About the Book (from Amazon):
The very wealthy and very sheltered Preston Meadows lives his life protected from even the hint of harm. His world is safe and secure until someone kidnaps his sister, Katie. Against his parents’ wishes, Preston sets out on his own to find her. Preston works hard to blend in with the “regular” people roaming the streets of Dallas – but the real world is zany, insane, full of danger and ruthless criminals. Preston soon begins to learn more about himself and finds he has a knack for foiling certain crimes. In his adventures, during his search for his sister, he makes friends with some of the strangest people he could ever imagine. Along the way, Preston falls in love, comes face-to-face with a self-described Drug Lord, and discovers a side of himself he never knew existed, especially after the Drug Lord kidnaps his girlfriend.
I write under two name John J. Smith and pen name Jonathan Black. Why do I do this? I’ve been told when a reader sees my work they have an expectation, hence the two names. I have won several awards under each name.
I’ve been called a prolific Fiction writer. I enjoy writing romance and mainstream as John and paranormal and paranormal romance as Jonathan.
Several of my novels have been converted or rewritten into screenplays; for which I’ve also have won several awards.
I reside in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
Guest Post on Writing Fiction by John J. Smith
I have always been an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction and have written technical documents over the years but writing fiction came to me late in life, so to speak, and I am so glad I did.
My previous employment had me on the road full time and one night, after growing tired of writing technical documents, I decided to try writing a novel; it didn’t go well. Not at all. I broke every rule. And after several eye-rolls and bellyaching laughter, I decided to go back to school. I took “several” creative writing classes and then worked with a professor on a consulting basis and then finally with other writers where I learned that technical writing and fiction writing were worlds apart. Although I like technical writing, I found I loved writing fiction and became addicted.
Unlike technical writing, fiction has a formula. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, but best of all, there are characters. Characters that you love, and characters that you love to hate, and the more I started creating characters the more I spent writing fiction and less time writing technical documents.
To me, one of the most exciting things about writing fiction is you have a story like Finding Katie. It was a thought that I carried with me for about six to nine months. I wanted a character that had the best in life: money, career, expensive taste and collectables but unhappy. Easy formula, but I wanted you to like him, so, I had to give him a big heart, a soft heart. Again, good, but why would you like him. I then thought, he has to be on verge of brilliant and he had to have a special talent, again, that wasn’t enough for you to like him. I mean, it’s impossible to feel for someone who has everything. Okay, now, let’s make him naïve. I created a paradox, he’s incredibly smart but naïve, incredibly rich but has a huge heart, incredibly handsome but shy, but I also threw in that if something was going to happen, it happened to him. All of that made up Preston Meadows.
Preston Meadows is a young man who loves his sister and is willing to risk his life to save her. A young man who had been sheltered from all harm. A young man who was basically imprisoned by his father to serve his father and make his father rich. I then plucked him out of his safe place, dropped him into a ghetto, and watched him grow.
To me, that is excitement. To create a character and put that character into a story that you dreamed up is exhilarating. Writing fiction can be exhilarating. I still write non-fiction, and technical documents, but I love writing fiction.
I have written stories that sort of parallel with my life but I think all writers peel a little piece of themselves and put into their stories. Over the last few years that has become less and less but I still find myself using something that may have happened to me that day and it happened to that character that night.
Although still in tears, I heard my mother snicker and say in her usual snobbish tone, “The Meadows never occasionally stay away. in the winter we vacation in Hawaii…My mother is infamous for dropping names of any sort.
I got out of be and slipped my feet into my leather slippers purchased from Michael Toschi Grotto, then put on my monogrammed satin robe purchased from Vintage A. Sulka & Company…
My mother’s lips puckered for a beat as if she were going to respond until she saw me out of the corner of her eyes. Her mouth dropped open as if she were going to hurl pea soup. Her face turned beet red from embarrassment. Daggers shot from her eyes and ripped through my body, metaphorically speaking that is. In honesty, she had a look that now made my left eye twitch. …I knew she was going to do or say something moronic. Either way, I knew I was in for one hell of an embarrassing moment. …and she closed the gap between us, I looked down to see if my periwinkle was ticking out of my pajamas and peeking through my robe, but the coast was clear…She licked her fingers and smooth my hair down as if I were still a child…turned twenty-one in July.
