Monday, October 08, 2007

Story Ideas - UNLUCKY

Lila N - you have now officially won something better than bad-tasting lip gloss (at least I hope my book is better). Please visit me at my website janadeleon.com and use the Contact page to forward me your name, mailing address and your preference for autographing. And a huge CONGRATULATIONS for being luckier than me or my heroine. :)


I promised this week I'd tell you about how I got the story idea for UNLUCKY. I think you'll enjoy this one as it's sort of autobiographical. :)

My husband and I got married in 2000. At the time, I was working contract, making fabulous money on these long-term accounting clean-up projects. I had just ended a 13-month project and was taking the next 3 months off (I told you the money was fabulous) so I decided to plan our wedding and study up for the honeymoon. Ah ha, I got you there, didn't I? You were wondering what I was studying for and I bet all sorts of things that had nothing to do with Blackjack crossed your mind.

But Blackjack is exactly what I meant. You see, we were getting married in Vegas and I had plans to take the Blackjack world by storm. By birth, I'm the product of an accountant and an engineer so math is like breathing to me. I figured if anyone can learn to beat the house, it ought to be me. So I started studying. And I learned. Boy, did I learn.

I learned every single statistical combination of cards on the table and what I should play based on my hand versus the dealers. I learned to count cards and had mastered a fairly basic counting system for up to six decks of cards (which is what most houses use). I had beaten my software so soundly, I knew I was going to take the bank.

Then we got to Vegas and started playing. And that's where the ugly reality stepped in. I am horribly unlucky. I don't mean just a little unlucky. I mean so unlucky that not only can I not win at cards, but when I sit down at a table, everyone there starts losing. It was an anomoly I was not in the least bit prepared for. My husband (who plays combinations so ridiculous, he annoys the other players) is one of those lucky people who wins a lot of the time playing hands he should never have played. Me - no way. If I had 18 the dealer had 19. If I had 20 the dealer had 21. If I had 21 the dealer had 21. It was like a Twilight Zone episode.

So I gave up Blackjack and switched to video poker since I didn't want to lose more money than I had already contributed to the tables. My husband, of course, went on to play for 12 hours straight on $25.

At RWA conference in Reno a couple of years ago, my agent asked if I'd had any luck gambling and I told her the story about how I just don't play the tables. Not because I don't want to, but because it's just not worth it. She laughed and said "you know, there's a story in there somewhere." Well, I thought on it long and hard and came up with heroine, Mallory Devereaux, a girl so unlucky that her entire life is like living with a disability.

The interesting thing about it is, when I pitched the idea to some writer friends of mine, one of them said "make sure you work in the word 'cooler' in the proposal." I didn't want to sound uncool, so I had google it and low and behold, I find that cooler are a casino myth (or reality, depending on who you speak to). They're people so unlucky that the casino managers pay them to sit down at hot tables and shut them down.

So, if I ever decide to give up the three or so careers that I've covered since college, I guess I could always move to Vegas and become one of those mythical "coolers." Just like my heroine, Mallory.

Just to make sure that none of you have luck as bad as Mallory, one lucky blog poster today will when an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of UNLUCKY. So post away and check back at the top of this blog post tomorrow morning to see who the winner is!!!!

- Deadly (but not at cards) DeLeon

58 comments:

Stacy S said...

Hey, that sounds like me. I have no luck gambling or with the lottery. Wish I did!!

Christie Craig said...

Jana,

The book sounds super cute. And remind me never to sit down at a gambling table with you.

Okay, a small confession. I love to gamble. Lucky for me I live in Texas and we don't have casinos. On my honeymoon in Lake Tahoe, I won big at Roulette, (Okay, big for me was a couple of thousand.) I was thrilled, my husband liked the cash, but insists he needs a do-over honeymoon because a man isn't supposed to wake up in the middle of the night to discover his wife is back at the tables.

Crime Scene Christie

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I am.....lucky enough. Average enough to be boring.
In other words, I don't lose all the time, but I seldom win.
This looks FASCINATING and I didn't know anything about "coolers".
Great concept and I'd LOVE an ARC.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jana,

You poor thing. I'm with Christie, though - I'm definitely NOT taking you gambling with me. lol. (Not that I gamble all that much; I like slot machines because they have pretty lights and make noise and sometimes give me money. LOL.)

