Discussions, Political and Otherwise

This blog is usually about writing books, a little bit of art discussion, and on occasion, my ramblings about whatever.  But not politics or religion!  So, excuse me for this breach.  I know in the past this country has had worse times, such as a real civil war where thousands died, but have we reached a point that there can be no agreement on anything?  Much of the public discussion involves words generally associated with war.  “We will fight to the end!” “Let’s kick some ass!“  “If X is elected, the country will be destroyed!”   Who is fighting who?  If the democrats and republicans are at war, it is a war without any real meaning.  What outcome would satisfy the warring parties—everybody dead?  A country in chaos?

Since we hate each other so much maybe a divorce would make sense.  Okay, you go live in Nebraska, and I’ll live in Texas; we’ll never see each other again!  Might work, might not.  There is that small problem with the kids and the dog.  But how would you divide a country that is totally intertwined.  Split it down the middle?  Have four countries?  How about national defense?  Okay lots of messy problems with a split.  But can you live with people who hate you, your whole existence, and believe stuff you think is insane?  Not easily.

My solution may sound silly to some, but I think we should start talking, seriously talking, about breaking the country up.  Into what exactly, I’m not sure; but if the only option now is a “real” war, maybe other options need to be considered.  Right now, it seems to be, one side wins the political war and the other side lives in a country they hate.  That is not a comfortable solution.  I might disagree with your view on the role of government, but I do not want you dead.  I really don’t even want to be enemies.  But if you control things, you will want to control me through either not doing the things I think should be done or doing things I think should not be done, I don’t like that. 

So, if we start a serious discussion of breaking up the country what does that do?  For one, it makes it clear something must change.  If nothing else, when we start a sober look at what it takes to divide the country physically, we may start to think some compromise on certain matters might not be such a bad idea.  So back to the divorce analogy, you keep one kid, I get one, but how about the dog?  If the divorce becomes too painful, maybe a reconciliation would be better, or at least worth a try.

A little-known quote from Lincoln:

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

― Abraham Lincoln

My thoughts and opinions are free, and worth every bit of that.

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Had a few new conversations about the decline in book reading, especially the decrease in male readers.  It occurred to me, as I was discussing this with a friend, that maybe reading has not declined, just book sales.  There was a time, at least in my world, when reading (or saying you were reading) the latest hot book was normal.  This was also a social convention that might have been created by peer pressure.  “You’ve got to read the latest book by X.”  A sort of snobbery was built into this exchange.  

I suppose, due to this social structure, people (men?) bought books but never read them.  “Oh sure, I’m reading that now.  So far, it’s great!”  Now, that peer pressure may not exist, so the response to comments about the latest hot book, often are “nah, I don’t read much anymore, too busy.”  Being busy, even when you are not, is the new deflection that protects you from being known as lazy and maybe stupid. 

“Oh, we have three parties to go to this weekend, I’m just frazzled.”  “Yep, got two trips planned next month, feels like I’m going in circles trying to get everything done.”

This creates status without offering any evidence that you are clueless.  Busy is the perfect replacement for discussions of ideas or opinions.  How can anyone be offended by my busy activities?  On the other hand, almost any opinion seems to start an argument.

Maybe there could be an app.  You put in the dates you want, and it plans a trip and provides you with details.  After the trip it gives you all the highlights you can mention to your friends about the great trip you were just on; all the time, you were at home laying on the couch watching mindless, but enjoyable, TV. 

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Maybe to prove the point about buying but not reading books, I give you “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.  There was a time I started that book and quickly realized it was horrible.  Didn’t think about it again for many, many years.  In recent times, due to on-going hype regarding the book’s “importance”, I read it—yes, the whole damn thing.  Worst book I have ever read.  The poor woman needed a team of editors, not even sure that would have helped.

If someone told me they read the massive, almost incoherent book and loved it; I would have to question their honesty but would without a doubt admire their perseverance. 

Thanks for being a reader!

