My Process

On the road one of the most frequently asked questions is this: What is your process?

So that’s what I was thinking about while I was outside getting 8000 steps in 81 minutes—my process.

We’ve all heard that Law and Order intro that talks about the criminal justice system being divided into two separate parts—the police who investigate crimes and the attorneys who prosecute them. Ditto with my process. It’s divided into two very separate parts.

One of those parts is being on tour. For that I’m out in public, interacting with fans, doing interviews and speaking engagements, and signing books. For that I’m sleeping in strange hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, living out of a suitcase, and paying attention to my makeup and hair. For those, other than doing my weekly blog, writing is the last thing on my mind.

Then I come home and suddenly I’m living a completely different life. Hair and makeup are no longer an issue because here I’m not a celebrity. Here I’m the door opener for Jojo. We have a dog door, but it came with the house and was built for a much larger dog. Jojo, the miniature dachshund who underwent back surgery a number of years ago, has four-inch legs. She can go out the doggy door if it’s time to bark at the neighbors’ dog, but for anything else she prefers that I open it. Since I’m the in-house clean up crew for any kind of mess, I’d rather open and close the door. I’m also the chief cook and bottle washer.

Since I’m a night-owl by nature, on tour I have to be up at what feels like the crack of dawn. At home I crawl out of bed whenever it suits me, have some coffee while reading and replying to whatever emails have come in overnight. After that I scroll through the news. It’s definitely news light. I used to be a two-newspapers-a-day girl. I’m over that now. These days the news is so consistently bad that I take it in very small doses. I dip into the headlines, follow a few comics, and read the advice columns. That is followed by making and serving breakfast and getting my steps.

Then it’s time to go to work. I write in an easy chair in the family room using a laptop on my lap. Bill’s chair is to the right of mine with the TV set directly in front of us. He watches endless episodes of Escape to the Country, Homestead Rescue, Star Trek Next Generation, and Fringe. Does that bother me? No. Growing up in Bisbee in a family of seven kids, I learned to work in a certain amount of chaos, and that early training has served me in good stead in my adult life.

This time it took me the better part of a week to transition from being on tour to getting back to actual work. (I used to be able to make faster turn-arounds.) Day before yesterday the “first pass”, aka the galleys, for Blessing of the Lost Girls showed up in my email. Doing the galleys is the last stage of editing on my end of the publishing process. After being out on the road talking about Ali Reynolds et al, I’m suddenly plunged back into the worlds of both the Walker family and the Bradys. In the Ali books, an AI named Frigg is often front and center. In the Walkers, the folklore and legends of the Tohono O’odham are woven into the fabric of the various stories.

In order to edit the book, I obviously have to read it—word for word. I’m happy to report that I’m loving it. On page 134, a conversation between a mother and daughter sent a wave of goosebumps up and down my legs. If reading the story can do that to the person who wrote it, shouldn’t it have the same effect on other people who read that passage?

The battle to write Collateral Damage took a full year, from March 2021 through March 2022. After writing a third of the book, I had to go back to square one and start over. With Blessing I wrote the book from beginning to end in two months flat. In both cases the magic is there. In Collateral Damage I had to fight to find it. In Blessing it was there from the get go. And in Girls’ Night Out, the Twinkle Winkleman novella I just sent to my HarperCollins editor, the magic showed up in that as well.

Once I finish doing Blessing’s first pass, it’ll be time to turn my attention back to my guy, J.P. Beaumont. I don’t know much about the story so far, and the book still doesn’t have a name, but I’m walking into it with the hope that the magic is still there for all of us—for Beau, my readers, and for me.

49 thoughts on “My Process

  1. You’re the best. I’m so glad I still have many books of yours that I still haven’t read so I have many hours of reading to look forward to.

  2. My daughter is moving to Seattle to work for Boeing. JP Beaumont has made the city somewhat familiar to me….first thing was “don’t have any bridges between you and work”. Thanks for all the info!

  3. I love the Walker books but not to read before going to bed. Keep writing and I will keep buying and reading?

  4. Your process ripples magic in this Yuman’s reading hour. Every book… every time…
    Thank you!!+

  5. Judy, thanks for sharing your schedules. Your fans love that you are very much like us when you are home. We can picture you in your daily life caring for your husband and your pet. Your mornings are pretty much like mine.

    I must say I am gasping at the thought of you or anyone writing a complete book in two months! That had to have been amazing. I would think it is a major record for any accomplished author. Blessing of the Lost Girls is going to be very special, I’m sure. Can’t wait to get my copy. Same goes for Girls Night out. Thanks Judy, for lots of exciting reading ahead.

  6. I am sure it will be. It’s shown up in every book you’ve written that I’ve read. My life is in the middle of a heartbreak and mystery concerning my son’s suspicious death. The unknown and waiting for information takes determination, courage and patience. Reading your books do too! Sometimes I talk to the characters when they are facing danger. I just want you to know how much you contribute to the enjoyment in my life despite hard circumstances.

