Keeping Score

This morning when I picked up my phone, the screen was black with a dire warning showing. “Your phone has been locked down. Please provide you Apple ID.” At the bottom of the screen were my two allowable choices—EMERGENCY or ERASE PHONE. Not wanting to do either of those, I sat there for a time staring at the screen. Eventually the original warning was replaced with: INCORRECT. TRY AGAIN IN 22 MINUTES.

Well, crap! When it comes to levels of hell, there’s a whole section devoted to PASSWORDS is right at the top of my list. They scare me to death. If your hands are shaky, and you happen to type one letter wrong or in lower case when it should be in upper, does it show you what you did wrong? No, not on your life. What shows up then are the words: INVALID PASSWORD, often followed by an additional warning advising you that you only have two more chances. Good luck with that!

As it happens, today was a day I was especially eager to see my phone for reasons that will soon be revealed, but at that point, I had no other option but to wait through those next 22 interminable minutes, at which time, when I picked up the phone there was my regular sign in. The dreaded lockdown notice had vanished into the ethers, and I was back in business.

And here’s why I was so anxious. I knew yesterday that today would be the day when my pedometer app passed the magic number of twenty million. As I write these words, my step score is 20,000,006. That adds up to 9,567 miles or, to put it another way, I’ve walked 38.42% of the world’s circumference by walked a minimum of ten thousand steps a day for years now So that’s my current walking report. And yes, the fact that my readers have been monitoring my progress along the way has been an important part of keeping me going. So thank you all for that.

Most of the week and the rest of today have been devoted to getting ready for the special events as well as the book tour coming up in March, including car rentals and Shuttle Express reservations. By the way, while my back was turned, Shuttle Express has morphed into Bay View Lim.

I’ve already mentioned the selfie situation for the Tucson Festival of Books. This week a similar request came in from Left Coast Crime. LCC is a conference for writers and readers hailing from this side of the Mississippi. I went one of the first LCCs, one located in San Francisco back in the early nineties. This year they’re giving me a lifetime achievement award. They wanted me to write an essay, something fun, to go in the program along with my regular bio. They also wanted a photo that wasn’t my regular cover photo.

As the previous blog established, at age 78 photography is not exactly my friend. But that wasn’t necessarily the case in 1997 when, for Mother’s Day, my daughter made an appointment for us to do a photo shoot at Glamour Shots. One of the photos was so terrific that Bill and I paid extra so I’d be able to use it professionally. When my website started, Bill was the original webmaster, and that’s the photo we posted.

Some of you have heard this before, so pardon the repetition, but years later, one of my email correspondents sent me the following:

I have just visited your website and seen your photo. Jesus you’re an ugly broad. I do hope that when you go out in public you wear a bag over your head so you don’t frighten people, and I trust that, before your next book tour, you’ll visit a cosmetic surgeon and have some very necessary work done. Sincerely, Melissa G.

You all know that responses to emails addressed to me come from me personally, and just because Melissa was a … well … ______(You’re welcome to fill in the blank), I still needed to reply. So while my fingers were still shaking in fury, I sent this:

Dear Melissa G.,

Thank you writing. Your input is appreciated. Regards, JAJance

It came from me, but I did my best to make it sound like a machine, but making mystery writers mad is always a bad idea. At the time I was working on the first Ali Reynolds book, Edge of Evil. When Ali left California and went home to Sedona, Arizona, she started a blog. Trust me, it’s no accident that someone named Melissa G. sent that very same message to Ali. Then, because I write fiction, the responses from Ali’s readers and friends were all written by me, telling Melissa G. exactly what I thought of her!

It was a fun essay to write, but when I went looking for the photo to accompany the essay, the original had somehow disappeared. Once again, my grandson, Colt, came to the rescue. He took a photo of the framed picture hanging on the wall at the end of our entryway. That’s the one attached to this column.

It’s a lot closer to what I looked like when I attended my first LCC appearance even if it bears little resemblance to the Me who will be in attendance at the LCC coming up next month. In other words, this blog is about keeping score all right, not only with my steps but also with Melissa G.

The regular newsletter will be going out in the next few days. Often the newsletter and that week’s blog are one and the same, but this week that’s not true.

I thought my blog readers deserved something a little extra.