New Play Coming Soon


Ten months ago my first children’s story, the tale of a boy superhero, was published in The Greater Ashland Beacon newspaper. A few weeks later I shared it, with a little help from Levi, at a Writers Can Read event at Pullman Square.  Six months ago a play version of that same story took home an Honorable Mention award at WV Writers.  And yesterday, December 29, Levi and I both got to join Actors for Children Theatre for their first rehearsal of that play.  Pictured above are the two of us at the day’s table read, talking to the actors about the inspiration for the play.

Amazing how far these characters have come in such a short time.

The show will tour in March and April.  Will be pretty cool to see these stories go from nighttime reading at home to the pages of the Beacon to stages throughout the Tri-State.

This production is aimed for preschool through elementary audiences.  ACT would love to tour to your school, library or community center in Spring 2017. Message or call 606-922-2903.



ACTC Announces 4th Annual New Play Festival Participants/Works


This article originally appeared in the December 13 edition of The Greater Ashland Beacon weekly newspaper. 

For the fourth fall semester in a row playwriting students at Ashland Community and Technical College have been composing comedies and dramas for their annual New Play Festival of Student Written Work, staged each April on campus in conjunction with the Student Art Showcase.

This combination of the theatre festival and art showcase has proven, over and over again, to be one of the most exciting times of the year for ACTC students eager to express their creative, artistic side and for those wishing to try something new.

Over the past three years, the festival has also given over a hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members an opportunity to “get their feet wet” in theatre without the extended commitment that often comes with putting on a full length play.

The play fest has combined all of the before mentioned elements together to host premieres of three dozen new plays, all written by students, in 2014, 2015, and 2016. They’ve been a big hit for locals and some of these works have even gone on to further production at the Kentucky State Fair and the Ten-tucky fest, both in Louisville, and in New York City.

ACTC’s New Play Festival event has been covered in The Dramatist magazine, a nationwide extension of The Dramatist Guild, the largest organization devoted to playwrights in America.

The 4th Annual event will debut thirteen new works, thus bringing close to 50 the number of new plays developed in just four years.

And, now, with the fall term at its end comes the difficult task of deciding what thirteen comedies and dramas will make up this year’s fest. Each student has written monologues, scenes, and ten minute plays. Some have ventured even further with multiple plays and/or a full length play, which is quite the accomplishment for only a semester’s worth of work.

The plays selected for April performance are: (drumroll, please)


A Short Scene by Cody Avery

Writer’s Block by Sarah Diedrich

A Scene From Beauty Underneath by Desiree Rayne

Lexington by Robert Range

Stuck in Limbo by Kelly Vance

A Scene From Afternoon Tango by Janet Woodring

A Scene From The Shattered Home by Gary Brown

Judging By The Cover by R.C. Burch

The Huxley by Ashley Hacker

A Starlit Healing by Noel McDavid

When I See You Again by Mikaela McDonald

How It Is Really Done by Erin Moore

A Monologue by Julian Thigpen

Congratulations to all playwrights involved. Directors are now being assigned to shows, and the festival really gets rolling with auditions (open to the public) February 27 and 28. Performance dates will be April 7, 8, and 9. This year’s festival will be coordinated by Sarah Diamond Burroway. For more information contact or

A Pez-tacular Adventure


Twice a month I write a column of stories for kids for The Greater Ashland Beacon weekly newspaper.  It is called Read Me A Bedtime Story and it has become the favorite of my various writing pursuits.  Recently, the column collided with another love of my family – that of Pez collecting, and I shared the kid’s tale below.

I don’t usually publish my children’s stories here.  You have to pick up a Beacon (or check out for that.  In fact, this may be only the second or third one (out of 21 so far) that I’ve put on The Joy of…blog.  I hope you enjoy it.  It tells the tale of Hector, the Pez collector, as he builds his collection and prepares for an upcoming Pez convention trip, all the while suspecting that his Pez might be up to something…unbelievable.


A Pez-tacular Adventure

by Jonathan Joy

Everyone loves Pez, but no one loves those colorful plastic candy dispensers as much as Hector. Hector was a Pez collector.

It started in the checkout aisle at the store. Hector’s eyes were always drawn to the colors and the characters and, of course, the candy.

