Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Judge’s Report: ‘The Final Call’ by Jane Bloomfield

First of all, I would like to mention the sixty young writers across New Zealand, who filed a story: Emir, Jackson, Erica, Archie, Renee, Angela, Zoe, Maebel, Alex, Tyla, Stella, Alex, Mikayla, Neihana, Beata, Casey, Jullian, Zach, Zoe, Bridget, Alyssa, Finn, Sera, Immy, Sophie, Mackenzie, Zara, Amelie, Joe, Xavier, Lachlan, Milanya, Zoe-Jade, James, Brooke, Caitlyn, Eva, Ella, Georgette, Harrison, Jayden, Axel, Georgina, Olivia, Ruby W, Aaron, Tony, Georgina, Honor, Anna, Troughton, Maia, Indigo, Hannah, Briah-Rose, Ella, Troughton, Lucia, Wayne, Eloise. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Writer’s write. You are all writers!

When I’m writing a story, I usually always know my starting point and my ending. This method is often used by screen writers (writers of movies) and is very useful in situations like Fabostory, when you have a limited word count. Knowing where your character will end up, can help alleviate getting bogged down at the start of your story. There were many writers who did not get their characters out of the airport toilets. Or off the tarmac.

However, I was really thrilled to see plenty of high-octane imaginations heading out on wild adventures. Many entries had great imagery, clever language and sassy similies. For example:

Ella – “The ground was too far away they were over the sea and all she could see was a long stretch of blue and green, and a tiny island shaped like a diamond.”

Wayne – “Ubiquitous face of Shockley Rogers … cackled cockily like a crazed lunatic.”

Stella – “As the wind is making a mountain out of a molehill underneath the plane.”

Aidan – “Her tangly long brown hair flapped in the wind like whips.”

Lucia – “Panic burst into Chessies stomach like someone had just chucked too many logs on an already very large fire.” “… her voice sounded as sweet and fairy-like as Thumbelina”

We had spies, doppelgangers, watery plane crashes, dragon kingdoms, catacombs high-speed getaways, “dun, dun, duns …”, a bathroom-vortex, an arctic fox, a dragon-vet, King and Queen Teapot, assassins, murder weapons, escapes by parachutes, gold bars, fingerprint scanners, demon potions, kidnappers, murder, plenty of mayhem, secret agents, villains, shark repellant, emergency landings (I’m happy to report everyone has been watching the safety videos). And mermaids, which leads me to my winner:

A very mermaid story by …

Indigo Ciara Tomlinson – 10 (who happens to live by the sea) Ohope Beach School

The aircraft rocked wildly from side to side. Chessie removed her headphones and gazed around in a panic. ‘’Attention,’’ came a voice, but no one was listening. ‘’This is your co-pilot speaking. We are experiencing some minor problems please remain cal…’’ Her voice was cut off, as the plane plummeted towards the ocean, which swirled until it became a sickening blue blur. Chessie hastily scrambled for her lifejacket. The plane dropped ever faster. People tried to reach the exit doors as, with a mighty crash, the plane smashed into the water.

Chessie’s mind was a blur of terror. She couldn’t focus. Everyone converged towards the exits. She was too numb to follow. Everything had a blue tint. Her lungs were starting to hurt. She pressed herself into her seat, feeling as though it could protect her from this nightmarish horror. The stewardesses swam past. No one saw her. Then she was all alone. ‘’Nooooooo!’’ Chessie cried, as water filled her lungs. She swam towards the floor. Trying to reach the surface. Dark shapes loomed out at her. Jeering and pointing. Everything was swirling. Her brain was shutting down. Nothing made sense anymore. As Chessie slipped into unconsciousness, she thought she saw a girl with long wild hair, reaching out to her. And then, she saw nothing at all.

Chessie felt strange. She cried to move her legs-but couldn’t. Her breathing felt regular, but different at the same time. ‘’Is she awake?’’a girl asked. ‘’Shh, Coral,’’ said another voice. ‘’We must give her time,’’ Chessie opened her eyes. And saw her legs. Or, more accurately, her tail. ‘’Arrrrgh!’’ she exclaimed, as a mermaid reached out for her. ‘’Stay calm. Your mother is here.’’ the mermaid said, as a beautiful woman swam into the chamber. Chessie recognized her face. It was the same face she saw every time she looked in the mirror. ‘’Mum!’’ she cried………

‘’So, you’re the queen of Merland and the girl that rescued me was my cousin, Coral and you think Dad was kidnapped by one of his modelling rivals and you are going to organise a rescue? You were also a human when you had me and then you had to come and rule here, and you are okay with Dad marrying Miranda?’’ Chessie summarised. Her mother nodded. ‘’I’ll tell your father that you are going to be a mermaid now, but that you can visit him in the school holidays. If that’s okay with you?’’ ‘’Of course, it’s okay!’’ Chessie exclaimed. ‘’I can’t wait!’’ she did a backflip and landed on her mother’s, sea moss bed. ‘’Woohoo!’’

