Tag Archives: aspiring writers

Judged Five Best Short Story Entries for 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition


Short Story finalists from the Crocodile Prize – Papua New Guinea’s national annual literary competition.

Crocodile Prize PNG

Below are the five best short stories entered for the Short Story Category of the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition. The numbers of the short stories entered for the 2017 Crocodile Prize Competition was low compared to the previous years. But the quality has been outstanding. The story lines and characters were better developed. The stories were better organised so the build-up to a climax were deliberate and entertaining. The emerging writers have also come from a more diverse background. Electricians to carpenters and Literature students of the University of Papua New Guinea and more. Several of these are first timers who do not identify themselves as writers. The following titles below were the selected short list of the winners after the long process of filing, culling and judging. Only one more process is left, that is: Selection of the overall winner among the 5 winners as identified by the judges.

View original post 306 more words

Top Five Tips on Publishing a Children’s Book


There are a lot of tips on what you need to do when you have a book ready to publish. Here are top five tips on publishing for children.

The man himself, Barry Cunningham, the original publisher of Harry Porter and the Publisher of Chicken House gives a little advice to aspiring writers for children’s books,  ranging from age 7-18.

Personally, I think this advice is good for any aspiring author with a ready manuscript – not just children’s books. What do you think?

PNG Literary Competition Achieves Record Entries.


The Papua New Guinea Literary Competition The Crocodile Prize received the highest number of entries ever, this year.  On closing last night the Crocodile Prize fetched a total 826 entries from 132 writers & illustrators.

Poetry 355; Essay 196; Story 129; Children 52; Heritage 48; Illustration 21; Tourism Arts Culture 15; Book of the Year 10.

These numbers may not sound very much for writers in other countries, but for any Papua New Guinean writer, it is a very heart-warming news, especially coming from a literary culture that almost became extinct. In the early 70s, leading up to the country’s independence, passion for art, culture and heritage including the literary pursuits and publishing of works written by PNG writers were at their peak. It is not quite clear why the interests have fallen so much after independence. That culture may have been used because we were proud of our identity and we wanted independence so much or perhaps the general growth of consumerism and the wider issues of social, economic and political changes have contributed to this new – lack of passion of culture. I remember growing up with radio stories written by PNG writers, attending and being part of stage plays – written by PNG writers. Poetry, stories, essays as well as other forms of literary work were promoted and supported by the national government.

The lack of passion in the arts and the literary support to me is quite surprising and sad; our culture is based on oral history and story-telling.

As a PNG writer, a practicing artist and an arts curator, it seems very clear to me, that the PNG government’s priority is elsewhere and not the least in the arts. But to not even support the literary aspect and especially in developing educational content that is relevant to our children and educational for our people is wrong. We cannot just tell stories and pass them on – now we can write them down and keep for many years.

It is not how much minerals we export and logs we sell, but the natural beauty, our rich art, culture, languages and stories that set PNG apart, and gives us our unique identity.  The literary scene dwindled to almost non-existent, although that could have been easily combined with and taught through the education system. There are not many avenues and support nor funding where PNG writers could train or share their work, and even to sell. Most workshops, training and activities relating to creative writing or any literary work have been Aid funded or Privately sponsored in the past four decades. Now this is how things have started to change for the PNG literary scene.

THE CROCODILE PRIZE STORY
The Crocodile Prize was established in 2010 by Phil Fitzpatrick and Keith Jackson, (both Australians) worked for many years in Papua New Guinea; Fitzpatrick as a patrol officer, Jackson as a broadcaster and journalist.

The Prize evolved from the popular PNG Attitude blog, which has a policy of encouraging and publishing Papua New Guinean contributors.

The concept of a national literary competition was triggered by Fitzpatrick’s concern that creative writing in Papua New Guinea had fallen upon hard times, and that this was a cultural constraint needing to be addressed.

The first awards were presented in 2011, a year of determining whether or not a project of this kind could be managed successfully given geographical, financial and the constraints of a voluntary organisation.

Using PNG Attitude as a vehicle for publicity and initial publication, Fitzpatrick and Jackson soon discovered an enthusiastic and rapidly emerging body of Papua New Guinean writers.

They were assisted greatly in the early stages by material and financial support provided by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and later by a range of sponsors, most of them PNG-based.

This backing made it possible for a range of associated activities to be instituted in addition to the Prize, including an awards ceremony, the publication of an annual anthology and the initiation of writers’ forums.

After the first awards in September 2011, it was agreed the Prize should become a permanent part of the literary landscape of PNG. Now under the management of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG, 2015 will mark its fifth year of operations.

