Winning Writing

Chapter Nine Judge's Report

Wow, most entrants thought the women did it, picking Kate Pejalmer and Priscilla Byrd as the devious and dastardly villains. I was impressed with the high number of entries that used clues and plot twists from all the way through to explain who, why, where and how. One of you went forward in time, one of you decided to see the final chapter through Mote’s eyes. And there was a lot of tension, mayhem and death – crikey, what a bloodthirsty lot you are J

I rather liked Georgia Hughes entry with its closing scene played as a memory and the final understanding that hero and villain alike had perished in the last encounter. I also enjoyed Rosie Martel’s completely different take with Mote and Deb’s deranged mother behind everything and taking her last gasp in the hospital; very dramatic and Rosie employed a very crisp and tidy sentence structure. The entry from Zoe Exon from Pinehurst School made me laugh, especially with the ketchup injury, and the clever use of GE to explain everything and I loved how she brought in a Mozart reference with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and hinted at dark times to come with Deb’s new fascination for the Hindenburg. Travis Manning provided some great back-story to explain the villain’s revenge. As always Tierney Reardon wrote a very compelling and complex entry.

I would like to thank all the students who gave fabo a go this year. I have been impressed by the hard work and overall terrific-ness of your stories. If you are keen on writing, writing more is the best way to get better at it. I hope you enjoyed the experience and will keep writing in the future.

This week’s prize goes to Zoe Exon. And this year, I think all the judges would agree, the grand prize for consistently terrific entries goes to Tierney Reardon. Some prizes will be heading your way shortly, Zoe and Tierney.

Melinda Szymanik

Zoe's Winning Entry

Escapes and Explanations

The shot rung through the air.
Deb let a pierced cry escape her lips. Who had it hit, WHAT had it hit.
The voice of reason that had caught them eavesdropping had pushed them through the door. Neither Mote nor Deb had had a chance to grab a look at the owner of the voice, but they both had the same suspect in mind; GE. It made sense the lettering on the note with the spiders there had been in capitals…. GE in GrenadE.
The shot….it had hit Debs; a dark red oozy liquid started to flood around Deb and finally the haze of shock began to wear off. All she felt was a sharp pain in her back.
She turned and saw the ripped up lid off a ketchup bottle sticking out from the crate into her back. She was sitting in a pool of ketchup! She ripped the lid from her shirt and shoved it into her back pocket.
‘Mote, the bullet hit the crate for the ketchup drinking event, not any…’ her voice trailed off.
Mr Le Zard stepped out of the shadows, cocking gun clutched to his chest. ‘Oh, how precious, Finnegan’s children think they can save him, now that you’re here, you might as well join the party.’ He cackled maliciously as two burley Happy Meadows security guards strong armed Deb and Mote into the awaiting room.
The room was dark and smelled of wet damp hay mixed with the wet sea – something really felt fishy.  Mendelssohn sat with a terrified expression clouding over his face in the corner of the room. He looked out of place on the mini chair, like an elephant sitting on the small plastic chair. There were large deep cuts covering his arms and legs from the rope binding him (as if he was a ship tied up on an old wooden dock on a rough sea – the ropes rubbed deep. He looked almost as helpless as that boat would, clearly terrified not only to move but to think. Surrounding him was the other guards, Kate Pejalmer, The Inspector and Priscilla Byrd. The pillars of the dock.
Deb felt the guard shoved them towards the empty pile of old, broken chairs. Priscilla danced around working her long, skeleton-like finger into the knots. The rope bound them now as well. The smell of the room was now over bearing the children. What was it…. the smell was so familiar.
Like robots, Mr Le Zard and his sinister security team marched towards the open doors. Priscilla casts one more evil glare across the room, looking Debussy straight in the eye. Words formed across her lips. “You’ll be here for a long, long, long, long…”
Deb never heard Priscilla finish her sentence, because the security chamber doors slammed shut locking them into darkness away from the human world. In the dark, the computer moans sounded ominous and its light casted a ghostly glow around the room. Shadows of unfamiliar beings danced wickedly across the walls. There was a sinking feeling in Deb stomach; the smell was making her feel sick. Mote wasn’t much better off.
Mendelssohn’s deep voice echoed throughout the chamber.
 “I’m sorry. I should have told you sooner. The guards …”
“Yeah, scarecrows,” interrupted Mote.
“I had employed Happy Meadows to guard the games but they charged too much for my budget to handle. I had to sack them. So I hired Scarecrow Security for a cheaper cost but when they arrived it was to late. It all started going downhill from there,” Mendelssohn moaned.
A sharp clatter rung through the air. The sound of a metal object falling hard onto the floor “The key!” cried Mote “It’s was in the lock!”
“It’s no use unless we can reach it,” Mendelssohn replied glumly.
“I might be able to reach it if I try to shuffle my chair over there,” Deb said hopefully.
She shifted in her chair and suddenly cried out with pain.  What had dug into her leg? What was in her pocket? Yes; she remembered …….Deb reached into her pocket and pulled out the sharp lid of the ketchup bottle.
After a couple of rubs against the rope, it slowly begun to break. In a couple of minutes the rope had snapped off completely. Deb soon had the rest out of their ropes.
“Now to get out of here” Mendelssohn whispered.
“No wait – look at the computers” cried Deb. They had the symbol GE as their screen saver. “Yes that’s it” – Deb choked. The smell was awful- like rotting fish.
We must stop them from ruining everything.
Outside now breathing deeply to relieve their lungs, they moved outside.  The goal was the entrance.
They knew who was behind this…. it just a matter of stopping them. It all made sense.
The animal theme, the pink smoke, the red herring – not to mention the strong fishy smell….. it was  GE. Wait, who is GE?
Mendelssohn had made a bad choice in refusing the security guard company Happy Meadow. Happy Meadows was a decoy name for the failed wolf wrestling and sheep hurdling games. The idea was the brain child of GE – the failed sheep trainer; Gulper Eel – yes as in the fish. He had been room- mates with Mendelssohn in the Classical Music Clown School. He had read….. Mendelssohn diary –about the Titanic Games. Once he had left the clown school. GE took up farming. He failed at that, but on those lonely nights out at watching sheep. He hatched his plan, literally when collecting the eggs. At first it was simple. Launch the games before Mendelssohn. But that all failed. Mendelssohn’s idea the Titanic Games was far better. GE lost.
Then he decided he would ruin him from the inside, but Mendelssohn sacked Happy Meadow. GE lost again.
So ruining Mendelssohn completely was GE’s finally option. BUT yep… GE lost completely.
Thankfully, the authorities had arrived and the Titanic Games were saved. GE was arrested along with his other accomplices. Going out to one of Mozart’s famous songs – “twinkle, twinkle little star”, which pleased Mote.
 Deb’s was happy that all was calm….for now anyway.  She had seen a flyer at the local grocers for people to try out for the production ‘ The Hindenburg’ ……so who knows.

Chapter Eight Judge's Report

Another thrilling week of FaBo. The story is rapidly approaching the dramatic conclusion and all the entries this week had more twists and turns than a boa constrictor in a maze. It was seat-of-the-pants writing that kept me on my toes right to the end. There were hidden lairs, charging polar bears, splattered eggs and quite a few genetic experiments gone horribly wrong. But who was the villain?

Kate Pejalmer was a firm favourite. (Poor Katie-Kat!) Other entries decided there was a massive conspiracy with ALL the security team. While Vinicius decided to leave that mystery for the final chapter - "the wolf will always strike when there is a chicken about." Zoe wrote the best cliffhanger ending with the villains gathered, Mote's dad tied up and a cackling Priscilla Byrd. But in the end I couldn't go past an evil villain who turned out not to be as clever as he imagined. So, once again, Tierney Reardon is this week's winner. Congratulations Tierney and all the other writers. Great job!!