Chessie was sitting on the clamshell throne, waiting for the Grand Ball to celebrate her new role as a princess to begin, when she suddenly found herself in her tangled sheets. The morning before the flight. She couldn’t believe it. Had it been a correct prediction of the future? Or just a dream? ‘’Dad!’’ Chessie called out. ‘’Was Mum a mermaid by any chance?’’

Congratulations, Indigo. I’d love to read more of your underwater mermaid stories in the future!

Posted in The Winners!

Melinda’s Judge’s Report For The Fabostory Challenge Ending May 26

Wow, thank you for all your wonderful stories – 59 in total. There were all sorts of weird and wacky solutions to dealing with the terrifying Miss Fox and rescuing the other students from their shrunken state.

Fynn Whittle from Sunnynook Primary sorted out Miss Fox with the help of Spongebob and krabby patties, and Katie Heays-Wilson also from Sunnynook had a taniwha save the day.

Gabriella Rusk from Churton Park School took Miss Fox’s name literally and expanded on the idea with Mr Wolf turning up as the replacement teacher. Zach from Sunnynook, using a mirror, and Emma Anderson from Carmel College using a whiteboard, both cleverly deflected Miss Fox’s spells and turned them back on her. Oliver Stacey from Churton Park distracted Miss Fox with donuts. Catherine Sole from Carmel College, had the fresh idea of yoghurt being the cause of Miss Fox’s strange powers.

Some of you opted for the classic ‘it was all a dream’ ending, but in most cases this doesn’t really provide a very satisfying ending to a story. Some of you had amazing ideas but let yourselves down by not reviewing and editing your work. Editing will always be an essential part of the writing process. With two weeks to write your story there should be enough time to go over your work and make any corrections needed before submitting.

Well done to Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School, who had some great writing and an interesting twist.

Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School also had some great writing with lots of action.

A blast from Miss Fox narrowly missed Cassie’s head and now her hat was a plaything for Miss Fox’s toys. This time Cassie did scream. Morgan clamped her hand over her friends mouth even though she wanted to scream too. Morgan flipped their desk on its side and ducked under it, dragging Cassie with her. “What do we do!?” whispered Cassie, terror in her voice.

Minty from Waiheke High had some great descriptions.

Cassie stood up with a yell, her chair scraping across the floor of the classroom.
She didn’t care much for Dan but Mrs Fox was creepy!!

Dan was now a miniature version of himself, squirming in Mrs Fox’s iron grip.
Morgan’s eyes were staring at the hobbit version of her classmate, hand over her mouth in a silent scream.

And I liked that Cole Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School thought about things from the perspective of a miniaturised person.

Suddenly it dawned on her. She was hit by one of those ‘bullets’. She looked around to confirm it. There’s the field, look at the size of the grass! She turned to look at the classrooms. She could barely see the top of them they were so tall!

Then the bell went. Morgans first thought was, “How is the bell so loud now?” Her second thought was “Oh no, recess!”

And finally, drum roll please …. I have two winners this time with two fantastic stories filled with wonderful language and terrific ideas. Congratulations to Ysabelle C from Ellerslie Primary whose story was well-crafted and very funny, and Briana Wells from Carmel College with great language and a smart twist. You can read their stories below. Congratulations Ysabelle and Briana!! Please email your postal address to me at so I can send out your prizes (or I can forward them to your schools if you prefer).

Ysabelle C’s Story

Wiremu quit laughing and asked, “Is there anything wrong, Miss?”

He got his own beam, and he was suddenly in Miss Fox’s hands. The girls tried to sneak under the table. But Miss Fox saw them and shouted, “Get back into your chairs!” Miss Fox rarely shouted though.

She sat down, smiling at the nearly empty classroom. “Class,” she started. There was a tiny squeal from her palms. She continued. “We are,” she stopped again. “Why is my class empty?” she said sarcastically. “Oh, because I turned them into tiny humans!”

Morgan screwed a finger into the side of her head when the teacher wasn’t looking. “She’s gone loopy.”

Perhaps Miss Fox heard this because her eyes started to glow a dangerous red. “Are you two wondering why I haven’t gotten you yet? Because I save the best, for last!”

That was old Miss Fox’s saying. This new version used it very scarily.

She stood up, bent her head, and shot beams at them.

Morgan shrieked. Her call echoed down the hallway and it brought Vice Principal Bentley.

“Miss Fox, why isn’t your class here?” he asked sternly, but kindly. He had a big crush on her.

She batted her eyelids and said we were doing independent fitness outside. Vice Principal Bentley smiled sweetly and strode off.

“Now my evil plan will work! First, I need to grab some COFFEE!!” said Miss Fox.

Coffee possesses adults. A lot.

Cassie found the others in a small pile. “Hello! Are you guys ok?”

“Yes,” they chorused.

“What happened to Miss Fox?” Morgan asked.

“I don’t know,” said Florence. “We were all crowded around this box that Seth brought, and it was from his dad.” Seth stood in the middle of the crowd on the desk and he shrugged.

“Dad said to never open it. I kinda wasn’t listening.”

Cassie and Morgan looked at each other. “Typical Seth. Never listening.”

“So…” Morgan started.

“What was in the box?” asked Cassie.

“It was something small,” said Florence

“That turned the teacher crazy?” asked Cassie.

“I guess so.”

