Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Sue’s FABO Judging Report

Fabsters, I am so impressed with you all! I was hoping for a bunch of stories that gave me the creeps, and you rose magnificently to the challenge. You had me looking over my shoulder and jumping at the slightest sound, just like Jack the caretaker.

As the entries came in I made a “possible winners” file on my computer, and it grew and grew like a monster in a science lab. Many of you made the connection between green smoke and Miss Green (extra points!). There were also mentions of rats, and Merlinsky and Lancellotus put in an appearance. I love how we seem to be on our way to an entire novel (possibly horror) about this school … which still needs a name. Something to think about? It was also great to see the bonus words used in such inventive ways.

Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. Before I tell you who are my awesomest of the awesome this time, here are some honourable mentions:

In Noah Fifita’s (Ardgowan School) Jack cleverly defeated a dragon, turning it from fearsome and magnificent into “embarrassed and soggy”.

In Jess Hudson’s well-written story (Remarkables Primary), the smoke became a “thought reader” with Miss Green’s voice. I loved this line: “Jack, I assumed you would have realised by now that I wasn’t my usual self. Green smoke, Miss Green. It connects.”

Deanshi Mani – great writing, but you can’t leave a story without an ending: “He finally got a glimpse of the figure and immediately recognised what it was, and what he saw was unbelievable…” YOU LEFT ME HANGING!

The creepy little boy in Sanjana’s (Marshall Laing Primary School) story sent shivers down my spine.

In just a few paragraphs, Frances from Newtown School managed to write an awesome epic fantasy complete with demons and an entire army. Frances you ALMOST won, but there is clearly a Part 2, so it didn’t really have an ending. FABO stories need endings.

Felicia Chen from Milford Primary School, I loved your happy-memory-eating ghost.

Madeline Renner-Daun from Birkdale Intermediate School, thank you for these two memorable lines, “An indistinct figure, just a flitting shadow in the dark night,” and “Rowan won science fair, and it wasn’t long until the Tim Tams and tea came back.”

Joshua Napier, from Adventure School (this is an actual school name? How cool is that!), your story about blue, green and purple men had me chortling.

Charlotte Sutton’s descriptive writing blew my socks off. The potion in the bottle had a skin on like “gravy left unstirred for too long”. You also mentioned master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe. Clearly you know your spooky stuff.

Bessie Martin from Houghton Valley School, your story ticked all my boxes – well written, great ending. You were a very-nearly-winner. So close!

Stella Peachey from Te Mata School, I LOVED this line: “His personality would have run and hid under the bed, and that’s what it did. But Jack’s brave side stayed and studied the lab.”

Grace Gardner’s story (Te Mata School) was also a very-nearly-winner. It featured two monsters, a bomb, a great conclusion, and used all the bonus words in clever ways.

Emma McLagan (Te Mata School) – your descriptions of the night outside the school window were beautiful, and I’m wondering if I can borrow them for my next ghost story. “It looked as if somebody had thrown a handful of salt into the darkened night. Stars danced among the moving clouds. The moon shone like a glowing orb. The trees whispered to each other in the silence.”

Vanessa Dang Nguyen (Mission Heights Primary) featured in her story a creepy little doll that demanded, “Play with me.” When Jack doesn’t, she banishes him to a place with nothing but books. But Jack loves books (of course!). So she sends him to clean a dungeon for the rest of his life. Brilliant story, Vanessa.

Katie from Te Mata School’s story was beautifully written, and I loved the phrase “little licks of quantam flew out.”

And so to the winners. I couldn’t choose between these two so you both are my FABO champions this time.

Joshua Roberts from Adventure School (another Adventurer!) your story about Donald Trump had my whole family crying tears of laughter, and making people laugh is a great thing to do. On top of that, your story was well-written. Congratulations!

And Finn Wescombe, from Aidanfield Christian School, whose story featured not one but two Jacks, a parallel universe, clones, orbs, and quite a lot of science.

Congratulations everyone, and Finn and Joshua, contact me via the FABO website and I’ll send you both an autographed copy of “The Ghosts of Tarawera”.

Joshua’s story

Jack walked silently as a mouse over to the bench. The green gas smelt like stinky socks and Jack started to feel dizzy. He stopped again and said, “Who’s there?”

A head popped up covered in what looked like a ginger cat from behind the bench. Guess who it was? Jack was surprised to see Donald Trump on the other side of the bench.

“Hey, what are you doing?” said a shocked Jack.

Donald Trump coughed and cleared his throat and said, “I am making obeying potions to force people vote for me, so I can be the President of the United States.”

Jack replied, “It’s not fair to make people vote for you. They should vote for who they want to.”

