In the Path

Most everyone who comes to this blog knows I live in Central Florida. Orlando, to be precise.  Hurricane Irma is supposed to hit Florida head on, but hurricanes are unpredictable and nobody really knows for sure what is going to happen. Currently the hurricane is directly over Cuba.

In 2004, we sighed with relief when Charley went into the Gulf of Mexico. However, at Charlotte Harbor, Charley turned eastbound up the Peace River. My husband and his former souse were sitting in Orlando watching on the television as the eye of the hurricane moved over their investment home on the Peace River and leveled it. His boat ended up in his neighbor’s living room. Then, Charley headed north, and hit Orlando wide open.

Charley was small, fast and furious, cutting a path across the state before heading back into the Atlantic on the other side of the state. When it hit the Gulf, all of Central Florida had let down their guard. Tornadoes were spawned in Charley’s wake. So there was much devastation across the state.

In 2004, I had never experienced a hurricane. That night, I was off work and sitting on my front porch talking to my dad on the phone while watching the huge oak trees across the street kiss the ground in the torrential rains. My little apartment was on the ground floor of a two-story cinder block building on the NW side of town and I felt safe.

Little did I know that the SE side of town was ripped apart near the airport. I never lost power, so I had hot water and air-conditioning. But I was most fortunate, most were without power for nine days. Early the next morning I was called into work.

As an RN I was considered first responder during Charley and our employers made nurses stay at work 24/7….could not even go home to shower and had to sleep in patients rooms on the floor. I mean we chose that job…but that’s how it was. I lived five mins away and off the night of the hurricane, but was called into work that morning and had to show the police my “Disaster Preparedness Team” papers to be able to be on the interstate. I was in College Park and worked off Michigan. After 16 hours of work, they wanted me to sleep on the floor in a patient’s room because we received a huge amount of patients that had been evacuated from a facility in Lake Wales that had lost its roof. They let me go home for 8 hours, but I had to sign a paper agreeing to be back when I said I would….or risk termination.

We lost a lot of patients during that time. The Nursing Home was without power for nine days. The backup generator only supplied a few room’s outlets. The oxygen concentrators are electric, and once we ran out of O2 tanks, people started dying. We saved more than we lost, but people were literally dying in the hallways. A van of nurses came from Lake Wales to help take care of their patients every day. A couple of days after Charley went thru, the van was involved in a terrible accident in the torrential rain and two nurses were killed and one was paralyzed for life. I don’t think non-essential employees should be mandated to stay on their jobs during such a crises. But it’s crazy here and people can be fired for leaving a job at McDonald’s. Unless they live in a mandatory evacuation area, they are expected to stay.

Life is an adventure and then you die….seriously…we’ve been helping people board up homes and secure pets for those that need to leave. Some of our friends have relatives on the coast that can’t drive any distance (elderly people) so they are going to get them and bringing them to Orlando…I actually feel safer here in Central FL than anywhere else in FL at the moment.

In the aftermath of Charley all you could smell when you walked outside was Bar-B-Q. People were grilling meats that had thawed and was one big party from backyard to back yard…lol It was quite an experience. Free food everywhere….people helping cover rooftops with tarps. Chainsaw sounds were deafening.

But here is the real kicker: We just bought a house on Matlacha. The island is basically a sandbar between Pine Island and Cape Coral in the Gulf of Mexico, just behind Sanibel Island. Pine Island is a conservation island where no more development is allowed…no big condos, hotels or big box stores. Matlacha (pronounced Matt-la-shay) is that tiny red island.

The homes are three feet above sea level…the quaint bungalow we hope to retire to is on a lot that is built up by about 6 feet, and Irma’s storm surge is expected to be 6-10 feet. The Key Westy home is surrounded by coconut trees and sits on a deep water canal just a few yards from the channel that runs wide open to the Gulf. The home is waterfront with picturesque shuttered windows all around, opening views to the dock and the bay. Sanibel and the barrier Islands offer some shelter, but you just never know about these things.

So there is that. Sure hoping the 1964 house will still be standing when all is done, and the island property is not on the bottom of the bay. It’s been there for more than fifty years, so all we can do is hope it can at least last another fifty years.

 

At any rate, we have a generator for powering our a/c and fridge here in Orlando in case we lose power, and the family is gathering at our place to weather whatever part of the storm hits us here in Orlando Sunday night. There is still a sliver of hope that Irma will continue westward, but all hope of it turning north and heading up the eastern seaboard is gone at this point. It is currently bearing down on Cuba and when it hits the mountains it should weaken. The FL Keys are just starting to get hit with the outer bands, and they are warning them for Cat 3 with 105-125 winds with gusts to 145, and it’s not looking good for Matlacha. However, the house was built in 1964, has weathered many a storm, and we can hope to weather another half century.

Battening down the hatches and riding out the storm!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Relentless rains for days now.

Had big plans for the blog this year and can’t believe the year is nearly half over. I have accomplished little on the blog…but have managed to rewrite the first three chapters of book two of the Naked Eye Series four times and chapter four twice.

Seriously…I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, because I am writing and I have the story in my head. I can’t seem to get it out in the way I want it to be read. Characters start doing their own thing and getting me off task. I tried with an outline, but at the start of the novel, I find it more of a frustration than an asset.

And then there is this blog. I can’t count the number of times I have started a post and not been able to finish it. Might have something to do with the facts that I am babysitting grandchildren frequently now, and I am the Central Florida Valor Team Leader in three different places: Two FB pages and the pokemap Discord group. On our data page, I have been on top of the leaderboard more than not, and currently have 37 gyms. That’s #1 or in the top ten of over 10, 000 total trainers, even counting the bastards who spoof and bot gyms. This is quite a feat, when you consider that there are 1126 gyms in Orlando and most people can’t stay inside one for more than a day…lol But, we built a nice battle team of 185 players and we have trainers who run gyms, boots-on-the-ground, 24/7.