Morgan told him that they needed a good plan. There was an inscription on the side of the now huge box saying, “Whoever opens thee, shall be cursed, take heed.”

“How exactly are we able to do this when we are way-way smaller than our teacher?” asked Dan.
Florence read it and smiled. She muttered her plan and everyone thought it was a good idea.

When Miss Fox came back, she sat down, plotting.

Florence counted them down and they all shouted, “Deeh ekat, desruc eb llahs, eeht snepo reveohw!” (That was the inscription backward.)

It worked! Miss Fox rubbed her eyes and looked at the class, who was back to their normal size and piled on her desk.

“What are you silly billies doing on my table? I have good mind to punish you by making you do PE!!”

Everyone laughed, even the Vice Principal who was outside, wondering why they weren’t actually doing fitness.

Briana Wells Story

Wiremu’s smile turned into a grimace.

“Yes, this is the real me! Iniquitous, sinister, venomous, malicious and vile! Feel the burn kids, feel the burn!”

“Anyone think that are teacher could be slightly delirious?” Cassie asked.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN SLIGHTLY DELIRIOUS? OUR TEACHER IS OBVIOUSLY DOWN RIGHT MAD! THAT’S MY FRIEND SHE’S TURNED INTO A RATTY LITTLE FIGURE!” Mordan shouted. Possibly a bit too loudly. Mrs Fox looked outraged. ‘Zap!’ Morgan was now a wriggling ‘ratty little figure’ like Dan.

“Shoot, now it’s only me and you,” Wiremu whispered to Cassie.

“What are we going to do?” Cassie looked ashen.

“Find our way out of course,” Wiremu’s eyes scanned the room and he caught sight of something…. A possibility if they are careful.

“Cassie, do you think we could climb through that-” Mrs Fox cut him off.

“You not planning an escape are you? As your teacher, I wouldn’t advise it. As an evil assassin, it would make an interesting scene. Much more fun to catch you.”

“I agree with Morgan. Mrs Fox is unhinged. We should get help.” Cassie seemed concerned about the lady who had turned all our classmates into lego pieces.

“Oh yes, I’m sure that would work, you know, Mrs Fox would definitely appreciate sitting down with a councilor and discussing WHY SHE TURNED OUR CLASSMATES INTO MINIONS!” Wiremu’s patience was wearing. They had to get out and they had to get out fast! Luckily Mrs Fox didn’t appear to hear his outburst. She had returned to her desk and was now placing her students in a domino line.

“Oh, what a shame, just not enough. Fortunately I have you two. I might keep you average sized for a little while longer. Draw out the tension, you know?” Mrs Fox said. Time was running out.

“The air vent!” Wiremu whispered desperately to Cassie. Cassie nodded. “Three, two, one, go!” Wiremu ran like nothing could stop him. Mrs Fox looked up with red hot lasers shooting out of her eyes. Wiremu ducked and felt her glare singe his hair.

“You won’t get away!” Mrs Fox sounded like a villain in a cheesy action movie. Wiremu grabbed the metal grate and pulled. Mrs Fox was shooting them with her laser eyes, but fortunately she didn’t have very aim. He doubted that she was a champion thrower in her school days.

“Cassie, help me! The grate’s not coming off!” He yelled. Cassie grabbed the other side and they pulled. ‘Pop!’ The grate came off. Cassie scrambled through, Wiremu following her pursuit.

“I’ll catch you!” Wiremu heard a yell and looked behind him. He saw that Mrs Fox was running towards them. Luckily for them Mrs Fox ran a bit like a hippo, slow and clumsy.

“Not much of an athlete is she?” Cassie chuckled. They moved quickly, and were soon to a dead end, another grate.

“Should I pull this open?” Cassie asked.

“Yeah,” Wiremu replied. He heard another pop as it opened.

Then he heard cheering. “Congratulations, kids, this is going to make excellent tv! It was definitely worth the money we spent on those 3d projections and that actor!” A guy with a t shirt that had ‘director’ on it said.

“So this whole thing was fake?” Wiremu could hardly believe it.

“Yup!” The director said.

“Well that explains a lot!” Cassie exclaimed with a grin on her face.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!, writing tip

Kathy White’s FABO Judge’s Report

It’s been a lot of fun reading your stories about Aunt Lillian and that poor kid who’s bleeding on the rug.

What I loved most was that every single one of your stories was different. Madeline’s slug was sucking the colour out of the room, which was a very clever idea. Some of you turned Aunt Lillian into a hero, others turned her into a villain, and one fed her slug soup (Tingmeng, St Cuthberts). Some brought out bazookas (Skye, Waipahihi School), slingshots, and massive quantities of salt in the battle against vampire snails (Finn, Aidanfield Christian School), a ‘summoning animal’ (Katie, Waipahihi School), aliens looking for a host body (Peter), a shapeshifting slug on the rug (Skye), and a creature that burrowed its way through the skin, breaking bones as it went (Bridget, Milford School). Jared’s main character metamorphosed into a slug. YUK! Some of you made it mega-YUKKY by replicating the single slug into hundreds when you tried to destroy it. I like this concept of trying to fix something and inadvertently making it worse (it happens to me all the time!) I’ve always liked tall tales and this story starter allowed you to take it to the extreme if you wanted.

