The Lady Chablis – Another Celebratory Casualty of 2016

Today I learned that Chablis passed away on September, 8, 2016. She was a mere fifty-nine years of age. It was such sad news for me. Chablis, a transgendered character from John Berendt’s novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and who played herself in Clint Eastwood’s 1997 film adaption by the same name. She was such an inspiration for me in developing the character Brandi in Naked Alliances. I loved that book, and the movie. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has won many awards: Pulitzer Prize Nominee for General Nonfiction (1995), Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (1995), Ferro-Grumley Award for Gay Fiction (Non-Fiction) (1994), Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Mystery (1995)

I had planned to send her a copy of Naked Alliances. I thought she might find it amusing and enjoyable and appreciate knowing that she inspired others. She was such a character, in both real life, and on stage. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at one of her annual birthday shows at her favorite nightclub, Club One, in Savannah, GA about fifteen years ago.

John Berendt was one of the first self-published authors of a best-selling book, in 1994, which made it to the movies. His book was picked up by Vintage Publishing House.

I admire both John Berendt and Chablis for the way they managed to tell their story. Chablis, who told Entertainment Tonight in 1996 that she changed her legal name to reflect her long-time stage name (including the “The”), was a drag star who also lived publicly as a woman. Her unforgettable turn in the 1997 movie, which marked the first time that a mainstream American film featured a transgender actor portraying a transgender woman (and did so without pathologizing her or making her a subject of ridicule), led to both ups and downs. This was all before the word “transgendered” took hold.

Chablis, who in the movie is portrayed receiving hormone shots, called her 1996 autobiography Hiding My Candy in reference to the fact that she had not had sexual reassignment surgery, and often joked about her status in her act. But when she came to prominence in the 90s, before terms like transgender had come to the fore and the spectrum of transitions was less widely understood or accepted, she was alternately referred to, even by friends like the author Berendt, as a “a full-time transvestite” or “a preoperative transsexual”, and her fame left her less able to “pass” and more subject to harassment.

I don’t know how she died, but she donated most of her money from the sales of her best-selling book and her shows to diabetes and LGBT organizations.

Berendt, too, issued a statement at the time of her death in which he said that Chablis was the character about whom he was most often still asked. “Chablis could be playful and ironic, but she had a tough inner core,” he wrote. “‘Don’t be fooled by this dress I’m wearing,’ she’d say with a hint of danger in her voice.”

She was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Fla., on March 11, 1957, and never finished high school. She took the name Chablis as a teenager. As she recalled in Mr. Berendt’s book, her mother, inspired by a wine bottle label, had intended the name for a younger sister but had had a miscarriage. Ms. Chablis immediately expressed interest in the name.

“I said, ‘Ooooo, Chablis. That’s nice. I like that name,’ ” she was quoted as saying in the book. “And Mama said, ‘Then take it, baby. Just call yourself Chablis from now on.’ So ever since then, I’ve been Chablis.” She had her name legally changed to The Lady Chablis.

Her most recent national media appearance was on an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta in 2013, when cast members went to Club One to catch her show and NeNe Leakes asked Chablis to teach cast member Mynique Smith to both read and throw shade.

Southern women are notorious for their uncanny ability to throw shade, or publicly criticize or express contempt for someone to their face without them even being aware it’s happening.

Thanks to the rise of drag culture within the mainstream, the notion of shade has become, for better or worse, prevalent within today’s vernacular. Not to be confused with the art of reading, it is best defined by Dorian Corey in Paris Is Burning. Shade is, according to Corey, not telling someone they’re ugly because “[they] know [they’re] ugly.” Often, shade is thrown with a subtle gesture or eye movement. Side-eye is the easiest to do, but hard to master. It’s about nuance. It’s about attitude. It’s about confidence. And once you recognize it, life is never the same. You become keen to shade, alert for its presence, and ready to throw some of your own.

