Ted Clifton's   Updater   2019

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The Writing Process

The process of publishing a book is mostly just boring.  It usually takes me months to write a book, then it takes more months for the production aspect to be completed. This involves cover design, numerous steps of editing and review, and finally the actual production (layout, back of the book material, file production).  So from beginning to end it can be six months.  During the majority of that time I'm just waiting. 

The writing part is enjoyable, with exceptions, and keeps me engaged.  The post writing is tedious.  The editing goes on and on.  The number of readings and changes can be hundreds.  I will re-read a book so many times that my brain starts to fog over; and yet, a mistake (or two) will still slip through.  I've had reviewers mention "typos" and wonder why a better job of editing did not occur.  The standard for errors in a book (from a readers point-of-view) is zero.  So a 75,000 word book cannot have one tiny mistake --that's a pretty high standard. 

When I started I had an editor but the final reviews were done by me. This was not my strength.  My wife, Marilyn, started helping me and it was much better.  For the last few books I have had two editors, the one who does all of the developmental and line editing and another who works on the final reviews/edits.  So now there are four people including myself who will review a book numerous times before it is published; and yet we do not catch everything.  How does that happen?

I've asked myself that question.  Part of it is the repetition.  If you keep reading a book over and over it is hard to have fresh eyes and you will just read right over the mistakes.  Plus the book is in constant revision.  So on the first edit review errors are found and corrected.  This is the stupid part; sometimes those corrections will create an error or typo.  All I can say is that I make a concentrated effort to reach the zero standard, but if you occasionally see a "typo" take pity on my tired eyes.

I titled this post "boring", because talking about the process of writing, and some of the associated frustrations, has to be boring to readers.  I apologize.  But now and then it seems to be the subject that is on my mind.  So I write a little about my world, boring or not.


The Bootlegger's Legacy reaches a milestone.
Almost all of the reviews of my books are on Amazon and Goodreads.  Reviews are the vehicle that allows me to reach new readers.  Readers have thousands if not millions of options when looking for a book.  Research shows that a critical part of that decision process is good reviews.  Fortunately most of my reviews on those sites have been positive. 
Recently The Bootlegger's Legacy reached a milestone on Amazon and Goodreads with the 300th five star review. 

Total 5 star and 4 star reviews on Amazon for TBL are 152 out of 181.  Most of the lower reviews reference language as an issue.  Often those reviewers did not finish the book but wanted to make a comment about objectionable words. I have always thought those reviews are helpful to me in that they alert anyone offended by certain words to stay away.
On Goodreads The Bootlegger's Legacy has 476 reviews and ratings.  352 of those are 5 star and 4 star.  Goodreads reviewers are supposedly tougher on authors than the Amazon reviewers.
If you have reviewed one of my books on Amazon or Goodreads, thank you very much.  
Most Important Books verses the Most Popular Books
There are lists for everything.  I am always attracted to the lists of this or that, especially books.  The British paper The Telegraph put together a list of the most important (whatever that means?) books by North American authors of all time.  Here are some:
  • The Scarlet Letter.  Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850).
  • Moby Dick.  Merman Melville (1851)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Mark Twain (1884)
  • The Grapes of Wrath.  John Steinbeck (1939)
  • The Catcher in the Rye.  J.D. Salinger (1951)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Hunter S. Thompson (1971)
Looking at this list caused me to wonder what are the books that have sold the most.  This list was not specific to any country or continent. 
  • A Tale of Two Cities.  Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings.  J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Little Prince.  Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  J.K. Rowling
  • The Hobbit.  J.R.R. Tolkien.
I know it's an oversimplification, but "important" seems to lean toward dreary and depressing; and "popular" is more fantasy and adventure.  I'm sure there are different estimates regarding how many books have been sold but the list I was looking at had A Tale of Two Cities at 200 million.  That is a lot of books, especially for a story that could fit in the important category for being dreary and depressing.  Of course Dickens, if he was alive, would have to thank many high school English teachers for many of those copies.  I believe I read it as a Classic Comic book--not sure if the Classic Comic book would be included in the 200 million, probably not.

The other thing that jumped out at me was that all of the top five best selling books are mostly British with one Frenchman.  Doesn't mean anything but it is interesting.  The first American I saw on the most sold list was #11 Dan Brown--he didn't make the most important list.

