Years ago, sometime after Hour of the Hunter came out but far enough forward for there to be email communications, someone wrote to me and asked. “Why would you name a character Fat Crack?” I wrote back, “Think of any plumber you’ve ever known.” He replied, “TMI!” Which translates to Too Much Information.

By the way, all joking aside, plumbers are very important. They keep things running, so no disrespect intended.

That was a zippy answer, but it wasn’t entirely the truth. On the reservation, I knew someone named Fat Crack, and although he wasn’t a plumber he was certainly built on the heavyset side and his pants were often at half-staff, but the reason I remember him so clearly is that he was incredibly funny and could easily have been a stand-up comedian.

Once when my parents came to Sunday dinner, Fat Crack and some of his pals showed up. We put some more plates on the table and Fat Crack kept my parents in stitches all through the meal. After he and his friends left, my father turned to me and said, “Why, they’re very intelligent, aren’t they.” I had not yet unpacked the amount of anti-Indian prejudice that had been alive and well in South Dakota when my parents were growing up. The next day, at work, when I reported the conversation to Pauline Hendricks, my aide in the library she said, “Don’t worry about it. You should hear what old Indians say about Anglos.”

So those are the real reasons that name lodged in my head, and that’s why the fictional character in my Walker Family books was given that name.

A few weeks ago, I heard from a young man on the Navajo. (Please note, I did not include the word Reservation. You probably think I should have, and a whole series of copy editors over the years have implored me to add it, but people who live and work in those places do not. It’s the San Carlos, the Navajo, the White Mountain Apache, and the Tohono O’odham. And while I’m ranting, when Anglos use the word Res, it is NOT a good thing.

My correspondent from the Navajo was a high school student who had written to me previously for information so he could do a power point presentation on my books for an English assignment. He wrote to me a second time to let me know he’d been given an A. When I replied, I told him that I was working on another Walker Family book. His response? “Oh, boy, does that mean I get to see Fat Crack again?”

That meant a lot to me because I was thrilled to know that that fictional character based on my long-ago interaction still resonates with a young reader from an entirely different culture, and one far different from my own.

But that discussion about Fat Crack with my high school reader brought back that long ago email exchange, complete with his “TMI” response. And it occurred to me that perhaps my endless discussions devoted to the perils of writing and being engaged in the publishing world is giving my readers a case of TMI, but I’m about to do it again. This blog is a window on my world, and most of my daily working hours are devoted to writing, i.e., writing, editing, editing, editing, and finally promoting.

This week I’ve been dealing with literary whiplash. The last two weeks of August were entirely devoted to doing in-depth edits and revisions to the manuscript for Blessing of the Lost Girls. I sent it off on Monday afternoon, so it was in my NY editor’s mailbox when she returned from Labor Day weekend on Tuesday morning. In the meantime, the galley copy of Collateral Damage arrived and was also in need of a word-for-word edit. Naturally a deadline arrived with same.

So as soon as I finished dealing with the Walker clan, I suddenly had to switch gears and return to Ali Reynolds et al. In other words, it’s been quite a trip. And for the record, I enjoyed both books.

Yesterday morning, my editor sent me a mock-up for the cover of Blessing. It was the first time in my almost forty years of publishing books that my first glance at a book cover literally gave me goosebumps.

So if that’s TMI, so be it. Writing is what I do, and fortunately I love what I do, and I hope my blog readers don’t mind my harping on the subject. Without writing and walking, I wouldn’t have very much to say these days, and I’d be reduced to endlessly writing posts about Pete Pearson’s eyebrows.

PS. If you don’t know who Pete Pearson is, you should go shopping through the blog archives. I know he’s in there someplace.

43 thoughts on “TMI

  1. You are so great. I wish I could read your blog every day but, that would mean you have no income so I will just wait for Fridays to come around

  2. Your blogs are never TMI. I find them very interesting and look forward to them each week. I am glad there is another Walker Family book coming out. I am looking forward to reading Blessing of the Lost Girls.

  3. I just pray you “keep on keeping on”…writing and walking! I love every book, blog, and post! Did the real Fat Crack ever know that a character in your book was named after him?

  4. I’ve started working at a hardware store and I’ve seen a few “cracks” lately, but on the positive side no pants at half mast either!

  5. I have been a life long fiction reader. So much so I ended up owning a series of small Independent bookstores. My customers always give the best recommendations, and your books were high on the list. I placed the JP Beaumont series high on my police procedural mysteries list and happily added Joanna Brady to my must read stack. Ali Reynolds was a slower process. I confess to being put off by the way the emails and blogs were set off from the regular text. But I find thinking back that her books stay in my memory. This has been a difficult summer, for a lot of reasons I have little control over. My fiction reading has fallen to close to zero. And then I began remembering the Ali stories, and one morning I dug out the first book, and I was in Sedona once again. I am still fighting all the constant challenges, I am still running a business, I ‘m still a widow, politics are still scary. But every day I escape to Sedona and read about Ali. I have to thank you. I hope when you are being chased by the challenges we all face, you remember that you are instrumental in give pleasure and sanity to your readers. Thank you.

    • It always means a lot to me to know that readers turn to my books for respite when they’re dealing with tough times. Thank you. As for Ali, I think I have more in common with her than with my other characters. We both had to reinvent ourselves after disastrous marriages and giving up on a different career.

