davis had her students warming up their pencils in her master class, Character Design. Beautiful creations filled the pages, and Sarah’s words helped guide budding artists.

Social Media and Blogging with Jacqui Honeywood completed an energetic morning. Facts and stats on building your online name online, building a brand, SEO, best times to promote etc.

Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea are ideal environments to network, make new friends, discuss your latest WIP and peruse the book table for that next great read.

To top off a wonderful conference experience, delegates again took their seats in the main auditorium to experience the teachings and wisdom of Morris Gleitzman. Three hours is never enough when faced with one as reputable as Morris. He entertained us with stories about the Happiest Girl in the World  which happened to have a wicked twist. He gave tips on showing not telling and the tools to building a memorable story.

Tweet - Rogue nipples, shootings, PJ's, contraception, total happiness and Morris Gleitzman An interesting masterclass at #‎CYA2015

Tweet - Build the tension on your characters problem. Morris Gleitzman #‎CYA2015

Tweet - Share emotions with your readers. Morris Gleitzman #‎CYA2015

Tweet - Leave no stone unturned in solving the problem and create every possible obstacle in preventing that solution. Morris Gleitzman #‎CYA2015

A true professional, Morris interacted with admirers during the break, chatting and signing books and at the conclusion of his session; he answered questions from the audience.

We had been left inspired by presenters from the conference, many excited by the possibilities for their own creative futures. But ultimately all good things must come to an end and for another year it was time to bid farewell to CYA.

Thanks to Tina, Sam, Ally and the team for a wonderful Anniversary Conference.

With my head swimming with information and tips, new friendships made and old ones revisited, it was time to say goodbye to Queensland for another year. With my official tweeting responsibilities finished, I took my shiny gold badge and headed back home to Sydney.

C U in 2016.

Return to the Conference Wrap Up page

  • 'I’m thrilled to be Creative Kids Tales author of the month.' 'I hope in some small way by me taking part, I might help and inspire young authors and artists to follow their own artistic path.' 'The key I believe is to seek to enjoy what you do. Even though doing your best is a constant challenge I find it is a worthwhile one. So, get drawing and / or writing.' Good luck ! -

    Leigh Hobbs
  • 'Georgie and the team at Creative Kids Tales have a wonderful passion for children’s stories, and this site is a wonderful place to visit to find and share ideas!
    Well done guys!' -

    Nick Falk
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is ambitious, specific and professional - the Top Tips section alone is a must-read for every aspiring children's writer.' -

    Jack Heath
  • 'The thing I like about the Creative Kids Tales website is that the authors come across as real people who face the same problems that beginning writers do and that there’s plenty of practical advice.' -

    Duncan Ball
  • 'Creative Kids Tales has inspired, encouraged and supported not only the published, but also us hopefuls still learning the ways of the publishing world. Thanks for providing not only an amazing site to scroll and learn through, but also providing friendship and a real sense of chasing our dreams.' -

    Kelly McDonald
  • 'What a great asset you are to the children's book industry, Georgie.
    Long may Creative Kids Tales rule!'

    Paul Collins
  • 'The long-distance marathon of writing, illustrating and publishing usually begins along a very foggy road, in the dark, shoeless. But wait! What's that light on the horizon? A glowing little cafe, full of a bunch other runners plotting out mud-maps on napkins and exchanging anecdotes, warning about ditches and praising short-cuts. Stop for a while, have a cup of tea, maybe even a shoe-fitting, then get yourself back on the road for the long slog to sunrise.' -

    Shaun Tan
  • 'What can I say? Well if you have clicked this far and uncovered these words you KNOW that this (Creative Kids Tales) is a terrific resource full of ideas and connections.
    SO dig deeper and get connected!' -

    Christopher Cheng
  • 'Creative Kids Tales will jump-start adults seeking to become writers!' -

    Jeff Kinney
  • 'This is a great website. Nowadays, when getting published is so hard and staying published not much easier, everyone needs all the help they can get. And here's Help with a capital H!' 'Go Georgie! Creative Kids Tales is an inspiration for all writers of children's and YA fiction.' -

    Richard Harland
  • 'Creative Kids Tales offers new writers the joy of publication on their journey of craft and creativity.'
    'It’s a warm and wonderful home.'

    Susanne Gervay
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a treasure trove of resources and insights, compiled with dedication and enthusiasm. A wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in picture books and children's literature.' -

    Sarah Davis
  • 'If there's anything emerging authors struggle with (beyond the dreaded writer's block), it's receiving recognition or even acknowledgment of their work – battling for a slice of that incredibly elusive publishing pie. Georgie Donaghey has created a priceless promotional and networking station that allows new authors to not only share their work, but gain the courage and nous to take their work to a whole new level. Creative Kids Tales is a valuable addition to Australia's burgeoning children's book market.' -

    Tania McCartney
  • 'It's about time that we had something like Creative Kids Tales. It's a treasure trove for information and news, plus it showcases talent from aspiring writers. It's a wonderful springboard for anyone who wants to dive into the Children books world!'
    Keep up the fabtastic work! -

    Oliver Phommavanh
  • 'I wish Creative Kids Tales had been around when I was first starting out! What a brilliant way to connect with other authors and find out about the lovely world of kids books.' 'Go Georgie! I think you're amazing.' -

    Deborah Abela
  • 'CKT is such a valuable site for anybody wanting to learn a bit more about making children’s books. When time travelling becomes possible, I’ll steal all the info from this site and deliver it to my younger, aspiring self.'


