There is only one ‘first kiss’, and there is a last time for everything.


List ten things you have done for the last time. Then, write a story that begins with ‘first kiss’ and ends again and again, until the last time.




truth to fiction

Translating life into fiction can be a way to externalize our inner apocalypse…

an-old-west-style-padlock-in-old-town-san-diego_w725_h544 photo: Jon Sullivan

…and reading our fiction can lead us to an understanding of what we have locked away.

Write about a Thanksgiving that became a turning point in your life, locate it in an exaggerated world of your creation, and animate it with people who enact your turmoil.

This can change you – and Thanksgiving – forever. Sometimes its just easier to let something go by writing truth to fiction.



the password games

Password was the name of a television game show which first aired in the 1960’s. Non-celebrity contestants, teamed with celebrity partners,tried to guess passwords based on clues given by their partners. The game was timed, and if the clue-giver broke the rules by saying part of the password, they lost that round. Winners received cash prizes. Losers didn’t. This was a tame precursor to reality tv today.



Imagine our world in the not so distant future, when it is governed by The Password Games – translate this game into a political mechanism for winnowing out losers, in a society where money is the defining value of human life.

It won’t be difficult to ground this story in believable detail, drawing from what is ‘fact’ today.

art from shackles

What happens to you when you see this prompt on your screen?


Creating a password can be as agonizing and fraught with drama as beginning or ending a relationship. How much do you reveal, how much can you hide? What secret code will unlock this other’s heart? Will the secret code elude you in the moments when you most need it? Do you spell this other’s name (maybe using symbols and numbers will make it less obvious) or perhaps string the first letters of each word in a sentence expressing your wish: iwinmy  or maybe it’s better to be positive icdbnt.

Thanks to Ian Urbana and Paul Saffo, I have discovered a new writing genre: “crypto haiku”

“Humans like, even need, to imbue things with meaning…we are prone to organizing symbols into language….We try to make the best of our circumstances, converting our shackles into art.” Ian Urbana, The Secret Life of Passwords, The New York Times.

Writing Prompt: With this in mind, decipher this password:&t4Yh@t by creating the character who imagined it.

thanksgiving in orbit

Speculative Fiction is at its best when based on enough factual details that it feels not only possible, but likely.


So imagine, instead of ‘over the river and through the woods’,living in a world in which traveling to grandmother’s house meant leaving from a spaceport to attend Thanksgiving dinner in orbit.

Read Ted Talks about Comfort Food in Space, the Final Frontier and learn about how; “at a certain point, the astronauts said, ‘Bring back the table. Put some straps on it. We want to sit around a table at the end of the day and eat like humans.’”

Using nonfiction details such as egg crystals, enchilasagna, and hydroponic growth labs to ground your story, add fictional details of your own to create a family Thanksgiving of the future.

Incorporate some dysfunctional relationships for good measure.






table manners

Some say you can know a great deal about a person by observing their table manners.


Here is the children’s table, imagine the larger table for adults in the next room.

Bring us to a Thanksgiving dinner in which table manners dominate the conversation – and the subtext is driven by one character’s belief that Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends gather together to pretend they like each other.

Incorporate the following: forbearance, abstention from self-praise, comfort food in space, final frontier, microbiome of seagrasses, Starling