Tales From the Blessing Tour

LATE BREAKING NEWS: This came in after I wrote the blog and before it went to press, so this a PS at the beginning. My editor just sent me word that Blessing of the Lost Girls is #15 on the New York Times combined physical and e-book list. Thanks to everyone who made that happen. As my mother, Evie, would say, “Whoever you are, you know who you are!”

It’s Wednesday. I’ve been on the road for a week and a half, going from hot—Phoenix, Arizona, to chilly—West Bloomfield, Michigan. I’m on my way to the airport in Detroit, where the leaves are just starting to turn. But I’m ready to be home where we don’t have nearly as many leaves, and I will be—on Friday.

What have I learned on this trip? It’s possible to take a cold shower, if you’ve run the water for ten minutes and it still hasn’t warmed up. As Roger Miller would say, “Thanks, Omaha, thanks a lot.” I’ve also learned that it’s impossible to use gel-manicured nails to open the tops of those little foil covered butter and margarine containers. In every case, I was reduced to stabbing the foil with my fork and then peeling it off.

Last week’s Wednesday and Saturday events in Tucson couldn’t have been more different but each were incredibly rewarding. The first one was at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and sponsored by the Tucson Festival of Books. It started with a dessert reception and had a wall-to-wall crowd from the moment it started. The second was also at a community center, at the San Xavier District Headquarters on the Tohono O’odham reservation. There were only around thirty people to begin with, but most of the audience arrived later on what’s called Indian Time. The first event was adults only. The second was more of a family affair with plenty of little kids rocketing around in the back of the room.

My hostess at the first event, Lynn Weise Sneyd, is a mover and shaker with the Tucson Festival of Books. My hostess on the reservation, Vivian Juan Saunders, is the daughter of Melissa Juan, who who was my initial library assistant when I went to work on the reservation in 1968. It’s been more than fifty years since I last saw Vivian, and we both shed tears when we met, even though everyone knows the Tohono O’odham are not supposed to show tears for fear of offending Iitoi, the Spirit of Goodness. But then again, maybe tears of joy are okay.

Vivian’s husband, Richard, served as Chief of Police on the reservation for twenty-one years. He’s also a talented photographer. He’s the one who told me that 60 women are now missing from the TO Nation. Has anyone in the Tucson or Phoenix media mentioned that shocking reality? Nope. Are the photos of those missing women and girls plastered on billboards or television screens? Nope. They’re not Anglos, so somehow what happens to them doesn’t count. And that’s the whole reason I wrote Blessing of the Lost Girls—to help make them count.

As I was leaving the event, Vivian gave me two tiny horsehair baskets. The plain one, she told me, is a vessel to hold my thoughts. As for the other one—the tiny doll wearing a black shawl? She stands for the Tohono Nation’s Lost Girls.

I treasure them both.

As for the best email of the week? That one came from a woman in Austin, Texas. She told me that she read her first Joanna Brady book in March of this year. She’s now read everything I’ve written, other than Blessing, and that reading my books had saved her sanity. At the end of the note, she told me that she lost her husband on March 8 of this year. At my suggestion, she has now read After the Fire as well. I’m so touched to know that my stories helped her through these past few challenging months when sleep was most likely hard to come by.

You see, that’s why I write book and tell stories. Tohono O’odham legends are “winter telling tales” and can only be told between the middle of November and the middle of March. Milghan, Anglo, stories can be told any time at all, but when times are tough stories that take us to some other place and some other reality can make all the difference.

43 thoughts on “Tales From the Blessing Tour

  1. I’m half way through re-reading blessings. Another grand slam book, and only you can get away with making a man named Wheeler a paraplegic then hang the moniker Chair Man on him and not have it seem derogatory. And I didn’t catch a hint of difficulty in chapter 11. So much transitioning of roles and responsibilities among characters we treasure the whole way through the book.

    • I’m notorious for missing obvious puns, and I totally missed “Wheeler”! Thank you for pointing it out. I am looking forward to reading the book a second time. I always find new things to appreciate.

  2. Your books entertain… but also teach. Endungs that are satudfying. Putting the issue of the missing girls from their Nation is important… and a dirty little secret in the anglo world.

    Congrats on the NYT best seller list!

  3. I was first on the list at my little local library to get Blessings. I loved it. It bothers me a lot to hear that native women do not get the consideration that other women get when it comes to the investigation of violent crimes. There was a tv show called Alaska Daily that starred Hillary Swank. Its the same story of native Alaskan women being passed over. Ive read the Bosch novels by Connolly and my favorite “Bosch” quote is EVERYBODY COUNTS OR NOBODY COUNTS. Isn’t that the way it should be ???? Please keep writing !!!

