Tales for the Blessing Trail – Time to Rest

The last appearance on the tour happened on Saturday. Since coming home I’ve slept more than eight hours every single night, which is more sleep than I’ve had in years. In other words, being on tour when you’re just couple of weeks short of age 79 can be a lot more tiring than anticipated—tiring but incredibly rewarding.

And it turns out, it’s not over yet. I’ve been invited to participate in the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville on October 21st and 22nd. My panel is scheduled for Sunday. If any of my blog readers happen to be in that neck of the woods, I’d love to see them there. In other words, age be damned, I’m a dog for punishment. Because clearly, I’ve just signed up to hit the road again.

But right now I want to talk about the rewarding part of the tour. I would have to say that a real high point was the event at the San Xavier District Community Center. My hostess there, Vivian Juan Saunders, is the daughter of Melissa Juan who was my library aide that first year of teaching on the reservation. It’s amazing how much she resembles her mother.

The accompanying photo, taken by my media escort, Nancy Stuebe, gives a far better idea of the actual size of the two baskets Vivian gave me—the horsehair one with the woman wearing a black shawl and the tiny bear-grass and yucca one which, as Vivian told me, is a vessel to hold my thoughts. Obviously, thoughts don’t take up much space. Then there was the woman in the front row at the Poisoned Pen who told me that After the Fire saved her life. She said that everything that went on inside her house was always a big secret. Then, once she read After the Fire, she realized she didn’t have to keep those secrets any longer.

At one of the last appearances a mother and daughter bought a copy of After the Fire for their daughter and sister. The sister is in the process of leaving an abusive marriage. The day before, the young woman had signed the divorce paperwork, but her soon-to-be-ex-husband had not yet been served. That took my breath away. The most dangerous time for spouses in abusive or addictive relationships comes when they’re trying to leave.

In 1980 when I was exiting my own marriage, I spent months in an awful kind of limbo where I couldn’t see any way forward and couldn’t even pray about it. At that point, a friend I’ve mentioned before, the late Estelle Dubose, stepped up and told me, “You pray for the little things—whatever you need to get through each day. In the meantime, I’ll pray for the big things. I’ll pray to see you in your perfect place.”

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week—praying for that young woman to find her perfect place. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know her name. The Guy whose eye is on the sparrow knows exactly who I mean, and if any of my prayer-minded readers would care to join me in that endeavor, their participation would be most welcome.

I’m under no illusions that After the Fire will serve as any kind of magic bullet for her right now any more than a court-ordered protection order would give her any real protection, but once she’s moved beyond the immediate crisis, perhaps my story will help her see her own way forward.

But here’s the topper for my week, the kind of email that keeps me focused on writing and on doing what I do. It came from a man who, six months ago, was given a dire medical prognosis, one for which the suggested treatments aren’t being entirely successful. He told me that in the last six months, he’s read sixty of my sixty-six books and that reading about my characters has helped preserve his sanity. He says that the Walker Family books are now on his Amazon wish list, and After the Fire is currently on order.

I don’t generally read reviews, but with that kind of personal endorsement, I guess I won’t be giving up writing any time soon.

And if anyone besides me wants to add my anonymous sixty-book reader to their prayer lists, that would be welcome, too.

15 thoughts on “Tales for the Blessing Trail – Time to Rest

  1. I have just finished re-reading “Second Watch”. I was thinking about a fact I had missed and went back to look for it. I ended up reading it all again. That’s what is so great about your books. Every time you read one you find something you missed before.

    Yesterday was the anniversary of my divorce. He wasn’t physically abusive, but he just wasn’t there any more after 16 years. His relationships with other women didn’t last and he died alone of a heart attack. Am I sorry? No. But I wonder how I missed the signs. I found myself at last.

    To those who are in bad relationships get out as soon as possible. There is a wonderful life out there. Read “After the Fire”.