Books and Art

I wrote three books with a good friend Stanley Nelson called Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange, and Murder So Final–the Muckraker series.  These were books based on our collective experiences during a newspaper war in Oklahoma City promoted by the defeated candidate for the governorship feeling his opponent had an unfair advantage because of the bias of the towns largest (and only) newspaper.  The loser was also extraordinarily rich, so he started his own newspaper.  It was a fun time in OKC; but the whole mess ended up being something of a disaster.  For different reasons Stan and I were both interested in newspapers.  Stan was a journalist, and I was, well actually I was just a reader, but I loved newspapers.  I had, though, gotten to know the most beloved and hated columnist writing for the new newspaper.  He and I became friends and at one time I helped back his venture into rag journalism, for reasons that are best left unsaid.

There are three books in this series, and (I know I’m biased) I think they are great reads.  We took a bit of personal experience during that time and turned it into complete fiction.  Murder, mayhem, corruption, romance, family drama, political pranks, dirty politicians, legal tricks, and corrupt lawyers—these books have it all.  While all the good stuff is pure fiction much of the story was based on things that did happened; at this point in my life, I can’t remember which is which.

Stan, my co-author, has recently written a great book about a unique happening in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

“Woodsie Pound didn’t have it easy. Youngest of four sisters, a Chickasaw living in the Great Depression, and driven to be the best guard in the nation, her biggest opponent was a world that fought against her and everything she was.

Based on the true account of a small, but record-setting Oklahoma women’s college team, 88 Straight follows Woodsie from her instant passion for basketball through the confusions and anxieties of a young and dedicated life, family tensions and tragedies, and the discovery of her Chickasaw heritage.”

I read a draft of this book some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed this engaging story about some amazing people accomplishing something that no one thought possible, including them.  I highly recommend 88 Straight.  It is available now as a pre-order from the publisher.  Congratulations Stan!

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Since the fourth grade I have described myself as an artist.  The fourth-grade realization was related to Mrs. Smith choosing me to design the Thanksgiving Day play program.  I trusted Mrs. Smith and if she thought I was an artist I must be an artist; she wouldn’t lie.  I drew a pilgrim and turkey for the cover and most everyone who mattered (mom and dad) thought it was great.  Mrs. Smith made a few minor corrections and cleaned up some smudges, but it was mostly only done by me, mostly. 

As the years rolled along, I still thought of myself as an artist, however, I never created any art.  Could I call myself an artist but never do any art?  Sure, I was a kid.  That was working fine until High School.  I sure wasn’t a little kid anymore and calling myself an artist and never painting, drawing or anything related to art seemed odd.  So, in high school I took an art class.  Wow, those other kids sure could create some awesome art.  I had no idea how to do that.  I stunk in the class.  The teacher, a man who seemed to only care about a baseball newspaper he read every day, said I should think about becoming a teacher and I could teach kids all about art.  There didn’t seem to be any logic in that but what the hell, rather than an artist I could be an art teacher.  Worked for me.

When I began college, I was asked to name a major.  Not having any idea what I wanted to do or be or even study, I selected art.  Now I was not only an artist who never did any art I was an art major who didn’t know jack shit about art, artists, art history, art appreciation or anything to do with art.  A clean slate.  Art teachers in college hate a clean slate.  My first art professor suggested that I might want to change my major to general business.  He seemed smart enough, so I took his advice.

After I decided I was no longer an artist, going against the wishes of Mrs. Smith, I felt hollow.  Something was wrong.  It was okay to be an artist and never do art, but it was not okay to not be an artist.  I started painting.  I started drawing.  I started doing art.  All kinds of art.  I had no idea if it was good, but it didn’t matter, I loved doing art.

The oldest painting, I still have, or can find is from 1974 (see below). I think if I dig deeper into the basement there will be some from the 1960s. Not sure I want to find them.

Some of my paintings can be found at www.tedcliftonart.com.  A couple of favorites from my newer stuff……

Hitchhiker’s Log

The Doctor Hightower stories on Amazon Vella are a little different than my “normal” murder mysteries, and then they are not.  My plan for this series is to have an expanded timeframe, this is due to Dr. Hightower being involved in discovering a life enhancing drug in 1938 which he took, and in the first book he is one-hundred and twenty years old.  The first story takes place in 2020 and the second in 2025.  The next story could be 2040 or going backwards to 1960.  This maybe a little confusing and a turn-off to readers, but I like it.