  7. thanks again. For the motivation to get off my Duff and Do smething. Keep on keeping on. Chuck from Tacoma. You are a gem. Ruby at least.

  8. Very pleased to hear a Beaumont book is in the offing! I can’t wait, but guess I’ll have to. We have to let the process work!

  9. When I read “process”, I imagined that you were going to talk about how a story develops. I know from other blogs that you tend to write sequentially, and the most surprising thing you shared today was that you tossed the original Collateral Damage (which I started reading yesterday, and if it weren’t for it being my — LAST! — busy season at work I’d be finishing it today) and started over. I’ve often wondered if you ever came to a place where you knew that what you’d already written wouldn’t work with the story’s later developments, therefore necessitating a reworking of an earlier part.

    The part of Collateral Damage that I’ve already finished makes several mentions of Ali’s and her mother’s coping with her father’s death, and I am going to be visiting a dying friend for probably the last time later this morning. There is such a lot to process at a time like this: the joy of having known this person, the appreciation for their contributions to their many spheres of life, the anger at the disease that is taking them away. As I age, I’m having to confront the grieving process more frequently. I guess that’s typical, but it isn’t fun.

    I’m thinking about how to live my life with gratitude, for people, for the gifts we offer one another, for the rufous hummingbird who visited my rosemary bush a little while ago.

    Thank you for the stories! Knowing that Twinkle is going to appear again makes me smile and wiggle in anticipation of a fun book! I appreciate the variety in the books you have written, from the wry humor of some of the Beaumonts to the dark mysteries of the Walkers.

  10. Yes, I hope Beaumont is still there. I have been following him from square one

  11. I for one have no problem knowing you will find the MAGIC. You are a wonderful storyteller; your heart is with all your people.
    I just have to say THANK YOU for so much time you have gave me and millions of other readers.

  12. Thanks for the look at your two worlds. It must be pleasant to be home for a period of time after being “go, go, go” on a tour (or multiple tours).
    Good luck with the upcoming books.

  13. It was great to see you last Sunday at Third Place Books. Started reading Collateral Damage the next day and it is now finished. I think it gets the award for the most characters in a book–had to use post-it notes in the beginning. It did rally help to have the headings with each chapter. Great book.

    • Thank you. Post-its might have helped me, too, but there wouldn’t have been enough room on my computer screen.

      • I finished Collateral Damage yesterday and what continues to be my most vivid impression 24 hours later is how developed and rounded the new good-guy characters are. As we are looking forward to a story about Twinkle, I wonder which of the varied characters in Collateral Damage might also make a later appearance — Juanita and her buddy Roxie? Ramon and his family? Amos and his partner?

        In contrast to the last book, I only spotted one possible typo, and that one might have been deliberate, since it was in a line that a character spoke. Do you have a new proofreader or copy editor? Tell whoever is responsible for this one, “Great job!”

        As always, character growth is one of your strong suits, and High Noon Enterprises provided plenty of it in this story. Go, Cami!

  14. I’m glad to hear JoJo is hanging in there, with plenty of energy to run out and bark when she feels it is called for. I enjoy your weekly updates and your wonderful books. Thanks for all you do and are!

  15. Always ready for a new Beaumont book!! I have read them over several times now and feel like he is a friend I have to keep up with!
    Enjoy your blogs and keep Beaumont coming!!

  16. Thanks for the insight, Judy…love the way your mind works. You are a delight and a blessing to all your readers.

  17. It was great seeing you on Sunday at Third Place Books! It’s amazing how after such a long and illustrious career you still remain so approachable and humble. You connect with people in such a personable way. I know you’ve been told this many times, but you truly are remarkable.

  18. Just finished “Collateral” last night. Wow, I cannot imagine the process of creating that book. You did a remarkable job. It was all I could do to keep track reading the story. Thank you for all the years of magic. And thank you for keeping up with your steps to help you keep making the magic.
    Are you doing any writers conferences in the near future?

  19. Reading about JoJo’s refusal to use the doggie door only when it’s time to let others know whose house he lives in reminded me of our puppy, Buddy, who in his old age refused to use his doggy door except to let the meter readers know they’re invading his property. I often wondered if this was a behavior adopted by older puppies because our son’s puppy eventually began to do the same thing. Back to Buddy who has gone to doggy heaven several years ago, I pray that he’s enjoying his carefree life with all the squirrels, bunny rabbits, and leaves in his world. How I miss him! He was a peekapoo and lived 19 years, according to our vet, a very long life for a “half breed” (how I hate that term!).

  20. Yeah!!! I’m happy to hear Beau is next. He is my favorite. When he had double knee surgery, I was also recovering from knee surgery. I find him to be around my age, I have a police background and I live in Bellingham, WA. However, I am an LA, California transplant of 45 years. Can’t wait for Beau’s next chapter of life. I do read all your books and share them with 4 neighbors. Nothing else is urgent in my life until the book is read. Thank you for keeping me entertained.

  21. I love all your books, been a fan from the first one many years ago. I love your blogs because it is interesting to see how a writer lives their life and how they write. J.P. Beaumont was my first read and look forward to another book.

