7 Things That Happened In June

Filed under: Inspiration — joy at 7:40 am on Sunday, June 29, 2014

Here are 7 things we did in June, according to pictures I put on Twitter.

1. For Marcia’s birthday, we went to Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales. They raise the oysters right there, so they don’t get much fresher. You can eat them in the picnic area right by the bay. (Tip to save copious amounts of money: bring in your own food/drink for your picnic.)

2. Marcia also had a birthday picnic/party at Gustafson Winery.

3. Kyle and I went to the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic, which served to foster my growing obsession fascination with hot air balloons. Here I am with Gideon.

4. For our 12th anniversary, Kyle surprised me with a tricycle. (I don’t know how to ride a regular bike.) So far I have ridden to a friend’s house and to the grocery store. It feels so much like riding a regular bike, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to tip over. I like going down hills.

4b. Yesterday, Kyle bought a bicycle from a nice man in Glen Ellen. We’re going to get a bike trailer for Gideon and go on eccentric-looking family bike rides.

5. Last week, we took a road trip to San Diego. On the way there, we spent the night at San Luis Obispo. Here’s the view from the downtown mission at sunset.

6. We went to the San Diego Zoo. I do not like this zoo! First of all, it cost $90 to get in. Secondly, it feels like a theme park. Double-decker buses roar by you and zoo workers pester you about souvenir photographs. Except for the pandas, there aren’t any animals there you haven’t seen at any other zoo. If you want to see pandas, go to the National Zoo in Washington DC, where admission is free.

7. We also took Gideon to the beach. It wasn’t his first time at the beach, but it was the first time making sand castles and standing waist deep in the water. I discovered that the beach is approximately 500 times more fun if you go with a child.

There were other things too: father’s day grilling, gardening, writing, reading, a brewing party, hikes, raises, bill paying, art museums, a sudden obsession fascination with Stephen Sondheim and playwriting in general, an unfortunate case of food poisoning, the first mulberry off my mulberry tree, and so on.

It’s amazing how much can fit into one month. `

Article: 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 6:34 am on Sunday, June 29, 2014

My most recent article for Mental Floss is 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors.

Click to hear recordings of Hemingway (he’s drunk!), F Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Flannery O’Connor, Virginia Woolf, and many more.

JRR Tolkien Was Adorable.

Filed under: Inspiration — joy at 10:04 am on Monday, June 2, 2014

I post this video as evidence:

Article: 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘Little Women’

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 1:02 pm on Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Did you check out my latest in Mental Floss? It’s called 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘Little Women.’

Here’s my favorite fact:

2. Little Women took only ten weeks to write.

Alcott began the book in May 1868. She worked on it day and night, becoming so consumed with it that she sometimes forgot to eat or sleep. On July 15, she sent all 402 pages to her editor. In September, a mere four months after starting the book, Little Women was published. It became an instant best seller and turned Alcott into a rich and famous woman.

And, unlike Robert Louis Stevenson, she didn’t even use cocaine!

Read 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘Little Women.’

Do You See Both The Faces?

Filed under: Inspiration — joy at 8:18 am on Monday, May 12, 2014

On Mother’s Day we went to the beach and had a picnic. I tried to draw this amazing rock several times, but then gave up an took a picture with my cell phone.

Do you see both the faces?

Articles: Birds In Mental Floss

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 7:50 am on Thursday, May 1, 2014

My articles for Mental Floss this month were about birds! Check it out:

10 Weird and Wonderful Bird Nests


9 Bizarre Bird Mating Rituals

Being A Woman Is Hard Vol 1

Filed under: Inspiration — Administrator at 5:04 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014

One time I was like, Amanda Seyfried and I both have thick blonde hair. Therefore, I should do what she does to her hair and perhaps I will look prettier.

So I looked researched it, applying all my journalism skills to the problem. In an article, Amanda Seyfried mentioned using a particular product on her hair. I thought, I should use that product as well, as we have similar hair.

Thus I researched the hair product.

It cost $1,000 an ounce.

So I did not buy the hair product.

