Posted in Illustration, Picturebooks, Publishing

The KidLit Creators Super Stack Flash Sale

A couple of months ago INFOSTACK invited me to be part of their “KidLit Creators Super Stack” – which is a collection (a stack) of kidlit resources from all round the world.

For one week only this stack of info was made available at a ridiculously affordable price.

My contribution to the stack was my METRE MATTERS COURSE

If you missed out on this amazing deal I’m thrilled to tell you that INFOSTACK are running a flash sale between 22nd April – 27th April 2021.

Here’s what you’ll get in the stack valued at over AUS$2,800.00 (US$2,000)…

I’ve also included links to the websites of the contributors to the stack.

So from April 22nd – April 27th you’ll be able to access absolutely everything you need to know to plan, write, illustrate, publish, and market your own KidLit book like a pro.

If you’d like to be added to my mailing list please complete the form below. Or click here to be taken to the INFOSTACK website.

And happy creating!

Posted in Illustration, Picturebooks

Sharon McGuinness’ Blog Tour continues with a FREE book giveaway…

Today I would like to welcome Sharon McGuinness and Shannon Melville to my blog with their new book Coming Home which has been released to coincide with Mental Health Week.

Mental Health Week is all about raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the wider community.  A critical part of reducing stigma to support those with a mental illness (and their carers); is public awareness and an understanding that mental illness, like mental health, is part of the human condition.

Sharon tells a very personal story about how she came to write this book. Thank you Sharon for sharing your story behind the story.

My family knows depression intimately – for my late husband Greg and I, his black dog was an unwelcome participant in our marriage and family life, often lurking in the background, nipping at his heels on a regular basis. Early on, it was manageable, but in 2006 something changed – the black dog gained a firmer grip and in 2008 Greg began a regular pattern of hospitalisation. We would visit on weekends, but I would often visit by myself, travelling to Sydney and back to Thirroul on the train.

It was after a particularly good visit that the seeds for my book ‘Coming Home’ were sown. Greg had been upbeat, was looking ahead, making plans and I left him smiling. Travelling home on the train, the idea for the story started forming and I remember rummaging in my bag for my notebook. It wasn’t there, but I pulled out an envelope and began to weave our own experience into a new narrative. I never set out to intentionally write a children’s book about depression.

The story instead, found me.

Over the next few weeks I completed a rough first draft, using Greg’s garden as a metaphor for his mood, his roses as a symbol of hope.

The story revolves around Gemma, a young girl who is struggling to understand why her dad seems sad day after day. He sits alone in his unweeded garden – the metaphor for his mood and he seems to disappear from daily life – sinking into ‘another place’. Gemma wonders whether it is somehow her fault, did she do something wrong? Her mother is reassuring and explains that Dad is suffering from an illness called depression, which ‘you can’t see like a broken leg, but it’s there just the same’.  Gemma continues to involve Dad in her life and then one day, he begins to feel a change – his mood begins to lift.

The ending was how I wanted our own story to finish.

My online writing buddy, Jodie gave me advice, Sandy Fussell helped me finesse it some more and entering it in a competition gave me valuable feedback and the encouragement to continue.

During this time however, Greg’s illness worsened until in February 2010, he took his own life, unable to stand the torment of his illness. Our real story was not to share the same ending as the book after all.

It now seemed more important than ever for the book to have an audience. Depression affects one in five families – maybe the book could help explain depression to children and raise awareness, so I began submitting the ms to publishers.

Rochelle Manners of Wombat Books was interested, but admitted that the topic was ‘challenging’ to publish. She urged me to get the ms professionally appraised and I sought the advice of Dr Virginia Lowe who was able to help me with some final tweaking of the manuscript and provided a letter of recommendation. I also met with representatives of the Black Dog Institute, who read the manuscript and agreed to write a letter of support which would accompany the manuscript on its trips to publishers.  I resubmitted it to Wombat Books and Rochelle offered me a contract in February 2010. We agreed to publish in October 2012 to coincide with Mental Health Week.

