c.l. swinney

A Poem

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Nothing Sexy About Dope

No matter how one spins it,

the dope game is dirty, from

every angle, in every state, even internationally.

We pay bad guys, commonly

called “CI’s,” to buy dope off

other bad guys, sometimes their

competition, so we can get paper,

and knock their doors down legally.

The war on drugs, although a

righteous idea, has failed, without

a doubt, for over thirty years.

The cartels have greater resources

than every law enforcement unit combined,

and they profit tens of billions annually,

live like kings with gold-plated rifles,

Siberian Tigers, and mansions built

with walls infused with bundles of cash.

Dead bodies pile up in Mexico, and

that violence seeps into the United States.

Cops, border patrol agents, and other

law enforcement groups take the bait,

get a huge payday to look the other way,

yet they always get caught and tons of

drugs penetrate the US with alarming

magnitude. This stuff consumed me

for six years…but I have the perfect plan.

Choke the borders with money sniffing

canines, intercept every penny of drug money

heading into Mexico, use it to get

Americans off drugs. Death doesn’t

bother them, losing drugs to the police

is expected, but taking their money?

Yeah, it infuriates them to no end,

causes severe grief, forces them to

pop pills pacifying ulcers. Only then

will the real war begin.

-C.L.Swinney © 2015

Far From Routine

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Far From Routine.

Deputy Sheriff Smith arrived to work carrying his work boots and weathered ballistic vest. His damn locker combination didn’t work, and the bastard he couldn’t fathom working with again was standing naked a few lockers down flaunting his steroid-laden physique. Smith slammed his boots and vest on the floor, “Big deal, I’d still scrape the floor with you,” he muttered a little too loud under his breath.

“What was that?” asked “Beefcake” while he strolled over to Smith pounding his chest like a low-land silverback gorilla. He stood mere inches from Smith, invading his personal space cushion, and clenched his fists as if he was trying to squish oranges into juice.  Bustling and murmurs in the locker room slipped away, scurried to the shadows, clinging to the walls anxious for drama.

“I said big deal, I’d still scrape the floor with you,” Smith answered defiantly. He’d had it with Beefcake, his job, he’d just received a text from his wife talking about divorce, and he hadn’t even had his Peet’s coffee yet. To hell with them all. He bladed himself to Beefcake preparing for a physical altercation.

Beefcake kicked Smith’s gear out of the way and stepped even closer. His pride and integrity had been challenged by Smith’s comment, and he couldn’t let it go. The other gorillas would call him out and his place at the top of “Idiot Mountain” would be threatened if he let this comment slide. He telegraphed his next move while winking at Smith just before trying to punch him in the jaw. Smith ducked as Beefcake’s fist rammed into Smith’s locker. The others noticed a sergeant walk into the locker room and grabbed Beefcake and Smith while trying to break up the pissing contest. Some of the remaining men snickered hoping Smith would pummel Beefcake because no one liked a hot-shot.

As the sergeant walked into the gladiator arena between two rows of ancient lockers, he raised an eyebrow after noticing Beefcake was naked. He looked him up and down, pointed at his groin, and chuckled. Beefcake turned red in the face while the others realized they were still hugging a naked man. Just before they let him go, Smith’s locker magically popped open.

Smith grinned and looked at Beefcake. “Thanks ‘Fonzy.’” The room erupted in laughter and the tension exited as quickly as a parolee would after hearing, “Police search warrant!” Smith and Beefcake exchanged glances.

“You good?” Smith asked Beefcake.

He nodded. “Yup, see you out there.” Two grown men, one still naked, shook hands and the force was back to normal.

Now they suited up for the real battle. The one where a punch to the jaw would be much better than what potentially waits for them. A treacherous environment full of guns, dope, gang members, robbers, killers, villains…not to mention the crazies plotting and training every single day to kill a cop or deputy. If only I could get the opportunity, Smith considered as he laced his boots tight and donned his mangy ballistic vest.