Faye

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I'm not that lucky either, so I don't expect to win the ARC (though I would dearly love to) but I loved your story :) A "cooler" - who knew??

Jenyfer Matthews said...

By the way, I'm glad I've never really had the opportunity to gamble much - goes back to that competitive streak. I have very little mathematical skill so I'd *have* to rely on my luck and then I'd be broke in a flash!

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Stacy - I keep waiting for that lotto payoff myself - which is really a stretch given my situation! Here's hoping you have more luck than me. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Christe - you and my husband could hang out. He's a night owl and could spend all night at the tables too! And if we're ever at a casino together, I promise not to sit at your table - or even talk to you. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Jennifer - I had never heard of coolers either and unfortunately, haven't been able to get a casino manager to admit to them. But others in the industry swear they exist. I've always wanted to experiment with my unluckiness. Drop by a casino and hit several tables and see what happens. I'm sure all the gamblers would appreciate it. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Faye - yes, I finally decided to stick to slots or video poker myself. And I tend to pick slots that are "pretty." I'm a sucker for anything with a marine theme. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Jenyfer - Hey, on this blog everyone has a chance to win! That's the cool part.

I think the whole key to gambling is you only take what you want to loose to the casino. Now, of course, if you're me, it's gone in like 10 minutes. lol

My husband and I took a trip back to Vegas a couple of years later and I put $40 in slots without winning so much as a quarter. I took the rest of my gambling money and bought shoes. :)

Amy S. said...

I love to gamble. I went to a casino boat in Ohio and won 200 bucks on a penny slot machine. I don't even know what I hit to win it. lol. Around here we have some gambling machines. Not slots though. I would love to visit Vegas.

cas2ajs said...

I haven't ever been to a casino so haven't tested my luck. I don't know if I'm lucky or unlucky. But your book sure sounds fabulous. I always like hearing the background of how a book came into being.

Cheryl

Jenyfer Matthews said...

LOL - Buying shoes sounds like an excellent way to spend the money!!

Lily said...

Your book sounds nice. I know I am a very unlucky person at cards... I never win, even with my family... I know that is pathetic.

Lila n. said...

I agree with Jennifer... I am unlucky and I think I have never won anything in my life!! So I am not expecting to win!

Oh wait, once I won a $1 lipgloss with an awful flavour... does that count!!

Lily said...

Oh... I forgot I had never heard of the casino coolers... must be a bit weird to get paid becuase you are an unlucky person... becuase that would make you lucky... lucky to have a job, I don't even know if I am being clear... too much studying lately, and not much fun or reading BTW.

Jana DeLeon said...

Wow, Amy - $200 on penny slots is great! You sound like my dad - he always manages to pull off something like that.

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Cheryl - You should try gambling sometime - but start with very small amounts until you know if you're lucky or not. :)

I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

Jana DeLeon said...

Jenyfer - I thought the shoes were a great trade, too!

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL lily - I am that bad too. A couple of months ago my husband and I had some friends over who had NEVER played poker. I gave them a rough overview and a sheet that told them which hand beats what. I still was the first out of chips - with people who'd never even played the game. Very, very sad. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL lila - I'm thinking the lip gloss should count even if the flavor was gross. But I wouldn't count it a lot. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

lily - yes, I guess it would be sort of at odds to have a job because you're unlucky. I never really thought of it that way!

Bethany True said...

Despite years of advance math in college, I'm terrible with numbers and odds. My extent of gambling is picking out horses with the best names or the jockeys with the most unexpected colors.

Surprisingly enough, I normally come out ahead.

Minna said...

Never tried gambling. My luck is bad enough with the lottery.

Tori Lennox said...

Since I've already won a copy of UNLUCKY (which is a fabulous book!), you don't have to enter me in this one. But I love the inspiration for the book! :)

Lila n. said...

I knew that darn lipgloss would count... I just talked to my mom and she told me being unlucky runs with the family. The only time she won something it was shoe-polish... brown shoe-polish and we din;t have brown shoes at home.

Nathalie said...

I have never been to a casino, so I don't really know if I am lucky at cards... However, it is a matter of probability, you have to know when to stop if you want to win a small sum... something my brother taught me and he is an ace in statistics :)

ChristyJan said...

