Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

Enter The New Fabo Story Competition!

There’s a brand new judge and a new Fabo Story competition to enter now!

This fortnight’s judge is Elena de Roo, author of The Rain Train and Ophelia Wild, Secret Spy.

Write a cool story using Elena’s story prompt, and you could win either a copy of Elena’s latest Ophelia Wild book, Ophelia Wild, Deadly Detective, or her junior fiction fantasy novel coming out in September, The Name at the End of the Ladder.

The competition closes on Saturday August 16th.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Michele Powles’s Judge’s Report

There were pirates, underwater spas, sea creatures with teal tinted scales, sharks with human bodies, death and vicious sting rays this week! Needless to say, some of your stories were epic. Congratulations.

A big shout out to everyone who entered from Tighes Hill Public School in New South Wales, Australia. You guys provided some real tension in your stories and a great sense of setting, making the heat from the beach really leap off the screen. Well done. From that school too come this month’s honourable mentions. Best metaphor of the month goes to Daniel Clarke for his character needing to “sew the rips in the pants of friendship”. Also a hearty back slap to seven year old John Laurie from Thorrington School, in Christchurch, a nice twist on a dark tale adding pirates!

There were quite a few stories with large chunks of dialogue this month. It’s a great idea to use dialogue to increase the pace of a story and to liven up your characters, but it’s always important to make sure that it is working for you, especially in a short story. What does that mean? I mean, that dialogue should be to show who and what your characters are, not what they had for lunch (unless of course that is pivotal to your plot). You want to make sure every word they say reflects something about them (that they are in a hurry, furious, or maybe that they are a compulsive liar). And you want that dialogue to move the story along (show an action scene and your characters reactions to it, rather than stalling it to talk about what is out the window for eg). Also, try and make sure your dialogue tags (he said, she said) match what is being said. If Peter says “I can’t believe he would do that! What an idiot. I could kill him!” It’s unlikely he would be cheerful so don’t add he said cheerfully. In my opinion, you could simply use he said, in most situations rather than he said cheerfully, or she said anxiously. If we’ve done our writing job right, what the characters are saying will usually be enough for us to know how they are feeling.

But, without further ado the winner for this month is ten year old Amie Tunnicliffe of Warkworth Primary School in New Zealand. Her story was really well written, with tones of atmosphere and rich characters. Peter had a sun-coloured fringe flopped delicately over his laughing, ice-blue eyes and one of my favourite lines, My face was long, with a ridiculous straight line at the bottom. A brick could well have been inside my jaw. Congratulations Amie, you can chose one of the titles from any of the Fabo team.

Amie’s Winning Story

However, I couldn’t help casting fearful glances at that swarm of wave-tops encasing his poor arm.

It was a stingray that got him. The moment the great brute rose hungrily out of the waves replayed itself again and again in my mind. I had screamed at Peter to run, but he didn’t hear me in time. It’s cat-o-nine-tails whip thrashed my half-brother on his left arm. He had been rushed straight to the hospital. I went with him, though I cowered away from him the whole time. The arrogant 11-year-old, same age as me, had been reduced into a shivering, howling mess, and I couldn’t stand that. I had hated the way he bossed me around, like he was the president of America. But then, I just wanted his nature back. I was practically begging him to spring up, lively as ever, and give me a command. Yes, his eyes, blue as the sea, would flicker. “Just joking!’ he would claim. “Had you all fooled there!” He would chuckle his hearty laugh and order me to rip his “stupid bandage” off. Naturally, I would be scared and not want to. I am a COWARD I tell you. Not like Peter! We’re total opposites, despite our kinship.

Peter’s eyes would dance wildly, his famous cheeky grin still plastered on his perfectly tanned face.

He was all over perfect until the accident. His sun-coloured fringe flopped delicately over his laughing, ice-blue eyes. He had a face just right the size, with a perfectly pointed chin and rich brown skin from his beach-life.

I, on the other hand, was a mess. I was lanky and thin. My face was long, with a ridiculous straight line at the bottom. A brick could well have been inside my jaw. My legs and arms were much too long for my pale, meek body. I had mud-brown hair and rust-coloured eyes. And don’t forget my stupid toe. The second toe on my left foot was longer than my big toe. Peter teased me about it. He said I had ballerina feet! You were a natural ballerina if your second toe was your big toe. As if I wanted to do silly girl’s dancing. I didn’t want to prance around pretending to be a swan or a babyish fairy! I wanted to lock myself up in my room with only me and my science experiments.