The first three episodes in each story are free.  So, check it out.

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Depending on your age hitch-hiking is either a strange memory with some odd-ball stories or it’s a frightening memory and you would never do it again.  My hitch-hiking experiences had some odd-ball moments but most of the time I met nice people who were not frightening at all.  These episodes happened because I had a nice car (thanks, dad) but no money for gas. 

A lot of these trips were from Oklahoma City to Lawton, Oklahoma.  That’s about an hour and half drive on a toll road; but if you don’t have gas or the toll, it’s a huge distance to walk.  My buddy was playing in a band in one of the numerous bars in Lawton (home of Ft. Sill Army base, so lots and lots of bars).  This was a short trip but like entering another universe.

My approach to my money problem was to park my car in a shopping center parking lot just before the entrance to the toll road.  Usually within minutes after getting up on the highway someone would stop and almost inevitably, they would be going to Lawton.  Lickeity split and I was in downtown Lawton on bar central.  Almost half the time these would be families, mom, pop with kids.  Why they would stop for an unknown young-man can only be answered by understanding the immense changes that have occurred over the years to make people not trust other people.  I was hitch-hiking in prime human trust years.   So, they stopped and gave me a ride because—I needed one.  Amazing!    

The toll was amazingly cheap, and I often offered to pay the toll.  Wow, did that ever impressed the father driving his tired looking car full of costly kids.  One of my first real world experiences in little gestures offering big rewards.  These people almost always went out of their way (only small distances involved) to drop me off at a convenient spot.    

Now I did have other experiences, like the self-described traveling salesman, who jumped off the toll road at every exit to find a bar.  He was greeted with the not yet on TV greeting of “Norm” as he entered.  After a couple of stops I decided he was an accident waiting to happen.  He was consuming an amazing amount of alcohol, so I hitched on the back roads of Oklahoma.  An entirely different experience, which I will not bore you with, but maybe will incorporate it into some book.      

My other hitch-hiking experiences were while I was in college.  I was going to a “cheap” school in Edmond, Oklahoma, and my future wife was going to something not so cheap, OU, in Norman.  Travel time between them was about two hours or several dollars of gasoline (gas was cheap but cars guzzled gas –like it was cheap).  Mostly these hitch-hiking experiences were okay but not as friendly as the Lawton route with families.  These were later at night and often I chose to decline the ride because the person was too drunk.     

The worst one was just getting on I-35 late at night and it began to rain.  People, even friendly, kind people do not stop for hitchhikers in the rain.  Who wants some dripping wet guy to hop into your nice warm car?    There was a long stretch just out of Norman where there is nothing.  Pouring rain and many hours of walking looked like my future when a semi-truck driver stop.  Big trucks almost never stopped.  For good reason, it takes them a long way to get stopped and it’s an effort to get that huge rig back up to speed.  Some guy dripping wet on the side of the road is not worth the effort.  That night Mr. Saint stopped and gave me a ride to Oklahoma City, where I called a pal and slept on his couch.  A little thankful to be alive (and dry).  

In today’s world no one in their right mind would hitch-hike or pick up a hitchhiker.  Not a huge loss but somehow it feels like a small loss or at least a statement.       

Thanks for being a reader!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Vella, Baseball and Women

Doctor Hightower: Lost Soul

Looks like Amazon Vella will be available this week, maybe.  The information I received from Amazon was still a little vague, no specific date, but indicated this week.  The first Dr. Hightower story is fully available with 13 episodes and the second Hightower has the first 3 episodes up and ready.  The second story will have new episodes released weekly after about two to three weeks.  I’m sure Amazon won’t keep this a secret once it is live; so, check out my stories and if so inclined, give them a thumbs up.

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It is the so-called middle of the baseball season (so called because it is based on the all-star game and not the mathematical half) and my team, the Rockies, are once again not so good.  It was forecasted that they would be horrible so being ‘not so good’ is okay.  It doesn’t make them a post-season candidate, but it lessens the frustration of rooting for a lousy team.    

