Hey, whad’ya think?

I think of Indie authors as being lonely people. Not that they don’t have friends and family it’s just that most people don’t want to talk to them because all they care about is their silly books. They keep asking have you read my latest book, what did you think about the cover, did you see that review I got….on and on. So people start to avoid them. Wisely so.

But still; have you read my latest book? What did you think of the cover? Yep, I’m an Indie author desperate for information. Who are my readers? Are they male, female, under 40 over 60? Which of my books have the most appeal, why? What should a good cover look like. What are readers willing to pay for an e-book, how much does it matter? Information/data –it drives everything. If you had good data you could make better decisions on marketing, cover design –every aspect of writing books.

I currently have nine books published; it would be great if you could share with me any information you have about my writing. Which of my books have you read? What do you think about the covers? Just anything that might help me understand how other people view what I’m doing–it would be helpful. Or maybe just a comment of books in general, what you like; don’t like? What you’re willing to pay?


Reading for Health?

Reprinted from May Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter on the web site tedclifton.com.

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!

Long Journey

Release Date May 15th, 2019

Fiction No More will be released next Wednesday the 15th of May, 2019. This book took longer to finish and publish than previous books (with the exception of one; Four Corners War which I will discuss in a minute). I started writing Fiction No More in June 2018. My normal pattern is to write a book in about three months. That is the time it takes for me to write a first draft of the manuscript. Typically there has been about an equal amount of time to finish the book–editing, revisions, more editing, cover design, layout –the whole other shebang is usually another three months. For a total of six months from start to finish.

I read about authors who write a book in a month and have it published in another month. There are, of course, authors who take years to write a book. There is no correct amount of time–it takes what it takes. My goal is to write three books per year. When Four Corners War is published later this year it will be my tenth book–in about 4 years. An average of 2.5 books a year. So close to my goal. The odd part is that I have had books take three or so months from start to finish and now with FNM has taken eleven months. The reason one book would be one thing and another book (with the same author and same team of people) would be so much longer is not very interesting. It’s not more complications and re-writes; it is mostly just delays, one-time disruptions–all easily described as life interfering with schedules. But it is frustrating.

No doubt none of this is very interesting; but since you are reading a blog about writing, I’m working on the assumption that your interested in the messy details of writing. When I say “team of people” this is mostly editors. No author should publish a book without the assistance of editors. It would be nice to just take the first draft and run with it–publish as is. That would be a mistake for the author and the reader. Editors have a great skill in helping authors reach the goal of writing the best book they can. They don’t rewrite the book but they make corrections, offer guidance and are a necessary element in producing a good book. In the case of FNM the first editor to work on the book was in the process of moving–which didn’t go exactly as planned and he was delayed in completing his part of the project. The editor towards the end of the process was also delayed by some miscommunication on my part. All in all it was anything that could go wrong did–the result was delays.

So now the book will be published next week almost a year from when I started writing.

Now the real champ for length of time from starting to publishing is Four Corners War. I’ve written before about my mental block regarding FCW. This is a book that I started in 2016–yep three years ago. I had zipped right through the first two Pacheco and Chino books and was all gung-ho to begin the third. Got about a fourth of the way into the book and a cloud developed. On that dark day I just stopped writing. My mind went blank. I didn’t know where the story was going–nothing felt right. It was writer’s block. I was frozen. Bottom line is that I didn’t write anything for almost a year. To try and break out of that slump I began to write a new series with a co-author; the “Murder” books with Stanley Nelson. In a relative short span of time we wrote three books. The spell was broken.

Pre-Order Soon!

I returned to FCW and just recently finished the book–it will be published later this year. The total time for one of my books at three plus years hopefully is a bad record that I never break.

Reader Reviews

Arriving sometime in 2019 – see Schedule comments below

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 a lot of them, but some readers seem offended by only a few. So its 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 would 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 there 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.

