Generous praise for “Joey’s Place”

I was fortunate enough to take John Truby‘s Story Structure Class several years ago. That good fortune was multiplied when I spent time at his writers’ studio, working with him on the film story breakdowns used as examples for his screenwriting software, which later became “Blockbuster.” A best-selling author, John teaches standing-room only classes around the world and has served as a consultant on over 1,000 film scripts. It was a remarkable learning experience.

Recently, I was flattered to learn that John had commented on “Joey’s Place” on his website (John updates this page regularly, so I’ve copied his comments below):

“Another big thumbs up for John Nelson’s detective novel, Joey’s Place. Nelson took the Anatomy of Story Masterclass so many years ago it was just called the Story Structure Class. He really knows his stuff. The story takes place in Las Vegas, 1970, the turning point when the city’s casinos went from mob control to corporate control. This allows Nelson to make the rare and difficult combination of detective story and historical drama. We not only get a terrific plot, we see the machinations play out within the making of a modern American city. Impressive stuff, and more proof that the well-written, self-published novel is the way of the future for most writers.”

Kind words. Thanks, John!

A little Friday history…

… that has nothing to do with Las Vegas (except perhaps in the case of Nevada’s long-time, lone Representative in the U.S. House, Dem. Walter Baring, who referred to himself as a “Jeffersonian States’ Rights Democrat”).

I have recently enjoyed receiving daily emails from containing interesting excerpts from a variety of books. Today’s email had an excerpt from Joseph J. Ellis’s “American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson,” and described how our third president rarely spoke in public, preferring to use the written word.

Here is Jefferson requesting that James Madison carefully review the president’s first annual address to Congress: ‘Will you give this enclosed a revisal, not only as to matter, but diction. Where strictness of grammar does not weaken expression, it should be attended to in complaisance to the purists of New England. But where by small grammatical negligences the energy of an idea is condensed, or a word stands for a sentence, I hold grammatical rigor in contempt.’ …

“Joey’s Place” to be published by Moonshine Cove…

The old D.I. and other now-lost resorts play important roles in "Joey's Place"

The old D.I. and other now-lost resorts play important roles in “Joey’s Place”

I am pleased to say that my Las Vegas crime novel, Joey’s Place, has been accepted by independent publisher, Moonshine Cove Publishing, with a scheduled release in early 2015. Moonshine Cove’s publisher, Gene D. Robinson, his editors, and I will be spending the next few months preparing revisions and planning promotions. When our final draft is completed we will be offering copies for review. The work will be available in multiple e-book formats as well as paperback.

View my previous posts for more information about this story of murder, deception, and justice in a Las Vegas that no longer exists…

L.A. LIMO TALES available at Createspace…

limotalescover_with_textFor those who need the feel of paper, this short story collection is now available at

It can also can be found on Kindle at


From its Kindle version reviews….

As I read the stories, I didn’t find myself reading words from a Kindle screen, but living in the world of the stories. They’re very well written, with characters that live before your eyes, and plenty of comedy.

Human. Real. Funny. Deep. Strange. Great 70’s ambiance. Need more tales about Max, his coworkers and clientele – I hope there will be more to come.

A Q&A “blog hop tour”…


Chewing the fat on Fremont Street, circa 1940s

Some mystery authors are participating in a “blog hop” discussion that asks the following questions:

  1. What am I working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
  3. Why do I write what I do?
  4. How does your writing process work?

It’s a quick and informative way to meet new authors and learn about what they’ve done and what they’re up to. Below are my responses:

*What am I working on?*

I’m outlining my next Las Vegas crime novel (tentatively titled “Landmark Kill”) while prepping its completed sequel, “Joey’s Place,” for e-publishing. The creative activity balances out the nuts & bolts process of attempting to uncover the (allegedly) best ways to offer and promote an e-book. I also just completed what I think will be the final revision of a short story, “The Car and Candice,” that will appear in an e-book anthology later this year titled “Saints and Sinners.” A previous version of the story is available in my collection, “L.A. Limo Tales,” available on That collection is based upon my experiences as a limousine driver in Los Angeles in 1978-1979.

*How does my work differ from others of the same genre?*

Both crime novels are rooted in the old Las Vegas, before it became the industrial playground that it is today. “Joey’s Place” is set in 1970 and tells the story of an outcast sheriff’s detective who is mysteriously assigned to investigate the murder of a respected Mormon businessman who owned half of the most exclusive club on the Strip — Joey’s Place. Naturally, nothing is as it seems and everything plays out against the real-life struggle for control of Howard Hughes and his Nevada holdings. “Landmark Kill” will take place during approximately one week in September 1963. Like “Joey’s Place,” its protagonist will seek a killer and discover that much more lies beneath the surface. Unlike “Joey’s Place,” its protagonist will probably not be a detective but, instead, a down-at-the-heels private detective who is in way over his head. 

*Why do I write what I do?*

I grew up in Las Vegas and was fortunate to meet some of the historical figures who appear in “Joey’s Place” and will appear in “Landmark Kill;” others inspired many of the fictional characters in the stories. These two novels are part of a planned series that works back through time and the town’s unique history. As for writing crime novels, they are what I most enjoy, particularly the classics by Hammett, Chander, Macdonald, and Spillane (to name a very few). My current favorites are Robert Ellis and his Lena Gamble series along with Robert Crais and Carl Hiassen.

*How does your writing process work?*

I use outlines and I am a student of John Truby and his concepts. Combined, this helps me avoid the loose ends and time-wasting tangents that seat-of-the-pants development usually produce (at least, in my case). Technically, my writer’s tool of choice is Scrivener, which gives me just about everything I need to sketch, plot, and write the complete work. It also makes it very easy to generate output in almost any format you can think of.

The inspiration for “Landmark Kill” came from reading about John F. Kennedy’s visits to Las Vegas before and after he became president. With all the conspiracy theories surrounding his death in Dallas, it gives me pleasure to add my own fictional theory to the mix. The essential key in this hybrid of crime and historical fiction is research research research. My background in history helps me there and I also benefit from a variety of resources, including some remarkable “old Las Vegas” groups on Facebook and Google+. As an example, I was curious as to the decor of the old Dunes hotel and was able to learn about it from one of the group members who worked there in the 1960s.

I hope you enjoyed this “blog hop” Q&A and will also visit the participating authors listed below.
James Callan (
Ilene Schneider (
Joyce Ann Brown (
Sally Carpenter (

(Moderated comments are permitted on this post, so please feel free to join in the conversation.)