Ironically I was relieved, thinking that the hard work was over.

How naive I was….the work was only just beginning! The task of selecting the right illustrator for the book would not be easy as I believed the illustrations would be more powerful if they were portrayed realistically.  The work of Shannon Melville – particularly her black and white drawings led Rochelle to the offering of a contract.

Shannon set to work and in October 2011, she had completed the first roughs and in May 2012 the final illustrations were ready, most taking between 10 to 15 hours to complete individually.  Shannon has been able to capture the essence of the text, with contrasting endpapers and the use of both black and  white and colour illustrations, while  the expressions on the father’s face clearly show the pain often experienced by those with depression.

All author royalties will be donated to the Black Dog Institute to help fund further research into depressive illnesses.

The book has become my way to honour Greg’s memory and while I gain satisfaction from its publishing, it will always be bittersweet.


Thank you once again Sharon for sharing your incredibly personal, bittersweet story. You have written a very important book, one that will help many families.


Now before I introduce Shannon I would like to offer readers the chance to receive a copy of Coming Home to help acknowlege Mental Health Week.

What you’ll need to do is tell me (in the comments section) how depression or mental illness has affected you, your family or someone you know.

I will put everyone’s name into a hat and draw one randomly. I will contact you if your name is chosen.



Okay so next I would like to welcome Shannon Melville. Welcome Shannon! Shannon has completed some questions that I’ve put together for illustrators appearing in PASS IT ON’s segment Illustration of the Week. These questions give us an insight into the workings of an illustrator. Thank you Shannon for sharing a little bit of how you work as an illustrator.



Please describe your chosen illustration

~What medium did you use?

Chalk pastel sticks and pencils

~How long did it take?

Approximately 10 hours

~What is it for?

Coming Home (Wombat Books); a picture book written by Sharon McGuinness. Publication date: 1st October 2012.

When did you know you had a talent for illustration?

~How old were you?

I remember the girl sitting next to me in year 1 copied my care bear drawing. It went on the school recipe book cover, so I guess you could say that was my first published illustration!

~How did you know? Did someone encourage you?

Both my parents encouraged me, particularly my dad who I recall creating oil pastel artworks with me on the back of his big old land valuation maps (around A1 size). My parents enrolled me in holiday and after school art classes. My dad was also gifted with art and I enjoyed seeing the work he created at night school in print making, painting, drawing etc. He always had lots of different art supplies for me to try out. My neighbour was a high school art teacher and I often knocked on her door to show her my latest work, she was kind to show interest and give me feedback. I always chose Art as an option in high school. Teachers and peers usually complimented me on my work or held my work up to the class.

Have you ever studied your craft at an institution of any sort?

~Which institution?

Central TAFE (now Central Institute of Technology, Perth)

~How long was the course?

3 years

~How affordable was the course?

More affordable than university for me (although I have also completed university studies). I had a casual job on the side to support my studies.

~Would you recommend it to upcoming artists/illustrators?

It was an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design (major in illustration). We only got to focus more intensely in illustration in the 3rd year. If you also want to learn Corporate branding, Advertising, Web design, Art Theory, Packaging design etc. then the course may interest you. The illustration lecturers were great though.

~Do you run courses or workshops yourself?

No, although I have taken children’s holiday art classes. Twice a week I work with people with disabilities assisting them to create artwork. I find this work very rewarding also.

What computer programmes do you use?

~Can you recommend any?

Corel Painter, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator.

Have you illustrated any books?

~How many books?

Yes 5, currently working on my 6th book about a platypus and after this I have 2 more contracts lined up.

~Do you have a favourite?

Little Good Wolf by Aleesah Darlison and Coming Home by Sharon McGuinness are very well written, they are talented authors, the stories are all so unique it’s hard to choose a favourite.

To be honest I am enjoying working on the illustrations for my current one about a platypus, as I really love animals and nature. Rochelle from Wombat Books is always happy for me to choose which medium I want to use, so for Boondaburra written by Natalie Lonsdale I am using gouache. I am finding it quite therapeutic using a paintbrush and it is tying in nicely with the watercolour course I am currently enrolled in.

