Vegas for a Florida Series

A little village called Goodland nestled in the Ten Thousand Islands on the Florida southwest coast received an unlikely visitor about fifteen years ago. It’s not a quaint and charming seaside village, but a scrappy drinking village with a fishing problem. A sandy road winds through the mangroves to a tiny marina at its town center surrounded by small cottages. There is a general store, one restaurant, and one bar. Most everyone there has a boat, and they cast for mackerel off their docks. The nearest industry is a cat food plant, and feral cats are everywhere.

The unlikely visitor was Donald Trump. The town was so excited to have a celebrity that they all came out to greet him and took pictures of the bar owner with him. He attended a town meeting and had a drink while schmoozing with the populous. Trump had been looking at Cape Romano as a possible place for one of his casinos or a resort. Yes, our sanctuary island could have become Mar-A- Lago.

In the end, the future So Called Ruler of the United States (SCROTUS), decided that there was not enough infrastructure to support his endeavor and it was too expensive to build. We were spared.

There have been Casinos built tho, primarily by the Seminole Indians. They have a special contract with the government and hold rights to the casinos in Florida. I’m not certain how Trump was going to edge into that market. Have one of his cronies change the law I suppose.

Dog racing, Jai-Alai, and card rooms are run by many organizations in Florida. While they bring the Seminoles much revenue, they are nothing compared to the Las Vegas casinos.

We just got back from a trip to Vegas. It was a fun trip and most of my research came via the Lyft and Uber drivers. They are very knowledgeable about their community. There seemed to be a consensus that the mob was a good thing and corporations are bad. See, the mob took care of their own. They only offed other mob members when there were issues, but they treated the general population with respect. They reinvested into the community, building schools, hospitals, and daycare facilities…whereas, the corporations have sharply increased prices, cut wages, and pocket their money.

MGM was the worst. When they moved in and started jacking up costs all the neighboring casinos did the same. There is a Trump Hotel there, but Trump doesn’t own it. He let it go when he was down on his luck and the people who bought it kept his name on it for branding. Little did they know, right?

There is a man by the name of Steve Wynn who has purchased much land and built up a major resort complex in the area. The Wynn and Encore hotels and casinos are the seventh largest in the world. Wynn is a savvy businessman and a major rival of Trump. His two properties collectively hold more Forbes five-star awards than any other resort and casino in the world.

We visited many of the famous places in Vegas along the strip, which is a mere four mile stretch of land, much smaller than the movies project it to be, and smaller than I realized. Our Hilton hotel was connected to the Miracle Mile underground mall home of the famous Halo bar and lounge.

Of course there was a casino there, as there was in every grocery store, restaurant, and hotel as well as the airport. But my favorite place in the mall was Lobster Me, a fast food joint that served the best lobster rolls and chowder west of the state of Maine.

My favorite place of all was dumpy little joint called Ellis Island. It’s lit up with green lights, can be seen from any hotel in Vegas, and boasts a couple of the best, and most affordable, restaurants in town. While Mon Ami Gabi was nice,

overlooking Bellagio Fountain, Ellis Island served us a huge slab of prime rib, mashed potatoes with gravy, and garlic green beans for a tiny sum of $8.00. They have a micro-brewery on-site, a Bar-B-Q pub and a full service restaurant. And, of course, slots. We managed to leave Vegas $2.50 to the good.

Another fun place for me, being the history lover that I am, was the Golden Nugget downtown on Fremont Street. The Golden Nugget was originally built in 1946, making it one of the oldest casinos in the city. Steve Wynn bought a stake in the Nugget, which he increased so that, in 1973, he became the majority shareholder, and the youngest casino owner in Las Vegas.

Fremont Street is Vintage Vegas. It’s the area you see in all the old Vegas movies:

Films

  • In the James Bondfilm Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the casino can be continually seen in the police chase scene.[5]
  • The casino can be seen in the beginning of the film Smokin’ Aces(2006), in which the antagonist cuts the ribbons for the casino’s grand opening.
  • In the film Next(2007), Nicolas Cage is briefly seen entering the Golden Nugget through the Fremont Street entrance.
  • The Golden Nuggetfeatures prominently in the poker mockumentary The Grand (2008).[6]

 

Television

  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents1959 episode “Man From The South”, the opening shot shows the Casino and Fremont St.
  • The Golden Nugget and Fremont Street are in the opening scene of “The Night Stalker” (1972) with reporter Carl Kolchak investigating a series of vampire murders in Las Vegas.
  • Vega$showed exterior shots of The Golden Nugget in the opening and closing slots and in the pilot episode
  • The Casino(2004), a Fox reality television series is based on the story of the Golden Nugget’s acquisition by Poster Financial Group.[7]
  • In 2010, the casino’s pool and shark aquarium were featured throughout an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Video Games

  • In all Street Fighter IIgames (except HD Remix), Balrog’s (M. Bison in Japanese) stage is set in front of the Golden Nugget. The Golden Nugget sign is clearly seen in the back. In HD Remix, it has been changed to the “Crazy Buffalo”, presumably in reference to the name of Balrog’s original Super Combo.
  • The name Golden Nuggetalso designates casino games on Game Boy AdvanceNintendo 64 (known as Golden Nugget 64, and features a slideshow of the hotel and casino as a menu option), Nintendo DS (known as Golden Nugget Casino DS), PlayStation, and personal computers.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the logo of the “Silver Rush,” formerly a gambling hall, shows a similarity to the logo of the “Golden Nugget.”

