Article: How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:38 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017


I have an article in the Smithsonian on how How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising. Excerpt:

Beatrix Potter is known for her gentle children’s books and beautiful illustrations. But the sweet stories of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and others helped hide a savvy mind for business—and an author who was among the first to realize that her readers could help build a business empire.

Read the rest here.

Short Story: Murmur

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:34 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017


My short story Murmur is up on Every Day Fiction. It’s about a ghost. Excerpt:

She came in with the rain, through an open window. It was the house of a young family. The ghost, whose name had been Amaya, gazed curiously at their cleanliness, their food-in-bar-form, and the bright newness of everything they owned. She watched the mother string grapes onto skewers and then paste chocolate chips on one end with icing, the eyes of a long green snake. When the children came home from school, they ate the snakes as snacks. The mother said the grapes were healthy. Grapes had been so expensive when Amaya was alive that she hadn’t tasted them until she was an adult.

Read the rest here.

Book Review: Hourglass by Dani Shapiro

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 10:26 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017


I really enjoyed Hourglass by Dani Shapiro. Check out my review on KQED. Excerpt:

My 15th wedding anniversary is in June. It seems impossible that my husband and I have been together for that long. The first 10 years of our marriage galloped by, or so it seems to me, before we finally had a child. Now my son is turning 5, my parents are elderly, and I’ve been married 15 years. These facts don’t feel real to me, but I guess they are anyway.

Read the rest here.

Article on NPR: Bountiful Beach Buffet: Fresh Seaweed Is Making Waves Among Foragers

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 4:12 pm on Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I wrote an article on seaweed foraging for NPR.

Did you know most seaweed is edible? And that it’s a natural thickener? And a source of protein? And MSG? AND that seaweed isn’t even a plant, but algae? Interesting stuff, I tell you.

Check out Bountiful Beach Buffet: Fresh Seaweed Is Making Waves Among Foragers.

Superstition Review: On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:27 pm on Monday, December 19, 2016


Over at the Superstition Review, check out my essay On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry.

I wrote about why I don’t think Bob Dylan should have won a Nobel Prize in Literature, using Sondheim–another great storyteller through lyrics and music–as an example. An excerpt:

When people equate lyric writing with poetry, they’re often trying to express how meaningful they found a song. The word “poetry” is associated with depth, so to call something poetic is to say it’s beautiful, eloquent, or profound. Thus, songwriters who are adept at language are called poets despite the fact that they aren’t actually writing poetry.

But to say that lyrics and poetry are the same is to discount the role music plays in a song. Song lyrics, no matter how lovely, are meant to work with music. When you separate one from the other, you’re getting only part of a whole. On the other hand, a poem, as poet Paul Muldoon said, “brings its own music with it.”


Essay: The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:15 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I have an essay on today! It’s about 3D printing, something I talk about a lot on here. In particular, it’s about 3D printing toys for our son Gideon. Right now, we’re printing him stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Here’s more about that: Read The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Book Review: Moonglow By Michael Chabon

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:04 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Check out my review of Michael Chabon’s elegantly structured novel Moonglow on KQED.

Article: How Reality TV Made Donald Trump

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 11:14 am on Friday, November 18, 2016


I have an op-ed up on Vice! Check out How Reality TV Made Donald Trump President.

A sample:

We should learn from this election. It’s imperative that we look at who and what we’re elevating in the form of harmless entertainment. Even when television seems silly and trite, the images and messages it sends to viewers are influential. We need to question whether we want the entertainment we put on TV to become, over time, mirrors of our society as a whole. I, for one, don’t want to live in a nation of Real Housewives.

More Here.

Book Review: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:33 am on Monday, October 24, 2016


I have a new book review up on KQED. This time I’m looking at The Mothers, a debut novel by Brit Bennett. Check it out here!

Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:20 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In June I went to the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency. It was the first year they had the residency, which was located on Cuttyhunk Island, near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. I’d never heard of it before.

Along with 14 other writers, I studied with the author Paul Harding. I also wrote about 50 pages in my new book. We stayed at The Avalon, a lovely old inn. Here’s a picture:


The residency was a new experience for me. It made me think a lot about class and how its intersection with literary fiction fundamentally blocks our ability to achieve diversity in literature. Part of my reaction was due to the fact that Cuttyhunk Island is so clearly a place for rich people. Of course, it’s a beautiful place.



I didn’t get a decent picture of my room, so here’s one from the Avalon website.


My room had a balcony where I did a lot of writing. The view from the balcony was also great.



One night, there was a double rainbow.


The beaches are rocky and loaded with wild roses.


East Coast insects hate me. I was stung by a wasp, bitten by spiders, and devoured by mosquitoes. This never happens in California.


There were ticks everywhere. I went down this path, and when I came out the other side, seven ticks were crawling up my legs.


I keep thinking I want to move to New England, but it’s really not for me. It was nice to visit though.


Back in New Bedford, I went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where Herman Melville set part of Moby-Dick. It was a fascinating, weird place. I took pictures with my phone. This is my favorite.

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