Jemison writer puts life philosophy in novel

Published 9:51 pm Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jemison author John Phillips’ new book, “Playing Croquet,” follows the story of Emily Pettibone, a young lady inspired by God to take on a special mission in life.

As readers join Emily on her quest to overcome hardships and past losses, they soon find themselves in pursuit of a discovery that could change the world.

“I wrote the book partly as an expression of my philosophy, based on a quote from the Reverend Charles Swindol, ‘Life is 5 percent what happens to me and 95 percent how I react to it,’” Phillips says. “I believe in a positive attitude. My quote is, “Keep a positive attitude. If you don’t feel positive, fake it for a while and it will become real.’”

Phillips’ writing reveals something of family life in the South and includes many happy moments as well as heart touching ones, as family devotion and caring are expressed in vignettes of the lives of the Pettibone and Childers families.

“Overall, I hope it will be a relaxing read that will make readers feel good about Emily and the miracles that can happen in this life,” he says.

The novel is a first for Phillips, who since retiring from civil service has used his free time to develop his love of writing.

He and his wife bought property in Jemison three years ago with plans to retire here. They sold their house in Vicksburg,

Miss. when he retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 after a 35-year career as a civil engineer.

Phillips graduated in 1974 from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and in 1996 earned his master’s at the University of Florida. He has lived in six different places around the state in addition to other states and countries.

“I always enjoyed writing,” he says. “I kept a journal for years, documenting things that happened in my life. Something about writing it down seems to make a permanent record that will outlive me.”

For those who are wondering where the title “Playing Croquet” comes into play, the book presents a pleasant image of God playing croquet with his angels has he mulls over the complex problems of life on Earth.

“Playing Croquet” is available for order now from for $24.99 or directly from the publisher, Publish America, at for $19.99.