Writing a Novel

quill (2)You have to be crazy to write a novel…and I’ve done it twice, so I should know. So why did I decide to start a new series of mystery books after fifteen frustrating years with the first two — writing, proofing, re-writing, proofing, looking for an agent/publisher, proofing, giving up on finding an agent/publisher, and agonizing over the need for never ending promotion? (Assuming you want somebody to read what you wrote).

The flip answer might be I write because I’m lousy at tap dancing, but the real answer is I like to tell stories.

I’ve been making up scenes and characters for as long as I remember, as well as reading books since I got my first library card at eight years old. I like to make people laugh too, so no matter how serious the story, you will find a lot of humor sprinkled into the action.

Example from Identity Check:  “Okay,” she said, “It’s your turn. Strip for me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Don’t tell me you’re shy. I could put on some music and whistle loudly.”

“To be fair, I never got to see your act,” he said, throwing the clothes in his arms onto a nearby chair, “just the remnants.”

“All right, I’ll let you look, but only a peek. Normal men have been known to lose their sight at such a vision.”

“Have you been flashing down at the blind school again? That’s just mean-spirited.”

“For that cruel comment, you’ve forfeited your shot at a piece of heaven.”

“Okay, I’m taking off my clothes, but, I don’t want to hear any crude remarks from you.”

“Me? Never. Whoa–somebody let the stallion out of the barn.”

“That’s it. I’m turning off the lights.”

My new fictional YA series features a private investigator, nicknamed “Tracker,” that uses his Native American skills to solve mysteries (aided by his teenage nephew). I’m about 25,000 words into the first book about a murder that happens in Crater Lake National Park…and the suspected killer is Sasquatch!

People ask me, “How do you get your story ideas?” My first novel, “Drafted,” drew heavily on my personal experience of being drafted into the US Army during Vietnam…an adventure filled with terror and humor.

I can’t wait to see how it all gets resolved. I don’t do an outline when I write, although I have a vague idea of the direction the story is headed. My technique is to create characters, put them into a situation, and see how they handle it. I’m also big on action and stingy on description. I hate writers that spend three pages describing the wallpaper (unless it is smeared with blood).

Well, back to the computer…another 75,000 words to go…maybe I’ll write a few pages describing the wallpaper.

2018

I suddenly realized I haven’t posted anything in 2018 and it’s already Groundhog Day in February.

I have never been consistent about posting things, although I am retired and have the time to do a daily post, I lack discipline and can be easily distracted…there is TV, 17854914_10154481697807361_2240554759244671082_owalking the dog, eating, drinking, sleeping, reading, going to the bathroom, getting angry at stupid political posts Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, movies, playing in my band Revolution road, acting or going on auditions, writing songs, working on my new novel…did I mention eating?IMG_6063 (2)

 

(That’s me dancing in the movie “Battle of the Sexes” next to Sarah Silverman)

I mostly blame my recent Blog neglect on 2017 because the end of any year is always downhill.

First there is Halloween…buying the candy, putting up the outdoor decorations, choosing the right costume, watching all those fog machine (2)scary/fun movie classic like “Beatlejuice, Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street,” and handing out candy to tiny trick or treaters.

Right after that comes Thanksgiving…buying the turkey, preparing & sharing the feast for family and guests, and of course, watching the Macy’s Parade and the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.”

 

christmas cover (2)The day after…craziness arrives as the shopping begins for Christmas gifts, writing that Christmas letter, putting up the holiday lights and decorating the Christmas tree, preparing/sharing the Christmas dinner… (https://open.spotify.com/album/0a4ISx3Hbw7wuMltxk3FIl#_=_)

Six days later at midnight, we are kissing strangers, blowing off fireworks, singing “Auld Lang Syne” and another year is gone. Or in my case, performing with my band Revolution Road. https://youtu.be/fH1qtea5dJ4)26112152_10155191105392361_8077206774660448987_n (2)

 

Anyhow, my 2018 resolution is to be more regular about my Blog posts…just as soon as I get something to eat and have a nice little nap…

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Thanks From Around the World…

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benjamin-franklinWell, it’s #Thanksgiving in America, where both the turkey and the people around the table get stuffed. We aren’t the only country to celebrate this Holiday. It’s also observed in Canada, a few Caribbean islands, and Liberia (Where the heck is Liberia and how did they get in on the action?). Canada gets the jump on us by celebrating in October. That’s why starting November 1, you see so many turkeys migrating north. Still, we manage to capture and eat 46 million of the birds in one day! Not bad for a fowl once proposed by Benjamin Franklin as the “national bird.” If he had been successful we might be eating eagles on this day…NOT!