At this halfway point the Rockies record is 40-51.  They are on pace to finish the 162-game season with 70 wins and 92 losses (yes, ignoring common sense and math, about this halfway nonsense, is very frustrating in a sport dedicated to numerical stats); while bad, many sports experts predicted a 100-loss season for the Rockies.  Not loosing 100 games became the goal and they are most likely going to accomplish that.    

Most things in life, don’t give you a lot of kudos for not being horrible, only a little bad, but in baseball, not losing 100 games means next year you could be a contender.  That seems to be all the Rockies organization wants is to have some hope for next year.  Maybe that’s enough?

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I was at a gathering the other day in which there were a group of middle-age and older men.  The conversation turned to my writing, and I discussed my latest projects and got nods of understanding accompanied by blank faces.  Just for the hell of it, I directly asked this group if they had read any of my books—it was unanimous—NO!  Not one person admitted to reading any of my books.  There wasn’t even one who would lie about it.  Then I asked them what they had read?  NOTHING.  It went from haven’t read anything lately, to haven’t read a book since high school (from someone who probably couldn’t remember high school). 

The typical readers of my books (I don’t know this for sure because there is no reliable information about who buys my books), based on reviews and comments, are women.  I don’t write only for women or men but would have guessed that the average reader was a man.  After some research it became clear, the average readers of almost all books are women.  Women read books, men don’t.  Oversimplification but true.

I asked the male group why they had not read a book in so long.  They all answered it took too much effort.  Yes, they said it took too much effort to read an entertaining book.  I hadn’t asked them why they had not read the latest math textbook.  These are people who may be watching six plus hours of mindless TV every day (including sports) but can’t read a chapter of a fiction book.

This brings up the subject regarding our population’s increased level of stupidity but won’t go into that at this time.  I have no doubt that sometime in the future a scientific study will be released suggesting the average person has lost 50 to 75 IQ points in the last forty or so years; all due to easy, mindless entertainment.

At one time in my life much of my socializing involved discussing books.  The people I knew were readers, and we talked about the books we were reading.  We discussed our favorite authors and what new books were on the horizon.  I still have a friend or two who mention books, but it is not that common.  And the last time someone recommended a book to me was a long, long time ago.  I read that book but didn’t like it much.

I know there are many readers because of books sales, but I’m beginning to wonder if very many men still read.  That is sad to me.  I miss the feeling of joy in sharing a new author whose book you have just read, with a friend who also gets excited about the book.  I guess I need more women friends.

Thanks for being a reader!

Grumpy Old Men

I didn’t know either of my grandfathers very well.  One I never met. It was not clear to me, but I would guess now he had left when my dad was a child, and as a result, there was no discussion about him.  Although on a couple of occasions my father would talk about riding with his dad in his horse drawn hauling wagon.  He told stories about going into the oil field in Oklahoma with his dad and they just started off across country until they reached their destination.  I wanted to know more but my father seemed reluctant to talk.  I’ve always had the strangest feeling that everything I knew about my grandfather was a lie.

My mother’s dad was incredibly old when I was little.  I only remember him sitting out under a huge tree in his front yard—doing nothing.  I think sitting, doing nothing is unusual today, might even be interpreted as early stages of something.  But there was a time when many people just sat and watched nothing.

Both of those men had led awfully hard lives doing physical labor almost every day.  It was common for farmers and laborers to die before they reached my current age.  I’m not sure how old my grandfathers were when they passed, but they had probably been physically exhausted long before they died.

I never lived that life, working until you’re bone tired.  My life was easy.  I worked mostly in an office.  Educated and privileged, most of my problems in life were self-made.  Nevertheless, I was a worker.  I worked long hours and always wanted more.

I’ve always had a need to be productive.  My self-worth is tied to a sense of accomplishment.  A need to create work.  It is why I’m a writer.  I was never a farmer or hauled equipment in the 1920 oil field—so my understanding of work is different than my grandfathers’, but we share a work ethic that is quite common. 

Before that day comes when I just want to sit and stare, I want to finish something –not sure what that is.  I think about the old man, my grandfather, sitting under that tree staring off into the distance; what was he thinking?  Did he regret his life, did he dream of something different?  Did he want to finish something that he hadn’t?  What was it?

Why didn’t I ask him?  Well, I was a stupid kid, and, in many ways, he scared me.  No way I was asking him anything.  And yet, he might have known something I needed to know.