After briefing, Smith, Beefcake, and the rest of the team went their separate ways. Some have traffic details, others have meetings, Beefcake’s headed to see one of his lady friends, and Smith rolls to Peet’s coffee. They had twelve more hours to go. If they survived, they’d get to go home…some to happy homes, some to not-so-happy homes. For most of them, work is an escape. It’s an extremely difficult job, but the stress at home, with family, mortgages, kids, bills, and the rest of it was like a pressure cooker for them. Sometimes these guys became ticking-time bombs.

Routine, if there’s such a thing, patrol continued without too much excitement. There was a parking complaint on Middlefield, and a fifteen year old girl was reported missing. The dispatcher sent Smith to the missing child call and he rolled his eyes. He assumed she would be off with her boyfriend and let me guess, her parents don’t like her boyfriend. He chuckled as it seems he’s going to be in the middle of yet another pissing contest. Beefcake was sent to the parking complaint. He didn’t respond. “Imagine that,” Smith said out loud. Hopefully the sergeant tracks him down.

Smith drove to the location of the missing child report. On the way, he stopped at a red light. For some reason he noticed a lowered Cadillac in his side and rear view mirrors. It was occupied by four people, and it was slowly pulling up next to him. A red flag in his head was hoisted, and he went from condition orange to condition red.  He heard and felt hip-hop music and saw the juveniles and young adults in the car were dressed in red. Instantly he classified them as gang members, and wondered why the younger ones weren’t in school.

They inched closer to Smith. There was a lot of discussion and pointing coming from the Cadillac. Smith didn’t like it and he found himself trying to see their hands. He slowly let off the brake to inch forward to use his door panels as cover should a fire fight ensue. The Cadillac also inched forward. They were taunting him. He disengaged the safety measures of his holster and unlocked the rifle holder. If it’s going down, I’m gonna take as many of these bastards I can with me. His pulse accelerated. He wondered how long until the light turned green. What’s my escape route? Where are the third passenger’s hands? Are they reaching under their seats? What’s my backdrop? All these thoughts raced through his mind as a bead of sweat ran from his forehead down into his cumbersome ballistic vest. He wondered if the expiration date was past due on the damn thing. I’ll check the date after my shift.

A loud bang went off behind Smith and he nearly had a heart attack as he spun his head behind him to see where it came from. He saw an old Volkswagen bug and a yuppie grinning sheepishly. Smith whipped around to look for the Cadillac. It was gone. He looked up and the light was green. Jesus, that was wild. He was still in one piece, so he continued to the missing child call.

Smith met with the parents at the front door. The father’s eyes bulged and he started gnawing on his fingernails at the sight of Smith. Smith found it odd that the man was so freaked out by his presence. He tried to be professional, but this was the third time this family had called for service. Each time he responded he found the missing daughter with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend. Smith finally figured out that the missing child’s family wants the Sheriff’s Office to do their job…raise their child. They say their daughter is out of control and won’t listen to them. Smith, during the course of his investigation of said child, had contacted the child’s school. The school felt the same as him…the family wants the school to raise their child. She received stellar grades, was involved with school activities and sports, and she volunteered time to help the homeless-far from incorrigible in Smith’s eyes.

“Can I come in?” Smith asked the father. The man shook his head and kept looking at Smith’s firearm. He didn’t answer. Smith had detected something wasn’t right, but he wasn’t sure what.

He dug further. What’s really going on here? Something about the case and the way the mother looked at him concerned him. The father seemed paranoid and kept looking down the hallway like he was waiting for someone to come from a room. He made a few phone calls and located the missing child…she was at school, where she was supposed to be. The only thing missing is the parents, he thought.

Smith was frustrated because he felt the family was playing him and the Sheriff’s Office. He had two calls for service pending now, and he was stuck dealing with a call that really wasn’t a call.

