Courage to Write Grant From The De Groot Foundation!

Filed under: Awards,Books,Novel — Administrator at 10:22 am on Sunday, August 14, 2022


I’m honored and excited to share that I was awarded a Courage to Write grant from The de Groot Foundation!

I’m so grateful for their support as I finish up my second novel.


Filed under: Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 8:32 am on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Today is the one-year anniversary of the publication of my novel, RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM.

And in honor of that anniversary, I want to show you my office chair.

chair 1

Yes. I need a new office chair.

I show you this because it illustrates the reality of being a writer. Most of my time is spent sitting in a chair typing. So much time, in fact, that I wore away the plastic coating on the seat.

Putting in zillions of hours focusing on craft is how this job works, at least for me. And it has worked out okay, even though sometimes there are setbacks, like it taking nine years for my first novel to make it into the world.

But I’m grateful it did.


Happy birthday, old friend.


Or buy it!

There’s also an audiobook!

The paperback will be out in late August, so stay tuned for that.

Opening My Book!

Filed under: Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 1:34 pm on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

I’m writing this on June 8th. Right Back Where We Started From came out on May 4th. It has been over a month now, and I can finally breathe a little after this whirlwind. Promoting and publishing a debut novel is intense.

One of the best experiences so far was the moment writers always dream about, when you open the box from your publisher and pull out the book. It was quite surreal. Here are a couple of pictures of me holding my book for the first time:



Note the painting I’m sitting under. It’s by the artist M. Maxwell. Kyle and I bought the painting years ago because it reminded us of Vira, the grandmother in Right Back Where We Started From. It seemed appropriate to be sitting under her severe gaze while pulling out the book for the first time.


Filed under: Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 1:09 pm on Monday, November 9, 2020


The book cover of RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM is here!

Coming May 4, 2021!




In Right Back Where We Started From Joy Lanzendorfer has crafted a terrific first novel, one brimming with energy, wit, and emotional resonance. Sandra Sanborn is a wonderful character, very much alive on the page. The novel captures, vividly, some of the crazier times in California’s crazy history. Highly recommended!

Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others

Joy Lazendorfer’s thrill of a novel, Right Back Where We Started From, tells the story of an engaging young woman, eager to be discovered in 1930s Hollywood. But as she looks to the future, a letter from a man who claims to be her father, pulls her to the unknown past. This is a novel of California dreaming, from the Gold Rush to the Hollywood Hills. Lazendorfer writes with charm, style and great energy.

Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons and On a Night Like This.

From the California Gold Rush to the to the San Francisco earthquake, through the Great Depression and World War II, Joy Lanzendorfer artfully weaves a beautifully textured saga. Yearnings, secrets, and shame shape the lives of three generations of American women as they dare to question the rigid societal expectations that confine them to proscribed roles and stifle ambition. Gripping prose and complex and memorable characters make this shining debut novel a pleasure to read.

Liza Nash Taylor, author of Etiquette for Runaways and the forthcoming In All Good Faith.


If misfortune hadn’t gotten in the way, Sandra Sanborn would be where she belongs—among the rich and the privileged instead of standing outside a Hollywood studio wearing a sandwich board in hopes of someone discovering her. It’s tough breaking into movies during the Great Depression, but Sandra knows that she’s destined for greatness. After all, her grandmother Vira crossed the country during the Gold Rush and established the Sanborns as one of San Francisco’s prominent families, and her mother Mabel grew up in a lavish mansion and married a wealthy rancher. Success, Sandra feels, is in her blood. All she needs is a chance to prove it.

In between failed auditions, Sandra receives a letter from a man claiming to be her real father, which calls into question everything she believes about her family history—and herself. As she tries to climb the social ladder, family secrets lurk in the background, pulling her back down. Until Sandra confronts the truth about how Vira and Mabel gained and lost their fortunes, she’ll always end up right back where she started from.

Right Back Where We Started From is a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s a meticulously layered saga—at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful—about three determined and completely unforgettable women.


MORE at Blackstone Publishing


Contact Me


Filed under: Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 4:28 pm on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

I can FINALLY announce that my first novel, Right Back Where We Started From, is forthcoming from Blackstone Publishing in 2021. Ahhhhhhh!


Suiting Up For Battle

Filed under: Novel,Writing and Publishing — Administrator at 7:19 am on Monday, March 2, 2015


I looked down at my hand while I was line editing and had to chuckle. I look like I’ve had an injury, but in fact the three band-aids I have on are to protect my fingers from writing calluses. Who says editing a book isn’t physically taxing?

But I’m Not Patient…

Filed under: Novel,Writing and Publishing — joy at 11:49 am on Friday, February 13, 2009

“Of course any novelist has difficulties. I don’t have ‘blocks,’ I mean I don’t get into a state where absolutely nothing can be done for weeks; I can always do something, though the something that I do may have to be revised later on… I think the thing to do is to make one’s unconscious mind work for one. When there’s a problem, and suddenly you get a sort of knot in the procedure, where you want to do two things that are incompatible, for instance, or when you can’t really see what a character is like — there’s a sort of blank slate where the character ought to be — then you must meditate upon the problem, set it, as it were, as a problem to your unconscious mind, and hope that suddenly some creative flash will arrive. And that is a time that requires very great patience.” — Iris Murdoch, The Threepenny Review, 1984

All Smiles by Joy Lanzendorfer

Filed under: Fiction,Novel,Writing and Publishing — joy at 12:03 pm on Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This week I’m reading through my novel before starting a new draft. I’ve already filled a notebook with notes of things to change and I haven’t even gotten to the end yet.

I’m still amazed by my tendency to repeat myself. Although I don’t repeat major events or metaphors without meaning to, I do repeat small things within the scene. Thus, I have learned that my characters:

Love to smile. Oh how they smile. They beam. They grin. They smile slowly. Their smiles fall off their faces. Their smiles bloom. Their smiles turn their faces from plain to beautiful. They smile deliberately, with calculation. It is a book filled with smiles, and it will make you smile when you read it.

Cry easily. Yes, as much as my characters love to smile, they also love to cry. Fortunately, they do not cry as easily as they smile–that would be quite a rollercoaster–but they sure do burst into tears when provoked. In my characters’ defense, most of the crying is manipulative or after a great tragedy, so it is somewhat understandable.

Look people up and down. You might think that with all these emotional outbursts, my characters lack analytical skills, but you would be wrong. They are good at sizing people up. They look along people’s bodies, sometimes suspiciously, sometimes sexually. Nothing gets past them, boy howdy.

Are well-dressed. At least, that’s the best I can figure what with all the description of clothes in this novel. There are entire wardrobes of clothes in this novel. Very little of it is relevant to the plot, but it helps you to know that the main character is wearing a pink dress, right?

In light of this, I am considering the possible title: All Smiles: The Story of Crying, Well-Dressed People Who Will Look You Up and Down by Joy Lanzendorfer.

Step Away From the Computer

Filed under: Fiction,Novel,Writing and Publishing — joy at 11:02 am on Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yesterday, I struggled with questions like “Do these characters seem real? How do I get into this character’s head?” Some characters seemed exceptionally vivid and others seemed flat. It was annoying.

So of course, last night’s dreams were full of ghosts materializing and disappearing. When they materialized, they were fascinating and delightful. Trouble was, I wasn’t sure how to conjure them and had to keep trying different things. Half of the time, my attempts failed.

It was pretty frustrating, overall.