Donald Trump looked cross and said, “They have to vote for me because I want to be President.”

Jack quickly and carefully picked up the beaker and emptied the green stinky sock-smelling potion into the sink before Donald Trump could reach it.

“Hey, that’s my obeying potion!” shouted Donald Trump.

Jack replied, “The people need to like you to vote for you. You are a silly man with ginger cat hair. Go back home and stop making obeying potions in school science labs.”

Donald Trump picked up his bag and walked out, never to be see again. Jack picked up his mop and bucket and continued to wash the floors, knowing he had saved the people of the United States from Donald Trump.

Finn’s story

The sickly green mixture frothed, rising until it began to seep over the top of the bottle. The drips sizzled as they collided with the heat mat and began to burn a hole. Acid, strong acid. The liquid was rushing down the bottle, searing it, but not breaking its HARG (Heat and Acid Resistant Glass) frame. The bench was slowly but surely disintegrating.

Without hesitation, Jack grabbed an oversized HARG beaker, and handled thick tongs to unceremoniously dump the bottle into it. He sighed with relief and watched the disappearing bench, knowing he could not save it. However, there was still the mystery of the person or thing that had set it up. And why. It would only destroy the workbench and a small section of the floor. There had to be more …

Jack suddenly heard an angry shout and turned to see what seemed to be his own reflection glaring at him and hurling custom swear-words at him. Jack screamed in terror and his copy seemed to notice there was another Jack around. Soon both were striving to calm down, taking deep breaths.

The other Jack began furiously, “You imposter! You come in here, impersonate me, and ruin my window cleaning mixture!”

Jack’s temper wasn’t an improvement. “Some cleaning mixture! Look at that work bench! What a mess!”

“It was an experiment!”

“That’s no excuse for hiding! I was cleaning! This is my job, see!”

“Your job! I was going to make a revolutionary cleaning mixture that disintegrates everything unclean, and I was startled and dropped my tongs when you entered – that’s not hiding!”

“Everything’s unclean, nitwit! Why are you impersonating me?”

“Oh look who’s talking!”

Jack fumbled for words. All he could come up with was; “Stupid.”

“Pardon? Wouldn’t you like the new ‘Perfectly-Clean-Window-Wiper-Stuff’?”


“Yeah, stuff.” The reflection turned away and stormed off to the cupboard with the bottle to create another PCWWS mixture.

Jack called after him, “Anyway, you aren’t even Jack!”

The reflection halted abruptly and turned, his face a mask of fury. “Oh I am. My parents are Lancellotus and Merlinsky!”

Jack frowned. “Those aren’t my parents, and the principal isn’t married… oh no, clones loose in the public!”

“I’m not loose, I work here! You’re the imposter!”

Jack scowled. This thing was exactly like him, just with a different background. In books he had read about “parallel universes” where the same people lived with different backgrounds and different decisions. If one where “he” was the son of the principal and librarian had collided with his own, things could get wacko!

“Get lost wayward universe, you’re trespassing on ours! Leave me alone.”

True to Jack’s nature the reflection couldn’t bear seeing someone with a mental breakdown. He started to clean as a coping mechanism. “Look, we can work together. We can return each quantum of this school to brand new, starting with that orb over there.” He gestured to a grimy globe. Jack grinned and began to polish Earth.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Sue Copsey’s FABO Story Starter

Greetings Fabsters!

Here’s this week’s story starter. The competition closes 10pm Friday June 24th.

Before you dive in, here are three top tips to get those writing juices flowing:

– Don’t know where to start? How about with a ‘What if’?
– Unleash your imagination and let it go wild!
– Don’t let your story fizzle out. Try ending it with a twist or a surprise.

Add any or all of these bonus words to impress the socks off me: wayward, quantum, seep, orb.

Sue’s Story Starter

“I think I need a holiday,” muttered Jack, the caretaker. “It’s all getting too much.” The clatter and clang of his mop and bucket echoed along the empty first-floor corridor as he swished away the day’s footprints.

Jack wasn’t one for silly fancies, but recent events at the school had him continually glancing over his shoulder and jumping at the slightest sound. Being alone in the chilly Victorian building after the teachers and pupils had gone home had never used to worry him. The silence was soothing, a welcome change to the clamour of six hundred students going about their school day. But recently, the silence had taken on a menacing feel. He’d tried to talk about it to Miss Green – a cup of tea and a Tim Tam with Miss Green was always helpful – but recently she didn’t seem her usual self.

He pushed open the door to the science lab and dragged his bucket inside. As he did, he thought he saw a figure duck down behind one of the benches.

‘Who’s there?’ he said. Silence. Then he noticed a curl of green smoke snaking up from a glass bottle bubbling over a Bunsen burner.

