You’ve Got Mail

I read and respond to my emails first thing every morning. Believe me, it’s a mixed bag. There are usually a few brand new names in the mix as well as the ones who are regular correspondents. There are also usually an amazing number of items that are purely junk mail. For those, I have a trigger finger on my delete key.

There are folks who are first time readers who have no idea how they’ve managed to miss my books for all this time. I can’t figure that out, either, but I always tell them that I’m glad they’re on board now. There are often new readers who are also IORs—in order readers—who need to be pointed in the direction of the Books in Order list on my website. There are SERs—sharp-eyed readers who are always on the lookout for typos, in both my blog and in my books. They delight in pointing out errors and omissions in books that are decades old, but I always thank them for correcting my linguistic shortcomings. This morning someone who was under the impression that I had put characters named Athena in both the Beaumonts and Bradys in an effort to confuse readers. The Ali Reynolds Athena has been in the stories for years. I sent the lady a copy of my blog entitled “The Good Guys Won” to let her know exactly how the Beaumont Athena came into existence. There are also readers who, while reading books written in the mid-eighties, are SHOCKED beyond words by my blatant political incorrectness. (I’m relatively sure neither Geoffrey Chaucer’s works nor William Shakespeare’s would measure up to current standards of political correctness!)

Sometimes people finish reading a book and immediately fire off a note let me know how much they enjoyed it … or not. And I’m always interested to have access to their opinions, because those reactions let me know whether or not I’m doing a good job.

This week was unusual in that my mailbag contained three separate thank-you notes, two electronic and one snail mail. The snail-mail one came from three sisters, and it requires some explanation. Yup, another one of my “long stories,” so here goes.

In early October of 2001, I was scheduled to appear at a book festival in Nashville, Tennessee. That was less than a month after 9/11, and air travel was still in disarray, so Bill and I decided to drive—from Seattle to Nashville and back. It was a long trip! We might have murdered one another along the way had it not been for J.K. Rowling. We listened to all the Harry Potter books then in existence, coming and going.

When people request being added to my database, I always ask for their city and state. That way, if I’m going to be doing a public appearance nearby, I can let people in that area know that I’m coming. And I had done so in advance off the Nashville appearance.

One of my Tennessee fans was an older woman who lived in Memphis. She had been in my database for a long time, and we had corresponded from time to time. Once she knew I was going to be in Nashville, she asked her daughters to bring her to the event. Then she let me know that she would be arriving in a wheelchair, but that she was coming—come hell or high water.

But when the event started, there was still no sign of a wheelchair. I had been introduced and had started speaking when I saw them enter at the back of the auditorium. So I stopped in mid-sentence, told the rest of the audience that my number one fan had just arrived, and said that I had reserved a place for her in the front row. Then, once the talk itself was over, my fan and I had coffee together in private.

This week I heard from my fan’s three daughters, writing to tell me that the drive from Memphis to Nashville had been their mother’s last trip and to thank me for making her feel like royalty when I welcomed her to the room. I had forgotten that small piece of kindness, but it has resonated in my fan’s daughter’s minds for almost twenty years. Being reminded of that event made me feel warm all over and caused me to think about some of the other fans I’ve heard from over the years, some of whom, like the lady in Memphis, are no longer with us. I can tell you that I’m blessed to have had all those folks in my life.

Which brings me to the two emails. They came from two different folks—a man and a woman—both of a certain age who, in retirement, have launched off on living their long-held dreams of becoming writers. Both credit me with inspiring them to get with the program. Neither one of them sat around bemoaning the idea that they were probably far too old to start writing. They just did it. The one, a self-described “geezer” of seventy-five is just now sending out his first manuscript in search of an agent or editor. The other is a retired teacher from Washington State who has written a six-book series of cozies featuring Sylvia Avery. For those of you who are what I call GRs—Geographical Readers and who only read books set in certain places, here’s a hint. Jan Bono’s whole series is set on the coastline of southwestern Washington.

So that’s what’s been in my mailbag so far this week. And guess what? When next week rolls around, there’ll be a whole new batch. I wonder what I’ll find there, but we’ll all have to wait and see.

PS. I wrote this yesterday afternoon. This morning I heard from someone in the UK who just bought a thrift shop copy of Fatal Error while on vacation and is now a self-declared fan. See what I mean? I didn’t even need to wait until next week.

37 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail

  1. Love your books and have been enjoying them since “whenever!” I enjoy them in the order written or randomly selected-anyway I get them. I grew up in Tucson, AZ and went to school at the UofA about the same time you were there. Today I am celebrating my 77th birthday! I wanted to thank you for many, many hours of great entertainment.
    Looking forward to your next book!