“Look, I’m not sure what to tell you guys. She’s at school and you knew it. Why’d you report her missing?” Smith was trying to read their faces, get a sense of what the hell was really going on.

The father looked at the mother, she turned away, and he looked back at Smith. He looked down the hall again and back at Smith. He looked at Smith’s firearm and back down the hallway. The hair on the back of Smith’s neck spiked. Uh oh.

“Come on guys. What’s up, and what’s down the hall?” Smith said to them while pointing down the hallway. The mother began to shake and the father looked like he’d seen a ghost.

Smith walked toward the hallway. The mother trembled and the father shuffled in front of him. He towered over the father and physically moved him out of the way.

“There’s nothing! You can’t go down there. You need a search warrant to search my house,” the father said in an almost robotic tone. Smith noticed the man was terrified. He had seen that look before, and now he was asking for a cover unit on the radio.

Smith peeked in the first room, nothing out of the ordinary. The mother was sobbing and the father continued to plead. “Stop, you can’t go down there!” Smith forged on. He checked the bathroom and the closet and saw nothing.

A hysterical scream from the mother caused Smith to shudder and then he heard it…a loud thump that came from the last room. The door was closed and he grabbed the handle. It was locked from the outside. The father was shaking now…he was white like a corpse. He stood near the kitchen with a blank look on his face.

“Give me the key, or I break the door down,” Smith growled. The father didn’t respond, but continued to shake his head. Every fiber in Smith’s body told him something bad was behind the door. He heard a siren close by. It was time to act.

“I called! I called, he’s in there,” the mother whined while fleeing out the front door.

Without hesitation, Smith shouldered the door and barreled into the room. He saw the seventeen-year-old boyfriend gagged and bounded to a chair that had fallen over. The thud! The visual and what it meant registered in Smith’s mind. He spun and pulled his firearm then bang! In the blink of an eye, he lost his hearing and immense pressure pushed him to the floor. Two more loud bangs followed during the confusion.

Smith looked up to see the father standing in front of him. He was holding a gun and time had slowed way down. The gun slipped to the floor and Smith saw bullet holes covered in blood in the father’s chest. The man slumped over and his lifeless body made a sick gurgling sound after hitting the floor revealing Beefcake standing in the doorway- smoke still lingered from his duty weapon. Smith cracked a wry smile. He unbuttoned his shirt and saw the ballistic vest had caught the bullet fired at his chest by the father.

“Damn Beefcake, next time leave her house a little quicker,” he said with a grin and wink after noticing Beefcake’s uniform was un-tucked and lipstick was on his collar.  

Copyright by C.L.Swinney 2014

Paradigm

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Perched above the light radiating anger he stalks, clenching fists and grinding his jaw muscles fiercely. A man in blue wearing a star, oblivious to the ticking time bomb, coasts to a stop preoccupied by time slipping by.

The tormented man hears a voice, “Yes, do it!”

Another of his voices says, “You can’t, you mustn’t!”

Zombie-like, he slowly grabs the luke-warm handle of his safety blanket, and cooler than the other side of a pillow, marches on to entertain the war that rages.

The traffic light remains red longer than normal, causing the unsuspecting man to curse and examine his surroundings. He peers left, and then right, noting nothing spectacular.

Again the voices scream, “Do it!”

“No!”

“Do it you coward!”

“No!”

The volley of pain finally consumes him. He lifts borrowed steel, aims, and fires. The crackle erupts, scattering feet drowned only by screams. The waiting cop never had a clue. At the foot of his cruiser, weathered life escapes the victim, while a mixture of gunpowder and smoke become one. Slowly they ascend to salvation seeking refuge for his soul.

Dying Set Me Free

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Dying Set Me Free.

I was nine when I died.

I trembled while lying in bed,

wide awake, suddenly the door opened.

