Thursday, August 2, 2018

Awards, Santa Fe and Food

Will be running a series looking at the writing process in the newsletter.  If you have not subscribed to the newsletter you can go to the web site and sign up  The first installment will be an interview with Stanley Nelson with a focus on editing and the newspaper business.  Stan is an literary editor and author with experience in the newspaper business and publishing.  And, of course, Stan and I co-authored the Muckraker Series.  This "inside baseball" stuff may not be interesting to everyone but we will try to keep it short and hopefully give a little insight into "The Writing Process".

Santa Fe, New Mexico provides a backdrop for several of my books and, of course, is a important aspect to the story in Santa Fe Mojo.  Included in the next newsletter will be some recommendations from me (with links) for accommodations and restaurants in Santa Fe.  Also my wife and I have really enjoyed attending classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

When you visit Santa Fe you should sign up for classes.  There are all sorts of classes available mostly dealing with southwest cooking.  It is fun, delicious and a great way to meet some local residents and fellow Santa Fe visitors.  Highly recommended.

Just received the news that Sky High Stakes is a finalist for the 2018 CIPA EVVY award.  This is sponsored by Colorado Independent Publishers Association and is a well respected awards program attracting writers from across the country.  In 2016 The Bootlegger's Legacy received this award.  Hopefully Sky High Stakes will win but it is a honor just to be a finalist.  Thanks CIPA!

Blue Flower Red Thorns, the second Vincent Malone book, is reaching the final stages of editing.  Shooting for a mid-September release date (keep in mind I have been wrong about these release dates before).  The central characters for this murder mystery are pulled from the contemporary fine art scene that exists in Santa Fe.  Lots of high-end art galleries in Santa Fe--big business.  Where there is big money there will be greed, egos, sex and maybe murder?


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Thoughts and Baseball

If you are reading this most likely you are familiar with my books.  Even with that understanding I thought it might be interesting to provide some of my thoughts about each book.

This first one is The Bootlegger's Legacy.

This book maybe my favorite.  It is not a murder mystery; it is about people whose lives are changing due to personal tensions and outside influences.  Many of the characters were based on my experiences and people I knew.  The characters ended up being a blend of various people and it sure is not biographical.  It is pure fiction.  However, when I was writing everything felt familiar.  Joe Meadows and Mike Allen were like a lot of people I knew in the 1970s and 80s; a time of easy success and soul crushing failure.

They were friends out of habit and the bond was strong; but they were entering new stages in their lives and their relationship was no longer easy and comfortable.  The story of their friendship and the eventual life decisions they made is the story of TBL.  I liked both of these characters and it was sad to see them drift in different directions and forget why they were friends.  I think that happens with a lot of friends.

The novel covers a lot of years, including, maybe the most dramatic portion, a flash back to the 1950s.  This is the bootlegger's story and how he provided a legacy, good and bad to the next generation.  The story of Pat Allen, the bootlegger, is a tragic story of forbidden love.  Sally Thompson, Pat's young and beautiful mistress is by far the most interesting and alluring character in the book.  In may ways she is the focal point.

My writing today may be better than it was when I wrote TBL but this is, I believe, my best storytelling.

As I have mentioned several times I'm a baseball fan.  Goodreads pulled a quote from Santa Fe Mojo that reflects my feelings, although they're from Vincent Malone:

“He followed the Denver teams, and was an avid Rockies fan. He thought baseball was a smart game, played more or less according to rules. Football, by contrast, seemed like chaos, with victory often being decided by penalties for breaking rules that were subjective and poorly administered. It was as if the government was in charge of football, with all of its bickering and clowning, while baseball was run by the best fourth-grade teacher you ever had, the one who ensured that everyone played by the rules or not at all, and if you weren’t polite, there were consequences. He wasn’t sure where basketball fit in.”
Go Rockies!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Newsletter and More

Starting a new feature in my newsletter.  If you have not signed up for the newsletter you can on the web site

Each newsletter will feature an article about the process of writing.  As a reader this may or may not be interesting; but I hope it is.  First article will discuss writer's block.  This is something I experienced in 2016/2017, where I had a long dry spell and could not seem to move forward with my writing.  Eventually I pulled out of this funk.  The solution for me seemed to be starting a project to co-author the Muckraker books; Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final.  The first two have been published the third is in limbo.

