Ted Clifton's   Updater   2019

Amazon Author Page

Editing (or A Deal with the Devil)
Just in case you are someone who does editing on my behalf, might be best that you stop reading now.  We’ll pause while you go away.


Okay, we can now talk freely.  All writers need editors.  Books written without editing are usually bad.  Let me say that again: editors are needed and provide a great service to authors.  But why must they be so damn annoying?

I started writing late in life.  Everything was new to me.  My previous experience was business in one form or another.  I had owned various business ventures; from food service to real estate development.  My educational background was financial which led to jobs as a CFO or a financial consultant.  My connection to writing was as a reader.  I read tons of books, it was a passion that developed when I was a child.  As a reader I gave zero thought to the process of creating a book.  My image would have been someone sitting at a typewriter, sipping whiskey and smoking, while pounding out the latest installment of some murder mystery.  Wham, bam and it was published and in my hands.
That might have been how it happened, but it would have been unusual.  Even the most independent, cantankerous author (Ernest Hemingway) had editors.  Hemingway had the same editor for many of his writings—who supposedly had a great influence on the author’s books.  I think I can say with some assurance that all books published before Indie Authors had extensive editing.  No publisher invests money in a book without it going through all-encompassing editing.

One of the first barriers I encountered as I started to write was the fact I needed assistance.  The mechanics of publishing a book, including editing, were a complete mystery to me.  Next step, google.  As a novice I was immediately confronted with hundreds or maybe thousands of web sites marketing services to authors.  The internet is an amazing source for all kinds of things from information to appliances—but it is hard to judge which is real, the best, a scam or whatever; it all starts to look alike.  I spent a painful amount of time viewing, researching and communicating with a bunch of sites.
After many hours of research and communication, I selected one.  They had an ala-cart approach to their services which was attractive to me.  Many of the sites had an all-in-one package approach which was a bigger commitment.  I selected to buy the Developmental Edit.  This is an analysis of the manuscript regarding structure, plot and all aspects of writing—it was reasonably priced.  What I got back was a report on the pluses and minuses of my manuscript with suggestions for changes.  It was wonderful—I hadn’t even known this type of edit existed.  I selected this firm to provide a long list of services to assist me in writing and publishing my books.

These people have been very instrumental in any success I have experienced.  But it all came with a pain factor.  They were in business to offer services to as many authors as they could find.  As they grew the attention to any one author was, obviously, distracted some.  Time frames to get things done increased.  All very understandable; but annoying.  The delays led to a feeling that I had not expected -- being a one-man-band author—a loss of control.

No one has ever called me a control-freak; to my face.  But let’s face it; I’m a control freak.  I think I’m a nice control-freak, but I want to have absolute control over myself and my work.  Suddenly I had lost control—I hated it.  It was taking longer to get the book completed by outsiders than it took me to write the damn thing.  Plus, as I learned more, I decided I not only needed Developmental edits, but line edits and, from entirely different people, copy edits and proofreading.  More people, more costs, more time.  I really just wanted to sit at my desk, sip my whiskey and write my murder mystery, alone!

I wouldn’t want the people who help me (and put up with me) to know—but I don’t want to be on a team; unless I can control everything about that team—including schedules.  As it turns out I control nothing.  I’m a customer, maybe a good customer, but probably one of hundreds or thousands of customers who need attention.  I’m a cog in someone else’s wheel.  Very annoying.

When I was an employee, I wanted to be an owner.  When I was an owner, I wanted to be an employee.  There is a pattern here.  But there is one thing for sure I will not, cannot be-- a cog in someone’s else machine.  I’m just not made that way.
Pre-Order Now! Release Date September 3rd
Just wrapped up Four Corners War.  This has been a long journey for this book.  I began my initial planning for this in 2015—yes, that's not a typo; four years ago.  Some of you may know this story, so forgive me; after completing about a third of the book, I hit a brick wall.  It was my first experience with writer’s block.  For reasons that still baffle me, I got stuck and couldn’t continue.  My mind just could not see where to go with the book.

As therapy for this condition I did nothing for a while—but that didn’t help.  After a lengthy delay I decided to attempt a different project and would come back to Four Corners War when I was healed.  That turned into the three Muckraker books with a co-author Stanley Nelson.  After that I developed a new series—the Vincent Malone books.  All the while ignoring Four Corners War—it started to feel like a curse.

