A little introduction to the story...some insight into what I was thinking when I wrote it...and a link to a chapter-long excerpt. Enjoy!
They say it’s always best to start at the beginning. Well, considering Lucky Stiff is the second book in the Lucky O’Toole series, starting at the beginning is somewhat difficult—if not downright impossible. However, in choosing this excerpt, I have endeavored to adhere to the underlying theory that somehow, beginning at ‘A’ helps folks get to ‘Z’.
This is the long way around the fencepost to describe why I chose chapter two as a teaser for Lucky Stiff . In this chapter you meet Lucky O’Toole, our plucky protagonist as she dives into the main conflict of the story.
As Head of Customer Relations for the Babylon, Las Vegas’ premier, over-the-top Strip property, Lucky is used to dealing with craziness only Sin City can serve up. However, when a tractor-trailer of honeybees jackknifes on the Strip in front of the Babylon, the District Attorney, naked but for a sheet wrapped around him, is caught at the Babylon in an apparent threesome gone bad; pieces of an unsavory odds maker, Number’s Neidermeyer, turn up in the shark tank; the Beautiful Jeremy Whitlock, the live-in love of Lucky’s fearless assistant, Miss Patterson, is the last person known to see the odds maker alive; and the District Attorney pushes for a quick indictment, even Lucky’s skills are put to the test.
And then Mona, Lucky’s bordello-owning mother decides to auction a young woman’s virginity.
And this is only the beginning.
WHAT WAS I THINKING?
(Inspirations Behind the story)
THE MAGIC CONTINUES... After mailing my first manuscript, Wanna Get Lucky?, to my agent, post-partum panic set in. Did I have another story in me? One that was as good? Well, there was only one way to find out. So, like Diogenes searching the streets for an honest man, I roamed the alleys of Vegas looking for a story.
If you can’t find a story in Vegas, you’re passed out under a bridge.
As luck would have it, a fight weekend was fast approaching, Oscar de la Hoya’s last fight, and the Strip was climbing quickly to a fevered pitch. Okay, I said to myself, the next book will be set during a fight weekend. Once I opened the door to my imagination, Tiny Tortilla Padilla, his wife Carmen, and their fifteen (about to be sixteen) kids, stepped through.
If it was to be fight weekend, of course we needed an oddsmaker. Numbers Neidermeyer, a petite, beautiful, female oddsmaker started talking to me—and boy, was she irritating! I couldn’t wait to get her voice out of my head. So, how to get rid of her?
Well, I’ve always liked sharks.
Mandalay Bay has a great attraction, Shark Reef. Among its many displays is a huge tank filled with sharks of all shapes and sizes…including a Tiger Shark. Perfect! But, if that didn’t work out, there was also a school of Piranhas in a tank with only a half-glass front. A back-up plan.
Not wanting to go alone (I needed someone to post bail, just in case), I casually invited my son to tag along. At twenty-three he should know better, but he willingly agreed. And he didn’t even bat an eye when I approached the guard at the shark tank and asked, “If I threw a dead body in there, would the sharks eat it?”
The guard didn’t seem fazed either. I must be losing my touch. After a moment’s hesitation he proceeded to explain that if I flipped the overhead lights on first, they would think it was feeding time. In the ensuing frenzy, the sharks would hit anything dropped in front of them. Cool.
So, that finished off one oddsmaker. And the Beautiful Jeremy Whitlock was the last known person to see her alive. Murder in place, I began working on fleshing out the story—so to speak.
Mona, Lucky’s mother, decides to use her bordello in Pahrump as the platform from which she auctions a young woman’s virginity. This is not happy news to our heroine, whose goal in life is to right wrongs.
I plucked the virginity auction idea right out of the headlines—it seems some young woman is doing this from time to time. So I did my own take on it—actually, it’s Lucky’s take on it.
An aspect of Vegas I find fascinating is this distinction between ‘Strip Hotels’ and ‘Local Casinos.’ To me, the concept reeked of some vague segregation—wouldn’t want to run off the paying tourists by having them mingle with the local riff-raff, now would we? However, thankfully, I was wrong. As far as I can tell, the two terms are meant merely to distinguish the location of the properties—the off-strip or ‘local’ one’s catering to the… locals. They say the food and alcohol prices are lower, the slots looser, the odds better, but you couldn’t prove it by me. Anyway, this is a long-winded explanation of the genesis of Darlin’ Delacroix (Lucky’s Aunt Matilda), the owner of a ‘local’ casino. Ms. Delacroix is a throw-back to a earlier time of razzle-dazzle and Vegas tacky. I love reading stories about some of the characters who built Vegas—not the Mob ones (they are boring and overdone—besides not being funny at all), but the huge personalities who didn’t fit anywhere else and who came to Vegas and wallowed in like pigs in slop. Darlin’ , while purely fictional, is an amalgam of early Vegas players—in female form.
Just for giggles, I added Jordan Marsh, a movie star and longtime friend of Lucky’s, who has a very big secret—one that could torpedo his career. Then I filled out the story with the young Detective Romeo making a return appearance, and the introduction of Daniel ‘Lovie’ Lovato, the District Attorney, his wife, Glinda, their daughter, Gaby, and Glinda’s father, Jimmy G, a local restaurateur and friend of The Big Boss.
So how to get this all started?
Well, there’s this eighteen-wheeler filled with millions of honeybees that jackknifes on the Strip in front of the Babylon, spilling its load…. (thank you Barb and your brother the entomologist!)
WHAT WAS I THINKING? Inspirations behind the novel LUCKY STIFF
READ AN EXCERPT: Chapter 2 of LUCKY STIFF
Veni, Vidi, Emi
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Dead languages...always good for a little mumbo jumbo...the headline above: "I Came, I Saw, I Bought."
The reviews say...
"Fast-paced, witty, and full of colorful characters, Lucky Stiff is a sure bet to be a readers’ favorite."
"Watching Lucky navigate the dangerous shoals of the male-dominated world of gambling is a delight." —Library Journal
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Here's a handful of short stories featuring Lucky and the other characters you'll find in my novels.