John I. Jones
John Isaac Jones is a retired journalist currently living at Merritt Island, Florida.
For more than thirty years, “John I.,” as he prefers to be called, was a reporter for media outlets throughout the world.
These included local newspapers in his native Alabama, The National Enquirer, News of the World in London, the Sydney Morning Herald, and NBC television.
He is the author of six novels, a short story collection and four novellas.
- Latest review of Tembo Makaburi…
- Grandfathers now available on audio!
- An Old Cowboy remembers how he fell in love….
- Tembo Makaburi now available as Audiobook
- The Writing Life: Part I
- My novella, The Agreement, now available on Audio
- The Old Men now available as Audiobook
- Kirkus Review of my novel The Hand of God
- An Affair to Remember!
- Honore de Balzac – The Greatest Novelist who ever Lived
Latest review of my novella Tembo Makaburi!!
By Tammy Windsor
5 Golden Stars!!!!Format: Kindle Edition
In my literary book, Jones can write no wrong! And, this book just proves that fact to me, once again.
In Tembo Makaburi, Jones brings you along on a greedy man’s quest for riches and glory as he relentlessly pursues a dying, bull elephant, and his valuable ivory tusks, across the arid, heat of the Serengeti plains. The cold-hearted hunter’s avarice knows no bounds, but he is about to learn that, sometimes, revenge is best served in an inadvertent, sweltering tomb of your own making.
By now, I have read so many of Jones’ works, that you would think that I would be a little less in awe of his writing, but he STILL continues to impress, surprise and amaze me. He has that rare and unique gift of being able to describe scenery in such rich detail, that you feel like you are standing AMIDST his words. His characters are written with such tangible elements of humanity that you feel like you actually know them, and you grow to love or hate them with such visceral emotion, that it can momentarily take you aback.
This riveting novella is the perfect length for a cozy, lunch time read and is sure to hold your rapt, undivided attention.
My short story, Grandfathers, is a heart-warming tale of grandfathers and grandsons told two parts.
The first part is set in 1946 and relates the experiences of five-year-old Billy Johnson with his grandfather.
The second part is set in 1996 and tells of Billy’s experiences with his own five-year-old grandson.
What a difference 50 years makes!
The Last Cowboy now available on audio!!
Sometimes, for whatever reason, lonely, wandering souls manage to find one another. This is the story of J.L. and Karina.
Funny! Crazy! Playful! Loving! Caring!! Romantic! All of these and much, much more!!
Tembo Makaburi Now Available on Audio
Tembo Makaburi, the Swahili term for “elephant cemetery”, is the stuff of which dreams were made for ivory hunters.
Come along on the story of a greedy man’s quest for riches and glory as he relentlessly pursues an aging bull elephant and his valuable ivory tusks across the arid heat of the Serengeti plains.
A chilling tale of greed and revenge!
The Writing Life: Part I
Where do you get ideas?
Funny how people always seem to ask me that. And it’s a fair question. I can remember, as a young writer, asking that question myself. First, ideas are everywhere, but you must exercise caution in choosing them. You might get an idea from some an experience, an observation, some artistic influence, some snippet of conversation, just a few words from a TV program or even a passing photo you saw on the internet. The main thing is to always be on the lookout for a good story idea. If you’re watching, you’ll find them. Once you find one, jot it down so you won’t forget it!!
And you never know when one will pop up. They come out of nowhere. I got the idea for my short story The Old Indian during a conversation with a distant relative at my aunt’s funeral in Alabama. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I watched a construction worker have an affair with a woman who lived near the construction project he was working on. Many years later, I wondered what happened to the man and woman after the project was finished. In 2015, I wrote my novel The Duck Springs Affair.
In 1975, when I was a try-out reporter with The National Enquirer I heard the story of the famous Chillingworth murders in Palm Beach County, Florida. At the time I was fascinated with the story. One summer night in 1955, Palm Beach Judge Curtis Chillingworth and his wife Marjorie disappeared from their beach home at Manalapan, Florida and were never seen again. Preliminary evidence indicated they had been kidnapped, taken out to sea and murdered. It was a tale which, at the time I read it, I knew I would never forget it.
Over the next 42 years, from 1975-2017, that story marinated deep within my subconscious mind, shaping and reshaping itself until I had the plot for a novel. In 2017, I wrote The Hand of God, a historical novel based on the Chillingworth murders.
So, from the initial germ of the idea until the actual work was written was 42 years. That’s a long time for an idea to grow in your mind before it becomes a published work, but that’s how it happened.
Many times, stories have grown out of incidents which occurred in my life. My short story The Old Men grew out of an incident which occurred when I was a teenager at my father’s grocery store. My novella Boone was based on an incident which happened to me as a young child.
