A Fitting Ending

As of 8:24 PM, last Thursday, I reached THE END on the first draft of Beaumont #26, Den of Iniquity. I’m now deep in the editing process, but that’s another story. What finishing the manuscript really means is that, as of now, over the course of the last 40 years, I’ve written 67 books. That’s a lot of books.

Unfortunately, every once in a while, one of my stories or a detail in one of them hits a reader’s personal hot spot. Any number of people let me have it because J.P. and Joanna “had an affair” in Partner in Crime. Really? What book did they read? In the aftermath of a stressful moment—a life-or-death moment—they had an instant of mutual attraction, but trust me, nothing happened between them! That moment came and went. Period!

In Downfall it’s the balloons! At the very end of the book, during the course of Joanna’s mother’s and stepfather’s funeral at a fictional High Lonesome Ranch a barrage of fictional balloons were released into a fictional blue sky. Any number of people have written to read me the riot act about releasing those fictional balloons, even though no fictional animals were harmed in the process.

So recently when I received two emails in the same week with Downfall in the subject line, I expected the second one, from someone named Edd, would be yet another complaint about the balloons. It wasn’t. Instead it was something entirely different, and here’s a small excerpt:

I lost my parents long ago. Years apart, by natural causes. As the oldest of the relatives at the funerals, and the only one in uniform, I was expected to be, and was, the rock that held everybody else together. Uniforms are like baseball in (A League of Their Own) “There’s no crying,” and I didn’t allow myself to.

As I said earlier, my mother was a major fan of Roy Rogers. In the late fifties or early sixties, when television finally made it to town, we of course watched Roy and the gang, and sang along with “Happy Trails” like everyone else. It became a watchword. Going to school = “Happy Trails”, going to bed = “Happy Trails”, and so forth.

This is where my lengthy spiel comes to the end. As I read Joanna’s last words from the eulogy at her parent’s service, I lost it and had to put the book down for quite a while as I finally got to have that long cry that I had denied myself for so many years, as I said “Happy Trails” one more time and honored my loving parents, George and Eleanor.

Edd Kande

If that didn’t give you goosebumps, you’re probably not paying attention. Next week, I’ll post about what I wrote back to him, but in the meantime I need to return to editing. I put in twelve solid hours on that job yesterday, and I’ll probably do the same today.

At the moment, however, it occurs to me that when all those folks who were so focused on the balloons were reading about George and Eleanor’s funeral, they may have missed the whole point of that loving gesture.

Edd Kande didn’t.

He got it.

56 thoughts on “A Fitting Ending

  1. I find it intriguing how a fictional character, J P Beaumont, has become almost human to me. “Second Watch” gave him life with all its weakest and strongest moments. When you write a book which not only entertains but challenges and touches a reader you are going far beyond, you have reached another plane. I thank you for the entertainment and the challenges.

    • I love how thing just seem to happen to Beau. How many cars has he destroyed to date? I loved the book where he had fingers broken in a car door, but was too drunk to remember how that happened.

      “Birds of Prey” remains my favorite. I learned what happens on a cruise. I’ve never wanted to take one, but enjoyed his experience.

  2. Congratulations, and I know some of the hardest work begins. Or at least for me, editing is the toughest part. You made me laugh again…when did the idea of fiction being imaginary escape so many? Fiction is made up. It may be made up of things similar to what one experiences, but it is still fiction. So happy for you and yes, sometimes our writing can be cathartic like nothing else can. Hopefully, we weave enough into our stories to make the characters’ experiences credible because they remind us of our own experiences or observations. You do it so well. Can’t wait to read.

  3. “Den of Inequity.” That is a really clever play on words. Got by me the first time.

  4. Good for Edd. I recall when I read that, I, too, was “moved.” Thanks to Edd for bringing back those memories.

  5. I fear I may do that from time to time – focus on the balloons and miss the love. I have tried to train myself to read and re-read, hoping to not miss the love, in everything from Scripture to superb fiction such as yours! Thank you for the work you put in and especially for the love.
    Happy Trails!

  6. It’s amazing how some people can entirely miss the point of one thing or another. Sad for them, really. Thank you to Ed for writing that note to you.

  7. I remember a video of Barry Goldwater’s funeral when his son told about his life and relationship with his dad. At the end he said,”Happy Trails Dad”. It was a very poignant moment.

