A Thank You – Thirty Years in the Making

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and that’s what this note is all about–Giving Thanks.

For a long time I used WordPerfect to write my books, and when people asked me if I used Windows, I would reply, “I don’t do windows–either kind.”  And that’s still true. Around here window washing has long been handled by Jim Reichel of Western Window Wash, and once Bill talked me down from my WordPerfect-only tree, I became an Apple girl. I was reluctant at first, but Apple has grown on me over the years.

And when people asked me about prizes? I’d reply, “I don’t do prizes,” although the truth was, prizes didn’t do me. The local chapter of Mystery Writers of America gave me a Willo once, named in honor of Willo Davis. And the Scottsdale Public Library gave me a Scotty once–a wooden bust of Winfield Scott carved from olive wood from the trees that once covered Winfield Scott’s–I’m not sure what to call it–olive farm? Olive ranch? In any case, that wooden bust, carved from a piece of Scottsdale’s distant past, is part of the decor in the family room of our Tucson home.

A photo of J.A. Jance and her husband Bill, proudly holding the Buochercon Guest of Honor Award

J.A. Jance and husband Bill with the Guest of Honor Award

As for national or international prizes? Zilch. In thirty years, zero nominations for an MWA Edgar. Nor was I given an Anthony. (Anthonys are named in honor of Anthony Boucher–a well known author/reviewer of mystery fiction–and are awarded at the mystery convention that bears his name, Bouchercon.)  I was nominated for an Anthony once–for Hour of the Hunter–back in the early nineties, but I didn’t win. (This week at the Anthony awards, I sat next to a young man who had fingers crossed on both hands as they read off the nominations. He didn’t win. I know exactly how he felt!)

Last week, however, the no-prize drought ended for J.A. Jance at Murder on the Beach, this year’s Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, where I was one of four Guests of Honor. It was wonderful. For the whole week, I was wined and dined. I was recognized in hallways and elevators, in restaurants and on escalators. When I’m on tour, I’m only “on” at scheduled events or interviews.  In hotels, I’m entirely anonymous. In Long Beach, however, I was “on” from the moment I stepped outside my room. That made packing a challenge. On tour, when I’m in a different city every day, no one notices if I show up in one of two alternating outfits. At Bouchercon, I was seeing the same people every day for a week. That calls for a lot of outfits!

Having never been a Guest of Honor before, I soon discovered that you’re not allowed to phone it in. You have to show up! With one, two, and even three events to attend each day, it was busy. My two editors, Lyssa Keusch from HarperCollins and Sally Kim from Simon and Schuster, were both in attendance, and we tried to carve out some private author/editor time together around the officially scheduled events. In other words, it was complicated AND busy!

By Saturday night, I was tempted to play hooky when it came to the final end-of-conference party where this year’s Anthonys would be awarded. After all, I wasn’t nominated. Again. But that morning, Ingrid Willis, the chair of the conference, tracked us down in the lobby and gave us tickets. “We have a bauble we want to give you,” she said. “And please be sure to sit in the front row.” The implication was clear–BE THERE OR BE SQUARE–so we went.

But here’s the part this particular Guest of Honor didn’t know about being a Guest of Honor.  Guests of Honor are awarded their own Anthony statuettes–in this case a wooden raven perched on a beach ball. (Probably not carved from Winfield Scott’s fallen olive trees.)

Those of you who have seen me at events know that I often close my presentations with my rendition of Janis Ian’s iconic song, At Seventeen.  The last words go like this:

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling girls like me.

Those were the words going through my head as I walked across the stage to receive my Guest of Honor Anthony, because one of my long time dreams was coming true. My thank you speech was short but brief. “In thirty years and more than fifty books, this is the first national or international prize I’ve ever received. Thank you.”

Evidently that was news to the folks attending Bouchercon. They gave me a thunderous round of applause. But I’m writing this, because it may be news to my other readers as well. And all of you–convention attendees or not–made that beach ball bird possible, and I want to say thank you.

So yes, there’s much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  And I hope there’s much to be thankful for in your lives as well.

Cover for Ali Reynolds book #10, A Last Goodbye

The No-Bella novella

And now a short PS.

A Last Goodbye, Bella’s Novella, goes on sale in e-book on November 24 and audio format on November 25.  It will be available for my DTRs (Dead Tree Readers) with the paperback publication of Moving Target on December 30th.

After the last note about A Last Goodbye, a number of people wrote to me worrying that we had lost our Bella.  We have not.  She is FINE, but she’s also looking forward to doing her star turn.  Maybe some day she’ll be invited to a mystery convention where she’ll be able to be the Canine Guest of Honor.

And PPS.

No matter what we do, some people on the newsletter list never receive their newsletters.  So for this week, this note will be both blog and newsletter.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Stay warm.  And enjoy that pumpkin pie.

J.A. Jance

15 thoughts on “A Thank You – Thirty Years in the Making

  1. Congratulations! The quality of your writing is an inspiration to all of us. Thanks for sharing your real life with us too. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Congratulations on your award. Good things take a long time.

    I received your newsletter early this morning and was tickled to read about the changes of clothing you had to deal with. It sounded like Astor Week with the Queen at Windsor Castle where ladies are required to change clothes at least four times a day and should not repeat any frock. No one seems to care that the men wear the same old suits.

    Hope Thanksgiving is wonderful for you and your family. It’s almost time for lefste and lutefisk.

  3. Thank you for all the wonderful novels! Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    Keep on writing!!

  4. I am so happy you were recognized. I do agree that it is long overdue. But you have true followers. There are many of us, I am sure that would recognize you should we run into you.

    Thanks for your brilliant imagination and sharing it with us.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


  5. Well, I for one think that you should have many prizes and awards presented to you. I always look forward to your novels, all 3 series and anything else. Never give up, you have a huge fan base, me included!!!

  6. It’s about time! Those of us who have been reading your books for more than 20 years, know that you have deserved all those awards and many more. Congratulations to a fine writer and a really great gal!

    Karleen and Butch

  7. As I posted elsewhere I am thrilled you have finally been recognized by the Boucheron and that it took place in my hometown. Long Beach was a great place to grow up. We had lots of parks, good weather, and most importantly to me, lots of library branches. In fact the one I grew up with in my teen years was just replaced with a bigger state of the art one. My old neighborhood needs all the resources available. Congratulations.

  8. To our family Thanksgiving is a special holiday. 2005 we were in a nasty auto accident. We were each taken to separate hospitals. We tell people that we were going for TURKEY but got the Bird. After living thru that experience our priorities have changed. THANKSGIVING means GIVING THANKS . We were so lucky . I wish you and your FAMILY A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING

  9. Congratulations!! You are well deserved of this award!
    I’m very happy for you!
    Be well, enjoy the Holiday , hopefully
    With friends and family.
    As always , an avid reader of your stories!

  10. I am one if those on the newsletter list who never get the. newsletter. Congratulations on your well deserved award.

  11. Congratulations on the well deserved award! Sometimes life doesn’t always get it right – this time it did!

  12. I am very pleased to hear that you have finally received the recognition that you so deserve. Your endless hours of hard work have brought joy to countless hours of my life. I think I speak for many of your readers in saying “thank you”.

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