JOANNE SHWED was born in the Bronx, New York, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1975. She and her husband Tom Ekkens have lived in Pacifica, about 15 miles south of San Francisco, since 1989.


In 1985, Joanne designed and published her husband’s book, Collected Poetry of Thomas A. Ekkens—Early Works, and started her own company, Backspace Ink.

Prior to that, she edited and typeset several early versions of Richard Bolles’s best-selling book, What Color Is Your Parachute?

Backpocket Crosswords: Handmade Puzzles

In 2004, Joanne created, produced, and published Backpocket Crosswords: Handmade Puzzles, a collection of 24 handmade crossword puzzles (not computer generated) with common words and user-friendly clues. She is currently working on the next edition!

Joanne has written several (very) short stories and essays for your reading enjoyment. (The above baby picture is from her story called The Fire Kiss.) Some stories have won writing awards and appeared in magazines and books and on others’ websites.

BNI Coastside Chapter President

From 2009 to 2016, Joanne was a member of BNI Coastside in Pacifica, California, serving on several leadership positions, including two terms as chapter president, visitor host coordinator, and membership committee coordinator. To see Joanne's BNI Video Testimonial, click on this YouTube link.

Paloma band

She has played music with a variety of friends and family, including a band called Paloma with her husband Tom Ekkens. She sings, plays percussion, and helps arrange songs.

For more than 25 years, Paloma volunteered for Bread & Roses, a nonprofit organization founded by Joan Baez’s sister Mimi Fariña. Bread & Roses provides entertainment to “shut-ins,” and Paloma performed for nursing and convalescent homes as well as for hospitals.

TAE Gallery

Thomas A. Ekkens, Joanne’s husband, is the creator of TAE Gallery (pronounced “tie”) — an e-gallery of original artwork, photography, poetry, songs, and book arts — and Joanne is his agent!