  8. After that many books you are allowed a few slips, but I haven’t found any. I don’t know how you keep all the minutia straight with J.P.
    A chronology written down somewhere in a whiteboard? Writing a series had to be hard work since you need to introduce past events to new readers who might not have read the previous novels. Kudos to you for all the hard work!

  9. Judy your books and these emails are like blessings from heaven. They open the doors to a beautiful day ahead. I am an avid reader of most always mysteries, spies and action packed drama. Of all the authors you are my favorite for the reason stated in your message today. There are moments when you put the book down to savor the emotions you’ve just read about. Sometimes sad but often very funny! Thank you for your contribution to the enjoyment in my life.

  10. I had never heard that people in uniform were not supposed to cry at funerals. I’m trying to remember who was in uniform when my parents died twenty-one years apart. My dad’s death was expected, but Mom’s wasn’t.

    We’re a stoic Swedish Lutheran family who doesn’t show much emotion in church. No one would have thought of releasing balloons at the cemetery.

    It’s interesting to read what other folks do..

  11. Congratulations on reaching a milestone on the latest book.
    I am having a bit of a health roller coaster and am treating myself to an intermittent disorganized re-read of various of your books (I have read all of them at some point, as far as I know…..but its good to revisit old friends). Now I’ve added “Downfall” to my library holds list. Joanna is a favorite character of mine – so eloquent!

    Thank you, as usual.


  12. I love Edd’s openness and thank him, and you, for sharing. I am very much looking forward to the next Beaumont book. I have been with you for years and was the one who got rid of my Beaumont’s after the
    “attraction” incident but retrieved them after you told me, very pointedly, “It’s a book,” at our encounter at Vroman’s. I’ve had no such issues since, thank goodness!

    Edd’s star brings only positive reaction and I’m privileged to have read his story.

  13. I’m sorry but some people can be real idiots. Nothing better to do.
    I love your books and wonderful stories. The key word is stories.
    I live in Tucson and a big fan. Have all your books.
    Have a great and blessed day.

  14. Wow, I did get goose bumps. I look forward to each of your blog posts and have enjoyed all of your books so far. I started listening to audio books when I retired 8 years ago, on suggestion of a health coach, hoping I would walk longer distances while being entertained. It works and I found your books. I just finished Failure to Appear #11 of J P Beaumont. I’ve listened to everything else you have written and will finish the Beaumont series hopefully in time for your next release. Thank you for all the entertainment and the many miles I have walked.

    • I’m so very happy my sister, Marianne Livingstone, introduced me to your books many years ago….and had a complete set of autographed books to loan me. She sure made me a J.A. Jance fan!!

  15. All of us have some secret (or not so secret) pleasure that doesn’t necessarily fit into the righteous persona we ordinarily espouse. Whether it’s an unhealthy food in the outspoken vegan’s diet or a beloved piece of real fur in an animal activist’s closet, it’s there, because we aren’t perfect. And we aren’t all alike.

    For our family, the analog to the balloons in Downfall might be what happened after my brother’s funeral a few years ago. He adored fireworks and was always the driving force behind neighborhood pyrotechnics. When he knew he was dying, he gave his son money to purchase and store fireworks, and even though his death occurred outside the legal window for having such events, we had a fitting send-off after dark the day of his funeral. I’m the noise-aversive, worrying-about-fire-hazards counterpart to my brother, but I put that aside and celebrated the playful man he was that night. And I’m glad I did.

  16. Judy, it’s hard to imagine that readers would write to you to complain. I guess there seems to be a large share of sanctimonious people in the world who have nothing better to do. It saddens me about our society. If they don’t like what you write, then they should just stop reading you.
    I am however so pleased to hear the response from Edd. That does make my heart feel good. I am happy for him that he was finally able to grieve and that it was through you that he was able to.
    Congratulations on finishing your latest JP book. That is a lot of books. You are very prolific and your imagination seems boundless. Keep on keeping on Judy!

  17. Nobody knew they were biodegradable balloons. And of COURSE there was no affair with Beau and Joanna! Good grief!

    I do wish I didn’t have to sign in with all my info and then confirm my comment just to write a little something.

      • Hmmm – seems like YOU’RE the wig here. Are there no fixes? Or is it just that it’s an app or something you signed up with to make things EASIER? (HAHA)

  18. How heart-warming that a scene in one of your books enabled Edd to finally release the tears he had bottled up for so many years! Your books don’t just entertain; they often MINISTER to your readers.