Two bits of advice for improvement in future stories – remember to stay focused on telling THIS story. Don’t dilute it by trying to include another story idea if it doesn’t fit well with the logic of your main idea. If you made this a thriller, you’d focus mainly on the unknown and frightening bits. This story was told from inside the main character’s head, which meant you had access to all their thoughts and fears. Having said this, you could just as easily turn this story into a hilarious tall tale with one disastrous thing happening after the other. Some of you did this brilliantly. And as a general rule, if you choose to tell your story in past tense, stick to it.

There were so many great things about your stories. Here are a few highlights.

Best twist in the middle of the story (going from something that was frightening to funny) – After what seemed like forever I saw pale light encasing me from corners of my eyes, then what seemed like a muffled giggle escaped from under the bed. Then there came a howling of laughter. I dropped to the floor and there was my little brother- Andrew, squirting the tomato sauce bottle as hard as he could, his slime still sitting there – the so called slug was unmoving as it wobbled back and forth for eternity. Meanwhile the sauce soaked into the rug. I knew Aunt Lillian would kill Andrew but not before I had my payback …. (Henry, Milford School)

Best beginning – You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation. (Pip, Mahana School)

Fabulous imagery – The blood kept on pouring out of my leg like a massive, never-ending waterfall (Ben , Reignier Catholic School), Susan screamed and shouted but nothing came out. She was a remote controlled car and was helpless (Jared, Milford), My brother was in his room, mucus pouring out of his nose, a river cascading into the sea of tissues at his feet (William, Milford), and … blood gushing down my leg like an exploded pipe! (Katie, Mahana School).

Top marks to Bessie from Houghton Valley School for a smooth blend of action and description – I groped for a weapon. My hands hit a white table lamp. I smacked the slug…it burst with a loud comical pop like in a cartoon. The next bit was not cartoonish. As I wiped slug juice from my eye a bloody torrent whipped through the air. MY blood! It gathered in the empty slug skin and then the skin merged together. A new cricket-bat sized slug!

Rose (Vardon School), and Zoey (Waipahihi School) wrote great dialogue. Kyra (Kingsway Christian College) was exceptional at showing her character’s thoughts and fears and used evocative language. All of the children at Willowpark School did a good job with descriptions, and deserved top marks for their use of the words pulsating, exsanguinated and mucus.

Some of you, like Madeline of Birkdale Intermediate and Matthew of Tawa Intermediate just wrote really well in all sorts of ways that deserve applause. All of you did something well. That made it incredibly difficult to choose winners. But I have.

Tatiana Austin is the winner and Pip Coakley and Jessie are highly commended this week. I loved Aunt Lillian as the unexpected hero, but the thing I loved most was the way she used the first person point of view to tell her story, displaying all her main character’s thoughts and fears and sense of humour. It was just fabulous from beginning to end – a great overall story.

As for Pip’s entry, I fell in love with her voice and writing style. At times her cautionary tale is funny, and other times, it’s thought-provoking. She focused on the positive side of the situation, which was unique. Leeches do have medical benefits, and I liked the way she stretched the idea into something fantastical, ethical and philosophical.

And Jessie, you made me cry. You took it as far as it can go and yet kept it all so real. Well done, everybody.

Tatiana, Jessie and Pip, can you super cool kids please email me your address so I can send you a little something.

WINNER – Tatiana Austin, Amberley School (aged 11)

What the…?

I stared at the blood that slowly dyed the white rug red, trying to figure it out. That’s when it dawned on me that the ‘slug’ wasn’t on the rug anymore.
It was up my leg.

But it wasn’t a slug. Slugs don’t have razor sharp teeth on the bottom of their slimy bodies. Slugs don’t rip through human skin, pushing their teeth until they reach the pulsing veins. All in all, slugs AREN’T vampires.

But this one was. And I didn’t like it. I grabbed one of the white cloths hanging in the corner of my room. I wacked the filthy creature again and again, but the only thing I gained was blood marks and slime.

The slug didn’t like being wacked. No… Not the slug.

The slime. The slug was slime.

The slug slime thing deformed to its natural state. Now slime doesn’t sound like the strongest substance on the planet. But what people don’t know is that slime is tough. That slime is strong.

Slime is liquid steel.

Well, a gooey version of liquid steel.

It slithered around my leg, tightening its grip. It placed its blood-sucking fangs inside the wound, and bit.

I aimed, and plunged with all my might at the slime.

However, you can only do so much with a cloth. The slime fled from the smack of the cloth. I ended up smacking the injury, blood suddenly flowing rapidly from the wound. I screamed in pain, dropping the cloth. The slime slithered back toward me in hatred.

Oh yeah, how do you know if a ball of vampire slime is happy and is angry? Well, look at its teeth. Usually, their teeth would be nothing but helpless shards of stones, only glistening jewels stuck in muck. But when he is enraged… Well, it wasn’t pretty. His teeth sprouted, teeth curving wickedly to form daggers. A transformation. That’s all you need to know.

I backed into the corner, so close to the door. If I got out, I’d be safe. Safe…

I reached over to the white fabric, the cloth, gripping it like it was my last chance.

