What’s In A Blog

When it’s time to hit the hay on Tuesday nights, the last thought running through my mind is this: “What the hell are you going to write for the blog tomorrow morning?” Last night was no exception to that rule, but this morning the answer was there, clear as a bell, the moment I opened my SPAM file.

Yes, I read my emails each day, but I always check the spam file as well because sometimes there are important items in there. This morning there were several, and most of them were … well … the usual suspects.

Two came from people letting me know that they’re willing to pay me $2000 a week to place ads on my Facebook and website pages. Number one, I don’t believe that’s true. And number two, even if it is, I have zero interest in having ads, complete with photos, for people doing tooth implants or for a product guaranteed to “empty my bowels” every morning. Due to dental care in my childhood, I am now and always have been what is called a “white-knuckle” dental patient. When those implant pictures show up in my various news feeds, they give me the willies. As for the other? Some things fall into the category of “goes without mentioning.” I don’t want that product, either!

Next was an indignant note from someone who wants to redesign my website so it can hit the “top ten of the Google search list. This morning that anonymous writer was offended because I hadn’t responded to his or her earlier correspondence. Number one: Correspondence is a two-way street. If someone who doesn’t know me writes to me offering a service I’m not interested in utilizing, I don’t have to reply. I get to hit DELETE! And I do. Number two: Surprisingly enough the exact same sets of emails, word for word copies but coming from different names, appear in my SPAM file with astonishing regularity.

Then there was someone who wants to design an app for my business. I don’t need or want an app. My son and my former daughter-in-law do a fine job on maintaining the website, thank you very much, and I don’t need to complicate my life by adding some complete, random stranger into the mix.

And last but not least, there was the message from someone who wants to write “original content” for me to purchase and post on my blog. Unfortunately, the person offering the content had limited English language skills and would have had a devil of a time making it through Mrs. Medigovich’s senior English class at Bisbee High School. So no thanks to that, too. Delete, Delete, Delete.

But today, as I was out walking and getting my steps (I’ve passed the 11,000,000 mark now!), I was thinking about the words “original content,” and because last week’s blog was about Pima Hall, I started thinking about the weekly letters my mother wrote to me faithfully the whole time I was away at school.

Tucson is only a hundred miles or so away from Bisbee, but it was also the first time I had ever been away from home for an extended period of time. So although it wasn’t that far in distance, in those days of expensive “long distance trunk calls,” it could just as well have been forever. So the letters Evie wrote to me each week were treasures. They usually arrived on Friday mornings, and I remember rushing home from morning classes eager to see if there was any mail in my box behind the reception desk.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom, but a very busy one. She had grown up as a Midwest farm girl. She washed on Mondays and ironed on Tuesdays. She had an automatic washer by the time I was in college, but she still hung the wash on a clothes line to dry. She cooked three meals a day. She didn’t have a microwave, but she was a whiz with her pressure cooker. As for having an automatic dishwasher? Never! She didn’t need one. She had seven kids who were on hand to eat those home-cooked meals and who were called upon to set the table, wash and dry the dishes, and take out the trash.

When I went away to college—the first one of her seven kids to do so—Evie still had four kids at home. Nonetheless, once a week, she set aside all her other task assignments to write to her daughter. Despite having only a seventh grade education, her grammar was perfect and her penmanship impeccable. She filled two or three pages with what was happening at home: who had a baby; who made the honor roll; how the Boy Scout mistletoe sale was progressing; what was going on with people at church.

Nothing in those letters was earth shatteringly important. Her notes were full or ordinary stuff that made me feel less homesick and more connected. They made me feel loved. They made me feel encouraged, and they lifted my heart.

And that’s what I try to with my own “original content” each week. In a very real way, my blog entries are a continuation of the letters my mother wrote to me—filled with ordinary, mundane stuff but also, at the same time, encouraging and maybe just a little uplifting my readers. Each of the blog postings is a letter from my heart to theirs.

So no, I don’t have any interest in “monetizing” my website, because, as it turns out, it already is. The people who read my entries know a lot about the person who writes the books, and many of those folks have gone on to become friends as well as fans, and friends buy books.

So I’ll continue to write my own truly “original content,” and we all have Evie Busk to thank for that.

Keep reading. See you next week, although I have NO idea what I’ll be writing about.