  4. Thank you, Judy, for visiting Tucson. It was a joy to see you, but the visit to Tohono O’odham was indeed very special…tears of joy are OK anytime and anywhere.
    Your basket gifts are truly treasures from one heart to another. Keep telling those stories no matter what time of the year.

    • Also, congratulations on being #15 on the NY Times list! A truly well-deserved honor! Happy to be a small part of that!

  5. BBlessing :

    Canceled smoke signals account. With all the emailing and texting in the world now, that hit the funny bone.

    Thanks for making Jenny a thoughtful important person in her own right. Intuition should never be down played.

  6. What a wonderful post about your trip to Tucson. You must feel so happy that your books have helped so many. Reading the experiences of other folks can take our mind off our troubles.

    Congratulations on making the NT Times list.

  7. The news here in Ohio is the Cleveland Akron area had 50 missing children in August, bringing the total of missing children to 1,600 for the year in just this area of Ohio. The police said some are probably runaways and some the victims of sex traffickers. It’s scary. Don’t we care about our children no matter their color? It breaks my heart.

  8. I think #15 seems lower than I would expect given the quality of your writing and your history as a best selling author over the years?

    It would be interesting to see some analysis of missing persons by gender, age, ethnicity – painful but interesting. Maybe if we knew better we could do better?


  9. One of your best blogs. I have read and enjoyed all your book, looking forward to the next one.

  10. First of all I hope you had a safe trip home.
    I finished Lost Girls — and loved it, so much information and mystery too.
    And I watched the Podcast you were on called Killer Women (I think its called that). but I so enjoyed your explanation of your life and how you came to become a #1 author. And congratulations on being on NY Times list.
    As always I look forward to reading another book. Since I’ve read all of them, I still go back and read them again because I enjoy your writing. Plus you are about my age and I can identify with things you talk about in your past.

  11. Just ordered your new book online. Have read all of your books and have to admit I buy the hard cover books, We spent our winters in Wickenburg,
    AZ and have a home there so I have a set of your books both in AZ and WA. I must admit I re read my books. At 92 I do forget some of the details. Had planned on attending the local library to see you but. I forgot. Thank you for supplying your many fans with most interesting books. Still am a Beaumont fan.

    • I’ve just finished re-reading about Beau’s stay at the alcohol rehab place near Wickenburg. I loved the part about the black rattlesnake being in his room. Are there many rattlers there?

      I’m not quite as old as you, but I forget parts of books and find something new when I read them again. Beau gets into all kinds of trouble without meaning to. That’s the best part of his books.

  12. my wife Sally died on the 25th of April, and i am still a mess. Probably will be for some time if not forever.
    She was a fan and I also. We have read every one of your books.
    As a retired police officer, the Blessing book rang many bells for me and I know it would have for Sally as well. (she was a High school English teacher, and Councilor).
    For some reason this one made me have a complete melt down again, I seem to do that since April for some reason.
    Thank you again for the wonderful, thought provoking, work.

  13. I do love your books. I’m sure there are some I haven’t read, but I now can’t tell which I’ve read and which I haven’t…frustrating! Mostly, though, I want to thank you for consistently noticing other people…seeing the value in (almost) everyone. It’s refreshing to see someone famous who still pays attention to the “little guys.” You’d be fun to know!

  14. I’m glad that you are having a wonderful tour with lots of appreciation of various sorts — posh, homely and heartfelt, best seller. Have a good week and I will see you NEXT Friday in Salem, OR.

  15. I am now on my second time thru Blessing of the Lost Girls. Wonderful title by the way. You certainly have not lost your touch. Besides being a good story and a great read, it really serves a higher purpose in bringing attention to an under reported tragedy.

  16. You have such a big heart. Welcome back to the Pacific Northwest and I will see you once again in Redmond soon.

  17. As always, your message touched my heart and reminded me of the extraordinary people and unlikely events who have magically come into my life and enriched me in ways beyond description…throughout my 86 years.

  18. God bless you for being so thoughtful and I tune with the plight of missing/murdered women and girls. Similar to the plight of Arizona missing/murdered that are ignored by media I was very intrigued by the recent series Alaska Daily with Hillary Swank about the missing and murdered of Alaska. Sad about the racial ignorance of media! I do want to add that I greatly enjoy all your books!

  19. I don’t wear gel nails and I too have difficulty opening those butter things AND the little creamer cups.. Those seem to explode when I succeed in getting them opened!
    And I do know who I am. 🙂

  20. I was so thrilled to be in your audience and speak with you again. Your Blog is important to me, I feel like we are friends when I read every week, in addition to the books. I met you in Bowling Green, Ky.
    I wanted to say “ditto” to all the previous comments, many accolades,I won’t repeat.
    I want to bring your attention, (even tho I suspect you are already aware) the book, by David Gann, titled “Killers of The Flower Moon”
    This book was turned into a movie by Martin Sorcese (sp) The is by the same name, to be released October 20,2023. I had the privilege to see the set, in Pawhuska, OK. And then became very interested in the book and the story. More sadly, abused Native Americans. Thank you sincerely for your focus on these people. Thank you for EVERYTHING you’ve done, and continue to do…what a Blessing you are.

