Category Archives: Spirituality

Robert “Bob” Friedman, Publisher, Best Friend

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Photo by Beth Hines

I met Bob Friedman in 1962 at the first creative writing class ever offered at the University of Virginia. The small class was established by George Garrett, a significant novelist and poet, who became a mentor to Bob, me, and Henry Taylor, who later won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The three of us performed the role of publishers for an anthology of creative writing titled New Writing from Virginia. George Garrett edited the content and Pulitzer poet Richard Wilbur wrote the introduction. Although the small book was privately published, Bob and I were photographed presenting the book to the UVA President in 1963, our graduation year.

Monty and Bob in 1963

Monty (l) and Bob present a copy of New Writing from Virginia to UVA President Edgar Shannon in 1963 prior to sailing for Europe.

Since I had been to Europe as a 16-year-old third cook on a Norwegian coal freighter, my post graduate goal was to return to Europe and live the expatriate lifestyle of writers like Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway. Bob liked the idea of the adventure and joined me in booking one-way freighter passage to Europe. Our parents were consoled in our recklessness by the fact that traveling together we might survive. When we enrolled in a graduate school program there, we would also be deferred from the Vietnam War military draft.

Our adventure began in Amsterdam, Holland and continued in Germany, France, England, and finally Denmark and Sweden. We nearly died in a snowstorm while hitchhiking in rural Germany, and we went completely broke and on welfare in Paris when the checks from home could not be cashed.

On the late afternoon of November 22, 1963, Bob and I took a train from London to the town of Virginia Water to be the guests of a friend for dinner at his gentlemen’s club. We were greeted with the news that our President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot; and before we took the midnight train back to London, Kennedy was reported dead. Everywhere we went on our trip to Denmark, flags were at half-mast, and when we were recognized as Americans, people tried to console us. For Bob and me, it was an especially bonding experience.

Later, Bob in Copenhagen and I in Stockholm did not get the university credits necessary to preserve our deferred draft status. Bob rushed back to the States, and George Garrett got him accepted into the MFA writing program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro within twenty-four hours. I remained confident that a major leg surgery done four years earlier would keep me out of the Army. I was wrong.

More than a year later I visited Bob at UNC-G as a soldier on leave who expected to go to war in Vietnam as the Plans and Training NCO of an evacuation hospital. I learned on that visit that Bob would never reject me no matter how reckless and desperate I behaved. Bob never judged or turned away a friend. He was unique in that way.

While stationed at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, I had a girlfriend in New Orleans in her last year of becoming a registered nurse. If I could get leave to come to Mardi Gras, she promised to find us a cheap hotel on the parade route. I invited Bob to join the party and help me with the expenses. Bob got a blind date with a girl from the very classy Sophie Newcomb College, and the four of us had a three-day party on a balcony overlooking the major Mardi Gras parade route. Bob and I later married those girls.

African Delta 20 x 24 oil on canvas

African Delta by Monty Joynes

When I was in Scandinavia, I began to paint in the company of well-established artists of the Bauhaus Situationist movement. Before I was drafted into the Army, I had exhibited my paintings and been recognized in Danish and Swedish media. Back in Norfolk, Virginia after two years of active military service, I opened a small art gallery—Gallery Saint—and failed to make a living as an artist and exhibitor of modern art. Bob had given me money to open the gallery, and he and Donna had attended my one-man show there. For their support, I gave them a painting titled “My Three Sons.” Bob ultimately had three sons—Jonathan, Matthew, and Marc. I am very pleased that they call me Uncle Monty.

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Bob with his three sons Marc, Jonathan, and Matthew

By the time I became self-sufficient and married with a first daughter, Bob took his MFA degree to the University of Wales and began to work on a Ph.D. My extra job in those years was as an international education consultant to the Methodist Board of Higher Education. To promote their summer enrichment program at the University of Graz in Austria, I recommended that we produce a documentary film about the student experience. The only way that the film could be financed, however, was for me to produce, write, direct, and edit it. In planning the production, I arranged for a two-day stopover in London so that Bob and Donna could come from Wales to join my then-wife Theresa and me. When Donna saw the huge bathtub in our gentrified London hotel room, all she wanted to do was to soak off the Wales coal dust from her skin and hair.

The four of us got into the standing-room-only line at the Wimbledon  Lawn Tennis Championships to see American Arthur Ashe advance into the semi-finals. Looking for a better option, I used a radio station press card to bluff my way to a set of official press credentials and was given a seat next to the New York Times sports reporter very near the Royal Box. I offered my companions turns-of-use with the press credential, but they would have none of it. Bob loved to tell that story because it proved me to be a colorful character. I was always in comic relief to Bob’s stoicism, but I took pride in being able to make him laugh.

