I Was On The Radio In Australia

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 3:08 pm on Monday, June 20, 2016


ABC in Australia interviewed me about my article in The Atlantic on the rise of plagiarism in self-publishing. You can listen to it online here!

Short Story: Drought in Tin House and The Guardian

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 3:03 pm on Monday, June 20, 2016


I’m so proud to have a short story on Tin House’s Open Bar. It’s called Drought. You can read it here.

And guess what? It was also reprinted in The Guardian.

Article: Stealing Books in the Age of Self-Publishing in The Atlantic

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 2:56 pm on Monday, June 20, 2016


Did you get a chance to check out my latest article for The Atlantic? It’s about the rise of plagiarism among self-published books. Anonymous strangers are stealing other people’s books, changing them superficially, and passing them off as their own work on site like Amazon. Read all about it here.

I Went Up In A Hot Air Balloon

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:26 am on Sunday, June 5, 2016

When it came to celebrating Marcia’s birthday this year, we decided to go on a hot air balloon ride, something both of us have been wanting to do for years. It’s great! I recommend it, even though you have to get up before the sun comes up to do it. Here’s a picture of the sunrise:


We watched them blow up our balloon, which was exciting to see.

blowing u

Marcia and I went with five other people, including the pilot. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this, but it turned out that it was fun to go with other people. We were all first timers and experienced it together. Here we are in the basket right before take off:

us in basket

Going up in the sky is smooth and surreal. It feels like being in a slow, exposed elevator. You’re an inch off the ground, and then feet, and then suddenly you’re very high up:

looking down2

At first, I was scared and had to fight against thoughts about dying/crashing. Then I got used to it and enjoyed the gorgeous views.


yellow balloon2


I even got the nerve to look over the side of the basket. I saw tiny cows and horses, vineyards, cars, and trees. We also flew over other hot air balloons.

looking down

yellow balloon

Landing was fun. It turns out that hot air balloons don’t have a lot of control where they land, so they end up going down in all kinds of weird places. We ended up in a field surrounded by high grass and hundreds of tiny hopping tree frogs.


A van had to come and get us out, which meant attaching a strap to the balloon and towing us through the air. In a way, it was the most exciting part.

After that, we went to lunch in Napa and then to a Calistoga spa. Neither of us had done an expensive spa treatment before. We had facials. Here I am in a spa robe.


I don’t know if I would bother with a spa again but hot air balloons? Definitely.

My Husband Is An Interesting Man

Filed under: Kyle Rankin,Personal — Administrator at 2:21 pm on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I’ve been married to Kyle 14 years this June. One of my favorite things about him is that he never ceases to explore his intellectual interests in a curious and accomplished way. Here are some things Kyle has been interested in lately:

* He decided to take up Speed Cubing, which is when people solve a Rubik’s Cube quickly. I think he has it down to 2 minutes so far.

* He’s 3D printing an entire tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, which will be the size of a turkey when he’s done.

* He’s reading all eight volumes of the The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He’s on volume three.

* He taught himself to play Bach’s Invention #13 on the banjo.

But I was most excited about his decision to make croissants. I love croissants, and I know how difficult they are to make. It was an elaborate, three-day process of making croissant dough, laminating it, taking it in and out of the fridge at various times, then cutting it:


And shaping it:


And letting it rise again before finally baking it.


We had them on the morning of Gideon’s 4th birthday. They came out fresh from the oven, and they were exactly right. I say that as someone who has high standards for bread.

c 1

They may have looked a little stripey, but they were all the things a croissant should be: crunchy, buttery, soft in the center, with good layers.


Seeing these excellent croissants, my dad said to me, “You know, everything Kyle does turns out like that.”

And it’s true.

Smithsonian Article: The Forgotten Dust Bowl Novel That Rivaled The Grapes of Wrath

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 6:20 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I’m so excited to announce my first article in The Smithsonian, The Forgotten Dust Bowl Novel That Rivaled The Grapes of Wrath.

It’s about Sanora Babb, who wrote a great Dust Bowl novel called Whose Names Are Unknown the same time John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. In fact, Babb used much of the same research material as Steinbeck and saw many of the same things. When The Grapes of Wrath came out, Babb’s book was shelved for 65 years. Read the article to find out more!

Humor Article: How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 6:08 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I have a short humor piece in Defenestration titled How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama. I watched a lot of bad movies to write it, so I know it’s accurate.


Sure, his relentless stalking caused an accident that made you go blind, and then he pretended to be someone else to make you fall in love with him, but he’s a great guy, and you won’t have people pitying him for marrying a blind woman. The only solution is to go away and love him from afar.

Read the rest here.


Spring Is Sliding Through My Fingers

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 8:42 am on Friday, May 20, 2016


You might think I’ve forgotten this blog. I haven’t. There’s just so much going on and it’s a low priority. Here are some things that are happening this May:

* I have a few articles coming out that I’m very excited about. I will post them when they’re published.

* I’m going to the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ Residency in June. I’ll be studying with Paul Harding, who wrote Tinkers, which is a great book. I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’m nervous and excited and worried about missing my son.

* Gideon is turning 4 this weekend. It’s a weird pressure to plan a kid’s birthday. You want him to have the best time ever, even though you know your son is perfectly happy playing with a rock. I’m making a cake. It has been requested that there be cherries on top.

* I planted my garden:


* For Marcia’s birthday in June, I’m finally going on a hot air balloon ride. I’ll post pictures. We’re also thinking of getting facials, another first for me. Yes, I’m selfishly using my best friend’s birthday to tick off life experiences. She’s cool with it.

* Upcoming things that are happening: remodeling our kitchen, another artist residency, vacation to somewhere, finishing a novel, editing the other novel, writing writing writing.

* My house is haunted:


I Was On An All About Beer Panel

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:37 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Earlier this year, I was on a beer panel for All About Beer magazine. That means I got to sit in a room with other panelists, taste beers, and come up with descriptions of nuances and flavors. It was fun. Check out the March issue to see which beers we liked the best.

Book Review: The Nest By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 8:08 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Check it out! I have a book review up at KQED on The Nest By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Click here to read Review: Is ‘The Nest’ Worth Its Famed Seven-Figure Advance?

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