    • Thank you for the recommendation of the David Gann book. It turns out our library has 5 copies and I am now 25th on the waiting list, so I probably won’t get to read the book before the movie comes out. Might….

  21. I am deeply shocked and heart broken that so many women have gone missing without an investigation. Perhaps you could employ your considerable powers of persuasion to urge your friend, Joe Kenda, aka the “Homicide Hunter,” to come out of retirement (like J.P. Beaumont!) and conduct a cold case investigation? I would love to see this terrible injustice put right.
    Thank you for telling the stories, especially in remembrance of the “Lost Girls.”

  22. I am envious of the woman from Texas, and she is beginning a journey that will give her such joy while reading your books. I started reading you so long ago mainly because I lived in Seattle and I loved your detective. He went to a lot of places in Seattle that I also went to. But she will now get to read them in order and know which is which. Was it hard going back to Tucson. I know you live there many years, I’ll bet you miss your home there. However, Seattle is different but beautiful in its own way. Have a good one. Your book should be number one number 15. I really enjoyed it check out Montana and Wyoming reservations as we have a lot of missing women here also it’s a sad world we live in , have a great day.

  23. What a lovely reunion with Vivian!
    As for the therapeutic power of reading good novels, I learned that as a child-
    I went to a school for girls that was quite academically demanding, but with mostly kind teachers-
    The school had a policy of giving us summer “Homework” in the form of lists of books we could choose from at our local library- As a result, I spent most of my summers buried in wonderful books, both fiction and non-fiction-
    That emphasis on reading for pleasure is the most important thing I took away from my school- I did well in some subjects, but the ridiculous amount of homework we had in Middle School meant that I often simply gave up on it- Instead, I would read interesting books I found on my own at the library, often staying up half the night-
    In spite of my approach, I guess I turned out O.K., and the reading truly saved my sanity in a family that operated like the court of the Borgia’s!
    It truly saddens me that teachers and librarians are caught in the cross-fire of culture wars, threatened with criminal prosecution-
    I learned about slavery and the Civil War, and how Jim Crow triumphed despite the
    emancipation proclamation- I felt sad, not because I saw myself as an evil person because I am white, but because of the terrible suffering of people whose lives were stolen from them, and who for no good reason were treated as sub-human for centuries, even after slavery was outlawed-
    The class in which I learned of this tragedy was not “Critical Race Theory” (only taught in graduate programs) Rather, it was called, “History-“

  24. Oh Judy, it was wonderful seeing you at The Jewish Center in Tucson on this tour. It definitely was a huge crowd there. I truly wish I’d gone to hear you at San Xavier, also. Just to read about the meeting of you and your library assistant from 50 years ago brought tears of joy to me. The little baskets that were given to you are amazing. No better way for them to show their love and appreciation for you. Congratulations on the #15 slot!

  25. I think we need to remind the authors that mean the most to us, how impactful their books are to us. They can brighten a day where nothing went right, ease the sadness and grief for someone who has experienced a loss, distract someone who is dealing family issues or a unexpected medical diagnosis and bring hope to all of us.
    So…Ms. Jance I hope you comprehend what a wonderful gift you give us through your words.

  26. Thank you for sharing your book tour stories. Such a heartwarming read. I love all your books but the Walker series and the legends and stories of Tohono O’odham really fascinate me. Thank you for speaking out about the injustice and unfairness of the treatment of this nation and other Native Americans.

  27. I love this book and the format of weaving the colorful/interesting/educational information on tribal history and beliefs.

    Your books took me on the path to non fiction on the current life on reservations, and historical books on Native Americans. You are an extraordinary writer/story teller.

  28. I looked for your blog yesterday, it wasn’t there, I hope you are ok . I want you to know Jesus loves you and I do to , I’m praying that you are ok and well.

    • Thank you for this post: i did not receive your usual Friday BLOG this past Friday, October 6, 2023. I went to your website and found it, but, did miss finding it in my email.

  29. For those looking for the October 6, 2023, BLOG, Walking in Airports
    Go to: jajance.com
    Click on: BLOG at top…that will lead you to the 10/6/23 BLOG: Walking in Airports

  30. If you haven’t seen “Alaska Daily” with Hilary Swank, you might like it. It’s been cancelled, but it dealt with this issue. Pretty well done. It was on ABC.

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