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.

Guest robot: Lisa Burton – An invitation

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

How much would you pay to reach a potential audience of say, a hundred thousand readers? And what if, instead, you could do that for FREE, with no strings attached?

Writers need to promote their work… interviews, guest posts, radio shows…they are all excellent ways of getting your work seen and, hopefully read. There are any number of sites willing to make holes in your hard-won and often meagre royalties by offering you advertising space, or nameless (and possibly non-existent) followers and who will charge you to appear on their blog or website. While everyone needs to make a living, and while there is nothing wrong with investing money, as well as your time to promote your work, why pay for what you are being offered for free?

There are very many people offering guest spots to writers. WordPress bloggers will also post their links across many social media platforms…

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Unknown and Unown

We’re headed to Vegas the first week in April. It’s all research for Book Two in the Naked Eye series. I’m learning more about gambling as an industry than I ever thought I would need to know. I’m hoping this trip will get me out of my stuck place.

I knew how I wanted to start the book, but I’ve rewritten Chapter Two twice and just not happy with either direction it went. I have a plot, a couple of sub plots, characters, motives, some conflicts, but haven’t quite figured out the action scenes to pull it all off. I’ve also revamped my outline twice. Fear of the unknown…my anxieties are off the charts.

Sadly, I thought I would have the first draft finished by April, but unless something really sparks soon that’s not going to happen.

Admittedly, I’m distracted by Pokemon Go and other life activities…grandkids/birthdays. It will be good to get away for a little while. I have two FB groups I started and admin for in Pokemon Go and just got another admin so things should ease up there. We have 350 people in our battle group. There are about 30 hardcore players in my neighborhood and we play together daily in one capacity or another.

I’m failing miserably with RRBC. I thought I could be on the Tweet Team, but Sleuthfest last week and all the other activities of my life this week resulted in me forgetting to do my job there. I must get three or four emails a week from them and I can’t keep up with all the things they want us to participate in. I almost always see the emails long after the event they want me to attend is over. I’ve read a couple of books and still haven’t written the review for the last one. Plan to do that today. I joined some contest and sent in the required materials, but have no real clue what it’s for….lmao. Seriously, I can’t keep up.

When I get excited enough to start new projects and I can’t give them 110%, I fall into a melancholy place. That’s sort of where I am right now.

Sometimes I don’t even get my emails read for days, which explains why I’m often posting comments on your three day old blog posts. I haven’t been able to get around the internet like I used to either.

I’m doing my first countdown deal on Naked Alliances Book One, so it would be a good time to grab it if you missed the earlier promos. I would love to get some reviews on the audio book. Thirty people have bought it so far, but not one review that specifically focuses  on the audio book. 😦 And I thought Steven Barnett did such a fine job, I was certain he would have been praised for that. Actually, I’m stuck at 21 reviews and haven’t had one since Feb 23rd. That is likely affecting me also. I so wanted at least fifty before the next book comes out, hopefully this fall. It might be delayed until after Christmas if I can’t swing into high gear.

But this made my day:

Trophy Pokemon

It’s an exceptionally rare pokemon, more rare than ultra-rare. Me and about fourteen other people chased it down this morning. Unown is an extremely rare Pokémon that lives in its own dimension and rarely ventures outside. There are 28 of them representing the alphabet and the question mark and exclamation mark.

I’ve figured out how to have Brandi playing Pokemon Go in my next book and how that plays into catching the bad guy. I’m hoping I can execute it in a way that is not alienating to people who don’t play the game. It’s interesting to try and find the right words to convey activities taking place in an augmented reality game. My Beam Team helps me out there. They’re mostly in their thirties. I’m the only grandparent on the team. I figure if I stick to the basics and don’t go too deep with game lingo it’ll work out fine.

Do you play any video games? If so, what’s your favorite, and do you play online or multiplayer games?

Also, is anyone having trouble with the WordPress notifications pages? Mine errors me out every time I try to use it.

Disparity Within MWA: Trad-Pubbed vs Independently Pubbed

As you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from blogging for a little while. It’s not that I don’t love you, I do. I’ve had to deeply focus my time and energy into to writing and research. I also attended Sleuthfest this past weekend.

street-signs

On that note I have something to say that may not be popular, but I’ve got to get it off my chest in order to feel settled about it and the only way I know to do it is to put it out there. When asked on an interview if there was anything I hated about writing or the industry, I found it difficult to use such a strong word to describe anything about the process. I love it….everything; writing, researching, editing, the whole shebang. But there is one thing that bothers me most.

I don’t like how people put down the self-published without giving authors an opportunity. They ridicule without even having read the author’s work and lump all exclusively self-published authors into one pile of trash. Yes, I understand there is some crappy work out there by independent authors. There are also lots of crappy work out there by the traditionally published. I wrote a good book. I worked hard to build a team to beta read, professionally edit, design a cover, professionally narrate the audio book, publicize the work and did everything I know to create a nicely polished product to present.