I founded Metro Hampton Roads Magazine in 1970, and by 1971 it was a growing monthly. By 1974, I need editorial help, and Bob, after teaching at East Carolina University, needed a job. He became my Managing Editor. Some of Bob’s staff hires attempted a take-over of the magazine, and I took a month-long vacation to prove that they were not qualified. The owner, seeing that the magazine would miss its printer deadline, called me back to fix the problems. I immediately fired Bob and his staff. My best friend! Years later, while visiting Bob in Charlottesville, his housemate was very surprised to learn of the firing.

“You fired Bob?”

“Yes,” I admitted.

“Why?”

“I had to so that he could publish my books.”

During our work together at Metro, Bob also contributed photos published in the magazine, including cover shots. For a cover shot about the funeral business, I lowered Bob into an open grave, and he shot the grisly real gravediggers looking down at him. I paid the gravediggers $5 each, and we walked away and kept silent until Bob started screaming to be pulled up. We had gone to the cemetery hoping for a picture opportunity. What we got was fantastic. Bob, however, never laughed when I told that story.

spies-picAnother fine mess that I got Bob into was the cover and interior shots for “The Spies Among Us.” I took Bob to a rooftop overlooking  the Newport News Shipyard where an aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine were under construction. We were acting like spies to prove a point. The magazine attorney warned us to inform the government before the pictures were published.  The Navy, the Pentagon, and the FBI went crazy when they saw the pictures. Some of the photos were rejected, but the magazine was ultimately published on schedule, but at the last minute. There was a week, however, when Bob thought that we might end up in Federal prison.

Soon after Metro, Bob founded The Donning Company and established it as the major publisher of pictorial history books in the country. I had left Metro to become Associate Publisher of Holiday, the national travel magazine, and then returned to Metro under new ownership. I quit within a year to pursue personal writing projects.

More to the point, I was a divorced would-be novelist living in a second-rate apartment which happened to be a block away from the Donning offices. Realizing my humbled circumstances, Bob hired me as an acquisition editor. I traveled to cities and towns as distant as Dover, Delaware and Bradford, Pennsylvania to find local historians and owners of photo collections who I could put together for a pictorial history.

When I began to write my first novel and had a manuscript, who did I show it to? Bob, of course. Bob read almost every novel that I ever wrote, some 22 of them.  He never offered any criticism, but he always encouraged. By the time I asked him to read my fourth unpublished novel, Naked Into The Night, Bob was co-founder of The Hampton Roads Publishing Company located in Virginia Beach.

Years had passed, and I was happily remarried and relocated to Boone, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had found my life’s companion, Pat, after spending a year of spiritual retreat mostly in silence. I did not want to be the arrogant, judgmental, and violent person that I had become. I wanted a quiet mind. Bob understood my transformation experience; and when I brought him Naked Into The Night, he realized it was the product of a new literary genre that he termed Visionary Fiction.

Bob, Monty, Frank

Bob, Monty, and Frank DeMarco

The publication of Naked in 1997 with the back cover genre notation “Visionary Fiction” established Hampton Roads as an innovative fiction publisher in addition to its catalog of Metaphysical and Self-Help books. After Naked, Bob, with partner Frank DeMarco, published Lost in Las Vegas (1998), Save the Good Seed (1999), and Dead Water Rites (2000) in what has come to be termed “The Booker Series.”

When Bob and Frank relocated Hampton Roads to Charlottesville, VA, I became with other HRP authors annual participants in the Virginia Festival of the Book. Bob was by then prominent in the Independent Publishers Association, and he was also a member of the VA Book Festival program committee.

I was a guest in Bob’s home when Neale Donald Walsch visited for the first time. Bob had “discovered” Neale, so to speak, and published what would become the huge worldwide best seller Conversations with God. Bob needed our bed to host Neale and his wife, so Pat and I were sent to a rural B&B that couldn’t have been more grand if it had belonged to Elvis. We had a huge luxury suite, and outdoors were the wonderful amenities of a large swimming pool, a ten-person California redwood hot tub, and a free-standing sauna. The owner-chef was trained at the Cordon Bleu, so we also enjoyed gourmet breakfasts. Poor Neale. If he only knew.

Bob, Kelly, Monty, Henry, Fred

A gathering of friends at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Left to right Bob, Va. Poet Laureate Kelly Cherry, Monty, Pulitzer Prize Poet Henry Taylor, and NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell.

Monty on deck at Faber

Monty in chef regalia on Bob’s deck at reunions.

 

Our annual visits to Bob’s residences in the Charlottesville area evolved into a routine. Bob teased me by saying that he didn’t know what he enjoyed more –my books or my cooking. He especially liked my pork tenderloin dinners and my Shrimp Alfredo. Another member of our reunion gang, Ed Catania, cooked another night. His Rosemary Chicken was always prized. Danny Lliteras, one of Bob’s most prolific authors and brother-like friend, and Jonathan and Matt, Bob’s sons, were left to the cleanup.