Another prize will be on its way to you shortly. FaBo is better than Christmas!

I've also decided to give a special FaBo Teacher of the Year prize to Gina Pettitt of Maungawhau school whose class sent in loads of great entries all year. So if Gina could send an address, I'll pop a set of my Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets into to post. Thanks for your support, Gina!

So one week left. Time to tie up some of those loose ends and finish with something memorable. Will there be a surprise twist or a shocking revelation? I can't wait to read the final entries. Good luck!

Kyle Mewburn

Tierney's Winning Chapter - Animalia Games

The room was dimly lit, and smelt like Mote’s bedroom, Deb noted as she slowly regained consciousness. She could remember breathing in the smoke (which for some reason tasted like candyfloss) and then the whole world had turned into a smudged pencil mark. She sat up, and took in her surroundings. There was no furniture in the room, only brick walls and steel doors. Her heart leapt as she heard groans, then sank again as she realized it was Mote and her father. Well, there went her chance of being rescued. 

 “Deb,” Mendelssohn wheezed, “Mote...I have to tell you...”

 “What?” Mote said, but as their father sat up, wincing and rubbing his back, the steel doors made a whirring noise, then opened.

 “Wait,” Mendelssohn said, horror in his voice. “Where’s Katie?”

 Five people walked into the room. There was, predictably, Byrd, Le Zard, Barker and Pejalmer. But there was someone behind them.

“Oh my...” Deb breathed as the man revealed himself. It was Michael: Mendelssohn’s IT man. Michael was the Phantom. Mote was gulping beside her, looking like a stunned goldfish. Mendelssohn, however, was staring at Captain Pejalmer.

“Katie Kat,” he whispered. “How could you?”

“Easy,” she said, a rare smirk on her face. Michael walked forward.

 “You have no idea,” he said, “how long I have tried to get you down here.”

“Why?” Deb said loudly. “What do you want from us?”

“I’ll explain.” He gave Mendelssohn a venomous look. “It started with me. And your father. He and I worked together. We were...special scientists. And we were trying to create a new type of Games.”

“The sheep-hurdling rubbish?” Mote said in disbelief. Michael ignored him.

 “We realized that, using the strength of a lion, the agility of a cat and the speed of a greyhound, we could make our athletes more powerful. And the Games would be for the athletes with enhanced power: The Animalia Games. We created a cell-stregthening potion, and experimented, on four volunteers. Can you guess who they were?”

Mote pointed at the security team with a shaking hand.

“No way,” he said in a low voice.

 “We injected them with animal cells,” Michael said, obviously pleased by his audience’s reactions. “And within days there were results. They are like animals...because they are.”

 “So what stopped you?” Deb said weakly.

“Your father. It was a week before the presentation. We fought over whether we should include a certain idea in the presentation. Then..he left. He developed his own Games...and it was much more popular. I never told anyone about the alterations. The only people that know are in this room.”

 "We’ll stop you!” Mote said in what was evidently supposed to be a courageous tone. Michael rolled his eyes.

“ I’m not finished with the story yet. I wanted revenge. So I called the team. They wanted to pay Finnegan back too. He had never treated them as equals. He was nervous around them. They weren’t animals. Um....well. So we all worked here. For the security. Mendelssohn noticed from the start that something was up. Did you notice how stressed your dad was, kids? Then...we started sabotaging the Games. Finnegan knew what I wanted. For him to give up his job, give it to me. And did you?” he said, glaring at Mendelssohn.

“No,” their father murmured, still gazing at the Captain, his face sorrowful.

 “So I kept it up. I left notes to the team, so they knew what to do. I used code words.”

“Wolves,” Mote whispered.

“Exactly. We realized that you kids were going to keep snooping, so we left one or two red herrings as well. We tricked. We sabotaged. We...”

“Wait,” Deb interrupted. “How did you get the bear in?”

An evil smile spread across Michael’s face.

“Remember how Barker wheeled Benedict away? After we made the sheep inject him using pins woven through its wool? The pins had polar bear cells, the potion and a heavy drug in them. He appeared dead. By the next day...he was a polar bear. Once he had succeeded in scaring all of you witless, we had no need for him. So we shot him.”

Deb gave a little sob.

 “So...this brings us to now,” Michael concluded. “Once you vanish, the job will be mine. The only question how?” He walked over to Deb, who shrank back.

“Fancy being a tiger? You’re usually quite ferocious, aren’t you?”

 “Leave her alone!” Mote shouted.

 “The choice is yours,” Michael says. “Become my subjects...or face a different situation.”

“We’ll never become your pets,” Mendelssohn said. “Look, Mike, do what you like with me, but please, set the kids free.”

 “So they can blab to everyone? I don’t think so. I’ve given you a choice. A chance. You have refused. So goodbye, Finnegan. And you meddling brats.”

 “This is starting to sound like a Scooby-Doo episode,” Mote whispered to Deb.

 “Shut up!” Michael roared. He gave a wicked smile, and pressed a button on a remote control that Mote had not seen before. A hatch opened in the ceiling. A gush of water began it’s descent.

“He’s emptying the swimming pool!” Deb gasped. Michael laughed, and pressed a button, pointing at the door.

“Goodbye!” he sneered. Then he stopped. The door wasn’t opening. He looked down at the remote. “That wasn’t the OPEN button,” he said quietly.

Mote raised an eyebrow. “You just locked yourself in too, didn’t you?” he asked.

“Oh dear,” Michael said. The water was already up to their ankles. Everything had just gone very, very quiet.

 Chapter Seven Judge's Report

This week's chapters were incredible! The challenge was a little daunting, crafting "a diabolically clever and evil twist that no one saw coming". All our entrants this week took up that challenge, and did a fantastic job with it.

After Michele talked about Point Of View a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see that two of this week's chapters did an excellent job when they switched point of view half-way through.

Zain Bhally started off looking through Mendelssohn eyes, then switched to Deb. He used a double paragraph space to separate the two sections, which is a great idea when switching point of view! He also made it clear right away who's POV the section was in, by having the person's name in that first sentence. Great work, Zain! Your chapter was full of great description, lots of action, and we really enjoyed reading it. I did wonder how you would handle the next chapter though, with all the main characters so badly injured!

Georgia Hughes started with Debussy and then switched POV to Mendelssohn. She also did a great job of it, so it was really clear what was happening and who's head we were in. The other things the FABO team really liked about Georgia's chapter was the egg timer countdown that really gav
e it some great tension, and the excellent twist at the end.

Ella Somers also had a very clever entry. Great idea to use a spider to scare the spectators away from the egg-throwing event! Why didn't I think of that??? Ella also had some brilliant dialogue in her story.

Evan Manning had some great clues to unravel as part as his chapter, and Travis's twist was that Debussy was framed and arrested for being the villain!

When I read Tierney Reardon's Egg-cellent Egg-splosions, I finally clicked that the characters were all like animals... I thought Brian had just given them weird names! DOH! Guess I'm just a bit slower than you, Tierney.
“Le Zard is a lizard. Miss Byrd is a bird. Kate Pejalmer is..”
“The cat’s pyjamas.”
“Inspector Barker is a dog, Dad’s another cat, I’m a wolf..”
“And what about me?” Deb said.
“Remember the composer you’re named for. Claude Debussy. Claude....Clawed.”

Great sleuthing work, Tierney, well done!

But in spite of the very high standard of entries, there can only be one winner. Today's chapter winner is Georgia Hughes. Well done, Georgia. Email me your postal address and I'll send you a copy of my new book 99 Flavours Of Suck.

