Blessings from the Blessing Trail

Right now it’s Thursday afternoon. My media escort is behind the wheel driving us hell-bent-for-election between Mesa and Tucson. I’m in the passenger seat working on the blog. Why didn’t I write it yesterday? Because yesterday we traveled from Phoenix to Prescott for one event and then down Yarnell Hill—It is NOT a hill. It’s a mountain!—from Prescott to Wickenburg. On the way we passed Granite Mountain and the memorial to the Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished in that terrible wildfire. We all saw the wall-to-wall news coverage on that, but what didn’t come through on our TV screens is the incredible ruggedness of the terrain involved. Astonishing.

What I miss about doing virtual events, is the human interaction. That just doesn’t come through when I’m staring at my own face on a computer screen parked on my dining room table. So let’s start with some of the human interactions. At the Prescott Valley Library, the first woman who came to speak to me—a complete stranger—told me how delightful I am. And another woman who lived at Pima Hall a decade after I did, came up to introduce herself. At the signing table a middle-aged man asked me to sign a copy of After the Fire for “Betty’s kids.” I mistakenly assumed that the addict in their family must have been the man’s wife and the children involved were his. When I mentioned something to that effect he said, “No, this book is for my brothers and sisters and me. We’re Betty’s kids.” Wow!

In Wickenburg during the signing, a woman fighting back tears came up to the table. She was clearly struggling to say something, but was too overwhelmed. Finally, grabbing hold of my hand, she told me that reading the Beaumont books had helped her learn to read. It was a crowded room, and with my hearing loss, I was struggling to understand what she was saying, so I asked her to please send me an email. Today she did, and here it is:

Good evening Ms. Jance.

My name is _____ _____. We met tonight when you signed a book for me. As a child I was always placed in remedial reading. Along with many summer school sessions. I graduated from high school reading barely at the 8th grade level. I went to college at 22, a single mother. I was required to take a class called Critical Thinking and Evaluative Reading. My aunt had given me Taking the Fifth the summer before. With the help of my teacher I learned how to read that book. Really read. I knew the words but wasn’t able to truly comprehend what I was reading. How to follow a story. I fell in love with reading, and I’ve read all your books. AND I grew to love reading so much that I found Dorothy Gilman, Lillian Jackson Braun, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Thyra Ferre Bjorn (just a few).

I wish you many blessings in life. Thank you so much for making my life richer.

Whoa! By the way, standing proudly next to her during that encounter was a handsome young man who told me he was her second husband “the good one!” That one really made me smile because boy, do I know how lucky they both are.

This afternoon in Mesa, a woman in the front row told me she, too, had learned to read by reading the Joanna Brady books. And seated next to Sandra was a guy named Craig who spent six months being knocked for a loop by Covid. He said the only thing that kept him sane was being able to read my books one after another on his Kindle. He said it was a miracle he didn’t break his nose when the Kindle fell on his face. All those stories are powerful motivations for me to go on writing.

Early this week I received an email from a woman who’s the program manager at a dementia care facility in Tucson. She told me that one of her residents was still very high cognition, but she was mad at everything and everybody. The only thing that made her happy was having one of my books in her hand, and that she carried one with her almost everywhere she went.

That made me think of my mother, Evie. Several blogs ago, I believe I wrote about my mother’s personality transplant after my father’s passing and how my wonderfully caring, joyful mother suddenly turned mean-spirited and manipulative. It has taken me years to realize that she was probably suffering from an undiagnosed case of dementia.

So in Evie’s honor, I agreed to go to the facility tomorrow afternoon where I’d have lunch with my fan/patient and then later do a program for the residents where I would share some of the songs my mother taught us as we were growing up. I spent several days boning up on the lyrics. Unfortunately, yesterday I was told they are having a Covid outbreak so tomorrow’s scheduled visit will have to be postponed to a different time.

And then today in Mesa. When I was working on Blessing I had trouble locating a certain Tohono O’odham word, even with the help of Dean Saxton’s trusty Tohono O’odham dictionary. I turned to a Pima elder who happens to be a fan of my work. Not only did he help this Milghan writer, he came to the event in Mesa today and told me if I need help with any more words, to be sure to let him know. Then he shook my hand—twice. I felt incredibly honored! Still do.

See what I mean? Being an author on tour is the very best job in the world, and counting my blessings as I go along makes it event better.

51 thoughts on “Blessings from the Blessing Trail

  1. Love your blogs but the one today just is so interesting. One needs contact with humans in person, so much more than a screen. To me your blogs are life inspirations. Than you.

  2. Just finished reading BOTLG. Loved it and it’s now on of my favorite books you’ve written. We need more books incorporating Indian history and issues. I’ve been to the Tohono O’odom Reservation. It’s both desolate and fascinating.

  3. Just finished your new book in one day. And I have turned 2 of my sisters-in law on to your books, one of who moved to Marana (it was mentioned in page 231 of Blessings). Thanks for all of your hard work and for sharing your blessings with us.