 

 

Another tradition was an afternoon of smoking good cigars and drinking something special like Bailey’s Bristol Cream in the yard or on the deck. None of us were regular smokers, but the cigar smoke seemed to stimulate the conversation and make us laugh.

Tres Amigos

Monty, Ed, and Bob smoking cigars on the deck at Faber

 

Annual Reunion Gang at Mchie Tavern

Annual reunion lunch at Michie Tavern. Front row Danny Lliteras, Bob, Beth. Back row Ed Catania, Monty, Frank DeMarco

 

Annual Reunion Breakfast Ed, Bob, Danny, Monty

Annual reunion breakfast spot. (l) to (r) Ed Catania, Bob, Danny Lliteras, Monty

 

Celestine

 

One night after nine, Bob telephoned to ask me to accept a making-of-the-movie book assignment for The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield’s worldwide best seller. He was still in negotiation, but he needed to assure the movie producer that he could have a credited author on the movie set by the next day. Near midnight, the contract was agreed upon, and the next morning I was on my way to St. Augustine, Florida. I was six weeks on the set for the principle shooting in Florida, and another week months later for post production in Burbank, CA.

The coffee table book with over 160 photographs was published in 2005 in conjunction with the release of the movie, but the film never went into major distribution. It went directly to DVD to retailers. Bob and the producers judged the book to be excellent, but without the success of the movie, it did not sell. My best royalty check came from the German edition.

Bob used the quality of The Celestine Prophecy movie book to convince Neale and CWGTheMakingoftheMovie_500hStephen Simon, producer and director of the movie based on Conversations with God, that I should write and photo edit their making-of-the-movie book. The job took me to Ashland and Medford, Oregon during December where the outdoor sets were so cold that we were issued foot and hand warmers. Disappointing in previews, the feature film never went into major distribution, and thus its movie book failed to sell. I coached the actor who played Bob’s character in the movie on how to be Bob. That was great fun for me.

Bob may have overestimated my ability to overcome challenges. He knew that I had founded a World Affairs Council, served as an aide to ambassador-level dignitaries, and that I had personal friends in the US Senate, House, and State Department. When Katy, Bob’s second wife, wanted to go to Cambodia to adopt their baby Sophie, Bob recognized it as a potentially dangerous mission. I was caught completely off guard when he made his request.

“If we get in trouble in Cambodia, will you come and get us?”

“Of course,” I responded without pause as if it were within my power.

It was a brief moment without further discussion. I later thought, was there anything that we could not ask of each other? In the retrospect of over 50 years, the answer is self-evident as it is to many in the brother and sisterhood that Bob had established.

In 2013, I stayed at Bob’s home as we attended the 50th Reunion of our 1963 UVA class. The endowment at UVA had already exceeded $1 billion, but still we were solicited for more. Bob and I walked the Lawn together and sat for the presentation of reunion class gifts. Five classes participated. The class older than ours gave over $1 million. Our oversized presentation check was something over $600,000.

I nudged Bob. “Is any of that yours?”

“Nah,” he said. “But I do have to donate a couple of thousand just for the privilege of buying my football tickets.”

“At the lunch table today,” I said, “there was an alumni wife wearing my net worth in her jewelry. They obviously don’t need money from me.”

Bob followed UVA sports, and he wore Cavalier ball caps and Virginia monogrammed sweatshirts and sweaters even when he watched games on television. He persisted in inviting me to home football games. I finally joined him for the first University of Miami ACC game at Scott Stadium. The crowd numbered over 63,000. Getting to and from the stadium was painfully exhausting on my surgically repaired knees. I told Bob that the next time I came to a game, I should land midfield in a helicopter and be taken by golf cart to the skybox elevator. My post-game departure should be the same. Despite my protests, Bob continued to invite me every year.

Pat and I visited Bob and his loving life partner and caregiver, Beth Hines, the week before Thanksgiving  (2018). We brought one of Bob’s favorite dishes—my Shrimp Alfredo. I made constant attempts to amuse him, and he smiled and chuckled in the right places and spoke in fragmented phrases. I said, “I love you.” And Bob managed to say, “I love you, too.” The leave taking was very hard.

Back home in Boone, NC, Pat was in daily email contact with Beth, and we tried to comfort her in the ways that we were led. I spoke to Bob twice on the phone, but by that time, it was a one-way conversation. Among our reunion gang, Danny Lliteras visited more than once from Alabama and was a huge supporter for sometimes a week at a time. Ed Catania and wife Angie came from Florida and cooked for Bob and Beth. Author Vernon Kitabu Turner and wife Joyce came from Virginia Beach during the last weeks as others did to comfort Bob and help Beth.

 

Robert S. Friedman, publisher and best friend, passed this life on January 7, 2019 at his home in Faber, Virginia at the age of 76.

