The owner was a plumbing contractor from Fresno. The head of security was an ex-Mossad officer and every few weeks we would be strapped down and given lie detector tests. They let porn movies be filmed in the casino and there were rumors that he rigged the slot machines. I’m not sure if that was all true, but he did manage to get his casino closed down by the Nevada gaming commission - no small feat. One day a sports agent with Hollywood connections played on my game and encouraged me to write down all my great casino stories. That was the day I became a writer, well my script got as far as HBO where it was eventually rejected, but that didn’t matter to me - I was a writer.
I stayed at sea for five years and I would like to say that I wrote everyday but I didn’t. I spent those years soaking up all the history I could. The ship was my home and the crew bar was my living room and the nights I spent there were research since I planned to tell the story of all my crewmates someday. And then on my last contract I met Ray and my novel became a love story and that surprised me more than anyone else.
Third person gave me a much better feel for the characters. It made them come alive, but that meant another round of editing. In fact we have edited the book a hundred times and still we find small errors. But that is the hard work of writing getting it as good as you can and for me that meant rewriting until every word felt right.
The goal of our book was to tell our story in a realistic way. After so many ridiculous casino movies like The Cooler, I had had enough. I am the cynic and Ray is the happy chappy, but we both wanted a book that rang true. We wrote down all our ship and casino stories in a book and then built a novel around them.
We also produced a movie on walking the 500-mile "Camino De Santiago," in Spain. The Desert Woman and the Desert Sun both featured stories about our walk. When we were researching the Camino we could never find a good practical guide on the terrain and the trail, the things a person would experience every day, although there was plenty on the architecture and history. So seeing a need we made a movie of our journey. It is a thrill to come home and find orders from such diverse countries as Japan and Denmark.
My advice would be: Take classes, join critique groups in order to grow some thick skin, because I can guarantee that someone will disappoint you. I was always afraid of showing my friends my book, but they turned out to be my best readers offering great criticism. I don’t know why I hesitated, dealers are avid readers, with a break every hour they always have book on the go. Even with this article, today I wrote it, tomorrow I will rewrite, my favorite part, and the next day I will change it again. Contact Cara and Ray at their Blog.