~How are you usually commissioned? What is the process?

A publisher will contact me and ask me what I think about a particular manuscript and if I am interested in illustrating it. I then say yes or no (most have been yes so far though). I sometimes am asked to do a couple of character sketches which the publisher and author look at.

If they both think I am on the right track then the contract is sent out for me to read and sign and post back to the publisher.

~Do you have contact with the authors?

All of the authors I have worked with so far live in different states so I haven’t met with them in person regarding their manuscripts. Sometimes the author and I will exchange a few emails, but this is usually through the publisher, to make sure we are all kept in the loop about what is going on.

~On average, how long does a picture book take to illustrate?

It is hard to say as they all vary depending on what styles are required, how detailed and what medium is used. They can take anywhere from 3 months to a couple of years, although all the books I have illustrated have generally been done in less than 6 months. I may have the contract for longer, but depending on my workload and other deadlines I may not be able to get started straight away.

~Is it difficult working to deadlines? Does it interfere with your creativity?

It depends how many jobs I am working on at once. Sometimes it can interfere with creativity if I get too stressed. I find that I have to be in a relaxed mood to work well on my illustrations. I think it usually shows through in the artwork if it has been rushed or if the illustrator enjoyed working on it. Fortunately I have 2 dogs to walk / jog and a gym nearby to let out some steam when I need to. I usually find it refreshes me and helps me concentrate again on my work.

Who is your favourite Australian children’s book illustrator and why?

There are many but here are the ones I entered in my phone whilst I was at Pinerolo recently: Tony Oliver, Pamela Lofts, Mark Jackson, Emma Quay, Sarah Davis, Nina Rycroft, Anna Pignataro, Craig Smith, Beth Norling and Rebecca Cool.

What’s your website or blog address (if you have one)?

Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Picturebooks

What you will find in this week’s issue (362) of PASS IT ON

Serena Geddes


In this week’s issue of PIO you will find an illustrator profile from Serena Geddes.

Opportunities for picture book writers and short story writers.

Information about upcoming events relevant to the children’s book writing and illustrating industry including an evening of enchantment with Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab and a book launch with Hazel Edwards.

You’ll find useful books, websites and blogs and book reviews from Deb Abela.

If you don’t yet subscribe to PASS IT ON and you’d like to take a look at a recent issue please do get in touch.

Happy Days…see you next week.

Jackie 🙂


Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Publishing

What will you find in this week’s PASS IT ON?

A wonderful illustration by Kimberly Moon as well as profile where she shares her illustrating secrets.

Many new special events including book launches, writing festivals, author and illustrator talks.

Seven new opportunities for children’s writers and illustrators.

A spooky writing competition is also listed as well as few tips from the Book Trailers session held by Tristan Bancks who appeared at the recent CYA conference in Brisbane.

There are book reviews, useful blogs and websites and also the link to an interview with me at the Kids Book Review site. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it…

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who contributed this week and I’d also like to post that I am on the hunt for children’s book illustrators to profile. If you’re looking for exposure PIO is the place to hang out. Many Australian children’s book publishers subscribe to PIO and your illustration is the first thing they see on a Monday morning. Please do get in touch or pass on this call to any illustrators that you know.

And if you don’t yet subscribe to PIO, at $38/per year (80 cents/week) – it’s got to be the best valued newsletter around.

What are you waiting for?


Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Picturebooks, Publishing, Writing

Inside this week’s issue of PASS IT ON

Christina Bollenbach

In this week’s PIO we profile illustrator Christina Bollenbach as she showcases an illustration from her picture book A Monster for Lukas.

We highlight the 2012 National Year of Reading ‘soft launch’ at Bialik College, in Melbourne with patron William McInnes,  Reading Ambassadors Alison Lester and Hazel Edwards.

We list 14 special events of interest to children’s writers and illustrators including festivals, books launches, blog tours and talks.

We include a writing opportunity for educational authors, two competitions and a number of workshops.