 

The expanded resort is built around two aquariums. The largest faces the swimming pool, and incorporates a slide through the tank containing full grown sharks.

The smaller aquarium is in the lobby of the Rush Tower. A total of five specialty restaurants were added: Vic & Anthony’s steakhouse, Grotto Ristorante, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine, Red Sushi and Chart House. The Chart House has a view of one of the aquariums.

It is along Fremont Street that you’ll find the Mob Museum, and the dozens of little wedding Chapels, Elvis, The Pink Cadlliac and more. There are quite a few jails down there, as well. Despite its glory, the area is a bit ghetto compared to the high-end Miracle Mile. Here is where you’ll witness most of the iconic Vegas signage.

We had a blast with our drivers. One I will always remember was Jacki…with an ‘I’. She was the splitting image of Brandi. I’ve promised her a scene in Book Two of the Naked Eye Series. Quite a character and an encyclopedia of Vegas tips and tricks.

We saw the Cirque du Soleil Beatles Love show and it was fantastic. Made me cry at the end when the National Guard drug all the old hippies off the stage. The fabulous costumes and lights coupled with extraordinary costumes and choreography with audience interaction made for the most spectacular show. The theme would have made John Lennon proud.

Frank Marinos Divas show was right up Brandi’s alley. The impersonators actually looked better than most of the celebrities. The sexy male dancers kept my attention.

All in all, it was a fun and informative trip and I am grateful for having had the experience. A nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Bellagio Fountain was a pretty sight tho.

I think I’ll keep Richard and Brandi in Florida for the most part.

Holiday AfterGlow

The Christmas tree is still up and the snow village is still out. LED icicles hang from the eaves of the house and multi-colored lights twinkle on the shrubbery. The red velvet cake is all gone and the many guests have left the spare bedrooms empty. The grandchildren are home with their parents enjoying their gifts and the house is quieter than it’s been in two weeks. A special sort of peace has descended upon us.

christmas-coffee-drinks

The sound of the coffee brewing is comforting and I am feeling reflective over the previous year and contemplating my resolutions for the upcoming one.

  1. Write more guest posts.
  2. Write more blog posts.
  3. Write more interviews.
  4. Write more outlines.
  5. Write more novels.
  6. Write more.

It all boils down to writing more.

I’ve never been one able to discipline myself to meeting a daily word count. It feels forced, to me, when I try, and unnatural…but being about six months behind where I thought I would be at this point in the series, I may have to buckle down and set myself some small goals.

I spent a lot of time in the parks playing Pokemon this past summer and fall. The weather is gorgeous here this time of year, cool breezes blow on sunshiny days and the air is dryer. Florida is wonderful from November until about April.

My North American Pokedex has been filled three or four times over. I don’t need to collect anymore until the new Gen 2 Pokemon come out (we’re thinking February), and all I have to do with the game now is battle gyms to collect my coins and star dust every day. I’ve been holding ten gyms for two weeks, and that’s all they allow you to cash out on every day, so there’s not a lot for me to do there except keep up the status quo.

The game has really helped me toward getting out of the house and meeting new and interesting people. I’ve gotten to know many of the homeless folk who hang out in our city and county parks as well as many young and old residents of the area. I have a team FB page with 200+ members and they’ve become like extended family.

I’ve never done anything half way. My grandfather used to say, “Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.” So I gave it 100%, but there was a cost. Playing the game as hard as I have ate into my reading and writing time and I need to pull back from it and refocus on my big goals.

The Naked Eye private investigator series is swirling around in my mind up through about book eight and there are outlines to get written. I have Book Two outlined and that outline is in the process of getting fleshed out. It’s been added to Scrivener, where I can keep things organized, and it’s time to move it along. I have fishbone outlines of the next three books completed.

I was sorely disappointed that Mystery Writers of America doesn’t allow self-published authors to sit on panels and doesn’t allow anyone but panelists to place their books for sale in the Murder on the Beach bookstore. I’m still attending SleuthFest this year, but I’m not joining MWA until they get with the times. They invited me to be a moderator for a panel. I’m still mulling that over.

