pickle-and-bree_playground-meanies_coverLook what’s happening to celebrate the release of the latest two books in the award nominated Pickle & Bree series, The Playground Meanies & The Big Snow Adventure.


13/2/17 Boomerang Books    &    Pass-it-on Jackie Hosking

14/2/17 Creative Kids Tales

15/2/17 Buzz Words Di Bates

16/2/17 Aussie Reviews

17/2/17 Just Write for Kids   &    Julie Grasso


Just leave a comment on any of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or twitter or even email  to win a copy of The Playground Meanies or The Big Snow Adventure.


Win an opportunity for a children’s editor at The Five Mile Press to look at your picture book submission (strictly 500 words or less). Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add initials JSP.


Win a free picture book assessment by the author Alison Reynolds. Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add the initials PB.

Remember the more you comment, the more chances you have to win.


Win a print of Mikki Butterley’s fabulous artwork from one of these two books. Just send a photo or drawing of your favourite teddy to or upload to or Twitter @AlisonReynoldsa

Competitions close March 24th and winners to be announced and contacted by March 31st.


Welcome everyone!pickle-and-bree_big-snow-adventure_cover

Today I am very pleased to be able to welcome Alison Reynolds to my blog where she will be sharing tips on how to write a series.

Alison is the wonderful author of a new series of picture books about Pickle and Bree, two friends who gently teach children to explore the skills needed to successfully manage relationships with their friends and family.

When I asked Alison how to write a series this is what she said…


Five Tips on Writing a Picture Book Series


  • Create characters that you want to write book after book. When you write a series, you are going to visit them again and again. It is so much easier if you can’t wait to write their next adventures.


  • Get to know your characters thoroughly. In a series you need to come up with many different story lines and this is so much easier if you can know how your character will react in different situations.


  • Make sure your characters are consistent. A common theme throughout the Pickle And Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds books is Bree’s impatience and energy. If she suddenly became easy-going and lazy, this would make her seem inauthentic when you read the whole series.


  • Give the illustrator and the reader more variety – show your characters in different locations.

The first two Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds books were set in home. In books 3 & 4 they left their home, giving the brilliant illustrator, Mikki Butterley, the opportunity to create entirely different worlds. The Big Snow Adventure is set on a snow mountain and The Playground Meanies is set in a playground.

  • Series are very popular at the moment in the publishing world. I loved reading series as a child and still love reading a series today. If you have an idea with excellent characters, why don’t you go for it!


Thanks Alison – some really great advice.







australia-illustrated-launch-posterI’ve been very quiet on this blog lately – life has been throwing itself at me all over the place. How delightful it is to finally be able to share some really exciting news with you all. Please welcome Tania McCartney, who has come along with tea, to help celebrate the launch of her brand new picture book Australia Illustrated. Welcome Tania!!

Australia Illustrated is a hefty 96 pages long. How long did this book take you?

A long time! Around about a year—including research.

The book is divided into state and territory ‘chapters’, and the first chapter header I did—of New South Wales—took me four solid days of work, ten hours a day. It’s a fully digital map done in an unusual way. The other maps took a lot less time because I was more familiar with the process … but they still took a lot of hours.


I hand-drew and watercoloured over 1000 images for this book before scanning them and finishing them in Photoshop. This was before even placing them on pages, so yes, it took a long time!

How did you conduct your research?

It was a pretty typical blend of internet searches, books and encyclopedias. Of course, much of it I already knew as fact, and because the book is predominantly visual, it was more about visual research than text research. I nearly broke Google, searching for reference images!

What was the inspiration behind this work?

It was born of my return to illustration after almost three decades off. I was a prolific drawer through childhood and into my early twenties, but adulthood kind of got in the way. It’s been a secret dream to illustrate my own books, but I truly believed I’d lost the ability, and even now, I can’t believe I’ve actually illustrated a book.

I started the 52-Week Illustration Challenge in January 2014 as a way to force myself to practice drawing every week, and it was pretty much responsible for my reconnection with art. I practiced night and day for almost two years, and was stunned how it all came flooding back.

I’d had a seed of an idea for a book about Australia that was nothing like any other books done on the topic, and this seemed the perfect way to try my hand at an illustrated work. My publisher at EK Books, Anouska Jones, championed the idea from the start, and before I knew it, I was contracted and embarking on an extraordinary journey.

Pretty much the entire book was done organically, and I’m really aware what an opportunity that was. It also helped me ‘ease into’ this new artistic challenge. I’m beyond grateful.

What mediums did you use to create the pages?

Lots! I sketched in pencil, inked with fine-liner than used watercolour and gouache to colour. I also mono-printed colours to use as backgrounds (an example of this is the chalkboard-style backgrounds and the orange ‘dirt’ of the chapter headers).


At least half of the book is digitally-rendered. I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to do this, and I also used digital patterns and filters. On top of that, I created my own fonts and added them to the pages.

It was crazy good fun. In fact, a friend looked at the book recently and she kept saying: ‘I think you had a lot of fun with this.’

