A note from William
First quarterly reading by Stone Soup authors! Tomorrow, Sunday, April 18, at 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern).
Public readings of poetry and prose are a standard part of the life of established authors. Please come to listen to fabulous fiction and poetry—and to show support for our authors. We estimate the program will last around thirty to forty minutes. I want it to be simple for you to attend, so you can also click on the direct Zoom link here.
Writing Prompt Reminder: Writing prompts are sent out every Monday along with news on the monthly flash fiction contest. If you are not on the list, sign up at this link. The past 147 prompts are on our website. You will also find them from the link. If you are a teacher, use them in your classroom.
Spring Writing Workshop: The Spring Writing Workshop sessions started today. We now have two classes, one that I teach and one being taught by Conner Bassett. There are a few places in each of the classes. If you want to try out a class to see whether you like it, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. She will get you the link for next week.
Summer classes: Summer school enrollment for the joint Stone Soup–Society for Young Inklings Summer Writing Program is open. The novel workshop is full. A second novel workshop has just been started.
Poetry class: Emma Wood, our Stone Soup editor, is a working poet. She is teaching a poetry class in the summer program. It is the first class she has taught through Stone Soup. If you are a poet, then jump on this class while it is still open. If you have a friend who is also writing poetry, tell them about the class and you can take it together.
Stone Soup Refugee Project: I have not written about the Stone Soup Refugee project for some time. This is the project we started inspired by former Stone Soup writer and blogger Sabrina Guo. For the last nearly six months, we have been building out a part of our website for the creative work of refugee students. The site is finally finished! It is currently being reviewed by our contact at the United National High Commission on Refugees. When they approve it, we will share it with you—and then take a deep breath—to move the project into its next phase.
Reading and writing project: The Cookie Jar, the opening of which is below, is an astonishingly original and powerful piece of fiction. If you are an adult reader of this newsletter, and if you read novels for pleasure, then please read the story. This is not “student” writing. This is writing. Full stop!
Isabella Chapman offers us a brilliant portrait of a character who has formed an attachment to a cookie jar. As improbable as this sounds, Isabella pulls it off. We feel along with the Elsie, the main character, and we feel for those around her.
There is so much to say about this work! The character is fully imagined, as are the places where the story unfolds. Super realistic and evocative description of the beach scene, for example. A strikingly large and carefully chosen vocabulary. As you read the story, I’d like you to pay attention to place—the where the story is taking place. Also, pay attention to how carefully Isabella has worked out the story’s emotional logic—like explaining why Elsie kept the cookie jar in the duffel bag.
For this weekend’s project, I want you to create a character who has an unusual interest, obsession, or focus. A character who does things differently. A great story, like this one, explores a theme—in this case, explores this child’s unusual obsession—by letting us experience it. Isabella doesn’t write, “Here is this eccentric character.” Instead, she brings us into Elsie’s world so that we see through Elsie’s eyes and Elsie’s feelings.
For inspiration, perhaps there is someone you know who has an eccentric interest or an eccentric attachment to something, like Elsie and her cookie jar. Or just someone—or, as this is fiction, it could be an animal—who acts differently from others. Write your piece from the point of view of the eccentric character so that for them, the behavior is normal.
Good luck! If you super like what you create, then please send it to Stone Soup so Emma can consider it for publication in the magazine.
Until next week,
Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest Winners!
Our April Flash Contest was based on our weekly creativity prompt #147 written by Stone Soup '20–21 Intern Sage Millen. Her prompt, which asked participants to visit the same spot every day for a week and record what they saw—whether through art, photography, or writing—generated a wide array of fabulous submissions, from daily photographic representation of a lounging house cat to ultra-scientific observation notes reminiscent of natural science journals. Thank you to all who submitted their stunning work, and thanks again to Sage for providing us with the prompt!
Congratulations to our winners and honorable mentions, listed below. You can read the winning entries for this contest (and previous ones) at the Stone Soup website.