Writing for me is a lot about discipline.  If I'm writing every day my world is working just fine--if for some reason that schedule is interrupted everything goes downhill.  There were lots of things happening in 2016/17 that created disruptions and as a result I did not write.  Agreeing to co-author was what got me back into a routine; and eventually my writing rhythm returned.

There's not a word for this type of mental glitch for most efforts as there is with writer's block; but I have experienced this same process interruption in other work activities.  Personal things, family things, work things, health things, all sorts of stuff can cause the mind to take a break.  Suddenly the easiest tasks at work are difficult, it not almost impossible.  Most humans are pretty good at functioning every day with minor exceptions; but I think we all experience the effects of writer's block whether you're a writer or not.  My solution of finding a different approach to my work might be a solution to the slumps that happen to us all.

Book Updates:

Blue Flower Red Thorns.  Books go though several editing steps--I think of my books of having four steps in the editing process.  BFRT is just completing step two--the longest of the four steps.  Of course in this process there can be surprises.  So what on the last book took a few weeks on this book could take four.  This makes it hard to estimate completion dates.  My best guess is a publication date in late September or early October.

Fiction No More.  This book is in the writing stage--just me involved, with some help from my wife.  This may sound strange to you but I really enjoy the writing of books, especially at this stage.  This could be as simple as its just me, but also this is when I feel the closest to the process.  I use outlines, charts, extensive notes and lists to keep me on track--but when I'm writing, the story can often change.  As I'm writing the characters seem to have an impact on the story-line; so things can change from my original plans.  I really do enjoy writing these books, sometimes so I can find out what happens at the end.

Other Stuff:

Some of the main characters (suspects?) in Santa Fe Mojo were professional athletes.  This included baseball players.  I'm a big baseball fan.  My team the Colorado Rockies were expected to be in contention for the post season this year but have had an inconsistent year so far.  But now they are Hot!  In a completely illogical way this makes me very happy.  Go Rockies!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Character Matters

    The leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text.

Almost all books are about people.  Mystery, thriller, great adventure does not matter--it is about people.  That is why we read books.  Books are liked because we want to know and follow the lead character--the protagonist.

We read books about good people, bad people, funny and not-so funny--all kinds of people.  What we want is to be able to get to know the character and ultimately care what happens to them.  That is what I do--I write books about characters who I hope you want to know and will care about their fictional lives.  

Reader reviews are important to the success of my books--more good reviews; more book sales.  Also I read these reviews and they have an impact--good and bad.  The ones I appreciate the most are usually some thoughtful words about character development.

"Ted Clifton, already known for blending mystery, relentless realism and deep, unforgettable characters, hits a new stride with Santa Fe Mojo. Before you are five pages into the story, Clifton’s deft touches will give you enough to pick Vincent Malone out of a crowd."

"I loved the plot and I loved the characters."

 "I enjoyed the gradual building of the story and character development."

"This is a well written tale of the human experience. Loss, grief, self exploration, and self discovery are all present and woven into a beautiful story."

If the characters touch a reader it is a good story.  


Second Vincent Malone book is going through the first stages of editing.  In many ways this is a much more tedious task for me than the original writing--but a very necessary set of steps.  My guess at this point is a September or October publishing date for Blue Flower Red Thorns.

Excerpt from Blue Flower Red Thorns first draft.

Nancy McAllen owned the Crown Bar.  Her husband had bought the bar as a retirement investment, although even he noted he loved spending time in bars.  He was a cop and one night opened the wrong door and died.  Maybe part therapy and maybe part need, but Nancy took on the bar and made it into a landmark in Santa Fe; often frequented by all of the local law enforcement.  Nancy had spent many years in mourning but was becoming more comfortable with herself and the tragedy she had experienced.  She was in her early fifties and continued to get admiring stares from most males. 
She and Vincent were in the throes of trying to figure out how they might be compatible.  With some of Vincent’s qualities it was like being attracted to a thorny bush.  You just had to be careful that you didn’t get hurt, but there was no doubt she already cared.

“Hey there Mister Malone how are you this fine day?”  Nancy was glad to see Vincent and gave him her best smile.

