Tales from the Missing and Endangered Trail

In the past, when I’ve gone off on book tours for two to three weeks at a time, the blogs I’ve written in transit have been dispatches from the trail. I don’t see why this tour should be any different.

It’s pub day. Rather than heading out with suitcase and red pen in hand, I’m sitting in front of a glowing fireplace with Jojo on the hassock next to my knee. She incurred a serious back injury fourteen months ago. Thanks to a skilled surgeon, Jojo can now make it up to and down from the hassock, with the help of a carefully positioned foot stool. She can also manage the doggy door on her own, something for which I am very thankful.

Several people have already written to say they’re enjoying reading Missing and Endangered, including two who have already finished it. Many thanks to all those early adopters.

Had I been going on an in-person tour, I would have been doing so after Mother Nature dumped more than a foot of snow on the Seattle area over the weekend and sent areas in the South into the deep freeze as well. So yes, I’m relieved to be at home and not concerned about flight cancellations and transportation issues, but I’m worried nonetheless. I’ve been sitting here stewing about tonight’s upcoming Facebook Live presentation for Poisoned Pen.

First of all, allow me to say that students and families stuck with the disaster known as “Virtual Learning” have my utmost sympathy. I’ve had any number of virtual malfunctions in the past several months, an ongoing condition I’ve come to call Zoomageddon. The interview scheduled for this past Saturday morning serves as a prime example.

For one thing, there are all kinds of different platforms for these events and none of them seem to operate in the same fashion. In the case of Saturday’s interview, I was told the host would send me an email that morning which would include a link that would enable me to sign in. I was also informed that earbuds were recommended. I wrote back saying that hearing aids and earbuds, like hearing aids and face masks, are counter-indicated.

On Saturday morning, I bounded out of bed, showered, fixed my hair and makeup, donned suitable attire and was ready to rumble. As advertised, the email with the link arrived in due time. I had been told that the platform the program was using was dead simple to operate. It wasn’t.

It turns out I have a long history with the words “dead simple.” I’m a liberal arts major. I expect things like computers to simply … well … work. I’m not a big fan of reading directions. My husband, Bill, is a retired electronics engineer and he ALWAYS reads directions. By the way, in 1968, while working as a EE for Motorola, Bill led the team that put together the radio components to create the first-ever cell phone, that gray-brick version that finally went on sale in the late eighties. In other words, Bill is the tech savvy member of the family. Whenever I go whining to him with a computer issue because I can’t get the machine to do what I want, he’ll give me an exasperated “guy” look and say, “Why do you make things so hard for yourself? This is dead simple.” Over the years I’ve let it be known that if I ever knock of a EE in one of my mysteries, the book will be called Dead Simple.

Back to Saturday morning. The email came in. Bill read the directions and it said the platform didn’t support iPads. So using the laptop was it. When we logged onto the link we were told we needed to choose one of two browsers—Chrome or Firefox. I don’t use either one. I tried downloading Chrome a year or so, and it immediately crashed my trusty MacBook Air. Bill got it running again, eventually, but only after another one of those “dead simple” dramas.

Chrome is a Google creation that isn’t user-friendly as far as I’m concerned. When I first started writing in the early eighties, Google didn’t even exist. For a long time I wrote in Word Perfect, first on an Eagle—dual floppy, 128 K of memory—and later on a series of Toshiba laptops. Word Perfect was perfect for me, but Windows was always lurking in the background waiting to screw me over at every opportunity. I’ll never forget the afternoon I hit the wrong button in my database. The screen suddenly filled up with images of skulls and crossbones while the words FATAL ERROR flashed on the screen. Dead Simple? You bet!

Then one day in the early 2000s, Microsoft announced that they were introducing a new operating system, one that would no longer support Word Perfect. I always have to work my way through a series of V-words —Voyages, Vacations, Visions, Visitations—before I arrive at the right one—Vista. At that point, Bill told me that if I upgraded to Vista, he was no longer going to function as my IT guy. Faced with that grim prospect, I moved to Apple and, after a few early missteps, I’ve been happily at work in Pages ever since. As for Microsoft? I like to tell people, “I don’t do windows—either kind.”

