Women of a Certain Age Don’t Do Selfies

On May 27th I’ll be joining several authors for an event at the Roxy Theater in Bremerton, Washington. On hand will be Brenda Novak, Debbie Macomber, Susan Wigg, Julia Quinn, and yours truly. This week the publicity folks asked me to send a photo of me working in my office.

For starters, I don’t have an office. I grew up in a family of seven kids where we all did our homework at the kitchen table while our mother was cooking dinner. That means I’m able to concentrate in the midst of a good deal of chaos. In fact, if there’s no chaos—if things are too quiet, I can’t function at all. As a result, I work on a laptop on my lap in the family room with a very junky table beside me which holds all my writing essentials—a cup of coffee, a box of tissues, and a collection of miscellaneous paper which I will eventually have to handle. The table is on my left side. Chances are, Jojo, one of our long-haired doxies, will be stretched out next to me, snoozing away just under my righthand elbow. Of course, a scene like this automatically calls for a selfie. The problem is, I don’t do selfies. At all! And for good reason.

Once I was old enough to read the newspaper on my own, I instantly became a fan of Dear Abby, the only advice column that appeared in the Bisbee Daily Review. I always wondered why her picture never changed over the years. Now I know, and I’m reminded of that classic poem:

As a beauty I’m not a great star.
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face? I don’t mind it
For I am behind it.
It’s the people up front that I jar.

The truth is, there comes a time in life when photography in general and selfies in particular are no longer your friend. Trust me, I’m there. So I took a selfie, all right—of one of my hands on the keyboard of my laptop with the bottom of the TV set barely visible at the top of the frame. That’s exactly how I work, with the television set droning away just over the top of my computer screen. I sent the photo to the publicity folks. They wrote back saying they would like a photo of me in my office to which I explained that IS my office, and a photo of my hands on the keyboard is as good as it’s going to get.

I’ve really missed doing live events over the past three years, and I’m glad to know they are coming back. I’m especially looking forward to my attendance at the Tucson Festival of Books and at Left Coast Crime where I’ll be awarded this year’s lifetime achievement award. (It’s only taken me forty years to become an overnight success.) Those two events will both occur in and around Tucson in March, and will coincide with the publication of my next Ali Reynolds book, Collateral Damage, due out on March 14.  As a result, I’ll be doing a mini-book tour in Arizona during snowbird season. That’s tantamount to doing an extensive book tour in the Upper Midwest in the dead of summer.

During these dark dreary days of January in Washington, the prospect of being in Arizona and doing live events in March is a real bright spot on my horizon, and I’m looking forward to all of it, selfies notwithstanding. You can click here for the 2023 Tucson Festival of Books Schedule. Once the Collateral Damage tour events are finalized, they’ll be posted on the schedule page of my website, so stay tuned.


49 thoughts on “Women of a Certain Age Don’t Do Selfies

  1. No selfies here either, they stopped long ago.
    I’m looking forward to your next Ali Reynolds book and hoping you’ll be somewhere close to Mesa Az with your book tour.

  2. Any word on when “Collateral Damage” will be available for Audible pre-order?? I check daily, and nothing…… Anxiously waiting.

  3. That poem! One of my father’s favorites, included in his little private book, now in my possession. I memorized that one early in life. My mother had a little private book of her favorites, too, and it was interesting to see how much overlap there was and then the differences.

    I don’t do selfies, either! I think people prefer photos of my dog, anyway.

  4. I do a selfie that I post on my social media pages every so often (every 6 weeks or so) especially after I have done a head shave (about a week or so ago).

    But I agree – I take them at home or where I work. They are never “staged”. It’s just me.

    Hope your next live appearance goes well. As others have said, looking forward to the new Ali Reynolds book.

  5. Looking forward to seeing you at the Tucson Festival of Books again this year. I will be there volunteering as an author escort for the second year.

  6. I disagree. I saw you at your last event at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale prior to Covid, and you are a beautiful woman, confident and proud, and just radiant. I am a great fan, as is my sister, and we sure hope you will be back in Scottsdale in March for the upcoming book. I love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to brighten your readers’ lives.

  7. As a “woman of a certain age” I no longer travel but I wish you the best at the Tucson Festival of Books in March,
    I had to laugh at your description of your Doxie lying on the arm of your chair as you write. I can relate. My office is also the chair in my living room, dining room, and den combination.
    I have a cat named Willie who also sits on the arm of my chair as I work on the computer. Every so often he reaches over and taps on the keyboard thus interrupting what I am writing – or he wraps his paws around my left wrist keeping me from using the mouse.
    Last week, a friend came over and was so enchanted with Willie that she used my phone to capture him. By mistake, she included me in the picture. When I showed her how to zoom in with the phone, she got a great picture of Willie looking right at her. It isn’t a selfie as yours is, but I wouldn’t want it on my book cover either.