When Peter came home, three days after going to Kenton Hospital, he was no longer perfect. The thick sheet of ice cloaking his arm had been removed, leaving behind a thick, deep, blood-red scar. I looked away from him, wincing on his behalf. I didn’t want to look at his mum either, her eccentric green eyes filled with grief and disappointment.

I went to the beach. Having lived there for a year after the Formula 1 incident where our father was killed, the seashore had become a place I could relax and escape from my adopted family, just for a little while. I plonked down on a magnificent golden dune. The coarse ocean wind disrespectfully chucked salt into my blank eyes. Water built up inside my irises. It pushed at my eyelids, threatening to leak out. It wasn’t because of the whistling wind either, though that certainly hurt. No, it was because of my father. I couldn’t understand how such a jolly old soul could have fathered Peter, although I knew full well that he did. The facts were right in front of eyes.

My father would race me and Peter down the steep sandy mounds. I ran barefoot always, dry sand trickling warmly through my odd toes. It was a beautiful sensation, the best feeling of all.
“What are you thinking about?” a voice murmured, and I felt the presence of another human beside me. For one mad moment, I thought it was my dad. I opened my mouth to say something, then shut it when I realised who it was. “What are you doing here? You hate me, remember?” he replied evenly, not taking my eyes off the rising water mass and cawing gulls swooping around eager beach-goers. I felt a pair of sky-blue eyes bore into my cheek. “Not any more, Billy” my brother replied. There was a hint of sadness in his tone that made me listen for once. “Mum hates me.” I gasped and turned to him. How could a mother hate her own flesh and blood? I knew my mother loved me with all her heart and soul, until the day the earthquake struck.
A flame burned angrily in Peter’s eyes, with such intensity that I had to restrain my face from whipping sharply to the left. I forced myself to hold his gaze. “Why?” I whispered. “She wants a perfect child” he answered me. Hatred was frothing in his voice-box, and the fire in his eyes continued to roar. “Oh” was all I could manage. “An injured child, no can do” Peter continued. Sympathy washed over me like a tsunami. Indeed, a tidal wave swamped my thoughts.

From then I took him under my awkward, dull brown wing. He no longer took charge of the two of us. Like I said earlier, we needed little conversation in our activities; we just seemed to agree on almost everything imaginable.

One summer later, we are the best of friends. Us two twelve-year-olds plan to spend every moment of the season together – not very hard, seeing as we share a room. We have bunk beds. Peter’s on the top, as you would have guessed. He has a blue duvet, I have a green one – our favourite colours. But I am sure that both of us still have nightmares of a living spear slicing a tanned arm.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kathy White’s Judge’s Report – The Winners!

You’ve written up a storm this fortnight. Lucinda’s cat-burgling adventures got 59 of you writing all kinds of imaginable stories – horror, romance, adventure, comedy, gothic, fantasy, science fiction and twisted fairy tales.

People included the theory of dust, pole vaulters, zombie research, and green goo that gave people superpowers. I loved Nezar’s rescue of the laboratory animals. I saw some spectacular dialogue with distinctive voices for individual characters (Amie Tunnicliffe, Leila Dunlop). Others used all of the senses (sight, smell, sound, touch and taste) to make a scene come to life. What I loved more than anything was seeing so many writing styles, which included a mixture of poetic language, beautiful descriptions, funny quips, tension and fast-paced action. Sam Persson’s style made me feel like I was inside Lucinda’s thoughts. Great stuff. A writer’s writing style is as unique as fingerprints – it reveals things about you – and it’s one of the things that makes writing (and reading) so much fun.

Here are some of my favourite bits from this fortnight’s writing challenge.

I loved Ollie Gooch’s humour and writing style: She dived for cover. Hurting her shoulder on a small sharp object that she hoped wasn’t a knife.
“I did that, perhaps, a bit too dramatically,” she thought.

I liked a lot of things that Geena said, but I loved her beginning: The laboratory’s small wooden door slammed shut behind Lucinda which made her gasp in shock. In the middle of the laboratory stood a boy with jet black hair and eyes the color of the vast sea.

This from Rosa Opie: Lucinda rolled herself under the long scientists’ bench, hoping she wouldn’t collide with any developing experiments that were in the middle of her path.