And if you didn't win this week's challenge, you could still win a prize! Just Like the 99 Flavours Of Suck Facebook page... I'm giving away copies of the book and other goodies too :)
- Tania Hutley

Side Stories

The FABO team loved reading your side stories! Some notable entries were:

Evan Manning's story was very inventive, and his ending was excellent. He set it up beautifully for taking things up another notch.

Travis Manning had some really nice natural pacing and rhythm between dialogue, action and description. It's not always easy to get this right. Sometimes it requires small beats to break up dialogue and keep tension there, and Travis did this beautifully.

Daniel had to blink a few times to adjust his eyes to the bright lights of the medical bay. He was shocked to see the red swollen face of the unfortunate Butterfly Catcher athlete Lily Snatcher, Daniel jumped as Mendelssohn stepped beside him. “A fatal snake bite caused this.” Mendelssohn said in a quiet and sad voice. The senior field paramedic couldn’t help groaning, he didn’t want to deal with another animal related injury but he instantly put aside his emotions. “Is she dead?” Daniel asked and started checking for a pulse under her swollen skin. “I think the word fatal implies that!” Mendelssohn snapped. Daniel stared again at the swollen body which looked like it was about to explode.

Tierney came up with a pleasantly unexpected scenario when she focused on the whistling man from chapter two. She very cleverly tied the whistling man, the woman who won the golden ticket AND Mote and Deb's trip to the toilet into her story! Her story also included some great descriptions: “Dave was in the Hub,” Rosalie said, saying the name the same way you say the word ‘spit ball’.

The side story award this week goes to Evan. Excellent work, Evan! A copy of my novel Tough Enough is on its way to you.

- Tania Hutley

P.S. This week Kathy's written a few tips to help you figure out what to include and what not to include in your stories. Check the Sleuthing And Writing Skills section for details.

Georgia's Winning Chapter

The Big Bad Brother

Deb raced down the stairs, taking them two at a time. She had to reach Mote. It was the only thing she knew. Intuition had taken over. Every ounce of common sense seemed to escape from her. She had to reach Mote. Of that she was certain. She took a momentary glance at the egg timer.

Fifteen seconds.

She wasn’t going to make it! Mozart was still at least thirty seconds away from her!

Ten seconds.

Deb narrowly missed smacking into a man selling bacon and egg pie. She could hear his angry blustering as she jumped over lady’s purse.

Five seconds.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw one of the dodgiest competitors in the whole competition. Marcus Eggnog, a short stocky man from England turned to face the stands on which she sped down.

Three seconds.

Eggnog’s beady eyes seemed to have found their target. To her horror, but not astonishment, they were focused on her younger brother. Mote laughed and chatted to Byrd, oblivious to what – in Deb’s mind- was certain to happen. Eggnog seemed to relax a little and Deb halted, transfixed on the arm that was now drawing back, ready to hurl his projectile. Deb sprang into action as Eggnog gave a twisted smile and launched a golden egg towards the stands, towards Mote…………

She was too late! Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, including to her utter dismay, her body. Debussy made one final act of courage, selflessness and complete desperation. She grunted as she launched herself up of the ground, and flung herself in front of Mote.

Mendelssohn Finnegan watched the action below him through blurred vision. Helping his beloved children was not within his power, however almighty he might seem to them. They were on their own now, that he had to accept. Crying, even, was out of reach for the Head of Titanic Games Committee, as his face, only moments before, had been scraped along the wall by a pair of mysterious henchmen.

And so he sat, with his back against the wall of the corporate box overlooking the stadium-silently, for even the slightest movement ensured he was in excruciating pain. He thought he heard movement and looked up.

What his eyes met was a dark, grim figure – no doubt his captor. ‘Evil man!’ Mendelssohn thought angrily. He had no doubt that this was the man in charge of his children’s misfortunes.

Suddenly, the man’s face came into focus. It was the first time that Mendelssohn had been able to see him properly, so he should have been glad – he would finally know who was behind this brutal sabotage. However, he was not glad. He was, in fact, shocked and a little taken back.

In front of him stood his son’s namesake - this was the man who had lived in his shadow so long. The man who always came second to him, and now, looking at his face, a man that Mendelssohn wished he had been a teeny bit nicer to.

The man bent down so that their faces were level. His face contained so much unconcealed contempt, anger and disgust, that Mendelssohn shrunk away instinctively. “Hello little brother,” spat Mozart Hector Elmer Finnegan.

Evan's Winning Story

Lights, Camera, Action!

“Yes the waterpipe has exploded right next to the big Titanic Stadium, bad luck for Mendelssohn Finnegan, the head of the NZ Titanic Games committee. The Titanic Village looks like a flash flood has just hit it and that is sure to cause Mr Finnegan some problems, this is Graham Kells, 13 News.”

“Phew” Graham sighed, he did not like doing news reports because he was shy, it was the investigating side that interested him. He had grown up on a small countryside farm where nothing interesting ever happened, so he loved being in the city because it was noisy, busy and exciting and he never wanted to go back to milking dirty cows on a boring farm.

Back in his cosy apartment he was sitting on his big sofa, having a big cup of coffee, watching his news report on his big TV. The doorbell rang and he walked sluggishly to open it. Placed neatly on the welcome mat was a letter, the envelope had his name written on the front in dark letters. He opened it, tossed the envelope aside and then scanned his eyes across the letter. The letter read…

‘Dear Mr Kells,
I am sorry to inform you that our news show has not been going too well. One third of our viewers have switched over to our rivals 12 News over the past month. We need someone to save our show and you are just the man for the job.
(Graham groaned)
Yours sincerely
The Boss’

Graham groaned again but he did like the idea of showing to his co-workers that he could save the show.

He stayed up half the night trying to think of ways to spice up the show. He tried learning jokes from comedy shows, but he didn’t understand them. He tried dressing up in funny costumes to get some younger people watching the show, but he thought the costumes didn’t suit him. He tried lots of other things, but Graham could not do any of them.

He then thought of a plan so adventurous that he worried he might not be able to pull it off either. But then he thought that everybody would be so busy dealing with all the other mishaps at the Titanic Stadium, like the chlorine spill and the flash flood, that he might be able to get away with it. He would commit a mega crime and then be the one to report it and all the viewers would return to 13 News.

He racked his brains for an idea, rob the biggest bank in all of Auckland? Too hard. Steal lots of chocolate from the supermarket? Too dull. Then he thought of it, kidnap a Titan! Brilliant!"


Another week of great Fabo writing! Everyone seems to have taken Johanna's comments on board about pacing and has done a really good job of upping the tension.

Choosing a character's name carefully - especially if it reflects their personality, the way they act, or their job - can add an extra layer to your story. This week, we were particularly impressed with the inventive names Evan came up with for some of his minor characters, such as Mark Snick, the rubber band flicker. There was some sharp dialogue too - "You should be a Titanic Thread Finder," commented Mote. "Well I do have a sharp eye," Debs replied. "Needle Sharp," agreed Mote.

Congratulations too, to Travis for picking up the threads from last week's chapter and moulding Kate Pejalmer into a particularly dastardly villain. The Fabo team loved the humour and how much fun you had with your characters. Also, what a powerful opening sentence you created, by using a simile which was tailor-made for the story world.

There were some excellent collaborative efforts as well. Rosie Martel and Ju Eun Kim very successfully captured their characters' feeling of confusion in their last paragraph. "They walked outside, blinded by the sudden light, into what seemed to be a screaming stadium of people. When their eyes finally adjusted they saw they were in the middle of a balloon popping competition." We also liked the way Josiah and Paul combined humour with the clever idea of having Mote calm the polar bear by acting like another bear.

This week the winning medals (yes, it worked so well last week, we've decided to award two medals again) go to Tierney Reardon and Travis Manning.

