Saturday, June 30, 2018

Character Matters


pro·tag·o·nist
noun
    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.  

UPDATE

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.