  8. Congratulations on the award–couldn’t go to a better author. Looking forward to seeing you at a book signing.

  9. Are you going to be coming up Cottonwood way on your Arizona trip? Hope you do miss your story telling and just conversation. Your “Northern Arizona Stalker” …… hugs and kisses…Dann

  10. So excited you will be in AZ in March. Carolyn and I (and our daughters) will be in Bisbee from about the 18 – 24. Hope your stop there is during that time. If not maybe I can catach up at one of the Phoenix area signings. It would be great to do a meal with you either place. See you in March.

  11. Hi. As a part of your “mini tour” in Arizona, will you be coming to Cochise College in Benson? Sure hope so. Jeannine

  12. Congratulations on the ‘OverNite’ success award. Glad you are going to accept it in Tuson, will try to get down to Bisbee for that event. I have also penciled in Roxy event in May as It is about 35 miles from my home in Tacoma. Thanks for the uplifting info in this blog. as it gives me things to plan for in the future, positive in a seemingly more negative world. Chuck in Tacoma {old Shuttle Express Driver}. Hopefully you and Bill are able to negate some of the health issues you are presented. Aloha and God Speed to you. Chuck in Tacoma.

    • The award will be given at Left Coast Crime which will be held at Dove Mountain north of Tucson. Google Left Coast Crime 2023 for info.

  13. I am really excited that you will be in Bremerton in May! It has been a long time since I have been to one of your talks and I miss them.

  14. One of the many reasons I’ve decided I’m ready to retire is so that I can travel to Arizona, in some month like March. Providence willing, you will be at the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books, as well, and I will get to meet you again. Meanwhile, I’m slogging through one last tax season, because I said I would.

    Selfie? Nope!

  15. Did you ever see the second “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” movie. In it, a few ladies of a certain age crowd together for a picture. They count to three and with arms wrapped around each other pull the skin of each other’s necks so they look younger in the photo. It was pretty funny and does work to some degree. When I must be in a photo, I try for the stick my neck out, chin up pose.

  16. Looking at the schedule for the Tucson book festival, I see that you are scheduled to participate in the Dog Day Afternoon. My dogs want to know if that means that they can come? ;o)

    Seriously, I totally agree about selfies. There are many better ways to be imortalized.

    • That’s scheduled for one of the mall tents, so I believe dogs are allowed. Not so at the inside venues.

  17. Yeah, any selfies I take usually don’t turn out well, so I don’t do them either. But I agree with a former comment by Bill. I saw you recently at a memorial service where you spoke on behalf of a dear mutual friend of ours and you were beautiful and radiant. I think you should have your daughter come over and take a picture of you sitting “at your office” chair with your dog and laptop. How inspiring to know that this is how one of the most prolific and bestselling authors works. I think it would inspire many people. And, if it is too late to submit it to the event people, post it for us on your next blog!
    Congratulations on your award! I also look forward to seeing you in Bremerton. I’m looking forward to information regarding that event.

  18. I think you are too hard on yourself. I bet you’re still as good looking as you appear on your book jackets. Anyway I do get the no selfies. I never liked my pictures and now even more so as the years have taken their toll. Congratulations on a very overdue award and good luck on your tour. Wish I was close to Arizona. I’d definately go and hear you.

  19. Good Lord! I could have written this blog! Sounds so much like me except I didn’t have the chaos that helped me concentrate. I just block everything out and hit the keys. The mind just wanders away. As far as selfies are concerned, I wouldn’t know how to make one if my life depended on it! I was the picture taker when my parents were here, now I just try to find the biggest person I can find to stand behind and have always done that. Annoys my family to know end, but I don’t like taking my picture because I don’t like the results. Would love to be in WA with you!

  20. I’m new to the cell phone world so my sister gave me a great hint for older folks about taking selfies. Do not have the phone at eye level but hold it above your head (looking down at your face) while you are looking forward. Keep your eyes wide open when taking the photo. I couldn’t believe my eyes – no sagging jowls or wrinkles, just a bright, expressive shot. She looked 10 years younger, vibrant and happy.

  21. I saw you at book signing for favorite character, Beaumont, in Springfield, OR. It was such a treat and I hope to see you again soon. Now I’m Bakersfield, CA. Thank you for your stories.

  22. I don’t usually pay attention to your schedule because it always seems to be West Coast. Do you ever speak at festivals/book signings in fly-over country like NE Indiana?

  23. I am ever hopeful of getting a selfie ? where I don’t look constipated or I’m not squinting . The trouble is my arms are not long enough and I need to look up to disguise my turkey neck, my eye sight is not good…… I did attempt one over the holidays with my family in the background, not too bad and then snuggling with one of the cats a few days later. Animals are great props. You can use them to hide a multitude of sins and flaws and anyways who is going to notice you when there is gorgeous black cat in the photo? I actual used that one as my profile picture on FB. I hardly ever take photos of my desk, but will take photos of my completed jewelry, and not of me making it, again the neck, the squint.
    Talking about taking photos reminds me of my parents, I have very few photos of my dad as he was 90% of the time behind the camera and shy and my mom could not take a photo without chopping of our heads. I’m sure if she was alive today her selfies would be headless. ?.
    Looking forward to the next book release and next week’s blog.