He slithered in, fueling his needs,

and did the unthinkable by taking

his son’s life. Once I felt

his touch, my soul fled from

my body. I tried, but could

not stop it. I watched as the

carcass of my body gasped for

oxygen as the demon left my

sanctuary. My mother, she knew nothing.

I dared not mention such things.

Awake, or asleep, it always persisted.

When it ended, unknown, but I

was reborn, more evil, more angry.

I’m thirty-nine now. My soul

sleeps with the fishes, while the

mental war rages, even a generation

could not save. I lie in

bed, awake and trembling, searching for

the nine year old helpless me.

 

C.L.Swinney

Appreciation Leads to Giving Back.

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Fourteen years ago I set out to write a novel.  It wasn’t on my bucket list then, but after a few years it rose to the top because of how difficult it had become.  I wrote and re-wrote my manuscript for Gray Ghost at least thirty (30) times, many of those coming AFTER I had a traditional publishing contract and was only a few months from the scheduled publication date.  I had every opportunity to quit on this project, and if I shared with you how things went down when it came time for Gray Ghost to actually see print, you’d probably wonder why I didn’t just give up.

The thing is, I was raised by my parents and family NOT to give up.  I used every single criticism and hundreds of rejection letters to push me.  It forced me to write better, which is what it’s all about when you are an author.  I studied my craft AND the industry and quickly realized writing, or more accurately, publishing, is a cut-throat business of very few HAVES and millions of HAVE-NOTS.  Once I realized that, I was better suited to develop a plan of attack.

I will feature what I did to become a marginally successful author through a series of blogs on this site.  I am not charging for this information.  Everyone thinks I’m crazy for giving my ‘secrets’ away, but there is a method to my madness.  So, this won’t be the first time I’m called crazy, nor will it be the last.

First, my modest stats:

Beginning on October 31, 2013, Gray Ghost reached #13 on the Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Crime Fiction, #41 for Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Mystery, and #48 Amazon best sellers list (Paperback) for Mystery.  As of right now, it’s still ranked #48 on the Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Crime Fiction.

Second, my appreciation statement:

Thank you everyone who helped me reach my goal of becoming a best-selling author. I really hope I write the second book well enough to honor my fallen friend and that it sells like Gray Ghost has. Stay tuned for updates about the second book, Collectors, as I am as excited as all of you are for its release!!!

I appreciate everyone who has helped me. I’ll be doing a drawing sometime this week (after today when the sale ends), for FIVE lucky people to receive a signed copy of Collectors when it’s released!!

Third, the first tid-bit:

“FAKE AGENTS and PUBLISHERS:”

If you are reading this right now you are on the right path when it comes to promotion because you are on a social media site (WordPress) and you are trying to learn something to help you formulate a plan of your own for success.  That’s the nice part, the not-so-nice-part is there are literally THOUSANDS of fake agents and fake publishers (traditional and self-pub) praying on your unbelievable need/want/desire to get published.  So what do you do to prevent getting scammed?

First, you need to research the heck out of the agent or publisher.  Start by running their name through Google’s search engine.  If they don’t pop up, they could be new, but they could also be fake.  Almost immediately you will see in your Google search results whether ANYONE has a complaint about the agent or publisher.  Read those carefully.  Many times a rejection letter will be the issue, not the legitimacy of the agent or publisher.  Everyone thinks they can write and should be the next big thing.  It stings when someone tells you otherwise (and even worse when the truth is you may not be a strong writer, yet).

Next, try to put a face and person to the name.  This means you will need to meet up, face-to-face, with an agent or publisher.  This can be done fairly easy at writing conferences.  There is a much higher probability that someone saying s/he is an agent or publisher at a writing conference is in fact one or the other. This is the case usually because most cons are done over the internet and e-mail scams and other REAL agents and publishers tend to ferret out the impostors at these conferences.

Then ask OTHER writers, agents, and publishers (that you know are legitimate) if the person or agency you are researching is legitimate.  Writers groups, on-line groups, bookstores, and other writers tend to be close-knit groups.  Sort of like a neighborhood watch.  So, bounce your thoughts off them to see what you can learn or what they think.  If they give you a thumbs-up, then you can feel a little better about the important decision you are about to make.