Gianna Lill did a great job at building tension using the senses: Lucinda just stood there numbly and observed as he hacked into a computer and overrode security. A fluorescent blue light flickered on. The cylindrical steel case he’d been trying to open recoiled into the ceiling. The blue light mingled with a vibrant golden beam which protruded from a peculiar flask. Her Granddad quickly pocketed it and gestured for Lucinda to follow.

Beautiful images from Cora Scott: Relief washed over Lucinda like water washing over an umbrella.

And more great use of the senses from Ruby de Beus: Lucinda quickly scanned her surroundings, searching for a nook or cranny to hide. The laboratory was vast, cluttered with dusty machines, cupboards of mysterious entities, empty bottles and flasks. Lucinda could hear dull, heavy footsteps drawing closer and closer. Floorboards creaked and plumes of dust rose into the air and settled down again.

And again from Ruby: His eyes burned with flames of hatred. His hideous face was framed with shaggy dark hair that covered his entire body. A cloak, as black as his soul, fell short of his colossal feet which could have easily belonged to a giant. The Beast, standing before Lucinda’s wardrobe, was the one who took what was hers. And Lucinda…. Well, tonight she was going to get it back.

Kanicha Nualkhair had a beautiful flowing rhythm and a mature style of lyrical, thoughtful writing:
She silently cursed him, already planning her escape. The thundering footsteps neared the door and she was a mouse, scampering away, silently, hidden among the dust bunnies and resting by the floor. She was a dark shadow, so well hidden that no one would see her even if eyes were glancing her way. The dark wood of the floorboard weren’t uttering a sound, keeping silent as if sensing the danger. Slowly, so painfully slowly, the door swung open and light spilled into the hall.

And at the end of Kanicha’s story: “I’ve finally caught you, Lucinda Draconell…” His grin was feral and she thought of a fallen angel. This man indeed had fallen but it was she who had fallen further. She had been betrayed.

A surprising ending from Sarah Meyer: Putting the bright beautiful sapphire in her hand, she wondered why she should give this to the prince. If only she was not so scared of him. Her big brother could be such a bully. (Nice touch to keep that secret until the end).

Emma Denton, Hazel Williams, Rosa Opie and Carmel ‘Uhila had good well-paced, logically connected plots. Well done. Some writers had great beginnings but didn’t manage to piece things together to get to a fitting end. Things need to be logically connected to tell a story, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Something happens, which causes something else to happen, which leads to something else. These logical connections (or cause and effect) provide the foundations for the plot in your story.

It wasn’t easy choosing winners this time because you all showed so much talent in different ways. However I was particularly impressed by imagery this week so that’s where I’ve decided to award joint senior prizes. Kanicha Nualkhair, you managed to create a lot of tension with your focus on the senses. And Ruby de Beus, there’s a beautiful flow to your writing. Both of you deserve prizes this week.

I’m also giving Ollie Gooch the junior prize for his humorous style of writing and his natural dialogue. It amazes me that you managed to fit your love of soccer into this story

Congratulations to you all and thanks for entertaining me this week. I’m looking forward to where you all go with your writing in the future.

Kanicha, Ruby and Ollie, I will contact you by email over the next few days to discuss your prizes.

Love and literary hugs


Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

A New Fabo Contest Has Started!

A brand new Fabo writing challenge has just started. This fortnight’s judge is Kathy White, and if you enter you could win one of Kathy’s wonderful books!

She’s giving away your choice of the following:
• The Wolves of Yellowstone (McGraw-Hill Education – in e-book format only).


In print format, one of the following:

• Alex and Josie (Just Kids series)

• Hampered (Dive in and Read series)

• Muffin Magic (Kiwi Bites series)

Or a copy of a friend’s spooky book called The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head by Sue Copsey

Entries close on Sunday July 6. Happy writing and good luck!

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Winners: Egg Marks the Spot

Wow – I know everyone always says this – but it really was a tough job picking these. I enjoyed reading all your stories a lot, and I’ve decided to give out a few extra awards.

I’ll be contacting all winners by email to arrange posting your prizes, and yes, I will be double-checking that you’re not allergic to chocolate.

Without further ado …


 Junior winner:

Sarah Aitken (7) from St Mark’s School.

Sarah A, your story is so well imagined and entertaining, and it has an excellent ending.


