Joan Caska specializes in writing literary flash fiction and short stories, as well as prose poetry and literary criticism. Joan writes full-time in upstate New York.
I was born in Flushing, NY in 1970, the youngest of three girls. My parents were Brooklyn born and raised, but around my third birthday, they transplanted our family “upstate,” closer to my father’s job sites as a construction engineer. The move also afforded him a chance to pursue his interest in farming, while my mother could enjoy her passion for gardening and preference for small-town life.
My earliest childhood memories center around acquiring, raising and caring for calves, chickens, rabbits, pigs and whatever else happened to end up in our barn. Today, I live, work and play on the same thirty-three acres of farmland and forest my parents purchased in 1973.
I attended SUNY Cobleskill College, a small two-year school located just south of my hometown, where I received an AA in Humanities. I have never forgotten how it felt to study literature and writing my first semester. I was 17 years old and oh, so grateful for every minute spent in class with the talented, creative and encouraging instructors I encountered.
I went on to complete my BA in English at SUNY Albany, NY. It was an eye-opening experience, to be transported to a ‘city’ setting to continue my studies. Once again, I learned a great deal, through course work as well as the various jobs needed to fund my education. I worked as a telemarketer (selling a popular brand-new technology: “caller ID”), an AT&T operator, a Census worker, a pet shop kennel cleaner, and a clerk for maintaining computer files at a funeral home.
I liked the pet shop work the best. I went on to work as a manager and district manager for a retail pet store chain, working in some of the biggest malls in New England and New York state. It was a fun and profitable career, and I learned invaluable sales, marketing, merchandising, scheduling and leadership skills. My colleagues and employees were among the most dedicated, caring, hard-working and fun people I’ve ever met.
Throughout the ten years I spent in retail management, I never stopped writing, reading or studying literature and creative writing. I just did it on my own. Now I enjoy helping others achieve their own writing goals, too, through work online and in person in local workshops and writing groups throughout upstate NY.