I know the book doesn’t contain a lot of text and relies on visual literacy, but what did you do first? The pictures or the text?

You’d think it would be pictures first, but it wasn’t always that way. For each chapter header, I have a ‘capital city icons’ page, so I spent time researching the most known and most popular icons for each city, listing them and editing them. I then drew the pictures to match.

Another example is the Native Animals page—I wanted to, again, research the most iconic first. Ditto place names and plants and people and other specific topics.

Sometimes, though, I would just operate on one idea—like Tasmanian chocolate factory, for example—and I’d come up with the imagery first. Even in this instance, though, I still had to research the chocolate-making process first—so in a way, pretty much all of the pages were at least initially text-driven, including those with barely any text.

I love the cover. Why yellow?00a-cover-pastel

I actually designed the cover first—which is really unusual. It inspired the rest of the book. And I created the background colour in a dozen different hues, from black to pale blue and bright orange. As soon as I did the yellow, I knew it was perfect. It just looked the best.

A secret regarding the colours in the book—they were taken from old Bewitched reruns. I took photos of some of the clothing and room settings on my TV then scanned the photos into Adobe Illustrator and eye-droppered the colours I wanted. I simply adore the colours of the ‘60s!

What pages did you find the easiest and the hardest?

The hardest, for me, were the layouts that—for some indefinable reason—just weren’t working. Some examples were the Wildflowers page in WA, the Cattle page in Queensland, and both Precious Rocks and the Diverse pages at the front of the book. These, and a few others, went through many incarnations in an attempt to get them right—with colour changes, layout changes and more.


I also struggled with the endpapers. I had several designs and they were just ‘okay’ in my view. I’m so much happier with the final design but it took a while to get there.

The easiest pages were the ones that seemed to fall into place immediately.

Do you have favourite pages?

I do. They include Uluru, the Tassie chocolate factory, Butterfly Gorge and Tassie honey. Also love Darwin icons and Canberra hot air balloons. The food icons spread is a lot of fun, too. Makes me hungry.

I really like the maps, too—they took so much time and energy and I’m pleased with how they look against the orange ‘dirt’.

Will there be more books in this style?

Not exactly the same. I really want to explore different styles now—and I enjoy collaging and layering variant styles and techniques. I get bored easily and couldn’t imagine doing the same style forever. I have several books I’m now creating digitally, but even then, the actual style can really differ. It’s going to be fun exploring!

Learn more about Tania’s work at or follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @taniamccartney

Australia Illustrated is published by EK Books and will be on sale 1 November in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, with a release date of 28 November in the UK. Hardcover, clothbound, 96 pages, AU$29.99, ISBN: 9781925335217





Celebrating World Poetry Day


logo school mag logo

Today is World Poetry Day and I thought it might be fun to do a blog tour of poets who have had their poems published in The School Magazine as they are also celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year.

The first poem of mine that The School Magazine published If I Were a Giant (Orbit March 2005) marked the beginning of a decade full of submitting my poems for children to the magazine in the hope of receiving that wonderful letter (now email) saying…

Dear Jackie

Your manuscript has now been assessed by our editorial team.

The good news is that we think your piece would work well in The School Magazine and would like to purchase it.

These few words always make my day light up, my face light up and my heart light up. These few words confirm that I am what I say I am. A poet and that is very reassuring.

Don’t get me wrong I, like most writers I think, doubt my ability every single day. I just did a quick count of how many pieces I have submitted to the magazine over the last 11 years and it totals about 130. Of those 130, 21 have been published so more often than not I read these words…

Dear Jackie

Thank you for letting us see this manuscript submission. The Editorial Committee of The School Magazine have now had a chance to read it. The consensus is that it does not meet the current needs of the magazine.

These are sad days but not devastating days and after I’ve grieved a little I see what else I might be able to send in. It’s a lovely rock-a-by process that keeps me writing and sending and hoping and smiling and crying and on and on.

Below is a gallery that I have created of a few of the poems that The School Magazine has published over the years. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to share my poetry through this wonderful magazine and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them and if you’d like to read more of my poetry you can go here.

Poetry Blog Tour

To continue with the blog tour please visit the links below and I hope you all have a wonderful World Poetry Day.

Claire Saxby

Janeen Brian

Julie Thorndyke

Lorraine Marwood

Pat Simmons

Rebecca Newman

Sally Murphy

Sophie Masson

Stephen Whiteside

Yvonne Low


Jo-Kin Battles the It- My Book Journey


Karen Tyrrell’s Blog Tour

high res close up

Welcome everyone to my leg of Karen Tyrrell’s new book Jo-Kin Battles the It.

As is customary for me when I take part in blog tours I have asked that Karen share the story behind the story.

And here it is…

I wrote Jo-Kin Battles the It (Super Space Kids #1) as a comedic escape from writing a trauma memoir on my recovery from parent-teacher bullying and mental illness. (Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness.) When Josh zoomed through the cosmos battling gruesome monsters and killer robots, he could save the galaxy and be the hero in his own life. I used the process of writing humour and fantasy as a coping skill.

