Just in Time Inventory

My husband is and always has been a car guy. In 2000 when Porsche Boxsters were still fairly new on the block, I wanted to get one for him for his birthday, so we paid a visit to the local dealer here in Bellevue. We spoke to a salesman who told us there was a long waiting list and he couldn’t be bothered with putting us on said list. Had I been a sports star, I have a feeling things would have gone differently. At any rate, we went to Tacoma where the dealer was happy to put us on his waiting list. We also signed up to take European delivery.

We picked up the vehicle at the factory in Stuttgart, and leaving there to get on our first Autobahn was an eye-popping experience. But delivery also included a factory visit. I didn’t expect that to be especially interesting, but I was enthralled. Each mechanic was required to sign off on his individual part of the vehicle’s construction. If that part somehow failed during testing prior to the vehicle’s exiting the factory, that particular mechanic was called to account.

In addition they showed us their system for “just in time” inventory. Parts needed for the various vehicles under construction arrived at the factory a bare twenty minutes before they were to be installed. It was a fascinating process to observe.

But today, reading the blog comments, I had my own “just in time inventory” experiences. It’s time for me to sit down and start the next Ali book—as in TODAY! And once I finish writing the blog, that’s exactly what I intend to do. But I’ve been stalling, I’m pretty sure B. Simpson’s first wife is going to play an important role in this upcoming story, but my little grey cells have somehow forgotten her name.

The last time that happened, I sent out an SOS to my fans, and one of them, Donna Tipton, helped me out by locating her name. Today Donna mentioned that when she saw the character’s name, Clarice by the way, in Unfinished Business, she was happy to see it. By making that comment, she spared me from having to go looking for the name on my own. So thank you, Donna, for providing some just in time inventory for me to launch off on writing the next book. And no, it doesn’t have a name yet. I’ll get around to naming it later.

But one other blog comment really struck me this morning. That one came from a lady named Jane Kirkpatrick who attended a Willamette Writer’s Conference in the late eighties where I was one of the panelists. I remember that conference well. I was on a panel with Pierce Brooks, the retired LA cop who wrote Officer Down, Code 3, which remains textbook reading in police officer academies to this day.

Because I was going to be sharing a panel with Mr. Brooks, I went to the effort of reading his book. In it he details the ten fatal errors police officers make. One of them is called Tombstone Courage. That’s failure to call for backup. A few days earlier I had been asked to come up with a title for Joanna Brady #2. As soon as I read that section of the book, it turned out to be exactly what I needed as a book title—Tombstone Courage. And that’s yet another instance of just in time inventory.

But something else struck me about Ms. Kirkpatrick’s comment. She said that she went to the conference as an unpublished author and now has forty-some published books to her name. She recalled how, at one of the panels, some of the authors were complaining about their fractured relationships with their publishers while I maintained being published was a team effort. She said she decided then and there that she was going to try to follow my lead, and she has.

That got me to thinking. I signed with my first publisher, Avon Books, in 1984. When other authors suggested I dump the original paperback format, I stayed with Avon and eventually Morrow for hardbacks. When publishing went through a rough patch and Avon was purchased by HarperCollins, I stayed on. All these years later Harper still does three of my four series—Beaumont, Joanna Brady, and the Walkers.

When my first publisher, Carolyn Reidy, moved from Avon to Simon and Schuster, I maintained a cordial relationship with her. And when my Ali Reynolds series needed to be re-honed, I contacted her. Carolyn passed away several years ago, but the Ali books remain part of the S&S catalog.

It turns out, following that advice was good for Jane Kirkpatrick, and it’s also been good for J.A. Jance. And Jane’s comment also provided some just in time inventory for this week’s blog.

In case some of you have wondered if I ever bother reading the blog comments, now you have your answer straight from the horse’s mouth.

I read every single one!

15 thoughts on “Just in Time Inventory

  1. Love the blog, it makes you a real person to me not just a title page. Thank you are caring.

  2. Now I’m going to be wondering how Clarice will fit into the next Ali book. I can imagine her tangling with Ali. And throw in some Frigg………. can’t wait!!! Thank You for GREAT entertainment.

  3. Enjoying your blog. I totally agree on your just in time reveals, those times are the best and you never have an idea where they come from.
    Enjoy your books, blogs.
    Keep writing, always can’t wait for next novel..
    Thank you.

  4. Oh good, another Ali to look forward to! You are an unending source of fun, inspiration and things to ponder.


  5. Looking forward to the new Ali. Just turned 2 of my sisters-in-law on to your books. One is a big reader and is in Lake Havasu for the winter. The other is just dipping her toe in the reading pool after just having moved to Marana.

  6. Many years ago I asked the good folks at Mostly Books for suggestions on good writers for me. Tony Hillerman’s name popped up and I’ve since read every thing he wrote and am still reading Anne Hillerman’s series. The other suggestion was a writer who had a series about a lady sheriff in Cochise County and another series about a detective in Seattle. My wife and I raised our kids in Redmond (13 years) and have been in Tucson for 30+ years. I’ve been hooked on your writing for a couple of decades now – keep at it.

  7. I started with Beaumont many years ago and have read all the Reynolds and Brady. I’ve been rereading all the Beaumont again while waiting for new books. It’s interesting to see how details I didn’t remember are important down the series when read a second time and know the future. Can’t wait to see what the ex does.

  8. Enjoyed & read all your books because I lived in Seattle where my daughter was born & Willcox , Az where my son was born. I wonder if I am the only one to say that.

  9. I attended a gathering in Bremerton where you were part of Brenda Novak’s panel along with Susan Wiggs. Your mini stories were so fascinating that I walked away wishing I could spend time with you one on one. What glorious fun that would be!

  10. I had a scare at 6AM this morning. I could not find your friday morning Blog.. finely stumbled across it in this form. my brain cannot handle the confusion. Just got out of 9 days of rehab At good sam/ Puyallup. after having Ischemic Stroke on 19 October. with 4 days in emergency room of Tacoma General Hospital. amazing that U mentioned Porche dealer in Tacoma in todays blog this is Chuck from Tacoma, looks like major part of my 6 month rehab is going to be rewarding myself with reading several of your Books. Maholo and thanks for being there for me During this trying period. Glad Bill is on the mend and getting out and about. Read Dtrs while in Emergency room in 36 hrs.


  11. I follow all your series. Love your writing and characters. Favorite is Beaumont. Looking forward to a new one! Just finished newest Joanna book!

  12. What I love about the Beau books is that bits and pieces of his growing up are mentioned now and then. He didn’t have an easy time of it, but he’s done just fine. I give a lot of credit to his Mom who was a level-headed lady who managed. She didn’t turn to welfare, but supported Beau and herself.

    Beau seems to have a problem with cars. I always look forward to a new book to see what trouble he’ll have this time.

  13. I love reading your books and I am up to date on every one of the series. Waiting for the next book out and excited to read it. Thank you for the blogs, they are so informative and fun to read.

Comments are closed.