The slime followed my path of blood, sucking up every last drop. At least Aunt Lilian won’t notice the new red dyed onto the rug, however she would still scream at me for the slime that had replaced the marks… Aunt Lilian!

My mind tried to push the words out of my mouth with all my might, but I only squeaked it.

“Aunt Lilian…” the words were nothing but a wisp of a whisper.

The slime went up to me, and dug its jaws into my wound. I slammed the cloth again and again, but the slime didn’t stop. I wanted to scream, I wanted to dig my fingernails into the living goo’s back. Wanted.

I lost feeling in my hands and legs. But I still had some control in my mouth.

“Hell! Go move your slimy butt to hell!”

Now, I know that was kind of a lame thing to say, but I’m not a person who curses other lives and other people. What did you want me to say to the vampire slime slug? THANKYOU?!

That did it. My vision drained away from my eyes, my mouth struggling to breath. And then I knew. I knew that the slime had exsanguinated me. Then the slime opened up its mouth, rising to my face…

The door slammed open. I felt the wind from the door in my face, and you would think that when you are about to die, everything would be faint, blurred. But oh no, the wind smacked me in the face, and it smacked me hard. Painfully hard.

The figure stood silhouetted in front of the opened door, like a person on the top of a mountain, a person on the tallest tree in the forest, a super hero arriving at the fight-scene, or, in my case, an aunt standing tall in front of my bed room door.

I felt my heart start pumping again; the slime fell back, away from my face, away from me. Breath rushed towards my mouth in short sudden gasps.
Aunt Lilian’s piercing voice cut through the air at me.

“I keep telling you, Rachel, DON’T go out to the waters. Slugs and slimes, REMEMBER?!”Aunt Lilian shrieked.

Aunt Lilian was wearing gloves, gumboots, and in her right hand was a witch’s broom, and in her left hand, a bottle of spray-able vinegar. The outfit oddly suited her, Aunt Lilian had always been one of those ‘clean clean clean’ aunties. Oh yeah, and the gloves and gumboots were all clean and polished, with a spray of vinegar. I knew because the smell of vinegar flooded my room. Ugh.

The slime began to shrink, squirming and slithering to the rug, where it could flee and escape. Aunt Lilian was quicker.

“AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR GOING?!” Aunt Lilian roared at the slime, chasing after it. The slime shrank some more, allowing it to move more quickly. Unfortunately, for the slime, Aunt Lilian was quicker.

She smacked the broom onto the slug with such force I knocked back, too. Then Aunt Lilian switched to her vinegar, and sprayed. Sprayed like a skunk, I tell you. I swear I saw a puff of green squirt out from the bottle. It landed onto the slime. It withered and squirmed madly. And then the slime died.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Aunt Lilian whipped around, her hawk-eyes narrowed as she looked me over.

“What are you going to do with socks like THAT?!” she shouted, her finger almost sticking to my sock.


But I wasn’t thinking about all the scrubbing I was going to have to do, as punishment. I had seen toads, fish, and slime, even a platypus family.

But before I went back to New Zealand, I needed to see a crocodile.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Pip Coakley, Mahana School (aged 12)

You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation.

I grabbed my selfie stick and cautiously approached the foul beast. As I crouched beside it, I noticed the mucus spilling out of the slug like creature. Its skin was bumpy like a snail’s and stretch marks were evident on the middle part of the body. Reaching out, I gently pushed the pulsating lump with the picture taking device that was in my hand.

Stirring, the creature makes a strange noise.

“Shebang I am!”

Confused I poke it again, this time it says,

“Shebang I am, Shebang is here to help Georgia!”

I guess I was puzzled, or maybe it was the shock, but I spoke back!

“W-w-what do y-you help with?” I stammered.

“I h-help you t-to be h-h-healthy.” Shebang mocked me.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm myself down. This slug thing, that was sucking my blood, was helping me?

“How?” I enquired, my voice sounding much more confident than I felt.

Shebang shook his head. “When I suck your blood I take out all the mucus in your body, and if you are mean, deceive or back-stab, I will magically disappear” He replied. I peer apprehensively at the remains on the floor.

“Yes, that’s your gunk.” The Miniature Thrasher Whale next to me explains, seeing my stare.

My sight was suddenly shrouded by black dots and I was getting increasingly dizzy.

▴ ▴ ▴ ▴ ▴

All was calm in Aunt Lillian’s house, the birds chirped, people laughed. Shebang sat peacefully in his tank. Suddenly the door opened, a girl strolled in, following her were flashing cameras, journalists and microphones. The girl grins and leads them over to the tank at the side of the room, trying to show them the rare species that supposedly sits there. But it’s too late, Shebang is gone, his trust destroyed by the traitorous girl. Georgia stares in disbelief. Realising her mistake she quickly ushers the people out of the house. The journalists, thinking Georgia wanted publicity, begin to hit Georgia, until all that remains of her, is a beat up piece of worthlessness.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Jessie, St Cuthberts College (aged 12)

I thought nothing of it as Aunt Lilian rushed to tend to the cut. After all, it didn’t hurt and there wasn’t even that much blood. Aunt Lillian thought that I was too frail, so she made me sit down and read my comics while she scrubbed hard at her rug.

