Illustrator Sofia deGraff-Ford, 13 for Friends Forever? by Michael Scognamiglio,13
Published September/October 2006.
A note from William Rubel
In the last two months I have been to Taipei, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Mount Vernon, Virginia! Whew! As I write this at home on a lovely California spring afternoon, the sky blue, the Pacific ocean with its cloud bank hanging on the horizon just a few minutes away, this in-your-face portrait of a bike rider makes me want to jump up from my desk, put on my helmet and head out the door! At least for me, Sofia deGraff-Ford has done a fabulous job evoking the feeling of riding a bike. I think that evoking feelings is one function of art. If any Newsletter readers care to go on a bike ride (or feel the energy of another outdoor activity) this weekend, and then turn the experience into art, go for it. I am sure our Editor, Emma Wood, will be interested in seeing what you come up with.
Flash Fiction Contest: Reminder!
Flash fiction is the art of the short-short story. Or, perhaps better put as the short-short-short-impossibly-and-yet-somehow-doable short story. How short? Three hundred words short!
I’ll be honest. When Emma emailed me that she wanted us to have a contest for flash fiction I had no idea what she had in mind. So, I did what I am sure most of you do: I looked up flash fiction in the Wikipedia. The term means ultra short fiction. There isn’t a precisely defined word count, but the upper limit seems to be about 1000 words. Emma has structured our contest to have a limit of 300 words. Within that limit, your story must be complete.
One of the most famous writers of all time is the ancient Greek writer, Aesop. He lived from 620 BCE to 546 BCE, more than 2500 years ago. He is famous for his fables. The English translation of his fable about the mouse who helps the lion is just 167 words. Here is an index to all of the Aesop fables. Check them out. Aesop’s flash fiction is some of the most famous writing there has ever been. To still be read after 2500 years! That is something.
My father did a lot of writing over the last twenty years of his life. He wrote several volumes of his memoirs. A couple of authors I had read in my twenties who wrote (what I now know is) flash fiction had really impressed me with the power of the short-short form. I’d read some of my father’s stories and I’d say, “Dad, these stories are great. But, Dad, these two paragraphs here are brilliant! They tell your whole story.” But, unlike Aesop, he couldn’t bear to give up all those words he’d worked so hard to bring together!
But, we think maybe some of you can! Please go to the Flash Fiction contest page and read Emma’s guidelines and suggestions. If you don’t feel instantly inspired then perhaps try going through stories you have already written looking for parts that could be extracted and polished into a tiny jewel.
I have one last piece of advice. This is based on my own experience as a writer. When your work is finished, but before you send it in to our contest, read it aloud to yourself. Listen to what you have written. This will enable you to catch tiny errors, like duplicate words that you might not have potted when reading it. And, more importantly, you will hear whether the piece sounds perfect to your ear. Make minor changes, if needed, and then send it in. Good Luck!
Creative responses to current events
One last thing. As I think most of you know there was another school shooting on Friday. This time, in a small town in Texas. Emma has recently received a few pieces that talk about school shootings, and we thought this would be a good time to share them with our readers in a blog post. You can read our special feature, Kids React to Gun Violence, at our website. If any of you reading the Newsletter who are age 13 and under have something you want to say about the subject of school shootings in America, then please send it to us. There are links for submitting stories, poems, and art on the submissions page. If you have written nonfiction or something that doesn’t seem to fit in a category you see there, then please upload them to the blog category.
We hope you are all getting prepared for a creative Summer.
Until next week
This week on the Stone Soup Blog
Don’t miss our Special Feature: Kids React to Gun Violence, with three newly published pieces of work:
‘There is a lockdown on October 23, 2015’ by Aidan McClure, 7
‘Lullaby’ by Rebecca Beaver, 13
‘Seventeen Graves’ by Kate Kuan, 11Also new this week, a thought-provoking feature on another important topic:
Be Aware of Global Warming, by Antara
And finally, this weekend seems like a good time to revisit Lucy Regnier Kline’s piece from March 2018, 5 Ways Children Can Make a Difference
From Stone Soup
By Michael Scognamiglio,13
Illustrated by Sofia deGraff-Ford, 13
“Wheeee!” We must have been going fifty, maybe sixty miles per hour in his new Whaler speedboat, and I loved every minute of it. Janet, lying down in the bow to perfect her supermodel tan, gripped onto the handrails at this sudden shift of speed. I laughed next to Jesse, my six-foot-one, fifteen-year-old friend from two houses down. His sandy-blond hair was erupting from his worn Boston Red Sox cap that looked like it went through just as much abuse as the team itself. His emerald eyes were shielded by a brand new, gleaming pair of black Oakleys so as to impress the ladies. I on the other hand was uncomfortably placed on the driver’s seat next to him, attempting to look half as cool. I strained my eyes behind the dashboard and I could barely make out our destination in the distance.
I stepped off the Kiss My Bass and lingered on the dock as Jesse fastened the bow rope to the dock post. My fifteen-year-old sister, Janet, a brown-haired, fashion-loving, shoe-collecting diva, was right behind me, sporting a J-Crew skirt and an Anthropology T-shirt. Then I noticed her earrings, sparkling like tiny suns dangling from her earlobes. Why has she suddenly started wearing earrings? I thought to myself. Who is she trying to impress? It’s not like we’re in the city… we’re on a boat heading into a fisherman’s diner! However, the thought of melt-in-your-mouth, luscious, buttermilk pancakes quickly took over my mind and I had to cup my hand up to my mouth to stop the cascading drops of drool. Jesse jogged up the walkway, slowly putting his wife beater over his bare chest, and I thought I saw Janet’s stare linger for a couple of seconds before she looked down at her feet.
You see, the story of our friendship is a complicated one and may not be for the weak of heart. …/more