The important thing to remember about ideas is they are everywhere, but you must be very selective about which ones you choose to write about. That’s why, if you’re a serious writer, you should have a notebook with you at all times and, when you see a promising idea, you jot it down. Many times, these ideas will produce nothing at first but, after your imagination works on them for a while, a full-blown plot will suddenly pop up out of nowhere. You don’t know how it happened or why your imagination put that particular cast on the idea, but it happened.
Remember that story ideas are everywhere. The main thing is to always be on the lookout for them. And once you find one, make a note then let your subconscious mind work on it. Before you know it, you’ll have the making of a solid literary work. That’s the creative process!!
My novella, The Agreement, now available on Audio
“Follow love and it will flee; flee love and it will follow thee.” (Old Southern saying)
When Alma Dawson, a middle-aged, hard-working single mother, sets out to get the tuition money for her daughter’s last year of college, she never dreamed her entire world would be turned upside down. A poignant, inspiring story, this novelette is a testimony to a devoted mother’s love!
For years, the old men had been hanging around the country grocery store whiling away their days playing checkers and dominoes and talking about politics, women, drinking and life experiences. All that time, the store owner readily approved their presence in the store and went on about his business as if they were not there. Then, one fateful morning in 1956, a new owner bought the business who was not quite as tolerant. The narrator of this story, an unnamed thirteen-year-old, was the son of the new owner and explains how his father dealt with the old men who hung around his store.
Kirkus Review of my novel The Hand of God:
An African-American man is caught between his own demons and those of 1950s American society in this historical novel. Jones (Tembo Makaburi, 2017, etc.) tells the story of 24-year-old Bobby Lincoln, who lives in the coastal town of Palm Harbor in 1955 Florida. With few jobs and no education available to him, he ekes out a living by fishing and doing any other work that he can find, often using his boat. But it’s not enough for him or his common-law wife, Idella, who keeps threatening to leave him if he doesn’t become a more effective breadwinner. None of this is helped by his own love of gambling and his tendency to keep company with some of the town’s best-known criminals. When a local gangster offers him $2,450 to take part in a serious crime, Bobby knows that it would break the heart of his deeply religious mother and disappoint a smart teenage boy who idolizes him. But he also believes that it might be his only chance to keep his wife and get back some self-respect. One little boat ride quickly turns into a nightmare that consumes Bobby’s life even as he tries to conceal it from others. As the situation spirals further out of control, he finds that there may still be a way to get the redemption he seeks, even if it takes divine intervention. Overall, this book is well-paced, drawing readers into its time period without slowing the story down with excessive description. Bobby is a believable and mostly sympathetic protagonist; his personal character flaws are many and glaring, but it’s enjoyable to watch him struggle to overcome them. The book’s flaws, by comparison, are relatively small: the author tends to use double exclamation marks in dialogue when they’re not necessary, and he often tells readers what characters are feeling (“He liked being around him because he knew the teenager looked up to him”) instead of showing it through their actions. By and large, though, the story rises above these issues.
An Affair to Remember!
By Tammy Windsor
This book was SO enjoyable that, once I picked it up, I could not put it down. I literally read all night long to finish it! The plot was well-developed and had just the right amount of Southern charm and quaint “small town Georgia” feel. And, I should know, as I am a small town Georgian, myself! The plot line was interesting and moved at a good, steady pace, never stalling or going flat.
The characters are rich and vibrant, full of warmth, passion and depth and are written in such a manner that you come to feel as if they are old friends you’ve always known. It was very easy to get wrapped up in the feelings and emotions of the central characters and experience them in tandem. The deep loneliness, frenetic sexual angst, hollow longing, all-consuming joy of true love and soul-rending despair were all palpable.
The descriptive details were outstanding and invitingly drew me in. I could very nearly smell the fragrant peach trees, fresh hay and old, wooden timbers of the barn. I felt the hot, summer sun baking my skin, the oppressive, humid air sitting heavy in my lungs and the chilly water of the river being playfully splashed on me. I could have sworn I could hear the wind rustling with a whisper through the crisp autumn leaves, the squawking and quacking of the plethora of ducks bobbing on the water’s surface and the low, plaintive bawling of the baby calf that had been separated from his mother during milking time. I could almost taste the delicate sweetness of the rustic peach pie, the cool, refreshing purity of the water at the natural spring and the ambrosial headiness of passion’s first kiss.