  4. I met you at the Apache Juntion signing. You are so personable and I could listen to your stories all day. Meeting you made me so very happy. You see I lost my son a little over two years ago to suicide and I’ve had a hard time feeling happy. Well meeting you changed that and I saw the smile on my face when my daughter showed me the picture she took of us and wow I was deeply happy. I’ve been reading your books since the late 80’s and have enjoyed them all. Thank you for your books, blogs, and stories.

    • Dear Louise, please accept my tardy condolences on the loss of your son. You are truly living after the fire. I’m glad coming to the event in Apache Junction helped you find a way to smile.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I live in California and briefly considered traveling to Wickenburg to see you but due to age and health decided it was a no go. So I’m very grateful for your report. Keep doing what you’re doing. Many of your readers and I benefit greatly.

  6. This is my first emailed to me blog. So glad I signed up for it. You are a joy to read. I have all the Beaumont books and have recently started the Brady series. Thank you. I have many favorite authors, but you and J. D. Robb fight for first place.

  7. I have been reading, re-reading and loving your books since early in the J. P. Beaumont series and the early Walker family. It is always difficult or impossible to determine my favorite, but this one is way up on the list. I am so thrilled to read more of the Walker family’s saga. I am 74 and raising a 13 year old who is coping well with dyslexia and after reading the inside front cover, she is starting on it. Thank you for all of the joy your books have brought over the years and will continue to bring.

  8. In the midst of a very busy schedule, you can write such an interesting blog, I truly look forward each week. Thank you?

    • We Arizonians are so fortunate. Now that in person book tours are back the strong connection you have with our state guarantees you’ll make every effort to hit all parts of the state to introduce your new books.

      I’m writing this from Flagstaff but for 20 years our family had a strong Bisbee connection first living at 607 Campbell and subsequently renting in downtown Bisbee. I had an opportunity to first meet you at the Adalanta bookstore, Joan Warner proprietor in 2000 or 2001, Ibelieve it was late summer and a monsoon afternoon. You were signing your current book and it was a huge event.

      Sadly Joan sold the bookstore which is now defunct but whenever I think of the wonderful years we spend in Bisbee I think of her bookstore and I of course think of all your books.

      So you give Arizona an added dose of attention when you’re on the road. The opportunity for new fans to meet you and old ones to reacquaint is truly a blessing.

  9. All of your lovely “traveling” stories bring me to tears, Judy. Thanks for sharing the really human stories we all need to hear.

  10. A wonderful posting today . So happy you gave me instructions to be able to receive the blog. I’m reading blessings which I started last night . My only wish would be that you were able to give us more books to read faster 🙂 I’ve read all the series and I’m always anxious for the next book .
    I’m glad you are enjoying your tour and that it’s giving you the encouragement to continue writing .
    My best to you,
    Joy H
    Montesano , WA

  11. Just beautiful, Judy…loved your presentation last night as well. I sat next to Janice and when you mentioned being in the Circle, we knew how precious our circle is.
    Thank you and may God continue to bless you and keep you writing.

  12. It is always wonderful to find fans that are knowledgeable in your writing and are so touched by it that they can offer their own insights to your books. Kudos also to the person you met that helped you with your Tohono O’odom wording issue.
    I have been a fan of yours for a long time and am looking to BOTLG.

    Have a great weekend.

  13. Well your “Northern Arizona Stalker” was at it again……made trip up the hill to see a good friend of mine who just happens to be a world class author…. Haven’t seen each other because of you know “The Dreaded Covid” kinda put a big damper on everything…… so Judith it was great seeing you again and reading the the new books I purchased (PS check your email for the pics I promised?). So in closing tell Bill hello pet the dogs for me keep walking cause I am to.So to quote an Old Cowboy…… Till we meet again. Hugs and kisses…….Dann

  14. So glad this tour is full of blessings. Sounds like you are on a whirlwind.

    Sandy and I will see you in Redmond.

  15. It’s so wonderful to read that you are now able to meet some of the thousands or people you have helped through your books and blogs. There are so many of us who’d love to share our own tragedies and triumphs as a result of reading your books and blogs. Thanks to all who can do that for us through these virtual events.

  16. This morning I read your blog with tears in my eyes, remembering how much
    JP’s stories have blessed me. I consider him “the other guy” in my life because he was one of the good guys who helped me through a difficult marriage. Growing up in Seattle, I knew some of his streets and neighborhoods intimately and it has been a delight to touch base again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • I don’t know if you’ve ever read my book of poetry, After the Fire. That’s a chronicle of my first marriage, and I think you’d find that, in many ways, we’ve walked in the same moccasins.

