Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

A New FABO Story Competition To Enter!

Authors Tania Hutley and Melinda Szymanik will be sharing the judging duties for the next competition. To kick things off, Tania has posted a new FABO Story starter. To enter the competition, just finish her story in 500 words or less and submit it using the online form. Good luck!


Read Tania’s story starter and then finish the story any way you like. Your entry must be submitted by 8pm Friday 9th June. No late entries will be accepted.

Tania’s Story Starter

After school, a group of us usually walk home together. Usually we go straight home, but that day for some reason, we decided to head down to the river.

It’s quite a walk to get there, so we don’t often go. And it’s a bit spooky. The trees are so tall, it’s always dark and muddy. There’s no sunlight, but somehow the plants still grow so thick they can trip you up. I’ve seen spiders there as big as dinner plates.

That day, a couple of us were throwing stones into the river when I heard Maria yell from a little way off.

“Hey, come here, you guys. I found something.”

We had to push through a patch of thick bush to follow her voice, and almost went right past her.

Then we saw her feet sticking out of the ground.

“Maria,” I gasped. “Are you okay?”

Her voice was muffled. “You’re not going to believe this.” Then she gave a little shriek and her feet disappeared…

Finish the story on the FABO Website now!

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Tania Hutley Announces the FABO Winners!

I got 29 FABO stories this time, and I was very impressed by your imaginations! Most of your stories were super scary.

A few of the stories were very short, which was a shame. If you wrote just four or five sentences, I didn’t feel that was enough to tell a satisfying story. In FABO we give you the beginning, but it’s up to you to write both the middle and the end. If you wrote something very short this time, why not try to write a longer story next time?

Honorable Mentions

Here are some of the stories that stood out for me:

Jessica’s story was scary, but it also had a great touch of humour. Jessica wrote: “I turn around to see who it is. A security guard. Just great. To make things worse he’s got a moustache. The moustached ones are horrible.” Brilliant, Jessica! I love stories that make me chuckle.

Kayla wrote two terrific stories, and they both had a very clear structure (beginning, middle, and end). In one, the heroine defeated a truly awful monster! In the other the heroine was saved at the last minute. Well done, Kayla!

Emily, your story was good but remember to use punctuation (full stops, commas, quotation marks). It’s more difficult to read your story if you don’t have them!

Rays, your story was great, but I wanted to know what happened next! Your ending didn’t seem to be the end of the story.

Angela had a very creepy clown in her story and I loved that he had balloon-smelling breath!

Georgia, I liked the ending of your story, and that it turned out to be a ghost tent that wasn’t really there.

Ollie, your story was super imaginative! I love that your hero found himself in a pharoah’s tomb.

Cassandra, good job with your story – the skulls were a nice touch.

Lily, I liked your story about werewolves. Good, descriptive writing.

Charli’s story was one of the few with something nice in the tent, so it ended well. Charli, I really liked that your heroine went back to the circus a second time to investigate the strange tent.

Tahlia, your story was very scary! Well done.

Suey, the python in your story was great! I was a little disappointed at first that it was a dream, but then when the snake crawled in her window it was scary again. I also loved this line: “Me and mum also joined in on the screaming and we produced the exact same sound which just shows how good I am at singing.” Well done.

Finally, Anika sent in a wonderful story, about a man with mechanical animals. I’m sorry, Anika, your story came in after the contest had closed so I couldn’t include it in the judging this time. I hope you’ll enter again next time!

The Winners!

The winners are Liadan and Mike, both aged 11. You both wrote excellent stories that held me spellbound.

Liadan, I loved your story! The spiders were scary, and your riddle had me scratching my head. It’s the letter ‘M’, right? Brilliant!

Mike, your story was wonderfully creepy! I loved the ending and how your hero was trapped there forever. It gave me shivers. One thing to remember for next time, is to use capital letters at the beginning of each sentence – it will make your story much easier to read.

I’ll email you both for your postal addresses to send out your mystery prizes.

Tania’s Story Starter

8f80b42defd4dd8335192da0bf092270My stomach felt like I’d swallowed a mess of snakes, and bile rose in my throat. I was squashed into a small hard seat, with sweaty people all around me. Clowns were racing around the circus ring in a tiny car, music blared from the overhead speakers, and everyone but me was laughing. All I could think about was how hot I was, and how awful it would be to throw up down the neck of the kid in front of me.

“You all right?” whispered Mum. She reached up to sweep my fringe back from my forehead, but I pushed her hand away.

“I’m going outside for a minute, okay? I need some fresh air.”

“Want me to come with you?”

I glanced over at my little sister, who was spitting popcorn crumbs as she laughed and bounced up and down in her seat. “No. I’ll come back in a few minutes after I cool down.”

“It’s hot in here,” she agreed. “But don’t be too long, or I’ll worry.”

I pushed out of my seat, clambered over the legs of everyone in our row, and practically ran out of the big top. As soon as the fresh air hit my face, I felt better. I wandered around the side of the giant circus tent, breathing deeply, cooling down. After the crush of people inside, out here it felt eerily dark and quiet.