  19. I do not understand why people can’t define the difference from what happens in real life. I get tired of people wanting to change books that were written years ago so they might be politically correct now. Read them they may learn something that opens their eyes. We sent balloons up for a coworker who passed away from cancer two weeks before her 50th BD. On that day we all went to the top of parking garage and released green balloons her favorite color with her red hair. When we got down there was rain sprinkles for just a few minutes and we all agreed that was Carri saying thank you. Love your blogs!

  20. Being an emergency responder for 40 years I find it amazing the number of people that thing we have no feelings. That we don’t care. We do. I have PTSD Working in a rural area we ran on people we knew. I did CPR on my mom. She lived 23 more days. I am grateful that you show that your characters have feelings. We love and care about folks.

  21. I appreciate and love you. I love your characters, your books and your weekly blog! You were my mom’s favorite author and thankfully she introduced me to your books!
    Sadly my mother died 10 years ago. When she could no longer go herself, I went to the library for her twice a week. She did not want to use electronic books. For days before she died, I read aloud to her because she was too weak to hold a book.
    At the time she died, I had just finished reading a book to her by a different author. I say this because I was disapponted that this author who has a just few years on you and me and is in good health has decided to start a blog on aging for subscribers rather than continue writing any more books. That is her right but when authors stop writing, the stories with their characters stop and we are bereft.
    FYI, I pray for your health and that the voices of your characters (especially Beau) continue to speak to you and energize you!
    Keep on stepping, keep on writing, and keep on sharing.
    Thank you for adding joy to my life, to my mother’s life and to the lives of countless others.
    With love and appreciation for you… and I can hardly wait for Den of Inequity?

  22. That’s lovely
    And too funny too because when I read that people didn’t like the affair
    I was like
    But sadly I have read them all

  23. This note from Edd was so very touching. Thank you and Joanna. It’s my favorite series.

  24. Me again, because I forgot to mention that when I read the book containing the moment of mutual attraction between Beau and Joanna, I was relieved when they called a halt BEFORE it developed into an affair. In my mind I applauded them for it, and JAJ’s writing moved yet a few more notches higher in my esteem.

  25. It didn’t give me goosebumps but did make me cry. After all these years the thought of my parents deaths, Wanda Lucille and Morris Gene, still make me cry. I don’t think it ever goes away.

  26. People reading the riot act about releasing fictional balloons tells me that your readers are so into your stories and characters that they are “real” to them. That’s one of things that keeps me reading your books is the characters feel like family or very close friends. I love it!

  27. This is off subject, but I wanted to let you know that I am going to Bisbee in April with my four daughters. I requested this trip for my birthday. I am excited about doing this trip. I lost my son to suicide a little over two years ago. It was the day after Mother’s Day that I got the call. I miss him every day and I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, but this trip means a lot to me because of you and your writings about Bisbee. My oldest daughter went there last year and she loved the area and then last week I met a lady at Bible study who grew up there. She told me that she lived a block and a half from your house. I am believing that this trip with my daughters will heal my heart and I will enjoy seeing this little town for myself.

  28. What a touching story from Edd- I have often wondered if the fact that men are shamed if they become tearful is one reason they tend to live shorter lives than women- Thanks to your writing so movingly and authentically about loss and grief,
    Edd finally found a release for his own grief-
    The first JaJance book I read was the first Joanna Brady book, about the murder of her husband, and its aftermath, leading to Joanna’s decision to run for Sheriff-
    I felt a deep sense of mourning as I read about Joanna’s loss- That led to my wanting to know more about Joanna’s life going forward- Without being Pollyannish, it
    turned out that Joanna ultimately embarked on a life-affirming path of fighting against the evil that killed her husband-
    Those who think that Joanna and Beau had an affair need to reread “Partners in Crime!”

  29. Congratulations on finishing your manuscript.
    God bless Edd Kande for sharing his story. And Praise God that he finally got peace. That’s a long time to carry grief. I get it.

  30. I love your books, but, I too, being a birder, wondered about the balloons. They just happen to kill birds. It’s not that it’s fictional and no fictional animals were injured, it’s the fact that your words reach, probably millions of people. If it’s okay for your character to let loose a bunch of balloons, then many of those millions will feel like it would be okay for them as they would have the same feelings. There lies the problem. It’s like releasing doves, that don’t know how to take care of themselves. Throwing birdseed at weddings is so much better. I don’t know what the alternative to a balloon would be, but it would have to be something with feeling for the book but safe for the environment and the animals. Thanks for listening!