Bob had brought a brother and sisterhood together, and we did not fail to honor him for his many gifts to us. Of course, there were hundreds who called Bob father, brother, and friend. Bob, my true friend for 57 years, led a very significant life. There are a thousand meaningful books that carry the imprint of Bob’s heart and intellect. His legacy will live as long as human beings seek metaphysical truths.

 

Bob Beth Cigar

Bob and Beth on Ed Catania’s wedding cruise. Photo by Angie Catania.

 

 

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Confessions of a Channeler: Am I In The Twilight Zone?

ConfessionsCover1 Publisher, author, and film producer Bob Friedman has accused me of being a mystic.  After years of resisting, I had to determine if he was right.

Bob has known me as a friend since we were in George Garrett’s University of Virginia writing class in 1962. Bob and I traveled Europe together after earning our degrees, we met our first wives together, and even worked for each other in various publishing ventures. Bob has known me best for over 50 years. Still, he wondered how I could write what I wrote in The Booker Series novels.

First book in the Booker Series

First book in the Booker Series

Finally, in 2011, he confronted me with the fact that I must be channeling the mystical content in my books. And Bob knows something about channeling! He discovered and published the first Conversations With God books by Neale Donald Walsch as well as many other non-fiction books in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre over a long career.

Confessions of a Channeler is the result of Bob Friedman’s request that I write an autobiographical book about how and under what circumstances I managed to write the wisdom content of The Booker Series. My wife Pat had already collected these wisdom pieces as aphorisms that she printed on decorative sets of cards and gave to close friends and family members.

Photo by Pat Joynes

Photo by Pat Joynes

Pat has also taken numerous photographs that in both mood and subject were perfect illustrations for such a book. In fact, her photo of our mailbox became a striking metaphor for the book’s cover. A heavenly light streams out of the trees and illuminates the wooded road as the mailbox stands sentinel to receive the messages.

The Woods

As you read Confessions of a Channeler, I hope that you will find a method for your own personal revelations.  I hope that you will also discover, as I did, that the Great Mystery has always been indwelling in you.

Photo by Pat Joynes

Photo by Pat Joynes

Pat and I wish to express our deepest appreciation to Joe Nusbaum, our publisher at Eltanin Publishing in Vermont, for his creative sensitivity in bringing Confessions to print.  Here are links to purchase the paper back book and the  e-book.

Confessions covers

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Embracing Cultural Diversity

PSALM MAKER COVER      People who consider themselves so different from their named enemies should plant a crop and work a field together.  During the labor, they would talk about their children and find the common ground of parenting.  At the harvest, they would hold cooperation in their hands as they offer up with pride a melon or squash.  The fruits of labor should not be weapons that would put the blood of children in fields where water should run.  Has the society of human beings become too complex to realize such simplicity? ~  Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones

In an age where conflict resolution is a lost art, and religions vie for dominance, what alterations in human psyche are possible toward a goal of peace and understanding?

My tool for creating multicultural awareness is the novel.  I believe that the novel isSmoky table superior to non-fiction and journalism in altering behavioral consciousness.  Of course, to effect changes of heart and mind, the author must first have readers, or at least, a body of citizens who can read.  When you hear the phrase “reading is fundamental,” the deep importance of books is implied.

Literature is about the human heart.  Literature is about human spirituality as much as it is about patterns in human behavior.  I drank coffee with William Faulkner when we were both at the University of Virginia in the early 1960s; and although he was a consummate craftsman in the structuring of character and circumstance, when pushed by intellectual graduate students to define his literature, he replied that he wrote about the human heart.

What do I write about?  I write about the human heart, the heart being a metaphor for the sacred center of our beingness, or the denial of our connection to each other.  Crime germinates from this denial.  War germinates from this denial.  When we believe ourselves separate from each other, our behaviors become prejudiced, and our society fragments into conflict.

Medicine wheelYou cannot have a sustainable environment without a sustainable people to inhabit it.  We must have sustainable human cultures that are the lifeblood of evolutionary biodiversity.  We need the multicultural approaches to Reality through language, myths, and traditions to insure the rich continuation of humanity.  We need to honor and respect each other in our differences—not just for the purpose of social harmony, but also for the greater purpose of achieving enlightenment as spiritually aware creations.  We undermine the destiny of humanity when we yield to conflict and prejudice.  Humanity is a DNA-related family.   What can create this behavioral awareness?

We look at the current worldwide conflicts of culture and religion, and we see a continuation of the basic error of humanity.  And the macrocosm—the conflicts between nations—only mirrors the microcosm of the conflicts within our local communities and within our own minds as we deal with individual relationships:  the husband with the wife, the parent with the child, the employer with the employee, the neighbor with the neighbor, the seller with the buyer.

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

In the five novels of the Booker Series, I set out to find the answer to an important question:  Can a person conditioned in a society fermented in conflict change, and by altered awareness, become a righteous behaving human being?  Is it possible to cast off all the negative conditioning of race and class and allow behavior to arise from that metaphorical place of the heart?  Is it possible to remake ourselves as human beings?