  2. I love your boos and blog. Keep up the great work that makes readers so happy. Keep up those daily steps too.

  3. WOW!!! Thanks so much for the shout-out! I am (almost) speechless, and definitely humbled to see my name in my writing hero’s blog!! Thank you so much!

    • Just checked our library system for your books, but it doesn’t have them yet. Guess I’ll have to put in a request!

    • since I was born on the Washington Coast and moved away at age 1, I probably need to check out your books!:)

        • Jan, I just checked out your site and see you have lost a lot of weight. Sounds like an interesting story. I’m going to buy the book. Will check out the mysteries too.

  4. By reading your blog, I feel I know you. I have also attended a couple of local speaking events when you have come south of Seattle. Your story telling and the way you relate to folks is indeed special. And the way you welcomed the lady in the wheel chair made me a bit teary.
    I have a classmate who is writing a series as well as a friend’s daughter-in-law. I am proud of these ladies and love to read about places with which I can identify. I will put Jan Bono on my list.

  5. I met you in Savannah, GA oh so many years ago. I was a fan before, but after that meeting I became a Super Fan. I remember your talk that day and your book signing afterwards, but one thing stood out from that day and it’s how tall you are.
    I’m beween 5/9 and 5/10 and it not very often I meet someone as tall as I am (or as I once waw!) . Age does something to us.
    Thanks for the many years of great reading. While millions of others, I have read everything you have ever written. When you don’t watch TV and you live alone (George, my husband died 18 years ago), you have plenty of time for reading and in my case re-reading good books.
    Thanks again for allowing me to be a part of you “Family of Readers”.

  6. I know I’m a bit late on this note however I want to thank you for you blog on Joe Kenda and his lovely wife. I SO enjoyed his show and now that the new one is on regular (not streaming) tv I will get to watch again! Thank you for that wonderful news!

  7. Have heard you speak twice at the Puyallup Library in the past and have written to you once or twice before (positive notes, of course—I’m a huge fan, even re-reading your books now). And you wrote back!
    The only time I wrote with a question was to clarify which of the two locations in eastern Pierce County Beau lived with his first wife! (you had switched him from one to another).
    I hope you live many more years and write many more books!

  8. Your blogs have been widening my reading world. In the winter you included a link to an interview you were doing with the Poisoned Pen, and Joe Kenda was hooked up for that interview. So then I read Joe’s “I Will Find You.” More than one of your blogs have mentioned Sue Grafton, so lately I’ve just finished “D is for Deadbeat,” and am waiting for the E book. So now I want to keep my eyes peeled for Jan Bono’s series. While waiting for the next JAJ book, of course. But even of those, I’m re-reading some of the ones I’ve read before, because they’re “keepers.”

  9. I re-read books and have found that each time I do I come across something that I missed the first time. Also as I’ve grown older I find I forget things so it’s fun to read a familiar book again.

  10. I just discovered your blog and am so glad I did! I have been a fan since forever. I just finished re-reading the Joanna Brady series, and the am working on the Brandon walker series. I have been trying to see if I have all of your books, but keep getting hung up on finding a title that I don’t really recall, so I have to start that series from the start. Love your books, and I love Bisbee, Az! Please keep writing!
    Marylou Riff

  11. Hi again,
    I recently sent an email telling you how much your books mean to me. I have always pre-ordered your new books but somehow missed the last Beaumont book. What a great surprise to have found it.
    Life been tough for just about everyone and my husband and I are dealing with his terminal cancer. I think I’m going to reread the Joanna Brady series again. That will be my third time. Your books have helped me through tough times, I’m a big reader? and a huge fan. Thank You,
    Brenda Cyr

  12. I have been reading all your books for many years now. A co worker started me with Beaumont from #1 and that got me started. Having lived in Az. and in Wash. for a very long time I am familiar with all the areas you write about. Love it. I always read yoir blog and look forward to it I have been reading every thing so long I feel like I know you. Thanks for the memories.

  13. I’ll have to check the library for Jan Bono books. Thanks for the recommendation.

  14. I, too, have enjoyed your books through the years! I remember in the mid-nineties seeing you setting up a book signing in our local Safeway in Arlington, Washington! Thank you for your quality writing. I’m going to look for that list of your series of books to read again in the order you wrote them!

  15. I have been enjoying your books for as long as you have been writing them. Having lived in Bellevue and Pullman during my education years and in Arizona for most of my adult life I enjoy the setting and characters. I have also had the pleasure to visit friends who owned a condo in JP Beaumont’s building in Belltown and to see the JA Jance room. All the best to you.

  16. For years I would always re-read the previous book before reading the new one. For some reason I stopped doing that. I think I am much more likely to once again re-read the books in reverse order. I found that very interesting when I did it a decade or so ago.

