Whew!

It’s Tuesday morning. I’m on a flight from Phoenix back home to the Seattle area, and I think saying I’m tired is a bit of an understatement.

On Thursday I flew into Phoenix and had lunch with Jacque Clothier, someone for whom I babysat back when I was still in high school. We’ve stayed in touch all these years, but this was the first time we had met in person in a very long time.

On Friday my wonderful Media Escort, Nancy Stuebe, drove me from Phoenix first to Saddlebrooke where I spoke to a luncheon of some 300 folks, then on to Tucson for the Authors Banquet which is the kickoff event for the Tucson Festival of Books.

On Saturday I was on a panel with Thomas Perry and Craig Johnson. I love being on stage with those guys. We always have fun, and I hope the people seated in the ball rooms do, too. By the way, this year they had installed a ramp leading up to the podium, something for which I was very grateful and I’ll bet Thomas Perry was, too. He’s been to all 15 festivals right along with me. Unfortunately, last year when he was awarded the TFOB Founders’ award, he and his wife came down with Covid and were unable to attend.

On Sunday I did two panels. One of those was with a lady named Donna Rowell, an Oklahoma born Kiowa storyteller. We share a mutual respect for Native American legends and folklore. I have a feeling we’ll be encountering one another again in the future.

Staying at the Arizona Inn is always a treat. The grounds are immaculate, and I love the flower beds. They’re alive with all kinds of color, and I particularly like the snap dragons. When my folks were getting married in 1936, my mother asked my father what kind of flowers he would like in her bouquet. The only flower on the tip of his tongue was snap dragons, so that’s what was in her bridal bouquet. So seeing snap dragons always reminds me of Norman and Evie Busk.

Both Saturday and Sunday I was able to have dinners with friends and relations, but then came Monday. Bisbee is a 100 miles from Tucson, so we were up and out early. We ran into traffic issues. Highway 80 from Benson to Bisbee is a two-lane road. In St. David, where they are replacing the bridge over the San Pedro River, we had a ten minute wait for our turn on the one way bridge alternative. Then at the top of the Divide outside Bisbee (Yes, that would be the Continental Divide!) they were working on the Mule Mountain Tunnel—another time when two lanes were pinched down to one with another long wait.

Main Street in Bisbee follows the winding path of Tombstone Canyon. It is definitely two lanes, but due to the fire in Old Bisbee a couple of weeks ago, we were detoured from the Iron Man statue, up and over High School Hill, until we emerged down by the Post Office. High School Hill is pretty much a one and a half lane street, built into the edge of a steep hillside. In other words, it’s not necessarily for the for the faint of heart.

The high point of my week was the event in the auditorium at the “New” Bisbee High School which is now well over sixty years old as opposed to the “Old” Bisbee High School in Upper Bisbee. The last time I set foot in the auditorium was for my brother Jim’s funeral in 2000. The auditorium holds 800 people, and for his funeral it was standing room only. Jim had been a fire fighter in Bisbee for years, and remembering the Fallen Officer Memorial the town gave him still warms my heart. There were still cars in the high school parking lot when the head of the funeral procession reached Evergreen Cemetery two miles away. Afterwards, everyone went to the fire house to eat. It was a true loaves and fishes moment. I have no idea where all the food came from, but no one went away hungry.

Oh, wait. That was a digression, but my regular readers are used to those.

There were 800 students in attendance when I was at Bisbee High. Now there are less than 400, so they bussed in a group of 8th graders from the Junior High at Lowell School

My fans—I’m not sure of the number—showed up early and were seated front and center. The kids were in assigned seating farther back. I’d say the room was two-thirds full.

In advance of the event, I had worried if what I had to say would be of any interest to this generation of kids, but they were attentive, polite, and engaged. I talked about my experiences while attending Bisbee High School and told them exactly what I had hoped to say—that just because they’re growing up in a former mining town in the West doesn’t mean they can’t go out into the world and live their dream. And when the talk was over and my somewhat geriatric fans in the front rows—hence forth regarded as TSs (Two Spacers see previous blog) stood up and gave me a standing ovation, the kids in the back did the same thing.

During the signing afterwards, I talked to people who went to school with one set of Busk kids or another. I met a woman I used to baby sit. I had a chance to talk with the guy who served as an usher at my first wedding. All in all, I felt totally at home.

