The truth about fakes by CL Swinney

Chris SwinneyC.L. Swinney is a narcotics investigator currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He has investigated hundreds of narcotics, homicide, gang, and Mexico cartel cases along the west coast of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  C. L. Swinney has been invited to speak at law enforcement conferences throughout the United States and is recognized as an expert in narcotics, homicides, and cell phone forensics.  C. L. Swinney developed the concept for the first book in his Bill Dix series, Gray Ghost, while fly fishing in the Bahamas.   His passion for the outdoors and law enforcement is intertwined throughout his writing.  The world of narcotics is dark and mysterious.  C. L. Swinney pulls the reader immediately into this fascinating world from the first word in his debut novel and doesn’t let you out until you finish the book.  Finding time to be with his wife, two children, friends, and family has been his greatest obstacle.  Yet somehow some way he manages to make it happen. Chris’ first novel, Gray Ghost, will be released  July 2013. Make sure you get a copy! 

Promotion comes in all shapes and styles, but one thing holds true to be successful, the more you sell yourself through positive interaction, the more people will buy your product.

In my case, I chose to figure out social media because I was already immersed in it as a 30-something trying to be hip with my I-phone.  I pushed myself to figure out one platform, but three more popped up that were “cooler” or more popular than the one I was currently trying to figure out.

For the purpose of this piece, I’ll focus on Twitter.  This is my story of what not to do.  I noticed right away that I needed more than 140 characters to communicate.  And, if you wanted to be heard, you needed to have tons of followers.  I tried some of the pointers on Twitter and on-line to build followers, but the results were VERY slow.  So, I took a walk on the dark side…The world of BUYING followers.  Ok I said it, and I don’t feel much better about it.

So, I paid money to have a person add “fake” followers to my account.  Before I knew it, I had 45,000 followers, none of which I knew.  The problem was, if I tweeted something about my blog, book, or website, I didn’t get many hits or responses because my message was going to one person who had millions of accounts.  Strangely, however, I began getting requests for followers ONLY BECAUSE I had a large number of “Followers.”  So it was true, perception was reality.  Nevertheless, I decided it was CC5GrayGhost(2)time to be real to myself.  I needed to become a better promoter instead of faking my way through it.

I learned to be me and sell myself.  I began talking about my interests, groups I supported, and tried to help friends promote their business and authors promote their work.  It was a good thing I did, because about a month ago, Twitter analytics software “cleaned” Twitter up of fake accounts.  Facebook did the same thing.  They were not happy people were making money off of their software and not getting a piece of the profits.  Tens of thousands of people lost their “popularity” over night.  I still watch the people following my account, but if they are fake, I report them as spam.  Now real people follow me because they like what I have to say.  This human bond translates to sales. The lesson I learned?  Be true to yourself, promote yourself legitimately, and your products will begin to sell.  Buyers like real people, flawed or not, because it’s human nature.  If I sell a few books while being comfortable in my own skin, it’s a bonus.

Make sure you all pick up a copy of Gray Ghost by CL Swinney!

Cemetery Whites is a Genial Genealogy Mystery

Cemetery Whites CoverCemetery Whites is a Genial Genealogy Mystery by Connie Knight

Reviewed by Denise Hartman

Recently widowed Caroline Hargrove Hamilton leaves Houston to go back to her roots in DeWitt County outside San Antonio.  Her research sojourn is interrupted by a modern day murder at the old family cemetery and eventually she finds family history and mystery intertwined.  Urged on by her family and with the help of the attractive Constable, Caroline dusts off her journalism skills to uncover the true story.

Connie Knight populates her story with believable and entertaining characters including gun-toting Great Aunt Hettie, Uncle Cotton and the local librarian.  She provides a back-drop of information about the Texas colonies and the influence of Spain and Mexico, which makes for a good read and an entertaining way to get a dose of Texas history.  Knight takes us along on Caroline’s quest through cemeteries, libraries, census records and, of course, the Internet.  She discovers relatives with secrets small and large, new and old.  Some who will take time before confiding in a newcomer.

The writing is authentic, like getting a letter from a friend and following her adventures

The descriptions of the heat, the light and the plants are particularly good.  Sometimes she wanders off onto a tangent but it seems totally natural and conversational with the detours providing background and layers to the two stories past and present.  Reveling in the language, she cites vernacular phrases, such as  “We how did but we ain’t shook” and captures well the various voices of the countryside.

This book is a treat for anyone who has ever explored genealogy.  From the researching and organizing of materials to the decoding and matching of references, the reader gets drawn into the process.  There are surprising connections and the ultimate thrill of discovery plus the solving of two crimes.  Worth reading.

The Border Lords by T. Jefferson Parker

The Border Lords

A Charlie Hood Novel

T. Jefferson Parker

New American Library, 2012, 400 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0-451-23556-5

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

Sean Ozburn (Gravas) is undercover for Operation Blowdown.  Sean is one of the best undercover operators but Charlie Hood is taken by surprise when Sean begins acting totally out of character.  Sean operates a “safe house” in Buena Vista, California, a border town.  The house has been wired for sound and video.  The current occupants of the house are four gunmen who are members of the North Baja Cartel, the organization, Sean and ATF are hoping to put out of business.  Sean was in the habit of checking in with Operation Blowdown on a daily basis but he hasn’t checked in for a few days and Hood is concerned that Sean’s undercover identity might have been blown.

Charlie Hood, still on loan from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, was monitoring the live feeds from the “safe house” when the monitors and audio went dark.  After the team requested an unmarked police car to drive by the house, it was decided it would be best to check out the house on their own.  All of the occupants of the “safe house” had been killed.  Hood found a “Love 32” in one of the bedrooms.  The machine gun was the same as ones he had seen being packed for shipment at the Pace Arms factory in Costa Mesa.  He suspected many of the guns had been sent to Mexico and were now being used by the Cartel.  After an inspection of the house, it was found that someone had shut off the video/audio system with a key.    When the team viewed the tape from one of the cameras, they were stunned to see Sean smiling into the camera as he reached up to cover the lens.

So begins the bizarre story of Sean Ozburn and his wife Seliah.  Hood works with Seliah to try to get Sean to come in.  Hood hopes that he can trust Seliah but is unsure that she is being honest with him.  As the story develops, the reader becomes aware that Sean is suffering from a disease that he has been infected with and soon his wife is a victim.  Bradley Jones and his wife Erin play small but important parts in this novel.

The Jaguar is the next Charlie Hood novel and there is a brief introduction to the book at the end of The Border LordsThe Border Lords can be read as a stand-alone.  L. A. Outlaws, The Renegades and Iron River are the first three books in this series.