The audio book of Naked Alliances is coming along grand. I’m so excited to be able to bring the book to my audience in this format. Steven Barnett is absolutely the most wonderful narrator ever there could be. His voice is engaging and he’s having a blast with his reading. We’ll be done with the book by the end of the year. I don’t know how long it takes ACX to get the book uploaded for sale on Amazon, but I’m expecting some time in January the audio book will be available.

I have my coffee now, my keyboard, and plenty of time in front of me…so, today will be my first day back at work. Peace. May your Christmas cleanup be easy. Blessings for the upcoming year. May all your resolutions hold fast and may all your goals be met.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Change in Plans on Crime Novel Series

Richard Noggin and Brandi already have a few fans. I’m happy that readers found them likeable and well developed.

Richard is a bit of a klutz. Not seriously useless, but not quite as adept as I had originally planned for him. That’s how characters sometimes take over and write their own stories.

Having a name that translates into dickhead might have been the impetus for his development, but I really think developing Brandi and her skills had more to do with it. I wanted her to be feminine, but tough. She frequently had to come to Richard’s rescue in book one, so she sort of came into her own, leaving Richard to appear to be floundering a tad.

Richard is still a smart guy. The outline I have for book two gives Richard a much greater leading role and Brandi sort of takes a back seat.

But here’s the thing:

I don’t know if I like this. Brandi has earned her place and pushing her into the background on this one doesn’t seem right.

So, I’m skipping what I planned for book two and proceeding with book three. Book three has a more interesting plot, whereas book two has a plot that, IMHO, has been done to death.

Book two deals with development encroaching on the environment. A noble cause. However, I must have read variations to that story a hundred times. Maybe I’ll come back to it.

So I’m going with what I had planned for book three as book two. It’s more obscure and I think it will be more fun.

Confused little old people are missing all over the country, with a significant number missing in Florida. Richard and Brandi must find out who, when, where and how. There’s a common denominator.

I’m working on my victim profiles now. We’ll see how this unfolds.

Potential victims:

Yeah! The Beta Reads Are All In For Book One In The Naked Eye Series

Belinda Pollard has some great articles on beta readers, what they are, how and when to use them.

http://www.smallbluedog.com/what-is-a-beta-reader-and-why-do-i-need-one.html

I can’t say enough good things about my betas. I was so very glad that I went all out and had a dozen team members take a look. I had readers who focused on the “Big Picture” and readers who focused on the “Little Details”. Getting both of those perspectives contributed immensely to the creation of a better product. A couple weren’t able to read. That my ten readers loved the story and its characters thrills me.

This is not a high-level English literature read, and it’s not supposed to be. It’s an entertaining, fun read with zany, quirky characters, a bit of a romp. So many improvements have been made. There is still work to do. I plan to have the edits completed by November. I’m working through some attribution tag improvements and cutting some fluffy stuff from Chapters Three, Eleven and Twenty-Five to tighten up the read.

It has been a joy to work with so many brilliant minds and their varied talents. I had a wonderful audience well-suited to provide the feedback we needed to move this project forward. I say “we” because this seems a great team effort.

My plan is to park this first book come November, and spend the next year writing books two and three. Then they will go to an editor. I am hoping to have three completed and ready to publish by November of 2016. It may take a bit longer than that, but I am thinking getting into the flow with the series has been accomplished. If it takes another year that will work just as well. I want to publish them at three month intervals.

I’m still thinking a pseudonym of sorts will be best for this change in genre and style. I don’t want readers of one genre confused by the other simply because of author name.

A Great Big Thank You To All Who Were Willing To Help Out!

Your time and effort much appreciated.

You all get free airline and Disney tickets and can stay at my place (I wish).

We’ll have a big party!

Seriously! I am deeply indebted. Let me know if I can ever return the favor somehow.

Have you ever been a beta reader?

Have you used beta readers?

If not, you are missing out on a valuable experience.

Crime Fiction Beta Readers Apply

We have gotten about half-way through with the first beta reads and second edits on Naked Alliances, my first crime novel. Yay! I’ve been told, “It’s one helluva good story to be proud of.” That really boosted my confidence, and I am feeling just about ready to share it with others.

I have two beta readers and they are more than awesome!  I’m really getting excited now. There is absolutely no way I could thank them enough. You totally rock!

I have four more beta readers lined up and I will accept a couple more if you think it’s really something you’d like to read. Just send me a note: sknicholls1@gmail.com  I will tell you now, it may be a couple of years before this story is released to the public, as I have two or three more stories in my head that I want to get down before I publish Book One in The Naked Eye Series.

This story was written as a challenge by my husband, the Rocket Scientist, to write a crime novel. It developed exactly as I expected it would. We are both avid readers of crime fiction. He reads everything, but I mostly read regional authors. I can’t deny being an amateur.