“Well aren’t you cheerful, what makes this such a fine day?”  Vincent had to work at being anything other than grumpy.

“Number one, you are our twenty-second customer today so you get a free beer.  Number two I need to be cheerful to offset your gloominess or everything in the world will be out of balance and I forgot number three.”

Vincent actually laughed.  “Free beer ought to cheer up anyone.  I’ll tell you what if you have time I will buy you a free beer.”  

This sure wasn’t a match made in heaven but they were trying and that counted for a lot.

“Back from your Albuquerque run?”

“Yeah.  The last guests were all such nice people, not sure how they found out about the Inn but Cindy and Jerry were a great hit.  They couldn’t stop saying nice things about them and how they were already planning on coming back.”

“Is Jerry still doing most of the cooking or Mary?”

“Well actually that’s a problem.  Jerry can do some things but they have started offering a light lunch as convenience since some of the guests don’t want to go into Santa Fe for lunch and then again for dinner.  So Mary’s been fixing that meal plus helping with the breakfast and she is having trouble keeping up with her cleaning chores.”

“That fits into what I wanted to ask.  Do you think they would consider hiring someone to help with the cleaning?  A cousin of mine, actually I think she is my late husband’s cousin, although the whole relative thing gets mixed up unless I sit down with paper and pencil and draw a family tree—well that’s not important.  She has a niece who is visiting her from Houston.  She asked me if I could give her a job, she thinks she needs to do something other than stay on her phone all of the time.  She’s here because she had some boy problems in Houston and her mother shipped her here under threat of disownment.  The cousin here says she’s a sweet girl and thinks the whole problem could be her domineering mother.  Okay here’s the point, I can’t hire her because she’s only twenty and I was thinking maybe the Oliver’s could use some maid type help.”

“Sure.  They might.  I’ll ask.  What’s her name?”

“Mariana Garcia.  And it does not matter, but she is absolutely beautiful.”

“Good looks worked for me when I got my job.” Vincent often hid his sense of humor well, but it was always lurking around his rough edges.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Santa Fe Mojo ebook Now Available!

Santa Fe Mojo in now available on amazon.  Click Here

Vincent Malone, an aging legal investigator working in Denver, has had health problems and as a result has lost all of his law firm clients.  He’s a few years away from full retirement and decides to head to Phoenix to look for cheaper housing and a dead-end job.  He has been a legal investigator for over 30 years in Denver after he failed dramatically in Dallas—as an up and coming new attorney he made a drunken decision and invested in a deal that turn out to be illegal.  He lost his law license, beautiful young wife and all of his money.  He went to Denver a broken man and he left Denver years later still a broken man.  Makes a stop in Santa Fe for the night and sees an ad for a senior van driver for a new B&B.  He takes the job and begins to find a new life—even at his advanced age.  He gets pulled into a murder mystery by assisting an ancient gun-slinger lawyer everyone thought was dead, who is the uncle of the baseball player accused of the crime of killing a big shot sports agent.  For Vincent a chance to get his mojo back.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Good and Bad

Santa Fe Mojo is about done, really.  Won't bore you with details but there were delays.  Anticipate it will be available for purchase on amazon in a week or two.  Final cover is below:

Just finished two books about an older man at the end of his working days who had experienced a lot of grief, mostly due to his own faults and mistakes: Vincent Malone.  That was right after writing about a young man who was just getting started, although dragging with him a load of emotional baggage: Tommy Jacks.

While writing the Malone stories it struck me that Jacks would be about Vincent's age during the time of the Malone book --2015.  They are different people in their respective tales but could they be similar at the same age and time?   That made me wonder about those two meeting.

Sort of playing with the idea of having the mid-sixty year old characters meet in a new Malone book.  If you have read the Muckraker books you would know a lot about the young Tommy Jacks and then to meet him again many years later in a different setting could be interesting.

Like I said just an idea, who knows if that happens or not.  My creative process follows that pattern a lot.  Come up with ideas kick them around, even on occasion start writing; but then for one reason or another abandon the idea. 