  24. Great piece! Perfect idea for a selfie. Now I’m wondering what’s on the TV.
    Perry Mason for me!
    Hope to say hello at LCC.
    Celeste Berteau

  25. At 85 I hate selfies!!! And yet, I follow my 4 “kids”, 5 grandchildren and 7 Great grandkids on Instagram very carefully! I do not do Facebook anymore (no comment) and I have to be really careful when I’m talking to friends and family! One good thing is with all the face selfies going on, most older women that HAD to fix their faces are almost cartoons! Watched an ad for a new tv mystery and I’ll be darned – Meghan Markle…………no it wasn’t but she had the same eyebrows, cheeks, hair……..well – you all have seen the emojis that are going on now! The best was Carol Burnet at almost 90 on the PBS Roots show. She looks exactly like she did 40 years ago! Soapbox here!

  26. Selfies? I think NOT! Haha. I totally get it for myself. They stopped years ago. As long as we’re still loved…

  27. My feeling about using the I Phone as a camera is best summed up by my Godmother’s phone-philosophy- ” I don’t need a phone to be anything except a phone I can talk on! I don’t need to take pictures with it!”
    While riding the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan I did try once or twice to take a photo of ships in the NY Harbor- I’m afraid that effort did not succeed- I quickly gave up- I finally had to admit Smart-Phone defeat and now use a hybrid flip phone with some “Smart” features- I have never seen myself as especially photogenic-
    However, air-brushed photos might be acceptable- Why not have a family member take a photo of you in your “Office,” with a little bit of blurry, “impressionistic” effect?

  28. Hope that The Poisoned Pen will be one of your stops in AZ! Met you at the Book Carnival in Orange, CA a few times but it’s been a while!

  29. I will look forward to a posting in central Tennessee. It will be so great to see you again. Hopefully it will be an event I can bring Lindsay K to. I think you will love her. Will look forward to the schedule coming out soon.

  30. What a star-studded event in May. I wish I could be there!
    As for it taking 40 years to become an “overnight success,” lol, you were an instant success to me when your first J. P. Beaumont novel was available on “Books on Tape.” I was a truck driver at the time, and you and J. P. kept me company across all 48 contiguous states and Canada.

  31. My sister and her husband visited recently from Tucson. It rained the entire time she was here. They were so happy to return to beautiful Arizona! I think they went hiking the next day!

  32. Have you any more information at this time about the Bremerton appearance in May? Time, tickets? Anything? Would love to see you!

  33. Congratulations Judy! A lifetime achievement award sounds wonderful, but you’ve still got a lot more life to go and many more achievements to accomplish. I probably won’t be able to attend the Tucson FOB in person for mobility reasons but I will definitely be there in spirit, just as I am with Beau, Joanna, Ali and the Walkers when I read your books!
    I think the picture you selected to send is perfect! Ironically, when I was looking through my photo albums for a particular picture, I found one of me and my Mom from about 60 years ago. It appears to be a “selfie” I took of the two of us. Didn’t know about selfies then, so perhaps I was a pioneer!
    PS – I love that poem and can relate to it!

  34. I can’t wait for March 14th! I’ve put it on my calendar and informed by husband of your next release date. He is undoubtedly making plans for that day and the day after, he knows I will be unavailable. I will work then read, forgoing anything else. He’s a thoughtful hubby so he will bring me food as I’m lost in your book. Even my kids will know the release date and they won’t even bother to call, knowing I’ll answer but will not be focused on the conversation. Since I was 16 or 17 and read my first J.P. Beaumont book your release dates have filled my calendar. Eventually my grandma, mom, sisters, dad, uncles, cousins and many other family members and friends started reading your books. They had to see what I was so obsessed about, and they became devotees. When money was tight, I’d buy the book and then it would be passed around until it returned to me well worn. When my kids were little, it took a bit longer for me to have the time to read a book, though I did sacrifice a full night’s sleep until I would finish the book. My mom would be calling asking if I was done reading the book the day after I purchased it. She’d want to know how soon I thought I’d be done reading it so she could come pick it up. I was living in Redmond and my son was only a few months old, I finished the book at 11pm and my mom drove from Bothell to Redmond at 11pm to come pick up the book! Thank you for the gift you have given our family, as not only have we enjoyed every minute reading your books, but they have brought us together in a shared love. We’ve also spent many hours discussing your books and characters. As to selfies I don’t take them unless my hubby takes one of the two of us. As much as I cringe, wondering who that old lady is in the photo, I finally stopped avoiding them. It’s who I am, what I look like. I think those of us who are older should start selfie’ing away and flood social media with photos of us that are older and remind all of those younger ones you will someday be us. Beauty is not youth but is present at every age and moment in our lives.

  35. I miss your live signing events so much so I can imagine how much you must miss being with your fans in person. Of course, at the Tucson Festival of Books coming up I know you will be so surrounded with fans it will be like trying to get near to Taylor Swift, or some star like her. I have no doubt you will be THE STAR everyone wants to see and listen to, so I will try to get signed up early. As for selfies, I’ve tried it a few times, but it always turns out looking like a distorted whatever. Too old to learn new tricks, I guess. Thanks for sharing details of your “office space” . It obviously works for you. Keep at it, please!

Comments are closed.