Tierney has been studying the clues very carefully. We thought she very cleverly used information from all the chapters to begin to draw all the different strands together. It was also a masterful touch to include a flash back. Her ending gave the Fabo team goosebumps.
Congratulations, Tierney and Travis! Email us your postal addresses and some prizes will be heading your way soon.

Best Wishes,


For the Fabo Team (2nd September) 

This is Travis's winning chapter:

Into the Spider’s Web

Mote and Debs swam down to the far wall as fast as they could, feeling like Titans who were just about to win a gold medal, but they didn’t have time to daydream because the secret door was already sliding down!  Debs, who was ahead of Mote, was desperately urging her brother to speed up.  Mote had never been much of a swimmer but he raced to the door as fast as his legs could kick.  He and his sister managed to slide under the door just before it slammed shut.

Luckily they were now in a room that wasn’t filled with water because Mote wouldn’t have been able to hold his breath for much longer.  “Slowcoach” Debs panted but Mote didn’t reply he just stood up and looked around.  The place was grey, gloomy and had moss climbing up the walls.  Mote had to admit he was a little disappointed as he had imagined a secret hideout to be a grand room full of fancy vases and portraits of Kings and Queens but the small damp room before him was the complete opposite.

The large wooden door appeared to be the only exit and it was locked.  ‘Great’, Mote thought ‘we’re trapped here’.  Kate, Dad and the polar bear had just been in this room, where had they gone?  Debs was already searching for an escape but without any luck.  Mote, unlike his sister, just sat in the corner, sulking, telling himself it couldn’t get any worse.  He was wrong.  Small gaps suddenly started to appear in the wall and crawling through them were hundreds of wolf spiders!  However, they weren’t behaving like normal spiders, they were all walking in a perfect straight line and it looked as though they were marching!  Debs let out an ear piercing scream, which was enough to make a few of the soldier spiders retreat. 

Meanwhile, Mote was trying to kick away the spiders but they just kept coming.  He was also busy trying to work out who was behind all this and was given his answer when he heard the bricks rumbling, and to his surprise they started slide up, down and sideways to reveal a window.  Standing behind it was none other that Kate Pejalmer.  Debs and Mote were shocked as they had thought she was a good guy.  “Do you like my wolf spiders?’ she smirked “I had them specially trained, I am quite good with animals don’t you know”.  Then Kate noticed the jar that Debs was holding, “Ahhh those were my test batch of super, soldier spiders, sadly they didn’t work as they were too cowardly to join my army!” she said.  “Wait till our Dad hears about this!”  Mote shouted “I think he already has.” Kate laughed and stepped to the side so that the two startled children could see their father tied to a chair with a rag stuffed in his mouth!

Mendelssohn was being guarded by the polar bear that he had tranquilised earlier, the bear, obviously still angry at Mendelssohn, was trying to resist the urge to rip off his head. “I was aware that you were following me ever since I saw you were watching us from that ventilation pipe, I thought by leading you here I could test my new soldiers on you. They need to be in top shape before I set them loose on the Titanic Games and humiliate your father!” Kate told them. She suddenly let out a crazy laugh that made Mote and Debs jump. Mote glanced at Debs, she was clearly crazy but if they didn’t stop her then she would ruin the Titanic Games! 

And this is Tierney's winning chapter:

As they entered the water, Mote could see the secret passage quite clearly. The blue-and-white tiles had somehow slid away from their places in the wall, revealing a well-lit tunnel, still underwater. It seemed to slope upwards. He began to swim faster, determination fuelling him.
        He and Deb had just reached the entrance when a green light flashed from within. Before Mote could think to do anything, the tiles swiftly slid back into place. The tunnel vanished from sight.
        Deb let out a silent moan of frustration, silver bubbles spewing from her mouth. Mote darted forward, desperately trying to re-open it. He pressed the tiles, slapped the wall feebly. Nothing worked. The wall remained a wall. He pushed off the ground and drifted upwards.
        Mote’s head broke the surface. He gasped. How long had he been down there? He didn’t know. Deb was beside him, a familiar steely look in her eye. He gulped.
        “Pejalmer’s the Phantom,” she announced.
        “What?” Mote said loudly, swiming over to the edge of the pool. “Kate’s on OUR side. It’s the others we have to...”
        “Are you insane!?” Deb shrieked, wringing out her hair. “Kate is NOT on our side. I bet she was acting that way around Dad just to trick him. Or...trap him. And what about THESE?” She shoved the jar of wolf spiders in his face.
        “These, Mote,” she continued, “are cuh-lues. Duh. Don’t tell me you actually think it a coh-inci-dence that they are WOLF spiders? She’s in on this.” She paused, unusually hesitant. “And I think Dad is too,” she finished gently.
        “W-what?” Mote said, shocked. “How could...why would...” He fell silent as this entire new idea hit him like a brick. It wasn’t impossible. It was very likely.
        “I know,” Deb said softly. “When he was saying that, about ‘when he worked at...’ I knew he had lied to us about something. He’s involved in something. Something...different.”
        “He spent his whole life working towards this week. That’s what he said,” Mote croaked.
        “No, Mote. Things have been happening. We should have seen it before. Remember last month? When he was talking to...that man...about the....the...” Deb gasped, her eyes wide.
        “Mote. Remember,” Deb said urgently. “You threw the wasp nest into the school art room. They spread, and we had to evacuate the school. We got home early.”
        “Ooh, I remember that,” Mote chuckled.
        “Focus. That man was with Dad. They were shouting. Fighting.”
        Mote went white.
        “Yeah. I remember. They were talking about the...the Rare Endangered Animal Protectors.”
        “Endangered animals,” Deb said. Her voice trembled.

Kate Pejalmer pressed a green button on the wall. There was a flash of light.
        “I’ve locked the entrance,” she said. Mendelssohn grunted, and slid his phone back into his pocket. They were in the ‘safe room’: a small, round, white room, which smelt like gooseberries and toothpaste.
        “The Rare Endangered Animal Protectors are coming to pick the bear up. They’ll be here in twenty minutes,” Mendelssohn said, smiling at her. Kate sank into a white couch.
        “Felix,” Kate said tensely, “I found a jar of wolf spiders in a box. It was in the Hub. Left for someone to find. We need to be cautious. Barker, Byrd and Le Zard all chose professions that would get them here. A coincedence? Never. They’re chasing us. They all quit working at R.E.A.P, of course...”
        “The what?” Mendelssohn said sharply.
        “The Rare Endangered...R.E...Oh Felix! You...” Kate gasped.
        “Reap What You Sow. R.E.A.P.” Mendelssohn groaned. “This confirms our suspicions.”      Kate nodded slowly.
        “They’re out to get us...because of what happened.”
        Mendelssohn’s face was grey.
        “And this is their idea of revenge. They hint about animals...trying to get you to understand that they want you to resign as the leader of R.E.A.P, Katie.”
        Kate’s face suddenly went paler.
        “Things are about to get worse, Felix. This is how they punish how do they punish you?”
        “They humiliate me by sabotaging the Games.”
        “Yes, but there’s more. The notes. The spiders. They all mention wolves.” Her voice softened. “They’re giving hints as to who their next victim will be.”
        Mendelssohn gripped the arms of his chair, his face stretched tight as the horror gently dawned on him.


Once again – so many impressive entries! It’s very exciting to have entries from new writers, but we also love that some of you write for FaBo week after week. We always look forward to chapters from the ‘regulars’!

Some of you do such a great job of taking us inside the minds of the children, so that we can really feel what they are feeling. This week, I was particularly struck by Nina Ivancevic’s portrayal of Deb, and Victoria Holland’s descriptions of Mote's and Deb’s thoughts and reactions.

Lots of you had fun with Mote needing to go to the toilet, and Travis Manning worked it into the structure of his chapter nicely: just when we feel relieved for Mote that he’s finally managed to go – the worst thing of all happens as he and his sister are captured!

