Monday, May 31, 2010

Yet more love for Luck

I know, I've been a disgusting self-involved blogger these days, doing nothing but pumping my own book, but I've just been busy with various summer activities (Yay!) and, unfortunatley, this post doesn't end that latest trend. I got a couple more reviews for Lady Luck that I wanted to post (brag) about, so here they are.

Jessica Crooks from Romance Junkies wrote an awesome review about it, which you can read in full right here. Some of the highlights:
"The characters – what a crazy and loveable bunch most of them were. They all came alive to me, even the not so nice ones took on their own personas and became living, breathing people as I read."

But, even better, here's her summation: "LUCKY LADY is one fantastic read." Yay!

And Romantic Times magazine had this to say about it: "It’s impossible not to enjoy it. The borrowed Hamlet plot works on both obvious and subtle levels and is good for a chuckle for anyone with even a passing knowledge of the play (and really, who doesn’t have that?). It’s a fun read, perfect for the beach."

So, there you go. If your summer activities include pool/beach or even any reading time, do consider Lady Luck amply stamped with approval.

Lady Luck at Amazon

Lady Luck in e-book - only $2.50!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chatting with Donna

My good friend and very talented writer Donna George Storey was generous enough to read my latest book, Shuffle Up and Deal and post a review and interview with me about it on her blog, right here. It's quite insightful and a was a delight for me to read and answer the questions, so I hope you enjoy it, too!

Shuffle Up is now available right here!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More love for Luck

I just got another great review for Lady Luck. Jessica Crooks for Romance Junkies says, "LUCKY LADY is one fantastic read." Click to read the full review. Yay!

Che Sara Sanremo!

So here's the last of my spring travel tales. WIsely, I arranged my trip to leave Monte-Carlo and go to Italy, because I like Italy, and I figured it'd be a nice place to finish up. Sanremo (or San Remo) was once a fairly well-known party-gambling destination, but the Vegas casino in its honor has been replaced with a Hooters and the craziest days of its namesake might be behind it. Nevertheless, it's still a summertime hot spot. Upon arriving in San Remo, I took a stroll and was happy as soon as I passed these places on the street. Strip clubs. I don't really care to go in and spend Euros on strippers, but it was a sure sign I was away from the stuffy, overly-swank city of Monte-Carlo, and the seediness made me feel more at home.

Also symbolic of the less grandiose 'tude was the more low-key green card needed for gaming in the casino, as opposed to the hoity-toity gold. I like green anyhow, as it reminds me of American money.

The San Remo casino was more casual than Monte-Carlo, though a White House State Dinner is probably less formal than that place, and it was also larger than the Cannes ones. They were hosting a big poker tournament while I was there, which was pretty cool, too, though I briefly wished I'd brought along my poker book instead of Lady Luck. But then once the gambling commenced, I was glad I brought Lady Luck with me. YAY to being in Italy again!

I stayed at the Royal Hotel, and it was a nice enough place, though, again, 5 stars for a European hotel is comparable to about a 4 star American one. The bar was tiny, which was sad for me, but I had an outrageously huge patio overlooking the pool and the Mediterranean, and there's certainly nothing to complain about that view.

The pool was another salt water pool. These are becoming increasingly vogue, I guess. Pfft. But it was also really fun to swim in as it was deep and landscaped (waterscaped?) with underwater caves to swim through and lots of intersting stuff like that. Lady Luck preferred to simply sun herself and enjoy the view while I frolicked. And though the pool attendants were devastatingly handsome, the menu was sort of crap, so I didn't have to worry about hiding my treasured Monte-Carlo condoms from her. Though, given the gorgeousness of the Italian guys all around, I had to remind myself to keep those souvenirs tucked safely away.

And that concluded my Mediterranean tour. I was happy and felt very fortunate to have been able to see that part of the world. And though Italy was fun and pleasant enough, and the whole area was tremendously beautiful, I left with a strong feeling almost like a lover who cheated and was horribly disappointed. It was the Cote d'Azur alright. But, for me, it just wasn't Vegas. Call me a degenerate, but I still prefer to party like I was doped up with "roofinol," and Vegas is the only place that not only tolerates, but encourages that sort of behavior. So I'll be tucking my passport away for a while. Culture Schmulture. Vegas, Baby!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monte-Carlo. Monte-freaking-Carlo.

So this is it. The grandest, swankiest casino in the world. Monte-Carlo, baby!

Same as with Cannes, I chose my hotel based on proximity. If you know me, you know there's not much that I love more than getting shitfaced drunk, gambling, and then stumbling back to my room.
The Casino Monte-Carlo is a stand alone building, but right next to it is the Hotel de Paris, so that's where I picked. Fancy. Grand old hotel tradition fancy, both inside and out, and especially in attitude, as, I was to learn, was the rest of Monaco.
(translation: oh, they just loved me.)