After that, once again with Nancy at the wheel, we drove back to Tucson where I did a second hour long talk followed by a signing at the Stone Mountain Community Center in Oro Valley. The wonderful thing about that event was that I got to meet a whole bunch of people who had never heard of me. Finding a batch of new readers is like finding a vein of gold because, as people have told me for years now, reading my books is like eating Fritos—you can’t read just one.

After that it was another two hour drive from Tucson to Phoenix. That was a three hundred mile day with more than six hours spent in the car. Did I get my 10,000 steps? You’d better betcha! I did it by marching in place in the car, but boy howdy! Today my thighs are killing me. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, but it’s no wonder that I’m feeling rode hard and put up wet!

I earned every bit of it.

36 thoughts on “Whew!

  1. You are an amazing woman – I know you’ve heard that before. You never fail to inspire. Thank you.
    Rosie without a Hat

  2. East or West home is best. And by the way I love your digressions. I think that’s a treat that good storytellers and writers have. It’s just making sure we get those down in print somewhere in a meaningful way.

  3. Thank you so much for that blog post. Having read one of your J.P. Beaumont and Brady books recently I had a bit of a mental picture of Bisbee. I could picture all that you described here and it was like being there. I am one of your TSers and would have loved to have been part of your audience to give you a standing ovation. I have become an avid reader of your books. Reading the J.P. Beaumont series now. It’s hard to not just read and read, but I do this before bed so I have to stop each night. Thank you for entertaining me and my brain!

    • I don’t know where you are in the series, but it’s good to read them in order. Judy gives enough background in each book, but it’s good to know the rest of the story. I’ve found in re-reading the books I always find something I missed the first time.

      • I started the series on #23 and once I found how much I loved JA’s writing I looked to read the others in the series. I have most of them and using her own sequence on her website I’m trying to go back and read the earliest forward. Yeah, good advice on the re-reading.

        I found the first I read because I had searched Amazon for books written about Vietnam, which JP is a veteran of. Previous I had been reading memoirs and documentary type books on Vietnam. I am also a Vietnam veteran and my reading of the books on the war was a chance for me to see what others did and experienced. Maybe some would say it has been part of my healing/recovery.

        • What I liked about “Second Watch” is the real person from Bisbee who was written into the story. Judy had gone to high school with him.

          Beau has all sorts of adventures. Trouble seems to find him. He has trouble with rental cars which is a complication at times.
          His problem with alcohol is handled well. Good things about AA.

          • That “Second Watch” feature of the real person was very well done. Maybe what makes these books so captivating for me is the real feel the characters and situations are. I have walked in similar shoes as Beau.

  4. I envy you being able to stay at the Arizona Inn. It is my favorite hotel in the world.

    I’m glad you had such a good time at the Festival and meeting everyone. People love seeing you in person. Am sure you love seeing readers, too.

  5. I am glad you had such a good trip. I’m impressed with your stamina! I was in the audience at your panel with Craig Johnson and Thomas Perry. I wouldn’t miss a panel of the three of you. I love your books, but I think I love your banter even more. I wanted to attend in Bisbee, but couldn’t make it happen. I’m sure it was wonderful.

  6. Sounds like it was a fantastic day meeting with “old friends” an introducing yourself to a new generation of readers who, I hope, will love your books.

  7. I always wait impatiently for your blogs each week and todays did not disappoint.

    It is so wonderful that you are able to do all you do. I’m a few years older than you [85] but even at your age I could not do half of what you do. Keep on keeping on.

  8. You kill me! Doing that in the car! I think I relate to why you did that, you’re afraid once you stop your steps, you’ll stop doing them. It sounds like your entire trip was pretty fantastic, I’m so glad you were able to catch up with so many old friends and acquaintances! I sure enjoy your weekly email. Hugs

  9. Whew; Once again Thank You for sharing and Bless your Heart, knees and remarkable mind. Thank you for keeping at it, we loved seeing and hearing you in Sun City West last year.. Take care, all the best, Dave + Deb Smith Chase, BC., Canada and Peoria, Arizona..

  10. Last year, I told myself that next year I was definitely going to make the Tucson Book Festival. But life happened and for various reason, I stayed home. So right now I am planning to go to it NEXT year. Fingers crossed. I would really have loved the high school program this year. Darn!

  11. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I’m so happy for you. I can’t believe you actually marched in place for 10,000 steps??? Wow. I just did 100 marching steps on a kitchen chair sitting at my laptop and that was a lot. You sure are dedicated.

