“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…

“Joey’s Place”

Intl with Elvis signIt’s September, 1970. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because nobody gives a damn.  Then a man with two slugs in his head is discovered in the parking lot of the International Hotel & Casino, where Elvis is filling the house every night.  Bad for business. 
JP_CoverPage_313x231Outcast Sheriff’s Detective Heber Parkins is mysteriously assigned the case. Soft-spoken and hard-headed, Heber usually collects the anonymous victims of the most anonymous town of them all — the waitresses and keno runners who met the wrong man, or the card mechanics and grifters who weren’t important enough for a deep hole in the desert and fifty pounds of quicklime. The kind of job you get when your partners keep getting themselves killed. But that’s all about to change, because the victim was co-owner of the most exclusive club on the Strip — Joey’s Place.

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The Sky Room

1950s_Desert_Inn_SkyRoomThe Sky Room was dead. Just a middle-aged couple holding hands over Manhattans at one table and a wrinkled tourist with a loser’s face at the bar contemplating a flock of empty shot glasses. The small dance floor was scuffed and dusty. An empty cocktail table had an ashtray filled with butts. You wouldn’t have seen that in the old days.

The ceiling was still painted to make it look like a starry night with puffy clouds, but some of the stars weren’t shining. It didn’t matter. Nobody said “Meet me at the Sky Room!” anymore.

The Murray Arnold Quartet — minus three — was providing the entertainment. The aging boy wonder of the piano was a long way from his glory days at the Cocoanut Grove in L.A. or fronting for Freddy Martin and his orchestra. But the old guy looked comfortable in this empty relic from the town’s past, noodling the keys of a scratched baby grand, exploring a subtle syncopation on “More Than You Know.” Heber wasn’t sure if he liked Murray’s interpretation, but he appreciated the effort.

He found a table by the big window overlooking the Strip and sat down. Fingerprints smeared the glass at kid level. He took off his Stetson and used his handkerchief to wipe the sweatband. Setting his hat on the table, he looked out the smudged window and tried to remember the last time he saw a mushroom cloud.

“She could take care of herself…”

He sipped his martini and appreciated how her faded jeans stretched against her haunches as she kneeled to work the fire. He thought about the size of the staff needed for a place like this. A full-time grounds-keeper, for sure. A pool man. Maybe a handyman, too. Housekeeper, definitely, even with auntie in residence. The guys in the truck. It added up.

One thing was certain, somebody filled that ice bucket, somebody put this wood out here, somebody took the covers off these chairs, somebody lit these torches, somebody swept away the desert that would never give up its claim to the land. Maybe she called ahead on that radio-phone in her fancy XKE.

He wondered how long it would be before she mentioned her husband again. Or would he have to bring it up. He knew he should feel guilty, but he didn’t. Mrs. Lyman was a big girl. She could take care of herself. (from “Joey’s Place”)

Keeping track of research…

JP_CoverPage_313x231I once had a writing partner who was a maniacal note-taker, but his organization skills left a great deal to be desired. One day, I couldn’t help but notice pages and pages and yellow pad after yellow pad strewn around the floor of his living room. When I asked him how he kept track of what he had written, he tapped his head and said, “It’s all up here.” I pointed at the floor and said, “Maybe, but it looks to me like it’s all over there.”

Starting work on my Las Vegas crime novel, “Joey’s Place,” and its planned prequels, I knew that tracking and utilizing the research necessary would be a challenge. I started looking for research software. One I found was Personal Brain.

Having three hundred years of known facts about southern Nevada and the southwest as well as the biographies and character sketches of many individuals (great and not-so-great) readily available and easy to access was a necessity. Then there was the geological and pre-historic information that I would need to give my stories veracity. And I wanted to be able to link or relate elements of my research quickly, easily, and flexibly.

Thirty or more years ago, I would probably have had index boxes filled with cards, like a library’s card catalog system. Thankfully, computer software eliminated that. But hierarchical outlines and index card software (and I tried and used quite a few) usually forced me to tediously apply either hyperlinks or connecting “arrows” that didn’t give me the whole picture pertaining to an event, person, or locale with a single click or “mouse-over.”

Keeping track of my own notes and research had always been a challenge (but never to the extent of my writing partner’s non-system). Then I discovered “Personal Brain” software. After testing its demo version, I realized that this was software that could keep my work organized and still allow me the flexibility I needed for basic brainstorming.


For example, in the image at right, you can see the connections I created from and to the Flamingo Hotel/Casino. In the text box are the various facts I gathered about the resort — its origins, dates, events, etc. — from a variety of sources, online and in books or magazines. This thought is a “child” of a parent thought called “Hotels/Casinos” and, on the right of the Personal Brain screen, you can see all the other thoughts linked to this parent. On the left of the screen are “jump” thoughts to individuals (in this case) who had some type of connection to the Flamingo. Note how these individuals can also be linked via “jumps” to the other establishments (on right of screen) with which they were associated. You can also see how the establishments themselves can be associated with “jump” links. It’s just as easy to remove the links if you want or need to. Expanding and decreasing the size of the text displayed in the thoughts area, or “Plex,” is as simple as click ‘n’ drag.

Across the top of the screen are “thoughts” (mostly parent thoughts), that I have “pinned” for quick and easy access. Across the bottom is a history of the thoughts that I have most recently accessed. New thoughts arise from old thoughts, old thoughts and links are revised and altered as new ideas occur. Just as important, research information is readily available for review with full text formatting to indicate what has been used, what might be used, or what is still needed.

If you are looking for a powerful research and brainstorming tool, you might want to consider Personal Brain.

(I have no personal or professional connection to the vendor of this software.)