Schedules

Now here is a subject no one cares about; schedules. For much of my working life I met schedules everyday. I was a CPA and lived in the world of hard deadlines. These were not if you can possibly have it done by then deadlines–these were you will be fired if you miss them deadlines.

Now I operate in a different world, where deadlines are often just suggestions. Not sure how it is in your world but missing deadlines drives me crazy. I’m a planner. This has benefits in some things and drawbacks in others. But I plan my day, my months activity, what I’ll accomplish this year, next year–it is disgusting. No, just go with the flow for me–it must be planned.

So I work on my detailed plan for the whole year and somewhere around the middle of January something I need from someone else to accomplish my plan does not arrive on time. My plan is garbage. Less than one month into the year–it is wasted.

So after the beginning of the year fell apart I decided I would just relax, enjoy my free time and I will work when the other stuff shows up. Easy going me–never stressed; schedules don’t matter. No more nasty emails asking where the hell such and such is. Have tried that for a few months and surprise; nothing has been done on schedule, stuff is already months behind–I have stopped working. Now I don’t think this is anyone’s fault but my own. I was a certain kind of person and because that seemed to annoy others I tried to become someone else–didn’t work. My writing has stopped because I can’t stick to a schedule.

Never in the past did I recognize how important it had been for me to stick to a schedule; pushing myself to meet artificially set deadlines. But now without them I have fallen apart. The only way around this is to go back to my schedule setting ways and stop dealing with people who cannot meet my deadlines. Could be a lonely existence but everything will be ready on time.

Influences

Odds and Ends
Influences

Googled “J.R.R. Tolkien influences” the other day for no particular reason and received an amazing list of detailed analysis of what might have influenced Tolkien’s writing. I had read that he was impacted by his experiences in WWI and WWII, along with his religious background in the Catholic church; but here were pages and pages of other influences. In summary it could be said everything he ever saw, did, read, heard and thought influenced him. We are formed by our experiences and thus become a reflection of those circumstances. I think that is fairly easy to accept.

Putting aside this obvious aspect of how we become who we are, I would guess most writers are more directly influenced by someone or something more specific than just the general all experiences statement. This made me think about my writing.

The Bootlegger’s Legacy. This was my first book and fits more into the category of general literature than my later books. It is not easily pegged into a genre hole. The greatest influence for this book was, of course, my own experiences since much of the story is based loosely on what happened to me and what I heard from people I knew during a period of financial crisis due to the oil industry collapse. There were many people looking at oddball ways to make some money–some a little less than legal. I don’t believe the style (whatever that is) of the book was influenced by any other writer. It was a story that literally came together as I wrote it. I don’t recall any movies or television that had any influence in this writing—in many ways this is probably the most original story line of any of my books. But as strange as it may seem if I had to pick an influence it would be The Lord of the Rings. One of my attractions to Tolkien’s books was the camaraderie of friends embarking on a life-changing adventure. Joe and Mike are sure the hell not hobbits but they also embarked on a life-changing adventure that was influenced by much larger events in the past that they had not been involved in. Okay, maybe it’s a stretch but I think my feelings when reading The Lord of the Rings the first time influenced the writing of this book more than anything else.

Sky High Stakes: Pacheco & Chino #2

Pacheco & Chino. These books are about Ray Pacheco and Tyee Chino. The relationship and banter between these two dramatically different people is what drives each story. There are probably a lot of influences that I could name for this type of structure but the first would be Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and Hawk books. There were times I would read the latest book in this series and think how bad it was, but how much I enjoyed it. The why was always because of the exchanges between Spenser and Hawk. It was like a strange dance or something that you just had to watch—it was familiar and comfortable. I did not consciously try to make Pacheco and Chino the same but as an influence Parker’s books would be at the top of the list.

Santa Fe Mojo: Vincent Malone #1

Vincent Malone. This is easy it’s 1940’s black and white detective movies. All of them. And of course the writers Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie and many others. I read the books and watched the movies. The lone private detective battling evil is a cliché and of course I hope Malone is similar and maybe a little different— that is the influence for this series. I still watch those old movies today—it is somehow comforting to watch something so familiar and yet mysterious. The why; pretty sure because it’s fun.