The holiday originated with the Pilgrims, I’m told, who were giving thanks for making it safely across the ocean to the new world and not starving to death…mainly because the Indians (now called Native Americans by everyone except the tribes themselves) welcomed them and shared their food. We repaid them by taking over their county…bet they regret that original instinct to help.

Thanksgiving in the USA is also associated with hours of American asleep TVfootball on the telly while the family sits around facing the screen…sound asleep. Oddly enough football is played with a pigskin…I wonder if they ever thought of substituting a turkey skin or having Americans eat BBQ pulled pork on this day.

 

As we all give thanks today for the positive things in our life, I wanted to share with you an amazing stack of letters I discovered where folks around the world shared what they are thankful for on this day, November 23, 2017. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Washington DC Interns wrote they are thankful Bill is not back in the White House.
  • The Pope wrote he was grateful they finally made the communion wafers sugar free.
  • Putin wrote he was happy his official Kremlin portrait showed him shirtless.
  • Kim Jong-il is happy Amazon finally shipped him the four-inch shoe lifts he order on Prime.
  • The media is thrilled they are no longer required to confirm sources or stories or report both sides of an issue and can say whatever they damn well please without repercussion.
  • Roy Moore is thankful for his favorite song, “Thank Heavens for Little Girls.”
  • Los Angeles is grateful for all the parade permit money they get from protest marches.
  • Anthony Wiener is grateful for the Internet.
  • Hollywood is not pleased to be named the sexual harassment capitol of the world but in an effort to recognize the problem plan to put clothes on the Oscar, Golden Globes and SAG awards statues.
  • Congress is grateful to still have a job despite not showing up for work in more than ten years.
  • Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is very pleased with the millions of rubles he received from overseas advertising during the 2016 election campaign.
  • Charlie Rose is thankful for see thru shower sliding doors.

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Richard Allan Jones is an author, actor and musician living in Los Angeles…

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Theatre Review — Hamilton (National Tour)

Instructions: Read out loud in a “rap” style; white people pretend it’s a poem (except for EMINEM and Vanilla Ice). With apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda…

Last night I took a trip to the Pantages, bought a ticket to a show; handed over half my wages

took a seat inside, excitement was contagious, as I flipped through my program’s pages

The lights went down, audience started to stir when out on the stage walked Aaron Burr

We listened closely as he started rappin, didn’t want to miss a thing, about what was happenin

then he introduced us to a native son, a man called Alexander Hamilton

From the Carribean, a bastard clear, daddy walked out, mama died holding him near

Had to escape, use his charms, in New York City, he heard the call to arms

Freedom was the cry from Laurens and Lafayette, joined by Burr and Mulligan, against the British threat

Washington with Hamilton by his side fought the bloody British and turned the tide

Born a new nation, like an infant it cried, as the founding fathers looked on with pride.

…and that was only Act One.

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The costumes were great, the set inspiring, the orchestra top notch, the dancers never tiring

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choreography on its toes, (who knows how they moved so gracefully in those heavy clothes)

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Too many actors to name them all by name, so I pick out a few who brought their A game

Rory O’Malley as King George always made us laugh…

Jordon Donica (Lafayette and Jefferson), tall as a giraffe, brought his characters to life with aplomb and panache…

Rubin Carbajal (John/Philip) got to die in Act One and Act Two, he played it so real we all got blue…

Joshua Henry (Aaron Burr) started the show, hero, and a villain, he rapped a different tune, then spent most of the show, envious of Hamilton and wanting to be “in the room”…

Isaiah Johnson (Washington), played frustrated but strong, defeated the British and became the father of our country where he belonged…

Ah, the ladies, Amber Iman (Peggy/Maria) and Solea Pfeiffer (Eliza Hamilton) brought sympathy, sophistication, and class, rapping with the best of them, and beat boxing with sass…

Finally, Michael Luwoye played with intensity/layers the star of the show, my recommendation? If you get a chance, I’d go…

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Richard Allan Jones is an actor, musician, and author from Los Angeles, California.

