Don Jones is a bestselling author, and highly reviewed creator of unique and fantastic new worlds.
Don has been writing since 2000, although for the first almost-two-decades he stuck with technology books. You know, those big, thick ones that seem to be sold by the pound. That included bestsellers like Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Managing Windows with VBScript and WMI, and The Windows Server 2003 Delta Guide. In 2018 or so, Don’s career turned away from technology and his writing turned toward fiction.
Early works—and very much representative of the learning curve involved—include A History of the Galactic War, Alabaster, and Power Wave (which you can get for free by signing up for Don’s newsletter).
Today, Don inhabits a condo in Downtown Las Vegas (yes, people live here). He writes almost every day, producing standalone books like The Never: A Tale of Peter and the Fae and well-received series like stories of witchkind, the Clara Thorn novels, and the Endless Sky series. When he’s not writing, Don is probably playing with his Goldendoodle, Corentin.
OK, so if for some reason you’re interested, here’s my whole story.
I grew up a Navy brat, moving primarily up and down the East coast of the United States. I probably spent the most time in the Virginia Tidewater area, specifically in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
I took a nontraditional education path—the idea of going to college frankly depressed me and caused a good bit of anxiety, so I instead opted to go to Virginia Beach Vocational-Technical School (VoTech), a magnet school in the Virginia Beach school system, where I spent two years learning Computer & Electronics Repair. That resulted in me being recruited as an apprentice into the Naval Aviation Depot Norfolk, where I chose to pursue a career as an Aircraft Mechanic. I worked mainly on F-14 Tomcats and A-6 Intruders. Note that this was a civilian position; I was not enlisted.
NADEP Norfolk was slated for closure as part of the early-90s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, and so I departed in a voluntary early separartion. I took a job at a local Electronics Boutique, where I’d worked part-time while in high school (it was a Games ‘n’ Gadgets then, but same company). Many of you may remember the company as EB Games; it was later purchased by GameStop.
Whilst at EB, I moved from being a store associate to an assistant manager, and then got my own store to manage in Alexandria. From there, I took a job at the company’s HQ in West Chester, PA, working on the “register support” desk. We used an OS/2-based point of sale system that required more or less constant support <sigh>. I also learned to operate the company’s AS/400, and over a long snowed-in weekend, rewrote the PoS system in Visual Basic 4.0 for Windows 95. The company migrated all of its stores to my code!
Then I left. I spent about six months as a field engineer for a local desktop/network support company, earning several Microsoft, Compaq, and CompTIA certifications.
Then I left. Terrible company, really. I took a job at Bell Atlantic Network Integration (BANI; it eventually became Verizon Data Services Group and may still exist for all I know), eventually becoming the LAN Manager. This is where I got my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) certification: I worked part-time with a local training company to deliver evening career-switcher MCSE classes at Pennsylvania State University. I loved it so much, I left BANI and started full-time with that training company, Micro Endeavors, Inc. I eventually led their Training & Courseware Group, and was then Director over the entire technical staff, which included a large team of software engineers who did outsourced development for local firms.
Then I left, because honestly I wasn’t ready to be a director at that point. This was in, like, ’99. I found a job as the Lead Web Developer for Craftopia.com, which was a WONDERFUL group of people started by a former QVC executive. I had a ton of fun there, and really got to dig into operationalizing the site, which had been developed by a very fun outsourcing company called *Not Sold Seperately.
Then we all got laid off for Christmas 2000, because the company couldn’t get its third round of financing. Boom.
But… I’d just gotten my first professional book deal, Microsoft .NET E-Commerce Bible. And so my wonderfully supportive partner, who was working for a local credit union at the time, told me to focus on the book instead of immediately getting a new job. 2001 wound up being a huge year for us. I fininshed the book, which was very well-received. I also wrote a “Skills 2000” textbook, intended to be used to teach high school kids how to code in .NET, with the caveat that the teacher couldn’t need to know how to code. Yeah, really dug into instructional design techniques there—and was even offered an honorary degree in Instructional Design from a local university, except I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree, so they had to withdraw the offer, because colleges. We also moved into an RV that year.
I wound up writing about six full technical books a year for the next couple of years, including E-Commerce for Dummies, which I’m not necessarily proud of, but it paid the bills for a few months. I’d already been speaking at conferences and helping to develop Microsoft certification exams from my time at Micro Endeavors, and I doubled-down on that work—at one point, I and two colleagues co-founded a company called BrainCore.Net, which spent almost three years developing Microsoft exams as an outsourced service.
In 2003, we decided to settle in Las Vegas, buying land and building a house that became the venue for the first three DSC/DevOps Camp events! We sold that house in early 2018 after deciding to downsize.
From 2001 to about 2003, I wrote on pretty much any technical topic a publisher’s acquisitions editors would throw at me. But I realized that to truly make a name for myself, I needed to specialize. At the time. VBScript was really picking up steam as a tool for administering Windows computers. And so I pitched, and wrote, my first bestseller: Managing Windows with VBScript, WMI, and ADSI. I also wrote a fun book called Windows Server 2003 Delta Guide, part of a “Delta Guide” series I created for SAMS Publishing. That book won me my first Microsoft MVP Award.
When Windows PowerShell came out in 2006, it was an obvious next step, as it specifically targeted my VBScript audience. I got to be on stage with PowerShell’s creator, Jeffrey Snover, as part of its announcement sessions at TechEd Europe 2006 in Barcelona. I co-wrote the first-ever published book on PowerShell, Windows PowerShell: TFM. I also wrote the next two published books on it. In time, I developed another new book series, “Month of Lunches,” and wrote its launch book, Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches. That book was a massive bestseller, and is how a huge portion of the PowerShell community first learned the technology. I co-authored two additional editions, along with two editions of a more-advanced Toolmaking/Scripting companion book. The book continues to this day under new authorship, and the overall series has been super-successful, with over a dozen titles, I believe.
In 2014, I took a full-time job with online training company Pluralsight, eventually becoming a Vice President in charge of a big chunk of their content catalog. I was with Pluralsight through its Initial Public Offering (IPO), which was a huge accomplishment. I left in 2022 to take on a new VP role at Karat, an “Interview Cloud” company that provides outsourced technology screening for companies hiring technology professionals.