On Saturday then, with Chrome no longer under consideration, we opted for FireFox, but first we had to download it and make it my “preferred” browser. It isn’t! But even then, with Bill following all directions to the letter, we were unable to make that supposedly “dead simple” platform work. We eventually had to switch over to Zoom in order to make it happen. And in the course of that hour’s worth of technical agony, I learned that the resulting interview would be audio only! Grrr!

Shortly after another presentation which had been preceded by a miserable hour or so of tripping down Diagon Alley, someone wrote to me to suggest that I might try having run-throughs in advance so I wouldn’t look so nervous. Well, yes, on that occasion I’m pretty sure my facial expressions were akin to those on someone who has just swallowed a persimmon. But the truth is, advance run-throughs aren’t always possible which is why I’m keeping my fingers crossed about tonight.

As I’ve been writing this, I’m reminded of a much earlier book tour, one that happened in the late eighties. I was still at home and doing local events. That week Bill’s sister, Ann, and her husband, Roger, were visiting from out of town. Ann and I were finishing a batch of apricot freezer jam, when someone called and to remind me that I was due at a radio interview in downtown Seattle in half an hour. I whipped off my apron, grabbed my purse and car keys, and headed for the door.

“Wait,” Ann called. “Don’t you need to change clothes and put on some makeup?”

“Nope,” I replied. “It’s radio.”

That happened long before the era of the Internet and podcasts, but thinking about it today made me laugh. I hope it does the same for you.

Now it’s time to get dressed, put on my makeup, and break a virtual leg.

It’ll be dead simple

PS. I wrote the above on Tuesday during the day while being plagued with opening night jitters.  It’s Thursday afternoon now.  I believe the virtual event went well, but you’re welcome to judge for yourself.  The event is not yet posted on YouTube, but here’s a link if you missed seeing it live and would like to view it on line: https://poisonedpen.podbean.com/e/ja-jance-1613598147/

34 thoughts on “Tales from the Missing and Endangered Trail

  1. Love your Missing and Endangered….finished it two days after it was available for my kindle. When I know you have a book coming out on a certain date, I clear my calendar. I know I won’t want to do anything but read. My friends know not to interrupt me for Jeopardy and my two favorite authors. I think your latest is one of your best. Really enjoyed it.

  2. I watched your Facebook Live interview and enjoyed it a lot!
    I love it when you talk about various episodes in your life and how they influenced your decisions. One of your gifts is your willingness to step up to the plate, as you did once again, to incorporate new technology.

    You looked and sounded lovely and your infectious laugh came right through. Beautiful background painting as well! Selfishly, I prefer your virtual tours because then I also have the opportunity to see and hear you too! As bad as this epidemic is, at least we’ve had the benefit of technology to help us deal with it, dead simple or not.

    My copy of Missing and Endangered will arrive soon. Then nothing else will get done until I finish reading it! I have enjoyed all your writings and recommend you to everyone I know.

  3. Watched most of the Poisoned Pen event live Tuesday night and will finish it up this afternoon. I liked what I saw and thought it was just great! Was lucky enough to see you live at a book signing in Tempe AZ at Changing Hands bookstore. Really enjoyed that too…

  4. Looking at a viral You Tube from last week, at least you didn’t have to say “Yes this is JA Jance. No I am not a kitten.” Loving the latest book. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  5. I read Missing and Endangered in one day! It was so good that I could not put it down! Another must read!

  6. I loved Missing and Endangered. It was compelling and kept me up late into the night. Your writing is snappy and gives me enough but not too much detail that keeps me interested. I find myself at the end of the chapter saying ‘just one more chapter’ for tonight. That of course didn’t work and Missing and Endangered was finished in three sittings. Loved it. Thank you for sharing your stories. Its a toss up for me as to my favorite character Joanna Brady or JP Beaumont. Completely different people but I love them both.