  12. You are an amazing woman. I’m a couple years older and couldn’t do what you did .
    I love reading your stories about your past experiences and friendships. And, of course I thoroughly enjoy all your books.

  13. Phewww…what a busy and rewarding few days, on so many levels. I hear the fun you had coming through in your description. So great you are doing what you want to do….never stop. I worked teaching high school with all the required time/energy, until I was as 70 and 6 months, and could have continued to except for administration changes…and it stopped being fun. Love that you are having fun and enjoying the perks, especially, this jaunt, with places and people you know. Keep on keeping on!!!

  14. It sounds like a very exciting, fun and , yes, tiring few days. I’m glad that you are now home safe and sound. I’ve the weekly posts.

  15. I look forward to Fridays for your Blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to give us information and of course humor in each one.

  16. Enjoyed your comments about Bisbee and knew every step you took. I lived in Warren just up from the Community Church. Also knew about the Arizona Inn and it is lovely. Take care. Maybe someday we will get to meet!

  17. As many have said in the comments, your stamina is truly amazing-
    I have attributed that to your being “the secret daughter” of Clark Kent (aka “Superman”) There is no other rational explanation!

    The “Grandparents” and “Grandchildren” generations that heard you in Bisbee’s “New High School” were obviously both thrilled by your talk- The kids were learning how incredibly interesting and humorous a writer can be- And were no doubt excited and inspired by your proof that growing up in Bisbee can lead to a life of
    enormous creativity and success-

  18. Wow, quite a trip. Glad you got to go to Bisbee. I bet Bill was glad to have you back home as I’m sure you were just as glad to get back home.

  19. I am a faithful reader who has read al of your books. I wonder if you have read either Todd Borg or Margaret Mizushima? I have also read all of their books. They’re pretty obscure, but well worth ferreting out!

    Bob Glass

  20. Dear Ms Jance, as I have mentioned many times after reading your blog; I just love it! I love your spirit your love of life! I’ve always wanted to visit Arizona. However, I had never heard of Bisbee until I read the Joanna Brady series (my favorite; although, I’m conflicted with Beau and the Walkers coming in close behind in that order). Anyway, I’ma Native Floridian, 2nd generation, born in the 60’s, raised by my grandmother. She passed over twenty years ago. Your humor and shall I call it “spunk” so remind me of her! I hooded that one day I can make it out west to meet you or maybe you’ll come all the way East to Florida and I’ll find you here! In the meantime, please keep entertaining me and don’t ever quit moving!!! I don’t know what I’d do without my J A Jance creation of family/friends. (One of our native writers, here in Florida passed in November 2023, Mr Tim Dorsey, he was only 62. He will be greatly missed and his crazy Florida loving character Serge Storms and friends will also be greatly missed). Just want you to know how much you are loved and appreciated!! Sincerely, Teresa Leonard Snyder

  21. Sure enjoyed reading your story. Especially since making the Tucson to Bisbee trip often.
    I & the hubby found Bisbee easy to love & make friends with. Almost moved there …

    Do you really have to pack so much in one day? Think you absolutely need to say not so much AND spend another night at the wonderful Arizona Inn.

    Best wishes from another 2 spacer…

  22. Love your blogs. The last time I was in Bisbee my daughter and I could find no place to park. There was an event so one lot was blocked by cops. We will go again. Once you’ve been you have to go back. We stay in Sierra Vista by my sister. Always think of you and Joanna Brady. When we are there. Thank you for all your books have read them all.

  23. OMG. I’m a little younger than you and feel exhausted just reading your account of the events. In about two weeks, we will be at the Arizona Inn for the first time in many years – really looking forward to it. But not as much as I’m looking forward to another visit from JP Beaumont this fall.

  24. I loved this subject matter. Took me back home, Phoenix. When I was living there I was reading your books but never realized you were visiting Phoenix, Tucson and everywhere else in Southern Arizona for your book tours. Next time I make a trip home I’ll try to do it during the Tucson Book Festival. While living there we went to Bisbee, Tombstone, Tubac, all the little historic towns. There for a while my best friend and her husband living near Tombstone were part of the wild west gang who put on the gunfight reenactments for the tourists. They loved it and had the best time. Whenever you write about that part of Arizona I can always see it picture perfect in my mind. Thank You!

  25. Delightful–esp the “detour” on your brother’s funeral and memorial. Your energy and enthusiasm is amazing.
    Michele (retired DUXIANA)

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