Murder So Wrong: Muckraker #1

Muckraker Series. The Tommy Jack books were mostly influenced by personal experience. When I first brought up the idea of the books to my co-author Stanley Nelson it was in the context of my experiences with the real life Albright character in the books. He was a political columnist for one of the papers competing in a very ugly newspaper war in Oklahoma City in the 1960s. Much, but not all, of this story is based on events that actually happened. My original plan was to tell the story from the point of view of this columnist but for various reasons a new character, the young recent journalism grad, became the focal point and the Albright character was his mentor. Stories about newspapers and reporters, both movies and books, always fascinated me so I’m sure there was some influence there that contributed to Tommy Jacks and his entourage.

I’m currently writing the first book in the Doctor Hightower series and not real sure what the influences would be—but there might be some science fiction influence at work here. For great swaths of my life my favorite genre of fiction was Sci-Fi—it had to rear its ugly head sooner or later. Hightower isn’t Sci-Fi but the influence is there. Part of the jumble of influences that effects everything we do; good and bad.

Thanks everyone for being a reader!
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Different but the Same?

Moving the blog. Not a big deal (I hope) but will no doubt take some time for me to get used to different options.

Currently writing Doctor Hightower. A new series that I have been advised not to do. Yep, I asked for expert advice on whether I should begin a new series or write only in my current (two active) series. The advice was to write more books in the current series. Gave it thought and jumped right into the new book. I’m sure the advisers were right, but I wanted to do something new. Bet we all have experienced that –we know we should do this thing but we really want to do the other thing.

I’ve written before about the process of my writing. The best description might be loosey-goosey. Hightower was an idea about a character; with no thoughts about the story line. What was that character going to do? Who knows–maybe it will be a very short story. But once I started to write I had ideas. We have all seen “best practices” for all sorts of things–well my approach would be “worst practices.” This is not the way to write a book. You should plan, compose an outline, have story-boards, develop character profiles and on and on. Sorry, not for me I just jump in. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.

Hightower is a mysterious character. He is living on the edges of society in a remote town in the foothills outside of Denver. He’s an attorney but only takes on cases that interest him. He seems to be middle-age; but people whisper that he might be very, very old. In the current book, The Case of the False Prophet, we learn about Hightower’s past and the amazing discoveries he was involved in back in the 1930s. Now in 2020 he is not old and definitely not dead.

I will keep you informed on how this progresses. Maybe this is just one book or maybe a series or maybe I never finish it. Stay tuned.

Vincent Malone first in series

Fiction No More is now available for pre-order on Amazon. This is the third book in the Vincent Malone series. The first book Santa Fe Mojo introduces the character Vincent Malone, a gritty down-on-his-luck private investigator looking for a place to hide until he can collect social security and retire. He finds his mojo in Santa Fe.

Thanks for being a reader.

Book News

Pre-order Fiction No More now.  This is the third book in the Vincent Malone series.  This is a mystery that has murder as an element but I wouldn’t say its a murder mystery.  The story begins with a tragic death in the past due to stupidity and bigotry.  That death was more accident than murder but the results of the death were consequential and tragic for many people.  It is that relationship with the characters that intrigues me–while still writing about a mystery; it is the people that are the driving force behind the story.  Malone is our guide to understanding these flawed people and their motivations.  And of course our guide is also flawed.  Several surprises along the way that will keep you guessing.

The book will be published May 15th but preorder now and get it delivered that first day.

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Have a new box set coming out for pre-order May 15th–“Ted Clifton Series Starter Set–3 Murder Mysteries”.  This will include the first Pacheco & Chino book, Dog Gone Lies, the first Muckraker Series book, Murder So Wrong and the first Vincent Malone book; Santa Fe Mojo.  This set will be priced at a almost 50% reduction off of the regular prices for the individual books.  Plus there will be some bonus material included.