She was one of a kind, and I can only hope that Brandi might do her justice. The Lady Chablis will be sorely missed.

RIP

Snippet of Naked Alliances Audio Book

I’m so excited to have the audio book of Naked Alliances well underway. Steven Barnett has a fabulous knack for voice-overs. Working with Steven on the audio book is great fun. I finally figured out a way to share a sample with you.

Each character has their own unique voice and Steven has just the right amount of animation and enthusiasm for reading to make the book hard to stop listening to. It’s interesting, entertaining, and holds the attention. I’ve bought some audio books that nearly put me to sleep with monotone reading.

Naked Alliances will not do that…I promise.

Through ACX, the audition piece was uploaded. Eight people auditioned and it was interesting to hear the different voices reading. Steven’s audition stayed on the top at all times. This took only a couple of weeks. After my husband listened to a few of the best, he was in full agreement that Steven’s narration had won, hands down.

I made him an offer. I was willing to give him to mid-February, as ACX recommends three to six weeks to complete edits. Steven was confident that he would have the book ready before the end of the year. He declined the offer, not wanting it to drag on that long. After listening to a couple more chapters with varying voices, I felt assured that he could pull this off and made him another offer, which he accepted. I’m delighted to be able to report that this project is working out exceptionally well, and can’t wait to get this audio book on the shelf.

Steven is most professional. He’s uploaded the first four chapters of the book to ACX along with the Intro and Acknowledgments, as well as placed it onto Google Drive to assure we have back-up in case the unexpected happens. I’m also keeping the downloaded files on my computer.

While fiddling around with some software I purchased today to make book trailers, I created a little YouTube video of the first chapter and posted it below. Please bear in mind that I am no expert with this new software and was only able to figure out how to post the cover and sound.

If you’ve any interest in the book, you have probably already read the first chapter. You may want to give it a listen to see how the narrator sounds. Or you may be intrigued enough with his reading to purchase the audio book when it becomes available. I’ll keep you posted.

The audiobook download should be ready for sale on Amazon by December 30th as a digital download. My daughter is also helping me make CD copies through CDBaby. I had to give up my 40% royalties via ACX in order to go non-exclusive with ACX, instead taking 25%. That seems like very little, but the whole point is to get the books out there in as many formats as possible.

For me, it’s not so much about raking in big bucks as it is about becoming a known author, and reaching all possible audiences is a huge part of that. The digital download file will be available on Amazon, but the CDs will not. I’ll have those in hand to sell at book signings and events.

Of course, if you’d like a copy when they become available, I’d be happy to mail you one. I don’t know what the price will be yet. ACX sets that for the digital download. I’ll know more about the cost of the CDs once I get that project underway.

Hope you are having a happy time preparing for the upcoming Holiday Season. My shopping is all done and I’ve got to finish up the tree and snow village. I’m doing a mini blog tour via some very kind author friends who have allowed me space on their sites to promote. I am most grateful to each and every one of you. The guest posts are all out now and I still have some interviews to email out.

Look for some book reviews to pop up here soon. I’ve finally got some time to read while prepping the audio book. I’ve decided not to begin writing again until after the New Year. The outline for Book Two in the Naked Eye Series is uploaded to Scrivener, I’m waiting until after our Vegas trip in April to get the first draft completed.

Do you like listening to audio books?

My husband listens to them on the way to and from work. They keep him from getting too frustrated in the Orlando traffic.

Have you worked with anyone to produce an audio book? What was your experience?

The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful

Good news and bad news. First the bad news, so I can end on a happy note. Naked Alliances had an awesome launch, but sales have come to a screeching halt. I’m really puzzled by this as the publicist’s blog tour just came to an end about a week ago. I talked with her about the fact that she “outsources” all blog tours and all of my posts were posted by the same person, Mayra Calvani, on different sites. Sites she apparently owns, which leads me to believe that the posts had only as far of a reach as her social media platform allows…which isn’t good.

