I Was Illustrated

Filed under: Joy's Work,Personal — Administrator at 1:50 pm on Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Check out this illustration of me in the Spring 2021 issue of Alta!

Opening My Book!

Filed under: Personal,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.

Hello 2020!

Filed under: Joy's Work,Personal — Administrator at 2:30 pm on Thursday, January 2, 2020


Hello 2020! For the first day of the new year, I took a falconry lesson on a cliff in La Jolla, California. A lanner falcon swooped through the air and landed on my arm while the ocean crashed below and paragliders took off overhead. Not a bad way to start the year.

2019 was a strange, dramatic year, but a lot of great things happened. I sold my first novel, Right Back Where We Started From, which is coming out in 2021. I published a lot, including pieces in Longreads, Alta, and Poetry Foundation. I contributed to an article on the Kincade Fire that was on the front page of The Washington Post. I was awarded a Discovered Awards for Emerging Literary Artists and a residency with Hypatia-in-the-Woods. My essay on George Sterling was a notable in The Best American Essays 2019 and my short story Drought was included in 2019 Best Small Fictions. On top of that, I traveled all around the United States, including New York, California, Michigan, Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, and Hawaii. Whew!

It’s nice to finish off the decade strong. Here’s to an even more exciting and prosperous 2020.

Midwest Trip 2019

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 4:15 pm on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The cool thing about owning a camper van is that ordinary trips can turn into epic road trips. So when I found myself needing to go to Michigan for work last summer, we decided to take a month-long road trip across country.

Some of the things we saw included Hemingway’s birthplace, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first house, the biggest candy story in Minnesota, and Maud Hart Lovelace’s house, as well as:


The Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah



The Grand Tetons in Wyoming




A glass bottom shipwreck tour of Lake Michigan


And lots of campsite, sometimes accompanied by weird Michigan sunsets.

It was an educational trip. Michigan is beautiful. Lightning bugs, snapping turtles, and cardinals are magical creatures. And I really tried with Wisconsin cheese, but it’s just not that good, y’all.

I still haven’t been to every US state. Still too see: Maine and Alaska.

Hawaii Trip

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 12:47 pm on Monday, November 11, 2019

In October, we went to Hawaii! I’d never been before. We went to the Big Island and stayed for a week at a lovely resort. I couldn’t get over the sunsets.




Nature there doesn’t disappoint. For one thing, there are black sand beaches:


For another, there are so many animals. We went kayaking and a pod of dolphins were swimming around us. A baby dolphin flipped on its back and showed us his belly, then they all swam under our boat. We also saw manta rays as big as coffee tables, mongooses, tons of birds, and sea turtles:


Kona coffee is a thing there. It’s overpriced, but tasty. We went for a tour of a coffee plantation and it was interesting to learn how they harvest and process the beans. I’d never seen a coffee tree up close before.


In general, the food was delicious, especially the fruit. I tried rambutan, passion fruit, dragon fruit, apple bananas, honey cream pineapples, and many others. I’m going to make Hawaiian sweet bread for Thanksgiving.


The Big Island has five volcanoes, three of them active. We took a helicopter ride over some of the volcanoes, which was very exciting. I’d never been in a helicopter before.


They took us over the volcanoes so that we could look down into them.



Of course, last year an enormous volcanic eruption wiped out a large neighborhood on the island. They flew us over the damage and showed us pictures of what the area looked like only two years ago. It was shocking to see.





So add us to the long list of people who love Hawaii. Someday we’ll go again and visit one of the other islands.


You can see more Hawaii pictures on my Instagram.

Joshua Tree National Park

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:00 am on Sunday, November 10, 2019

Way back in February, we took our RV to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. It’s one of the most surreal places I’ve ever been, like walking inside a Roadrunner cartoon.

At one point we were walking down a canyon and pieces of white fluff started sweeping around us. It took a moment to understand it was snow because the sun was out and the sky above was blue. In the morning, a light dusting of snow covered all the cacti.







Goodbye 2018

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:48 am on Sunday, December 30, 2018

Even though I didn’t get everything I wanted, 2018 was a successful year of career achievements, travel, and adventure. Highlights:

* Kyle completed his first year as CSO at Purism, a company that makes privacy-oriented laptops and is working on a cell phone. He signed a book deal to write about computer-y things and spoke at several conferences, including the Freenode in Bristol (link is to his talk). I love his integrity, work ethic, and pretty much everything else about him.

* In addition to polishing up the two books I wrote (email me if you want to know more), I published a lot this year. I’m most proud of breaking into The New York Times with my article on Eugene O’Neill, as well as The Washington Post with an essay on Writing and Motherhood. Some other publications I’m proud of:

Bohemian Tragedy: The rise, fall, and afterlife of George Sterling’s California arts colony in Poetry Foundation.

Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, The Posthumous Author in Longreads.

My Year of Smoke: Finding Echoes of Frankenstein in the California Fires in LitHub.

Student Debt and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for Ploughshares.

Sleep Disturbance in The Forge Literary Magazine.

second place

* Gideon turned six and went into first grade. We worked on swimming, Spanish, reading, math, and piano. He won second-place at the coloring contest at the fair. He beat his dad at checkers and joined chess club at school. He’s always making something cool out of cardboard tubes.

* We bought a camper van. We went to Bryce Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Dinosaur National Monument, Las Vegas, the Oregon coast (twice), Yosemite, Mendocino, Humboldt, my parent’s house, Big Sur, Half Moon Bay, and Fort Brag.

* We also went to Greece!

* And we checked out Disneyland for the first time.


* Beyond that, I saw Othello in Oregon; hiked; fled from the California wildfire smoke; baked (including the above star-shaped bread); read more Shakespeare; painted about a dozen paintings in an attempt to improve my art skillllz; saw Neko Case, the Punch Brothers, and En Vougue perform at different points; threw a fondue party; saw a parade; went wine tasting; ate a Dickens-themed dinner; grew a giant garden; and generally lived life. Much of this is up on Instagram and Twitter.

So, pretty good year. Goodnight 2018.

Greece Trip 2018

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 3:47 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2018

This October, we went to Greece! It was a sensational trip. (Good word, sensational.)

Here are pictures. If you want more, Follow Me On Instagram.

We visited the Acropolis in Athens:

acropolis jk


And saw where the Oracle of Delphi used to sit:


And ate tons of food:


Especially olives:


And visited ruins of theaters where important Greek plays were first performed:


And wondered at the strange reality of Greek mythology:


And swam in the Mediterranean:


And ran a race in the original Olympic stadium:


And found Greek mythology relevant in light of the Kavanaugh hearings:


And stayed on a Greek island full of cats and donkeys:


And stayed in a medieval castle built upon a giant rock:


And saw Mycenae, the world’s first literary site:


And really, Greek mythology is so interesting:


Sensational, I tell you.

Everywhere We Went In Our Camper Van

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 2:28 pm on Saturday, October 20, 2018

Oh hello. It has been awhile. Well, we’ve been busy. For one thing, we’ve been driving around the country in our camper van. Here are the places we went:



Bryce Canyon



Dinosaur National Monument in Utah


The Rocky Mountains

rocky mountain

The Oregon Coast

oregon coast

If you want more pictures, you can Follow Me On Instagram.

What have you been up to?

We Bought A Camper Van

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:01 am on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kyle’s dream has come true. We bought a camper van.


It’s a 1996 Roadtrek Popular 170. Here’s the inside:



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