Had to put both my doggies, the pug and the Australian cattle dog, to sleep a couple weeks ago. It broke my heart and I was devastated, even tho I know it was the right thing to do. Captain wasn’t even able to stand up, and Daisy was headed that way. Neither were able to eat, and both were very ill. Captain had cancer and Daisy had end-stage diabetes and was insulin dependent and in kidney failure. They are both on a shelf by my desk now in their pretty cedar boxes.

The same day we put the doggies down, we went to a beautiful ballet recital where my granddaughter performed with her techniques class. We parked the van in the same parking lot downtown at the Dr. Phillip’s Performing Arts Center that we parked at last time. Only this time there was no attendant to take our money. We saw signs posted that said parking was 8 am-6 pm Monday thru Friday for the businesses there. What we didn’t see, in a corner far removed from the entrance, was a tiny little kiosk to pay for parking…so we got towed. To make matters worse, the towing company scratched the side of my new van, and damaged the front bumper…and, of course, they are not responding to our insurance company, so now we have a lawyer.

We had to pull up the tile from the lanai and get it replaced. My handy husband did the hardest part of the work, pulling up 2400 pounds on tiles, hauling it to the dump and grinding the old floor down to remove all the tile-set and old paint that caused our problem in the first place. He is truly amazing. The new tile floor is gorgeous. Now I have to shampoo the rug that belongs out there and put all of the furniture back into place.

I other news, (I was more of it was good news, but this is starting to sound like a “woe is me” post), we are getting a new roof. Right now, overhead, people are pounding my brains out with hammers and such, even through the rain, so I’ll not stay long here. Can’t think with all of this going on.

I really wanted to stop in here and let you all know I haven’t died, or abandoned my writing projects, or forgotten about you. I read through many posts, but don’t often have the time to comment. I can’t even keep up with the Tweets I’m supposed to be doing for RRBC. I’m usually a great team player, but things have been complicated lately.

Also, I want to express a huge hunk of gratitude for everyone who has read and posted reviews for Naked Alliances. You reviews are what spurs me to keep at it most every time I’m feeling like I just can’t anymore.  I click onto Amazon, read your words, and am inspired. Thank you.

FYI: Naked Alliances will go on sale for 99 cents in a couple of weeks, but you are welcome to read now, if you like 🙂

Click in side bar for link.

 

Book Review: The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack II

Reading is not something I am able to do when I’m writing, or when I have personal family matters if front of me, like babysitting three kids (unless I’m reading to them).

I haven’t been able to sit down and read a good book since September.

One book I recently finished up was supposed to be  read and reviewed before Halloween and it just didn’t happen. Not because I wasn’t enjoying the book, but, well, life.

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Review:

C.S. Boyack has a brilliant mind. I love his writing on his blog and in his books. The Experimental Notebook II is exactly what it claims to be, an experimental notebook. It is fascinating to see how his mind works and how the words come together in this little book of short stories. There are fifteen. Some are barely a page and others are several pages. I liked the longer ones best. I thought several of the stories needed to be expounded upon. But these are experiments that we just might get lucky enough to see developed into full books, or see some of the elements introduced into new works.

There is something in here for everybody, most pieces have a paranormal element, from the behaviors of a flock of magpies, to a couple mysteries that are solved in a most unique manner, to a sci-fi adventure to alien worlds. Although there are a couple of Halloweenish-type scary stories, this is a book that can be enjoyed any time.

It was exactly the sort of book I needed to grab a short read here and there through the Holidays.

I’ve read C.S. Boyack’s books and am a huge fan. He also has a spokesperson for his blog/books, Lisa Burton, who is a delight. I urge you to give him a follow at “Entertaining Stories”. I promise you will be entertained. He’s also a huge supporter of other authors…and an all around friendly guy.

4-Stars

Purchase Link

Blog

The author:

image9I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

99 Cent Sale–Naked Alliances by S.K. Nicholls #RRBC

This sale was supposed to start yesterday, but there was a snafu with pricing that’s been resolved.

The eBook is 99 cents. Paperback and Audible are also available. 

Use your holiday to take a Florida vacation, unravel a murder mystery and help bring down a crime boss. What could be more fun than sipping margaritas with a couple of sexy nudists while your at it?

Sunny and clear skies here at 77 degrees…allow us to warm you up!

It’s Monday and you have the day off. Turn on my favorite musical artist, Jimmy Buffett, pour yourself a tall one, grab a good book, and join the fruitcakes.

Audiobook—Naked Alliances is Live! #RRBC

I’m pleased to inform you that the audiobook for Naked Alliances is live at Amazon!

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I don’t set the price for the audiobook, but it’s $17.46 if you have an audible account. That’s not a bad price. The paperback is $14.50 and the digital book goes on sale tomorrow for 99 cents.

If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, I encourage you to give them a try. Here’s the sweet part:

Free with Audible trial

$0.00

Try Audible Free

  • Includes two free audiobooks
  • Choose from 180,000+ titles
  • After 30 days, Audible is $14.95/mo.
  • Cancel anytime

Plus, if someone signs onto Audible as a new member and buys their third book, I get a fifty dollar bonus. You can buy me dinner! Sweet!

AND, you can CANCEL any time, so you’re not stuck in some year–long contract.

I also woke up to a very nice review that I would like to share with you from Top 1000 Reviewer, Ionia Froment:

There are 19 Five-Star reviews now. I’m thrilled!

Thank you all for your support.

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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Buy Here

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?