But after all of that time I did return; and lo and behold my mind was clear and I saw the story and its conclusion with absolute clarity.  What had taken years of thinking, took only months to complete the writing.  The curse was broken.  Once I got going again, it was amazing—I really enjoy these characters.  Ray Pacheco and Tyee Chino have a great working relationship that leads to humor and adventure and this (in my humble, unbiased opinion) could be their best book so far. 

I hope you enjoy this book—after all it took me years to write it!

Mark Gimenez is an author and lawyer from Texas. He specializes in the thriller genre writing, especially legal thrillers. His first novel, The Color of Law, was a New York Times bestseller. He also runs his own solo law practice.

For a time, one of my favorite authors.  Sort of drifted away from his books but the ones I read years ago were great.  The lawyer books attract me--having spent a lot of time in court rooms (will go into that at a later time) and the process is intriguing; there is a lot more injustice than justice in most court proceedings. He has a new series about a law professor--havn't read yet, but will.

This guy is a very good story teller.  I highly recommend all of his books.


I believe over the weeks I have demonstrated that I love cooking--well that would be edited to I love eating, and cooking is part of that process

When I talk to people about my cooking what seems to surprise them the most is that I also bake.  My favorite item to bake is cookies.  Almost all kinds.  But a favorite is Pecan Sandies--but after we moved to Las Cruces I discovered my pecan sandies were actually Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Mexican Wedding Cookies or maybe you would prefer…..
  • Italian Nut Balls or Italian Wedding Cookies
  • Russian Tea Cakes or Swedish Tea Cakes
  • Pecan Sandies
  • Sand Tarts
  • Butterballs
  • Polvorones
  • Viennese Sugar Ball
  • Snowballs or Snowdrops
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened slightly but still firm, diced into 5 pieces each*
  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (249g) all-purpose flour**
  • 1 cup (110g) pecans, chopped into small bits
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar and salt until well combined.
  3. Mix in vanilla extract.
  4. Blend in flour. It will seem dry and sandy at first but keep mixing and it will come together.
  5. Mix in pecans.
  6. Scoop dough out 1 even tablespoon at a time and shape into balls. Transfer to baking sheet (keep remaining dough balls chilled until ready to bake unless you have a double oven).
  7. Bake in preheated oven until nearly set, about 13 - 14 minutes.
  8. Let cool on baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 5 - 8 minutes. 
  9. Pour remaining 1 1/4 cups (150g) powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl, roll warm cookies one at a time through sugar to coat with a light layer (this layer will seem to melt and get sticky). 
  10. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely then roll in powdered sugar once more to cover. Store in an airtight container.

Las Cruces/Old Mesilla Restaurants
There are many great restaurants in this part of New Mexico but two for sure are a must see; not just for the great food but the wonderfully authentic and historical atmosphere.  Both of these restaurants were featured in The Bootlegger's Legacy.

Double Eagle-Old Mesilla

On the Mesilla Plaza, three miles southwest of Las Cruces, is the National Registered Historical Building that is now the site of the Double Eagle and Peppers Restaurants. The building was built in 1849, has witnessed many colorful and historical events, including the confirmation of the Gadsden Purchase on the Plaza in 1853 and the Secessionist Convention declaration of Mesilla as capital of the Arizona Territory in 1861. (It was destined to be the only territory of the Confederacy). Also, notorious Billy the Kid was jailed by Sheriff Pat Garrett and tried in Mesilla in 1881.
The history of this famous Mexican restaurant, a stone's throw from Las Cruces, NM, is long and colorful. This is the original La Posta. For more than a century and a half, these adobe walls have withstood the attack of elements and man, sheltering such personalities as Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, General Douglas MacArthur and Pancho Villa. A roaring Wild West town during the late 1800’s, Mesilla was the largest town in the Southwest between San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas. During this period, La Posta served as the Corn Exchange Hotel, a favorite stop on the Butterfield Stagecoach Line.
Many years later a young, vivacious and colorful Katy Griggs Camuñez started La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant and Cantina with four tables, dirt floors and no running water! La Posta’s authentic dishes are made from century-old recipes handed down to us from the Fountain, Chavez and Griggs Families. Now one of the oldest and most recognized Mexican restaurants in the Southwest, La Posta de Mesilla still offers its traditional hospitality, fine food and spirits to all who wander here...just the way Katy would have wanted it!
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.
Book Updates

Four Corners War.  Release date Sept 3rd.