  22. Saw you at 3rd Place Books Sunday. Got Collateral Damage and your signature. Good to see/hear you again although I was way in the back during your presentation. Now I have another of your signed books added to my collection. Thank you!!!! Sharon Richards-Chriest

  23. All your books aare great, but JP has a special place in my heart.
    So nice to hear he’s coming around again.

  24. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS I can’t wait for the next Walker book to come out. I went back and reread the original series. Sooo good. I must admit I cried when Ali lost her Dad. I wish you would tour near Pensacola, Fl so I could meet you. I grew up in Northwest Iowa so relate to some of your writing.

    Thank you for so many hours of enjoyment – laughter and tears.

    Glad Bill is better after last years scare.

    Keep writing please.

  25. So enjoyed seeing you at the Tucson Book Festival and when you came to Voyager. We’ve been reading your books since our son was stationed at Ft. Huachuca in 2001 and is now a Sergeant with the Pima County Sheriff’s dept. Thank you for supporting law enforcement! We love all your series but am wondering when the next Joanna Brady will be coming out? Looking forward to what ever comes next.

  26. Like most of your readers I have read all your books and love them all have favorite ones of course but you are a great story teller who ever is the hero or heroine. My first books were a collection of Beaumont and went from there. But he is #1 favorite with me. Keep them coming.

  27. Looking forward to Twinkle Winkleman’s mini book. Do I dare hope for a 4th series from you?

  28. It had been some years since I’d read the Walker books I decided to read them again to refresh my memory. Thanks so much for being my favorite writer. Also wanted to thank you for writing about “artificial intelligence ” so when Elon Musk has gone to task trying to stop destroying our civilization by “AI” I understood it better.

  29. Just finished collateral damage, it may have taken a year but you did a great story! I really enjoyed it, looking forward to the next one out, excited a novella coming too!

  30. I’m not going to be one of those people who ask “When is the next (fill in character’s name) book coming out.”

    All I’ll say is keep up the good work, Ms. Jance. I’ve liked everything you’ve done, and every new book or novella is a blessing to me.

  31. I am rereading P. D. James’ “A Time to be in Earnest”, a fragment of an autobiography. Book tours aren’t that popular in England, but she made several to the US and Canada. She asked that tickets to fly across the Atlantic be in first class.

    She has written: “But I think the chief reason is the pleasure of meeting my readers face-to-face. Readers of crime fiction are remarkedly loyal, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I have never faced an audience before a signing without a sense of being with personal friends.”

    • That is so true, Carolyn Ann…being at a signing with Judy is like being with friends.

  32. Question – did you say in one of your blogs that your publisher required “X” amoutn of words for a book?
    Reading Collatateral Damage right now and quite enjoying it. Purchased at Barnes & Noble in Tucson where we saw your talk. Enjoyed it as usual and introduced our friends to the whole talk book signing which they enjoyed immensely.

  33. I help out with our Senior Center’s monthly newsletter, but I don’t have a process for writing it – in fact, I’m usually lying in bed trying to get to sleep when the jist of it enters my head. Thankfully it is a short section that I help with, but from that nocturnal “hint” I can usually come up with something that isn’t changed very much once I send it in. So far, people seem to enjoy what I propose be included. ?

  34. I wonder if moving from series to series keeps all of them that much more magical and fresh?
    I remember the thrill of Beau and Joanna working together on a case in Bisbee,
    and then other collaborations between protagonists of different series-
    They all became my personal friends long ago, and I just love it when they get to know each other in various crises, revealing new aspects of themselves- I guess I would have to admit that I am insatiable when it comes to finding out about “What’s New” with Beau, Joanna, Ali, and The Walkers and all of their friends and relations!

  35. Am looking forward to all your new books- no matter who they are about. Love them all and I know you will have the magic

  36. It was wonderful to see you at Left Coast Crime a few weeks ago! I loved loved loved your rendition of At Seventeen – it brought tears to my eyes. And I was not the only one at my table in that condition.

    Thanks for all the great books. I especially love JPB.

  37. “The magic” always comes through in a Beaumont book. I enjoy all of your characters but Beau is my favorite. I would love to meet a real-life Beau and keep him!

    I just moved from Montana to Tennessee so I am probably out of your book signing range but I will continue to grab any of your books as soon as they are released. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful talent with us. And now we wait….

  38. We are up to number 3 from 25 on our library waiting list for Collateral Damage, Can’t wait! We are looking forward to Blessings of the Lost girls also. Heck we look forward to anything you write. Your books are a treasure to be enjoyed over and over. Each new one is a new adventure. Most of our books come from the library but if I’m lucky enough to receive one of yours as a gift or you can bet that baby will never leave. Thank you for all the joy you bring your readers.

  39. With the shootings in the last month in and around Belltown I was concerned about JP and hoping there was a story in there somewhere. I know you’ll work that in somehow and I’m anxious for his/your next book. CAN’T WAIT.
    Just finished Collateral Damage and loved it. Thank you



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