Ted Clifton's   Updater   2019

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Characters Who Steal The Show!

My goal as a writer is to introduce readers to interesting characters.  I want the reader to have an emotional response to the person even if it's loathing.  My main personalities are usually “normal” people who suffer from an overabundant amount of flaws.  Each of my books has main characters who drive the story—the protagonist of the story.  The reader will learn a lot about these characters and follow them from book to book in a series.  But each book also has side characters that are often more interesting than the main ones.  Below are some of the supporting characters who I think steal the show.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy.  Mike Allen and Joe Meadows are the central focus in most of this book.  During a flashback to the 1950s about the bootlegger, one character stands out; Sally Thompson.  Sally was the young and beautiful mistress of the bootlegger Pat Allen, Mike’s father.  Sally is the strongest person in the book, by far.  She overcomes great trauma and forges an independent life by using her intelligence and sex appeal to her advantage.  In a time when young attractive women were often objectified by the male population, Sally was in control.  When I wrote Sally’s story it was very emotional to me.  She had everything going her way, but it didn’t work out the way she wanted.  She used her strengths to “get-by” in a difficult world in which she was alone.  Her downfall was falling in love with the older and weaker bootlegger.  By far Sally is my favorite character in this book.

Dog Gone Lies.  Main characters are Ray Pacheco, who first appeared in The Bootlegger’s Legacy as a minor character, and Tyee Chino.  These two establish an easy and humorous relationship, after a very rough start, their relationship is at the heart of the Pacheco and Chino books.  But for sure the star of Dog Gone Lies is Happy, the stray show-dog who Ray finds at his remote cabin.  A reviewer wrote “any book with a dog as the hero is a book worth reading,” I agree.  Happy was the name of my first dog; so it was easy to imagine Happy in the book. 

Santa Fe Mojo.  There is really only one main character in this book, Vincent Malone.  But there is an interesting supporting cast.  Nancy McAllen, Vincent’s new love interest, Jerry and Cindy Oliver, owners of the Blue Door Inn, where Vincent found a new home and many others.  The one character that stands out to me is Peter Tucker, the older than the hills semi-retired gun-slinger/mob attorney.  Vincent and Tucker establish an easy rapport that adds a different view of who Vincent really is; they become friends at an age where it is hard to make new friends.  These two aging strong men give each other permission to experience a new and different perspective to the world around them.

Murder So Wrong.  Tommy Jacks and his family are the main focus of these books.  The side character I had the most fun writing about was Joe Louongo, the foul-mouthed, New Jersey attorney who was completely out of place in Oklahoma.  Many of the characters in this series were based on actual people I knew.  Obviously as a fiction writer I expanded, twisted and distorted some of these people, but they actually existed.  Louongo was definitely someone I knew.  He was not an attorney but he was the same loud, in your face, no holds barred type of guy as Joe in the books.  Even at the time when I was around the real Louongo it felt like he was a character out of a book.  So remember if you ever decide to become a writer you will soon discover the value of your odd-ball friends from the past.


Chili? Chilli?  Chile?
All of my stories have a connection to New Mexico with the exception of the Muckraker series which takes place in Oklahoma.  I currently live in Denver but much of my life has been spent in Oklahoma and New Mexico.  The Muckraker series is placed in Oklahoma because the story is based (loosely) on actual events that took place there.  New Mexico is featured because I love New Mexico.  The mixture of cultures gives it a vibrancy, a texture that is missing from a lot of places.  The one feature that is most appealing about New Mexico is the food.  The wonderful great food.  Santa Fe has turned food into a reason for existing.  The one common aspect of southwest food is the green chile.  Or is it chili, or even chilli.  The quick answer is –it doesn’t matter; take your pick.  All of those spellings are technically correct.  Generally, in New Mexico it is spelled chile, but if you spell it chili (which I do on occasion because I like the i) it is still great tasting.
In Santa Fe Mojo, Jerry Oliver, the new owner of The Blue Door Inn, a B&B in Santa Fe, is learning how to cook southwestern food.  Jerry spends a lot of time trying to perfect the Sopaipillas and spicy honey. 

Sopaipillas recipe from Santa Fe School of Cooking.
  • 1 c. flour
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¾ t. baking powder
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t. vegetable shortening
  • ½ c. water or milk
  • Canola oil for frying
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.  Cut in the shortening until a coarse meal is formed.  Stir in the water with a fork until the mixture comes together into a moist dough.  Form into a ball, knead several times, cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a deep pot to 375*.  Roll out half of the dough and cut into squares or triangles.  Drop the pieces of dough, one by one, into the hot oil and fry until golden, about 30 to 40 seconds, rolling them over to brown on both sides.  Roll and cut remaining dough and fry.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm with honey, spicy honey or honey butter.
Note: You may substitute ¼ c. of the white flour with panocha flour, a coarsely ground whole wheat flour, for a richer flavor and more interesting texture.