Politics.  No please don't scream, this is NOT a political blog, although I do have my opinions.  Had someone make what I thought was an unusual comment to me about Murder So Wrong.  That person wondered why I made the Republicans the bad guys.  At first I thought the person was joking, I had not made them the bad guys.  But after some exchange it become clear that person saw the book as having a bias against Republicans. 

The basis of Murder So Wrong was things I and my co-author experienced in Oklahoma City in the 1960s and 1970s.  The political parties at that time were a very fluid situation, not like today.  Democrats and Republicans believed different things--but the differences were not all that great.  When writing MSW it never occurred to me that one party was bad and one was good--it was the people who were bad or good.  Although even the good had flaws.  That is the way I remember that time.

But in today's world if you are on the other team then you are the enemy.  Matter of fact I believe it would be very possible that Tommy Jacks could have grown up to be a Republican even though his dad was a staunch Democrat.  People and politics change--sometimes a lot.

Murder So Wrong is a murder mystery set in the 1960s that happens to occur during a political campaign--it is not a political commentary about the politics of 2018.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Delayed But Not Forgotten

It's probably due to my financial background but I'm a notorious planner.  I plan everything.  Does that mean my plans always work--NO! 

Santa Fe Mojo is very close to done.  My plan was to have a pre-order option up by now--hasn't worked out; for lots of reasons, some on me and some due to others. 

Now, due to the delay, I believe I will go straight to publication.  That should be within the next few weeks--definitely before the end of May.

Below is the first draft of a cover.  Have any particular likes or dislikes, let me know.  This is the first draft and changes are already being made--but thought it might be interesting to see the original draft.

And then you can compare it to what it actually ends up being.  Cover designs are important because the first impression is key to people buying on-line.  For on-line sales reviews are the most important and next is probably the cover.

Update on second Vincent Malone Novel.   99% finished with the writing of Blue Flower Red Thorns.  Next steps are several editing phases and then preparing for publication.  Probably pointless to estimate a target date based on my track record but it should be within three months of SFM and hopefully can have a pre-order option on Amazon sometime in July.

Will have a preview of BFRT in the back of SFM.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Conclusion of Christmas Tradition

Below is the conclusion of the short story A Christmas Tradition.  Hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane.

As part of a project I was working on regarding some marketing efforts, I was required to look at the main protagonist in each of my books.  All of these books have supporting characters who are a vital part of the story and in some cases readers have pointed out that they actually were more interesting than the main person.  But just looking at the main character was an interesting exercise.

The Bootlegger's Legacy.  Joe Meadows.  Married CPA with two kids, age 44.  Unhappy marriage.  Drinks too much.  Always fighting money problems.  Generally not very happy with life but destined to plod along and not to do anything about it.  Of course all of that changes in the book.

Dog Gone Lies and Sky High Stakes.  Ray Pacheco.  Widowed, in his sixties, one grown son he never sees.  Now many people might say that the most interesting characters are Tyee Chino and Big Jack--and no doubt they are the most interesting; but it is Ray who makes the books believable and endearing.  A good person meeting new challenges late in life.

Murder So Wrong and Murder So StrangeTommy Jacks.  Young, early twenties, idealistic reporter with huge family baggage.  Insecure and uncertain about new relationships.  We explore the murder mysteries with Tommy but also witness his growth into a more complete human being.

Santa Fe Mojo and Blue Flower Red ThornsVincent Malone.  Mid-sixties, broken man with long history of cynical attitude about life and people.  Drinks too much.  Poor health.  Sense of humor that he most often hides.  Smart, tough and alone--by choice.  Finds new beginnings in Santa Fe but only by accident.

Some observations.  They are all men.  Diverse ages and occupations.  All in the middle of major life changes.  Couple of drinkers.  This is a little subjective but they are all good people who are flawed, some more than others.  Have any thoughts on these characters let me know.

A Christmas Tradition

Part Four of Four

Donny’s house was next.  Donny was a year or maybe a year and half older than the rest of us.  He was tougher, meaner and usually very sad.  Donny’s dad seemed mostly to drink and yell.  Donny had told his pals that his dad drank gin.  Nobody knew what gin was but it didn’t sound good and on occasion when his dad tried to talk to someone, it was obvious it didn’t smell good either.   His dad didn’t seem to have a regular job but would be gone for long periods of time doing something.  When his dad was gone his house was much happier; but then his dad would return.  His dad told everyone who would listen how horrible it was the bootlegger was arrested, by his own account one of the best people in the whole damn state.  We all knew he wasn’t supposed to say damn but didn’t have the courage to tell him.