Article Redux: 5 Writing Lessons Inspired by Famous Writers

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 7:15 am on Friday, March 21, 2014

Writer’s Digest posted an article I wrote that originally appeared in the magazine: 5 Writing Lessons Inspired by Famous Writers. A sample:

I was 16 when I visited the cabin where Mark Twain wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the short story that launched his career. It left such an impression on me that I began seeking out other literary landmarks. By now, I’ve been to all the famous places, such as Thoreau’s Walden Pond and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, as well as lesser-known gems, like Jack London’s ranch (pictured at right).

Every time I visit a site, I leave inspired to return to my own work. Somehow, seeing the typewriters these legends worked on, the beds they slept in and the views they gazed upon makes writing seem less mysterious, more tangible. At home, every famous writer was just another person who, like me, worked on his craft every day.

Read 5 Writing Lessons Inspired by Famous Writers.

Article: 10 Surprising Facts About Archie Comics

Filed under: Joy's Work — joy at 6:58 am on Friday, March 21, 2014

I have a new article with Mental Floss: 10 Surprising Facts About Archie Comics.

Remember that time Archie was a superhero called Captain Pureheart? Remember the Archie Andrews radio show? Remember that time Archie was used to piss off The Monkees? Remember Archie Christian comics?

You don’t? Read on.

My AWP 2014 Seattle Tips And Or Advice

Filed under: Inspiration — Administrator at 8:31 am on Tuesday, February 25, 2014

For months, people have been posting advice for going to AWP in Seattle. I’ve been ignoring it because I don’t like thinking that far ahead about things. But now the conference is tomorrow, so I finally read some of the advice. And it made me nervous.

A sampling of the advice:

* Take a nap and don’t leave in the middle of panels.

* Get gel inserts and don’t sleep with random people.

* Skip the readings and panels and just hang out in the book fair.

* Don’t expect to get a feel for the conference the first time you go because so much is going on and it’s overwhelming.

* Bring business cards when I’ve been using my business cards to write notes and lists and little poems, so I probably don’t have that many left anymore and does anyone really want a business card these days anyway?

The collective anxiety is paralyzing. I can understand being apprehensive if you’re reading or speaking on a panel, but if you’re just going to hang out and glean knowledge, you’re going to be one face in 13,000 people. You’ll blend in. No one is looking at you.

Here’s my AWP advice:

DON’T be creepy. Here are creepy things I’ve witnessed at past AWPs: One lady was licking a tissue and wiping it on her hand like a cat licking its paw. Don’t do that. At a dance, a guy pinched my butt and ran away. Not cool. I was talking to a friend and this guy started walking behind us so he could eavesdrop on our conversation. When we stopped, he stopped. When we started, he started. It was strange. Don’t do these things.

DO stress yourself out. A lot of articles tell you it’s okay to just see one panel a day if you’re tired or overwhelmed. So you’re flying all the way to Seattle to see one panel a day? No, that’s wrong. See MANY PANELS a day. If it’s stressful to see a panel, do it anyway. You can sleep when you’re home. Or dead. Whichever.

DO be friendly. Smile and chat with people. Don’t worry about getting something out of people through networking–that’s not going to work at this conference. But on the other hand, don’t be a turtle and hide in a shell either. Have thoughts and opinions ready to share. Maybe write them out beforehand and memorize them?

DON’T complain about being overwhelmed. Writers are introverted. None of us wants to get out of the house and talk to people. Therefore, talking about being shy is redundant. You don’t want to be a cliché, do you? Keep your tiredness to yourself.

DON’T have regrets. If you want to talk to a writer you admire, talk to her. If you want to ask a question at a panel, ask it. Skip panels if you feel like it, leave the conference if you want a break, dance, cavort, laugh! Drink that frothy glass of milk that is AWP down to the last drop.

That’s about it. So in general, carry water, eat a low-fiber meal, buy a ton of books, and don’t drink too much alcohol. When feeling tired, repeat to yourself: sleep when I’m dead, sleep when I’m dead. And remember, no one can make you sing karaoke if you don’t want to.

Next Page »