*get your mind out of the gutter, I don’t mean those kinds of Johns!
**ditto! I’m talking platonic love here, not physical!
Now that we got that all cleared up, happy Man Watcher’s Day (today) and Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day (January 12th)! Yep, the month of January is all about men so I’ve been thinking about the men in my life, both past and present, and let me tell you, it seems everywhere I turned I met a John! There’s my brother, John Michael, although we only use his first name when he’s in trouble or we’re mad at him for something. Then there’s my brother-in-law, John, and my first and favorite nephew, Jonathan. Not exactly John, but close enough. And there’s a relative somewhere named Jonce, which is a form of John–but we’ll get to Jonathan and Jonce later. Right now, I want to tell you about the two Johns who currently have top billing in my thoughts and dreams, which of course, means my writing world.
First up, a man I never knew but grew up hearing stories about, my Great-grandfather, John Daniels, who traveled over the mountains to a little town called Hot Springs, met Lucinda Henderson and married her. Grandpapa John was originally a blacksmith, trained by a man who took him in during the Civil War when the Yankees burned his family’s farm. His mother and sister were able to go to a Women’s Shelter but they wouldn’t take men or boys. Not knowing what else to do, his mother apprenticed him out to Mr. Green, the local blacksmith. Later in his life, Grandpapa John was also a carpenter and builder and when he lived in Hot Springs during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, he was the town constable and tax collector–that’s him on the far left in the picture below in all his handlebar moustache, silver-star, gun-toting glory.
The reason Grandpapa John is so much on my mind these days is because Christy and I are writing a book about our great-aunt Bessie and he was her father. The rest of her family plays a part in the book too but to a young Bessie, Grandpapa John was the center of her world and he plays a huge role in the story of her life.
The next John in my life is my dad, who’s actually named Raymond Earl but when he was growing up he was always with Grandpapa John and people naturally started calling him Little John. The “little” was dropped when he got older and everyone just called him John, which is what I spent most of my childhood believing his name was (the picture on the left was taken before I was born). I don’t remember when I found out his real name, but it doesn’t really matter because I’ve always thought of him as Daddy and heard people refer to him as John, never Raymond Earl.
That’s another picture taken when I was little. He’s ice skating in this one and seriously, can you imagine anyone calling him Raymond Earl? Nope, John fits him much better.
Daddy is a great storyteller and a lot of his stories centered around Grandpapa John and our great-aunt Bessie. It was because of those stories that Christy and I decided to write a book about her life. The title of the book, Whistling Woman, is from an old southern expression; “A whistling woman and a crowing hen never come to a very good end.” It means you should be who and what you’re supposed to be. Christy and I knew right away when we found that expression that we had to use it for the title of the book because Aunt Bessie was the epitome of a “whistling woman.”
Also in my writing world is Jonit—told you we’d get back to him, didn’t I? Jonit is one of the nicknames Christy calls her son, Jonathan. I borrowed it for the main character in the second book I ever wrote, a YA called Keeper of the Forest. Jonit is a young man of eighteen who was chosen as a baby by the Elders to be a “Keeper.” The Elders have been charged by their Creator to protect the earth and all of its species for eternity, but as the human population grows and the environment is threatened, they’re forced to look for special people to help them. Being chosen, Jonit is blessed with immortality then trained for years so he’ll be able to carry out his job of safeguarding the Great Forest of Mahnya. There’s magic, psychic powers, and even a little bit of time travel…and one of these days maybe I’ll get up the nerve to actually submit it to a publisher.
I also have a John in my Eternal Shadows series. The youngest and most powerful of the Tassel brothers, Jonathan, or Jon as his brothers call him, is currently in limbo as I work on the third book in the series. The first book, Snow Shadows, was released last year, and the second, Storm Shadows, is awaiting a final edit by the publisher. The third, tentatively titled Sun Shadows, is a WIP. I have Jon’s story in my mind, but I haven’t started writing it yet. I do know what he looks like though because my publisher found the perfect man to represent Mathias, Jon’s older brother on the cover of Snow Shadows and Jon looks a lot like him, only with grey eyes and shorter hair.
That’s it for the Johns in my writing world which leaves us with Jonce (remember him?). Christy’s readers will recognize Jonce because it’s the first name of the hero of her Bodyguard series. Jonce Striker…I tell you the name alone is enough to make me swoon. I not ashamed to say I have a bit of a crush on him even though I’ve never actually seen him because he hasn’t appeared on a cover yet, but I’m hoping with Christy’s next book in the series, The Bodyguard and the Bodyguard, Jonce will make an appearance along with the lovely Natasha!
See, didn’t I tell you there were a lot of Johns in my life? And belive me, you don’t want to get me started on on other areas, like say…music (John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Elton John…) or baseball players (Johnny Damon, Johnny Bench…). I could go on and on and on…but I won’t. Instead, here’s a Dames’ Kiss of Approval along with a little song for all the Johns in my life:
Special thanks to Willie Nelson for the title of this post and an apology for the shameless paraphrasing of his song!