Dee White writes on whether or not to go to conferences and author Tania McCartney is profiled.

We include 5 new book reviews and list some very useful blogs and websites.

Tomorrow Tania McCartney will be visiting this blog as part of her Riley and the Grumpy Wombat Blog Tour where she will be discussing her self publishing journey.

I will also include a review of her book along with a chance for you to receive a free copy of Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne.

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who contributed industry news to this week’s PIO and if you are not yet a subscriber and would like to see a copy of this week’s issue please do get in touch. At 75cents/week you can’t afford to be without it.

See you tomorrow 🙂

Posted in Illustration, Janeen Brian, PASS IT ON, Picturebooks

In this week’s issue

Henry Smith

So here I am finally able to sit at my computer after hurting my back. Still feeling very sore and tender but able at least to function. Writers and Illustrators all – look after your backs. Here’s a great website if you are suffering from back pain.

Now back (pardon the pun) to this week’s issue (351).

Henry Smith is our profiled illustrator.

We list three new writing opportunities and two new competitions.

Dee White talks about why is pays to go to conferences and we learn a little bit more about Text Publishing’s Editor, Alison Arnold who will be appearing at this year’s Ballarat Writers’ Festival.

Gabrielle Wang’s guest this week on How Writers Work is picture book author and illustrator NARELLE OLIVER

To view her post go to

Not yet a subscriber to PASS IT ON?

Email me jackiehosking @ bigpond . com (no spaces) to get the latest issue.

See you all next week.

Jackie 🙂

Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Publishing

In this week’s PASS IT ON – issue 350

Patrick Hawkins


In this week’s PIO we profile illustrator Patrick Hawkins.

We discover what another Australian publisher of Children’s books does and does not expect from unsolicited ms submissions.

We profile author Aleesah Darlison.

We list upcoming events, book launches, competitions and much, much more.

Not yet a subscriber?

Email me jackiehosking [@] bigpond [dot]. com and I’ll send you copy of a recent issue.

Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Publishing

In this week’s PASS IT ON – issue 349…

Fiona Sinclair



…we thank Fiona Sinclair for sharing her methods with us.

We find out the Pet Peeves of three more Publishers of Australian Children’s Books.

We read book reviews by Deb Abela and me, Jackie Hosking.

We find out about a publisher who is accepting unsolicited mss.

And we find out a little more about Catherine McCredie, a senior editor in the Books for Children and Young Adults department at Penguin Books.

Once again PIO is jammed packed full of useful and interesting information – all related to the children’s book industry.

If you do not yet subscribe and you are curious to see what it’s all about, drop me a line and I’ll send you out a complimentary issue.

Thanks to everyone who contributed this week and I’ll see you all next Monday 🙂



Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Publishing

PASS IT ON – issue 348

Adele K Thomas


In this week’s PIO we find out about cartoonist and illustrator Adele Thomas. Thank you Adele.

We discover the Pet Peeves of three Australian publishers of children’s books.

We learn about Jackie French’s new book Nanberry, published by HarperCollins.

And Felicity Pulman shares some more of her writing tips as well as an article ‘A Walking Meditation’.

We learn when and where to find workshops just for children’s writers and subscribers share their good news.

Thank you once again to everyone who has contributed something this week. I hope you’ve found this issue enjoyable and helpful.

If you do not yet subscribe to PASS IT ON – just drop me a line and I’ll send you out a recent, complimentary copy.

See you next Monday 🙂


Posted in Illustration, PASS IT ON, Publishing, Writing

In this week’s PASS IT ON

Jennifer Bowman


We discover the illustration style of Jennifer Bowman and find out what NOT to send to Hardie Grant Egmont.

Authors Felicity Pulman and Dee White share some of their writing tips and Deb Abela reviews three new children’s books.

We list new competitions for aspiring children’s writers and profile Author Christopher Milne, one of the authors appearing on a panel chaired by yours truly,  at this year’s Ballarat Writers Festival.

Not yet a PIO subscriber?

Contact me jackiehosking @ bipond .  com for your complimentary copy of this week’s issue.