I seriously need to do my own blog tour. I have ten interviews and five guest post waiting in the wings. Anyone willing to post any one of these? I had a list of people who invited me to do guest posts or interviews on their sites, and for the life of me, I can’t find it.

A gentleman the publicist connected me with, Gary Roen, a reviewer with MidWest reviews posted a nice review on his shelf at their site. He’s also a local guy and we met for lunch at the Cork and Fork. He’s an amusing gentleman who wears a straw hat and tropical shirts, like me. I wish we had gotten a picture together, but I forgot. I learned that his father was one of the founding fathers of the Parliament House when it was solely an entertainment venue on Colonial and not a gay resort. His parents were both in the publishing business many years ago. We had a few laughs and I was quite impressed with his character. He’s sending reviews out to a few more sources.

Another lady at “BookLoon” the publicist connected me with wasn’t so receptive. Apparently she only reviews cozy mysteries. I have no clue why she agreed to read and review a book called Naked-something about a sex-trafficking scheme, but she did. Although there was only one chapter with a sex scene in it…purely recreational sex, which she cannot fathom, she was so appalled by it she had to issue a warning with her review. Imagine that! Otherwise, the review was not so bad, and certainly directs the book more toward its target audience. I understand the name of her review blog better now.

On a brighter note, I’m having Naked Alliances made into an audiobook, narrated by the awesome Steven Barnett,

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Steven in his studio

another local Orlandonite who has a stellar reputation with ACX, an audio book making company. I had eight auditions to choose from and his was so good I didn’t want to stop listening at the end of the fifteen minute audition. Looking forward to having that up before Christmas and can’t wait to meet him. He lives about fifteen minutes from me and we’re planning a tour of Cypress Cove, the nudist resort my family owns that the fictional Leisure Lagoon was fashioned after.

I’m in the process of getting Book Two set up into Scrivener. Barring no major Holiday crisis, the way I write I should have the first draft by April. Would be sooner but we set April for our visit to Vegas. Vegas plays a part in the resolution and I want to people watch and see how things operate there. I’ve never been. I’ve been to casinos in Florida, but it’s not the same. I’d like to see the lay out of the strip, too.

If you enjoyed the book, tell somebody about it!

Tell me how you’re doing.

Have you ever made an audio book?

S.K. Nicholls’ Naked Alliances Blog Tour in Full Swing

Blog tour is underway. It’s been going on since October 24th. Lots of fun touring around the blogosphere in places I’ve never been before. I’ve been sharing the posts on FaceBook and Twitter. For those that don’t follow my other sites, but know about this blog, I’ve put together a list of these posts so you can maybe go by and show the hosts some blogger/comment love.

The blog tour kicked off with the Press Release posted on Florida Book News and My Bookish Pleasures.

One of my favorites is a guest post that was posted on The Writer’s Life eMagazine: “Writing Humor into Your Work”. It will tickle your funny bone and maybe teach you a little something. It was a fun one to write.

My cover artist received some much deserved attention in a post for Book Cover Junkie: “Guest Post by S.K. Nicholls Author of Naked Alliances”.

I had opportunity to share my publishing journey on BOOK PUBLISHING SECRETS: HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK! Authors’ candid tales into the land of publication…: “Book Publishing Secrets with S.K. Nicholls”.

There are a couple of guest posts yet to be released…but my list was getting long and it’s already a bit overwhelming.

As the Pages Turn, Plug Your Book, and Read My First Chapter all posted the first chapter of the book, which you may have already read here, but they deserve a mention for helping to spread the word.

The interviews are always fun, too. So many questions that made me think both deeply and lightly on how and why this book came about, my writing process, and some fun facts about myself I wasn’t even aware of until asked.

The first interview is on Straight From The Author’s Mouth. There are many more to come.