I also can’t deny that it is cliche. My characters are cliche. The story, while serious and fascinating, is somewhat cliche. Not a comedy caper, but it comes off as nearly satirical it’s so cliché, in my opinion. But it is what it is. And I have worked hard on it.

It’s regional southern crime fiction. There are southern colloquialisms that I most likely won’t alter. It is also spiced with contemporary, regional urban slang. (Hopefully, not too much.) Some may be very clear to you and some more obscure, but it’s not hard to pick up on meanings in context. There are accents and some regional dialect, but nothing you have to slog through for any length of time.

If rape, prostitution, porn, nudity, and/or recreational sex are triggers for you, you probably don’t need to read. If you’re put off by the notion of alternate lifestyles, you’re likely not going to enjoy this story. That’s okay, it wasn’t meant for everybody.

Being as cliché as it is there are stereotypes, and they are supposed to be there. There are no patched eyes or limping characters, steampunks, or people with robotic appendages. There is nothing paranormal, magical, or mystical about it.

The book is both murder mystery and crime thriller, but it’s not a cozy mystery and it was a challenge to write both murder mystery and thriller in one book. The murder is more a subplot, so it doesn’t really unfold the way a typical cozy murder mystery would.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, when I am ready for more beta readers to take a look, I’ll have most of the editing done. I’m mainly looking for opinions and feedback on the overall flow, the pace, the story-lines, and how you feel about how they unfold. I would also like to know if there are characters that you would like to see come back in future books. The series books will stand alone, but may share common characters.

I am looking for folk who like crime fiction in particular.

 If you think you would be interested, drop me a line.

One of the fictional settings in the book, Leisure Lagoon, was modeled after this place, my family’s nudist resort here in Central Florida, Cypress Cove.

Naked Alliances: Book One: The Naked Eye Series, Cover Idea and New Blurb

green naked Alliances 002

A potential case offered by the former mayor of Orlando could give Richard Noggin P.I. the edge he needs to propel his business into the big leagues. Before he can get to his meeting for his new assignment, a cold case murder, he gets sucked into a crisis situation involving two women from Orange Blossom Trail in the red light district. His calm existence as a private investigator solving marital conflicts and fraud quickly unravels when a transsexual entertainer dumps an abused Asian girl on him. 

I sent off my manuscript to a couple of beta readers today. (Thank you so very much for your willingness to take on this task!!!) Now I am bored…waiting, and was playing around with cover image ideas and blurbs. This, of course, is not a professional book cover image but it works for a manuscript .mobi file pretty good.

I have Book Two in my head, so I have started roughing out a vague outline. I have always been a linear writer, but crime fiction does not lend itself well to that method. So I am experimenting. Some of what I write in Book Two will depend on characters from Book One, so I am anxious to see how the beta reading goes before I get too deep.

What do you think of the blurb?

 

If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong!

Keep writing!

UPDATE!!!

Thank you to all the commentators. I believe we have a good gritty blurb that speaks more to the mood and genre of the book. Special thanks to Misha Burnett, who got me thinking in a different direction. That’s what I love about “social” media. People can pool ideas and creativity abounds.

“Richard Noggin, a Florida private investigator, figured that taking on a maleficence case for the former mayor of Orange County would be good for his career. Instead he finds himself in a shadowy world of sex, secrets, slaves…and murder. Drafted to solve a cold case, murder leads to murder. From Little Saigon to Leisure Lagoon, Richard works to protect a young girl and bring down a sinister crime boss.”

Got Shining Approval From Alpha Reader on First Chapter: Naked Alliances

draft cover 001

I’m so excited I have to share. *giggles*

The rocket scientist read my rewrite of chapter one and he said, “This is great!” He went on to say that it really changed his perspective on the interrelation of the two plot lines. He really likes it!

I tightened it up and was able to work the first chapter in a way that it not only starts off with intense action, but introduces both the murder mystery and crime thriller at the very beginning. This way, you are not reading through to chapter three before ever getting into the crime thriller part. Originally, I had started off with info about the cold case. It was interesting, but did not have the necessary punch to grab a reader and pull them into the story.

A bonus is that four main characters are introduced in the first chapter, so you get to know them all from the very beginning.

This will make for a much better “Look Inside”.

I started off planning a prologue, and wrote what ended up being a complete character profile of Cara Kieu and her history. It did NOT work at all, but gave me some really good ideas for a chase scene.

I scrapped it and started reworking the first chapter. It has guns, villains, the P.I., a high speed car chase, Brandi, Cara, the murder victim’s surviving husband, and introduces both cases in 2793 action packed and informative words. There’s also a small amount of revision to be done in subsequent chapters, so it does NOT necessitate a major rewrite.

AND, most significantly, the alpha reader loves it!  🙂 

Okay, I’m done. *breathes*

Now for this entertaining commercial break:

An important message about gun safety!