“Listen kid, I spent my whole life bustin’ my ass and look at what it’s got me.  Sittin’ under this damn tree starin’ at birds.  Not sure what the answer is, but it sure isn’t hard work.  There’s nobody that has worked harder than me, and I ain’t got shit.”

Nah, he probably wouldn’t have said that, but maybe?

I think I’ll just keep workin’, writing, painting, thinkin’—must be some answer somewhere; or maybe not. 

“Listen kid, I spent my whole life bustin’ my ass and I feel great.  I’ve got a nice house, yard with a tree to sit under, plenty of food, my god, what else could a man want.  I don’t know the answer about work or not work but I do know you should do whatever you want—enjoy every minute of every day.  I did, and I’ve had a great life.”

If I hadn’t been scared and I had asked, what would he have said?  Might have just said, go away kid and leave me alone.  He always seemed a little grumpy to me.

Now, my grandmothers, what wonderful people.  Plenty of hugs and kisses (and candy); now that is what it’s like to be a successful, happy person.  Didn’t need to ask them, it was obvious, live each day like it was a gift.

And don’t grow up to be a grumpy old man.

Thanks for being a reader!

Still Crazy After All of These Years

I’ve slightly known a couple of authors.  Not pals by any means but we have shared thoughts and experiences over the years.  I found both to be tedious.  Why is that?  The common trait I disliked was an obsession with detail.  Nothing is simply what it is; everything has layers and complexity.  It may look like a tree, but it is really a statement about the human misery developed during a troubled childhood.  It’s just that you as a lesser human cannot see that depth.  These were people who could write a great book but there was no way in hell you would want to sit and talk to them.  Often, I just wanted to scream just say what you mean!

A reader made a comment to me that she could not imagine how I could come up with these convoluted plots.  My response was, what convoluted plots?  I thought they were straight forward with a twist or two.  Giving it more consideration, I realized I thought in those convoluted ways, and it all seemed normal to have entanglements that would take deep analysis and complex drawings to figure out.  Lo and behold, I was just as annoying as my two author acquaintances.  Damn!

This is mostly, of course, only fiction writers.  They must build a story that will keep your attention until the very end, or close to it.  There must be many suspects in the murder mystery to keep you guessing who did it.  So much of the expertise of these authors is to frame a story in such a way that you cannot guess what is happening, but at the same time give you good, reliable clues so that you might guess what is happening.  Okay, now we’re really confused.

When I began to write, I thought I needed a detail outline from the beginning to the final chapter.  I needed character lists with descriptions and all sorts of useless details.  Today, I just write.  I get an idea and I start to write, for good or bad, the story just flows.  I’ve often said the characters themselves write the book I just type it—but that starts to sound a little crazy.  However, that does give me the opportunity to include my favorite picture of an obviously crazy person—Leo Tolstoy.  His world must have been so convoluted he didn’t even know he was in it.

Especially when I’m writing in an existing series with characters I have known for years.  I just give them the basic outline of the story and let it fly.  Vincent Malone knows what to do, after all he been doing this for years. 

Ray Pacheco and Tyee Chino will be coming back.  My next project after Durango Two Step (Vincent Malone #4) will be Vegas Dead-End which will bring back those characters.  While writing Four Corners War, the last Pacheco & Chino I have done, I begin to sense that Ray Pacheco was done.  If the characters can write the books, I guess they can decide they have done enough and want to be left alone.  I ended Four Corners War stating Ray was going to retire and fish for his remaining years.  That seemed like what he wanted; however, the truth comes out—I control Ray Pacheco, not Ray.  I know there probably should be some way for the Ray character to protest, but there isn’t.  He wanted to retire but those books are too good to just stop writing them, so Ray is back and happily will be writing again, under my supervision.

If I knew more authors, there is probably a vast mix of different personalities and approaches to how they write but, based on my limited experience, so far most are nuts and how they write is none of your business.  And yes, that does include me. 

Then giving old Tolstoy some reflection, I wondered if crazy people were drawn to writing fiction or if writing fiction made you crazy.  It might be called the van Gogh syndrome where high levels of creativity destroy key human functioning areas of the brain.  So, the more creative, ingenious your work becomes the more wackadoodle you become. (Insert Tolstoy photo) (delete my photo).