In his humorous chapter, Evan Manning also skillfully lulls the reader into a false sense of security, before hitting them with a very dramatic cliff -hanger!

One thing to watch for in these middle chapters is not heading too fast towards the climax of the story. At this point there are still four more chapters to go. However, Koran Eskerie’s chapter this week was not only humorous but fitted excellently within the overall structure of the wider story – upping the tension while leaving us with plenty more mystery to unravel.

David Kennedy’s chapter also advanced at a good pace for this part of the overall plot, and it had some great lines, for example as Deb’s ringtone sounds while they’re trying to be stealthy: ‘Mote never liked Justin Bieber and always teased Deb about it, but he never knew Justin’s voice could sound so deadly.’

Likewise, Hoani Baxter’s story built well on the action already established and no sooner is the polar bear dealt with, than an elephant seal causes havoc!

It’s great that a few of you, such as Hoani, Victoria, and Tierney Reardon have given your chapters names as well as numbers. (Hoani’s is ‘Elephant Seal, Elephant Trouble’!)

This week the competition is a draw! Medals go to Tierney Reardon and Gabriella Nolan.

Tierney is one who has been writing every week, sending chapters full of wit and imagination, as well as being well structured and edited. This week, I especially liked Tierney’s depiction of Inspector Le Zard. His voice is distinctive; his character fleshed out beautifully.

Meanwhile Gabriella’s chapter, as well as being excellently written overall, is full of marvelous visuals. She has imagined the scene fully and picked the most evocative details to describe.

Congratulations Gabriella and Tierney. Email us your postal addresses, and we will put your prizes in the post!

Best wishes,


For the Fabo Team (27 August)

This is Gabriella’s winning chapter.

A deathly hush fell over the gift shop as the pair waited to be shot. Instead, through the door a trio of scientists appeared –  infinitely preferable to the mob of gun-wielding maniacs they expected to come sauntering in. Deb realised she had been mistaken. The gun was not an actual bullet gun! It was a tranquilizer gun and, with a whoosh a feathered dart was shot into the polar bear’s rump. The bear looked at the scientists. It staggered and swayed and with a thump keeled over. As would be expected! There was enough anaesthetic to put a 3 tonne elephant to sleep for a week at the least!

With the polar bear taken care of, the children took a closer look at their saviours. The “scientists” wore pristine white lab coats with glossy plastic buttons that shone in the light coming from the fluorescent tubes that flickered beside the air vent that Mote and Deb were in. There was a woman flanked by two men but her face was shadowed by her wide-brimmed hat. It also covered her hair, but not enough that the end of her pony tail could not be seen. She pulled a long tube from her pocket and with a click, it became apparent that she held a powerful torch. The beam flooded Deb and Mote with light.

Deb was unable to contain a gasp, and, hearing the slight sound, the woman swept them with the beam as she searched the room. Blinded, the children did not notice that the man who had been on the right hand side of the woman had quietly come up behind them. The baton he held swung into Deb’s head with a meaty thump. A quick reversal swiftly applied the same sickening treatment to Mote. The last thing either of them knew was a flash of light behind their eyes. Consciousness fled.

They woke in a room so white that there was no clear line between the floor and the walls, or, indeed, the walls and the ceiling. Disoriented, their eyes seized on the only colour in the room – a pair of small blue tablets, sitting next to two glasses containing water….. at least they hoped it was water. Mote’s eyes zoned in on a shadow by the corner. A wisp of blond hair, not unlike Deb’s, fell out.

One of Mote’s memories clicked as the woman stepped into full daylight. With the realisation flooding through his mind, Mote squeaked, “Hi Mum” as the Mother he last saw when he was three came in to check her patients.

Deb shocked, gasped while her mind raced to process this incredible development. Why now? Where had she been? Why did she leave? Why was she involved with these people?

And this is Tierney’s winning chapter.


Deb was right. Mote lay flat against the tube as Kate Pejalmer came up the travellator, half-crouching and wielding a gun. The two of them held their breath, not daring to even twitch. Mote in particular was trying not to squirm (the bathroom problem was getting serious).
        Kate glanced from side to side as she stepped neatly off the travellator, the gun firmly aimed at the polar bear, which was lumbering around the splintered desk. She was alone, it seemed. Mote squeezed the sides of the tube gently with his hands as he felt his body slip about a centimetre. His hands were so sweaty that they weren’t much use, but he managed to keep clinging to the corrugated plastic.
        “Finnegan shut the doors,” a familiar voice drawled. Mr. Le Zard slithered out of his hiding place, around the corner of the room, near the emergency exit. Mote grimaced in horror. If Le Zard had been there all that time, then he had certainly heard and seen the two of them escape the bear. Deb was sweaty, too. She dared to move her hand a fraction to improve her grip on the tube.
        “How long have you been there?” Miss Byrd cooed, coming up the travellator behind Captain Pejalmer.
        “I just came,” he replied calmly, then jumped as the polar bear roared gently and padded over to him. “Down, Pepe,” he muttered, rubbing the bear’s shaggy white head.
        “You know him???” Kate gasped, while Miss Byrd cocked her head in amazement.
        “Of course. Pepe is my pet. I got him sent from Paris, from my personal zoo,” Le Zard explained, flapping a pale hand lazily. “His bite is worse than his bark, and he will most definitely bite.” The two women shrank back as the bear eyed them hungrily.
        “I will tell you something,” Le Zard said softly. “Pepe can be as tame as any dog or cat, so long as you scratch like so.” At this, he bent over, and scratched Pepe right behind his left ear. The bear let out a satisfied rumble, and then to Mote’s surprise, sat on the koru-patterned carpet obediently.
        “Amazing!” Miss Byrd said, “That is quite clever. I suppose this is how you got him onto the ice.”
        “Which brings us to our problem,” Kate said quickly. “The bear has not been obedient as you said, Le Zard, and has escaped the ice, and come up here. He was meant to stay there, where we had removed the security camera. Then no-one would have been alerted until it was too late.” She took a breath before continuing. “This means Mendelssohn will be coming any minute now!”
        “But he will not capture us,” Le Zard said smugly. “We will drug the bear, say we have killed it, cart it off. It shall be returned to Paris and we will still not be suspected.”
        “And then,” Miss Byrd breathed, “the next part of our plan will be put into action!” She gave a cruel smile, and drew from her purse the Titanic program.
        “But which contest to sabotage?” Kate smirked, reading over Miss Byrd’s shoulder. “The Speed-Knitters heats? The Pencil-Chewing grand finale?”
        “I have always hated the Sock-Balling,” Le Zard said. “It should not be a sport, it is ridiculous.”
        “Sock-Balling it is,” Kate nodded. “I will call you both tonight. And Le Zard, what about Mendelssohn?”
        “Finnegan will suspect nothing,” the short Frenchman said impatiently. “And it will be too late when he does. The booby traps will be set up after the Sock-Balling.”
        “Good,” Miss Byrd and Captain Pejalmer said at the same time. They looked around again, then Le Zard whistled. Pepe sat up, looking about for the source of the sound.
        “Come Pepe,” he said, then led the bear outside. Mote stared. How could they have missed the emergency exit? It was right there... and now they were stuck on the ventilation tubes.
        Quite suddenly Mote wobbled. He swayed. Deb watched, horrified, as Kate and Priscilla slowly walked towards the emergency exit. They were reaching for the door handle... Mote gasped silently as he slid sideways …they stepped out ... Deb reached out and grasped Mote’s hand ...t he door closed.
        “We’re safe,” Mote announced, then the two of them crashed to the ground.