  2. Thank you for your Blog, thank you for Blessings of the Lost Girls and thank you for writing so many wonderful books – all of which I’ve read with the exception of Blessings. I’m reading it now and will finish it this weekend. I have loved each and every one of your books. So many books, so little time. And to your other avid reader who read 60 books in 6 months, please God hold him in the palm of your hand and bless him always.

  3. I enjoyed seeing you in Salem OR last Friday. You are an interesting and dynamic speaker even when I know half of what you are going to say because I read the blog.

    I was in the front row. When you opened the room for questions, the only ones I could think of would have been spoilers, and I knew there were people who hadn’t read the book, so I didn’t ask them. Probably shouldn’t ask them here either, at least for a few more weeks.

    I woke up this morning with the beginnings of a book plot in my head. If I were to expand upon that snippet, which I don’t recall reading ever, anywhere, I’m not sure if it would become a murder mystery or a horror book. And that sent me musing on the differences between the genres and probably the differences in the readers of said genres. I decided that the readers of mysteries are more invested in some sort of happy-ish ending, such as catching the bad guy, or at least in seeing the justice is served. Anyway, thank you for serving up a lot of satisfying happy endings.

    • Ack! seeing THAT justice is served. Knew I should have re-read it before I pushed “post”.

    • Write down your idea before you forget.

      Some years ago I was reading Robert Graves’ autobiography “Goodbye to All That”. He mentioned visiting Thomas Hardy. Hardy said once he was working in his garden and the idea for a novel came to him. Even some of the dialog. He decided to finish his gardening before he stopped to write. When he sat down at his desk he couldn’t remember a thing. He told Graves to always carry a paper and pen to write down ideas. He said, “I always wonder what it might have been.”

      You can always ignore your note, but at least you will have it written down.

      I like happy ending, too. The bad guy caught at least.

      • I shall try to recall it. You are right; I’ve lost more than one good idea because I haven’t written it down.

  4. I believe I told you in the past that I gave “After the Fire” to a friend of mine who had lived just what you did. By then she was long out of the marriage and doing well. She and the ex’s mother sat by his side as he died from alcohol at the age of only 41 and sang to him. She cried as she read the book as it was just her life. I am sure that that little book has saved many a life and I will pray for that young lady that you asked for. So many out there knowing not what to do. I will pray for all of them to find peace. My friend has since passed on and I imagine that the high school sweet heart that she married so long ago actually had a beautiful reunion in heaven.

  5. I join you in offering prayers for both the young woman taking that dangerous step away from the abuser, and for that wonderful man who is spending his time devouring 6o books, with 6 more on the list- May God watch over both of them-

  6. Thanks for your books. I’ve finally read all of them. The Walker family series was the last I read. They were more difficult to read than the others, but probably more important. It is hard to believe that such cruel beings live on this planet.

    • Dale, what bothered me about the Blessing book was how normal the bad guy seemed, but how crazy he really was. The little dog, Hazel, seemed to sense things were not quite right before the people did.

      I don’t know how cruel people manage to live on this planet, but there must be a reason.

  7. Although it has been 40 years since I signed divorce papers from an alcoholic, I caught my breath and choked up reading the description of the young woman struggling with ending her marriage. How I regret not severing all contact from my alcoholic husband 15 years prior, when his drunken behavior was so outrageous that I took my children and stayed with a friend for two weeks. But, at that time, I saw no way out…I felt trapped, and he was “Mr. Nice Guy” to the world, to everyone but his family. As a result, my kids saw things that haunt me to this day. So, to this young woman…stay strong, know you are doing the right thing, and believe those that say there is, indeed, a lovely life beyond that “Fire”. I read “Beyond the Fire” many years ago…it captured and described that other life, so very well that I emailed J.A. Jance and thanked her. We exchanged a few messages…and, although I have read and love all her books, “After the Fire” is the one I have recommended and gifted, the most. Thank you for these beautiful blog.

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