    Peter Carnavas

  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a fantastic resource for aspiring writers that showcases emerging and published authors and illustrators and provides links to publishers' websites, helpful hints and competitions.'

    Rachel Keyes
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a fabulous community of passionate, hardworking and committed writers. If you're looking for new and exciting talent that's dedicated to the children's book industry - look no further than CKT!'


    Wai Chim

  • 'Creative Kids Tales contributes a wonderful sense of community to the Australian kids’ book scene, from sharing insightful interviews, to writing competitions and now a conference. It’s a great organisation to follow online and be a part of!'


    One More Page podcast

  • 'I stumbled on to Creative Kids Tales by accident. I thought it was kid's tails. I'd been doing some research about goats and how their tails were actually a fifth leg, a very long time ago. Or did I just dream that? In any case, I was bitterly disappointed at first to find not tails, but tales. However, while I was at the site I had a wander around, and soon discovered that it was even better than a goat's site - no kidding! This is a brilliant haven for writers, new and not so new; a place to showcase their work and to learn from others.' Well done, Georgie. You've done a fantastic job. -

    Bill Condon
  • 'I would have loved to have had access to when I was starting out! It's an invaluable source of information, inspiration and encouragement for both emerging (and fully-emerged!) writers.' -

    Andy Griffiths
  • Writing can be a lonely profession. By necessity, you need to work alone much of the time. But it is wonderful to have a website which eases that by connecting creators with each other and with a wealth of information and resources.
    Bravo! -

    Sally Murphy
  • 'I love the grumpy cat videos, hahaha it's so grumpy ... oh, wait, wrong website. Ah yes, Creative Kids Tales. Brilliant! Getting published is an amazing, frustrating, brilliant, lonely, creative journey, and is awesome in that it helps both published and pre-published authors by providing support, inspiration, a community, and by allowing authors to learn from other authors, and who better is there to learn from .. .except maybe that grumpy cat, hahaha, hilarious.' -

    Adam Wallace
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is such a great website for navigating this industry – not just for authors and illustrators, but for parents and teachers and librarians and publishers and kids and storytellers of all sorts. It’s awesome!' -

    Jules Faber
  • 'Having been a publisher and an author and now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage, I am passionate about promoting children’s books. Creative Kids Tales is such a welcome part of this network and I salute them for their support and their inspiration to so many. On their seventh birthday I wish them many, many happy returns.'


    Margaret Hamilton

  • 'Buckets of thanks to Georgie for creating Creative Kids Tales. There’s a wealth of wonderful information and resources for everyone interested in creating books for kids – and a warm sense of community.'

    Meredith Costain
  • 'What a wonderful website Creative Kids Tales is, supporting and helping Australian authors in their quest through the dark thorny forest of the publishing world. Georgie should be congratulated for all her hard work and fearless leadership!' -

    Kate Forsyth
  • 'If a website can be described as 'homely' or 'a friendly place for emerging writers to visit' then that's how I would describe Creative Kids Tales. It's probably the only Australian website for children's writers that I visit regularly and actually feel part of. When I need motivation, interesting writers to read about, or just a peek at my own 'baby steps' towards being a published writer, I visit the Creative Kids Tales family.' A big thank you to Georgie and Rod for a great website. -

    (Pat) Patricia Simmons
  • 'This site is such a wonderful resource for writers and illustrators at every stage of the journey. I've learned more about some of my favourite people in children's literature here, but also had the joy of discovering whole new worlds of talent.' -

    Anna Branford
  • 'Congratulations to Georgie Donaghey for her hard work and enthusiasm in setting up a site that has been sorely needed to promote current Australian children's writing. Not just for the established, but for up and coming, Creative Kids Tales showcases talent and provides information essential for anyone in the industry.' -

    Dianne (Di) Bates
  • "Whether just starting out or with many books under your belt, Creative Kids Tales is the perfect place to go for all things writerly. Sharing the inner world is a wonderful thing for solitary writers, and it's all there on Georgie's website.
    Happy reading!" -

    Anna Fienberg
  • 'Wow! What a wonderful resource.
    Congrats to everyone involved with Creative Kids Tales.'

    George Ivanoff
  • 'Thanks for being such a strong advocate for children’s literature, the power of stories, and reading.
    Keep fighting the good fight and call on me anytime.'

    Tristan Bancks
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a brilliant resource – for established writers and those just starting out. I wish it had been around when I was a new writer. There are lots of invaluable tips and great advice.
    Congratulations Georgie – it’s fabulous.' -

    Jacqueline Harvey
  • 'CKT is informative, relevant, recent and fun! It’s an exceptional resource for anyone involved in children’s literature.'