Behind the big top were lots of other tents. Smaller ones. What were they for?

One tent in particular looked old and battered, and the entrance was darker than all the rest, as though the gloom was intentionally gathering in front of it. A weird picture was painted on the tent flap. I stepped closer, and saw it was a spooky face, with hollowed out eyes and a slash for a mouth.

A shiver ran down my back. Creepy much?

What on earth could the circus people keep in that tent? I looked around nervously, but couldn’t see anyone. Music still drifted out from inside the main tent, but it was muffled and my steps were soundless on the grass. Nobody would know if I went over and peeked inside…

Liadan’s Winning Story

Inside the tent there was a menacing silence that made my hair stand on end. I felt a scratchy tickling feeling as if ants were running down my back. Then I saw it-a giant black spider- it’s red eyes glinting in the light filtering through the torn tent flap. It dangled down in front of me on a silk rope easily half an inch thick.

“Aah!” I quaked, I was more afraid of spiders than I cared to admit and this spider was the size of my bed. I almost turned around and ran, but my curiosity overpowered my fear. It grew steadily darker as I crept further into the tent, until I was surrounded by an inky blackness as if a black velvet curtain had been drawn across my vision. I felt something hairy brush against me almost knocking me off my feet and suddenly all I wanted was to get out of there. This was way too creepy!

I turned around and started towards what I thought to be the exit, but the tent seemed to go on forever. After what seemed like hours I decided that I would rather the circus people catch me trespassing than be stuck in the tent forever.

“Help, I’m stuck in the tent with the creepy picture on the flap” I screamed, but my voice was lost among the sound of many people streaming out of the big top. Suddenly I heard a strange hissing sound coming from a spot a few meters away from me, and an old hunched-over man appeared.

“One riddle we will gamble. Your life will be the price,” said the man his voice strangely hissy like that of a snake. Before I had time to ask what he meant, he had asked, “What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years. You have ten seconds to answer!”

“Uh…time?” I replied.

“Wrong,” said the man. “Get her, spiders!” The huge spiders advanced on me, clicking their pincers menacingly.

“Ahh!” I screamed as the largest spider readied her bite. I tried to run, but my retreat was cut off by more spiders. The spiders just seemed to keep coming. There must have been hundreds in that tent!

Then the spider struck. I felt the pincers sink into my flesh. I thought about my family, just about now they would be wondering where was as my whole body went rigid.
I was left vividly aware, but unable to do anything as the spider wrapped its silk around me and I felt my innards slowly dissolve into a human milkshake.

Mike’s Winning Story

I peeked inside. it was cold and clammy. the flap waved gently in the light breeze as my eyes became accustom to the dim light.

i looked around at the interior of the shrouded tent and found to my surprise that it was littered with glass bottles of every kind. some were tall with swan like necks, some were short and stout with a rubber plug in the mouth. but the one thing the same was the fact that they all contained liquids. the bottles and jars were full of colored fluids and each had a small label on it.

I reached out and turned a bottle so the label could be seen. there, written in old ink were the words, powdered gold. she did this to many of the large bottles and found many grotesque names that sent a shiver up my spine. toads blood, squid pimples, even ground dragon spines. I shivered and sat down on the cold ground. i knew what it was. it was the house of glass.

I was still starring when the air around me positively shook as a stooped figure slunk into the room. he rose behind my head and i whipped around. he was a tall man who was heavily draped in sodden animal furs and wore a dark hood. i looked down and saw the numerous blades that hung from his scrawny waist. his voice was slow and raspy as he uttered the words that spelled doom.

“hello, I’ve been waiting for you here for such a long time. he grabbed my shoulder with hands like sandpaper and led me to a small hatch. he took a deep exhale and flicked a small red switch.

i looked as a small purple pot raced through a small transparent wire to a large device that had almost materialized out of thin air. a thin purple haze had began to creep in from the frame and in about a minute it was a large disc of purple that gave of purple sparks. i looked at the man and gave a quizzical look. he looked at my face and gave a leer.

“this, is the liquid-o-fire and this is how i get my precious liquids.”

i gave a gulp and looked into the haze and saw my future living in a compressed jar with no room to breath or move. the last thought i remember having was of mum, still waiting for me. that was the end of me. he shoved me in with his rough hands. what came out was not me. it was a sludge that had no form and no texture. and now i stand forever on his horrid shelf next to all the bits and pieces of other life forms. and sometimes i think that i can still hear my mum when we came to the circus.’It will be so much fun and you’ll never want to leave. well now I can’t.

Posted in writing tip

Come To Time Out’s Teen Book Club!

Are you an avid teen reader? Come along to Time Out’s Teen Book Club on Friday August 29th at 4pm and you can:

– Get some tips about writing comedy.

– Talk about books and writing.

– Hear about 99 Flavours of Suck.

– Ask me any questions you like!

Where: Upstairs at Time Out Book Store, 432 Mt Eden Road, Auckland

When: 29th August 2014. 4pm – 5:30pm

RSVP: Either call 630-3331, or email to let them know you’re coming.

It’s going to be a fun hour and a half and I really hope I’ll see you there!