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book cover

I started out with a spiritually desperate middle-aged man going literally naked into the night.  He had every material advantage; and yet he felt so empty of meaning and purpose in his life that he walked out of his affluent home to offer himself up, to surrender to the discovery of his true nature.

No one culture or religion has yet put Reality in a box, or in a book.  Humanity is an expression of life.  Its driving force is continuation.  Its diversity is the natural seeking of that continuation.  Through language, and songs, and dance, and craft elevated to art, we interpret Reality, the Great What Is.  We seek to understand it, to touch it with our minds.  Sometimes, we culturally dare to label these observations, these beliefs as Truths.  But what has proven to be Absolute?  Even in the highest levels of our science, history has yielded no absolutes.  What is the big picture?  Where does the Reality of the macrocosm of the wide universe meet the microcosm of the subatomic world?  And even if science gives us a Unified Field Theory, how will that theory of Truth and Absolutes help me in my relationship with my wife, my daughters, my colleagues, my neighbors?  How will an idea of Reality help me in the crucible of relationship?

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

My point is—no one grand idea, or any single collection of ideas, leads us to a truth that stimulates righteous behavior.  Nevertheless, there are elements in every expression of culture that point the way to successful relationships.  These are the elements that we want to embrace in each other.  These are the elements that honor family values and stress the strengths of cooperation and consideration.  And if you achieve cooperation and consideration, will compassion be far behind?  And in compassion, in unselfishness, there is even the possibility of love.

The great Teachers of life and Reality have told us to love one another; to start from love, the metaphorical heart, and then fulfillment and happiness will follow.  But in the process of communal living, love has become a distant, theoretical absolute, a practical impossibility.  Love thy neighbor?  You mean love that jerk!?

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

If we cannot start from altruistic, unselfish love in all relationships, then let’s turn the equation around.  Let’s make love-thy-neighbor the result, and not the guilt-laden cause in the social equation.  What if we start out on the left-hand side of the equals sign with the numeral for acceptance?  Suppose I accept you for who you are and make an effort to understand where you are coming from in your cultural attitudes.  Suppose I walk a half-mile in your shoes.  Then suppose I add the numeral for cooperation.  Suppose I see your needs for water rights as reasonable and environmentally correct.  Then suppose I work with you, side by side, on a project to improve our collective community.  Suppose I sweat with you, laugh with you, and even cry with you.

And now my equation needs another addition.  Now I must add consideration and multiply it by Lost in LV cover no nameconcern.  Now, I honor your sacred places and remove the epithets of marginalization from my patterns of speech.  In my attitudes and behaviors, I show you respect.  I share my ethnic foods with you, my songs, my legends, my family stories.  I tell you that the futures of our grandchildren are co-mingled.  If your children cannot find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in this community, then neither can mine.

KokopelliYou are so marvelously different from me, but I love your differences.  Please don’t change.  Preserve your culture, your language, your unique perspective of Reality, because our society needs each point-of-view to survive.  We cannot afford to lose you.  We need you as part of our continuation as a humanity.  Fry bread, corn tortilla, rye, pumpernickel, and even white bread.  Everyone is important when you add it up, when you balance the equation of relationship and experience love as the answer.

New Mexico kivaIt is not necessary to begin with some abstract concept of love to achieve a positive community relationship.  Start with simple openness to learning about your neighbors.  Allow curiosity to enter.  Be available.  Understand that nothing gets better until you do.  No one learns until you do.  No one works until you do.  No one cooperates until you do.  No one shares, or laughs, or cries until you do.  And ultimately, no one loves until you do.  Those are the universal rules of relationship—out there on alien planets and right here wherever you live.

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Visionary Fiction: The Booker Series Restoration

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverLOST IN LAS VEGAS book coverSave the Good Seed coverDead Water Rites coverPSALM MAKER COVER

This blog is quite different from my others.  It’s the kind of blog that an author hopes he or she would never write, but like most changes that at first seem unwelcome, a new way of working has emerged.

My Booker Series novels are considered pioneer books in the Visionary Fiction genre, and I have both written and lectured about that new literature.

The Booker Series began with Naked Into The Night in 1997 when the character Booker walked naked out of his affluent suburban Virginia home to remake himself, journeying cross-country to live among the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.  The series lasted for 16 years in the book marketplace before the publisher de-listed the books and reverted the rights back to me.

It happens.  A reversion of rights essentially removes the novels from being purchased as print copies or as e-books.  If action is not taken by the author, the de-listed books are in danger of disappearing.

With the help of friends in the book trade, my wife Pat has restored the e-book availability of the four Booker Series novels, and we are excited to announce that she has just added the formerly unpublished fifth book in the series, Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones.  All of the books are currently available on Amazon, with more e-book platforms to come.

