Stringybark Open Award 2023
The Stringybark Short Story Award 2022
Competition Closed: 13 February 2022
287 entries. $1025 in prizes.
Judges: Dr Mel Baker, Antoinette Merrilees, Dr Rick Williams and David Vernon
Editor: David Vernon
Cover designer: Jonathan Vernon
Layout: Stringybark Publishing
Australian printer: Prinstant, Canberra
Thirty-three engaging and imaginative short stories are showcased in this, the fortieth, short story anthology from Stringybark Stories. Selected from over 280 entries these winning and highly commended tales are marvellously clever, intriguing and a ripping read. From love stories and the joy of flat packs to escaped plants and smashed avocado, this collection is sure to amuse and entertain.
Inside the house, George flexed his shoulders and prepared for battle. He looked around the study and nodded with satisfaction. The rug was rolled back against the wall, the chairs had been removed to the kitchen and the desk, on the top of which he had carefully lined up his armoury, sat in the corner. The arena was ready.
— From Do It Yourself Shakespeare by Jim Baker
“You’re so beautiful,” he says. Some days she suspects it may be so, but beauty is difficult to verify. Even if he is lying, his words feel like sunlight on her back. “Lie down,” he instructs. He kneels above her and slides a cushion underneath her head, another under each of his knees. “Sorry,” he grins, “the floor’s a bit hard, I really should get a rug.”
— From Contrapuntal Motion by Kerry Lyons
33 published stories. One e-book and printed anthology, Fruitcake Frenzy
Edited by David Vernon, e-book and paperback, Stringybark Publishing,
A$16.95 includes postage within Australia. Discounts for multiple purchases. Please enquire for international orders.
Purchase E-book ($4.95 AUD)
How Much Can a Koala Bear?
Do It Yourself, Shakespeare — Jim Baker
Fighting Back — Rosemary Baldry
Invasive Species — Gregory Ballinger
Scar — Linda Brandon
Butterflies Dancing — Pauline Cleary
A Sigh Beneath My Branches — Courtney Evans
To Gather Dust and Lose Your Usefulness — Courtney Evans
From the Darkroom — Archibald Hobbs
Under the Statue of Colonel Light — Harry Huelin
Borderline — Leonie Huggins
Hung out to Dry — Penelope Jackson
Good Mourning — Stephen Knox
A Place at Your Table? — Carmel Lillis
Who is She? — Helen Lyne
Contrapuntal Motion — Kerry Lyons
The Dog — Graham Mitchell
My Daughter has Gone — Victoria Mizen
The Anniversary — Pamela Mosel
Some Things Don’t Turn Out Right — Judy O’Connor
The Day Harry Left — Judy O’Connor
Nowhere to Hide — Robert Padgett
Return to Sender — Robert Padgett
Violet Town — Juliette Salom
New Year Island — Guy Salvidge
Karl or Not Karl — Joni Scott
The Big Thaw — Irene Sheehan
Under a Galvanised Sky — Kay Spencer
Happy Chappie — Frances Underwood
Smashed Avo for Breakfast — Frances Underwood
Jessie’s Hair — Rita Willsher
Judging the annual open themed short story award from Stringybark Stories is always a pleasure as I never know what subject will be presented for my delectation. This year’s competition was no different although I was overjoyed to find that there were absolutely no vampire stories — for reasons that I cannot fathom these have been a dominant (and greatly disliked [from my point of view]) feature of past open awards. Unsurprisingly, there were a smattering of pandemic stories and issues touching current events — clerical sexual abuse and domestic violence being cases in point. 2022 did not feature many entrants serving up bush yarns. I was a little sorry at their general absence as I do enjoy a good yarn. I think the most notable absence this year were humorous tales. I can only think that several years of the pandemic, quickening climate change, domestic political corruption, incompetence, and global geopolitical stupidities have damaged writers’ sense of humour. More’s the pity. In a time of such grimness, a good laugh is often needed.
What I am looking for in a story should not be a surprise to anyone who has read any of our past anthologies. I want a strong (and original) plot line, clear characterisation and beautiful use of language. I want stories to do something and that transport me somewhere and leave me feeling satisfied (or at least intrigued). Stories which leave the ending for me to create don’t impress me. Other things that do not impress me are poor spelling, poor grammar and plot holes. When I receive entries that contain any of these three issues I know that the author has not given their story to other people and sought honest feedback. Always give your story to someone else to read. Always.
Once again, I am greatly thankful to the authors who support Stringybark Stories by entering our modest competitions. You can support them by buying our anthologies. Not only do you get to read great writing, but you get to see what our judges love.
Judge and Editor