    Tim Harris

  • 'What a great site! We all tend to work in isolation in our own little caves. It’s great to see all the other cave dwellers out there and realise we are not alone. What a great resource!'


    Bruce Whatley

  • 'Everything you need is here, on Creative Kids Tales! Oh, how wonderful this would have been for the young Emma Quay, knowing she loved children’s picture books but not knowing a soul in the industry. Down to earth, comprehensive, friendly, realistic and encouraging advice — this is an invaluable resource. Bravo!' -

    Emma Quay
  • 'Thanks for having me on Creative Kids Tales. It's a great resource for emerging writers and illustrators and I hope it will have a long future.'

    Sally Rippin
  • Creative Kids Tales offers a brilliant platform for established and emerging creators to keep in touch and learn from each other. That is a great thing for this most isolated of all professions (apart from On-site Antarctic Penguin Imitators). -

    Terry Denton
  • What a terrific, enthusiastic, informative and creative resource - of value and interest to so many people.
    I'm delighted to be a part of it.

    Ursula Dubosarsky
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is an awesome resource you should totally check it out.' -

    R.A. Spratt
  • 'The Creative Kids Tales site is great fun and full of information about authors and their books!' -

    Isobelle Carmody
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a unique and valuable online resource for new and established authors. The site provides a wealth of information and insight into the children's writing world.' 'Thanks for all your support, Georgie, and keep up the good work.' -

    Aleesah Darlison
  • 'Congratulations on a brilliant site, and a superb first year!'.
    Jackie French is Australian Children's Laureate for 2014 – 2015

    Jackie French
  • 'It's easy to feel alone when writing, and clueless about what happens next. Creative Kids Tales offers answers and community - invaluable resources.'


    Claire Saxby

  • 'CKT is like the friendly and helpful colleague I could have done with when I started out. Back then I didn’t know anyone who was a writer or illustrator of books.'


    Tohby Riddle

  • 'Creative Kids Tales would’ve been mighty handy to know about back when I was sitting about drawing and writing and having no idea what to do with any of it! Go explore and create knowing you have such an amazing resource at your back!'


    Heath McKenzie

  • 'Georgie Donaghey’s Creative Kids Tales is deservedly going gangbusters! What a wonderful forum and multi-storeyed resource for shiny new authors, legends of the industry and every writer in between!'

    DC Green
  • 'Wow! Creative Kids Tales is a fantastic resource for writers, no matter what stage of their writing journey they are at. Congratulations, Georgie, on your attractive, easy-to-navigate website, your generosity to your fellow writers and your constantly evolving ideas. Thanks on behalf of all of us.' -

    Wendy Blaxland
  • 'Emerging from one's chrysalis of anonymity into the prodigious world of creative children's writing and publishing is a daunting prospect. Georgie Donaghey's Creative Kids Tales is a superlative source of inspiration and information for the bourgeoning writer and illustrator. She has created an invaluable platform from which writers, both developing and established, can view, promote and share each other's work, and most importantly aspirations. A fun, friendly, and informative forum that everyone in the kids' lit industry can benefit from.' Keep it up Georgie! -

    Dimity Powell
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a lovely online meeting space brimming with support and ideas for writers.'


    Katrina Germein

  • 'Creative Kids Tales deserves all its accolades. Thanks to its creator, the site provides brilliant support, inspiration and encouragement for anyone who loves creating children's books. I have no hesitation in passing on your link.'
    Well done, Georgie! -

    Sheryl Gwyther
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is a great forum for people who spend most of their working time alone. It is interesting and inspiring to see and hear what other authors and illustrators have to say.' -

    Lucy Cousins
  • 'Creative Kids tales is the perfect place to go for inspiration and to recharge the creative batteries.'


    Frané Lessac

  • 'CKT is a great resource for both established and emerging authors. I like the way you're always coming up with new and exciting initiatives at your site. And I love reading the fascinating journeys and achievements of the writers you profile here.' -

    Dee White
  • 'Once you find an easily-accessible, up-to-date and vibrant source of writing help and encouragement, you should value it and use it! Thanks to Creative Kids Tales, that’s all available, just with the tap of your finger:
    Well done, CKT team!' -

    Janeen Brian
  • 'The details available on this site, for emerging writers (or those emerged) is incredibly helpful. From creating stories- plotting, dialogue and character building- to the support writers can seek for their work, be it mentoring or seeking a publisher, it’s all there. An excellent easy-to-access writers’ site!'


    Libby Hathorn

  • 'Creative Kids Tales provides such a valuable service. Writing can be a lonely business at times, and seeking publication can be daunting. So it is especially wonderful for writers to be able to access such a comprehensive site where information, experiences and the ups and downs of writing for kids can be shared.' Well done, Georgie! -

    Sue Whiting
  • 'Creative Kids Tales is great. You can pick the brains of people who make stuff without having to stalk them or do anything illegal.' -

    Aaron Blabey
  • "What a wonderful website and wealth of resources. I wish I’d discovered it sooner - but I can still enjoy it now, and have added it to my list of resources for new writers."
    "Keep it up, Georgie!" -

    Wendy Orr