Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

Tick Tock
Colored pencil

'Tick Tock' by Marco Lu, 12, published in Stone Soup, January 2019.

To our adult readers: A call for web designers!

Before getting into the meat of this week’s newsletter, I’d like to put out a call to those of you who are web designers or work for a web-design firm. Our first priority this year is improving our website’s functionality and its design. Our print publications were redesigned in 2018. It is the website’s turn in 2019. A more beautiful and more functional website is key to our many projects—the magazine, the blogs, the book reviews, a new project space for child-refugee art and writing, a space for child composers, and more. How do we improve our navigation and make what we have clearer and more engaging? How do we add new kinds of content and retain clarity and engagement? If you can help us with this, please reply to the newsletter. This is a WordPress site. Thank you.

A note from William Rubel

The January Issue!

It’s great!

I know. I am always saying that. But it is always true. You, our Stone Soup writers and artists, are consistently sending us fabulous material. Before saying something more about the issue, I’d like to let you read editor Emma Wood’s introduction.

In January, the days are already getting longer but it doesn’t feel that way! This issue has some short short fiction—the winners of our 2018 contest—to match the season’s short short days, as well as wintry, dark landscapes in both art and poetry.

It also has three longer stories that matched the seasonal mood in a different way; their “darkness” is more metaphorical, but each one still leaves you with a feeling of hope and the presentiment of longer, lighter days ahead.

Here’s to some fireside reading!

As always, no matter how old you are, you will find inspiring language in this issue. Read the poems aloud and read at least one or two of the stories aloud as well. This way, you go slowly and are more able to savor the language. And, regardless of your age, the photography Emma chose will speak to you. I’d like to highlight “Cuts of the Blade” and “The Lonely Tree.”As you read in Emma’s letter, the issue includes the winners of our short short story contest. On behalf of all of the Stone Soup staff—Emma, Sarah, Jane, and myself—I’d like to thank all of you who sent in your flash fiction to the contest. Whether you placed in our contest or not, I hope that you have found the format of short short fiction useful to you.

William’s weekend projects

Below, you will find the first-place winner the Flash Fiction Contest, “The Pendulum,” by Sabrina Guo. For the writing project today, write an observation of something around your house, yard, or neighborhood. Make it short, no more than 300 words, which was the constraint that Sabrina was working under. You can describe a pet doing something, as Sabrina did, a place, a feeling, a meal, your room, anything. Unlike a longer story, you may find that there is no beginning, middle, or end as we normally think of them. You may just evoke a place, describing its look and feel but without there necessarily being any action, without there being a plot–something we’d call a vignette. But 300 words is plenty for a short scene that includes characters and even dialogue. As always, if you feel you have succeeded, then submit it to Stone Soup via the ‘submit’ button so Emma can read it.


The drawing by Marco Lu that you see above, “Tick Tock,” combines the precision of scientific illustration with the imagination of a creative thinker. When I first looked at the drawing I saw a flea in a nautilus’s body. Next, it looked to me like a mechanical creature eating a bug. Now, I understand the image to be that of a single robotic creature. There is so much to look at in Marco’s masterful drawing, so many ideas in it, that I’d like to use it as the inspiration for today’s art project. What strikes me most about the drawing is the flea clock feels so present, so real—so weirdly, naturally alive. At least, that is how it strikes me. I think the real “how” of this drawing is not its accomplished technique. The “how” is in the ideas that Marco brings to life with his pencils. We all have different levels of drawing skill. What is is important to succeed at this project is not that your work is as precise as Marco’s but that your idea is equally well developed. It is the idea of this mechanical flea-like creature with a clock stuck to its side that that gives the work its power. We look forward too seeing what you come up with.

Until next week,

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers–keep checking our website to keep up with what's new!

This week, we have another nature video from blogger Sierra Glassman, this one of the wildlife she encountered on a trip to Pantanal, Brazil.

Plus, a new book review from Kaiya and Silas, of They Poured Fire on us From the Sky by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Judy A. Bernstein.

From Stone Soup, January 2019, & winner of our 2018 Short Short Fiction Contest

The Pendulum

By Sabrina Guo, 12
Art: "Tick Tock" by Marco Lu, 12

Most nights, my cat stares at the grandfather clock in the living room. She is a grey tabby with splotches of black and white. Her eyes are golden and edged in greenish blue, like a miniature painting of the sun over a forest, or a mood ring, because you never know when the colors will change.

When she is calm, you see more of the gold, flickering. But when she is scared, her pupils are large and black, and you notice more of the green, which is the way she looks before the clock at night—her back arched, her fur raised like small tufts of grass. She stares at the oval shape of the clock as if it is the moon revolving around the earth and the earth around the sun. When the clock sounds on the hour, her ears twitch, but she doesn’t move. She simply resets her eyes, refastening them to the pendulum’s sway.
Unlike my cat, I think this time might have been better spent outside in the fresh air like my mother always wants me to do. But for my cat, no second is wasted; she merely sees and does: when she is hungry, she eats, when she is tired, she sleeps, and when she is frisky, she scratches the furniture, no matter how much we scold her.

When she is happy, she purrs, or she brushes her side against my leg, nudging her head and nose into my wrist when I reach down to pet her as if she is pleading, but for what I am never sure: more food, a toy, my lap? I never know exactly what she wants except that when I am with her, I am warm and calm, certain there is still enough time for everything.

Learn more about Stone Soup's past contests, read the winners' work, and find out about current contests you can enter.

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.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.