Lastly, NEVER pay any money up-front.  There are various costs associated to self-publishing which you will have to pay, but make sure you have a contract with a reputable publisher before you dole out cash.  In addition,  there should be no up-front costs to an author in a traditional contract.  If a publisher says they need YOUR money for promotion and production costs, you should have red flags popping up.  You need to read and re-read the contract you may have with the publisher.  If, and I say this very lightly, the publisher has increased your royalty percentage it’s normally because they ARE NOT providing promotions for your book.  So, why would they ask for money upfront for promotion if they are not (per the contract) promoting your book?  All I’m trying to relate to you is don’t be so blinded by your desperate need to be published that you get sucked into a scam.  It’s easier said than done, but I’m at least one person in your corner.

So, what we are doing here is building a strong foundation for your writing and getting you set up to move forward in the right direction so you can focus on your writing, not getting scammed before your work in progress ever sees print.  Stay tuned for more tid-bits.

c. L. Swinney

Daily Rant#2

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So, I like pets, dogs and cats mostly, but I’ve got a daily rant today that I MUST get off my chest.

IF YOU INSIST ON HAVING YOUR DOG OR CAT IN YOUR CAR WHILE YOU DRIVE, MAKE SURE YOU CAN ACTUALLY HANDLE THE DOG LICKING YOUR FACE, JUMPING ALL OVER THE PLACE, AND BARKING AT PASSERBYS AND BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE!!!!

THIS IS NOT GOOD:

 

Yesterday, after working 22 hours, I was at a stop light waiting for it to turn green.  A car pulls up next to me with its window down.  I saw it out of my peripheral vision, I was too tired to look over! Next thing I know, “Fifi,” about 7-pounds soaking wet with a scarf on lunges out of the car and starts barking at me!  It was like a cartoon, you know when there is a regular size person, they get shrunk, then their voice gets super high.  Well, that was Fifi!  An angry full size dog in a mini body.  The owner tried to capture the little barking torpedo and made all the cars behind her miss the light…  As I drove closer to home, I thought, she should buy that thing some of those cool paw shoes..at least the dog’s feet would be nice and comfy as it attacks the tires of cars!!!!!!

I’ll only accept it if your dog is like this:

 

PEACE OUT!

 

C.L.Swinney

Back to My Roots:

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My first real writing gig came while writing about something I truly love, fly fishing.  Here’s a piece I wrote a long time ago, back when I was in college.  Unless you are into the outdoors or fly fishing, this one may not suit you 🙂

Mastering Pocket Water:

Pocket water is medium to medium-fast water flowing through exposed large rocks and boulders.  As the water moves through, pockets of water form in varying sizes.   Normally these areas are located in canyons and sometimes require a bit of a hike.  Nevertheless, skipping the area is a mistake.  These pockets are full of trout.

Before getting started, gently roll rocks over in and around the boulders to see what kind of bugs scamper for shelter.  Caddis and Mayfly nymphs, usually brownish green, black, or grey, are the most abundant food source in most trout streams.  If you see twenty brown bugs and one grey bug, tie on a fly (Pheasant Tail nymph) the same size as the brown bugs under the rock.  If you see twenty brown bugs and twenty grey bugs, tie two nymphs on.  (Pheasant Tail Nymph and a Hare’s Ear Nymph.)  If you don’t see any bugs, continue to turn over rocks until you find some.  I learned a long time ago that most of the flies at the fly fishing shop were meant to catch fisherman, not fish.  If you find several different bugs, of various sizes and color, write down or commit to memory what you saw to use later if necessary.