Here's the ornate lobby. Fancy, right? The whole time that I was planning this trip, I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe I'm going to Monte-Carlo."
And when I got there, I was like "I can't believe I'm actually in Monte-Carlo!" And then, well, let me tell you, they couldn't believe I was there, either.

Never before in my life had I felt so...trepidatious, suddenly. I've gambled, and I've gambled a lot, and I've gambled with high rollers. But this place is different. So instead of rushing directly to the casino, I figured I'd get my bearings and chill at the pool. It's a nice one, but it's also a seawater pool. It's novel and fun at first, but after about ten laps, it started making me sick so I had to give up and just paddle around a bit. This was the inauspicious start to a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the trip.

But, once I'd had my fill in the pool, I went to the solarium, where my book assured me that she would act as she was named and bring me lady luck in the casino. So we enjoyed the view for a while before heading out.

Alright, so here's how it works in Monte-Carlo. There's a corporation called SBM that operates a bunch of the hotels and casinos. (Yes, there are other casinos besides the famous one.) And if you stay at one of those hotels, they give you a "Carte d'Or" which you can take around and use in all the places. So, my book got decked out in its most fancy attire (you may recall these from last year's Italy trip) and grabbed its gold card and its guts and it was off.

And off we went. I won't lie to you. It was fast, it was ugly. There will be no joyous pictures of my book hauling money out of there. Instead, through some strange alchemy, my Carte d'Or turned to coal as Lady Luck didn't just abandon me, I think she ran screaming away. Sickening, really.
If you want a little more detail about the ambience, here's the best I can tell you. Fancy. Fancy and reserved. I was intimidated, not just by the reverence of the legend of the place, but by the actual ambience.

But I'm not one to be kept down by a twist of bad luck. There's plenty more to enjoy in Monte-Carlo, being the bustling metropolis it is. (seriously, it is a BIG city, we think of Monaco as small, and it is, but the city of Monte-Carlo is formidable)
One of the cool things? The food! Within spitting distance of the casino is both Joel Robuchon's restaurant and Alain Ducasse's, 2 and 3 Michelin stars, respectively. So, being the smart-ass that I am, I had lunch at Robuchon's and dinner at Ducasse's.
At Robuchon's, I had all the French shit, man. Caviar, black truffles, and oh yeah, foie gras! It was awesome! Then, at Ducasse's, the menu was all in French, and I'm not so hot on French, so I didn't even know what the hell I was eating half the time, but, fortunately, it was delicious!
Unfortunately, it mixed even worse with me than the stupid seawater pool and the alchemy got worse and that foie gras turned into something you don't even want me to describe.

At this point, I was pretty sick of being sick and I just wanted to collect my shit back into one, cohesive, dumbass American pile and move along. But, you know, you can't go somewhere like Monte-Carlo and not take some souvenirs. I was weary, and luckily, right in my hotel room, they had an assortment of stuff that you could take. Unfortunately, I was also pretty broke by this time. So I perused the price list looking for cheap stuff and that's when I saw it.
In this place, this paragon of class and dignity, I found a rather unusual offering from the minibar. Condoms. And they were the cheapest thing on the list!

So I packed and giggled about this, and then, when I was done showering and getting dressed, I stumbled upon this sordid scene in the bedroom.
That's right, Lady Luck was getting lucky! Getting her freak on with the room service menu, irresponsibly (or, well, responsibly, actually) using up my cheap souvenirs!

Seriously, though, Monte-Carlo is a very special place. And every single person there will be certain to tell you that at every turn. (Also seriously. The city is special, the people are extremely special, and they just love talking about how
fucking special they all are. Gag.) I know I'm kind of slagging the place here,
but I do feel extremely lucky to have visited. It just was...well, it was Monte-Carlo. As a gambler, I had to check it out. But even though I strayed, my deep love affair with Vegas continues. And I don't think I'll ever stray again.

I did visit the other casinos while I was there, but, much like Cannes, they were small, sad, pathetic affairs. One of them was all red. I mean, red. And one was blue. It was...disturbing. So when I left Monte-Carlo I crossed over into Italy and visited San Remo, also on the Mediterranean, and also with a casino.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lady Luck Charms the Cote d'Azur

I know I've played this silly game a few times before, but it's a new year, and a new book for me, so I couldn't resist once again. I did not have a French or Italian (or American, for that matter) book tour. But my book, Lady Luck, did tour around the Cote d'Azur. Here's the results.

I don't hate or fear flying, I just generally think it's a pain in the ass. However, my flight from Frankfurt to Nice was pretty awesome, because we flew over the Alps, and it was, well, awesome.

So the first place I wanted to visit was Cannes, home of the famous film festival, rich folk, and sandy beaches. There are some pretty swank hotels in Cannes, but I picked mine based on some pretty simple criteria. An in-house casino.