“The Tales of Freeman Gardens” by Claire Liotta, 12 (Glen Ridge, NJ)
“Dolly’s Home” by Elizabeth Sabaev, 10 (Forest Hills, NY)
“Observing My Backyard” by Rishan Chakraborty, 11 (Portland, OR)
“The Island” by Madeline Cleveland, 11 (Belleville, WI)
“Over the Ditch” by Daniel Shorten, 10
“Magnolia Bliss” by Pranjoli Sadhukha, 11 (Newark, OH)
“My Backyard” by Reena Bao, 11 (Bedford, MA)
“Times of the Day in My Room” by Chelsea Liang, 11 (San Jose, CA)
“My Description Paragraphs for Six Days” by Diya Chakrabarti, (Portland, OR)
“Our Playground” by Tang Li, 8 (Palmetto Bay, FL)
"Interesting" by Ava Shorten, 11
Selected for the Stone Soup COVID-19 Blog
“My School” by Feifei Wan, 9 (Portland, OR)
Selected for the Stone Soup Blog
“Spring in Central Park” by Lila Laton (New York, NY)
Writing Classes and Book Club
Are you looking for classes to inspire, improve, and practice your writing with great teachers and a group of like-minded young writers and readers? Join us! We do charge fees for our clubs and workshops, but we try to keep them as low as possible, and we offer discounts to subscribers and scholarships to students who need them. Contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
Writing Workshop: we have two new writing groups for spring/summer, starting April 17, that will meet via Zoom every Saturday except for the last Saturday of the month. Come write with us and share your work with your peers. Find out more and register for a workshop at Eventbrite. To see some of the great work produced by current workshop members, read contributions published at Stonesoup.com, or join us at one of our free public readings!
Book Club: a book club for writers that meets via Zoom on the last Saturday of every month, with a new season starting on April 24! Find out more and register for book club at Eventbrite. Check out which books we are reading on our website.
Young Author’s Studio Summer Camps: we are offering a wide range of classes through the summer jointly with the Society of Young Inklings. Each camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday. All details and bookings via Society of Young Inklings.
Book Contest 2021
To submit your manuscript, please visit our submittable site.
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
Aditi, 12, wrote a review of Stuart Gibbs’s comedic mystery novel Poached.
Young Blogger Joshua Wang reviewed the latest line of basketball shoe in Nike’s vast canon, the KD13.
Young Blogger Anushka Trivedi wrote a compelling essay arguing for the promotion of democracy in schools.
Porter, 9, wrote a poem on the refreshing power of spring.
By Isabelle Chapman, 13 (Long Branch, NJ)
Illustrated by Andralyn Yao, 12 (West Lafayette, IN)
Elsie was obsessed with her cookie jar.
It hadn’t started that way. At first, it was practically useless, merely a vehicle for her beloved chocolate chip cookies. But then, even after each cookie had gone, annihilated by the impatient and hungry parents and siblings who shared them, the jar remained. Elsie found it comforting, in a metaphoric sense. In place of a stuffed animal, or something more commonplace to carry around for a girl her age, she even began to bring it around with her, in spite of its excessive weight. She felt that she was sending a clear message to the jar: she appreciated its loyalty, and this was her way of paying it back.
Of course, she couldn’t show it to her friends. First of all, they wouldn’t understand. And second of all, even beyond the realm of being unable to comprehend her immense attachment to this jar of porcelain, they would make fun of her for it. It’s not that they were mean-spirited; they just had a tendency to act without regard for the feelings of the owners of said jars of porcelain.
So, instead of foolishly carrying it around in broad daylight, Elsie kept her jar in her mint-green duffel bag. So as not to arouse suspicion, she put everyday items in there as well: a generously sized water bottle, a keychain to her old house, a keychain to her current house, and the thick cookbook she used to pore over before realizing that the true gift lay not in the cookie but in its jar. For three years—ages eight to eleven— her system had worked seamlessly.
That was, it had worked seamlessly until May 5, 2020.
Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.
Stone Soup's Advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.