        “Come on Mote!” Deb barked, quite back to her normal self. There was the sound of a flushing toilet, then the bathroom door opened. Mote stepped out, a look of pure relief and bliss on his face.
        “I’m done, I’m done. Right then. What are we going to do?”
        “We have to stop them. We can’t let them ruin the Sock-Balling contest. Next, we need to stop them booby-trapping...where again?”
        “They didn’t say,” Mote saidd grimly, “But I’m guessing either Dad’s office or our house.”
        “I’d bet our house.” Deb pulled her hair into a ponytail. “If they do suspect us, then they’ll have killed three people in one go.”
        “I don’t want that to happen,” Mote decided. Deb gave him one of her don’t-mess-around looks.
        “We have to convince Dad,” she said quietly. “But if we can’t, and they hear us, we’re dead.”
        “How can he not suspect them?” Mote asked suddenly. “I mean, they even look suspicious.”
        “That’s the bit I don’t get either,” Deb said nearly as slowly as Le Zard. They rounded the corner and kept on walking. They didn’t notice Inspector Barker standing in the doorway.


Ahhh the body count...using a hair dryer to melt an ice sheet... be a hero...and Kate Pejalmer with an assortment of weapons...the introduction of the ex Mrs transmitters, razor sharp teeth and tazers...Kyle the Kiwi mascot, hotdogs and kidnapping were just some of the ideas that made me stop and laugh or whistle with admiration.

Judging Fabostory is one of the most difficult jobs in writing. First you have to acknowledge how green with envy you are when you read the plot twists and turns in submitted chapters. Then you have speak to yourself severely to stop yourself from scribbling down notes...(writers are always looking for ideas but they should be coming out of their own heads...) Fabostory always has very inventive chapters submitted from kids.

One of the things that most kids did was up the body count. Body count shouldn’t be a way of keeping score in the story...We don’t need a dead body for each chapter...what we need in a story is an escalation of tension. You can put your main characters in danger... that they have to get out of logically. If situations become too far fetched the reader will be saying...yeah right like that would ever happen..and you lose the reader as they begin to distrust the writer.

So far in the story the main characters have been observers...but in chapter four the main characters have just rolled by their first plot point (the game changer)...they are in danger and they are now committed to where this story takes them.

From chapter five onwards they have to make decisions and these will have consequences...(or they may end up as bodies...)

Tension and pacing in a story are one of the trickier things that a writer has to do. How do you keep the tension up and slow down the pace so that the reader is not breathless at the end. It is like running a need to run fast enough to keep up with the leaders but not so fast that you will have nothing left for the sprint at the end. (otherwise you have a very short drip feed your tension.)

I liked Morgan Blind’s story because there was an escalation of tension...having things happen in the dark...where is the polar bear now? Was it an illusion but then how did Mote get wet and who is the mysterious figure in black and how big a clue is that security card?

This is Morgan's winning chapter.

Mote and Deb stood frozen with fear. One move, one rattling breath, even the slightest twitch could give the polar bear a reason to attack.

In a split second the beaming lights above the pool blacked out and Deb and Mote were instantly drowned in darkness. An echo of muffled footsteps could be heard coming from the direction of the commentary box. The blackness seemed to swallow Mote up, or was it the fear of the polar bear lurking just in front of him? There was a loud splash and Mote was suddenly showered in water. Had the polar bear abandoned his floating island? The suspense was overwhelming; definitely taking its toll on Deb who’s breathing had turned uneven and hoarse.

A flood of light burst through Mote’s closed eyelids as the power came back on, as quickly as it went out. The polar bear was nowhere to be seen which made Mote’s heart stop for a fraction of a second and then start beating like there was a bongo drum in his chest. He was frozen with fright. He didn’t want to move a muscle.   The stadium appeared completely empty, yet in just an hour time, thousands of people would be streaming through the doors unaware of lurking danger.

“Deb, you look like you’ve seen a ghost” The colour had drained from her face and she almost resembled a ghost herself. Deb’s arm was shaking uncontrollably as she struggled to point towards the commentary box.
A frightening figure draped in black had been skulking in corner until Deb had seen it.  There was something familiar about the way the creature moved as it scurried around the floor. It looked like it was frantically searching for something.  Unable to recover their lost treasure, they swiftly left through the back door without a trace.

“Wh-wh-who was that?” Deb asked Mote still white.
“Well whoever it was is gone now,” Mote tried to reply more confidently than he felt. “More importantly though, where on earth did the polar bear go?”
“Dunno, maybe it wasn’t real?” she asked hesitantly. “But you saw it too didn’t you!”
Unsure what to do next, they hurriedly headed toward the other marked exit. Mote turned the handle but nothing happened. He backed away from the door and looked at Deb.
“Oh God, it’s locked. We’ve been locked in!” He tried the handle again and again but it didn’t budge. . Deb wasn’t helping as she plodded towards him and sat down. Suddenly something caught Mote’s eye. Under the commentating box lying on the ground sat some sort of card. He leapt to his feet and ran over to it. It was a security card that belonged to a very high ranked official from the Games. Could this be what the hooded figure was looking for? Or was it just a coincidence?
“Wait! I know we can escape through the hole where the...” Mote’s voice trailed off. Where there had once been a gaping hole for a door, there was now solid wall. “How on earth could that be?”
“Mote this person knows what they are doing” said Deb.  “He’s serious about ruining these games and I think if he isn’t caught soon many more athletes will be in terrible danger.” We need to find out who this card belonged to. We may be able to figure out who this lunatic is and solve the mystery!”
Although Mote found himself agreeing with his sister yet again, he couldn’t help but point out the obvious. “We are in a bit of a pickle here though Deb, we’re stuck and there’s a polar bear lurking around somewhere.”

Meanwhile back at the stadium one of the favourites for the speed texting gold medal had been seriously injured in training when her cell-phone malfunctioned. She received an electric shock strong enough to burn her texting fingers and send her out of the games.

Mendelssohn Finnegan knew what this meant; the security guard had been murdered by electrocution. At least this time thought, the shock wasn’t enough to kill the victim. Every day an athlete would be injured until the “wolf” was caught. His train of thought ended when he saw the athlete’s phone. The screen read “Time Is Of The Essence.”

The End

Congratulations, Morgan. A prize of a dead body will be on its way to you....heheheheh.

Maureen Crisp


What a great batch of entries this week. All of you did a fabo job of keeping up the tension and narrowing down the search for the evil doer intent on disrupting the Titanic games. Well done! A bunch of honorable mentions this week as there were plenty of entries with good pace, characters and tension. Maungawhau School must get first mention for continuing to turn in consistently great entries. Excellent work. Next, honorable mention has to go to Travis and Evan Manning, Evan for the great recap and Travis for the brilliant laughing gas twist. I wish I’d thought of the chocolate fish factory! Next time.
Two near winners with stand out entries were Sam Duncan, who provided great tension throughout the story and Tierney Reardon who wrote another brilliant chapter complete with pie-crust pinching competition. I wish I’d thought of that too! It was a tough choice picking the winner that's for sure.

Something to watch for when you're writing next week's chapter is shifts in Point of View. Point of View is where the story comes from - or rather who is telling the story. If you’re telling a story from one character’s perspective, (say Mote or Deb) it’s usually good to keep it that way for a while rather than switching back and forth too often. If you're in Mote's point of view for example you'll notice what Deb is doing and looking like, but it's hard to know for sure what she's actually thinking, and you can't tell what you look like, only how you feel. Some of you did this really well and others sometimes mixed up who was talking or thinking a little too often and it let down otherwise brilliant stories.

But the winner this week is Emily Mole from Pinehurst School for her great ‘showing rather than telling’. “He looked like a toddler who had not yet mastered the technique of walking, let alone running.” A great picture painted. Emily. Congratulations! A pack of Titanic chocolate wolves (or maybe something slightly less dangerous) will be winging its way to you soon.


