Winter Solstice Wishes

Lit on Deadline will be taking a Winter Break starting on this shortest day. Stay tuned after the New Year for a selection of essays from the Fall IFN Writers, as well as other installments of The Caffeine Meth Chronicles.

Have a Happy Chrismahanukwanzaakah!


Ode to Random Twinkle

A few years ago we bought a Christmas lawn decoration labeled ‘Random Twinkle Snowman.’

Ever since, he’s been known as Random Twinkle. And the kids know the Season is here when we bring him down from the attic to join the light display in front of our house. After years of service, however, his thin plastic face is bashed in and taped back together after all the falls in the wind. His red scarf is often askew, and his plastic ear muffs unplugged.

“We need to fix his ear shovels!” my son said one year.

Alas, this year Random Twinkle lost his twinkle. First his body stopped lighting up, then his head. He’s currently out front for his last Christmas, a string of white lights draped around him like a necklace.

My kids, feeling a bit down, wanted to write a story to immortalize him somehow. Santa wanted to build a new Random Twinkle, my son began, and so he got his elves in Santa’s Workhouse to start building . . .

“Santa’s Workhouse?” my daughter said. “That sounds like Oliver Twist.”

These are the Christmas moments I want to immortalize.

Get Lit!

FLASH PUB (Noun) — Writers of all styles and genres publish something they’ve written somewhere online on the same day. Today, Dec. 5 is that day. — Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson

See stories, essays, observations, vignettes, memoirs and other works by the Hopkins Fall IFN Writers, updated throughout today, here at Check out various gorgeous blogs just launched and other links listed below 🙂  Enjoy!


By writer Rochelle Dumm

    This post is in response to the following words, spoken by the music director at my university’s orchestra rehearsal. “If we can’t play with everything we’ve got, then it becomes a moral issue.” – Jed Gaylin . . . .

For more see: ‎

By writer Kareem Fakhoury

    A girl walking by herself down the street, her hair bouncing in long blond waves. Along the street plain white walls are graced by yellow lights that read “Psychic Center: Open,” with a Ouija board resting on a table directly below. . . . 

See the entire essay at

By writer Nathan McDonald

    Nestled atop a hill of terraced housing lies a gentrified gem of Baltimore known as Hampden.   Off-white houses, relics of a distant past, crowd the narrow streets that slope downward from the neighborhood’s center . . .

Check it out at

By writer Morgan Altinok

    The water of Lake Irene inundated the canoe and my heart plummeted.  Three foot swells breached the gunnels and it was all over . . . 


By writer Katherine Simeon

    I like to look at the kitchen sink as a measuring stick because the condition of my sink has this quirky relationship to the condition of my social life . . . 


By writer Janelle Ho

    I saw myself in front of the university gate a few days ago. I was walking by the North Gate of the Homewood campus one evening, and in front of the marble slab that our school’s name was engraved on was a family of three . . . 

Check out the essay at the beautifully named

And more by writer Stephanie Hur

    The smell of burning wood seeps through the dorm window. I stand on my roommate’s bed to pull the window down and stick my nose against the clawed screen. I close my eyes . . .

Click on the quirkily named blog stephfunnie at

By writer Rohan Shah

    It has been a long time since I visited Char Mar, Hopkins’ overpriced market, and it has been even longer since I last ate breakfast. A sophomore friend, richly endowed with dining dollars, has graciously agreed to buy me a bagel . . . 

See what happens at

By writer Allen Zhu

    Post, slant, in, out, slout, go. Which one are we doing this time?

Find out at

By writer Kiara Doss

    I never realized how much the things I carry define me . . .

Carry on:

And writer Jenny Chiang, coming in before the midnight hour:

The swaying trees tilt back and forth at large angles. The wind is picking up speed . . .

Postscript from me: No longer tucked in drawers or binders, or stored and forgotten in computer files, the Word is now out  . . . Keep writing  and telling the stories all around us. Your stories. All best, JCS


The Fall IFN Writers will stage a FLASH PUB on Monday Dec. 5. (My Hopkins writing students are publishing some of their work from class online that day, in whatever form: blogs (some brand new), Tweets, Facebook (yes, Facebook!) etc.) I’ll feature and link. For a preview, check out the Nov. 21 story by Stephanie Hur at her wonderfully named blog  Stephfunnie at

Titled Someone, it begins “There is no one amongst everyone . . . “