… loved Katie with all my heart, but when her mouth jumped into gear, she was even worse than Chandler in the mind-numbing lecture department.
Chandler was a large and handsome man with a solid frame with cold dark blue eyes, which had a way of intimidating people. Now my mother was a different story. when she gave you the eye, you knew the most embarrassing moment in our life was about to happen. That’s when my left eye would start to twitch.
(My favorite quote from the entire book) Why is it when two people have different beliefs, one has to be wrong?
He turned over on his stomach, still dazed, then when he struggled to his feet he stepped in more dog feces and slipped again, WHAM! And landed on a pile that looked as if it had been dropped by a St. Bernard with dysentery…I knelt in front of him. “You’re the first guy I’ve ever seen kick his own butt.”
I then looked at Sandia and she had a grin that frightened me more than Jose. I honestly believed her thoughts would make Satan hurl green pea soup…Then I felt Sandia’s hand on my ass.
(My second favorite quote.) I loaded a tray and backed out into the main room, and began serving the homeless, the hungry, and the forgotten, and as I place a plate down in front of each person, my heart went out to them. How could a country that was supposed to be so rich have so many poor? How could a country pride itself on sending money to other countries when the number of poor here grew daily? I needed to be more careful when I picked out candidates for congress, the senate, and the presidency. I was beginning to believe I was voting our country into poverty.
When I was making my way back to the kitchen, something about five-feet-ten inches tall and medium build came down the steps from the rooms upstairs. I wasn’t sure if it was a man, a woman, a man dressed like a woman, or a woman who looked like a man but dressed like a woman. The only thing I knew for sure was it was a tall Negro with a hungry look on its face. It scurried over to me in a tippy-toed fashion and stopped close enough to me that I could smell and feel the moisture of its breath…”My name is Too Loose.”
…I nailed my foot to the roof twice, although the second time stopped me from falling but left me embarrassed as I dangled from the roof upside down until the laughing stopped and one of the workers helped me back up.
Butt-naked, she rolled out of bed, which made me gag, slipped into her thong, and then with a sight that would cause most people to go blind, she bent over and struggled into her shorts. Trust me, a size twenty-two butt jammed into size twelve shorts is mind boggling.
Two Garland police officers were standing with Low Down, and a third stood close by me, keeping vigilance as if I was the criminal here. He asked, “Is there a dark cloud hanging over you? In the last week, every call I’ve been on you’ve been involved.” I looked at the officer and said, “This was not my fault.”
Preston Meadows is a quirky, sheltered, genius of a little boy in a man’s body. He is funny. He is kind. He is caring. And, he is generous. He can also hear what people are thinking. Preston is like Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke rolled into one character. All he wishes to do is find his sister, Katie, who has been abducted by the badass drug Lord, Delgado. What he finds is his true self. He meets the most unsavory characters and they fall like dominos behind him as he foils one bad plot after another. The more Preston tries to do accomplish good deeds, the more havoc he reeks in the neighborhood. And, one more thing, Preston LOVES his stun gun.
His vocabulary, or should I say Preston’s proper speech and the way it set him apart from the average man on the street is endearing. It is comical to travel along with Preston as he learns the “street lingo” and tries his best to fit in with hookers, transvestites, addicts, and the poor in the shelter where he has found a home. I’m still wondering if he ever figured out why everyone kept threatening to “pop yo ass”.
John J. Smith has written a book like no other book I have ever read (and I have read many.) It was enchanting. Finding Katie had action, drama, comedy, and romance; yet it was also enchanting. While I loved every bit of this book, the comedy will stay with me for a long time (possibly, because I channel Lucy and could picture myself in some of Preston’s scrapes.)
John J. Smith managed to capture the personalities and eccentricities of the rich as well as the poor, and everyone in between. The book is rich with characters who have names as large as their personalities; Sistah Goldenhair, Maxine PoopsAlot of BarksAlot, Fonzie Dale, Ms. Garza, Sandia, Low Down DD, Too Loose, Petey, and Camel.
As you close the book on the laughter, the tears, the good works, and the chase, it’s hard to believe that you have only spent a week in the life of Preston Meadows. Even though the book comes to a well-written conclusion, Finding Katie leaves you wanting to spend more time with Preston. I definitely recommend adding this book to your stash.