  17. Thank you for sharing. Your blog, emails and books are always an inspiration to this struggling author. It was your books that got me writing, but I can only aspire to get to your level. I didn’t start until I was 74 years young. I hope to see you again when your tour gets to Washington State. (Guilty as Sin, Inspired by True Events)

  18. I have just started Blessing…..I’m loving it so far and so glad we have another in the Walker/Brady books. I’ve read all of your books and the Walker family is my favorite….I love the Tohono O’odham people and all the history. Thank you for your books!!

  19. I just finished “Blessing of the Lost Girls.” It was wonderful. I stayed up until midnight to finish it. And I am old and usually go to sleep at 9. Everytime you write a new book I think it is the best one yet. Thank you for all of your books, and I have read them all!

  20. Love your blogs.
    Wickenburg is a favorite place of mine. I spent two winters there. Found the library the first week and read many of your books from there.
    Thanks for all you do and share!

  21. We usually never know the impression we make on people with our work, no matter what it is, or our personality. You were able to hear from some which is very touching.

  22. Having just had several singing events postponed because of Covid, I certainly understand how disappointed you and your fan must be about your lunch and presentation. Kudos, though, for being willing to add another event to your crowded tour schedule!

    I’m just about on the banana peel of reading Blessings, but had to drag myself away from the book long enough to handle morning duck care and put out the trash. Now that I’ve finished breakfast and a fast scan of email, back to the book I am going!

    • I love all your book. I am Maria Davison I told u about my son William Davison he has been fighting cancer started with Agent Orange at 18 now 47 he is fighting pancreas. Like I said I have been your royal fan for long time. THANK U GOD BLESS U. Your books takes away all my stress.

  23. It’s great that you get so much out of your tours instead of complaining about the inconveniences , hassles, and inevitable bloopers and mishaps that are part and parcel of every trip.

    A former friend took a 2 week to Disney/Epcot in Florida. When he got back I asked him how his trip went. Reply “Terrible there was a big rainstorm. Ruined the trip.” The whole two weeks? I asked.” “No, he said, but the first day all day I was stuck in the hotel. How could I have a good time after that?”

    • Donald, I’ve never been to Disney/Epcot in Florida, but I think there must be plenty to do in hotels and your former friend certainly could have found something to do. Also, there are raincoats. I’m glad to see you said “former” friend. He doesn’t sound like someone positive to be around.

      My family went to Disneyland in the mid-70s. My daughters were 9 and 10 and a good age to go there.

    • Totally agree. I remain in awe of all that you put into a book. I hope I instilled a small part of your love for writing and the research that goes into rally telling the story. I love bragging that you were a classmate from Bisbee. Recruited some new readers while in Goshen, IN last week.

  24. I love reading your blogs. I have texted you in the past, probably with the same question. I love your series containing Beau. He doesn’t appear to come out in public as often. I surely miss him. Let me know if you ever come to St. Louis on a book tour.

  25. I love all your book. I am Maria Davison I told u about my son William Davison he has been fighting cancer started with Agent Orange at 18 now 47 he is fighting pancreas. Like I said I have been your royal fan for long time. THANK U GOD BLESS U. Your books takes away all my stress.

  26. What a lovely blog. Made my day. I’ve read all your books over the years and loved every one of them. I can’t tell you what I like best, first it was Joanna Brady, then Beaumont and finally Ali Reynolds. Now it’s just all of them. I live in Colorado and stay on Mesa each winter. Saw you at a book signing at the Red Mountain Library years ago. Keep up the good work. Arlene Yauk

    (I already get your emails)

  27. Thank you for telling us about the experiences on your book tour. You must feel so good knowing the joy you bring to others with your writing. Continued good health to you and yours.

    Did the heron come back this summer?

    • He tried, but now we have NETS! I know he was there because there was heron poop on the nets, but he couldn’t get to the fish. So the Big Guy and Big Orange live!

  28. Wonderful blog-filled with so many meaningful events. Keep up the great writing and sharing with all your fans

  29. Wonderful blog-filled with so many meaningful events. Keep up the great writing and sharing with all your fans.

  30. Thank you so much for your Prescott Valley visit.
    I have read and loved all of your books, especially the Beaumont series.
    Niesje Province,
    Prescott, Arizona

  31. You are such a power-filled Human… during your virtual session, you came into our Yuma, AZ home and we felt your presence here. Thank you for that option… please don’t discount what an amazing PRESENCE you have that comes through strong and true regardless of the medium. The Brick and Mortar store is mailing me a signed copy.. can’t wait!!!

  32. I have worked the Tucson Festival of Books for years but never went inside and listened to anyone talk. Last week I went with my wife to the Jewish Center and listened to you. Remember this was my first time in my 73 years of seeing a person live, WOW, why did it take me so long. You were spellbound.

  33. Missed your blog last week. I did enjoy your last ” Blessing. . .” I realized that I had a feel of how to pronounce the language of the Tohono O’odhaam people. I realized that Hour of the Hunter was the first of your books I read back in ’90’s on book on tape. When I reread all your books during COVID, I purchased that audiobook. So the language was renewed for me. Thank you for great stories over the years.

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