52 thoughts on “What’s In A Blog

  1. A wonderful message as usual. It is the little everyday things that are so important. I love hearing about them. My Iowa farm girl Mom was the same. She kept the five of us entertained. Perfect penmanship until the day she died.

  2. Good Morning. I love your blogs. It the first item I read on Friday morning.
    I did notice that you wrote ‘Tuesday’ in the first sentence but I think you meant ‘Thursday’

    Down near the end I think you left out a word in the sentence ‘I will with’

    Darn I can’t look back to be sure I got the correct sentence.

    You write great books. I also enjoy coming to your book tours. Have really missed those. You take care, keep writing and take extra steps for me.

    I live just down the road from you in Olympia, Washington.

    • No, I did mean Tuesday. I write the blog on Wednesday so it can post on Friday morning. I’m unable to find the other one.

  3. I am impressed with your Friday faithfulness to your blog post. Your mother certainly set a good example. Always look forward to them.

    On another note, knowing I would be hearing from you today, I want to share/ask about my reactions to your stories.

    Some of your stories stick with me – other’s don’t. I suspect it has to do with the emotional reaction you provoke. (I don’t remember the titles of the books -sorry sorry – but the scenes remain vivid.)

    1. In the book about the Mormon community in N Arizona, your scene where the ‘policeman’ was searching for the runaway girl. The “Here Piggy, Piggy” sent chills down my back and I almost stopped reading the book.
    2. A Bisbee story about fatherhood identity being suppressed. You describe the scene where the woman was shot and died in her mobile home, surrounded by her dogs who died one by one from the heat. That too was so very vivid that I was upset about it all day.

    There is something about the Johanna Brady series that I relate to more than the others. Perhaps it is the Bisbee setting, or the life of a woman sheriff in a small town, or all the lives interconnected in Bisbee – I don’t know – but I re-read these and not the others. I am not sure why.

      • The fact that those scenes have stayed with you means they meant something to your. That’s very important for a writer to know.

        • I do not like stalking and deliberately avoid books, film etc that are centered on stalking. When I am engrossed in a book – as I am in yours – I tend to imagine. I am engrossed and am right there in the scene. Stalking frightens me.

          The death of the dogs was hard to read as I have a love affair with German Shepherd Dogs. I felt their deaths as I would feel the deaths of my own dogs who might have died the same way. Gut wrenching.

      • Yes, thank you. I have read it. I enjoy JP Beaumont. I just don’t connect with him as I do with Johanna-for whatever reason. To date there hasn’t been a book of yours that I have read that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly. They are hard for me to put down. I tend to swallow them whole.

  4. I love your blog. And also your books. I have so many people leaving things in a will for me, just one little click and I can get it, yea right or charges for some product I never bought. If they would apply themselves to working they would be better off. I look forward to next weeks blog

  5. One of my new pet peeves is any company asking me to write a review on a product I purchased. Well if I liked it I would keep it, if I didn’t I would send it back. Really, such a waste. Delete!

  6. It doesn’t matter what you write about because it’s always such an honor to hear from you each week. Keep up the good dialogue.

  7. Thank you for connecting with your readers this way every week, I am always interested to see what you have written.

    I am fortunate to have all the letters my dad wrote to his folks from college, because Grandma saved them and then they came to Mom, and then me. He would like me to burn them, but I love reading them, getting an idea of what he was like at that time.

    And I’m so fortunate to have other old letters. One set from the 1860s, my Mom’s side of the family. And some that my Grandma’s mother wrote to her dad and to a sister, full of everyday news, which is so interesting to me.

    One cousin of my dad’s told me her gr-grandma couldn’t write, but I know that’s not true, since I have copies of a few letters she wrote to her daughter and granddaughter, also full of every day news. Her spelling and punctuation was poor, but you can understand what she meant.
    And a true find was a “book” of letters a genealogist had found, typed and made into a book for the use of historical societies, which contained many letters written by my gr-gr-grandma Hannah in Iowa Territory, 1840s. We have only 2 pictures of her and she looks pretty stern in both of them. But as one cousin said “her personality just explodes off the pages”. They show she has a good sense of humor, making fun of herself for being an old maid (though fortunately she did end up marrying or I would not be here).

    Thanks again for writing to us each week.

  8. No wise or gushy comments – just sending love for these words that remind us of the love we were given “back in the day”!