PHIL FITZPATRICK on 2015 Competition

Thus ends another year of the Crocodile Prize literary contest.

IT’S not every day that you get to influence the revival of literature in a whole country, unintentionally or otherwise.

I must admit to some surprise that it has happened at all. What started as a humble writing competition seems to have bloomed beyond all expectations.

There is a sense of pride in what has happened but, strangely, it’s not personal. Rather it is a sense of pride in the achievements of the writers involved.

At a personal level it has been more of a humbling experience. There is also a sense of awe and enrichment.

The enrichment comes from reading the works submitted to the competition and the sheer learning experience involved.

I think, despite nearly fifty years travelling back and forth to the country, I’ve really only learned to understand Papua New Guinea in the last few years of the Crocodile Prize.

There is also a tinge of anger involved, mostly through the fact that an uninterested government and lackadaisical education system could let such a promising and rich cultural emergence in the 1970s wilt on the vine and become moribund.

That aside, one of the ironies I really enjoy is the fact that the revival has only now been possible because of the advent of digital technologies that were supposed to see the demise and eventual extinction of books. Such are the shaky prognostications of the doomsayers.

The key factors in the Papua New Guinean revival have been the Internet and the availability of digital publishing and print-on-demand technologies.

These have underpinned the Crocodile Prize, firstly by providing a writers’ outlet in the form of PNG Attitude and secondly in offering a cheap way to publish the best in an annual anthology and then to go even further in publishing stand-alone individual books by Papua New Guineans.

The future of literature in Papua New Guinea is starting to look rosy but we need to remind ourselves that it is still extremely fragile.

The disastrous complacency of the 2013 competition organisers reminds us of what could still happen.

2014-15 has been a watershed year and there’s light at the end of the tunnel but sustainability is still a long way off and we aren’t there yet by any stretch of the imagination.

The winners of this year’s Crocodile Prize will be announced early September. The awards event will be held in Kundiawa on Saturday 19 September

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude

Magda’s Luck – Short Story


2015-06-15-bw-beacham
Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a unique flash fiction challenge where Barbara Beacham provides a new photo and the first sentence of a story each week. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. This challenge runs from Monday to Sunday.

Magda’s Luck – Short Story © JKLeahy

At first, it looked like an ordinary marble, but it was far from it. Magda got to it, reached down awkwardly and picked it up. It was big and heavy.

Years of factory work damaged her back. Magda longed for an easy way to survive. The ball was larger than a cricket ball yet smaller than a soccer ball.

“Perrr-fect!” she smiled to herself and wiped off the red dirt.

This was a sign. She closed her eyes in prayer. She has seen it done in the markets with no truth in it and told Chek. Besides, who would know? Her husband Chek died last year.

With her gypsy olive skin, a pair of wild gooseberry eyes set against her greyish black hair, Magda was ready.

She pushed her Coles trolley to Brisbane’s West End markets. Already she could predict her own future. Her years of struggle are about to end in a few hours when she starts her new career  – predicting people’s futures.

The Eye of the Storm – Short Story


2015-06-08-bw-beacham
Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a flash fiction challenge by Barbara W. Beacham. Here is my story for this week’s prompt in the first sentence below and in reference to the above picture. 

The Eye of the Storm ©JK Leahy short stories

Zeus was not having a good day and he made sure everyone knew it. Mack was a mess as soon as Zeus got going.

“Get me a cleaver…”

“Nooooo! Pleease! Oh god – I’m sorry!” Mack sobbed and gurgled as I ran to boss’s collection for a blade. I almost dropped it; my legs could barely keep up.

As Zeus’ knuckles tightened to white around the knife handle, I desperately avoided his predatory gaze, leering at me through the lightning bolt tattoo across his right eye.

“Now, get out” he growled. I didn’t linger.

Mack had hidden Zeus’s package as well as the money. He lied. I warned him that Zeus would not buy it. The kid messed up.

I wondered why you’d risk losing some fingers for a few bucks, and then I heard a chop. Mack’s screams battered the walls of the warehouse, and the echoes shook my bones. I guess you never quite get used to working for a psychopath.

(149 words)

The Carménère Moment – Short Story


The Carménère Moment©JLeahy Short Story 

2015-05-25-bw-beacham
Picture by Barbara W, Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story with Barbara W.Beacham

“The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.” Uncle Joseph said.

A tear rolled down his wrinkled tired face. The Eastern Belt explosion left several hundred dead last week. The town was evacuated. I watched another tear form and my eyes salted.

“My first thoughts were Josepha, Maria, and Antonia”.