Prior to the de-listing, I purchased a limited number of the trade paperback copies.  The cover price of these four novels was $51.80.  This limited four-book series can be purchased from me at a 50% discount, plus $10 for shipping within the continental USA, for a total cost of $35.80, and each book will have a personal inscription.  For purchase details (sets only), please contact me by e-mail here.

By taking back the rights to the books, we were also able to make all of the e-books available for an affordable $2.99 each.

Please accept our gratitude for your support of the Booker Series over the years.  We hope that keeping the books available will reach a new generation of readers who demand meaningful substance from their literature.  I consider Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones to be the most important book that I have ever written.

PSALM MAKER COVER  “Without the conditioned past of the mind, the being is able to focus completely on the present, to experience everything as fresh, new, and amazing.  In relationship, the non-judgmental presents no barriers.  It is a quality that others can perceive.  It opens the door to friendship, trust, and affection.  It allows for happiness in every circumstance.”  —Booker Jones

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverMonty Joynes is a genuine find by Hampton Roads.  His novel portrays not only a culture, an environment, a political reality, but also a psychological drama that includes gripping scenes like one in which the protagonist makes peace in a bar fight, and another where he becomes a spiritual guide to a friend dying of cancer.  Joynes has written the tale of a man who undergoes a radical inner transformation, walks away from his life as a successful real estate broker, husband, and father, and manifests in his new life as a homeless drifter, the outer life that reflects his inner transformation.  In lucid prose, Joynes narrates as compelling an example of a person choosing essence life and accepting the consequences as you are likely to find in modern fiction.”   —The Independent Press Book Review

LOST IN LAS VEGAS book cover“Lost in Las Vegas continues the story of Naked Into the Night.  After a profound, likely authentic, visionary kiva ritual, the Anglo’s adopted Pueblo tribe elders select him to rescue a young Indian man who is a prodigy of traditional dancing, and a potential successor to leadership, from the lifestyle of a performer in a Las Vegas resort hotel.  The contrast, between the consciousness that the Pueblo traditions propagate and the brilliant distractions of Vegas life, could hardly be more dramatic.  It makes for high drama, genuine spiritual struggle with illusion of various kinds, and excellent reading.”    — The Independent Press Book Review

 

Save the Good Seed cover “We walk with respect around this man, even if he’s white,” says one Pueblo man to another in SAVE THE GOOD SEED by Monty Joynes.  The white man they speak of is Booker Washington Jones, once Winn Conover a.k.a. Anglo Who Became Chief Old Woman’s Son, recently relocated to living in New Mexico among Pueblo compatriots.  In meeting August (“Ray”) Rey, a “Lost Bird” dissociated from his Pueblo people when he was “adopted” into white society 44 years before, readers are brought close to both sides of the alienation issue.  Facts of our government’s anti-Native American history flesh out their story.

 SAVE THE GOOD SEED is also about the touching parallel development of two middle-aged men finally finding themselves at home in a culture completely different from the one in which they were raised.  The warmth of this moving tale offers us the opportunity to actually share in the exquisite joy and solidarity of the Pueblo people coming together to live out their mission:  “In every moment, person or object, is an opportunity for connection.  Our role is to be aware of the potential and bring it into realization.”    —Heidi Rain, New England Spirit of Change Magazine

 

Dead Water Rites cover “What Monty Joynes has accomplished in DEAD WATER RITES, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world.  The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated.  DEAD WATER RITES is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.”   —George Garrett, Author and Critic

Rare depth and thoroughness…and an intelligent openness to the possibility of vision.”      —Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

 

 

 

 

 

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The Book That Changed My Life

Monty Joynes reading

Monty Joynes reading

Maybe every writer can describe the single book that changed his or her life.  In my case, the book was not a literary experience but rather a transformational alteration of my mind.  The book is Talks and Dialogues by J. Krishnamurti.

J KrishnamurtiJohn King, who teaches composition at Central Florida University, asked me to contribute my personal experience with the Krishnamurti book for a show that he describes thusly:  “The Drunken Odyssey: A Podcast About the Writing Life is a weekly program featuring interviews with new and established writers, as well as essays about books that changed writers’ lives.  It is like a slightly disreputable version of NPR.”

In Episode 60, which was available the first week in August, John begins his Devil in the Groveshow talking about his own writing and the expansion of his podcast, and then he moves on to a long interview with non-fiction Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King (no relation) who talks about his book Devil in the Grove.  Gilbert King’s novelistic style account of a famous rape trial in the Jim Crow South is a fascinating history lesson that I recommend to you.

My pre-recorded essay for the final segment of the show, “The Book That Changed My Life,” is as confessional as anything I have ever published.  The “before Krishnamurti” Monty was a very different person from the one who emerged after the reading.