Smart, Crazy or Both?
Thanks for being a reader!

Mixed Bag

How To Sell Your Business Without a Broker.  Catchy title.  Book has lots of twists and turns with a completely surprising ending.  Wait a minute that describes Durango Two Step, not a boring business book.  And believe me, if you are not interested in selling or buying a business, this book is dreadfully boring.  It includes mostly useless information about how businesses are valued.  Such things as capitalization rates, multiples, discounted cash flow analysis—wow, stop it’s too exciting.  And of course, there are the exciting chapters on due diligence and normalizing earnings.

Enough said.  If for some strange reason you are interested in the subject of this book it is now available on Amazon.  The e-book is $9.99 and the paperback, which should be available in a few days, is $17.  If you not interested in the subject matter, it has no value at all.

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Facebook still thinks I’ve done something wrong and has locked my account.  It’s still there, but I cannot access it– just in case I wanted to commit additional offenses.  Oh well.

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I’ve lived in the same house for about eighteen years.  The house is thirty-seven years old and many of its parts are still original.  Yes, there is a constant demand for repairs.  When we first moved in, we had some AC issues and randomly called for a repair person.  It was a local company, and the guy fixed our problem and became somewhat of a regular at our house.  Almost from the beginning, that was eighteen years ago, the guy was saying you really should replace that unit.

Air-conditioning is one of those things that on a really hot day you would pay almost anything for relief but on a cool day, not so much.  If you don’t need it the cost feels remarkably high.  Procrastination won and the same AC in in place today and the same repair man regularly makes an appearance.  He has gotten a lot older, and now talks about me replacing the AC before he retires.

I think about the things I will spend money on; more streaming services, food of any variety, landscaping (except trees) and new technology.  Maybe it’s because they are less expensive and you pay many of them in small increments.  I’m also a budget person.  I develop short-term and long-term budgets and if the expenditure is not in my budget, I have problems.

I could add to my budget for a new car, big new TV, even new oven, but new heating and air conditioning—not highly likely.  Unless, of course, it’s not working.  So, the only time I think about the old HVAC is when it is broken.

The curse of procrastination is that it will catch up with you, probably at the worst possible time.  Damn, I should have taken care of those brakes months ago and now I’m streaking down this mountain road; oops.

Obviously, having poor AC is not the same as dying on the mountain road with no brakes.  So, you just keep postponing, until the guy who comes around every so often say the magic words; your old AC is officially dead.  But until then I will just ignore the whole thing.

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Due to Amazon my readers are all over the world.   I’m not a several million-books sold author but have sold (or given away) hundreds of thousands over the years.  A surprising number of those readers are in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and Asia.  And I hear from them on occasion.  For some reason that surprises me, maybe because I live in my Denver bubble and don’t think about other places too much.  The comment from these readers usually is regarding the locations and how they enjoy reading about those places, New Mexico in general and Santa Fe in particular.  Thanks to everyone for being a reader wherever you live.

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Speaking of unique places Durango Two Step is on track to be published later this summer, I hope.  Expect to have the per-order up soon on Amazon.

Thanks for being a reader!

Standards, Anonymity and Mom

My blog is automatically posted to Facebook.  Apparently, and I am only guessing because of the maze of Facebook rules, these postings have violated Facebook’s standards.  I cannot imagine the complexity of managing Facebook’s millions of users; without question it can only be handled by computers.  Those computers are programed to recognize some sort of pattern, maybe hate speech, or advocating violence and no doubt, a long list of other social offenses.

Because of my apparent violations of something my account has been suspended.  It is also not clear, but the length of the suspension will be based on how seriously I have violated the community standards.

Do I care?  Probably not.  I do run ads on Facebook that have also been blocked.  In a strange way it is almost reassuring to be in violation of something regarding Facebook.  The odd thing is that I cannot access this account but the “automatic” posting of the blog and newsletter is still happening; and since that is the only thing that I’m posting, it is those posts that must be the violation source.  It is ironic, and I like that.  The net effect of their policing is to stop me from placing ads—their source of revenue (not that my ads matter a twit).

