A note from Stone Soup Founder William Rubel
Dear Friends —
Well, it is again that millions of people are streaming out of cities where bombs and artillery pound people's homes. The costumes change. The language of pain, tears, and flight does not. Here is a link to the group, Save the Children.
Annual Book Contest - August 21 Deadline.
It is early March, and so it is that time again—the time to announce the opening of our Fourth Annual Stone Soup Book Contest. Every year we recognize the top novel or poetry collection submitted to this contest. The first prize is for your book to be published by Stone Soup. Books by previous winners like Abhi Sukhdial, Tristan Hui, and Anya Geist, have garnered important national recognition. The deadline is Sunday, August 21, 2022 at midnight in your time zone. There is a $15 filing fee. The winning book will be published in September, 2023.
Writing a book is not an easy task. I know that some of you are already working towards this contest goal, including a few of you continuing work on a text you submitted to the contest in 2022. With school and life in full swing, we know that it is going to take an extra degree of organization and discipline to get a manuscript ready to submit by the deadline roughly six months from now. As a writer myself, I can tell you that I am all too aware of the key problem with being a writer: writing does not write itself! We, the writers, can only get our work completed by sitting down at a desk and typing.
Stone Soup has your back. The fabulous Naomi Kinsman, founding director of the Society of Young Inklings, a brilliant writing program for young authors, is leading a weekend workshop—Saturday and Sunday March 26 & 27, 10-1 Pacific/ 1-4 Eastern—on how to set yourself up for success as a novel writer. The workshop costs $200. However, if you cannot afford the class, then please write to Tayleigh@stonesoup.com. We want any student interested in starting a novel to be able to attend this workshop.
In addition to this one-time weekend workshop, I will be holding a monthly meeting on the last Saturday of every month from March through July via Zoom at 9am Pacific for anyone who wants to meet to discuss their project with me, and to share with other writers. (For the record, I am not involved with judging the contest and do not speak with the judges about authors or manuscripts.)
I am not a novelist. But, I am a working writer. I am on my third book. So I can help you with focus issues and the meeting lets you share directly with your writing colleagues.
Here are the books of the past winners: Three Days Till EOC, Searching for Bows and Arrows, The Golden Elephant, The Other Realm, and Born on the First of Two. Last year's winners—Remember the Flowers and Foxtale—are forthcoming and will be published later this year.
I'd like to close this contest announcement with a general statement about contests. The primary reason to enter this contest is to provide a deadline to aim for with a project that will stretch your abilities as writers.
Every novel stretches the author. First novels are especially challenging. Challenges are good. Challenging yourself is key to becoming a great writer. Every contest has an element of chance about it. Don't write for the judge. Write to make yourself happy. That way, whether you win the contest or not, you will have created a winning manuscript.
Weekend writing project.
Today, I am sharing with you one project that I will be teaching as part of my writing class this Saturday morning.
The writing project today is something that any of you can do whatever your age—12, 21, or, like me, approaching 70. This project is about the sound of words, and how sounds can carry feelings, even when the words aren't real words.
The trick for all writers is to say what you mean and mean what you say. But literary writers, like Stone Soup writers, have an extra task. That is to use language in expressive ways—even sometimes to use language that has some of the qualities of music.
Even I will sometimes think of the past as being, well, simpler, less complex, and less daring than we are today. This is not how to think of the past! One hundred years ago there were many artists doing totally crazy things. Truly crazy things. Like, writing poems with words that don't mean anything! Words invented for their sounds—for how the sounds make us feel—kind of like how composers choose sounds.
The 1916 poem by Hugo Ball that is read in the video, below, is made up of "pseudowords." Pretend words. The only real limit to creating pseudo words is that you create words that are easily pronounceable, slamdoodle vs. gholtzhtzlp.
Please watch the poem in the video, and then, sometime this weekend, find a place and time when you can sit quietly and go into yourself to find the word sounds that will express your feelings, or the feelings of a character you may be writing about.
If you are a writer, then think of this as an exercise to help you become more alert to the connection between how the sound of your story (or poem) might affect your readers. I also think that you might find that there will be a place in a story that you are writing when a made up word—a pseudo word—might be just exactly what you need.
This actually happened to me. Last week, when I was working on this idea for my class, I was also working on the book I am currently writing. In my own writing, I found myself struggling for a word. And then I realized that a made up word would work best!
Until next week,
Highlights from the past week online
Stone Soup's Book Review and Blogs: kids inspiring kids
Stone Soup is DIY literature. Kids writing for kids. If you are in eighth-grade or less, roughly age 13 or younger, then you can write for Stone Soup. If you are not already a Stone Soup book reviewer or blogger, then please submit your work for consideration via this Submittable link.
We'd like to call your attention this week to Olivia Shekou's well-reasoned and well-researched piece on teaching world languages in California Schools. This is an exemplary piece of expository writing. If you are a young non-fiction writer, then please consider blogging for Stone Soup. We offer a platform where you can speak to a larger audience.
Our blog editor, Caleb Berg, has been posting some really thoughtful book reviews lately. Here you will find all of the recent reviews. The two most recent reviews are of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, reviewed by Aditi, 13 and 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons, reviewed by Nora, 13.
Beta Testing Site Licenses
We are working on revisions to the website — improving typography, page layout, navigation, and the education pages for our upcoming launch of the Stone Soup Beta Testing Site Licensing Project. We have twelve schools signed up to test when we get this program launched — aiming now for April 1. If you are interested in being a beta tester for what will be a $250 product — IP based licenses for entire schools — then you may write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you on the list. We are aiming for getting 50 schools signed up for testing and will be promoting through mass emails.
Summer School Classes
Summer school registration will open soon, so if you are interested in Summer School please be on the lookout for our email.
Stone Soup Writing Classes
You may start writing classes at any time. EventBrite prorates the cost so you only pay for the remaining classes in the session. Classes are structured so that you can start anytime. If you want to arrange for a free trial, then please write to Tayleigh@stonesop.com. Here are the EventBrite links to my classes — Saturdays 9am Pacific — and Conner Bassett's Classes — Saturdays 11am Pacific.
Our fabulous Book Club meets the last Saturday of every month at 9am Pacific.
From Stone Soup
By Judy Chen, 13 (Albany, CA)
Alexander looked up at the clock. It was 8:35 a.m., and the teacher was still not present. He sighed, wondering if his sixth-grade teacher would ever come.
Alexander Gerald Louis was tall and thin and had curly black hair and blue eyes. Despite being tall for his age, Alexander was never considered a jock, due to his lack of burliness. Instead, he was constantly called a “nerd” at school. Alexander took an interest in science, and dreamed of building high-technology airplanes, which was why his room was full of posters of the Wright brothers. In his spare time, he drew airplane models, or played soldier with his buddies. He got straight A’s during his elementary school years because his mother drilled him with algebra, properties, and even trigonometry—yes, even at the age of eleven. Every single grade he was in, the teachers praised him for his intelligence, mainly in mathematics and science.
You could tell that he was desperate to learn, because he looked up at the clock and checked his watch every few seconds. A few other students were thinking the same, but most of them were glad that they had a few minutes of freedom. One of them suggested an airplane fight, to which everyone but Alexander agreed.
“No! I don’t think it’s appropriate to—” But it was too late. Everyone grabbed printed paper from their desks and started folding the way they were taught to in kindergarten, which was part of the reason why Alexander believed that there should not have been a thing called “kindergarten.” He was obedient and righteous, and he didn’t want to cause any trouble in the class. Unfortunately, that’s not what most of the kids in Room 105 thought.
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.