I’m happy to report Naked Alliances has received glowing praise from authors and book reviewers across the nation. Some top magazines like Midwest Reviews and The Island Reporter have featured either myself as author or the book.

Yet, many writer organizations won’t represent the work as it is self-published. I’m not allowed to enter their contests or sell my books in affiliated book stores because it’s not traditionally published or doesn’t meet the “must prove they have sold 5000 copies of their books” requirement.

I haven’t joined some popular organizations because of these restrictions. Until they change their attitude toward the independently published I won’t and I’ve let them know it. Send in high membership dues, provide time and energy fully supporting and promoting their organization when they won’t do the same for me? How hypocritical of me to do that.

I’ve attended Sleuthfest two years. It’s sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. I have not joined their organization for these very reasons. Maybe if I did, and became more active, I could help change the attitude they have toward self-published. I was planning to act as an official volunteer at Sleuthfest last year. I was told that only MWA members could act in the volunteer capacity at their events. I decided to check them out first, before making a decision to join.

I read their entire web site and decided against joining until I could see how my book would be published as their rules for self-published authors are far more stringent than those for traditionally published and contests are only open to those who are published by a MWA approved publisher.

There is no hint of equality.

This year, I was told that non-members could be on panels, so I signed up for one. Then I received a letter informing me that panelists had to be published by a MWA approved publisher. I contacted the Murder on the Beach Bookstore that sells attendees books during the conference and was told, yes, they do carry books by self-published authors, provided they are on a panel.

Do you see the problem here?

Time went on and I sucked it up and decided I would go to the conference and enjoy myself. I even made a FANtastic Florida raffle basket to donate. There was more than $250.00 in merchandise in that basket for some lucky ticket holder.

I could still learn a lot and promote myself and my book, maybe even sell a few copies out of a box in my room. (Which I did.)

However, a few days before the conference, I received a personal message from the chairman of the volunteer committee. They were short on volunteers and could use my help. Maybe this was a golden opportunity to step up to the plate and demonstrate that I was a bigger person. I asked, if I volunteered, could they place my books in the books store?

Nope. Can’t do that. “But I’m on the board now and maybe things will change for next year.” (And maybe not.)

I declined to volunteer. Call me anything you please and tell me how I could have made a wonderful impression on the powers that be, but no. Independently published authors shouldn’t have to suck up or meet special criteria to qualify for perks of membership. So no, until things change, I won’t be joining your organization.

There are so many organizations out there that provide due respect. It would be hypocritical of me to join one that doesn’t. I’m happy to pay membership dues and actively participate in those that do.

quote-the-bud-may-have-a-bitter-taste-but-sweet-will-be-the-flower-william-cowper-89-62-08

Tuesday Anything Possible – Announcing the Re-Launch of My GRL By John W. Howell #RRBC #ASMSG

I read this book when it first came out and I can say this is a wonderful read. You can’t help but fall in love with the protagonist. It has been revamped and is back on the shelf. Pick up your copy today!

Fiction Favorites

Announcing the re-launch of My GRL

My GRL

The cover is new and the book edited once again to enhance the experience. What is really nice is the price has been cut for the introduction. You can buy the kindle version for a special introduction price of

$0.99

Here’s the blurb.

John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a well-deserved leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission. Amazon for the kindle version

Here is the link to Amazon…

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Blood in the Water #FREE This Weekend

Free Book! Great Author! Great Read!

blindoggbooks

The 89th Academy Awards Ceremony – that’s the Oscars to you and me – will take place this Sunday and in celebration of this momentous occasion I am making my latest novel Blood in the Water available for FREE download all weekend!

bitw-cover-front

What is the connection between Blood in the Water and the Oscars you ask?

Well, in addition to being the basis for a future Best Picture Winner, it has loads of connections!!!

First, the main character in the story is named Bob Oscarson, but he goes by the nickname Oscar.

oscar

Not enough for you?

How about this…in the story there are sharks – and as we all know Jaws (a movie about a shark) won 3 Oscars…Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Music. It was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (Damn you Jack Nicholson).

jaws-collage

The…

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The Rave Awards! #RRBC

C.S. Boyack offers us a delightfully entertaining report on the Rave Reviews Book Club Awards. Come by and meet some terrific authors and bloggers, readers and writers.

Entertaining Stories

The limousine pulled into a row of other limos. Lisa Burton* sat across from me in the back. A four-hundred pound man sat next to me in a tux. “Why is he here again?”

“Don’t worry about him,” Lisa said. “He’s from Harry Winston, and he comes with the diamonds. I have to give them all back after the program.”

“That’s too bad. They look really nice.” We pulled forward a few car lengths, and I asked him to let me out.

“What are you doing? You’ll miss the red carpet.”

“That’s the idea. I’m slipping in the back, grabbing a beer, and meeting you at our table. You’re the spokesmodel. It’s your job to take this bullet for me.”

“You’re such a baby. Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

I wound my way to our table and sat where my name card indicated. The room filled up as Lisa wound…

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