  9. I love your weekly message. My Mom wrote to me when I moved to VA back in the mid 80’s in the same way. I still have many of her letters and will at times sit and reread them and normally end up crying. She has been gone now for twelve years and I truly miss her.
    PS: I read “Missing and Endangered” this week and loved it.
    PSS: You have me counting steps. I am no where near your #’s but sometimes at night when I am near a big number I walk around in my house usually in circles from room to room to get there. The cat thinks I’ve lost it.
    Thank you,
    Debby G

    • You’re not the only one walking around the house to get to the next thousand before the clock strikes midnight. And my dogs feel the same way.

  10. I always look forward to reading your blog. I even got my dad hooked on it. It is good to see you are keeping up with your walking. Unfortunately my doctor has told me that because of my knee, I will not be able to run anymore. It will have to be the elliptical and bike for me. Have a great week!

  11. I LOVE this! It is EXACTLY the way I feel about my blog, though my readership must be such a small sliver in comparison to yours that it would be invisible. But original — yes, mine is me, yours is you, and why would we hand that off to a stranger? Amazing that anyone would think it for even a minute!

  12. Thank you for putting another memory smile on my face. Both your memories and mine! Your posts makes me grateful, and help me remember the wonderful family I have also, carbuncles and all!

  13. Judy, I look forward to your blog every Friday morning in my inbox. And you are right, it is like a letter from home. My mother first introduced me to your books with a Christmas gift of your first nine Beaumont books! I read them all in a month! Mom has since died (2004) but you are my connection to her when I read your blog or your latest book. Altho I am a contemporary of yours, 77 years old, I hope we can both be around for a while to continue to weite and read your blog snd books. Thank you do much.

  14. After I check my email and news on the internet each morning I click on my favorite blogs. They are few in number as more people pull away from the activity. I look forward to Friday and reading yours. A little view of life in a different place from one of my favorite writers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  15. For several years my father wrote a weekly or so letter to his mother and he made carbon copies. I only found a couple of years worth. They are priceless.

  16. I thoroughly enjoy your Blog. My mom was very much like yours. She always wrote weekly letters in her beautiful cursive handwriting. Well, you aren’t my mom, but I look forward to your weekly blogs almost as much as I looked forward to my mom’s. Until next week………

  17. I love “original content” without distracting ads. I also really enjoy the ordinary, mundane stuff as you describe it. I must say I don’t find it ordinary or mundane at all. I always thought my mother-in-law was the expert at turning the “ordinary” events of the day into very interesting and highly humorous events. I loved reading each letter from her. She made life fun. You are the expert and of course do a better job than her. You make my day better for having experienced life through your eyes every Friday.
    Please keep up the “ordinary”.

  18. Today’s blog reminded me of when my husband was in Viet Nam. I had the opportunity to “minister” to other Army wives and one of their questions was “what do I write about”. I had learned from wives before me to not write about bad things that the men could do nothing about and would upset them. Write about all the little ordinary things, mention names of people they will recognize, cute things the kids say, etc. If the faucet has sprung a leak – call a plumber – no “woe is me”. Be the strong help mate that they will look forward too.
    Thank you so much for you blogs. I love them.

  19. Golly, we sure grew up in the same generation because your mom is exactly like my mom, except my mom went back to college and the nursing career she gave up when she married in 1948. And we wrote back and forth when I went to college in Colorado, the first of her four kids to go. Too bad people just e-mail or text now. Letters are still so much more personal somehow.

  20. I have read all your books. Liked them immensely. Waiting on the newest one.
    Also like reading your blogs. Keep up the good work.

  21. Thank you for bringing me a memory. For most of my college career, I lived with a family who provided room and board for me in return for babysitting and light housework. I was considered a ‘big sister’ in the family and helped with the children.
    I think my father was chagrined at having lost his small business and could not afford to send me to college as he did my older sisters. He wrote to me–usually just a post card–every week, often more frequently. My college friends were astonished, and somewhat envious, I think. In those days, dads did not have as much input in their children’s lives. I know how much those cards showed his love for me.

  22. My mother loved to write letters, it is pretty much a lost art anymore. She always wrote needy letters and at Christmas time every card sent had a personalized letter to each recipient. As years went by, we instead had the one or two phone calls a week, but still about once a month, I would receive a short note in the mail with cartoons and such cut out from the newspaper. Mom is gone four years now and I still have multiple cartoons taped to my fridge.