For the Fabo Team (12 Aug 2012)

This is Emily's winning chapter.

Mendelssohn Finnegan was drowning in his own puddle of sweat.
“Look dad there’s more,” Mote croaked looking up at his father.
  Mendelssohn grabbed the sheep and cursed under his breath as he turned it over. There, on the grey dreadlocked fur of the sheep itself, the words were inscribed: I SAW THE SHOCK ON YOUR FACE!!
Mote and Deb stared at each other and then up at their dad. He knew something they didn’t.
“Dad, are you alright?” He didn’t answer; he was pacing the room and gripping his sweaty hands together so tightly that his stubby nails were digging into his now white palms.
“Dad, are you alright?” Deb repeated again almost in a whisper.
Mendelssohn suddenly jumped. “Yes of course I am guys, this is probably just a group of nutters trying to mess with our heads,” he mumbled hopefully.
“Well they seem to be succeeding,” Mote muttered under his breath.
“Ummm I just need some time to think this through, yes that’s what I need, time,” stumbled Mendelssohn, “well I'll be in my office then.” And with that, he was gone. As soon as he was round the corner, he broke into a run. He looked like a toddler who had not yet mastered the technique of walking, let alone running.
He finally reached his study, quietly shut the door and started to pace around but trying to look as natural as possible. Thoughts were racing through his head at 100 miles per hour. He finally managed to sit down. He sat there, in his study for hours not knowing what to do. Who could be doing this? Crushing his dreams about the Titanic games and turning them into a nightmare? But suddenly a massive train of thought broke off its railway lines and came crashing into his head! He had left his laptop on the desk in the room where everyone would probably now be! Had he left the message on the screen?
He leaped up and dived for the door. He had been worried that this would happen…. He grasped the handle but his hands were dripping with sweat and they slipped right off. He grabbed the handle again and pulled but nothing happened. It was locked. He tried again but it didn’t budge. Someone had locked him in!
He slowly let go of the handle and took a step back. He couldn’t think clearly. Thoughts raced through his mind. How had he been caught out? He had been so careful; no one should have figured it out.  Slowly his legs gave out and he crumpled to the floor. He lay there telling himself that everything was going to be alright even though he knew he was really kidding himself. He gazed up at the ceiling wondering what was going to happen next, wondering what the next disaster was going to be.…

Suddenly he heard a rustling. He turned his head towards the sound, which was coming from the door. Something appeared from underneath. Was it a golden ticket? How could it be? He rolled over and reached for the shiny parchment like it was poison. Tears burned his eyes.
There in his hands, he was holding his own golden ticket, with the words printed: ILL HUFF AND ILL PUFF AND ILL BLOW YOUR GAMES DOWN! With a box of chocolate wolves beside it. He knew he had ruined his chances of being in charge of “Titanic games,” he had already gone too far… and he knew someone was onto him…   




Yet again, there were some tough choices to be made in the competition this week.

Travis and Evan had pace and action in their stories. There was great dialogue from both Seth Fleming and Netley Fridd. Netley had a really nice balance between action, description and dialogue, and it's often this kind of pacing which makes all the difference in the telling of a story.

Well done to all of the children at Silverstream School in Mosgiel. All of the stories had tension and intrigue. None of them were boring. Some of them just needed to be longer to draw the tension out a bit more until a surprising conclusion.

This was Tierney’s magnificent beginning: The entire stadium was plunged into darkness. Mr. Finnegan swore loudly, his voice echoing in the dark. The crowd began muttering, slowly realizing that this was not part of the display.

“The lights!” Mr. Le Zard snapped, fumbling for his torch. It was, perhaps, the fastest thing Mote had ever heard him say. Deb breathed in quickly. There was no doubt that she was thinking the same thing as everyone else. The switches that controlled the lights were downstairs, in a big room down the hall. If the lights had been turned off, then-

“The Phantom,” Mote breathed. Inspector Barker and Kate Pejalmer were already out of their seats, wielding guns and torches. A cold sensation in Mote’s stomach made him shiver as he saw the pistols glinting in the torchlight. Surely they wouldn’t have to use them...?

Fabulous, really fabulous, Tierney.

And then there was David's terrific set-up in the middle:
Frustrated, he stood up again and pressed himself onto the glass one more time. Slowly his eyes were adjusted. He could figure out the darkened seats area with some flashes of torch light flickering around. From the corner of his eye, something much brighter emerged into his sight. It was a dazzlingly orange light that moved surprisingly fast. Before Mote took another look, it was completely gone abruptly. So suddenly that Mote thought that it might have been his mind playing tricks on him.

David also had a great cliffhanger ending.

We struggled to choose a winner between Tierney and David, who both wrote great stories overall. 

However, we've decided to give this week's prize to David because we're intrigued about where he might be taking his story about the torch-like light in the stadium. He really had us wondering about that orange light, and it’s now clear that Deb and Mote intend to figure out this mystery for themselves.

So David Kennedy of Wa Ora Montessori School is the winner this week. 

Congratulations, David!

Please email us your address so we can send you the prize - a copy of Doghead Fights Back by Jill Marshall.

All the best


For the Fabo Team (6 August 2012)

This is David's winning chapter.

The beam of the emergency lights cut the darkness of the room. Mr. Finnegan was the first to speak:” Pejalmer and Barker, check the emergency generators. Le Zard, inform the crows about this accident and tell them to stay calm. Byrd and I will visit the security team.”

Grabbing his Communicators and moving towards the door, he nodded to Mote and Deb firmly: ”Stay here.”

Even though Mote really wanted to join his father, he figured it was not the best time to disobey. “Yes Dad” he sighed but their father and his team had already left the room.

Mote heaved another sigh and slumped down in his chair. Why did he think everything was going to be perfect again? He had jinxed himself. Again.

Frustrated, he stood up again and pressed himself onto the glass one more time. Slowly his eyes were adjusted. He could figure out the darkened seats area with some flashes of torch light flickering around. From the corner of his eye, something much brighter emerged into his sight. It was a dazzlingly orange light that moved surprisingly fast. Before Mote took another look, it was completely gone abruptly. So suddenly that Mote thought that it might have been his mind playing tricks on him.

“Here we go again” Deb broke the silence and Monte’s concentration, “first the Titanic flame and now this…” Her voice was quavering.

“At least the emergency generators will be on soon” said Mote, trying to sound upbeat. And sure enough, just as he said that, the music started playing and the lights flickered back on.

Pejalmer and Byrd were the first who came back. Both sweaty and exhausted.  Realising both children were watching them nervously, Pejalmer forced a pale smile:” Well, it looks like everything is back to the agenda.”
No, it is not. An invisible icy-hand wrapped around Mote’s stomach.  It was the same feeling when he saw his mother the last time.

The phone rang just on time to bring Mote back to the present. Pejalmer picked it up but everyone could hear Mr. Finnegan’s voice coming through the receiver and spread into the quiet room: ”Tell Byrd to stay there if she comes back. I could not contact her after sending her to check with the back gate security team leader… tell Mote and Deb to go to bed. They know where the bedrooms are.”

Pejalmer did not need to pass the message on. Mote and Deb already reluctantly moved to the room across the hallway.

Mote stared at the dark ceiling, completely awake. He kept still until Deb whispered carefully: ”Mote, are you asleep?” Mote was hesitating if he should answer or not.
But Deb muttered in the darkness:” Was I dreaming or was that really an orange light?”
Mote sat bolt upright: ”you saw that TOO?”
Deb turned the bedside light on:” the colour and shape were bazaar. Should we tell someone?”
Mote thought about it. Everyone seemed terribly occupied. Besides, it was only a light. Could been someone’s special torch. But a torch could not be that bright… “ I wish I could have a close look at it” Mote realised that he had spoken his thought out loud only when Deb answered: ”why don’t we?”


