"Feed the Flamingo," appeals J.A. Jance as she makes her way across the western United States during a 25-city tour marking the release of Long Time Gone, and the 20th anniversary of her J.B. Beaumont mysteries. Half of the 40 events set for the tour—which kicked off in Seattle on July 26 and runs through September 13—are fund-raisers for the Cancer Fighting Flamingoes, a charity her daughter started in 2001 after her husband was treated for malignant melanoma. Flamingo funds go to Relay for Life, a fund-raising effort of the American Cancer Society.
"Judy picks a charity with every book, but when we heard about her personal involvement with her son-in-law, we said, 'Why don't we make the whole tour a fund-raiser?' " said Sharyn Rosenblum, senior director of media relations for William Morrow, Jance's publisher.
Some booksellers are donating a percentage of proceeds from the book's sales, while others are raffling off J.A. Jance "rock band"—style T-shirts, which list tour cities and dates on the back. Since Barnes & Noble's corporate rules limit what individual stores can do with fund-raising, in Tucson (where Jance owns a home) the local B&N will simply encourage customers to feed the pink flamingo bank the author brings to every event. In Vancouver, Wash., B&N co-hosted a double fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and the Ft. Vancouver Regional Library Foundation, attracting more than 300 people. Morrow brought in outside events coordinator Kim Ricketts to plan a 65-person, $125-a-plate dinner with Jance in Seattle on August 6; all proceeds went to the Flamingoes. Jance tours the region frequently, typically drawing crowds of 50—200 people, and now the local media are responding to her personal stake in cancer research, helping to bring out even more fans.
"I am just now seeing the bookstore participation," Jance said on the eve of her tour. "I am astonished and delighted." Jance is personally matching some of the donations. "This is up close and personal," she said. "My son-in-law would not be alive and my daughter would not be expecting a baby without the research of the American Cancer Society."
This week Jance tours Las Vegas and then on to Sedona, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona. Other stops include Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Salt Lake City. She ventures as far east as St. Louis and Cincinnati. After the August 6 dinner, she will have raised about $10,000 and she'll continue to hold out the pink flamingo bank for fans to feed at future stops.