Little did I know that, that would be the last day of truly feeling at peace.

The cut was much, much more than what Aunt Lillian and I had thought. I remember the way Aunt Lillian screamed in the morning. Her newly bought, crisp white sheets had been soaked with my crimson red blood. Head pounding, fingers trembling and my entire leg red I had tried to get up but my efforts were useless. As Aunt Lilian bundled me up in the sheet, she whipped out her cellphone and called Mum.

Honestly, the memory of Mum’s crying resonated with me the most.

The next few days I don’t recall. Apparently, after being rushed into the Emergency Hospital, the doctors and nurses all panicked, but Aunt Lililan told them to shut their faces and help me. This made me laugh. According to Aunt Lilian, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, So they rushed me to Starship Hospital in Auckland. In a blur of ruby lights, wind whistling and several white figures, we boarded a helicopter.

Arriving into the hospital seemed quite effortless, almost as if I had just woken up there. Aunt Lillian didn’t tell me but it was pretty obvious. They had clearly knocked me out with some gas and chemicals. I didn’t get why everyone was treading so carefully around me. I remember thinking that teenagers don’t need chemicals or gas. After all, being almost 11 years old is basically almost a teenager. Aunt Lilian said I had “undergone a very serious and sore surgery”. Soon after that “sore and serious” surgery, I recall Mum dashing in like there was something really important.

“Oh God. You okay? Are you hurt? Were you any trouble for Lilian? Oh talk to me Josie!” cried Mum with every single bead of spit she could utter.

“Geez Mum, I’m fine. Really” I murmured awkwardly. There were plenty of people staring. Good thing I was being whisked away before Mum had anymore saliva to drizzle.

Now as I think, I really should’ve said something like, “ I love you,” or “Don’t worry Mum, relax” but I guess there’s no time for that. I’d been furiously trying to remember what happened in the last few weeks of my life. So that when I’m reborn, I’ll remember Mum and Aunt Lilian. What were the chances that, that little bloodsucker was an endangered and highly poisonous African leech. Disgusting, filthy little slug.

I know you’re probably wondering why the doctors would tell me “You’re going to die”. Well, I’m smart. Words like ‘amputation’ and ‘internal infection’ mean that I’m gonna die.
To whoever who reads this, just remember Josie Linn, was a super cool kid.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Fabo Challenge No. 1: Judges Report by Melinda Szymanik

Fabo 2016, Challenge No. 1
Judges Report – Melinda Szymanik

We had a huge flood of entries and I was very excited to see so many of you are so keen to take part in Fabo this year. Congratulations to every one who entered – well done!

And what a fantastic collection of stories you sent in! Skunks and dragons were a popular choice for what lurked inside Tina’s box. I was impressed that most of you included the required key words, and did so in really thoughtful, clever ways. Good work! There were some very bloodthirsty stories, and I found it very interesting that many of you had the school catching fire and burning down ☺. I was pleased to see that at least one writer had a phoenix as Tina’s show and tell.

There are just a few things I recommend for next time. When you are writing your entry, don’t forget to follow on from the story starter. Do remember to reread your story before you send it in so that you can fix up any mistakes or long sentences that might need an extra full stop or two. All writers edit their work before they send it in. Do make sure you stick with the same tense (past, or present, but not both) in your story, and the same point of view (for this challenge you could be Tina, or you could be observing Tina, but you couldn’t be both).

There were many great stories with good plots, and some really lovely writing. Keep up the good work people.

Special mention goes to Charlize Ebert from Greenhithe School for a fun story (and the only use of an octopus I think) and this most excellent line – “Suddenly he lifted his tentacles and violently sucked onto Ruby’s face.”

My runners-up are (in no particular order) Jaclyn from St. Cuthberts School, Emily Bird from Hukanui Primary, Sarah Aitken from Broadfield School, Rebecca Wilkins from Northcote Intermediate, and Amber Sowden from Greta Valley School.

And my winners are Montana Harper from Greenhithe School, who used fresh and imaginative language and had a smart plot with a clever resolution, and Ayeisha Beadsmoore (the youngest entrant at 6 and a1/2 years old) from Matakana Primary School, whose story was simple yet rather magical and a little bit poetic. Please contact me at to claim your prizes.

Story Starter

The box on Tina’s desk shook. She pressed down on the lid to keep it still. Ruby glanced nervously at her, but Tina just smiled.

“What’s in the box?” came a voice from the seat behind.

“It’s my show and tell, Brandon,” Tina replied.

“Yeah, but what is it?” he asked, leaning over the back of her seat to get a better look.

“It’s a surprise,” Tina said. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

Everyone in the classroom heard the strange noise, and wrinkled their noses at the smell.

As 9 o’clock approached, Tina walked to the front of the room and placed the box on Miss Green’s desk, making sure she kept one hand on top of it at all times. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Only a few more seconds and the bell would go and Miss Green would ask her to lead today’s ‘Show and tell.’ Tina had been waiting days for her turn. Boy were they going to be surprised. They had never seen anything like this before. Little did they know how much danger they were in…

The Winning Entries

Name: Montana Harper

School: Greenhithe School

‘Brriinng!’Miss Green hurried into the classroom minutes later. Tina grinned politely up at her, ’’May I start my show and tell now Miss?’’she asked.