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Lost Words (and phrases)–Part Two

My last blog on this subject turned out to be quite popular, so I decided to do a follow up with even more USA words/phrases that have gone the way of the Dodo bird… What did I miss? You have a chance at the end to add your own…

Dollars to Doughnuts

Happier Than a Pig in Slop

I Like Ike

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Bite the Bullet

Blood is Thicker Than Water

Cat Got Your Tongue?

Eat Humble Pie

Hirsute

Kick the Bucket

Run Amok

Hit Me Daddy Eight Beats to the Bar

Beat Feet

Five Finger Discount

Drop a Dime

Woody

Zits

Slam Book

Skank

Hickey

Chinese Firedrill

Long Green

Cruisin’ for a bruisin’

Get Bent

Knuckle Sandwich

Rag Top

Spaz

Threads

Up Your Wazoo

Take a Power

Gobbledygook

Fuddy-Duddy

Chrome-dome

Above My Pay Grade

Licorice Stick

Keister

Gat

What would you like to add?

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Rich Allan is the author of the novels “Drafted” and “Identity Check”  available on amazon.com. Looking for bloggers who like to review books!

Lost Words (and phrases)

I just read an article sent to me by a high school friend that talked about American words and phrases that are no longer around. It occurred to me that us older folks get made fun of a lot for not knowing today’s jargon, but I wondered how many millennials would know what the following words/phrases really mean. See how many you know and in the comment section feel free to add more that you remember!

After while, crocodile

Beehive (hairdo)

Better dead than Red

Better to be pissed off than pissed on

Bib and Tucker

Carbon copy

Does Howdy Doody have a wooden ass?

Don’t forget to pull the chain

Don’t take any wooden nickels

Don’t touch that dial

Drop dead gorgeous

Easier than shooting fish in a barrel

Fedoras

Fiddlesticks

Going like sixty

Funny as a screen door on a submarine

Heavens to Betsy

Gee Whillikers

Heavens to Murgatroyd

More _______ than Carter has liver pills

Holy Cow

Holy Moley

Hung out to dry

Hunky Dory

In like Flynn

Living the life of Riley

Knucklehead

It’s your nickel.

Jalopy

Jeepers Creepers

Jumping Jehoshaphat

Kilroy was here

Knee high to a grasshopper

Knickers

Knock your socks off

Meaner than a junkyard dog

Mimeograph

Moxie

Name your poison

Nincompoop

No atheists in foxholes

Oh, my aching back

Pageboy

Patsy

Payphone

Pedal Pushers.

Peepers

Pill  (as in don’t be a)

Not for all the tea in China

Poodle Skirts

Pshaw

Saddle Shoes

See ya later, alligator

See you in the funny papers

Shortwave

Slicker than snot

Slide Rule

Snipe Hunt

Southpaw

Spats

Specs

Spindel

Straighten up and fly right

Swell

Taken for a ride

The milkman did it

This is a fine kettle of fish

Transistor Radio

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle

White Bucks

Whoopsie-daisies

You sound like a broken record

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Rich Allan is the author of the novels “Drafted” and “Identity Check”  available on amazon.com. Looking for bloggers who like to review books!

7 Wonders of the Ancient World (and other really old stuff)

No, I wasn’t talking about myself, I was thinking about our journey to Egypt back in 1984. As 2016 comes to a close and I approach the “mature” age of 70, it seems like a long time on this earth (although somebody said 70 is the new 50….but if that were true 20-year-olds would not have been born yet).

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But the pyramids are over 5000 years old, built before the birth of Christ, before the dark ages or age of enlightenment, before pop tarts were invented. I’m talking really old!

Still one of my favorite trips, in one day I visited a Jewish temple founded by Abraham on the spot where Moses stood; a church where Mary hid with the baby Jesus to escape the Romans; and the Muslim great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or Alabaster Mosque History came alive!

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We were lucky enough to not only see the great pyramid of Giza, but also Karnak, Valley of the Kings, and formidable Abu Simbel (Ramses II), saved from the Aswan Dam when they blocked the Nile river.

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As we all look forward to the promise of a new year, it’s good to reflect on how far we have come (including that awful sophomore photo in your high school annual).

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Richard Allan Jones is a Musician, Actor, and Author of the comic adventure, “Drafted,” the second edition just released on Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Drafted-Richard-Jones-ebook/dp/B01M2BDY7F.