A note from William Rubel
Our best Thanksgiving greetings from all of us at Stone Soup. Whether or not you are American or Canadian (Canadian Thanksgiving was last month), the end of the year is a good time to remember others who may not be in as happy a situation as you are. Where I live, in Santa Cruz, California, smoke from the massive Camp Fire that destroyed a town of 27,000 and has killed many people has reminded all of us here how lucky we are. The Stone Soup spirit is that when each of us gives a little, something great can be accomplished. I encourage you all to give something, even $1.00, to help someone who is in need right now. I just gave money to the UNHCR, the United Nations agency that helps refugees, and to the American Red Cross to help people caught up in the Camp Fire. I don’t think you will ever regret giving to help others.
When we were at the California Library Association Conference two weeks ago we were surprised by how many librarians were interested in Stone Soup as a place where their patrons could not only read great work, but also get published. That got us thinking. That got us thinking about Stone Soupas a bridge between being a consumer of literature–a reader–and being a writer. All writers are readers, but all readers are not writers.
I love to write. I feel most alive when I am writing. In that sense, for me, writing is its own reward. That said, I have many things I want to say that I want to share with others. While I don’t “write for publication” in the sense that I the only reason I write is to get published, having my work read by others is at the center of all of my writing. I tend to think of everything I write as a letter to a friend. In fact, the first book I wrote, The Magic of Fire, was started as a letter to a friend. But, when the letter got to about sixty pages I realized that the letter form wasn’t going to work–five years later that letter, by then a large book, was published.
I decided I would be writer after visiting a friend of mine who was already a writer. He showed me a fan letter that had recently arrived. I was blown away! The fan letter impressed me because I saw that my friend’s writing had touched this person’s heart. And I thought, there and then, nothing could be better than enriching the lives of total strangers.
Writing is where you, the writer, find your inner self. I think that ideas are best developed through writing. When you put words on paper you are forced to confront deep truths–do these words mean what I want to say? What is it, exactly, that I do want to say? In my experience as a writer, the act of writing itself is where I discover my voice.
The trick is that to actually be a writer you have to write! We all have busy schedules and most of us are also distracted by our digital recreations. I am struggling with this in my own house with my own daughter. When she writes she is fully engaged with the writing, but more often than not, the lure of another episode of something on Netflix has her transfixed. We are working towards one or more video game- and movie-free days simply because it is so hard to stop playing or watching once one has started. If you are also struggling with how to balance digital entertainment in your life, or have advice for me and my 7th grader daughter, let me know by replying to this Newsletter. I’ll put together some of your replies to share with you. Replies from parents are welcome!
A very brief reference to holiday shopping...
Holiday shopping craziness is upon us! The one way you can best help Stone Soup thrive is to subscribe to the magazine via the Stone Soup website, look for gifts in our online store, Stonesoupstore.com, and encourage your friends to do the same–you never know, you or they might get their subscription for free in our 45th birthday celebration! (see below). Thank you.
This week's art and story
In this week's newsletter we wanted to highlight a particularly beautiful painting made by one of our younger contributors that we published this year: Aevahaadya Arun's "Teary Eyed Giraffe". What an achievement! Do take a closer look, and read some of the comments that tell you more about her work at our website. Also, don't miss out on reading (or re-reading) Natalie Warnke's story below, also published in January. It's always exciting when a genre is turned on its head, and Natalie does just that with her clever twist on a fairytale princess.
Until next week,
The past week on our blog
It's been a great week on our blog - three new posts from young bloggers were published.
In 'Big Family: A Memoir', Daniel Wei tells us about his experience as an Asian-American boy visiting China for the second time in his life.
Maya V talks about 'Sad Books', and her difficulties with reading them. I'm sure lots of us share her feelings! Have a read and leave her a comment to keep the conversation going.
And last but not least, Keshav Ravi muses on the joys of a fort: for play, for contemplation, as an escape, and as a place to read.
Help us reach 1,000 print subscribers by the end of the year!
Stone Soup was 45 years old this year. We want to celebrate that birthday and celebrate being back in print with an offer to our loyal readers. Can you help us meet our target of 1,000 new print subscribers by the end of the year? We are offering free subscriptions and extra prizes at various points along the way, all tied into our age.
- Every 45th subscriber will receive a free subscription.
- The 450th and 900th subscribers will receive a free subscription, plus copies of all ten of the Stone Soup books in our collection (8 anthologies and 2 Annuals).
- And, the 1,000th will receive all of that, plus a free site license for the institution–school or public library–of their choice.
It's easy to subscribe: visit this page. This particular promotion will continue until we meet our target or get to the end of the year, whichever comes first. Please share this with everyone you think would benefit from joining the readership of Stone Soup.
We have an exciting partnership in place with Miacademy, the interactive learning site for K-8th grade. Writing from Stone Soup is being featured on their site, and Miacademy subscribers have the opportunity to submit their work to us. As part of this partnership, our friends at Miacademy are offering generous discounts to Stone Soup subscribers: 20 to 40 percent off, depending on which type of subscription you purchase. To find out more about Miacademy and explore the various services on offer, visit their website and read the information for parents. If you choose to join, simply enter the code STONESOUP2018 at the checkout to receive your discount.
Secret Kids contest
This is our regular reminder to young, long-form authors that we are running a contest in partnership with Mackenzie Press: the Secret Kids Contest. All of the details are on our website–suffice to say, that if you are under the age of 18 and working on a book-length piece of writing, you should be thinking about getting it ready to submit by the end of the year to be in with a chance of winning one of the amazing prizes–a publishing contract.
From Stone Soup, January 2018
By Natalie Warnke, 12
You would think that a princess’s life would be amazing and magical but it’s not how it seems. I sit on a bed in a tower. Every day. Always nervous. Having that one feeling where you have knots in your stomach. That something would happen. Something evil, something terrible. But every day it was the same: the same voices outside, the same hands handing me food through a slot in the wall. But then something did happen—something bad and evil. Not what I wanted. I wanted a Prince Charming like other kingdoms but I didn’t get one.
I heard a scream and the castle doors shutting. People were running, voices were yelling, and I was here alone. I sat there for a while not knowing what to do. My heart started pounding. I sat patiently, knowing that sooner or later someone would remember me. But nobody did. So I started banging on the doors as hard as I could. No one heard me over the screams of terror. We were under attack, and I was stuck in a tower next to it all, hearing the whole thing. I was terrified. My hands shook like maracas. I grabbed a metal pan I had my supper on, and I thrashed it against the door. Surprisingly, a piece broke off. So much for safe keeping.
I started peeling and chiseling the wood away. After about an hour of work, I finally had a small space to crawl out of. I slowly slipped through with a few splinters that hurt and landed on the first step of the staircase. I ran down the staircase. Then I noticed that voices were gone. Except for one hush one. “Be quiet!” I heard. I was scared. I had never had a real encounter with a human—or at least I can’t remember it.
I was nervous but kept going. Quieter this time but at a fast pace. When I was almost down I saw her—a beautiful young girl. She was about three years younger.
“Who are you?” I asked.
All the sudden I felt something I had never felt before: love. Even though I had known her for only a second, I knew she would make an amazing friend. She grabbed my hand and led me out the door.
“Where are we going?!”
“You’ll see!” she said as she dragged me through the burned-down doors. . . /more
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.