With a nod to Tina, Miss Green smiled and said, ‘’Of course you may start, Tina.” Tina gingerly started to open the mystery box.

”My show and tell is…”Tina was cut short as the box burst open. The stench of whatever was inside was horrible, and smelled like old cafeteria food. A flash of bright burning light had blown the box open. The burning hot flash of light scorched the maths homework that Miss Green had just printed out.

“Yay?”said Brandon weakly trying to be funny.

“No maths homework?” Another burning inferno shot through the side of the box. A menacing yellow eyeball with a slit of midnight black slashed through it peered out. Crackle, crackle.

“The maths homework has set Miss Greens desk on fire!” screamed Ruby. All of a sudden the fire alarm started to screech deafeningly. The burnt, blackened, crackling remains of the homework was flaming, smoke rising off it. The class started to rush towards the door; but a burning, white-hot fireball flew towards the metal doorknob, welding it to the wall. Another five red hot fireballs welded all of the windows shut. Tina yelled over the fire and the wailing alarm,

”What do we do now?” Brandon suddenly yelled.

“What’s that coming out of the box, Tina?”. Tina swung around, to see a small, scaly, mythical creature with an impenetrable shell of armour rising out of the box.

“My show and tell” said Tina ,“is a dragon, its only weakness is boiling water.”

Miss Green exclaimed suddenly, “We have all the water in our drink bottles and we have that small science pan from yesterday afternoon that we could use, as well as the flames from the dragon, I just don’t know how to get the dragon to heat it up, without it burning somebody in the process.”

”I think we could do it.” Tina said.

“Here’s the plan: Brandon, you sneak up behind the dragon and push it back into the box, Ruby, you put the water into the pan, then, once Brandon has gotten the dragon into the box put the pan on top, trapping the dragon in the box, then we will all hold the pan down until the water boils with the flames that the dragon will blow upwards, when the water boils we will tip it into the box and onto the dragon.”


Everything worked exactly as it should have, until we poured the water onto the dragon. It only looked up at us and croaked, about to fire us all into oblivion. Then, when all hope seemed lost, the dragon dissolved before our eyes as well as every piece of evidence.

“Whew!” Everyone gasped with relief,

“That was close!”

Brriinng! “Morning tea time!”


Name: Ayeisha Beadsmoore

School: Matakana Primary School

Finish the story here: RRRRRRRRRRRRR! The bell rang.

“Now Tina will lead today’s show and tell.”

Tina took her hand off the box and out flew some fire and burnt the Maths books.

“Oh No!” Rudy said.

But when Tina clapped her hands all was normal.

Tina took her hand off again and out flew snow and covered everyone.

“C-C-C-Cold!” they said.

Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

Tina took her hand off the box again and out flew some fireworks.

One burst like an enormous shell and everyone’s eyes shot upwards.

Ruby said, “I hope they don’t set off the fire alarm!”

Tina clapped her hands and all was normal.

Tina took her hand off the box one last time and the room became a party.

Everyone played party games and ate party food.

Suddenly Tina clapped her hands and everything was normal.

‘Well done Tina,” said Mrs Green, “you made everyone happy!”

Posted in writing tip

What’s in a name?

Names. Like naming children, naming our characters can be a daunting prospect. Get it right and our characters and their names are a seamless whole,the words tripping off the tongue and sticking in people’s minds – Harry Potter, Voldemort, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Verruca Salt, Lyra Belacqua and Thursday Next. A good name fits the character like a glove, suits them and can provide an additional clue to who they are or be an extra riddle to challenge the reader.

Sometimes characters turn up with their names already attached. The result of a sort of writer’s intuition, that name is often the best choice. Trust your instincts. However sometimes I find when naming multiple characters in a longer piece of fiction that I have subconsciously made many of the names start with the same letter and changes are necessary to avoid confusion. A book of baby names (or two) is a good resource. If you are writing historical fiction, try the internet. I also check out Births, Deaths and Marriages columns for names and also sit through movie credits with pen and paper at the ready. Movie credits can be a fantastic place to find interesting and unusual names and I’m not just talking about the actors. Sometimes the foley artists, the special effects guys and the grips have the best names. It is a good idea if you are getting into this writing gig for the long haul to collect names that you like or that have a strong connection for you. Like screenwriters who write scripts with particular actors in mind I have several names I am keen to write stories around. However liking a name is not always enough on its own to make the name right for your character. It still has to fit with who they are, how they behave and when and where they lived.