Durango Two Step.  Currently writing. 
Doctor Hightower.  On hold.

Nothing very exciting going on here.  That's about normal.  Have a book I'm working on, one planned after that-- and the FCW new release very soon.  The SFM audiobook is still in the works but there have been major delays. Now I'm questioning if this will ever get done.
Odds and Ends

My writing environment is a small office in the middle of my house.  I have a window, but as often as not, the shades remain shut.  I use a laptop computer with a detached keyboard, mouse and a large monitor (the eye sight is not the first to go-but it does go).  This little environment is cozy, confining, private, not-so-private and just fine with me.  I have worked in very large offices with lots of people and have been a one-man-band as a financial consultant and now as an author.  While I don’t think of myself as a loner or someone who is anti-people (there are some I don’t particularly like), I am comfortable being left alone for long periods.  We did have a dog and a cat but they did not out-live us.  We can’t go through that again—so no pets.

But there is something I’m totally attached to and can’t imagine a day without—my computer.

I work best in the morning so I get up very early.  This also creates a private world while everyone else sleeps—it fits me.  It seems I can write twice the number of words in a morning hour as an afternoon hour.  One of the things I do first thing is go to my small office and turn on the computer.  After that I go make coffee while the computer gets ready to greet me.  I return and my work day begins.

This week I began my day as usual, although a little earlier than normal, I had a ton of things to get done; turned on the computer, went to the kitchen to make coffee—returned—and nothing.  The computer was blank.  Yes, it did not boot.  I sat down and stared at the dead computer debating the trauma my very early morning screaming would cause the household—decided it could be shocking and of course would fix nothing.  But that is what I wanted to do, scream.

I was completely lost, could not function.  All I could do were stupid things like turn it off and on—repeatedly.  To no avail.  Without a computer I could not write—did that mean the computer was really the author and I was just an observer?  Of course not.  The computer didn’t know what I was going to write—or did it?

After a period of these more or less crazy thoughts, I began to analyze what my options were.  I began fretting over whether everything was backed-up, I’m notoriously bad about common sense computer back-up practices. I had a service that automatically did that, but I had run out of storage space and those emails they kept sending asking me to buy more seemed way to pushy—so I ignored them.  The option of screaming had returned –but still nobody was up yet, and I wasn’t sure I had the energy to scream anyway.  So I slumped.

Every family has a computer guru.  Without the knowledge of this guru being available to perform computer magic many people would have abandoned the whole idea of technology long ago.  In our family, it is my son.  He has worked with computers forever and knows secrets that none of the rest of us even want to know.  We just want someone who can make the damn thing work again.

It was still early so a call didn’t seem appropriate.  So I used my phone and sent a quiet email with a heavy dose of pleading.  Then I waited.  He lives some miles away, but usually is out and about due to his job.  But, maybe he was ill or angry, and just didn’t want to screw with his dad’s computer.  It was a long wait—maybe a whole hour.

He said he would drop by first thing that morning.  Okay, I had the computer medical team on their way.  More waiting.  I was nervous, disconnected, angry and looking for something to smash. But I just sat and waited.  How can our lives be so dramatically impacted by that little machine—my whole world had been turned upside down due to the machine deciding not to power up.  I’m definitely not anti-technology, but it does make you think.  Why have we become so dependent on this little box?  It’s because that little box has become part of our brain; we are lost without our computers, smart-phones, tablets and, of course, the internet. We have given up a vital part of our thinking process to the computer--now, we can't imagine life without it.

My son, Brent, showed up with a magic bag of tricks and before you knew it—everything was good again.  I did make some changes and, hopefully, have myself better prepared for that type of early morning disaster if it ever happens again.  But in an odd, troubling way it made me feel less human; but I’m sure not ready to be without my computer—it is my friend (when it works).
Thanks everyone for being a reader!
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