Tag: J. A. Jance

#BookBeginnings MatchUp Edited by Lee Child

This week we have MatchUp, the new collection of short stories edited by Lee Child for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

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MatchUp*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

About MatchUp:

This book is a collection of short stories written by twenty-two members of the International Thriller Writers organization. Each short story pairs famous authors, one female and one male, and features the main characters from their respective thrillers.

Sandra Brown and C. J. Box
Val McDermid and Peter James
Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry
Gayle Lynds and David Morrell
Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta
Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross
Lisa Jackson and John Sandford
Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice
Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille
J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader

A short blurb profiling the authors, explaining their process, etc. precedes each short story.

First Sentence:

When Joe Pickett set out that morning, he hadn’t anticipated coming face-to-face with a killing machine.

This sentence is from the first short story, Honor & …

Discussion:

Last weekend a friend and I went to a pre-release book signing sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Laurie King (author of the series  which features Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) interviewed Diana Gabaldon. They talked about writing short stories. Some of the highlights:

Diana Gabaldon said she won’t be doing a signing of Seven Stones To Stand or Fall when it releases because she’s expecting her first grandchild around then. That’s why she was signing MatchUp now.

Although Seven Stones is supposed to be short stories, it turns out a short story (usually 18,000 words maximum) for Diana is 75,000 words, which is a full novel by most standards. There were a lot of jokes about this.

Her next book is titled Go Tell The Bees I am Gone. It’s in the works, but not completed yet.

She writes from midnight to 4:00 a.m. That is amazing, but I totally get it. In the early morning the world is quiet and there aren’t any interruptions. Well, except when I try to write in the early morning my cats go ballistic. They say, “Alright! Someone is up when we like to play!” Diana has a dog, but she says he stays quiet, too. Lucky her.

She says she includes bathroom breaks for readers in her stories. Too fun.

I could go on and on.

Have you read Diana Gabaldon’s books? Do you think you’ll read MatchUp?

 

#BookBeginnings Downfall by J.A. Jance

Let’s look at the first paragraph of J. A. Jance’s Downfall  for Book Beginnings on Fridays, hosted at Rose City Reader.

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Downfall* by J.A. Jance

(*Affiliate link)

Summary:

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady has recently lost her mother and stepfather. Now she must investigate the death of two women at a local landmark, while at the same time running for re-election for her job.

First Paragraph of Prologue:

Sheriff Joanna Brady pulled into the parking place in front of Higgins Funeral Chapel, put her Buick Enclave in park, and then sat staring at the storefront before her, only vaguely aware of her surroundings. Lowering clouds blanketed the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona. It was the last day of August. The summer monsoons had arrived early and stayed on, leaving the desert grassland valleys of Cochise County lush and green.

 

Discussion:  As we can see, Jance describes the weather in the first paragraph, along with introducing the main character and setting. In his famous essay for writers, Elmore Leonard says the first rule of writing  is never to open a book with the weather. Is there a bigger cliche than, “It was a dark and stormy night…”?

Of course rules are meant to be broken, and in this case the weather helps define the setting. In Arizona the summer monsoon marks a season of humidity and violent thunderstorms. They are unique to that time and place.

As a reader, what do you think of books that start with a description of the weather?

Do you read on, skip it, or put the book down?

 

saguaros

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Related:
Recent post about J.A. Jance

#Suspense Author J.A. Jance: How A Brush With A Killer Launched Her Career

New York Times Bestselling suspense author J.A. Jance was in town this week signing her most recent book, Downfall: A Brady Novel of Suspense.

Judy Jance is an incredible storyteller. During her presentation she told some remarkable and emotionally-charged stories about events from her own life. She admits one particularly intense event was pivotal because it launched her career as a mystery/suspense writer.

One day in 1970, Jance’s husband was hitchhiking and accepted a ride from a man in a green car. She and her husband lived well outside of town in an isolated area, so her husband wasn’t suspicious when the man asked if his wife was often home alone. Her husband explained that they had dogs.

Within the next few days, Jance learned that there had been a brutal rape and murder nearby. The victim’s friend had spotted a green car at the scene. Putting two-and-two together, she and her husband contacted the police. They learned the man was a serial killer who had killed two other people on the twenty-second day of each month at 2:20 p.m. After realizing the man was dangerous and knew she was often home alone, Judy Jance began carrying a gun. It might have been a wise precaution because when the man was arrested on the 2oth day of the following month, Jance learned that he had intended to make her his next victim on the 22nd!

As one might expect, Judy Jance admitted that the experience changed her. It led her to write her first book, which was a fictionalized account of what happened. Although she found an agent and revised the book, she never sold it. She reported, however, that her second novel sold relatively quickly. It was solidly fiction.

Many things can be taken from this story. First of all, if the detective had taken a few more days to track down the killer, the world might not have J.A. Jance books. On the other hand, if the killer had never existed, she might not have been inspired to write, and if she had chosen to write, she likely would have written something besides police procedurals. Going deeper, you might conclude stories based on true events don’t always make good fiction, no matter how good the writer is.

Beginning writers may find comfort in the fact even bestselling authors may have a “trunk novel” that didn’t sell. Probably Jance’s best advice was that she didn’t fire her agent when her first book didn’t sell, but “fired the book” instead. She still has the same agent, one who has fully supported her career as a bestselling author. What a story!

What do you think?

(By the way, I’m not revealing anything that isn’t already in print. You can read a more about J.A. Jance in an article in the East Valley Tribune from 2004.)

Related posts:

WhoDunIt Challenge with J.A. Jance

Jance interview with Mark David Garrison

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Answer to Whodunit 1: J. A. Jance #Mystery Author

The answer to Whodunit challenge #1 is mystery author J. A. Jance.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

Jance started her career with a book of poetry and essays called After the Fire, published in 1984. It chronicled the difficult years of her first marriage to a man suffering with alcoholism.

Her first mystery Until Proven Guilty, was published a year later in 1985. It featured Seattle Police Department Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont, who had his own problems with alcohol. The series proved to be hugely popular, with number 25 in the series published last year.

 

A decade later came Desert Heat starring soon-to-be sheriff Joanna Brady who was struggling with the recent death of her husband. Set in Cochise County, Jance shows off her Arizona roots. After 17 novels, the series is still going strong.

 

Jance has said that her Ali Reynolds series was born from a conversation with her editor that she wanted to start a new character. Given a deadline to complete the book in January, it took Jance until October to decide who her new main character would be. She was finally inspired by an actual news story about a television anchor who was fired due to her age. By January, she had finished writing Edge of Evil. The 13th of the series, Clawback, was released this year.

Jance introduced the Walker Family in Hour of the Hunter before Joanna Brady in 1990. Not as well known, the latest, Dance of the Bones (5th in the series), joins Brandon Walker with old favorite J. P. Beaumont.

Given that she was denied entrance to a creative writing program back in 1964,  J. A. Jance has more than proved them wrong. Be sure to check Jance’s website for full lists of her books.

For an in depth interview with J.A. Jance, see the next post.

Stop back next week for a new Whodunit challenge.

Are you a fan of J. A. Jance mysteries? Who is your favorite character?

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