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Ted Clifton's   Updater   2019

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Vincent Malone #3

Mystery writer Stella Stratton is in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a conference when she has a feeling that she is being stalked by a man who has followed her from Chicago.  When P.I. Vincent Malone comes to her aid, he discovers that Stratton’s first book is not a work of fiction at all, but an account of the murder of the stalker’s father in the 1980s.

Archeology, Indian artifacts, and crimes from the past weave into a mysterious plot involving political corruption, a wayward priest, millions in stolen relics, forgotten curses, and old misdeeds.  Who’s good and who’s bad is all mixed up as Malone seeks answers both to the murder in the 80s and the confusing events happening now.
 

 

 
Politics
 
This newsletter is about books, reading and writing; and of course, focused mostly on my books and writing.  It is not about politics or government—okay you can now breathe a sigh of relief.  However, the other day I was talking to a business acquaintance who has read some of my books.  He made the comment that I sure had made the Republicans the bad guys; what was I some kind of Democrat.  It caught me off guard.  I am a Democrat and fully recognize the toxic environment that exists in this country around politics; but as I stated to him “I don’t write political books and have no reason to make the Republicans the bad guys."

He had been talking about Murder So Wrong which takes place in Oklahoma in the 1960s.  Yes, there were Democrats and Republicans competing back then, but they have little to do with today’s political climate.  In the 50s and 60s most Oklahoma voters voted Republican for national races and Democratic for local elections.  The Oklahoma Democrat was really a Republican registered as a Democrat; and the local officials were almost all conservatives—even if they were Democrats.  And believe it or not none of that was confusing to them.

As I wrote in Murder So Wrong the reason for the change from most people being registered Ds to most being registered Rs was the voting rights act.  Civil rights and the Vietnam war were the two issues dividing the country during that time.  Due to those issues and others the two political parties got all jumbled up and came out of this era looking very different than when it started. 

In Murder So Wrong the “bad guy” owned the largest paper in the state and had ran Democratic politics for decades—but because of a fluke which involved one of the “good guys” becoming the state Democratic party chairman the other guy left the Ds and joined the Rs.  It was that little fact (remember this story is loosely based on a true story) which caused my business acquaintance to accuse me of being disrespectful to the Republicans—which of course he is one.  I told him I didn’t think a story about something that happened fifty or so years ago had much to do with today’s political world.  He kind of smiled but I could tell he didn’t believe me—I was now one of the bad guys from the other team.

I live in Colorado where the largest number of registered voters are Independents.  Now we all know most of those Independents are really Ds or Rs wanting to not be labeled as a D or an R.  I bet a lot of those people changed their registration because of business or family or personal reasons so when asked what political party they belonged to they could say Independent with a smug smile knowing they avoided the evil eye of being the “bad guy."  Maybe I will try that.  Come to think of it, maybe we all should.
 

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Reviews

Yes, the latest reader review post is back. Mostly I get great reviews and it is immensely appreciated. On occasion I will receive a less than positive review; yeah, I know, hard to believe. Reviewers are tying to be helpful to their fellow readers and have every right to say most anything they want. The majority of my negative reviews are about language. Apparently I use vile language and have a potty-mouth–thanks for the review mom I will try to do better.

I think those reviews are very helpful to me and the potential reader. If certain words offend you then I don’t want you to read my books–because those words are in there; I don’t think there are a lot of them, but some readers seem offended by only a few. So it's best if you are warned by reviewers that the language might offend. I would do that myself if there was some mechanism like movies to attach a rating.

On the other hand I do get some strange reviews that offer little if any benefit.

The latest strange review has to do with an upset reader who complained because there were advertisements for my books buried in the text of the book–and she asked “who would do something like that?” My guess would be no one. An author would not, they would know it would be stupid and just irritate the reader. You might put something in the back but not in the actual book. So how did the ads get in the book? Beats me. I contacted Amazon but did not get a meaningful reply. But my guess is it has something to do with Amazon and their reader sticking ads in inappropriate places. Why would they do that? Once again just a guess, but it could be because they can-- and it works. One reader might find it offensive but another might just click and generate revenue for Amazon.

Let’s be clear. I don’t begrudge Amazon any revenue generating scheme they come up with–it’s their web site and they should be able to do whatever works for them. As an author if I take offense I have the option to take my greatly in-demand book business somewhere else. More than likely Amazon wouldn’t notice and it would only harm me–so, I will live with a few snags here and there.