New Mexico Pueblo Artifacts
The next Vincent Malone book Fiction No More features some rather unsavory characters who were involved in stealing Native American artifacts.  Some of you may not be that familiar with the artifacts associated with the New Mexico Pueblos.  Some of it is amazingly beautiful pottery.  The designs have become classics and are reproduced today by skilled crafts people.  I especially like the black and white designs--even though the designs are very old, they seem modern.  The amazing beauty of this art seems lost to many who live in the United States.  I live in Denver and have seen more art exhibits featuring ancient Greek works than on these fantastic artifacts created only a few hundred miles south.  This is not primitive art-- it is glorious art by amazing artists. 

The artifacts themselves discovered in archeological digs are extremely valuable.  That fact led to much of the plot of Fiction No More.

When visiting Santa Fe there are lots of options to see these wonderful art objects:
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

Fiction No More.  This is the next book to be published.  Just approved the cover.  Hope you like it.  Really like the turquoise color with the bright sunset orange letters.

Four Corners War.  How about this, the long presumed dead Four Corners War (Pacheco & Chino #3) is alive and well.  Yep, just about complete.  Estimating a publishing date in July or August this year.  I'm sure most of you have not followed this tale of frustration; I had a portion of Four Corners War written when Sky High Stakes was published in May of 2016.  A preview of FCW was included in Sky High Stakes.  Then something went wrong.  I have written about this before, so no reason to go into details but I ended up with a mental block regarding FCW in particular and writing in general.  As a result I stopped writing for some time--almost a year.  To help with my writer's block I teamed up with Stan Nelson on the Muckraker series and we eventually wrote three books together.  Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final.  These stories are about the newspaper business in the 1960s and a series of events that happened to a novice reporter.  The process of writing these three books with the benefit of a co-author broke my spell and I began writing again with the Vincent Malone books.

FCW was just put on the shelf.  Now, after almost three years my mind has cleared and I remember the ending of FCW so I decided to complete the book.  Better get it done now, before I forget again how it ends.

Durango Two Step.  Vincent Malone #4 will be shoved back a few months until FCW is completed.  Should still be published sometime this year. 

AudioBook-- Santa Fe Mojo.  Not done yet, but soon.  Have contracted for the audiobook of Blue Flower Red Thorns which will follow SFM.
Odds and Ends

The Urantia Book
The other day doing one of those tasks often delayed but inevitable, I was cleaning my basement.  This is of course a joke.  The improvement of the condition of the basement over many years has not changed much, most likely it has gotten worse not better; but with some regular frequency the effort of cleaning the basement is required.  On this day I was sorting through my vast (and totally useless) collection of books; including text books from college going back –let's just say, a very long time.  In that box was my gigantic copy of The Urantia Book.  If you not familiar with this massive work, I would recommend a little google time; it’s a lot more believable from Wikipedia than it would be from me.  The really quick version is that this is a religious book, a science fiction book, a history book with a little fantasy thrown in-- running over 2,000 pages of small print. 

My first experience with The Urantia Book was in the early 1960s, I believe it had been published in the middle 1950s, so it was still a fairly recent phenomenon; especially in my world.  A friend of mine was all enthused about this revolutionary book.  He claimed it was written by aliens.  For reasons that are still not clear to me I purchased one.  I read a lot of the book, but alas I did not read it all.  It was very, very long and somewhat boring.

I won’t go into the details or whether or not I believed the core principles of the book.  What impressed me most at the time was the effort of putting the book together.  It was so massive.  Who would do that?  How much time had to be involved?  At that time the source of the book was more mystery than anything else.  So my friend's conjecture that it was from aliens made as much sense as anything else. 

Now it seems that the book was put together (written?) by a group of people over a rather long time (maybe 30 years?).  The why is still not clear.  Another aspect known now is that some of the book was most likely plagiarized, mostly from obscure academic books published by university publishing houses. 

Even with this new knowledge I am still impressed with the dedication of supposedly one man, a Dr. William S. Sadler, and a small group of followers.  While he did not write all of the book it seems as though he and his group wrote much of the material and were instrumental in editing other portions from other sources.  The source of the information was supposedly from a “contact personality” who was in a deep sleep.  Questions would be posed to this unconscious person and then written answers would appear.  Yeah, lots of people including me have trouble with that part of the story.

Some people find the book to be very inspirational.  While I was mostly agnostic about the book I have been impressed with its vast amount of effort and its long lasting life.  I'm sure not one to say it doesn't have meaning--even though I'm not sure what that meaning is.

The why still alludes me.  Maybe there is no why.  Just like this little narrative from me.

PS.  My copy looks like the one below.

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