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.
Prior to that, she edited and typeset several early versions of Richard Bolles’ best-selling book, What Color Is Your Parachute?
These two experiences started an ongoing appreciation of and interest in book production.
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. A percentage of the net profits is donated yearly to the National Center for Family Literacy. She is currently working on the next edition!
Joanne hosts crossword puzzle demonstrations in the San Francisco Bay Area. She brings a large, blank crossword puzzle grid, which she created. With the help of the audience, they write a word in one of the spaces, then the next, and, before you know it, the whole puzzle is filled in! It’s a lot of fun and intellectually stimulating for adults of all ages, especially seniors.
She is a member of a six-piece band called Paloma with her husband Tom Ekkens and four other friends. She sings, plays percussion, and helps arrange each song.
Paloma regularly volunteers for Bread & Roses, a nonprofit organization founded by Joan Baez’s sister Mimi Fariña. Bread & Roses provides entertainment to “shut-ins,” and the band performs for nursing and convalescent homes as well as for hospitals.
Joanne has written several (very) short stories and essays for your reading enjoyment. The above thumbnail is from her story called The Fire Kiss. Some stories have won writing awards and appeared in magazines and books and on others’ websites.