Best Selling Books in a series
I enjoy these completely meaningless lists about books.  I'm always surprised by some of the books included and ones not included.  Never would have guessed Peter Rabbit books would have sold 150 million?
  • Harry Potter 450 million sold (7 titles in series)
  • Goosebumps 350 million sold (62 titles)
  • Perry Mason 300 million sold (82 titles)
  • Nancy Drew 200 million sold (175 titles)
  • Peter Rabbit 150 million (6 titles)
  • Lord of the Rings 150 million (3 titles)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia 120 million (7 titles)
Also was surprised by Perry Mason and Nancy Drew to be on this list, but my goodness there are 175 Nancy Drew books—that’s amazing.  So far my maximum in a series is 3—I need to write faster.


Old Mesilla Plaza

Mesilla, New Mexico is an old village next to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  This is a historical town that today is a tourist attraction.  Featured in The Bootlegger's legacy was the restaurant La Posta, the Mesilla Plaza and a bar El Patio. Pat (the bootlegger) and Sally spent some time in Mesilla.

Mesilla (also known as La Mesilla and Old Mesilla) is a town in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 2,196 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area.

During the American Civil War, Mesilla briefly served as capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona.

The Mesilla Plaza is a National Historic Landmark.
Ted Clifton (short) bio
Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series.  Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops.  His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times.  The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives.  Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice.  Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
If you have read (or plan to read) any of my books, please leave a review on Amazon.  Nothing assists me more in reaching new readers than good word of mouth.  You can click on the links below to view the book page, the "write a customer review" button is located where the reviews start toward the bottom of the page. 

Thank you so much for your time in leaving reviews on books you have read.
Book Updates

Four Corners War.  Writing is complete, now we venture into the editing world.  If all goes as planned a preorder for FCW should be available in June with a publishing date in July. 

Fiction No More.  We are inching closer.  Preorder should be available in April and a publication date of May. 

Durango Two Step.  Vincent Malone #4 has been shoved back a few months.  Should still be published sometime this year. 

AudioBook-- Santa Fe Mojo.  No update available; but work is continuing.  The people producing this audiobook have had some delays unrelated to this project--so everything is running a little behind schedule.  If everything was right on track and going smoothly --I would be really worried.

Box Sets.  Looking at putting out a series starter box set which would include Dog Gone Lies, Murder So Wrong and Santa Fe Mojo at a very attractive price.  More info coming on this project.
Odds and Ends
I have been writing in three series, Pacheco & Chino, Muckraker Series and Vincent Malone.  The Muckraker series is done, there will not be any more Tommy Jacks books.  It would be more interesting to say my co-author, Stanley Nelson, and I are in some kind of life threatening feud and can't stand to work together--but no, that's not it.  We planned on writing three books and we did; so we're doing other things--we are still friends (not as interesting as a life and death feud).

P&C is probably done.  Not 100% sure about that but the last book Four Corners War was hard on Ray Pacheco and he has asked me for a bit of a rest.  Sure couldn't say no to one of my favorite characters.  So I think this series may also be complete.  But who knows Ray and Tyee could ride again (Giddy-up) to save some important ............well I don't know what that is right now; but it could happen.

Vincent Malone is going strong.  My current plan is to write at least three more Vincent Malone books.  Vincent will continue to annoy as many people as he can in future books--it makes him happy.

Exploring a new series "Doctor Hightower".  An attorney, maybe a medical doctor, maybe not, living in the foothills outside of Denver, Colorado.  Takes cases as suits his fancy. 

Asked an associate of mine to glance over the initial first chapter and give me his impression of the overall feel of the story.  His response:

"Damn!  An irascible, baffling, hardly lily-white protagonist with more dark corners in his life than Carter's got liver pills! And facing an old mortal enemy back from the dead, to boot.  I don't "like the overall feel." I love it. I'm ready to read the rest."

That was very encouraging.  I will keep you informed about Doctor Hightower and whether he actually lives or not.  See below on how to access that first chapter I sent my associate.

As an incentive to opting into our email list we are now offering a couple of pdf downloads.  One is A Christmas Tradition--this is a short story I wrote last year that you may have already read--the other is the first chapter of a possible new series Doctor Hightower.  Since you're reading this I guess you have already signed up for the email list--but you can still access these free downloads.

Thanks everyone for being a reader!

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