Donny had a sister, Betty.  Betty was in high school and was a cheerleader.  Betty was the most beautiful person who lived on our street, she also had no modesty.  All of the houses in the neighborhood had one bathroom, this was a major problem for Betty.  Betty needed her own bathroom or maybe two.  She was always dressing and “getting herself ready,” whatever that really meant. This mysterious process seemed to involve her running around the house looking for some key aspect of being “ready” while dressed in her bra and slip.  It didn’t seem to matter who was in the house her needs were paramount over any other considerations.  Donny’s little boy friends sat around the tiny living room with their mouths agape and their eyes wide open.

Donny’s family seemed to have lots of money based mostly on the abundance of food.  We didn’t know but also suspected gin wasn’t cheap.  Christmas was a confusing place at Donny’s house.  They didn’t have a tree but they did have presents.  They weren’t church going people but they wished everyone a Merry Christmas.  Donny had participated in past gift ratings but each year he became meaner.  Bill had even told me that he was afraid of Donny and didn’t want to be around him anymore.  Donny’s anger at everyone seemed to come and go with the departure and return of his dad.  Even though Betty was an attraction for his buddies, Donny preferred to stay outside.  He would play basketball from morning to late night on most summer days.
As I approached Donny I could see he was in a bad mood.  “Nothin’ this year you little creep.”  It looked like Donny had been crying.  I asked him if he wanted to play a game of horse, he told me to get lost.  I left.

Now it was my turn.  I knew I had gotten some great gifts but nothing was going to beat Ernie.  The look on his face when he showed me that slide-rule said it all—he was the winner in more ways than just the kid’s gift rating game.  I gave myself a twenty-five and conceded defeat to the smiling Ernie.
As I walked into my warm, cozy home I knew the gift game was history.  Something had changed; maybe it was just everybody getting older or maybe it was everybody getting wiser.  In years past each one would have joined me to go to the next.  By the time we reached my house the whole group would be together and we would be laughing.  Today nobody was really that interested, except, I guess, me.  

Bill had to stay home and watch Timmy play with his Christmas stash, Ernie couldn’t take the slide-rule outside and he didn’t want to leave it, just yet.  Bobby said his mother told him he couldn’t cross Key any more without an adult, there had been a scare a couple of days ago with a kid almost hit on his bike.  Johnny was grounded for two weeks because he had fixed himself French toast while his mom was out shopping and almost burned the house down.  Donny was angry at everyone and seemed dangerous and no longer wanted any of the creeps around his house.

Kid’s games by their nature stop at some point. You stop being a kid.  I never won the kid’s Christmas gift rating game.  It had usually been Bill, no doubt because we trusted him to allocate his huge load of gifts between the two celebration days.  Donny had won once, back when he was friendlier, when he got a complete football uniform, with shoulder pads and a helmet.  He was happy that day.  Ernie of course got the prize with his beloved slide-rule, even though none of us really knew what it did.  Bobby didn’t win but often came in second.  Johnny had been close one year with a pogo-stick but lost to Bill and his new bike.  

Now I can see it wasn’t the winning, it was that we all got together and laughed.  It was fun to be together and talk about the gifts and argue about the scores.  It was a tradition.  A Christmas tradition.  I will miss that.

The End

Friday, April 13, 2018

Good Idea or Bad?

In The Bootlegger's Legacy there was a prologue that detailed what happened to the main characters after the book concluded.  I always liked this in movies and thought it was especially appropriate for the TBL.  Many reviewers have commented on this addition as a aspect of the book they also liked.  I'm going to include a similar wrap-up in the first Vincent Malone book Santa Fe Mojo which should be available for preorder on Amazon in the first part of May.

 Buy on Amazon

(Little side-note TBL has just reached 156 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5.  Thank you readers and reviewers.)