Included on The Drunken Odyssey website is the cover of the book with extensive text as an introduction to J. Krishnamurti.  Here’s the link to access Episode 60 of The Drunken Odyssey and to hear my recorded essay.

           

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Channelling Wisdom: A Video Project

The WoodsWisdom and insights about how human beings can end conflict and prejudices and bring about world peace is usually associated with spiritual gurus.  What if common people channelled wisdom?  What if you, yourself, offered a simple plan to help everyone regardless of color, religion, gender, or age to become peacemakers?  What if that plan had a name no one had ever heard before?  What if you introduced that name to millions of people?  And what if those people felt the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding for themselves?

I invite you now to become the producer and director of a video that introduces the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding to an audience that you can reach through your website, blog, Facebook, or as a You-Tube posting.  You will need to draft six individuals to speak the dialog.  The objective is to cause the viewer to pause and seriously consider how the mind itself is the cause of conflict or, when aware, it becomes the instrument of peace.  The place in the mind and body where peace occurs is called the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.

Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is a term that sounds silly at first, but all wisdom has its paradoxes.  One learns that the name of an experience is not the experience itself.  So have fun in staging your production.  Cast three male speakers and three female, and costume them to represent the multicultural aspects of our planet.  We are all Caucasian, Oriental, Hispanic, Black, East Indian, Native American, and everything in between.

Lost in LV cover no name

After casting and rehearsals, video each unique character in the twelve segments against a neutral background in medium close-ups.  If you cut or dissolve from character to character, you can make them appear to be aspects of a universal personality.

The following dialog for your Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding video is copyrighted and will appear in the book Confessions of a Channeler in 2013, but you have my permission to use the dialog for the purposes of this project.  Imagine the fun of seeing hundreds of characters on video speaking these lines and the meaningful conversations that will result.

I hope that the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding dialog inspires you to participate and that its message rings true to you.  Perhaps we can change our conflicted world.

THE FU-FU-DING-DING DIALOG

©2008 Monty Joynes

SPEAKER #1

Greetings to you, my relatives, whoever you are, and wherever you are, on this planet Earth.  You have summoned me to speak about the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, and so I am present.

The world as we hear it, has many voices, and we, in our conditioning of race and nationality, make judgments about the validity of what is told to us in voices that are different from our own.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SPEAKER #2

The Speaker is not of any particular ethnicity.  The Speaker is male, but his sex is irrelevant to what is being considered.  For our interaction, the Speaker has no nationality, no allegiances to any government.  Nor does the Speaker avow any religion or propose any orthodoxy or theology.  The Speaker does not pose himself as a teacher or guru.  The Speaker, in actuality, is you.

SPEAKER #3

 Thus, the Speaker is not present to give a lecture.  This interaction among us is not intended to impart occult knowledge.  Please do not take notes.  The Speaker’s words are not important if the experience of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is not made personal.  It is the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding that we must share.  Any knowledge about it, any explanations of it, are useless.  Therefore, one must go into the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding in the spaces between the words of the Speaker.

Bass Lake fall

SPEAKER #4

The experience of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding lies in the silences between the chatter of the monkey mind.  The monkey mind, you see, is ever chattering.  It is the noise that prevents the sound of silence.  The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is ever present and ever lasting.  The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is within each breath that is breathed.  It is both in the coming in and in the going out.  The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is Life Itself.  It is this realization that is called Enlightenment and Salvation in the concepts of religions.  All religions have as their goal the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  They call this by many names.

Sunset009

SPEAKER #5

The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is called Christ Consciousness, and it is called Samadi.  It is defined as the Grace of Saints, or the presence of the Holy Spirit.

But what is all this theology worth if the human being does not have this experience for the self?  And what kind of Creator would make this experience dependent on some specific orthodoxy that is practiced across the world and not available to any human being located in remote places beyond the religious civilizations?  The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding must be available to every human soul if it is true.  It must be universal.  It must replace fear with love, and violence with peace, on any plane, and in any dimension.  It must be true both here and there.  On the Earth and beyond the stars of our universe.

Woodhaven Lane light

SPEAKER #6

When one is filled with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, this truth is self-evident.  Do not pose questions about its nature.  First, fill yourself up with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, and then see what questions arise.

When one is filled with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, there is no possibility that fear or guilt or conflict can enter.  When the heart and the mind are filled with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, then the behavior of the individual is compassion and generosity.  There is no lust.  There is no greed for the one filled with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.

SPEAKER #1

One does not strive for the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  One does not search for what one already possesses.  Rather than effort, the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is felt at rest.  It is found in the surrender of the mind’s ambitions.  It is found in thoughtless awareness.  The metaphor is that of life emerging from darkness into light.  You see, suddenly everything becomes clear.  Suddenly the individual life senses its purpose, and there is fulfillment where there once was emptiness.  This is the happiness that life recognizes against the illusions of struggle and conflict.  There are both the small and the large aspects of living.  There are both the subatomic and the vast expanses of the universe that represent Reality.