“Where were you?”

“We sat for dinner. I went down to get a bottle of wine from the cellar – only minutes away”, he covered his face with bloody bandaged hands and wept.

My 50-year-old uncle cried as I rubbed his shoulders.

“I…I heard a single explosion, it sounded so far away. I thought it was the daily blasting at mine site. I should have come up. Antonio wanted a Carménère to celebrate Maria’s first communion. I couldn’t read the labels…suddenly I heard the crumbling, screams upstairs and everything went black”.

“Don’t cry, please uncle. They are with God now”, I whispered, as I cried with him.

(150 words)

 

“Never judge a book by its movie” – The Mystery


books

How many times have we heard this comment and seen the quote on the web? We also hear friends or family members complain that ‘the movie was not as good as the book’?  How wonderful is it to have so much more in a book?… and I am talking about a good book.

Have you ever wondered who J.W. Eagan is? He or she is supposed to be the author of the quote.

“Never judge the book by its movie” is one of the most popular book quotes on the web – but do you know its author?

She or he must be a writer. Or maybe a literary critic. A screenwriter? Hollywood-based reporter? A charismatic lecturer or passionate librarian?

The web including Google and Wikipedia, do not know this clever person. You won’t find J.W. Eagan bio on the internet.

It’s interesting that one of the most quoted persons of the Internet is so astonishingly anonymous. The quote has been shared hundreds of thousands of times each day in social media. It’s being reused on posters, t-shirts, mugs, and endless number of quote pictures.

Read more of this interesting story here.

Brooding Storm – Short Story


Mondays Finish the Story by Barbara Beacham

This is a flash fiction challenge where Barbara W. Beacham offers a picture and the first sentence of the story. Based on the photograph and the first sentence, one must come up with a 100-150 word short story.

2015-05-18-bw-beacham1
Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

BROODING STORM © JK. Leahy

The crew of the Angel Flame received orders to head out. When Yakov and Marishka reach the secluded Russian base, most men had already boarded.

Marishka wiped her tired eyes as her husband walked to the submarine, leaving her, their newborn Polinka and their sick two-year-old, Boris. It was a dreary Friday at 5am; three lost seagulls skirted past Yakov, fleeing the brooding storm.

After Yakov’s head vanished into the submarine, Marishka left – four hours later the snowstorm hit. The radio announced that nobody was hurt. Marishka medicated and monitored Boris’s temperature.

The next day at 7am she heard a knock. It was persistent. Unwrapping herself from Polinka, she reached for her gown.

Marishka caught a glimpse of a man in uniform through the winter-frosted glass and threw open the door with a grin. Expecting to fall into Yakov’s arms, her stomach sank when instead she met the gaze of a stone-faced man carrying Yakov’s personal effects.

“Mrs Vladimir?”

“…Yes?”

 

 

Famished Eels – A Short Story Winner by Mary Rokonadravu


In partnership with Commonwealth Writers, Granta is publishing the 2015 winning stories for Africa and the Pacific: ‘Light’ by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) and ‘Famished Eels’ by Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji). To listen to podcasts by all the regional winners and read the regional winning stories for Asia, Canada & Europe and the Caribbean, please visit the Commonwealth Writers website.

Podcast from the story-teller

I have read and wish to share the Pacific winner’s short-story. It is one of the most beautifully told short-story I have read. I would recommend you read the whole story from the link I have provided at the end of this passage.

Famished Eels

cropped-flying-eel-long

After one hundred years, this is what I have: a daguerreotype of her in bridal finery; a few stories told and retold in plantations, kitchens, hospitals, airport lounges. Scattered recollections argued over expensive telephone conversations across centuries and continents by half-asleep men and women in pyjamas. Arguments over mango pickle recipes on email and private messages on Facebook. A copper cooking pot at the Fiji Museum. Immigration passes at the National Archives of Fiji. It is 2011.

Fiji, with Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, had just registered the ‘Records of the Indian Indentured Labourers’ into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, when my father, the keeper and teller of stories, suffered a stroke. Fate rendered his tongue silent. He cannot read or write – he first set foot in a classroom at fifteen, and was told by a nun he was too old. He ignores my journalist and doctor siblings to select me, the marine biologist, to finish his task. I am off the coast of Lifou in New Caledonia counting sea urchins when the call is relayed.

He hates me for not becoming a journalist, I say to myself.

I will be on the Thursday flight, I tell my older sister.

