She started writing seriously at Spelman College, where she studied with Pearl Cleage, who published her first story, "Eugenics", in Catalyst magazine. Jones went on to University of Iowa, where she worked toward a Ph.D. in English, but she left after completing her master's degree. She also studied at The University of Georgia, where she worked with Kevin Young and Judith Ortiz Cofer. She left UGA to enroll in the MFA program at Arizona State University where she worked with Ron Carlson and Jewell Parker Rhodes.
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