Looking forward to another presentation from the author of Portales

Darynda Jones, New York Times best-selling author of Portales, will be at the Portales Public Library at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about her work, visit fans and sign books.

She’ll have to work hard to top her first appearance at the library 11 years ago, a crowded event that ended in a surprise reunion and tears of joy all around.

A little history is in order.

Darynda Jones’ first two books – “First Grave on the Right” and “Second Grave on the Left” – came out in 2011.

They were part of a three-book deal she landed with St. Martin’s Press after winning the 2009 Golden Heart Award for Best Paranormal Romance from the Romance Writers of America, an honor Jones credits with launching her career.

The friends of the Portales Public Library have reserved it for our meeting on September 1, 2011. I say “our” because I have been part of this group for more than 20 years. Jones had become a friend through several mutual acquaintances, including Portales librarian Danielle Swopes.

Even though she was early in her career, Jones drew a standing crowd and entertained us with stories from her Cinderella story career.

Although she considered herself an author of those high school afternoons when she and Swopes huddled in a booth at the former Tastee Freez in Portales working on a post-apocalyptic novel that had yet to be published, Jones was in his 40s before his manuscript for “First Grave” landed that life-changing Golden Heart award.

Just over a decade later, her works have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, she has over two dozen works in print, and she officially expects a handful more. “coming”.

After a delightful presentation that September day, Jones opened the floor for questions. There were many, including one asking if she could name teachers who had been particularly influential in her youth.

She responded almost immediately, “Mrs. Mullins.

Mrs. Mullins was Mary Mullins (later Mullins-Lynch), a petite woman who taught typing, reading and English in a career that took her to Texico, Portales and Elida schools.

When she died in 2013, her obituary included this description: “Some of her family members called her ‘tough kid’. There wasn’t a thing in the book she hadn’t seen. A detector of built-in lying served her well.She treated them all the same, regardless of their academic ability.

That day at the library in 2011, when Darynda Jones said that Mary Mullins had been her favorite teacher, none of us realized that near the far wall of the room – obscured by the crowd – was sitting Mary Mullins, 84.

Mullins stood up and waved his hand.

Jones spotted her, gasped “Mrs. Mullins! and burst into tears.

Like almost everyone in the room.

“Oh gosh, that day was amazing,” Jones told me this week. “Ms. Mullins was always so positive. She surprised me more than once in precarious situations and just laughed it off. After letting me know I was totally busted, of course.

“She was an absolute doll and I will never forget how she treated us like she really loved us. She was never disrespectful or condescending. I just remember her to this day as having such a personality. I was always looking forward to going to class with her.

It is with this same joy that we can look forward to Darynda Jones’ presentation on Thursday.

You don’t have to be a fan of paranormal romance to attend. Also rest assured that even though Jones’ works are written for an adult audience, this presentation will be family friendly and a great way to spend a Thursday night in our small town.

I’m sure Mrs. Mullins would approve.

Betty Williamson considers the Jones/Mullins reunion one of the best moments she has ever witnessed. Join her at:

[email protected]

Lola R. McClure