She meets me at the airport and drives me down to Suva. It is past midnight. We pass eleven trucks overloaded with mahogany logs between Nadi and Sigatoka. A DHL courier truck. A quiet ambulance. She smokes at the wheel, flicking ash into the cold highway wind. We pass a dim lamp-lit wooden shack before Navua. Someone is frying fish. We both know it is fresh cod. We remain silent as we are flung into the kitchen of our childhood at Brown Street in Toorak. We stop to sip sweet black tea from enamel pialas in Navua.

Come on tell me, she blurts. Who you seeing now? Is it a dark-skinned Kanak? Is that what’s keeping you in Lifou? Do you speak French now?

Screw you, I say from the back seat.

He wants you to do this because you won’t lie to him, she says. The rest of us may. Just to make him happy. Just give him what he wants to hear. But you won’t. You will find out and you will tell him.

Screw you, I say again, more to myself than her.

All his life, my father has sought one thing only – to know the woman in the photograph. To know the name of her city or town in India. To know that at some juncture in history, there was a piece of earth he could call his own. All he had had was a lifetime of being told he was boci. Baku. Taga vesu. Uncircumcised.

A hundred years was not enough. Another five hundred would not be either. In a land where its first peoples arrived a couple of thousand years before the first white man, the descendants of indenture would forever remain weeds on a forsaken landscape. A blight.

He had stubbornly remained in Fiji through three military coups and one civilian takeover. Everyone had left. He remained the one who rented out flats until his brothers’ houses were sold. He supervised brush-cutting boys on hot Saturday mornings. He was the one to call the plumber to change faucets in grimy, unscrubbed shower recesses. He was the one who kept receipts for oil-based butternut paint, bolts and drill bits; photocopied them faithfully at the municipal library and mailed them to Australia, Canada or New Zealand. Each envelope had a paper-clipped note: OK. It was the only word he learned to write. I received Christmas cards from him saying the same thing: OK. The handwriting on the envelope changed depending on who the postmaster was at the time.

His younger brothers send out family newsletters on email. There is only one photograph of my father they use, a blurred profile of him holding a beer. They use the same caption – ‘Still refuses to use email.’ I wish to click Reply All and say ‘fuck you’ but there is a distant niece in Saskatchewan on the list – she writes me regularly for shark postcards and she knows the scientific names of eleven types of nudibranch. She recorded herself reciting it like bad poetry and put it on YouTube. I am the only one who knows this. She insists I use real handwriting, real stamps. She hates pancakes, frogs, flatlands. Her handwriting yearns for water. Salt water. Sea. In her milk tooth grin I see the next storyteller – the one to replace the man who has gone silent. She is ten and wants three pet octopi.

I was born to be a bridge. All I see are connections. I bridge between time, people and places. I study migratory species. Tuna fish stocks. Whales. Sea urchins in between. Cephalopods. I was nine when I picked up my first cuttlefish bones on a tidal flat in Pacific Harbour. For years I thought it was a whistle. I wrote out the names of the world’s oceans, seas, currents and fish in longhand, unaware the lead scrawlings were placing miles between my father and me. He watched me from across the kitchen table. My mother had died bringing me into the world. He washed okra with patient fingers. Boiled rice. Warned me he was going to slice red onions.

Make sure you buy land, he whispers. When you grow up, buy a small piece of land. Build a house just for you. Promise me.

Promise. But my eyes were already on the Kuroshio Current. I was already reading the voyage of Captain James Cook and the transit of the planet Venus. Hearing the howl of winds at Tierra del Fuego. No one told me that as recently as one hundred years before, ships had cut through the rough straits with people carrying the makings of my teeth in their genes. They almost never happened. Almost.

Keep writing, he says in our old kitchen. As long as someone remembers, we live.

My sister drops me off at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

I won’t come in now, she says. I still smell of cigarettes.

My father is asleep when I reach out to hold his hand.

Famished Eels Continues here

Indigenous Australia Exhibition Opens in British Museum


Discover the remarkable story of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures in this major exhibition.

The show is the first major exhibition in the UK to present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects, celebrating the cultural strength and resilience of both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This culture has continued for over 60,000 years in diverse environments which range from lush rainforest and arid landscapes to inland rivers, islands, seas and urban areas today. Hundreds of different Indigenous groups live across this vast continent, each with their own defined areas, languages and traditions. The exhibition runs from 23 April – 2 August 2015.

And here is another view of the exhibition has sparked.

Exhibition Sparks Protests

Published on Apr 23, 2015 (YouTube)
On 21 April 2015, the British Museum’s BP-sponsored ‘Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation’ press launch was disrupted by activists, criticising oil sponsorship and calling for the repatriation of stolen indigenous objects.

British Museum Link