Senior winner:

Sarah Peart (13) from St Kentigern College

Sarah P, you have a distinctive, engaging writing style, and your story has a well-thought-out structure that flows on nicely from the starter paragraph. Wonderful details – and great last line.


Fantasy award:

Margaret Li (12) from St Kentigern College

Margaret, I loved the dark, eerie horror-style of your story. It was quite different from any of the other stories, and riveting to read – in a nightmarish way.


Environment award:

Libby Downs (12), from St Kentigern College

This is a great tale of saving an endangered species from habitat loss.


Environment runner-up:

Lela from Motueka South School

A nice story about how exciting it would feel to discover a new species of bird.


‘Bad bird’ award:

Rebecca Campbell (10) from Sunnynook Primary School.

Rebecca, I invented this spot prize especially for you, because I loved your description of your villainous seagull. You were probably imagining a black-backed gull – known to eat other birds’ eggs. Have you seen this film of them raiding a nest?


Highly commended awards:

Phoebe Preston-Marshall (11), homeschooled

Phoebe, yours is a well-written story, with a simple, satisfying structure.

Peyton Morete (11) from Te Horo School

Peyton, you have lots of great action scenes, and I like the way your writing is full of energy because you use so many good verbs. Nice ending, too.

Ollie Gooch (10) from Central School, New Plymouth

Ollie, yours is another action-packed story with great characterisation and dialogue.

Annaliese Reynolds (12) from St Kentigern College

Annaliese, I really liked your story’s structure. It was a brilliant idea to find a source of tension in the starter you were given (Sylvia’s disparaging attitude to Red’s food choices), and use the story to resolve that.


School awards:

There were great efforts from three schools in particular, so they’ll each receive a prize package for their library (and undoubtedly some chocolate to share around):

Waikirikiri School

Sunnynook Primary School

St Kentigern College


I’ll be posting up the two main winning entries early next week, so you can all read them. Meanwhile – all winners – stand by to hear from me over the weekend about your prizes.

And do keep on entering, everyone, so the other judges can enjoy their job as much as I did!

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

Enter Our New Competition Now!

Sally-Bangle-smallAs Johanna Knox reads through all your wonderful entries from the last fortnight to choose a winner, Melinda Szymanik has issued a new story challenge!

Johanna will be posting the winners of the last contest soon. In the meantime, why not take a look at the new opening lines and start planning your next story?

You could win one of Melinda’s fabulous books.

Were-Nana-smallShe’s giving away your choice of the following:

Sally Bangle: Unexpected Detective (In e-book format only).


In print format, one of the following:

The Half Life of Ryan Davis,
Half life of Ryan cover2A Winter’s Day in 1939,
The Were-Nana
The House That Went to Sea.

PLUS you’ll also win something a little extra 🙂

Entries close on Sunday June 22nd. Happy writing and good luck!


Posted in Prizes!

Prizes for this fortnight’s story

Hey everyone! It’s me, Johanna, judging the next story. Have you seen the starter yet?

I’m going to give prize packages to two main winners – PLUS smaller prizes for:

* Something especially original and fantastical

* A cleverly woven-in environmental message. (That is, make it a bit subtle. I like subtle messages rather than lectures! Maybe you know the feeling …)

The prizes will include books of mine and other people’s, copies of Wild Things magazine – plus yummy locally made chocolate.


Posted in fabo story, Prizes!

Enter Now And Win Cool Books!

Have you got your entry in for this round of judging yet?  This contest closes on the 17th May, so you’ve only got 10 more days to join in.

The Prizes!

I’m going to pick two winners for this round of judging, one up to 10 years old, and one 11 to 13 years old.

Ten Years and Under Category

tough-enough-coverThe winner in the 10 and under category will win two fabulous books.

1. A copy of my book Tough Enough – an exciting adventure story.

2. A copy of Pick ‘n Mix Volume 1 – a book of assorted children’s stories.

Eleven To Thirteen Years Category

99-flavours-cover-smThe winner in the 11 and older category will also win two fabulous books.

1. A copy of my book 99 Flavours of Suck – a fun and unusual comedy.

2. A copy of any book written by any of Fabo’s wonderful judges!

That’s right, the winner can choose their second book from any of the books written by Melinda Szymanik, Elena de Roo, Johanna Knox, Kathy White, Fifi Colston, Maureen Crisp, or Kyle Mewburn. Just let me know which book you want and it’s yours!

Good luck everyone, and happy writing!