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Haunted Mansion at the back alley
I wanted to run and bide, but my feet were cemented to the ground

Illustration by Kamiye Hoang Mai Davis,13, for "Haunted Mansion" by Lyla Lawless,13.
Published in Stone Soup, July/August 2007.

A note from William Rubel

There was an article this week in the British newspaper The Guardian about a group of teenagers in Wales who decided they wanted to make a movie out of a story by the super-famous American author Stephen King. They wrote to him asking whether they could purchase rights to a story for a price they could afford—and he responded immediately: “Yes! I’ll sell you non-commercial rights for $1.00.” You can read the story here. Why do I bring this up? Three reasons. First, to remind you of what you already know—a story or novel can be the starting point for the same story to be told a different way. Today, this different way is most often in the form of a film, though making a play, dance, opera, or podcast is also an option. The second reason is to remind you that when you rework someone else’s creative work, you need to ask permission if you intend to perform the work publicly. And the third reason is to remind you that because you are children, you will often be given permission to do something that grownups might not. Stephen King is unlikely to give me permission to make a film of any of his work for $1.00. So, if you and a group of friends or a club you are part of at your school have something ambitious in mind—like making a movie of a story by a famous author—don’t give up before you start. Write for permission and see what happens!

William's Weekend Project

That brings me to the project for today. I want you to take all or part of an existing creative work—“all” would be the complete work, like the complete novel, and “part” might be a chapter or a section—and turn it into something else. That something else could be turning a paragraph into an illustration or turning an illustration into a paragraph. If there is a piece of music that means a lot to you, you could turn it into a dance or a poem—or even a drawing or painting. What I am encouraging you to do here is explore the strengths of different literary and artistic genres. What can you say with words that you cannot say in in a drawing? What can you say in a drawing that you cannot say in words? What can you say in a dance that remains true to a particular piece of music but also expresses something that the music cannot? I think you get the idea.

As always, if you come up with something that you are particularly excited about, please send it to our editor, Emma Wood, via the online submission page.

Until next week,

Great news about anthologies!

I have previously mentioned that we are in the process of revising and reissuing the Stone Soup anthologies. I can announce today that the first revised volumes are at the printer, and the rest will follow soon. Joe Ewart, our London-based designer, has just posted the covers to his website. Click on the Stone Soup Book of Animal Stories cover to pull up the rest of the covers. While you are at Joe’s site, then you may want to look around at his other work. Joe is also the designer for Stone Soup’s print issues. Joe brings to Stone Soupa striking, modern-yet-classic design that says to the world “What our writers and artists have to say matters.”

My colleague Jane Levi has revised the anthologies by merging earlier editions together—for some topics we had multiple versions of anthologies with the same theme—and by adding material to further round out volumes. For example, 50 poems have been added to the poetry volume! Jane went all the way back to the first issues of Stone Soupin 1973 to find material. What she noticed in doing this is that the quality of Stone Soup’s stories and poems has been remarkably consistent from the start. While I know that those of you writing for Stone Soupare conscious that you’re just starting out as writers, Jane was struck by how much of the work is worth reading, full stop. She found herself sending great stories to her adult friends and having them tell her they had passed them on to their friends, super impressed with the quality. In other words, many of the works are so good that they’d be a credit to any publisher or age group. That is what Stone Soupis about—showing that kids can be creative on a level that does not require readers to downgrade their expectations. In other words, we are about publishing great literature—full stop.

Partnership news


We have an exciting partnership in place with Miacademy, the interactive learning site for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Writing from Stone Soup is being featured on their site, and Miacademy subscribers have the opportunity to submit their work to us as well. As part of this partnership, our friends at Miacademy are offering generous discounts to Stone Soup subscribers: 20–40 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

As readers of this newsletter will already know, 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 long-form piece of writing, you should be thinking about getting it ready to submit by the end of the year. If you do, you’ll have the chance to win a publishing contract for your very own book!

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our book reviewers and young bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

Aaron Du's review of the Alex Rider novel Never Say Die, by Anthony Horowitz, is one of the great new book reviews added to our site this week. Our reviewer is still excited by the series on the tenth book in! Find out why, and tell us what you think, on our blog.

From Stone Soup
July/August 2007they

Haunted Mansion

By Lyla Lawless, 13
Illustrated by Kamiye Hoang Mai Davis,13 

Haunted houses don’t exist, right? Well, one night when I was about nine, I wasn’t so sure. I was coming home from my friend’s house as the sun was setting, hurrying since I was late for dinner. I was on the east side of the hill, and darkness blanketed me. The last rays of the sun highlighted the tops of the tallest trees. It was a little spooky, so I tried to walk faster.

Up on the top of the hill was the old Finster house. To get home, I had to walk right past it. I was already shivering from the gloominess of the darkened hill, and the presence of that old mansion frightened me. Even from the bottom of the hill, I could see the cobwebs cluttering that rickety front porch and the broken windows on one side.

Creepy as it was, I couldn’t rip my eyes away The only time I’d ever walked past that house was with my friends in the middle of the day We would dare each other to walk up to the front porch and sit on the old rocking chair. No one ever did it. Usually, we all looked at our feet and hurried on by.

Consequently, I never got a good look at the place. Now, if I tried hard enough, I could spot some dusty furniture inside the house. By craning my neck, I saw that the side door hung crookedly in its frame, and blew slightly in the wind. The creak, creak of it sent shivers down my spine.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I froze, and whirled around. There, in a second story window was a pale yellow gleam. The sun had set by now, and the faint glow cast a square of light on the hill. I wanted to run and hide, but my feet were cemented to the ground. I knew what I had seen.

There had been someone in that room. It was a man, hunched over with age. The light had gone right through him, and his features had been ghostly white. He’d a lantern on the table where it flickered now. If I listened closely enough, I could hear his footsteps on the creaky floorboards.

Then, there was the wheezy sigh of someone settling into a rocking chair. My whole body was shaking violently. Now I found energy to run. Before you could say “boo,” I was up the nearest tree. .../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.

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