The State of Our Economy

I pulled into the drive-thru lane at Bank of America last week, two kids strapped to car seats in the back of our Subaru.

“I’d like to deposit a check, and could we have three lollipops, please?”

The teller leaned toward the microphone, her voice tinny. “We don’t have those anymore.”

Within a heartbeat, I felt the first edge of panic, the first hint of bile. “Do you mean here or every Bank of America?” I asked.

“All of them,” she said.

I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t ask why. I snapped: “Well, you’ve made a lot of moms’ lives a lot harder.”

Really, I didn’t mean to be so testy. But hauling two small children on errands is like trying to pick berries while herding feral puppies.

At least one job, the drive-thru bank lane—with its no-fail bribe of flat, round, yellow, green, red, or purple translucent lollipops—provided one destination with a payoff (for me, too).

Grumbling and trying to turn my bad attitude into a life lesson for my kids, I said: “See guys, things don’t always turn out the way we want . . . “

Meanwhile, I drove over to Charles Schwab to try to open an IRA. Doing my part for the economy, even though retirement is a few thousand soccer games away. The office was open, but nearly empty. No receptionist. One patient advisor juggling the few customer walk-ins.

A Bloomberg News Channel was broadcasting: “The market tipped up a bit today,” the commentator said. “Is it a sign of good things to come?”

Then, as I sat down to fill out complicated forms with antsy children at my elbows, I noticed one true sign of hope:

A great big bowl of candy.


The Caffeine Meth Chronicles

I tend to write essays and spin observations into narratives. Most of what I’ve accomplished, at least initially, is done under the influence of caffeine. Coffee, rarely. More often I’m slurping Light-Ice versions of Chai Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, White Tea.  The buzz. The nervous energy. The clarity of thought. The edgy anxiousness.

 So these installments—penned weekly and occasionally more frequently—are inspired by this form of Legal Speed. After all, fueled by afternoon tea, Britain nearly ruled the world. And Cubans, jazzed by 3 p.m. cafecitos, survived 50 years of subprime communism. While I have no colonial or political aspirations, I hope to make a mark by chronicling the swift narrative of life. Thus: The Caffeine Meth Chronicles: The last six months of the post-millennium aughts and the first of the 20-teens.

On Essays

The trick is to realize that one is not important, except insofar as one’s example can serve to elucidate a more widespread human trait and make readers feel a little less lonely and freakish.

                        Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay

About My Book


By Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson

Literature explores the universal nature of humanity. Journalism captures life stories on deadline. With journalistic blogs and news websites joining the mix, Literature on Deadline (Celumbra/Pacific Isle Publishing, 2007) steps in to provide an intensive and sophisticated journalism “boot camp” for all traditional and new media writers.

What’s Inside

What separates great stories from mundane journalism? The quality of the reportage.

You’re only as good as your material. Web searches won’t do it. The best stories online and elsewhere are articles by writers who hit urban hangouts, the halls of government, and other locales where stories happen. Literature on Deadline reveals how to observe the telling details, score revealing personal interviews, and follow the paper trail to report stories that people will read and remember.

A “boot camp” for young journalists and even experienced writers intent on honing their craft with precision, depth and flair, Literature on Deadline helps writers develop story-telling skills in a range of forms, including essays, profiles, feature articles, blogs, breaking news posts and articles, enterprise stories and investigative series. Author Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson explains nitty-gritty techniques, while also exploring higher issues of truth and ethics using real-life examples and practical guidance.

Drawing on her own firsthand experience as a staff writer for The Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Cavanaugh Simpson also gleans insights from some of the nation’s top journalists, including Pulitzer Prize winners from The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post. The book features story excerpts and Q&As with elite literary journalists, including Susan Orlean, New Yorker writer and author of The Orchid Thief; Jon Franklin, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and author of Writing for Story; and Laura Wexler, award-winning author of Fire in a Canebrake.

Quotable Text: From the Introduction to Literature on Deadline

“Could Ernest Hemingway have written The Sun Also Rises or even The Snows of Kilimanjaro when facing a 5 p.m. deadline and an impatient editor? The answer is not what we might expect. Hemingway did write on deadline—many times. And, though he spent years tugging at the seams of novels, he wrote short stories of another sort when facing the clock. Hemingway cut his teeth on reportage—the swift narrative of life.”

What The Experts Say

“A remarkable journey into the world of burn-it-to-the-ground journalism from the best in the business. Literature on Deadline is an indispensable tool for students of the craft, masters of the art form, and everyone in between.

— Scott Higham, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, The Washington Post

“Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson shares the tricks of the trade in clear and quick prose, giving aspiring journalists the tools they need to deliver compelling narratives built on creative and rock-solid reporting.

— Dana Banker, Metro Editor, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Literature on Deadline is an excellent—and welcome—addition to books on writing. Fledgling reporters and aspiring essayists will both find it a valuable tool in learning how to write both creatively and well—on deadline.”

Patsy Sims, author Literary Nonfiction: Learning by Example

Order Info

To order, call 1-800-284-7043