  23. I too was the recipient of weekly letters from my mother when I left home for my junior year of college in 1964. She always wrote on Sunday afternoons and the letters arrived in Tuesday’s mail….week after week. My older brother attended the same college and he received nearly identical letters. When an unexpected letter arrived on a Friday, I immediately knew our 16 year old dog, Sandy, had died and she was letting us know right away, rather than waiting until she wrote her Sunday letter. Thanks for bringing up these precious memories.

  24. I love reading your blogs every week. It’s like getting to know a new friend.

    Too bad the art of letter writing seems to be a lost one. I make up for it by writing long emails (probably to my friends’ chagrin–haha).

    I’m a fan of the Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds books (loving strong female protagonists). And yours is the ONLY blog I always read. Keep ’em coming! THANK YOU !

  25. Thanks for another blog. It brought sweet memories. I lived at home while attending community college and only got my own place when I went to work full time. But, in the same town. When I moved out of state, I began getting envelopes from mom. All had a brief note, but attached to clippings from the newspaper, each with its own little note, to keep me apprised of what was happening at home. We also spoke on the phone – a lot. As you said, back then it was an expensive proposition. My newly wed hubby went so far as to call the phone company to price a WATS line. It was beyond what our just starting out salaries could afford. My envelopes continued arriving until mom moved in with me in 2007. We enjoyed sharing in person until she died in 2011. I still have a number of the clippings in my genealogy records. I smile whenever I see one and read her little note in the border.

  26. Yes, my Mama was of those who had a seventh grade education. But, every afternoon as long as can remember, she sat down with at 4 of her 6 children and read local newspaper to us front page to back. During WWII she read all the war news to us. That’s way today I tell my children and granddaughters lots of Stories about growing up in the 40 and 50s

  27. Another “God wink”. I recently had a dear friend move up the hill, from Mesa to Lakeside, AZ. I send her letters with funny cards about twice a week. I so enjoy spending part of my morning telling her about my day. I know how great it feels to get something in the mail besides bills.

    I remember long ago sending letters to another dear friend. When she passed, her children found some of my letters and sent them to me. What a terrific gift.

    Guess we were raised “right” Judy. I too look forward to your weekly blogs. Thank you for sharing the love!

  28. I always love your blogs because, so often they take me back to younger years and remind me of things I have forgotten. My mother was not a sweet loving person and, in her later years, she got down right nasty. Every other day she (or my dad) would call. ” Do you know what he (or she) did today?” and I would be in the middle of an argument again. I hated it and it destroyed my good memories. Your blog today reminded me that she wrote to me often when I was first married and moved to California. She would send little things or cash because she knew how little an Airman First Class made in those days. Of course, we didn’t have a telephone and couldn’t afford long distance calls, if we did. If there was an emergency or an important event (like the birth of our daughter) our kind and generous land-lord would let us use their phone for a collect call. I don’t know about you but I don’t hardly think about those days anymore. What would people do now without their permanently attached cell phone? Anyway, thank you for reminding me my mother was not all bad, in fact she did some very fine things.

  29. Thanks so much for your blogs…loved the story about your mother. My mother wrote to her mother every week and growing up, I watched her excitedly open her mother’s letters to catch up on hometown news. My mother was a housewife with two kids and a large house to manage but she, too, wrote letters back to her mother on a regular basis. I also have some of the letters that my Mom and Dad wrote to each other when he was in the Army during WWII. I think we have lost that form communication these days and it is a warm memory to remember those who practiced that in years past.
    P.S. Speaking of writing, I love your books and because of Ali and Joanna I know more Arizona history and geography than I do about my home state of Minnesota. I love these two women and their lives & families….keep the stories coming! Can’t wait to read the new books!

  30. Thank you for another heart-warming blog. I also wrote my daughter when she was away at school. She’s now back in the town she grew up in, not far from me, has two boys in college and now she now texts them once a week. I think we did a good job of raising her, as she is a good mom and worries about her sons, as I used to worry about her while she was attending college. Every few weeks I drove to her school and picked her up to come home for the weekend. Those visits kept me going, as I missed her terribly that first year she was away. Even though she’s now a mom and wife and working woman, she still makes time to come for dinner and movie night, once a week. I now look forward to those visits as much as I used to look forward to picking her up at school for the weekend. I find that no matter what age your kids are, being a mom can be the biggest highlight of your life, and I think I did an okay job as a mother, as Evie obviously did.