It’s been a fun ride, but it’s not over yet…it’s only just begun! Stay tuned for more about Naked Alliances and the crazy lady who wrote it 😉

Please join me at SleuthFest 2017, February 23-26, 2017 in Boca Raton, Florida. Meet tons of great authors and industry personalities, and have a chance to win my FANtastic Florida Fun Raffle Basket.

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I promise to have the Jose Cuervo taquila, mixer, Grand Marnier and margarita salt restocked by February…but, you know,…there have been quite a few reasons to toast around here lately 🙂

Naked Alliances Marketing Progress

So many good things happening! The first Press Release went out yesterday on Florida Book News. Happy to report that Naked Alliances already has eight five star reviews.

In other exciting news,…we have a website! Thanks to the talent and creativity of Tonia Brewer at All Ways Write we got that site up and running in time for the blog tour that begins Monday, October 24th. There are ten interviews and five guest posts scheduled to go out with that campaign.

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Feel free to visit the website and hang around a while. Lots of good stuff there. It’s a work in progress, and we’ll be tweaking the site and updating content regularly.

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We have a live radio interview coming up with Surf’s Up 97.3 Flagler Beach Radio. Owner, Vern Shank, gave us a thumbs up to get that going ASAP. They are really busy over there in Flagler Beach cleaning up after the hurricane.

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Lost a good section of the infamous A1A.  As soon as I have an exact date and time  I’ll post it and you can tune in via the internet link to the station…you don’t have to be in broadcast range…it’s live-streaming from the site. Best rock and roll in the South and awesome beach tunes. There’s even a live camera on the pier so you can watch the surf while you listen.

I’m working with Eric at The Parliament House to set up a launch party and book signing next month. My, how time flies!!!

We have some zany maps of Florida being printed up that will keep you informed of Richard and Brandi’s location, as they traverse the State of Florida over the course of the series. These map/bookmarks will be going out with a newsletter that’s in the works. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how that progresses.

Meanwhile, grab yourself a copy of Naked Alliances, kick back, pour yourself a margarita, and pretend you’re in Florida as this cold weather approaches. If you are already here, enjoy the familiarity of all things Florida.

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In Naked Alliances, Nicholls takes readers on a witty, wild, wickedly fun romp that exposes a side of Orlando tourists rarely see. The debut release in The Naked Eye Private Investigator Series, Naked Alliances introduces lone wolf P.I. Richard Noggin.

About Naked Alliances: When a young immigrant woman and an exotic dancer are forced to flee men with guns and have no place to hide, Richard Noggin, P.I., can’t turn his back—even if helping out makes him a target. Richard plans to impress an aspiring politician by taking on a big white-collar case that could take him from the streets to an air-conditioned office. Instead,he’s handed a cold case and quickly finds himself sucked into a shadowy world of sex, secrets and…murder. Marked for a bullet and stretched thin by his investigations, Richard reluctantly teams up with the unlikely, brassy custodian of the young woman on the run. With bodies piling up, Richard and his companion are forced to go undercover in a most unlikely locale: the Leisure Lagoon, a nudist resort.  Going undercover in this instance will mean going uncovered…but lives are at stake—and this Naked Eye will have to juggle to keep his balls in the air and connect the dots before anyone else is murdered. As his pulse-quickening quest for answers leads from the dark corners of Orlando’s Little Saigon to the sunny exposure of the Leisure Lagoon, Richard will be put to the test. Just how much will this Naked Eye have to bear…or bare? The heat is on in this quirky Sunshine State crime thriller.

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S.K. Nicholls is author of Naked Alliances, Book One in the Naked Eye BraveBlueHeronBooks vector imageSeries. Her family owns and operates a nudist resort located in Central Florida, Cypress Cove. She has a deep understanding of the lifestyle choice and how it harbors clandestine elements of intrigue and fascination. Social issues are at the forefront of her writing that is touched with a humorous edge. She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband, Greg. When she’s not writing, she can be found tracking down Snorlaxes, wandering city parks with the homeless, or sipping margaritas on the bow of a boat.