  17. I love the geezers, just do it. I remember an author, wrote books about a woman who raised Bloodhounds and trained drug sniffers and man trailers, who wrote her first book after she and her husband retired. Their weekly treat was breakfast at McDonalds. One morning a pickup with a Bloodhound was parked next to them and a series was born. I really enjoyed those books a lot and wish whomever owns the rights would make them available in ebook as I’d like to own them again.

    My granddaughter wants to be a writer and is working on her first book. I will be visiting them in a few days, so excited to hear about the writing class she paid for. She was trying to finish her first draft so she could take it with her. I really hope it went well for her.

  18. What an inspiration you are, Judy. I love how you have given kindness to your fans throughout the years and I am currently re-reading Improbable Cause for the third time–and enjoying it again! I am wondering if Jan Bono’s series is available yet? It sounds wonderful and I love the idea of the GR’s! I’m not exactly stuck on Geographical Reading but it’s always fun when I can look up the exact location on my GPS and go visit. I grew up in the Pacific NW so my heart belongs there. I will look up Jan’s cozies–I am very fond of cozies–and if she has a newsletter or blogsite, please tell her I’d like to be added to the mailing list. Thank you!

    • Yes, thanks for asking, my full 6-book series is available in both print and electronic formats. Either go to or

  19. Many years after I became your devout fan my husband started reading your books and especially loved reading Sheriff Joanna Brady books. He became your blog fan as well. I dont know if he ever wrote to you or not but he died suddenly while traveling for work in 2012. It was way to soon and before he had a chance to retire. Sharing your books with him brought us closer. You definitely made a difference in his life too!

  20. Thank you for so many reason. Each time your write here or in your books, I feel as though I am spending time with a friend that I respect to no end.

  21. Please allow me to tease you a bit. Joanna Brady has been 5’4″, 5’1″, and 5’2″. But mostly 5’4″. I didn’t think “gotcha”, or that I found a mistake. I just grinned. Please don’t ask me which books are included because I have no idea. It wasn’t my plan to keep track. I just thought it was kind of sweet. Besides, it may not have been your error. It could have been the person getting the book ready for publication.
    I was at a book signing here in Spokane, WA, and it was an honor to meet a lady with so much class.

    • It all depends on whether she is wearing walking heels, bulldogging heels, or high heels on her western boots!

  22. Always such a pleasure to read your having coffee with an old friend. Just finished Unfinished Business..I usually always get the latest book from my local Costco…this time mine of them had it..Puyallup Federal Way..even looked at the Costco on Oahu while I was on vacation..had to order from you have any idea why it isn’t there this time?? Thanks for many hours of reading pleasure.

  23. Man! I just subscribed a little while ago and started reading your blogs. I enjoy them as much as I enjoy your books. (wonder why? lol) I’ve been a fan for a long time and met you on a hot, hot summer day in Bryant Park in NYC at an event being sponsored by the New York city library. I was in between jobs, down to my last $20.00 and was walking to Port Authority to catch a bus home after going to two interviews. I saw the author’s event and grabbed a seat to rest. I didn’t know that you were there until they introduced you. How elated was I that by happenstance I was walking by, took a break and met my favorite author. I got a chance to speak to you after the event ended. You signed a bookmark for me and took a picture with me. You were in between Beaumont books and promised me that one was on the way. Then Proof of Life came out. I will always remember that day and the kindness you showed me. And btw, I got the job!

    • What a happy story, and it was in the comments. I didn’t even have to wait for next week’s email.

  24. Judy,
    It was no surprise to read that you made a special place and announcement for your fan in the wheelchair. That’s just you! It’s wonderful that her daughters let you know how much it really meant to her. You often have acknowledged Frank & I being in your audiences in Tucson and we, too, are always thrilled that you remember us. It’s no secret how much I love all your books, but I’ve surprised myself at how much I look forward to your blogs, also. Reading little snippets from other fans is like hearing from friends of long ago. It’s all magical. A million thanks!

  25. Wonderful. Again, I enjoyed entire story. I’m not surprised at how many hearts and minds you’ve touch with your books. And always glad to hear that someone just “happened upon” one of your books and is now a fan. I’d consider them as lucky as I am that I found your books and have read every Ali and Beaumont, and a few of the Joanna Bradys. The most recent is my favorite with her character.

  26. Hi Ms. Jance as a fellow South Dakotan you must be familiar with growing up on a farm back in the 40’s/50’s? I am a very amatuer writer. Writing for our Aberdeen American News every monday morning for the past 21+ years. I am a product of the 30’s and 40’s growing up in the terrible dirty thirties. We try to read all of the JA Jance books and remain forever fans of yours. My specialty is being a youth growing up way back then and have some very faithful readers who love hearing about growing up with nothing. Most Respectfully Gerald(Jerry) Krueger

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