About Me
I'd love to say I've been writing all my life, that it's always been my ambition to be an author, but I'd be lying. What I've always loved is reading; anything printed would do: fiction and non-fiction, photography and art books, cereal boxes, advertisements, can labels etc. Once, in an attempt to break my reading addiction, I vowed to go without reading for a week. On the third day, I found myself in front of the magazine rack at the local CVS Pharmacy, half-way through an article on Brangelina. How I got there, I don't know. It was the reading-junkie's equivalent of waking up in a doorway in a puddle of my own making.

I was an art major in high school, secured a BA in physical anthropology--more relevant than you might suppose--and worked in marketing and graphic design in New York City and Pennsylvania. I joined the corporate world for several years, eventually serving as regional marketing manager for Showtime cable (covering Oregon, Washington and Alaska--have I got stories!), then Casual Corner stores in San Francisco--great fun presenting the company's businesslike "new look" to outside corporations while working with staff. I dipped my toes in the inkwell by writing newsletters, training programs, and speeches. I presented the latter two myself; there's no thrill like speaking in front of 300 people who are just happy to escape their cubicles for an afternoon.

After a move to Marin in the late 1980s, I signed up at an education and research facility founded by Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). My boss, Tom Hurley (a superb writer and visionary futurist), put my communications skills to good use by having me compose public relations press releases and build a publicity list, write bios of candidates for an annual award the Institute bestowed, and edit lots of scientific papers. My work got noticed, and IONS asked me to put together some articles for their national publication.

My publication in Shift/Noetic Sciences Magazine gave me confidence that I might be able to sell not just my thoughts, but my dreams to others. I started writing fiction. I highly recommend it as a terrific hobby.

In addition to writing the Great American Novel, I had six-month's worth of savings in the bank, went part-time at work, and wrote and pitched a few travel articles, a few interviews...and got published in Travel Holiday. I had no idea what I was doing: it was dumb luck. The first couple of years were a learning curve--not only about writing well, but about the business of writing. You can read all about it (and avoid those two paralyzing years yourself) in Writer's Boot Camp: How to Write Non-fiction and Get Paid for It.

So far, I've had five books published--three of which included my photography--and had the opportunity to contribute words and pictures to many more. I still write about travel for various publishers, do a little marketing and PR for private clients, dabble in fiction, and continue to teach aspiring writers in the San Francisco Bay Area the writing "ropes". If you think you might like to write for a living, I say GO FOR IT. I've done it, and so can you.

To read Rolf Potts' interview with Joanne on her travel writing, click here.

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