  6. You said you liked both of your recent books. I wonder, were there any books you just didn’t like? Did you struggle with one or another?
    I personally like/love all of your books and can’t wait to see your new ones. I like that you have several story lines and strong characters.
    Keep writing forever!

    • I was surprised by how much I enjoyed editing Collateral Damage. That book was a struggle and took me a whole year to write!

  7. J, I do love your blogs every Friday. What you have to say makes your book characters so real and you, not just an author but a real person. We are close to the same age and I look at you as a friend that visits every Friday. My history begins in Minnesota, I am in Oklahoma. All my family including 17 great grandchildren are in Minnesota. I don’t see them often. Your visits to my email box are very welcome. I’ve read all your book, I believe. Some twice.

  8. When I read that book I knew immediately what Fat Crack meant and smiled.
    You turned me on to .Tony Hillerman and I have absorbed that culture into my very bones. But you are all time favorite. Thank you for books and blog doesn’t say it enough.

  9. I learned something from your blog today, which isn’t unusual, but this feels important. I will not be using “reservation” or its short form in the future. I have enough interaction with Native Americans that I am happy to improve my language. Thanks for the help!

  10. Judy,
    I have only one complaint (?) about your books (all of them) – they are page-turners! I read because I love to read but I confess I read to go to sleep. With your books I find sleep impossible. I finally have to force myself to out the book down and use breathing methods to bore myself to sleep. Plus I continually worry that I won’t have another of your entrancing works to pick up once I finish the current (meaning just another one not necessarily the newest one).
    Our personal correspondences and your blog have just made me love you more. I wish I had had the impertinence to interrupt you when I saw you at the book distributor so very many years ago and gotten to know you then. Thanks for the many sleep deprived nights!

  11. I love all of your books … especially the JP Beaumont series. All of your books are different and you bring your characters and events to life. When reading “Nothing to Lose”, I was out of breath during the rush to the airport. Excellent writing.
    I am anxious to see the cover of that new book. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But I have to admit I am often swayed by book covers. Yours are always good.

  12. Judy,
    My mind is in a whirl just thinking about how busy you stay with so many different characters. What a wonderful compliment for your young friend on the Navajo to get so excited about “Fat Crack”. Seems to me that everyone would know what that meant. Sorry, Pete Pearson is not sounding familiar so I will have to rack my brain about that. Definitely eager to see the new book cover.

  13. I had a plumber in a year ago to work on the kitchen sink. He was young and not overweight, but his jeans were dangerous low. I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he thought I was a crazy old lady.

  14. I love the answer your aide gave when you reported your father’s surprised remark that Indians are, “Very intelligent-” It’s good to know that white people don’t have a monopoly on prejudice!
    At least Norman was able to recognize that the stereotype he grew up with was not accurate-
    Thanks for explaining to us fans that the word “Reservation” should be eliminated from our vocabulary-

  15. Thanks so much for your blog, your books & You! I love your TMI & looking forward to your next books–hope you get in some/a Lot of Free Time for awhile now :- )

  16. I adore YOUR blog so say/write what ever you want to. You will always have a “grouch” in the works somewhere but by and far the majority will appreciate it.

    • Could you explain a little bit more why “res” is wrong? Longmire used it constantly.

      By the way, showing crack is not limited to plumbers and gang members. Women do it all the time.

      • Women get away with showing a lot of things! There was a woman at the airport during my last trip whose curvy bottom cheeks were several inches below the hem of her shorts. Frankly, I was thinking a spanking was in order! And I can’t imagine that her bare skin was comfortable on the various surfaces she’d be sitting on.

        • I am amazed to see some of outfits women wear on planes. Don’t they know that in case of an accident all of that bare skin will hinder them getting off their seats faster. If a plane catches fire they are in deep trouble.

  17. Dear lady, you are a hoot!
    I am blown away by your work!
    My sister Jo keeps me informed on the local Bisbee news and characters. It seems everyone I know has a Bisbee “connection”. Such an interesting place!

  18. I absolutely love your “harping” on any subject! I was thrilled to be able to see you twice in Yuma. I lived in Seattle for many years, and loved all of your Beaumont books, since I recognized all of the places in the books. Now that I’m in AZ , I’m in love with Joanna and Ali, but realized with this blog post that I have never read your Walker series. I’m thrilled to realize that I have this whole series to read….can’t wait to meet Crack!

  19. Thank you for telling me this. I did not know to just say the Navajo. I mentored two young girls on the Navajo years ago and now I hope I never offended their families. I always learn something from you.

  20. I am amazed to see some of outfits women wear on planes. Don’t they know that in case of an accident all of that bare skin will hinder them getting off their seats faster. If a plane catches fire they are in deep trouble.

  21. There is never TMI. I love all your writing and glimpses into how it all comes about. Am so excited that a new book is coming soon. You are an inspiration to all your readers.
    Thank you

  22. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but the new Queen Camilla wears a Fitbit on her left wrist. She’s had it for some time. She doesn’t always have it on, but watch for it. I don’t know if she has a certain exercise program, but she keeps fit.

  23. I love how you write your blog! I enjoy them so much that I read them at least three times. Your sense of humor is contagious. Thank you!


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