More Tales from the Remains Trail

It’s tired out tonight–two weeks exactly into a tour that started two days after our return home from two weeks in Europe. If that’s too many twos for you, welcome to my world.

One of my e-mail correspondents sent me something this week that made me laugh out loud. She told me, “You’re not just pushing seventy. You’re pushing it over the cliff.” But as I sit here tonight, barely upright in my chair at the Ritz in Phoenix, I could use a little of Lucille Ball’s Vitameatavegamin.

So tonight I’m going with what’s struck me about the last few days on tour. First, I cannot tell you what an honor it was to be at the Moving Wall Ceremony at the Veterans Museum in Chehalis last Saturday. It was hot–dreadfully hot, well into the nineties. The chairs were lined up in direct sunlight on a blazing afternoon. But the crowd listened in respectful silence as Bonnie Abney and I told the story of her lost love, Leonard Douglas Davis who died in Vietnam 48 years ago that very day. The event was on August 2, 2014. Doug, a schoolmate of mine from Bisbee, Arizona, and Bonnie’s fiancé, died on August 2, 1966. Bonnie and I stood on stage next to the portrait of Doug that was drawn by Michael Reagan of the Fallen Heroes Project. The portrait is taken from a photograph that came to light less than two years ago as a result of Bonnie’s involvement in my book, Second Watch. That book may be mostly fiction, but it includes Doug’s and Bonnie’s very real and terribly tragic story.

Then Michael Reagan told how he has spent the last ten years drawing portraits of fallen heroes from more recent wars. Now, starting with Doug’s portrait which he did for Bonnie, he has embarked on a path that has him bringing fallen soldiers home from Vietnam, including several that are a direct result of Michael’s being pulled into the Second Watch orbit. In drawing those portraits–two were delivered on Saturday and a third was promised–Michael is bringing healing and comfort to literally thousands of Gold Star families. But, as he said in his talk on Saturday, he’s finding his own healing as well.

Today, in Sun City, I ran into Bev Barden, the widow of one of a lost hero and the recipient of one of Michael’s portraits. She told me she hung it in her bedroom. That picture is the last thing she sees before she goes to sleep at night and the first thing she sees in the morning when she wakes up.

That’s the serious side of being on tour. Here’s something a bit more light-hearted. In 2000 the University of Arizona awarded me an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. I don’t refer to myself Dr. Jance although that’s my handle in some places–mostly notably on junk mail offering cruises to exotic destinations. It seems, however, that some of my readers are taking the Dr. title to heart.

One woman wrote to say that after reading an Ali Reynolds book in which a homicide suspect talked about sleeping soundly due to her C-PAP machine, she decided to follow her doctor’s orders and try using one herself. She now credits my book with helping her have two years of restful sleep.

Another woman, in Eugene, went to war with her orthopedic surgeon when he wouldn’t agree to replace both her bad knees at once. “I don’t know why not,” she told him. “J.P. Beaumont had both of HIS done at once.” The doctor gave her a puzzled frown. “You’re not the first person to tell me that,” he said. “I guess I’m going to have to check this J.P. character out.”

And yet a third reader wrote today, saying that my stories have kept him company during the last several years he’s spent battling oral cancer. When faced with sleepless nights, he’s found comfort and escape in reading my books.

Those are all good stories, and there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t have heard any of them if I hadn’t been out here on the road, living out of a suitcase, going to signings, and doing my best to be charming, 24/7. Not easy. And glamour is pretty hard to come by when the rooms at venues are so overheated that my makeup and sweat is literally dripping off my nose!

So yes, it’s tiring. It’s hard work. But the stories mentioned above constitute what Bill calls the “psychological income” of being an author, and you know what? Tired or not, I wouldn’t want to miss out on any of them.

8 thoughts on “More Tales from the Remains Trail

  1. We were in Tucson and when I heard you were going to be at Mostly Books I told my husband, who also loves your books that we HAD to go. He was tired and had been to a lot of less than stellar book signing/talks, but he’s a good sport. Your talk was wonderful. We both got so much joy and insights from it. I can barely speak my name after several time changes and a long plane ride, and you did the best talk I have ever been to. I was a librarian in a tiny public library in central Wisconsin and when I bought your first books for our library, I knew I would love Joanna Brady, but I wondered if my patrons would. Oh yes! The books became favorites of so many. You kept us warm and happy in long Wisconsin winters. So many good stories you’ve told and that is what I consider “creative writing, serious literature” Did the author tell a good story, with memorable characters and say something about life? Your former professor should be spinning in his grave. We are all so fortunate that you followed that calling to WRITE. Write on!

  2. It’s true, reading your books is a great way to escape into another world. It’s the only way I can turn off my brain and let my mind enter another.
    As a new author, the positive response to my books are what keep me going…along with the voices in my head. Though I’ll never be in your writing category, I sure love my life and the enthusiasm of my readers.

  3. I should have been in Tucson yesterday visiting my nieces so I could have seen you. It was probably about the same temperature there as it was here. Hot. One time I will make it.

  4. Love Bill’s term of psychological income. I love to read. I have always like mysteries. Had to laugh at the medical quest from JP’s knee replacements. Years ago when the Reader’s Digest was one publication that many read, medical personnel said they could always tell what part of “Joe’s body” was reported on by the visits and symptoms of patients.

    Now if at the end of the tour, you can get some rest and family time before you have to work on another book, that would be good. Especially pushing 70. BTW, Amazon sent me the book that arrived the day it was released. Loved it of course. Take care of yourself so there are many, many more for us to enjoy.

  5. Continue to cherish Joanna Brady and the Bisbee connection but have come to love ALL your work. You are truly a gifted writer. Second Watch brought tears to my eyes as another Vietnam war survivor, albeit not in combat. As the pastor used to say, “keep on keepin’ on.”

  6. Saw you and Bill at the Reading in Puyallup wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed all of your J.P. Beaumont books and hope you will find more for him to do in the years to come thanks for keeping me awake on the long shifts I’ve worked
    over the years

  7. The title Doctor means you can write prescriptions to make us better. Well your books do make me feel better every time I read them. Keep up the great work Doc.

  8. I agree with marilyn and JP, double knee replacement is the only way to go…..he recovered a lot faster than I did, but six weeks after surgery I flew across the country and walked all over town. No harder to do two than one.

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