Finish the story on the FABO website.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Sue Copsey’s Judge’s Report And The Winning Story!

Hi there scribblers! I couldn’t wait to see what you thought might be lurking in Ariana’s birthday box, and you didn’t let me down. Creatures included: a South American velvet-backed crystal lizard; a stuffed magma cube from Minecraft; an axolotl; a unicorn; a bouncing man-eating monster; five cats (one alien, one robotic); several dragons (one exploding, one chocolate-eating); a lizard wearing a top hat; a crowd of tiny blue Scotsmen; a winged tiger; a dinosaur, and three creatures new to science – a bonnie, a thunfp and a ribagim.

Now that is a pet shop I’d be interested to visit!

We had a total of 23 entries this time. There were some clever plot twists, a few with sad endings (sniff), and a fair few that were quite bonkers. (Not a problem – bonkers is good.) One story had an apology instead of an ending – Benjamin, I loved your story but it was cruel to finish on a cliff-hanger with a note that you ran out of time. Stories need endings. I might, however, forgive you because of this awesome line: “… always remember, power does not only lie in strength but also in responsibility.”

Some honourable mentions before I reveal the awesomest of the awesomes (and those of you from Croft Downs Primary, I bow down to your imaginations!):

In Grace’s story, Ariana’s low-fur cat, Oliver McClaw, dies saving her from the killer cat Macho. “She dug a hole and gently placed Oliver’s lifeless corpse inside. In stones around it she wrote, ‘Here lies Oliver, the most courageous of cats. RIP. I love U too.’” [sob!]

Curtis’s story was a rip-roaring adventure in which Ariana’s frog-like pet escaped and “bounced from house to house like a pinball in a machine”. Then it ate Kylie’s pet dog before going on to attack America.

Derek gave us a wish-granting unicorn. “The next day I was rich like James Hogster who is a random name I just thought of.” Not really necessary to the story, Derek, but you made me laugh.

I liked how in Hayley’s story, Ariana realised that even though she loved her pet blackbird, Death Star, it probably wasn’t right to keep a wild bird as a pet. She let it fly away home to its family.

Georgia, I’m not sure a komodo dragon would fit through a cat flap, but I’m glad it chased Kylie Cardoorsian down the street and ate her skirt.

My favourite character in Raya’s story was Mum, who was so laid-back in the face of the fire-breathing dragon that “Ariana wondered if some calm gas had possibly been sprayed at her.”

I loved Ollie’s dinosaur, who asked the family if they fancied a game of football. When Ariana said they didn’t have a football, it produced the bladder of a wild boar it had eaten for dinner, saying: “They can be dreadfully useful you know.”

Freddy’s Ribagim (thank you Freddy for the helpful pronunciation tip) had “great big brown eyes that looked like you could get lost in them for a million years”.

I also liked Alyssa’s animal, called Foofy, which said nothing but “meh”.

Kate’s winged tiger, Charn the Great, had “a gentle voice, like the wind whistling through the trees”. But Kate – your story turned out to be a dream. So did Ruth’s. Now what did Kyle Mewburn say about stories turning out to be dreams last time? Hm?

And while we’re on the subject of things not to do in stories, a reminder to check your words and spellings. If you don’t you might accidentally write “bananas” instead of “banners”. You know who you are! (Of course the children COULD have been waving bananas, but I’m not sure you could fit “Ariana you are amazing!” on a banana.)

Peyton, I really loved your story. It was well-written (“It was a full moon and the houses seemed to just glow”) with an important message. Ariana says, “I swore that for the rest of my life I would never judge people or anything based on their looks. Like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Similarly, in Xavier’s story, a dog that is “positively the ugliest thing that walked the planet” turned out to be a hero. Xavier cleverly wove Mr Fractal and his maths questions into the story – I was hoping some of you would do that.

Finn, your story was deliciously bonkers. I loved your little blue kilt-wearing men that exploded into Ariana’s kitchen, causing a “mess so bad you could hardly call it a mess”, and conveniently demolishing Ariana’s homework sheet so she’d have the perfect excuse for Mr Fractal.

So, having read such awesome plots, you get that I had a REAL problem picking a winner! But I decided that the most awesome of the awesome was Carly Atkin’s tale of a robo cat called Moon. Carly included Kylie Cardoorsian and Mr Fractal in her plot, making full use of the story starter, and her tale cleverly formed a circle – you’ll see how when you read it. Very satisfying. Some great writing too – Ariana didn’t just put her shoes on, she “had a furious battle with her laces”.

Well done to ALL of you, and Carly I will email about your prize!