Pheasant Tail                                                                     Hare’s Ear

                       

Next read the water.  As the water flows to the left or right when it passes by a boulder, feeding lanes are created.  Take a few spent leaves, throw them in the water, and watch where they go naturally… this is where you want to present a fly.  Normally, bigger trout will be at or near the front of the boulders-giving them first dibs on the food coming through. Focus most of your attention where the fish live and eat as some of the water won’t hold many fish.

Nymphing:

Begin at the head of the pocket water by presenting a fly on the side of the boulder closest to the shoreline you are standing on.  Aim the cast about two feet ahead of the lane you want to fish and immediately do a few stack mends to help get the flies down quick.  Vary the depth of the flies with split shot or weighted nymphs until you are sure the flies are working the entire water column.  Do four to five casts on each side of the boulder.  Work the “pocket water” after fishing the sides of the boulders.  Do about five presentations in this area as well.  It sounds tedious, but continue this process for every boulder.  After working the boulders closest to you, work the far bank and the slicks.  If you don’t hook up, go back to the beginning and change flies.  After you catch a fish, stick with the fly that worked until you stop catching fish.  The current will help your line downstream and move the fly for you; however, you may need to gently assist the fly as it travels through the pockets of water to make it appear more natural and to prevent snags-similar to the European nymphing technique.  The key is to watch your indicator and fly line closely- anything weird happens, set the hook.

Dry Fly:

A dry fly should be presented in a different manner than with a nymph.  In most rivers, early morning and late evening prompt most bug hatches to begin.  Start at the end of the pocket water section you are fishing and work upstream.  Concentrate on the water behind and in front of the boulders.  Work upstream because the fish are facing upstream and you will spook fewer of them approaching from behind them.  This is far more important for dry fly fishing than it is for nymph fishing.  When a fish rises to your fly and you happen to miss it, wait a few minutes before going right back after it.  If the fish felt any part of the hook on the previous rise, it might come up to look at the fly, but that’s it.  If you wait a little bit, it will usually take the fly cleanly.

Use highly visible patterns, such as Elk Hair Caddis, Humpy’s, or Stimulators, that ride high on the surface film and are easier to see in choppy white water.  If a lot of mayflies are dancing just above the water and I see fish flashing and darting beneath them, I shake out about three feet of fly line, lengthen my leader to about twelve feet, and “dance” my dry fly among the naturals.  I let my fly hit the surface of the water from time to time and the trout crush usually it.  Each and every rock should be worked over until your arm is sore or you run out of day light.

Caddis Fly                                                            Stimulator

        

Gear:

I prefer a 9 ½ foot 5-weight rod, coupled with a disc drag reel.  I prefer a yarn indicator about the size of a nickel and a knot-less nine foot leader.  I tie on a fly, and to the bend of the hook in that fly, I tie another one on.  I use about eighteen inches of tippet for this.  About four to six inches above the first fly I add a split shot, usually “bb” size.  I’ll adjust the depth my flies travel by moving the indicator up or down or adding more weight- the goal is to ensure my flies get down quickly.  You can add weight alternatively by putting split shot below the last fly.  Tie an eighteen-inch section of tippet to the bend of the hook in the last fly.  Put a few knots on the end of the line and add the split shots just above these knots.  This way, if you feel the split shot hitting the bottom, you know your flies are pretty close to the right spot.  By doing this, you lose split-shot instead of the whole set up when you get snagged.  I use heavier tippet, say 5x or 6x, while fishing pocket water because the fish have less time to decide if the fly is real or not.  For dry flies, I like to use a nine foot leader and lots of floatant.  A high-riding fly will drift more naturally.

Closing:

Prior to the spawn and just after the spawn, the majority of trout living in rivers with pocket water will congregate among the boulders and fast-moving water.  The area provides higher levels of oxygen, feeding lanes with ample food, and tremendous cover.  Mastering this water will significantly increase your ability to bring fish to the palm and is worth fishing on your way to the tail outs and riffles on your favorite river or stream.

Tight lines friends.

C.L. Swinney      🙂