SFM is one book in a series unlike TBL.  But it still made sense to me to include information about what happened to the principle characters--not so much the on-going ones but this particular book specific ones.  Some of the people who's advice I respect said I shouldn't do that, matter of fact they said the prologue in TBL was not needed.  As you can see on some occasions, okay quite a few, I ignore advice.  I know some books should not continue on past the end.  But I can't help it, I like knowing what happened to the people in the book I have just gotten to know.  What do you think?

A Christmas Tradition

Part Three of Four

What was I going to say to Bobby?  Don’t even show me your gifts-- you’ve lost.  Wow, life was tough.  Bobby lived on Northrup but he lived across Key Boulevard, a major two lane street than ran right through the heart of the little city.  My parents had never forbid me going across Key, but many kids on my street couldn’t.  “Too much traffic”, was the most often mentioned parent reason.  As far as I knew the people weren’t different on that side, although it was a possibility.  

Bobby was all about sports.  He had no interest in anything else.  So naturally his also ‘only interested in sports’ parents bought him sports gifts.  These, of course, had great value in kids scoring.  But Bobby was hard to deal with, he was ultra-competitive.  If I assigned an eight to a new football, Bobby would insist it was an eleven.  If I said eleven he would demand a fifteen.  Unless he won he wouldn’t agree on any number.  Since I have dealt with Bobby before, I knew what to do.  

This year he received a new basketball.  I told him it was an eight, he insisted it was a ten.  I really thought it could be a fifteen but he won at ten.  We bargained away for some time with him winning every battle.  He was all smiles; he was the victor.  His grand total was thirty-two; but he was ecstatic that he had bested me in every negotiation.  None of us played sports games with Bobby, one reason was that he was much better than we were; but mostly it was just not much fun.

Once I was back across Key Boulevard I felt more relaxed.  It was only thirty feet of pavement but it was a real barrier, at least in my head.  Johnny’s house was next.  His mom was a school teacher and she yelled a lot.  Most of her yelling was directed at her husband who always seemed to be leaving.  Sometime later, when we were in Junior High, he left one morning and never returned. 

Johnny was the class clown.  He lived for only one thing –to make you laugh.  His biggest problem was that he wasn’t very funny.  We used to walk down Key to a small shopping center and buy things at the drug store or just gawk at things in the hobby store.  There were times in the summer we would make that journey every day.  On each trip we would pass a dry cleaner shop that had a woman sitting at a desk facing out to the sidewalk.  She apparently was the bookkeeper.  Each time we passed Johnny would put his face on the glass and blow.  This made an ugly face and it seemed to upset the woman.  It also left an unsightly mess on the window.  She didn’t think it was funny, I didn’t think it was funny; but Johnny thought it was hilarious.  

After a while when the woman saw us she would get up and go to the back of the shop, no doubt hiding from the hideous creature who made faces and smeared her window.  Even if she had left, Johnny did his face thing and laughed.  One day a man came out, he might have been the owner, he didn’t say, he told Johnny he would have to clean up that mess or he was calling the cops—he also let Johnny know that he knew his mother.  With no reason that anyone could have figured out, Johnny jumped around and made monkey noises at the man and then ran off.  It was obvious to me that Johnny had just insulted the man, but the man seemed unsure what to do.  He looked at me as if I might have an answer, I had none.  He went inside and I went home.  From that day forward we begin to walk on the other side of the street and only cross over once we reached the hobby store.  All Johnny ever said about that day was that the man had called his mother and threaten to have him arrested for damaging his window—he said “defacing”, but must have meant something else.  In a very strange way Johnny seemed to think all of that was funny.

Christmas had never been a big event at Johnny’s house. They had a tree but it was only slightly decorated and they had very few gifts.  Johnny had never won the Christmas gift rating game.  He didn’t seem to care but it was hard to tell for sure.  His biggest gift this year was cowboy boots.  That could rank pretty high on the kid’s scale, but he said they were hand-me-downs from a cousin who lived in the country.  Better luck next year Johnny.