Here is Carly’s story:


Ariana gazed out of her bedroom window at the street below. Her brain seemed to have logged off. Given up. It was all the fault of Mr Fractal and his “Ten Super-fun Maths Homework Questions”.

No, Mr Fractal. Making x “The speed of a Star Wars X-wing fighter” and y “Distance to the Death Star” does not make algebra FUN. It is still MATHS.

And now, to make life even worse, Kylie Cardoorsian was coming along the street, taking her new puppy for a walk. The cutest puppy EVER, she’d said at school. How maddening to find out that this was, in fact, true. LOOK at it! It was a walking ball of cuteness. Fluffy and white and tiny and gazing up at Kylie every few steps in adoration.

Ariana felt her brain rebooting, coming back to life as it was taken over by something green and monstrous … jealousy. Ariana’s mum had allergies. If a cat so much as peeped over the garden fence she would start sneezing loud enough to shake the house. So to make up for the lack of cat or dog, Ariana had been presented with a goldfish (boring, boring … dead), then a turtle (quite interesting … dead). For two years now, the family hadn’t dared progress to the next level of low-fur pet.

But tomorrow was Ariana’s birthday, and she’d been dropping some big hints (cute pet photos fixed to the fridge with cute animal magnets), sending a message that now she was older, she would be better at looking after a pet.
As she turned her attention back to Mr Fractal’s not-fun maths, she wondered if she’d be in luck.

* * * *
“Happy Birthday darling!” said Mum. On the kitchen table was a box – quite a big box – a promisingly big box – with a few holes in the top.

Her heart in her mouth, Ariana carefully slid off the big red bow that was holding the box shut. The flaps sprung upwards.
Ariana took a step back. “What is that?” she said.

“A cat, darling,” Mum said.

“That’s not a cat!” Ariana spluttered.

“Well, no it’s not. I just thought you’d like a nicer pet as a change.”

“If it’s not a cat, what is it?” Ariana asked.

“She’s a robo cat. She will do anything you say.”

“Cool! Thanks Mum. She looks so real.”

“What do you want to call her?” Mum asked.

Ariana looked at the cat. She had a little tuft of white fur on her forehead. Her body was a light grey, and her eyes were a cold blue.

“I’ll call her … Moon.”

“What a lovely name sweetheart! Ok, open the rest of your gifts and get ready for school,” Mum said.

Ariana got the most gorgeous gifts. A rhinestone ring, a box of paints and a new tablet.

“Mum, can I please bring Moon to school? Mr Fractal asked me to bring something for show and tell,” Ariana pleaded.

“Well …” Mum hesitated.

“Please Mum. Please with strawberries and cream with a cherry on top.”

“Well … I don’t know … mmm … okay.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Ariana squealed.

Ariana rushed upstairs and threw on her school uniform. She combed her hair and had a furious battle with her laces. She grabbed her bag, shoved in last night’s unfinished homework, kicked at the clothes littering her floor, jumped down the stairs, two at a time, and ran into the kitchen. She picked up Moon and cuddled her close. She just felt so real.

“I’ve programmed her to do whatever you say,” Mum told her.

“Thanks Mum. See ya!”

Ariana set off down the road. UH OH. Alert Alert. Kylie Cardoorsian.

“What’s that you’ve got? It’s gorgeous,” Kylie asked.

“Thanks. This is Moon. I got her for my birthday.”

“I thought your Mum had allergies?”

“Um … well, promise to not tell?”

“I promise.”

“She’s a robo cat. She will do anything I say. For example, Moon, jump into Kylie’s arms.”

Moon jumped from Ariana’s arms into Kylie’s. “Wow!” Kylie exclaimed.

They had arrived at school. Ariana and Kylie walked into Mr Fractal’s room.

“Maths please,” he said. Mr Fractal took a quick look at the work and said gravely, “Ariana, please go to the headmaster’s room.”

Ariana knocked on the door and went in. She was standing behind some poor kid in the infants.

“Oh Moon, I wish this had never happened.”

Then she was moving back, back to Mr Fractal.

Talking backward with Kylie Cardoorsian.

Through the kitchen, back to bed.

She looked out the window.

Ariana gazed out the window at the street below. Her brain seemed to have logged off. Given up. It was all the fault of Mr Fractal and his “Ten Super-fun Maths Homework Questions”.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The Final FABO Competition for 2015 Now!

Sue Copsey has just posted up a new story starter so you can enter the FABO competition now! It’s the final FABO competition for 2015 so don’t miss out. The competition closes at 5pm on Friday September 18th, and Sue will be giving away a mystery prize to the writer of the best story.

Sue is the author of The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head, and The Ghosts of Tarawera. You can check out her website here:

Good luck and happy writing!