SPEAKER #2

All of this is encompassed within the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  What is the need for astral projection if the soul dwelling in the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding is All That Is?  There is only one Soul, you see, and this Soul is the totality of existence.  The sense of being individual, the sense of being special, are merely false ideas that separate one from the other and the self from the Reality of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  No one, no thing, resides outside the circle of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  One cannot be apart from the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  One can only deny it, and choose to suffer in the conflicts of darkness.

Bass Lake heart

SPEAKER #3

You may be asking, how am I to function in the world if I am so taken up with the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding?  How am I to work?  How am I to take care of my family and friends?  How am I to build a future?  And so I ask you to please observe a flower that struggles as a seed that emerges from the ground and then grows into great beauty.  What does the flower do but to act according to its own nature?  And so it is with the human being who is also rooted in the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  If the person is true to the nature of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, the person will grow so that its behavior brings forth beauty.  Life for all is a season of existence so that we might experience the sense of our fulfillment.  Does the seed know the beauty of its final flowering?  Let growth and behavior arise out of the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding, and the struggles of circumstance are effortless.  Neither do they toil, nor do they weep.  This is the priceless gift that surrounds us in existence.

SPEAKER #4

What appears as hunter and prey is the flower’s cycle of existence that is accelerated.  Every atom of existence is transmuted with everything and everyone becoming the other.  We are both the hunter and the prey in the very moment of sacrifice and survival of the body.  There is no loss or gain, however, for all interactions occur within the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  The science of contemporary human beings realizes that this is so.  And so it is when the sage is confronted with the paradoxes of behavior, and the people complain bitterly of their trials and loses, the sage must ask the ultimate question:  Is that so?

Is it so that your life is a hopeless trial of pain and disappointment?  Is it so that there is no fulfillment or happiness in this life for you?  Is that really so?

vacation2012061

SPEAKER #5

If your experience in this lifetime causes you to renounce life, then I say to you that it is time for you to become the flower.  Plant your feet firmly on the ground and be silent.  Look upward to the sun and the stars and surrender to the growing that is still within you.  Surrender your ambitions as you surrender your past disappointments.  Rest and allow the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding to emerge as the content of your mind and heart.  Meld yourself into the one soul of creation, that which we call the Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding.  The Fu-Fu-Ding-Ding will then do all the work of behavior, and you will be free to observe yourself as an entity that is free to play in the universe of Beingness.  You are no longer this or that.  You are pure being, as is true for every atom that exists.

RLvisit006

SPEAKER #6

And so, the wise thinker that you are, you must now ask the Speaker, is that so?

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The Human Endeavor

Author Monty Joynes

By some genetic design, I was made a creative artist—a writer—and it was incumbent on me to document my psychological generation and to look back at my parents’ generation and to look forward to those of my children and grandchildren.  My role, as I matured into it, was to try to make some sense of the American journey from about 1917 onward.  At some point along the way, in my early forties, I realized that I was investigating the journey of humanity, not just the American experience, and that the historic drama that I was relating in my novels, plays, and poems was also a metaphysical search for the soul, the common essence that binds us together as living beings.

I do not know if my dedication to a meaningful literature will change social evolution or if the works will even be recognized or read.  I do know, however, that I am an agent for such change and that I am not alone in this mission.  In fact, I see evidence of my antecedents throughout literary history, both in fiction and non-fiction; and I recognize today others, like myself, who have been genetically charged to contribute to the psychological maturity of a human race—a race now run so fast and hard that it is in danger of spiritual heart failure.

To love the truth about life is a spiritual experience that supersedes intellect.  The deep felt awareness of the nature of being is available to everyone without benefit of books or clergy.  It is as available to individuals in the most remote primitive places as it is to philosophy graduate students at the most prestigious universities.

Photo by Pat Joynes

Peace occurs in life, not to life.  Inner peace is the highest state of consciousness.  There is no intellect above it.  No higher achievement.  First, there is inner peace, and then follows right action.  Accept inner peace, and then see what questions arise.  Is it profound enough?  Will it make me happy?  First, experience.  Will it end misery, and crime, and war?  First, experience.  How can I keep a job if I’m at peace all the time?  First, experience.  Will I find my perfect mate?  Will my children respect me?  First, experience.

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT

In my literature, I have attempted to illuminate the nature of the experience of inner peace in a contemporary culture.  In the Booker Series especially, I have attempted to show how an individual can live from the place of conscious awareness that yields inner peace and still function productively in a society that is at the effect of circumstances and egocentric fears.  If it is impossible for the individual to live from the reality of inner peace, then the evolution of the mind and all its concepts about God or anything else has been a failed experiment, and we, too, as a species will pass like dinosaurs from the Earth.  What then is now truly important to human endeavor?

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