It does seem unfair a reader now hates me for something I had nothing to do with. I’m sure that reader will be more than happy to share her thoughts about the idiot author hiding advertisements in his prose with anyone who will listen. They will collectively wonder what kind of moron does things like that–obviously a bad writer who thinks he can secretly steal money from unsuspecting readers. What has the world come to–plus he uses vulgar language.

Well, dear reader, I should apologize for whatever happened; after-all, the book does have my name on it. But let me assure you, I did not write a book with an ad in it. But like so much in life, apparently I cannot control everything that happens with my book once it ventures into the cyber world.

 


What's cooking at the Inn?
The Vincent Malone series features a Santa Fe B&B, The Blue Door Inn.  This is where Vincent begins to trust people again and form new friendships.  An on-going feature in the newsletter are recipes that might be part of the offerings at the Inn.  Mary, the cook/baker, is always fixing new and different items for the guests.  Most of these offerings are southwest traditional foods but also new ways to enjoy this great regional love of Mexican dishes.  While I don't have Mary's skills, after-all she's fictional, I also cook.  These articles feature some of my favorite southwest dishes.
 
Chili Tempura

For new readers I have already covered the spelling of chili/chile and what is correct.  The answer is both; and I go back and forth because sometimes it looks better with an "i" and sometimes with an "e" (or maybe I just forget which one I used last).
 
Chili tempura is a whole green chili that has been roasted and peeled and then battered and fried.  My preferred chili for this dish is an Anaheim pepper.  This is a large, mild pepper and is perfect for this type of preparation.  Plus it is readily available in most grocery stores.

Obviously the tempura part of this is a fusion with Japanese cuisine and it is great--especially with soy sauce.  I also prepare this with other batter--such as a chili relleno batter or a beer batter.  All very good.  The tempura is lighter and crisper but can be more difficult to get to adhere to the chili.  You should try various batters and dipping sauces to find your favorite.

Tempura batter:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 cup rice flour
In a mixing bowl, lightly beat egg yolk and pour in ice water, slightly mix. Add the flour all at once, stroke a few times with a fork just until ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be somewhat lumpy. 

The peppers are roasted, I do this on a gas stove and hope the smoke alarm does not go off, then peeled.  You will be using the whole pepper--do not cut open and remove the seeds.  These are mild peppers and can be eaten whole--occasionally you will get a hot one, so have some water nearby.
 
I usually lightly dust the chili with whatever flour I'm using to help the batter adhere.  Frying is frying--oil choice would be up to you.  I serve these as a side dish or an appetizer and always with some kind of dipping sauce--usually soy.  Enjoy!
 
 

My Favorite Detective Authors
 
It was an interesting exercise to look at my top 10 plus 1 favorite detective book authors.  I see many hints of influence in my own writing from these authors--which makes sense; these were the people I read for many years. 
  • Robert B. Parker                
  • Mark Gimenez                 
  • Sheldon Siegel                 
  • J.A. Jance                      
  • C.J. Box                           
  • Stuart Woods                   
  • Michael Connelly              
  • Todd Borg                        
  • John D. MacDonald          
  • Sue Grafton                     
  • Tony Hillerman   
 Each of these authors has a detective(s) in their books.  My favorite detective for each author is:
  • Scott Fenney
  • Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez
  • Spenser
  • Kinsey Millhone
  • Owen McKenna
  • Harry Bosch
  • Joanna Brady
  • Joe Pickett
  • Stone Barrington
  • Leaphorn and Chee
  • Travis McGee
Can you match up the detective(s) with the author?
 


 


 

Santa Fe Accommodations
An ongoing feature in this newsletter is Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Santa Fe is part of many of my books but a real focal point in the Vincent Malone books.  It is also one of my favorite places.  The article today is about accommodations in Santa Fe but specifically hotels that have been featured in the Malone books.
 
La Fonda on the Plaza is what you would expect an upscale hotel in Santa Fe to be.  It does not disappoint.  The rooms are wonderful, along with the service; plus it is located right on the Plaza.  Convenience, great accommodations, great food what more could you ask for?  Well it could be a little cheaper; but if you look for deals they run many specials and you can get some real bargains.  Highly recommended.
 

Hilton Santa Fe Historical Plaza.  Okay this is a Hilton; but it will not feel like a Hilton.  The design, decor and overall feeling is very much Santa Fe.  My descriptions in the Malone books isn't always accurate (it is fiction) to allow me to make the hotel fit the circumstances of the story.  But your experience here will be great.
The Hilton seems to cater more to business travelers and events more than some of the hotels located downtown.  But the service is great and they have good food and drinks.  I have not stayed here but have met people for drinks in their bars--the atmosphere will not disappoint. 
 
Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe.  Yep, this is my favorite.  Many of the rooms have outside entrances as you can see in the above photo,  Something about this hotel makes me smile.  I could say it's the very reasonable prices (they also often have specials), or it could be the small quiet bar (described in Fiction No More), or it could be the location just off of the Plaza; but most likely its the decor of the rooms--they really do feel authentic. The entire hotel feels southwest and not corporate.  I highly recommend this hotel.

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.  Preorder should be up and running this summer, probably July 1st. 
Durango Two Step.  Vincent Malone #4 has been shoved back a few months.  Vincent does not like to be pushed around so there may be consequences to me treating him poorly.
AudioBook-- Santa Fe Mojo.  Getting closer --maybe something by July or August?
Box Sets.  Series starter box set which would include Dog Gone Lies, Murder So Wrong and Santa Fe Mojo at a very attractive price should be available for Preorder soon.
Doctor Hightower.  Currently writing.  I said making good progress last month.  Now making slow progress.  That's a nice way of saying other things are getting in the way.  But Doctor Hightower will be alive and well soon.
Odds and Ends
Reading For Your Health?
Most of the male members of my family do not read books.  And maybe only about half of the female members read.  When I realized this some years ago I was shocked.  I’ve always been an avid reader and, since I love living in my bubble, assumed most everyone read a few dozen books a year; but not so.  Now to be fair I do have relatives who read—but it’s the exception not the rule.  And especially men do not read books; why is that?

I’m sure most of you have heard that there are health benefits to reading books.  Here is an excerpt from an article by Andrew Merle for Mission.org which lists these benefits.

Reading has been shown to do all of the following:
  • Reduce stress levels (by 68 percent!)
  • Preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • Alleviate anxiety and depression
  • Help you fall asleep
  • Increase life expectancy
  • Boost happiness and overall life satisfaction
Reading accomplishes all of this by activating your mind, providing an escape from day-to-day life, and offering refreshed perspective for life’s challenges.

Some of my more obtuse relatives might say that they can get most of that from watching TV—most particularly the help you fall asleep part.  But research contradicts that.  Apparently reading has a unique effect on the brain and it’s hard to find other activities that provide this level of benefit.

Of course I write books so maybe I just want people to read so they will buy my books—the answer to that is; yes.  But even if I didn’t, there sure seems to be some major potential benefits to reading and if you’re lucky you might even enjoy the story.  So why don’t people read?

Maybe it’s just the effort required.  Reading is not a passive activity.  Now it’s also not an exhausting activity-- like riding a bike; so when I say not passive, it is that it takes thought and thought is not passive.  Some of my books may have two or three plot lines with twenty or more characters—you have to pay attention to follow the story.  That is the joy of a mystery—all of the characters, clues and suspects coming together for that surprise ending—the one you knew all along.  That is fun and enjoyable but it does take effort.

So now we have the answer.  Non-readers are lazy.  Well this certainly fits several of my relatives; but I don’t think that is all.  I think for many it is that they never enjoyed reading.  They didn’t read books growing up.  Books that they treasured and read many times.  I haven’t tested this but I have the feeling that many non-readers just didn’t read books as a kid--they didn't form that habit of reading.  Sure mom or dad read books to them on occasion; but as they got older they did not graduate to reading on their own.  They didn’t read the Boxcar Children’s books, they didn’t read The Hardy Boys, nor Tom Sawyer nor The Three Musketeers.  Or even maybe they didn't love comic books—I know I did.  Some of my favorite kid memories involved reading Classic Illustrated comic books—okay I’m weird.  They also didn’t read those wonderful books as a young adult Catcher in the Rye, Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island, Lord of the Flies, and more and more and more.
 

So now they don’t read because they really never did.  They never felt that wonderful joy and comfort of your favorite book waiting for you when you got home from school.  Books were all about school, not fun or enjoyment, just work.
 

The sad part of this story is that all of those people who don’t read are not teaching their children to read.  A big event will be a movie costing $60 for a family that last two or so hours.  The movies are so aggressive it makes us even more mentally passive.  An e-book today is dirt cheap and will last many more hours than a movie and could last a lifetime.  I know the joy of reading can last a lifetime and bring tremendous benefits.

So my final thought is that you should give someone you care about a book.  It is good for their health and very cheap.  Did I mention that I sell books?
 
 
 
Thanks everyone for being a reader!
 
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