Good morning. Today on the A to Z Blog Challenge, I’m working with the letter “L”, and I’m going to talk Las Vegas, the setting for my latest novel, Just For The Weekend, released today. I’m an armchair traveler and as much as I’d rather really travel, time, money, age, and commitments limit my ability to do so. That means when I start a new novel, I need to put myself into the action, but knowing or learning as much as I can about my surroundings.
First, I learned everything I could about alien obsessed areas of Nevada, especially Rachel, a tiny little place where tourists flock to see alien lights in the sky. During its heyday, many of the residents of Rachel worked at Area 51. I was truly amazed by what I discovered. I hope to visit some of the Mojave Desert and Rachel some day. I want to see the ghost towns and Scotty’s Castle for myself. Even the idea of visiting Death Valley has a certain appeal
Since the book takes place at a sci-fi convention, I did a lot of reading up on those events–some of what I learned was disturbing, and if you follow my blog stops, I discuss those things in detail in other places. That brought me to Vegas. I’ve never been there although I did go to Atlantic City years ago. It’s not the same, I know, but it did give me a taste of some of the more extravagant aspects of casinos. We spent three days at the Taj Mahal. It was an incredible experience. We toured the other casinos, walked along the Boardwalk, but like good tourists, we stayed away from the seedier parts of the city. I had a terrific time and even came out on top to the tune of $325.00. Of course, if you add in the cost of the gas to get there, hotel, meals, and drinks, I was at least a grand and a half in the hole, but it was fun.
Cleopatra, actually named after a kitten I had who was killed by a car, has never really been anywhere. She’s lived a quiet, sheltered life looking after her widower father. Her best friend Mitch Hutchins, a sci-fi writer, talks her into going to Vegas for the convention. Reluctantly, she agrees to go, but Cleo doesn’t gamble. How else can you spend your days in and around Vegas? My heroine does what I’d like to do if I were in her shoes.
Mitch, a frequent visitor to Vegas, had indulged her shamelessly, taking her to see what she considered the most memorable sights first. They’d ridden the monorail and gotten on and off several times as the desire to see something up close had taken them. Together, they’d visited the Eiffel Tower at the Paris, the Volcano at the Mirage, and taken a gondola ride at the Venetian. Starved, they’d walked back up the strip for lunch at the Bellagio where they’d watched the famous choreographed water in the fountains before heading back to their hotel. Cleo was giddy with excitement and maybe a touch too much alcohol. Tomorrow, before the convention started late in the afternoon, they’d ride the roller coaster at New York-New York, visit the medieval glory of Excalibur, and see the Sphinx and the King Tut Museum at the LuXor.
She stared at the glasses emblazoned with the names of different bars and casinos. Of course there were the two Witch Doctor glasses from the VooDoo Lounge upstairs. She recalled a Peach Bellini at the Bellagio, rum punch at the Rhumbar, something called a Sinatra Smash at the Encore, and a chocolate martini at the Cosmo, but there were at least a dozen other glasses. She didn’t remember going to the Wynn or the Casa Fuente let alone the El Segundo Sol or the Palazzo. Signature drinks! She’d had fancy drinks in all the casinos they’d visited.
These sections were edited from the final manuscript because, as the editor put it, they sounded like entries in a travel brochure. She also had me remove a lot of information I found interesting concerning the construction of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Most of the info about the Grand Canyon and the Skywalk made it into the book, as did the information about Vulcan, Alberta. How does Alberta fit into Las Vegas? You’ll have to buy the book to figure it out. Unlike a lot of books set in Vegas,my characters didn’t spend time and money. I know that a casino drink crawl is definitely something I’d have done in my younger days–I’m older and wiser now–right? Maybe, maybe not. I’d probably still give it a shot.
For those of us who’ve never been to Vegas, the idea of seeing and doing things that don’t involve gambling have a magic of their own. One day I hope to make it to Vegas. I want to visit the Rio and have a drink in the VooDoo Lounge with Vegas spread out below me. I hope to see the bands perform on Freemont Street and maybe, just maybe, have my face flashed up on the Vista Screen.
I loved writing Just for the Weekend. It was more than a manuscript for me. It was a leap of faith–writing a novel on my own that didn’t involve history or suspense. I couldn’t have done it without my incredible editor, Julie. Her suggestions made the book what it is. So now, I leave Las Vegas and take a leap of faith that Just For The Weekend will sell. I love the story, the characters, in fact everything about this book. Let’s hope the readers like it too.
The book is available from all ebook retailers.
Check out these Just For The Weekend blog stops along the way to learn more about my newest book.
Don’t forget to drop by the other A to Z Blog Challenge offerings.