  31. Beautiful! So many are fixated on finding fault today. It is great when someone speaks for the good. I would hope your readers would be more intelligent when reading.

  32. I remember coming to that scene in”Partner in Crime” with Beau and JoAnna thinking, Judith Jance I really hope not and of course, reading further I realized it was truly a moment of personal passion which they both understood for what it was! I look forward to once again reading our favority police detective whom you portray as human as they come even slowly coming into the techie age realizing that Google has knowledge for all of us!

  33. To Judy …with apologies for all the unpleasant messages you have been getting. I am so sorry that people have been taking the time to take pot shots at you. It appears as though taking pot shots at people has become a national free for all. I can blame the politics (and I do) or i can just point out that the national focus on (1) politics, (2) book banning (my particular anger spot), and a general malaise relating to just about everything right now. I wont get into the stuff I am into, but I will say that I am sad that people will take the opportunity to take pot shots at just about everything. When I am feeling particularly tired of endless criticism, I just query on J.A. Jance’s great emails (which I keep in my inbox for four years) and thank heavens that I can read about a writer who takes care to do the right thing but doesn’t have to apologize for it. You are an inspiration to me, and I have been a champion of you for some years but particularly now! Let the critics roll on, but just know you are an inspiration to me. PLEASE KNOW YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO SHOULDN’T HAVE TO REACT TO CRITICISM OVER AND OVER AGAIN. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!

  34. That brought the ears to my eyes. I miss my dad, gone now 22 years and mom 13 years.

    They put up for about a year with my Capuchin monkey living in the garage, mainly up in the rafters. Then with 3 ferrets having the run in a long run in their back yard until their escape in the neighborhood.

    And now our fifth and final Scotty stands nobly by our front door watching for intruders in his cast iron stance. He is put away when our young grandson is here, so he won’t be picked up and dropped onto the hardwood floor.

    What do all ents and grandparents put up with.

  35. Congrats on the milestone on Den of Inequity. No doubt it will be a captivating read. Yes I cried when the graduation balloons transformed into a very different graduation celebration. Just as I crie when Ali and her mom scattered Bob’s ashes. Letting things fly free – especially people – is not something humans do easily. We seem to think it equates to forgetting them instead of honoring them.

  36. Well, made me cry!
    Yet, you crack me up on the same page as I am crying…fictional balloons, fictional sky, etc.
    You are a gem!

  37. I have read every single one of your books, mini mini times I have not found fault with one. I did cry when your parents asked or JoAnn’s parents. As it hit close to home, I have enjoyed your books from the beginning almost I started with Beau because we lived in Seattle at the time you will never get criticized for me. You write a story that warms my heart, and since left every fiber of my body, thank you for the hours and hours of pleasure you have given me.

  38. Are used to be in Dixon California in surprise Arizona now I’m in Sheridan Wyoming so you may have me in your data base in those places thank you I am also losing my sight so forgive the errors

  39. I echo your sentiments. What books were these people reading? Not the two of yours you cited. It’s a shame they missed the importance if that brief moment with Beau and Joana and the beauty of balloon release. While I understand the concern about releasing balloons and the impact they have on nature and wildlife. It was fiction people. Edd got it! I wish there were more Edds in the world. Looking forward to the new Beau book. Thank you for the countless hours, weeks, and months of joy and entertainment your books have brought me.

  40. The people who nitpick trivial details miss so much deep meaning–in fiction and in life. I can think of few better tributes to the power of your writing than the letter you received.

  41. Well, I forgot the dang emojis don’t work.
    Anyhoo, thumbs up to you, and more power to you!

  42. What?! Joanna gets a Stepfather? And he and her mother die?! Yeah, I only just finished book 3, but I’m aware, if I don’t want spoilers, I shouldn’t be reading the blog. 🙂
    How marvelous that you heard from one of your readers for whom it was cathartic! I’m sure there were others.
    Balloons. I’m going to guess they were released and the complaints were about the environment. I wouldn’t have noticed. I’m from the age when throwing rice at weddings, decorating party tables with shiny colored Mylar cut-outs, and a ton of other things I’ve since learned I shouldn’t do, were good things.
    Carry on. 🙂

Comments are closed.