Many people, especially politicians, think of Facebook as a quasi-utility, like phones, electricity, or something.  It is not.  It is a privately owned business offering a service supported by advertising.  They can decide what is on their site, not the government or Ted Clifton, and I’m okay with that, more power to them.

One of the other catch-all pieces in their standards is misusing copyrighted material, I might have violated that, unknowingly.  This could have happened by using certain graphics, such as book covers form Amazon—not sure about that, but if so; oh well.

My solution could involve fully understanding and adhering to Facebook’s standards or just stop posting on Facebook.  I’m going with the easiest path, just stop posting these blogs to Facebook (they will still be posted to twitter @1952Legacy).  Maybe after a while Facebook will feel I’ve been “punished” enough and make my account active again, if not; well, life goes on.

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One of the Success Paths business books is about ready to be published.  Been thinking about how to handle that in relationship to my mystery books.  Would someone be less likely to buy the “How to Sell Your Business Without a Broker” book if they thought I also wrote mystery books?  Why would they care?  Would my credibility as a CPA and serious “guy” be damaged?

There’s no doubt, this is an odd mix.  Mysteries and “How To” books.  Can’t imagine mystery book buyers caring at all if I also wrote business books, but maybe a business book buyer would think this is odd and choose someone else for this arcane knowledge.  In that regard; at one time, I thought about using a pen name.  Maybe Mark Twain.  Of course, that could be confusing since most people would not associate Mark Twain with business financial matters. 

I know, how about “Anonymous”.  Plenty of books have been written by anonymous so where is the harm.  Would you buy a book written by someone unknown about how to do anything?  Probably not!

The final decision was to just let it fly with the wind.  The business books and the mysteries are all written by the same person, me.  If that causes a problem, I will just file it into my expanding folder labeled ‘Facebook Issues’ and forget about it. 

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On occasion I have complained about readers reviews.  Usually about reviews that don’t seem to make sense or are focused on my occasional use of “offensive language”, okay maybe a bit more than occasional, although I’m not real sure what is offensive language considering the wide us of most once so-called bad words.

I almost never comment on the bulk of my reviews—because they are so good.  It sounds like bragging to me, and my mother was strict on that type of behavior.  Of course, she was also opposed to some of my language choices.  Fortunately, for me, she was not able to read any of my books—she might have made a bad review about my language if she had.

There was a recent reader review for the Series Starter Box Set which I’m going to pass along.

“Ted Clifton is a very good professional storyteller. He gives enough information and insight into to his characters that it then allows the readers to color in the rest. This journey with Mr. Clifton has resulted in hours of reading pleasure.”

I think that might be the best review I have received.  Giving a reader “reading pleasure” is the ultimate “high five”.  Thank you very much reader for your comment, it was very much appreciated.

Thanks for being a reader!

Writing Requires Thinking, I Think?

A real thinker.

When I tell someone I write books, often the first response is how long does it take you to write a book?  That may be just conversation filler, and the person asking could care less; but it’s a common question.  My answer is that it depends.  My part of writing a book does not cover all aspects required to get a book ready to publish.  Editing and proofing can take almost as long as writing—although maybe it just seems that way to me. 

My actual writing time is a huge variable.  It has taken as little as two months and as long as years.  The two months was steady, everyday writing.  The years was with lots of interruptions.  When things are going well for me I can “easily” write two to three thousand words a day.  So, for a 70,000-word book at an average of 2,500 words a day it takes 28 days.  As I just stated my best time was twice that ideal time.  That is mostly due to those days when nothing is going right, and it’s best to just stop.

With this analysis I think the best I could do to complete a book, ready to publish, would be four months.  That is two to write and two to handle the editing, proofing, artwork etc.  Four months start to finish.  Based on that I should write three books a year—I don’t.

If writing was just word production, I guess that three book goal might be achievable.  Sure, I have no problem typing 2,500 words a day, that’s not the issue.  The snag is that I must think of those words. 

Some days it is like the words were already in my head—it is just a matter of getting them down on paper; other days—well, the words are not flowing.  That thinking part is what keeps most people from writing books.  That is the second most common question about writing; how do you think up those stories?

