Finding a way to start a story is sometimes the hardest part of writing it but not for Nambucca's Leonie Harrison.
Winner of this year's Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival 'I Love Writing Competition' Open Category, Leonie says in this case she prompted herself by going to the bookshelf and taking down a book, any book, and reading the last word.
"In this case the word was 'ready' and my story 'Ready or Not' flowed from there," Leonie said.
"It doesn't always happen that way - sometimes it's a struggle to string a handful of words together. But in this case it worked."
Leonie said hearing she had won was a 'real buzz'.
"I was really chuffed - you always have that self doubt, so there is a sense of satisfaction when someone sees the merit in your work ... acknowledgement appeals to our humanness."
She says writing is something she works at because she loves it.
"As a child I was exposed to the arts in all its forms - our family life was steeped in it, so I found I was a natural critic.
"It has taken me a while to learn to look at my work with a critical eye rather than that of the critic."
Other place-getters in this category were:
2nd "Lake Serenity" by Kristin Vlasto
3rd Jointly Awarded for "Curtain Call" by Kristin Vlasto and "Working with the Enemy" by Beth Gibbings.
For a full list of winners go to the festival's Facebook page.