I projected myself into the Josh character to unwittingly empower myself.

My first writing group, Logan Genre Writers offered support and encouragement for Josh and the It (original title). I submitted Josh to the CYA conference for assessment from an editor and publisher. This is what she said…
‘You have successfully created a strong first novel in an action packed adventure series. Your plot is strong and moves along at a good pace. Humour & lots of food references make the story child centred. It has commercial potential.’ -Leonie Tyle: Agent & Publisher

A major publisher considered Josh for publishing over the next 14 months. When it didn’t get published, I was devastated, hiding Josh in the bottom drawer. Instead, I concentrated on started up my own publishing imprint Digital Future Press, publishing five resilience books for adults and kids over the next three years.



In 2014, I joined Write Links, a Brisbane face-to-face critique group for children’s authors. I submitted chapters of Josh and the It receiving brilliant feedback and suggestions. My goal was to rewrite it, adding more humour and action into the story. With help from my publishing team: illustrator Trevor Salter, book designer Anthony Puttee and editor Penny Springthorpe, Jo-Kin Battles of the It (Super Space Kids #1) was finally born.

Jo-Kin Battles the It is also available on Amazon, LSI, library services and selected stores including some Dymocks and Angus & Robertson.

Book Giveaway

Jokin FULL back Front Cover PRINT

Win a signed copy of Jo-Kin Battles the It OR one of four eBooks of Jo-Kin Battles the It OR signed artwork from the illustrator, Trevor Salter.

To WIN please LIKE Karen’s Super Space Kids book series page on Facebook and leave a comment on any of the above Blog stops 19-31 Oct to win. Good luck.

Blog Tour Stops

19 Oct Dee White Blog
20 Oct Di Bates Review
21 Oct Alison Stegert Interview
Jackie Hosking Blog
22 Oct Georgie Donaghey Review & Interview
23 Oct Robyn Opie Review
25 Oct Rebecca Sheraton Interview
26 Oct Sandy Fussell Interview
27 Oct Jill Smith Review
Melissa Wray Blog
28 Oct June Perkins Interview
29 Oct Sally Odgers Interview
30 Oct Kate Foster Interview

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember Blog HOPS




Today I’d like to introduce you to a brand new book written by resilience author Karen Tyrell.


Jackie’s Review


Harry Helps Grandpa Remember

Written by Karen Tyrrell

Illustrated by Aaron Pocock

Published by Digital Future Press

ISBN: 9780987274083

9780987274083Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is about the special love between a little boy and his grandpa who has Alzheimer’s. Harry will do ANYTHING to help his grandpa remember. A heart-warming story, full of humour and HOPE.

When Harry notices that his grandpa is becoming forgetful he comes up with strategies to help him.

First Harry writes him a diary to help him remember the chores he must do on the farm.

Next he fishes out an old photo album to help him remember forgotten memories.

Harry walks with Grandpa through the farm as fresh air and exercise have been shown to be a helpful therapy.

Playing Grandpa’s favourite music also brought back memories and made Grandpa happy. And there’s one final strategy that I’ll let you discover when you read the story for yourself.

The book is vibrantly illustrated by Aaron Pocock and includes notes for teachers and families at the end.


About the Author

Karen Tyrrell is an Australian award winning resilience author-teacher of five empowering books, a motivational speaker and workshop presenter. Karen is abanner 7 survivor of parent-teacher bullying , PTSD and mental illness.

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember comes with FREE Resources including Puppets

Download them for  Free HERE


To celebrate, Harry will be visiting these author sites:

22 June: Harry Helps Grandpa Remember Now on AMAZON

23 June: Ali Stegert Interview

24 June: Di Bates Buzz Words Review

25 June: Robyn Opie Interview

25 June: Jackie Hosking Review

26 June: Charmaine Clancy Author Platform

29 June: Sally Odgers interview

30 June: Jill Smith Review

30 June: June Perkins Interview

1 July Dimity Powell Review


Blog Tour Book Giveaway9780987274083

Please leave a comment on any of the sites above for a chance to win a signed print copy or 5  eCopies of Harry Helps Grandpa Remember.

Six Copies to be won.

Six Winners announced 3 July.

Good luck.



UPDATE – New Publishers added

If you purchased the first issue you can get this one for free. Otherwise it is still only $5.00

If you purchased the first issue you can get this one for free. Otherwise it is still only $5.00

So I’ve been at it again – trawling the internet for your pleasure and here is the result – a brand new UPDATED copy of ‘AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHERS ACCEPTING UNSOLICITED MSS.’

If you have already purchased the original copy, produced in Feb 2015 you can email me for the update, free of charge.You will need to include the original copy as an attachment with your email to show proof of purchase.

If you’ve yet to purchase this very reasonably priced resource you can do so via PayPal (button in the right hand margin) or email me for my bank details.

Happy Hunting 🙂