It was the Palais Stephanie, which is built upon the site of the orginal Palais des Festivals and is directly on La Croisette (the beachfront). They're all about the film festival at this joint, as their lobby is decorated with an enormous palme d'or, and the rooms feature pics of movie stars.

Overall, it's a decent place with a GREAT location. It's got its own section of beach and a rooftop pool with a nice view of the area, and is just a couple minutes from the new Palais des Festivals. My book enjoyed the pool, naturally.

And then we also enjoyed the beach.

Okay, so here's what happened next. Outside the Palais des Festivals they have handprints of a bunch of movie stars. So I had this really funny idea worked out where I was going to find Quentin Tarantino's handprint, and I was going to put my book on it and take a picture and say,
"Oy! My book is in Quentin Tarantino's hands!" Ha ha ha, right? Except when I was there, they were gearing up for the Festival, so they had all around the complex blocked off. Fuckers! So instead I just got this lame picture of the theatre's red carpet area from a distance. And so I still remain far from ever having my book in Quentin's hands, even as a joke.

Dejected, my book and I meandered back along La Croisette until we happened upon this scene. Do you see it? Right in the middle, there's a guy playing the accordion, and he was throwing down with the traditional French songs.
Frankly, it was like a scene from a movie, and was a bit surreal, as I didn't really think I'd ever stumble upon such a quintessentially French scene, as I didn't think it ever actually happened, other than in movies. But since we were at France's place where they celebrate movies, I guess it made some
weird sense. Then, the guy actually busted out "La Vie en Rose" and I was like, "DAMN!" So there was nothing to do but brush away the bitterness of failed Quentin stalking-by-handprint-proxy and grab an ice cream and sit down and enjoy the Frenchness of the whole scene.

Now, honestly, though, I enjoyed my time in Cannes, but I was a little, um, surprised by it. Mostly because it was sort of like an upjumped Jersey Shore place, just change the Joisey accents to French ones and add more designer shops. But on the whole, it was still, well, kitsch. I mean, they even had carnival rides at the beach like this merry-go round.

And yes, I do realize the irony of me of all people telling you that someplace isn't as classy as expected. I mean, the only way I'd have been more out of place at Cannes would be if I had actually traveled with The Situation and Snookie. Nevertheless.

This was at the start of my trip, and I didn't want to get my book deported, so I didn't dare take pictures in any of the casinos, but, believe me, you're not missing anything. They were sad, small affairs, to the point where Atlantic City was looking mighty damn appealing in contrast. BUT! But, I didn't mind, because right around the corner was the next leg of my journey, and the place I'd waited my whole life to gamble.

If gambling was a religion, then this place would be like making a pilgrimage to mecca. Monte-Carlo, baby! Monte-freaking-Carlo!

Love for Lady Luck

And now for more shameless self-promotion:
Lady Luck also got a couple of good reviews this weekend. One was from Midwest Book Review which said that it's "a Vegas mystery that many readers will simply love." And another was from my local paper, and they called it "classic DiPlacido." Hoorah!

Finally Number Five

I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to announce that my fifth book, House Money, is now released by Mundania Press.

I call this book my Medellin because of all the drama I had through the publication process. (If you don't get the reference, then you need to brush up on Entourage.) Hopefully, the end results for my project will turn out better than Medellin did for Vinny Chase. It's looking pretty good, as the book has already scored one awesome review from Literary Nymphs who said, "This is truly a wonderful find for me and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did." Please do click the link for the full review, as it's well written and has a lot more to say.

This book also features my very favorite cover ever. It was designed by the talented Donald Capone (I will never be done thanking him), and because of it, I hope a lot of people will judge it by its cover.

And, in case your interest is peaked, here's what it's about:

Eva Russo is a tough and wise mobster's daughter who wants nothing more than to get herself, and her family, out of the business. But when her father, Joe Russo, a reputed gangster and half owner of the flailing Las Vegas casino The Oasis ends up murdered, Eva knows it was his captain, Dave 'The Sheik' DeSantis who made the hit.

Now that Dave's on the verge of claiming everything her father built, Eva has to go all in and immerse herself in the business while calling upon her blood family to help her wrestle control of her father's empire away from Dave. Eva thinks she's got plenty of ammunition to bluff her way through a showdown with Dave. She's got her tough, wiseguy fiancé, Vincent Vendetti by her side, not to mention her wild-spirited, casino-savvy cousin, Marina Martino. But Dave DeSantis isn't ready to fold his hand. Loyalties sway and the stakes are raised as the battle between families heats up. Before long, all bets are off as Eva and Dave go head-to-head, risking it all and gambling with lives and fortunes, each one desperate to take control of the house money.

Mundania Press -Paperback - $12.95

Mundania E-Book - $4.99

Amazon E-Book - $3.99

Amazon paperback coming soon!