 

 

 

End of Summer and Getting Ready for the New Year

In August I wrote a little post about how Pokemon Go was helping me with grief therapy after a series of tragic events involving family, friends, and community. The story was picked up on Twitter and the editor of Fanreads, Keith McArthur sent me a request to use the story in an anthology of The Greatest Pokemon Go Stories Ever Told. Fanreads puts together books on sports, music and gaming. The cover was created by “Inspired Cover Designs.” See, that’s my name on the cover. 🙂

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You can go to their page and download a few of the stories for free by subscribing to their site, or you can purchase a copy from Amazon, Kobo, or Apple.

I completed my pokedex, finding all 142 available U.S. pokemon, thanks to a lovely park here that spawns all the rare pokemon and has always been a magical, mystical place, Kissimmee Lakefront Park. It’s a gorgeous park on Lake Toho where I once owned a waterfront home. I would walk to the park daily and attend the Renaissance Fair events. The Medieval Times characters practiced their fighting moves for their shows there.  Sometimes the Disney and Universal characters practiced skits there, also.

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They’ve spent thirty million dollars on renovating the park since I lived there and it is a stunning, grassy waterfront park with cobbled walking paths, a fishing pier, picnic pavilions, a splash pad & two shaded playgrounds. A very nice place for me to take a break from my writing and step aside from my grandmotherly duties and just relax a while, watch the wildlife, and soak up sunshine in the daytime and enjoy cool breezes in the evening.

There is a blog tour for Naked Alliances scheduled to begin on October 24th. It’s a big crunch to get all of the documents prepared by the deadline, but we’re well on our way. I’m still feeling like this work should have been done months ago, not AFTER the release of the book. I’ve never worked with a publicist before, but some of her advice conflicts with what I have learned about successful marketing and promotions. We’ll see how this all turns out.

Sales started out very well and I have sold more books in the first month than I did in the first year of Red Clay and Roses.

Things have slowed down a bit, but my blog audience and author platform only reach so far. There are radio interviews scheduled for October and book tours coming up. I’ll post those as they are scheduled.

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I’ll be attending Sleuthfest again next year and invite all crime/mystery writers and readers to join me. I had a blast there this year and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in reading the first chapter of my manuscript aloud. I won’t have a finished manuscript to work with next year, but I do have a new book on the market. Hopefully, Naked Alliances will be available at Murder on the Beach Bookstore, owned and operated by co-chair Joanne Sinchuk.

We also have a trip to Vegas lined up for next year. This is research for the next book in the Naked Eye Series. More about that later.

If you’re not going to make the Sleuthfest event, but would like a copy of the book, you can get a downloadable or paperback copy from Amazon. As the weather turns, it will make a nice addition to your morning weekend coffee.

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Naked Alliances to be Delivered Today!

We opened at a ranking of #90,198 on the eVersion. Having started at nearly 500,000 it is definitely an improvement.

Pre-order helps.

I have two radio shows lined up. One is the web based show with Lisa Burton over at Entertaining Stories, and another is live with Surf 97.3 FM WQFB over in Flagler Beach with Tim Baker and Vern Shank.

I just sent out a completed questionnaire to my publicist, Maryglenn McCombs. She will be lining up a blog tour, getting reviewers, and making contact with some media outlets. The reviewers will also be doing some giveaways. I’ll keep you informed about those. I’ll be doing some guest posts. I will also be setting up my own blog tour.

Thank you so much for all of the support you have given me here. Helping with the book when I was stuck, beta reading, your comments mean the world to me, and being here for me to process through ideas, provide feedback…well, you are all just awesome. Your encouragement has kept me going.

I’m notifying my vaping group that the book is available now. Also my local writer’s group. I’m so excited!!!

You can pick up the book on Amazon

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BTW…if you have a review ready or did an endorsement, you can post those now!!! Please make sure to note if you received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.