Hector’s mom would buy him a Pez dispenser once a week if he was a good boy. It was a fun, affordable incentive. Hector was always a good boy, so the Pez stacked up fairly quickly.

Soon family began to give Pez dispensers as gifts. Once Hector even found some old Pez at a yard sale. Before long he had ten, then twenty, then fifty, then…

“Mom! I did it! I have a hundred Pez dispensers. Can you believe it?”

“I think it’s time we build you a display.” His mother suggested. And they did. They constructed a large shelf where all Hector’s Pez could proudly stand.

One morning Hector awoke to find his Pez out of order. “That’s weird. I’m sure I had George Washington before that Easter Bunny. And, Pirate, you don’t belong there. You’re supposed to be next to the Policeman Pez.”

He questioned his mother, but she assured Hector that she had not touched his toys.

A few days later, it happened again. “I know I didn’t put the Witch next to the Bubble Man. No way.” He fixed the error.

It happened a third time. “Mom, I think they’re coming to life at night.” Hector said. “You watch too many movies.” His mother replied. Overhearing this conversation, a Clown Pez winked at a Lion Pez.   A Pony Pez smiled, holding back a laugh.

Time went on and Hector collected more. He even got a job delivering newspapers in the morning to help feed his Pez dispenser habit.

“Mom! I did it! I have a hundred and fifty Pez dispensers. Can you believe it?”

“I think it’s time to introduce you to a Pez convention.” His mother suggested.

Hector’s mother explained that some people that love Pez will get together, often by the hundreds, to talk about Pez and show off their collections. “I read about it online. People come from all over the world.”

“I have to go.” Hector insisted.

Hector and his mother both worked to save money, for the closest Pez convention was hours away.

Eventually, they had achieved their goal. To Hector’s delight, his mother informed him that they had enough to make the big trip.

“Good job!” exclaimed an unfamiliar voice.

“Who said that?” Questioned Hector.

“I didn’t hear anything.” His mother replied.

“It sounded like one of the wrestlers.”

“You have some imagination, Hector” His mother smiled. Overhearing this conversation, a cartoon sponge Pez dispenser snickered, prompting several Pez princesses to laugh.

When the day arrived Hector was so excited he could not concentrate. He helped his mother pack the car and they were off.

Six hours in to the eight hour trip, Hector realized he had made a horrible mistake. “How could I forget my Pez? This is a disaster.”

Hector’s mom tried to console him. Back home a box with loads of Pez sat lonely in the middle of his room. Some of the cheerier Pez, the happy emoticon Pez, in particular, tried to keep spirits up, but the mood was pretty gloomy. However, all hope was not lost. These Pez dispensers had more than a bit of magic on their side.

Many of the characters in that dark box had battled far greater odds than this. The superheroes had defeated the world’s scariest supervillains. The race car drivers had dared inhuman speeds. Santa had delivered millions of toys in a single night. And the witch had a spell that could teleport objects many miles by simply wishing it to happen. (Wait, that last one might be particularly helpful.)

“Cheer up, Hector.” His mother pleaded. “We’re still going to have a lot of fun.”

“I know.” Hector said sadly.

They arrived at the hotel. Hector was excited to see so many people wearing Pez t-shirts. One guy even had a super cool Pez tattoo. They all had large boxes, probably full of Pez dispensers to show off, too. That’s when Hector’s excitement turned to dismay.

When Hector and his mom checked in to their room, a surprise box awaited them.

“What’s that?” His mother questioned.

“It looks like…” Hector paused. He recognized the box. “But how?”

They opened the box and, sure enough, his Pez dispensers were there waiting on him. It was a Pez convention miracle.

Hector’s mom was amazed. Hector was delighted. And those Pez dispensers, through whatever magic brought them to this place, were thrilled to be on display for Hector and the many other Pez fans that would happen by to check out his collection.

Hector told them all the story of his magic Pez that sometimes came to life and somehow magically transported themselves here.

Upon hearing this story, most folks just smiled and patted Hector on the head. The Pez knew the truth, though. Upon hearing the same story, a Rabbit winked at a muppet. An Elvis Pez did a little dance. And they all smiled. Hector thought he even caught a glimpse of a sparkle in the Witch’s eye.