  7. The interview was great! I think your fans are just happy for the opportunity to see you, Judy. I can’t begin to tell you how I miss attending your book signings and listening to whatever news you may have. Whenever we are over this dreadful pandemic I hope Tucson is one of your first stops on a book tour. Frank & I will be front & center!
    Janice Molina

  8. I LOVE all of your books and I believe I have read them all. However, this blog struck a personal nerve with me, when you mention your husband Bill worked for Motorola. It was a great company to work for and I retired from Motorola after 36 years in September 2016. Keep up the great books and can’t wait for the next one.

  9. Did my first Zoom meeting last night and I feel your pain. Had to learn it for business but no law says I have to like it. Read M&E in a sitting though and loved it. I feel as if the characters are personal friends and I really care what happens to them. Thanks for a great evening that stretched long after normal bedtime.

  10. After reading this post, I am glad I am not a famous author.
    And I don’t have a husband who can solve my computer problems for me.
    I am just a no account writer who is lucky to make it to the bathroom on time.
    Good luck with your next zoom!

  11. I read Missing & endangered in 2 days. I couldn’t put it down.
    I think I found a blooper though….where Jenny is out looking for Beth’s phone you once refer to her as Joanna

    • Thanks for being a sharp-eyed reader. Can you locate that blooper and send me the sentence so I can point it out to my editors and have it fixed?

  12. How wonderful to find out that I’m not the only mechanically disinclined person out there! Heck, I haven’t figured out WiFi yet. My sister still mourns the passing of Word Perfect.
    You’re so lucky to have an in-house IT guy! You guys make a great team.

  13. Loved the new book. Got it on my beloved Kindle. While others were whining about 15″ inches of snow hampering their trip to a bookstore, I smiled. There I sat in my comfy chair, snuggled up with a kitty and soft blanket, fireplace going, coffee and Baileys close at hand, once again transported to Arizona. I only moved to refill the coffee, grab snacks and empty my bladder. Dinner was ‘Grab your own’. Much later I surfaced saying “another great JAJ book.” Thanks.

  14. Well, this blog reader can certainly identify with all those technical woes. I’ve been dealing with computer upgrades since the early 80s when I cried over having to learn DOS. Then came the desktop. Hooray! But then came the upgrades that made no sense to me. I liked Window 95. Every time Microsoft upgrades the software I can find where to do what. I’d switch to Apple, but then I’d lose my tach support in the form of my IT nephew. Sigh. I’m 70 and thinking I should just retire and never face another zoom meeting.

    • I’m 70 also, and have thought the same thing–just give up all this computer stuff! It’s forever leaving me in the lurch!

  15. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Glad to hear you are a Mac person. My first one was serial number 3,000 something oh so long ago right after the famous Super Bowl commercial. The back and forth on technical issues is an echo of the conversations in our house. We have found that zoom meeting have many advantages including attending events out of town and state that we would not be able to attend otherwise. Like book tours. Always enjoy your blogs as well as books.

  16. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Glad to hear you are a Mac person. My first one was serial number 3,000 something oh so long ago right after the famous Super Bowl commercial. The back and forth on technical issues is an echo of the conversations in our house. We have found that zoom meeting have many advantages including attending events out of town and state that we would not be able to attend otherwise. Like book tours. Always enjoy your blogs as well as books.

  17. It’s Friday morning 2-19-21 and I just listened to the conversation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you so much for allowing me to feel like I was there listening in person. On another note, you have inspired me to get a pedometer and you put me to shame in steps.

  18. What a fun narrative! I don’t even have a computer anymore and being 79 years old can barely make and receive phone calls as my Smartphone is much smarter than me. I received my bookmark and bookplate on the 16th–same day as the book! One thing I really liked about it is the illustration of the dangers involved in the current reliance on smartphones and computers and also the erosion of privacy. Please keep writing–who’s next–J P? or Ali?

  19. The interview went great. I enjoyed listening to you talk about your latest book and the characters of the Brady books.
    I love all your books and keep on writing Judy!

