I Was Illustrated

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


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

The Curious Reader By Mental Floss

Filed under: Books,Joy's Work,Nonfiction — Administrator at 1:41 pm on Tuesday, June 8, 2021


So happy to have contributed to The Curious Reader by Mental Floss!

It’s full of facts about authors and their books, from Jane Austen to JRR Tolkien. From the publisher:

Readers rejoice From Mental Floss, an online destination for more than a billion curious minds since its founding in 2001, comes the ultimate book for lovers of literature. From Americanah to War and Peace, from Chinua Achebe and Jane Austen to Jesamyn Ward and George R.R. Martin, learn surprising facts about the world’s most famous novels and novelists.

Really interesting to peruse and easy to digest. Read more about The Curious Reader here.

Opening My Book!

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Joy's Work,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.

Alta: Interviews and Excerpt of Right Back Where We Started From

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Interviews,Joy's Work,Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 12:11 pm on Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Alta Magazine has been so supportive of Right Back Where We Started From! They featured me on Alta Live and ran an excerpt of the novel, which you can read here.

They also did an interview with me about ambition, creativity, and the California dream. Check it out here.

Thank you so much, Alta!

USA Today Article: Is It Finally Time To Turn Against Workaholism?

Filed under: Articles,Joy's Work,Nonfiction — Administrator at 11:38 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

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For USA Today, I wrote an article about the consequences of hustle culture and its roots in the California Gold Rush. Excerpt:

Whether it’s called hustle culture or toxic productivity, workaholism is now mainstream. For the past few years, the idea of “rise and grind 24/7″ has infected American life. People are working extreme schedules, forfeiting weekends, relationships and even sleep to attain success. It’s the newest incarnation of the American dream, the belief that if you hustle now, later you can enjoy a luxurious lifestyle and astronomical achievement. You too can become Bill Gates or Oprah, if you just work hard enough.

However, the pandemic ground much of hustle culture to a halt. For many, there was nothing to do for months but look at personal and societal problems that could no longer be covered by a busy schedule.

Read the rest here.

LitHub Essay: All in the Timing

Filed under: Books,Essays,Fiction,Joy's Work,Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 11:29 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2021


For Literary Hub, I wrote an essay called All in the Timing: On Publishing a Novel Nine Years After Giving Up on It. It’s the publishing story of my novel, Right Back Where We Started From, which I finished way back in 2012.


This May, my first novel, Right Back Where We Started From, will be published nine years after I gave up and put it in a drawer. It’s not that I didn’t believe in the book, which I’d labored on for much of the aughts. While writing, I poured my fear of failure into the novel, as well as questions about success: Why does American ambition, which turns so many people into workaholics, seem both poisonous and attractive to me? Where does my constant urge to work come from? Every day I struggled with discouragement, yet I put off life events, like having a child, to write a book. I put off spending time with friends. I set aside other creative projects and spent years looking at the same story from every angle. By the time I finished the book in 2012, the emotional investment was deep.

Read the rest here.

Article: Mary Astor’s Purple Diary, Old Hollywood’s Most Infamous Sex Scandal

Filed under: Articles,Joy's Work,Nonfiction — Administrator at 8:44 am on Saturday, April 17, 2021

mary astor

For Mental Floss, I wrote about a juicy 1930s Hollywood scandal involving Mary Astor’s Purple Diaries.

It’s one of the first Hollywood sex scandals–plus it inspired part of my novel, Right Back Where We Started From, which starts in 1930s Hollywood and has a Scarlet Diary and a controversial starlet in it.

Check out 10 Juicy Facts About Mary Astor’s Purple Diary, Old Hollywood’s Most Infamous Sex Scandal.

Article: Flight of the Condors

Filed under: Essays,Joy's Work,Nonfiction — Administrator at 8:40 am on Saturday, April 17, 2021


Late last year, I went on a quest to see the critically endangered California Condor in the wild. I wrote about the experience for Alta.

I’ve always wanted to see a California condor in the wild. It’s on a list I keep in my head of animals I’d like to glimpse in their natural habitats, which includes, in no particular order, a male moose with full antlers, a whale, a ringtailed cat, a hedgehog, a swarm of monarch butterflies, and any kind of monkey. But the California condor stands out because it came so close to extinction. When I was a kid, there were only nine wild condors left. At that point, in 1987, they were taken into captivity, and their future looked bleak. The idea that we could lose North America’s largest flying bird—a vulture with a wingspan of almost 10 feet—struck me as tragic even then.

But we didn’t lose the condor. Thanks to conservation efforts, it has made a comeback. There are now around 300 condors in the wild, most living in Central and Southern California, with smaller populations in Arizona and Utah. I kept thinking about this throughout 2020, a year filled with environmental disasters, from wildfires to melting permafrost to a worldwide pandemic caused by a mutating virus. Even as climate change bears down and some scientists say we’re entering an era of mass extinction, the preservation of the California condor shows that we can repair some environmental damage. Not that it was easy. Despite extensive time and resources spent, the condor is still critically endangered. Lead poisoning remains a threat, and the bird’s future is far from guaranteed. So I’m not sure whether my interest comes from ecological hope or an urge to see a rare creature while I can.

Read the rest here.

Essay: Elegy For A Tree

Filed under: Essays,Joy's Work,Nonfiction — Administrator at 8:37 am on Saturday, April 17, 2021


My neighbors cut down their tree and banished all the birds from our yard. I wrote an essay about it for Entropy.

The morning after the neighbors cut down the tree, my yard was quiet. The crows that for the last 15 years had woken me every morning like an alarm clock were gone. A few days before, when the elm tree still stood in my neighbor’s yard, I sat in the predawn light drinking coffee and watching hundreds of birds fly over my house. Crows tossed about like balls in the sky, a necklace of Canada geese flowed past my vision, and songbirds jangled in the bushes. The cacophony they made was loud and wondrous and I loved it.

Now my house rang with silence, and loneliness crept over me. As I stood by the window, avoiding at the gap in the sky where the tree used to be, I could hear the crows in the redwoods several blocks away–a party that moved houses. They had no reason to come here now.

Read Elegy For A Tree

North Bay Business Journal Interview!

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Interviews,Novel,RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 8:20 am on Saturday, April 17, 2021


So happy to have Right Back Where We Started From included in a spring literature round-up in The North Bay Business Journal!

Check out Turn the Page with New Books by Local Writers.

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