Next: A Christmas Tradition Final

Friday, March 30, 2018

Art Show Santa Fe

Currently in the middle of writing the second Vincent Malone book; Blue Flower Red Thorns. Vincent is still in Santa Fe and involved in the big time art business.  You may not be familiar with the thriving art market that exist in Santa Fe.  Many people think the art is exclusive Native American or southwest art but the city also has many contemporary galleries selling art world wide.  According to the Santa Fe chamber of commerce "Santa Fe is recognized worldwide for its rich culture and diverse art community. The city hosts over 250 art galleries as well as a variety of museums and performing arts."  And also, "In terms of dollar sales, Santa Fe is among the largest art markets in the U.S. according to a study by the University of New Mexico's Bureau of Business and Economic Research."  

But of course even in the rarefied air of fine art there is lust and greed; which leads to murder and mystery; and another book!

Note: pre-order on the first Vincent Malone book; Santa Fe Mojo, should be up on Amazon on May 7th. Notice I said should be--scheduling glitches do happen, but that date is the target.

A Christmas Tradition

Part Two of Four

There had been two big incidents in the neighborhood for as long as anyone could remember.  One was when the bootlegger, who lived one street over, was arrested.  Everyone knew where the bootlegger lived but it was shocking when the police arrested the man.  While selling booze was obviously illegal most fathers thought he hadn’t harmed anyone and “don’t the police have better things to do than hassle our neighbors” was often said by various dads, some of whom were customers.  The other was a suicide.

Across the street from my house two houses down was a family who no one really knew.  They had a grown son who lived with them but he never spoke to anyone or even waved.  The parents were retired military and seemed very old.  Not much was known, but gossip had speculated that the son was staying with his parents because he had legal problems.  That bit of gossip was based on absolutely nothing other than the willful and unfounded claims of Mrs. Peters.  According to my mother, she read way too many books and had extreme ideas.  I heard my mother whisper to my father that she had a whole bookcase full of romance novels.  Sin did exist in Midwest City.

One day the grown son parked his almost new Chevrolet in the one-car garage and started the engine.  His mother found him many hours later and emitted a blood curdling scream before she collapsed.  Within a very short amount of time the police arrived and set-up a blockade with their patrol cars and uniform officers stationed around the small house.  No one saw the father that day, but the mother was taken away in an ambulance.  Soon other vehicles arrived and while observed by everyone in the neighborhood the son’s body was removed.  Shortly after the incident the parents moved out.  It was said the father had been put in a nursing home.  The house stayed vacant for many years and was still vacant when my parents moved to a larger house.

My journey on Christmas morning was first to Bills.  Start with the most difficult and work towards the easiest, a philosophy that served me well long after Christmas Day gift auditing duties.  Bill was prepared.  He had made a list with estimated value points.  He had definitely hit the Christmas gift jack-pot with a Giant Erector Set, the one with a functioning elevator.  On top of that he got a new baseball glove.  He was sitting pretty.  We argued some and debated, but he won me over and we agreed his score was a whopping forty-two.  A record.

Next up was Ernie.  I hadn’t been inside his house all that much, but when I was it was always a warm feeling.  His mother was very small and polite, more like a grandma than a mom.  His dad stayed outside in their garage where he had a wood working shop.  He made things, like tables and book cases and sold them at a small flea market near the fair grounds.  Not sure he had a job.  He had never said anything to me.  Ernie stepped outside wearing a new stocking cap and sporting some impressive gloves.  This was going to be a very competitive year.  Ernie was grinning like he was about to explode, he had something hidden behind his back.  “It is a miracle. I finally got one.”  He seemed in awe, I had no idea what he was talking about.  He brought it forward and showed me.  I still didn’t know what it was.  “It’s a slide-rule.”  This was something different, never had it been listed on the kids scale of gifts.  But, no doubt, even I knew this was on the same scale as an erector set.  After some thought I offered my opinion on value, Ernie looked offended.  He began a dissertation that covered more words than I had ever heard him say.  He talked about adding, subtracting, division, most of which I sort of understood; but then he mentioned logarithms, roots and powers, trigonometry.  The words lost meaning.  This was in another league.  Just based on the look on Ernie’s face this had to be the best genius boy gift of all-time, without further hesitation I declare the gift score, including the gloves and hat at an astronomical seventy-five.  Contest over, no one could beat this—except for maybe a motor scooter.  Congratulations were due to Ernie and his poor parents, they had reached the highest gift score of all time.  Ernie was beaming as I left.

Next Post --Part Three