  20. Oh, I SO relate about technology problems–I’m sure my local computer tech hates to see my number come up on his phone. (I don’t have a “Bill” to help me!) I’m GRATEFUL for my laptop, of course, especially right now during the pandemic, because it allows me to continue earning my living as a music teacher. But it certainly plays tricks on me often–the image freezes and I can hear the student playing but he’s stuck with his mouth hanging open and his eyes staring wildly at the cymbals. Or I can see him pounding away on the drums, but I’ve heard only the first hit. It’s a stopgap measure only, this Zoom/Skype/Whatever stuff. BUT your interviews, if online, are much more accessible to those of us who are too far away to attend signings etc. in person, and I’m grateful that I can watch your Tuesday event on Facebook, as I was, of course, earning my living teaching on Tuesday evening.

  21. I’m with you JA. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one that refused to use chrome & google. I use bing as my engine since it mans donations to my favorite charities in my name. I also have problems with virtual medical appointments.

  22. Having been a fan for decades, I read your latest share with more than usual interest. In the past few months I have been plagued by the electronic worlds out there. During the last year and a half I have “ been informed that “Firefox and Chrome” are the only platforms allowed for any number of talks, classes, etc. (not Safari). a year ago I loaded Chrome onto my computer…and it crashed. Sometimes Zoom works and sometimes it doesn’t. The only platform I have seen that never fails (if you are their “invite” list) is Google Meet. And then only with earphones. Once a show goes onto YouTube I have a fighting chance of seeing it. Sigh.

  23. Finished M&E, same day I got it! Loved it! Keep up the good work! I love all your books always entertaining and thought provoking! I’m wondering will there be a new book about the Walker family in the near future(no pressure)? Thanks for all the good books!?

  24. I also had a difficult time getting on on Wednesday evening. Finally bot it to work and was only a few minutes late.

  25. Technology impaired, can I be queen?

    This laptop is going on 9 years old. I fought the upgrade to Microsoft 10 for 11 months telling them no!, only to wake up one morning to them downloading that mess. Swore the next laptop would be Apple because of that. Seems I will probably need to fish or cut bait soon, given the age of this laptop. I don’t know Apple computers. Truth be told, I can barely get around on this laptop. Our neighbor set up computers for us the first few times, so I am familiar with Mozilla and Firefox, he was never a fan of MS, so we used his preference. I do have a LARGE iPad but mostly just read books on it since my eyes are as bad as my ears, so no proficiency there.
    My hearing aid went on hiatus when Covid came around. As you mentioned glasses, mask and a hearing aid to not go together. An ear can only hold so much. At least not for very long. Smallest bit would be lost and it is the one that costs the most.
    Speaking of reading and eyes, I saw your youtube Poisoned Pen interview as soon as it was available. I was already reading Missing and Endangered. Spaced that puppy out to 3 days to make it last longer. Thank you!

  26. Have been holed up in a hotel for several days because of the horrendous weather that we’ve been having in Texas, this week. I had loaded the first four Joanna Brady books on my Kind about a week ago and had been reading through them, until I saw that Missing and Endangered was out. Got it, too, and loved it. Fun to see the contrast between the early characters and how they’ve griwn/changed. I’d forgotten how early Butch appeared in the stories. We go back home tomorrow to see how our RV home has done in the extreme cold. Haven’t read this much for years!

  27. Hi, I wanted to tell you I ordered your book with your autograph and it came last Sunday. I was so excited and happy to get it. Then I started reading it and it was like visiting my friend Joanna and finding out what was going on with her life. I read the book in 2 days and loved it. J A Jance you are the best author I have ever read. I have read all your books and I have saved them to read again and again. I would say Joanna and Beaumont are my favorites. I loved the last book you did on Beaumont too. I am looking forward to Ali Reynolds new book that is coming this year. A great fan.

  28. Hi, I just watched your interview on facebook and it was great to hear you talk and i sure learned a lot. I love your books and read your new one in two days. Thanks for the great writing and looking forward to the Ali Reynolds book coming out in June. Carole Blanchard

  29. I finished Missing and Endangered in a day. I loved the book and thought it was the best Joanna Brady book I’ve read so far. And they are all excellent

  30. I recently attended a Zoom meeting where I was warned that I should use one of those browsers. I ignored the advice and went ahead with Safari as I always do. It worked just fine. If it doesn’t work on Safari, I don’t want to be involved.

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