When I was not a writer, it never crossed my mind about a plot for a book.  Now that I am a writer, almost everyday a new story idea will pop into my head.  It could be we can all think up good books, but if your mind is busy thinking about chores, or work issues, or personal relationship foul ups—there is no room for book ideas.

This seems to indicate the best book ideas will pop into a blank mind easier than one occupied with daily activities.  I think I’m starting to understand my writing skills much better.


Coming Soon to Amazon Vella: Doctor Hightower: False Prophet

Murder mystery, legal thriller with a little sci-fi to boot.  It begins with the discovery of a life extending drug in 1938.  Hightower was a member of the scientific team that made the discovery.  Every member took the drug—would they live forever?  Tragically, No!  Most of the team were killed days after the project was abruptly shut down.  Dr. Hightower survived.  Now, in 2020, Hightower has become a lawyer.  He has not aged.  Teaming with a young female attorney he seeks justice and revenge.

Still no date on when this will be available, should be soon; I hope!


Happy Memorial Day!

Thanks for being a reader!

A Strange Announcement

Doctor Hightower: False Prophet

Have finished and published Doctor Hightower: False Prophet.  It is, unfortunately, not available to read.  This project was for the new service by Amazon called Kindle Vella.  You may, or may not, have heard about this.  The difference is that it is based on serialized stories verses “books”, designed to be read on your phone.  There are episodes, not chapters, and they can be purchased an episode at a time.

The upshot is that Amazon has made the service available to authors to publish their stories, but at this point have yet to announce a date when this service will be live.  Not sure if this is a good approach for me (the fees to authors are minuscule), but I had a good story that I wanted to tell,  so, I jumped in. 

Completing Hightower will clear my schedule (and head) and can get back to Durango Two Step.  It is good to be writing at a consistent pace again.

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Newspapers have been an important part of my daily routine for a long time.  The morning newspaper and coffee is a bad habit from way back (used to include cigarettes, thankfully broke that addiction years ago).  Online news is available 24/7, but there is something comforting about having a local morning paper to read—even if it is online.

Newspapers, and the birth of a new one into an established market, was the basis of one of my series of books, The Muckraker Mysteries.  The story is about a new paper starting in Oklahoma City after a heated governorship race.  The losing candidate was a wealthy man who started the paper to challenge the existing paper based on their political bias and influence.  It was an ugly confrontational experience that failed.  I knew some of the players, and my fictional account was based on one of those individuals.

Just recently the Colorado Springs newspaper, The Gazette, has started an online Denver Gazette to compete with the Denver Post.  I was happy, another newspaper to read.

Newspapers have always been accused of having a political bias.  This newspaper is Republican or right leaning, or this one is Democratic or left leaning.  While it was clear in the op-ed pages which direction most newspapers fell, I seldom saw the bias in the regular news.  Sure, the story selection, or positioning in the paper could reflect a bias toward one point-of-view or another; but it was never blatantly obvious, only suspected.

Today, newspapers, like everything else, announce their bias.  It is in-your-face journalism, appealing to the like-minded crowd with little if any concern about being accused of bias.  Now, of course, the day-to-day stories that are not political get the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ treatment; but even they have a slant.

The political differences between the Gazette and the Post are obvious.  I’ve been surprised how obvious.  The Post is probably a bit more subtle.  The difference in approach is disturbing to me, for some reason.  I think I want newspapers to at least try to maintain a non-biased image.  Why?  Not sure, just feels more comfortable to me.  If everything can be divided along Red/Blue lines I think we’re in trouble.

Not sure I will continue to support the Gazette, due to their obvious bias, which they seem proud of; but the sports section is great, so might continue to subscribe.  Sports is more important than politics.

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Speaking of sports, the Colorado Rockies baseball team is one of the worst teams in all of baseball; and yet, I continue to watch.  I even see glimmers of hope.  What is that about sports that allows us to root for a team that loses more than wins?  Maybe it is the definition of hope, it’s not based on logic just a desire, a wish.  Through some miracle the Rockies are going to suddenly become a “great” team and beat all the teams I dislike.  Sports bias is different, and I fully support it.  Go Rockies!

Thanks for being a reader!