“Joey’s Place” at The Writer’s Block Authors Showcase, June 24

Please join me on June 24 at The Writer’s Block in Las Vegas for its local author showcase, 5 to 7 p.m. 

“Joey’s Place” will be one of the featured books at this gathering and you’ll find a unique and eclectic mix of styles and subject matter in the other offerings. I look forward to meeting old friends and new ones.

The Writer’s Block is located in the heart of vintage Las Vegas, Nevada, at 1020 Fremont Street. I hope to see you there.

Use the form below to contact me for more information. Or email me at John@JWNelson.net.  Thank you.

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The joint had a nautical theme

Up front, near the door, were four nickel slot-machines and one that took quarters. They looked dusty and unused. Along the wall opposite the bar there were booths pretending to be upholstered in red leather. They were empty except for one near the middle that held an old blond overflowing a shiny black spaghetti-strap dress and a fat man in a dark suit with his face in a bowl of chili. At least, it looked like chili. Their table was flush with empty highball glasses. The old blond was washed-out by too much neon and not enough fresh air. She took a drag on her cigarette and glared at her date’s head like she wanted to put it out in his bald spot. Maybe this was Gwen.

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!

He still gets excited.

Two stiff young deputies bracketed the open doorway of a room on the first floor. Two older deputies caressing cigarettes leaned against the columns supporting the second story and blew smoke at the stars. All four jumped when Parkins almost put the unmarked sedan’s bumper into one of the columns, tortured the transmission into Park, threw open his door, and rushed into the room, holding up his badge like it was the Olympic torch. Slack-jawed, the deputies just watched him pass.

Fortuna reached over the front seat, turned off the ignition, and said to Ben, “He still gets excited.”


Anchored to the bottom…

The dead woman’s skirt billowed like a parachute as she slowly rotated in the current from the pool filter. Her hair drifted around her head like sea-grass. Jill’s hair wasn’t that color or that long. That should have made him feel better, but it didn’t. There was a dead woman anchored to the bottom of the swimming pool.

Like visiting an old friend…

Near the end of LANDMARK KILL, I finally come back to a familiar place. It’s seven years before the events in my book, JOEY’S PLACE, and the town faces total ruin. It just doesn’t know it.

“… Joey’s Place was unique for another reason. It was a private club with only one member, its co-owner, Joey Ross. “Cool Joey.” Everyone who walked through the front door was his personal guest. If you didn’t know Joey Ross, you didn’t get in. You didn’t get in to enjoy those private bungalows in back. You didn’t get in to relax by the spring-fed swimming pool surrounded by cool green lawns, palms and olive trees. You didn’t get in to gamble at its intimate, no-limit casino.

Movie stars, politicians, entertainers, millionaires, star athletes. Make a scene and you’d be shown the door and your card would be pulled, even if your name was Rockefeller, Garbo or Rainier. A slow night was when there was only an archduke or an Oscar winner in the house.

Ben walked past on the hot Strip sidewalk. Valet parking was full. And not because there was no self-parking. It was full because there was no off-season at Joey’s Place. The back entrance was his only option. Dressed like he was, without a car, he’d never get through the front door. He might not even get close to it.”

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 Delanceyplace.com 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.’ …

An impatient friend asked me…


JFK, Gov. Grant Sawyer, Sen. Howard Cannon, and Sen. Alan Bible – Sept 28, 1963

When can I read “Landmark Kill?” And my response was:

“I have learned to spare no labor upon the process of writing a page four or five times over if nothing less will bring the words which express all that I mean, and nothing more than I mean.” Thomas Henry Huxley, 1927

A compliment left on the fan page…

This comment on the JOEY’S PLACE Facebook fan page really resonated, reminding me of a major reason I wrote the book…

JP_CoverPage_313x231I turned 22 in 1970. I grew up in Las Vegas but at that time I was two years into my thirty year career as a broadcaster. I bought my first house on Scenic Way that was near Lorenzi Park. I also got married that year. I read “Joey’s Place” this past (Labor Day) weekend. It was fun to be 22 again. I was able to go back to a home that no longer exists. The Vegas I used to know. Even now, as I write this, I can still see myself turning off the Strip to Convention Center Drive. The rotunda in front of me… the Landmark to the left, Channel 8 Drive to the right. Yes, I enjoyed the book. It was fun to be 22 again. … Most of my reading is non fiction. In fact the last fiction I read was a re-read of “Moby Dick.” I also have every Sherlock Holmes story by Doyle. I was interested in “Joey’s Place” because of the city and time it took place in. I wanted my butt kicked down Memory Lane and by God I got my money’s worth. For sure I’m waiting for “Landmark Kill.” The Sky Bar on those rare foggy mornings also hold pleasant times for me as I left Channel 8 at 7:45 AM and nursed a cognac there till the fog burned off and Lake Mead could be seen. … You can be proud of “Joey’s Place.” It’s a fun read.

Monsoon season…

The desert thunderstorms rumbling through Southern Nevada these past few days remind me of the first paragraph in the chapter where we meet Det. Heber Parkins in Joey’s Place…

imageFanning himself with his straw Stetson Panama, he looked down at the body in the shallow flood ravine. The summer monsoons were late or it would have been in Lake Mead by now. At least this time it wasn’t a woman.