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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 »

When I was in school, I wrote all the time—short stories, essays, poetry, songs, greeting cards. I had a few poems published and once I won a prize. I was on fire with the love of writing. Over the years sometimes that fire has gone out. It’s usually when I’m too busy or too stressed… 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 »

My computer died. I sat there and looked at it. It was cold, the screen was dark. I pushed buttons, I talked to it, I prayed. I called my computer genius husband who had to work late at the office, but he said, “Things can be done.” This is how geniuses talk. “What things?” I… Read more »

I adore eggs — I eat them, I collect them. I love what they symbolize — new beginnings. And every now and then I'll open a book or a drawer and an egg will be there. Not the chicken variety — the small ones I've cut out of paper and written on when I was… 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 »

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.

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

My water heater reached it's expiration date.  I never think about my water heater.  I don't go down in the basement, look at it, pat it, and think, ah, here's my water heater.  I had forgotten it was eleven years old, and had over-reached its ten year warranty.  But then I took a shower and… Read more »

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 »

Sometimes a chicken just has your name on it.  People like Frank Purdue and Murray Bresky of Murray's organic chickens know this.  But I hadn't known this until recently when I received an email from Wendy Thomas of New Hampshire asking if I would like to have a chicken named after me.  I can say… Read more »

I just read a book on being more energetic — actually, I didn't finish the book; I got a third of the way through it and put it down because the suggestions were making me tired. It used hyphenated words like full-engagement and full-throttle and I realized that I'm not interested in speeding across a… 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 »