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I am not a stand-up comic Anyone who has spent a few minutes with me knows this. I didn’t know this. I desperately wanted to be one, to tell joke after joke and have people dissolve in belly laughs, the kind causing unacceptable liquid to fly out the nostrils, while you, the stand up comic… Read more »

Many years ago, I wanted to be a reporter, the kind that rushed to breaking news stories. I’d picture myself, microphone in hand in front of, say, a burning building and the news anchor back in the studio would ask me, “Joan, what do we know so far about this situation?” The thing is, I… Read more »

It started when someone gave me a little angel figurine that could fit in my hand. I sat at my desk, looked at the angel and said, “So what would happen if you were real?” The angel said nothing, but my imagination was speaking. It was past Christmas and Valentine hearts were everywhere. “So, what… Read more »

Why do I read? I just can’t help myself. I read to learn and to grow, to laugh and to be motivated. I read to understand things I’ve never been exposed to. I read when I’m crabby, when I’ve just said monumentally dumb things to the people I love. I read for strength to help… Read more »

A few days ago I stubbed my toe, which hardly seems like the stuff of blogging, but then it turned purple and I limped a little, and it hurt a little, but I had things to do, so I kept limping and it got better and I thought — ah, Joan, see, you didn’t have… Read more »

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm letting the world know that my next novel will be written under a pseudonym — either J. K. Bowlings or Erasmus Breach, I haven't picked the name yet, but it's best to speak the truth now because in this news-in-a-nanosecond/Wiki leaks age, someone will find out.  Surely, we… Read more »

When I was trying to break in as a new writer, sometimes I would drag myself to my desk,  asking the wrong question —Does the world really need another story?   Early in my career, I posed a similar question to a rowdy group of high school freshman who were not listening to much of… Read more »

The turkey is gone, the carcass has been made into soup, Black Friday is history, and maybe the spirit of Thanksgiving feels like it's wearing thin.  Keeping Thanksgiving is a lot like keeping a friend's place in line.  You guard it. Very deliberately…  Each day, no kidding, no exception.  No matter what's going on, how… Read more »

Among the throng of readers devouring books out there, and we writers just want to say, thank you, there is a little realized approach to reading that can bring unique fulfillment: Imagine what the writer was going through when she or he wrote what you have in your hands. For as much drama as the book you are now reading might possess, as much wonder as it might stir within you, trust me, the drama of actually getting that thing to print is a story in itself.

A bad storm like Sandy keeps coming long after it stops.  We're left with the wreckage and the clean up and the ghastly feeling, and all the while trying to hold onto hope.  I've always had a bone to pick with Emily Dickinson who said, "Hope is the thing with feathers…"  I suppose some hope… Read more »

Nobody gets better mail than those of us who write for kids. Here’s one that made my day.

The challenge of homeless children and what ordinary people can do.

A few weeks ago I learned that I'd won the Chicago Tribune Young Adult LIterary Prize.  Of course, I was delighted, but it went deeper than that.  I'm from Chicago and I'd worked at the Chicago Tribune many, many years ago in their classified advertising department.  But the delight went deeper still, because my first… Read more »

The other day I was making coconut cupcakes and they were taking longer to bake than I'd expected. I kept opening the oven, smiling at them, and saying things like, "Hi, guys. How's everybody doing in there?" I admit, it had been a long week, and I want to clearly state that I do not… Read more »

I can remember a cupcake materializing in the midst of a rotten day. A candle being lit despite the darkness. A birthday party planned even though it had been too tough a season to really think about that. My mother, sister, and I made Pilgrim dolls and decorated the house one Thanksgiving, even though our… Read more »

I have a photograph of a baby duck that my daughter took a few years ago.  I was with Jean at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when she caught the magic moment of a duckling swimming past lily pads, leaving a ripple in the water behind her (I've decided the duck is a girl).  And this… Read more »

Sometimes we lose track of things we love and then a good soul comes along and helps us find them again. This happened to me yesterday when I received an email from a journalist who had just posted a review of my third novel, STICKS, published in 1996. The story centers around a 10-year-old boy… Read more »

I finished my new book last week at midnight. There was an energy to finishing that felt like I was completing a race. My daughter was visiting, my husband was fixing our Internet connection so I could send the novel to my editor who was probably asleep. I shouted, I'm done, leaned back in my… Read more »