  31. I often wonder why your blogs are so important to me. I read each one, frequently more than once, and always relish them. Now, I know the answer. It is like you said about the letters from your mother, “They made me feel loved. They made me feel encouraged, and they lifted my heart.” Thank you.

  32. Never change the way you write about your “mundane” life. To me it’s like those letters from home you mention. And bah humbug to those who said you would never make it as an author. You’ve definitely proved them wrong! I’m always eager to see your blog as well as learn of you next publication dates. Those books are like visits from some old friends that I’ve not seen in ages. Refreshing. That’s all I can say; refreshing.

  33. Thank you for another glimpse of your day and your past. When I read this week’s blog, I had just finished a talk with my dad about memories. We discussed family cross-county trips from WA to MI and back, and some of the tourist-trap stops along the way. The giant dinosaurs, Silver Dollar Saloon, Wall Drug, various historical sites, and more. Camping trips on Mount Rainier and Twin Lakes in Eastern Washington. Mishaps like stopping at a motel right on the RR tracks, camping with too many mosquitoes, locking the keys in the station wagon. Luckily, I had long skinny arms and dad wedged open a wing window for me to open the door. Something else I remember is roadside sandwich lunches. Dad fixed up an old 5×8′ trailer to hold our gear and added a long thin side box where mom would open the fold down side panel to fix lunch. At one rest stop picnic, a young skunk came looking out of the tall grass to say hello. We never packed up and got under way so fast! The momma and siblings were following as we drove away. ?
    I thoroughly enjoyed Missing and Endangered, and an looking forward to the next Beaumont and Allie books. This year, I plan to reread all your books in order, first one to most recent. Thank you for jogging the memories, yours, mine, and ours. And thank you for a wealth of worthwhile reading.
    Hugs and prayers from Anacortes, home of the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets this side of Bisbee. ????

    • I wonder if we were ever in the Wall Drug on the same day. Our summer trips, station wagon and all, sound very familiar.

  34. I wish I had your spam emails! All I get are “how to enlarge…”, or the same dude has been trying to “open your account” for the last year. I always seem to get the same 20-30 every day, it is very annoying.

  35. Thanks for all the times you write about your Mom. It always reminds me of my Mom. She didn’t write letters to me while I was at college at UDub but after I was married. My husband was in the Air Force so we were not in local calling distance. My husband Jim has already written about her funny letters. Unfortunately I didn’t save them. A couple months ago I found one in a bunch of pictures and I am definitely saving it. I also have all the letters Mom and Dad wrote to each other during WWII. What a treasure. Thanks for all your books and blog. Our son Jonathan told us about your blog and we told him about your books. Beaumont is my favorite because he is in Seattle. Joanna is next because we live in Las Cruces and have been in Bisbee and the surrounding area.

  36. I resonated with the comments about unwelcome emails. The morning this blog arrived, there were 10 or 12 emails waiting, but this blog was the only one I opened–the rest I deleted unread.
    Memories of my own mother’s letters came flooding back as I read the blog. I was 15, in a dormitory without seeing my family for a semester at a time, and on almost every Friday, when I went to the mail wicket, there would be a letter from my mother. Definitely a highlight in my week. English was her second language, but she had worked very hard to learn correct grammar and pronunciation, and her penmanship was also lovely.

  37. Judy,
    I never went to college, but when I moved far from my hometown, in the days of terribly costly long distance phone calls, my mom would write to me often just to help my loneliness. Her penmanship was awful! Not because she was uneducated, just sloppy writing. It became a game to see how quickly I could decipher all the scratching into words. Still, I cherished each letter just because she had taken time to write. I love writing long letters, but don’t have the time now so each week I send about 3 or 4 greeting cards with a short note inside to different friends around the country. Some are older folks without computers and some are friends I know will enjoy receiving mail beside bills and ads. I am blessed with many friends and I want them to know I treasure their friendship. I know how busy you are just writing books for everyone’s pleasure, so double thanks for taking time for your weekly blog!

  38. I just finished the latest Brady book. Enjoyed it very much! I was fascinated with the Green Chili Casserole mentioned several times. Being Eastern US city people, my wife and I thought we would try it. We are retired seniors but enjoy new meal ideas. I found a recipe online and we had it for dinner tonight. It was great and we will definitely have it again. My wife mentioned that sometimes authors actually print recipes mentioned in their book for readers to have and use. In any event, your story enabled us to try a new meal item we really like. THANKS!

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