Names must suit the tone and setting of your story. Names are era, socio-economically and of course gender sensitive. For example, think of the names Nigel, Rupert, Bruce and Matt. Or Charlotte and Tiffany, Kylie and Lisa. What about Mabel or Myrtle and Agnes or Jeremiah. Paddy and Duncan could have a Scottish background while Marcelle and Dominique are most likely French. And what about Inga, Olga and Hans? It can be tempting to use unusual names and this can work really well, but it can also fail miserably. Standing out is not always the right thing for your character. If you are writing for children, everyday names can make it easier for the reader to connect with your character. Of course while unusual names can be a curse in a novel or short story they can be the whole point in a picture book, for example Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent, Mog, or Hairy McLairy and Bottomley Potts. In picture books, rhythmic and rhyming qualities may be the deciding factor. In my picture book The Were-Nana, while rhyming wasn’t an issue, choosing the name Simon for the brother gave me the opportunity to echo the Simon Say’s children’s game in several places. This name also helped with the rhythm of the story. The name Nana Lupin from the same book is a play on the root word for wolf.

Phew – there is a lot to take into consideration when naming your character. It can be one of the hardest decisions but ultimately you want it to look like it was no trouble at all. And like naming your own children, if your character makes it in to print the book will have to live with that name for the rest of its life. If you think the names will stand this test then you’ve done your job.

Good luck with your writing


Posted in writing tip

Your first rule for writing – there are no rules

Hello faithful readers (and writers). I thought I’d get the ball rolling with some writing advice that I think every writer should know before they read any other writing advice. This is one of my most important writing tips – there is NOT one proper way to write. Yes, it does help to follow all the usual rules of grammar about verbs and nouns and adjectives and sentence structure and all the usual rules of punctuation about fullstops and commas etc…but otherwise you should just follow those bits of advice that work best for you and DON’T WORRY about the rest.

The following article about this very topic was written by the very experienced writer Nicola Morgan and appeared on her blog which is full of great advice, inspiration and other sensible stuff that will most likely help you enormously.

There are no rules for writing – just results

You want to know how to write? Well, I cannot tell you. Yes, I have written more than half a million words on this blog; yes, I’ve had a large number of books published; and yes, I am writing a book called Write To be Published. And yes, aspiring writers ask me and other writers things such as, do you plan? Do you talk to your characters? Do you outline? Keep spreadsheets of characters? Know the end before you get there? Use Moleskine notebooks? Talk to yourself? Drink lots of coffee? And I have answers to these questions but the answers and the questions are entirely irrelevant to you.

Entirely. Irrelevant. To. You. And. To. Everyone. Except. Me.

This is because how a writer writes is entirely irrelevant to anyone but the writer. All that matters is the result: what you write, what the words sound like when you’ve written them, what readers think of them, whether they work.

The method, the route you take, matters zilchly. No one cares whether you plan or whether you fly by the seat of your pants. No one cares whether you interviewed your characters or spent the night dreaming of them. Well, OK, they might care, but only out of weird reader interest. If you are asking these questions in order to find out how to write yourself, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Please. Just write your book in whatever way works for you, even if that means hanging from a chandelier naked. It will be judged only on the result. Don’t get hung up on method, or at least on other people’s methods. You will find what works for you and that’s all that matters.

Fair enough; sometimes another writer’s method is worth trying, to see if it might work better for you than the one you use, and for that reason the questions are not entirely pointless. But only as long as you never get hung up on the answers, and never worry if you are doing it differently from others.

Just write, eh?

When you look gorgeous, I do not need to know how you got dressed.

Merry christmas and happy holidays everyone – take care and see you next year – Melinda

Posted in writing tip

Tips for Writing A Great Story

Have A Good Hook…. Readers aren’t going to continue reading unless you have a really good lure to get them engaged.
The First Act…. The first three chapters… the set up, introduce the characters, the setting and the stakes. (about 20 to 25% of the story)
The First Plot Point…. Stories are a series of scenes but some scenes are game changers. The first plot point introduces a game changing event or element to your story which changes the course of the story.
The first quarter of your book hinges on the Inciting Event (Hook) and the Key Event. (First Plot Point)
The Beginning Of The Second Act…. The Main Character is still reacting to the First Plot Point but things are about to change…
Midpoint….(Second Plot Point) A major game changing event happens and the stakes are now very high. What will your Main Character do….
The End of The Second Act…. The Main Character must make the decision to take charge and drive forward to the end of the story. (To Act and Not React)
You are now 70% of the way through your story. You have upped the stakes, made the Main Character take charge and now things are really hotting up.
The Beginning Of The Third Act…. Events are set in motion to get to the
Climax…. This is the event that the whole story has been working up to…. How will the Main Character overcome the stakes? Game changing scenes come thick and fast. The Main Character has to be nimble to get through them all…but at what cost?
The Resolution…. How has the Climax changed the Main Characters world? This can be from a page to a chapter where all questions not answered in the climax get resolved.
Maureen Crisp 2012

Posted in writing tip

What Should You Include In Your Story?

Remember that although you work out the history of a character and the reasons for things happening, you don’t have to include everything that you know in your story.

It’s tempting, especially when you’ve come up with such fabulous traits and explanations, but the trick is to select what needs to be in this chapter, what can be revealed later, and what can be left out completely. You want to include just enough to keep good rhythm and pace in the story, and you also want to leave some gaps for your readers to fill in the details.

Including too much information slows things down and the reader can get bored. But you still need to make sure you include ‘enough’ information for the reader to figure things out for themselves. Tricky, huh? That’s the writer’s challenge.

– Kathy White