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"Girl in the Sun" (Canon PowerShot SX600) photographed by Sage Millen, 13, (Vancouver, BC, Canada) and published in the May 2021 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from Emma

As many of you regular readers may know, in addition to being editor of Stone Soup, I have also been a PhD student in literature. Well, now I can officially say I am a PhD candidate in literature! What is the distinction?

For the first few years of my PhD, I had to complete a certain number of courses in the department. Then I had to prepare for my “Qualifying Exam”—for my department, this was a three-hour oral exam based on a portfolio of written materials that totaled nearly 100 pages! Before I passed the exam, I was a PhD student—but now I have passed it, I have “advanced to candidacy”; I am a PhD candidate, and “all” I have left to do is write my dissertation.

I thought I would feel happiness and relief once the exam was over. I would no longer have the added stress and work on top of the regular stress and work of my regular life! However, still only a few days out from the exam, I feel deflated, disappointed, empty. This feeling reminds me of the way I feel whenever I finish writing a book manuscript. The whole time I am working on the book, I fantasize about finishing it—of having written the book so no longer have to be writing it. But then once I am finished, I am flooded with a feeling of sadness. What will I do now? What will force me to think deeply and thoroughly through ideas in language? What will I work on?

This feeling is the best reminder there is that process is everything. Writing and making art can be difficult, but it is in the process where we find joy and meaning. Writing is about writing, not about having written. As Jorie Graham, a famous contemporary poet (and my former teacher!), once said to me, “Your last piece is never going to write the next one for you.”

So, whether you are working on a manuscript to submit to our book contest or an artwork or shorter piece of writing to submit to the magazine or blog, I encourage you to remind yourself, whenever you find yourself wishing you were done already, that actually you will miss the project when you are actually done.

Until next week,

Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest Winners!

Our May Flash Contest was based on Creativity Prompt #151, provided by the brilliant Molly Torinus, challenging participants to come up with five "terrible" book titles and write a story based on one of them. What followed was an avalanche of submissions boasting the most creative, eye-catching titles many of us had ever seen. Of course, the exemplary work that followed the titles broke the moniker of "terrible," and provided us with a lifetime supply of imagination, no one story following a similar arc. We found ourselves immersed in dramas set in the far reaches of outer space, character driven vignettes set in a classroom, rich narratives told from the perspective of a dog, and much, much more. A big thank you to all who submitted this monthit was a pleasure to read all of your work.

In particular, we congratulate 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 BWBM Students" by Ritobroto Roy Chowdhury, 10, (Riverside, CA)
"T.L.G.E.Y.5.T." by Darren Fisher, 9, (Portland, OR)
"Connecticutians, I Ate the Grape" by Rex Huang, 11, (Lake Oswego, OR)
"The Book Without a Name" by Serena Lin, 10, (Scarsdale, NY)
"The Pheasant Was Delicious" by Juliet D. Simon, 11, (Santa Monica, CA)

Honorable Mentions
"Once Upon a Time a Friendship" by Sophia Wong, 9, (Short Hills, NJ)
"Chocotalia and Hideous Dragon Monster" by Sophie Liu, 9, (Surrey, BC)
"When a Chicken Says 'SQUAWK!'" by Olivia Luan, 11, (Great Falls, VA)
"Cats, Dogs, Dragons, and Other Household Pets" by Atalie Lyda, 12, (Portland, OR)
"You Are NOT Reading This Book Cover" by Joycelyn Zhang, 11, (San Diego, CA)

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 education@stonesoup.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

For information on submitting to the Stone Soup Book Contest 2021, please click here.

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!

Young Blogger Daniel Zhu published an informative article on the stock market.

Read updates on both of the Writing Workshops from Saturday, May 1: Writing Workshop #39: Ghosts (part 1), and How Stories Work—Writing Workshop #3: Lightness.

As part of AAPI Heritage month, Young Blogger Tang Li wrote a personal narrative describing her trip to the Great Wall of China.

Ariana KralicekFrom Stone Soup
May 2021

The Trials and Tribulations of Swifty Appledoe (Part Two)

By Ariana Kralicek, 12 (Auckland, New Zealand)

It’s my first hip-hop class.

After suggesting it to my parents, they reluctantly agreed to send me for a tryout class.

“Swifty, I appreciate you wanting to try new things, but you’ve got to be dedicated. We have to spend our money wisely,” my mom says.

I’m dressed in a thin, white, cotton T-shirt with black leggings. My feet are adorned in running shoes. A backpack sits on my shoulders, stuffed with snacks and bottles of water.

I’m not taking any chances. I rewatched the news piece that inspired me, and the style of dance looks tiring—constantly moving with skilled flips and spins which look impossible. Or that could just be because I’ve never done it before.

After following Google Maps, my dad and I have ended up outside a grey warehouse. A logo’s been sprayed onto one side with vivid purple paint. The words read “Macie’s Dance Studio.” There are two wide doors graffitied with bubble words and wacky illustrations.

“See you in an hour.”

My dad nods. He holds open the door for me, and I walk inside.

There’s a small reception room, an island desk with graffiti on the sides, the table purple.

A woman with a short ponytail and a baggy grey T-shirt notes dates on a small notepad and calls someone’s name. A young boy stands up from a red leather couch on the right side of the room. His mother’s flicking through a gossip magazine, the cover of it bold with provocative sentences featured in highlighted text.

A coffee table with competition advertisements piled in the center stands proud, like it’s won first place at the Olympics. The walls are splattered with model-esque monochrome posters, dancers reaching up to the sky, mid-somersault, collaborating. At the back end of the room, there is a door that looks like it would belong in a school classroom leading to rows of studios lined up behind each other.

Just then, a middle-aged woman storms through the door in sporty wear. She’s got mousey-brown hair loosely tied up into a bun, while her cheeks are flaming red.

“Lyla!” she says irately. “Our best student has quit!”

Lyla smiles. “Masie, I’ve got a class to take right now, and we have a new student we need to take care of, but I’ll help you later. Is Swifty here?”

I shyly raise my hand.

. . . /MORE

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.

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