The overall theme of the book put me in mind of one of my very favorite movies, The Bridges of Madison County. This book made me laugh, cry, sigh and wax nostalgic. Oh, and there’s a real humdinger of a twist that comes out of nowhere and leaves you stunned and emotionally annihilated. Just thought I’d throw that 411 in there! I am really looking forward to reading more from Jones.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to read and leave a voluntary and honest review should I choose to do so.
Honore de Balzac – The Greatest Novelist who ever Lived
In the early sixties, a group of well-known literary pundits got together to decide who were the greatest novelists of all time. Their conclusion was that Leo Tolstoy wrote the greatest novel in “War and Peace”, but they also decided that the French novelist Honore de Balzac was the greatest novelist simply because he produced so many good novels in his lifetime. It was a well-deserved honor. Balzac not only had an incredibly prodigious output but a fire and ambition as a literary artist which is seldom seen in human history.
Born in Tours in 1799, Balzac’s father was a member of the upper class and had been a regional administrator during the French Revolution. The father had hoped that Balzac would enter the legal profession and, as a young man, he studied law first at the College de Vendome and later at the Sorbonne. Despite his father’s wishes, Balzac was too restless and ambitious for such a staid profession and, in 1819, at the age of 20, he announced he wanted to be a writer. With that, he moved to Paris and installed himself in a shabby garret at 9 rue Lediguiéres.
As a chronicler for local magazines on social and artistic subjects, Balzac’s early writing attempts met with mediocre success although he did receive some recognition for the novel Les Chouans, a historical potboiler in the tradition of Sir Water Scott, in 1829. During that period, Balzac unfortunately tried his hand at business and bought a publishing house which failed to bring in printing. After this and several other business ventures failed, Balzac was left with a heavy debt burden which would plague him until the end of his career. “All happiness depends on courage and work,” Balzac once said. “I have had many periods of wretchedness, but with energy and above all with illusions, I pulled through them all.”
In 1832, he began corresponding with a beautiful, wealthy Polish woman (she claimed to be a countess) named Eveline Hanska. Early on, he became enamored of her and asked her to marry him. She replied that she would marry him only if he became rich and famous. With that, Balzac set off on a furious pace to write as many novels as fast as he could. His work habits were legendary. Balzac wrote standing up, dressed in a monk’s robe, drinking pot after pot of Turkish coffee. Many days, he would write for 15 hours straight, sleep for a few hours and then write for another 15 hours.
Balzac was close friends with French novelist Alexandre Dumas and he often visited their home to discuss literature. In the wee hours of the morning, Balzac, hungry and dog-tired, would visit and ask for food and a place to nap. Dumas’ wife would fix up a concoction of whipped butter and sardines that Balzac loved, then he would lie down for a nap. Before he started to nap, he would tell Dumas’ wife: ”Now I only want to sleep for one hour, then wake me up.” After an hour, Dumas’ wife, knowing how he had pushed himself beyond the bounds of human endurance, would let him sleep for two hours. When Balzac would wake up, he would see the time and curse Dumas’ wife and exclaim: ”You crazy woman, you let me sleep for 2 hours. I could have written a novel in that hour.” With that, he would storm out of the house and return to his garret to write for another 15 hours.
Over the next 17 years, he wrote an incredible 90 novels. About the time he proposed to Eveline Hanska, he decided to encompass all of his writings under a larger framework entitled “The Human Comedy”. This massive undertaking would include more than 2000 characters in 90 novels and novellas. The overall series would present a sprawling portrait of the habits, social customs and atmosphere of bourgeois France during his lifetime. The most famous titles in the series were La Peau de chagrin (1831), Eugénie Grandet (1833), Le Père Goriot (1835, his most famous novel) Les Illusions perdues (1837I, 1837; II, 1839; III, 1843), La Cousine Bette (1846) and Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes (1847). (Source)
By October 1848, Balzac was world famous and wealthy and traveled to the Ukraine to try to win the hand of Madame Hanska again. Finally, after seeing that he was everything she had hoped for, she agreed to marry him. They were married in March of 1850. Shortly afterward, Balzac wrote a friend: “Three days ago I married the only woman I have ever loved.” Two weeks later, he triumphantly returned to Paris with his new wife.
But the years of overwork and stress had caused his health to fail and, in mid-August of 1850, Balzac lay on his deathbed. French literary greats Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas were at his bedside as he lay dying. It has been said that, as he lay dying in one room at their Paris home, his new wife–the woman he had spent his life trying to win– was in an adjacent room in bed with some stable boy she had picked up on the street. So much for true love. At the funeral, Hugo delivered the eulogy. The great novelist noted: “Today we see him at peace. He has escaped from controversies and enmities….. Henceforward he will shine far above all those clouds which float over our heads, among the brightest stars of his native land.”