What a great start to this year's fabulous FABO competition!

Tierney had a great story overall. It had lots of tension, secrecy and lies, a light introduction to the main character and his family, some light humour, a problem and then a big twist at the end. Ella had great characters and dialogue and a fabulous twist at the end, which really raised the stakes.

Some of you were innovative in thinking about who your main characters could be, such as Travis’s evil cat genius:
I checked to see if I had any e-mails, phone calls or post, being the only evil cat mastermind in the world meant I was very busy.

Hayley wrote some lovely dialogue. We also liked the pacing of Arabella's dialogue and the subtle humour surrounding her slightly lazy character, Grant, who refuses to acknowledge that there might be a problem:
Grant arrived at the meeting feeling very happy until he saw Mrs Allen’s face. “You’re not seeing the point Grant” said Mrs Allen after he had sat down.
“The Titanic games are tomorrow and you are planning the whole thing”
“I know I know” said Grant, starting to think he should get a new personal assistant, “but really what could go wrong?” he said.

There was beautiful description from Genevieve and Victoria:
On a dark, cold, stormy night, Cheri was waiting in a creepy alley. Her wavy red hair was soaked in water and rain drops made her fair skin glisten. She was waiting for a secret letter, when a dark, shadowy figure crept out of the blue and came towards her. He was wearing a fancy black rain-coat and a black hat that mysteriously covered his cold eyes. He handed her a wet letter with a red seal that had the Titanic Games logo on it.

We liked the rhythm of David’s description:
It’s only four days until the Titanic Games. I can just picture the roaring crowd and the rumble of ships and the harmonious melody of our national anthems…

There was great character description from Ella:
Mr Brown is a short, stubby man, with big round spectacles that sit on the end of his nose.  He always wears an out-of-date knitted jumper and tweed pants far too short to be fashionable.  He is in his mid-fifties, but guards his real age like his other secrets.

We liked the way Tim incorporated sound effects in his action scene:
“The other thing we need to do is find out where he lives, who he is, what he’s capable of and wh…, WOOOP, WOOOP, WOOOP.
“What’s happening” screamed Leon.
“Hello people.” “My name is Matthew Dickens, and I am a hard-core hacker, I will not ruin the Titanic games on one condition, you change the name.”

Tara skilfully and subtly dropped small hints about what happened in the past but didn’t say very much. It’s a good writing tactic to drip-feed that kind of information. It keeps the reader guessing, and wanting to read more.

We liked Evan’s slightly tongue-in-cheek one line ending:
Once the security team had gone he pulled out a sharp knife and pointed it threateningly at me and said in a calm, quiet voice “How about you open that window.”
Shaking, I replied “But this is the 28th floor, you can’t escape through there!”
“Just do it!” he said, in an angry tone.
“Okay, if you insist” and then I opened the biggest window… and to my absolute amazement, Steve parachuted out of it. This clearly needed investigating further.

And David’s cloak-and-dagger ending sent shivers down our spines:
When I reach the oak door of the meeting room, I have come to my final decision: I will keep quiet.

Gillian, a teacher at Lawrence Area School, got us pretty excited with her chapter about the organising committee that had been kept for eight years in a bunker in the Himalayas. It’s a shame you’re a bit too old to be judged in this competition, Gillian, but keep up the good work. We hope your chapter helped your class to see how effective it is to make the obstacles seem enormous. It keeps the tension and excitement high.

A writing tip: When you brainstorm about what’s going to happen in your story, make sure you choose things that are going to move your story along logically, whether it’s in the action, or finding out something really important about your character, that’s going to affect the story.

Well that’s about it. Now all that’s left to do is announce the winner.
A drum roll please.

The winner of Chapter One for FABO 2012 is….

… Tierney Reardon.

Congratulations Tierney.
Please email us with your address. You have won a copy of Brian Falkner’s new book “Maddy West and the Tongue Taker” It’s so new, that it’s not even out yet, but we’ll be sending you a copy as soon as it is.

All the best

The FABO team (29 July 2012).

This is Tierney's winning chapter.

Chapter One.

Brian took the letter in his hands and scanned it for what had to be the millionth time. The script that covered the page was in neat, blue ink. The lines were thick and dark. It was the large cut-out letters glued to the bottom of the page that made Brian’s stomach churn.

That month had been both the best and worst month of his life. The good part was the Titanic Games, of course. Brian had been busy, organizing. There was so much to do. The opening ceremony to prepare for, for example. Brian had selected the biggest fireworks, the most extravagant costumes, and he had been practising singing the national anthem, his hand on his heart. Just as the letter had suggested.

The bad part was everything else. The Titanic Flame had been put out. The boat it had been on had sunk. Then the lights went out, the generators failed and Brian had struggled not to let his frustration show. The entire world was laughing at him, he was sure. He had lied to the camera, saying they were tiny accidents, flaws that hardly mattered. To him they certainly mattered. Bad luck, it had seemed, was persuing him.

It hadn’t seemed so, however, after the letter. He had found it lying in the letterbox with no envelope, which suggested that the sender lived close enough to deliver it by hand. He had been hiding the letter from his wife and daughter, Sophie, ever since he received it.

Each sentence haunted him, kept him awake at night. They were followed by questions. An old friend...who? Had they really caused those “accidents”? Worst of all was the last line.

This was the part that had stopped Brian from showing it to the police. It was not often that Brian was this scared. Whoever it was had to want revenge. And there was only one thing that he had done that could possibly be what they wanted revenge for. That thing, so many years ago... Several people had been affected. No-one knew it was him who had done it, that terrible thing. But someone must have known, for now they were sabotaging the Titanic Games.

Brian breathed out through his nose and slipped the paper back into the drawer. He turned the key in the lock and leaned back in his office chair. He would convince himself it didn’t matter. Of course it didn’t. It was probably just a prank letter. He would reinforce the security system, though...just to prevent anymore malfunctions.

Someone knocked on the door. He jumped, then sighed.
“Come in,” he said, rubbing his chin tiredly. The door opened. It was Angela. He relaxed at this, and waved her in. Brian’s wife often came at this time, so that they could eat lunch together. She sat down in a chair by his desk. It was only then that he realised that she wasn’t holding lunch.
“Brian...I’ve got bad news.”
“What now?” Brian braced himself for the worst, and sure enough, it was the worst.
“The fireworks are gone.”
“How?” he demanded. Angela looked close to tears.
“I was in the storeroom, at the stadium. You know, where we put the fireworks.... I was just making sure the confetti was in those wee cannons, when I realised they were gone!”
Brian stood up in his horror.
“You’re sure you checked everywhere?”
“Yes!” Angela took a deep breath. “I remember, you and me and Tony put all the fireworks there. They weren’t in the small storeroom, either. Someone must have taken them out.”
“But why...?” Brian collapsed back into his chair, which creaked loudly as if in protest. He glanced at the locked drawer. There was no way he could lie to himself now. This person was behind the missing fireworks, as well as everything else.
He tried to smile at Angela reassuringly. She sniffed.
“We’ll buy some more fireworks,” he began.
“Who would do this?”
“I don’t know.” They gazed at eachother in worry, then both stood up. For after all, even the theft of incredibly expensive fireworks wasn’t going to stop them having cheeseburgers and fries for lunch. Just as Brian reached for the door handle, there was a hiss. He froze.
“Did you hear that?” he said slowly.
“Hear what?” Angela asked anxiously. Then there was a loud bang, so loud that they both clapped their hands over their ears, tripping over in shock. Then more bangs. Then high squeals, echoing through the building. Brian leapt to his feet as the smoke alarms began beeping. There was no mistaking what the sounds were. They were the sounds of stolen fireworks.

The End.

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