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Deadlines, recipes and a September poem...

A note from William Rubel


"OK, Francie, finished changing my books! We can go play Laura now". Illustrator Alycia Kiley, 13, for 'Laura' by Francie Neukom, 13. Published January/February, 2000.

Call for Recipes for the December issue

As a cookbook author myself I feel very strongly that a well written recipe is literature, and we want to read that genre of literature from our Stone Soup contributors. What we are looking for are Holiday recipes that mean something to you and your family. In addition to the ingredients and the instructions. we are asking for you to write what amounts to an extra short story -- a "headnote" -- to precede the formal recipe. This introduction to the recipe should be up to 250 words. As Stone Soup is a literary magazine, in selecting recipes we are are giving a lot of weight to that introduction.

There is no rule about what that headnote should be like. At their best, headnotes bring the reader into the spirit of the recipe, make the reader understand why the recipe is important to you, its author, and make your reader want to cook it. You can sometimes be direct and say, "This is the best recipe, ever! I love it!" But more frequently, it is best to weave the dish you are writing about into a compelling narrative.

The challenge in writing a headnote is that in addition to romancing the recipe -- that is one way I think of it -- the headnote is also the place where you mention tricky parts of the recipe, an ingredient that is especially important, or a technique that can be difficult. The headnote is a very odd kind of genre. It is where story and technical manual come together. The perfect headnote is like a jewel.

As I am writing this asking you to work to a deadline, I am also working to a recipe deadline. I have an article due for a magazine I write for on Monday. The article is on holiday breads and includes three recipes. One of them is a Seed Cake. I start that headnote with a quote from The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins loved Seed Cakes, a common cake in the 1700s. In other recipes, I have written about how the dish makes me think of my mother, who died when I was still in college. What I am trying to say to you is that the recipe headnote is a place for you to be creative -- a place to use all of your literary talents to draw your readers into your world and your imaginative space. As holidays tend to be rich in stories, memories, and imagination, our editor, Emma Wood, and I are looking forward to reading what your create for us -- and to eating the foods you love.

There are detailed instructions on the submissions page. In addition to the headnote the technical part of the recipe must be complete for us to consider the recipe -- the list of ingredients and the instructions have to be there. If you list an ingredient, then be sure it is in the instructions.

Please test your recipe more than once. My advice is that after you have written it, but before you submit it, that you make it one last time following your recipe exactly as you have written it. While I do want you to write the headnote alone, the way you write stories, it is appropriate to bring in friends or family members to test the recipe and get advice on how to write the instructions so they are clear.

We will test recipes ourselves before publishing them. We are really looking forward to tasting your words!

Until next week,


P.S. While this is a call for recipes directed at our readers under the age of fourteen, this also makes a good family project in which each family member writes one or more recipes as part of a family cookbook.


Stone Soup is now monthly through the school year. The September Poetry issue will be published next Friday. The closing date for the November issue just passed. The next closing date is October 20, for the December Holiday issue.

Business News

The Poetry issue will be published online next Friday, along with a PDF that subscribers can download that has the same formatting as the print magazine had. This PDF will be one of the year's issues included in the print Annual that we will be publishing in November.

The letters of distress have tapered off considerably, but we are still getting emails expressing dismay that Stone Soup is now publishing digitally. I have replied to many of you -- and said here in the Newsletter -- that the world has changed. The Village Voice, the archetypal New York weekly, just ceased print publication after 62 years. We have an extra reason for our fellow feeling: in 2005 The Village Voice wrote movingly about a novella we published in 1978, Lee Tandy Schwartzman’s Crippled Detectives, or The War of the Red Romer. I will write about that story, and its author, in a separate Newsletter.

We are still getting ourselves stabilized. When the ordering system functions more smoothly,  the new website is up, and we start seeing a growth in orders to schools, then we will begin to focus on new options for print publishing. We will never go back to being a print magazine, but we would like to become a prolific publisher of writing by young authors -- hence my recent request for young novelists to contact me. We can also see ourselves publishing poetry broadsides, anthologies, and much more; but just at the moment, that is all too much. I'd like to thank you all for sticking with us through this transition period, and for your help in directing us towards a future that squares the circle between digital and print.

Until next week,


From Stone Soup
March/April 2007

The Coal Towpath Near Sand Island on a September Afternoon 

By Roy Lipis, 9

A solitary autumn leaf rustles on a tree.
Slowly, gracefully it floats down, twirling,
silently meeting the dense dappled shimmer
of still water.

Overhead, distant vees of geese appear.
Their faint raucous cries float on a soft breeze.
Sticks weave around rocks to form
warm tables where turtles sunbathe languidly
Dragonflies swoop and hover like sylphs
admiring their likenesses in the mirroring water.
Lithe water striders skate across the skin of the canal.
Schools of sinuous minnows flit like brown shadows
below. Salamanders crawl over the slippery logs
submerged under thick algae and creep away


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