I've been to casinos numerous times, but I've NEVER played Blackjack. I have a hard time enjoying playing the slot machines. Everytime I put a $20 bill in the machine I think: I could put that money towards a new pair of shoes! lol

Your book sounds really fun.

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Bethany - you bet the horses like I do!!! And I don't do bad there myself. I wonder what the difference is.........?

Jana DeLeon said...

minna - I hear ya. Sometimes I can have a lotto ticket with five lines and I don't get a single number on the entire ticket. I don't even know why I bother. I guess it's that 1 in 16 million chance. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Tori - I'm so glad you liked UNLUCKY and the story behind it. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

SOOOOOO LMAO over the brown shoe polish!!!!! Lila, that is classic!

Jana DeLeon said...

christyjan - the shoe angle is always a winner. (grins) I enjoy feeding the slots a little, but they have to give me some play or I get bored fast and look for something else to do. I think that's why I like the video poker better. At least it takes a little longer since you're actually making decisions.

Sassy Sistah said...

Love the "backstory," Jana! I'm Unlucky too - so unlucky that I never bother to gamble! Wouldn't do me a bit of good!

Dru said...

Hey, I can be a "cooler". I'm a safe gambler..I have a set amount of money and whatever I win, I take home with me.

Estella said...

The books sounds good.
I have no luck with gambling or the lottery.

anne said...

Your book sounds wonderful! Would love to read it. I do not gamble as you need a poker face, luck and perhaps a lucky charm to give you the right cues. Your book is totally unique and intriguing. All the best.

catslady said...

I love gambling lol. Way back in the day you could play black jack at $2 tables and I could play all day on $20 but the stakes are higher and I just can't bring myself to bet a lot. I do play slots but again I'm not a big roller so I usually end up giving it all back and then some. I still like it though and as long as I don't expect to win and figure it's the price of entertainment then it's still fun. I go with a friend who expects to win every time and then is miserable.

Virginia said...

That is the way my luck runs. If it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all. I have never been to Vegas and it wouldn't do me any good to go because I would lose my but.

I even have bad luck with jobs. I alway get the ones no one else would have.

Bad luck is the story of my life.

Debra said...

The book sounds great

Lucy said...

Funny post. As for Reno...I played the nickel slots. And the thing about nickels is who wants a ton of those? So I kept playing them until I ran out. Until one day I had to quit to make it to lunch, so I cashed out all the nickels. I never made it back to the casino area to play them out and even though I bought a couple of lunches on pure nickels I'd won in Reno, to this day I still have a stash of nickels left over from Reno.

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi sassy! Sounds like you and I could just spend our time hanging out at the bar. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

nathalie - It IS definitely all stats and probability. But even though I knew ever combo/stat available, I still couldn't win. It was not a good time for me. I was really wanting to take the house.

Jana DeLeon said...

dru - Very smart of you. I do the same thing on slots. If I win over my initial take in amount, I put it in a different pocket so that I actually take home some winnings. I'm cheap though. If I win a couple hundred, I'm out of there and off for some shopping. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

estella - yeah, I'm beginning to think my heroine is going to appeal to a whole lot of people if the blog comments here are any indication. Not sure if that's good for me or bad for everyone else or both. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, Anne! I am not sure I could pull off the poker face either. Although I watch the world series of poker sometimes and a lot of those people wear sunglasses. Now that wouldn't cover body language and it's so easy to give yourself away to a pro. Still, it would be fun to try just once. I still harbor ideas of entering a poker tournament. Guess I'd be out in the first round, but hey, at least I could say I did it!

Jana DeLeon said...

catslady - you hit the nail on the head. I don't expect to win either. I take what I can lose and consider that the "cost" of my entertainment for that time period. Kinda like the $10 you pay for a movie (or whatever it is these days - I usually do a mantinee). But it's still cool to win something and every once and a while I do.

Jana DeLeon said...

Virginia - sounds like you might be Mallory's sister. :)

And believe me, I understand. My friends know me as the person shit is most likely to happen to. Just today, I got to sit on a plane at the gate in Dallas for 3.5 hours because the front tire was broken. Last week was 4 hours because radios were broken in Kentucky. I have the worst travel luck ever and am at the airport almost every week. It is not a good combination.

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks, Debra!!!!

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Lucy! I hope you didn't have to check all those nickels in baggage. It would have cost you a fortune! :)

Angie Fox said...

What a cute premise! I don't know if I'm unlucky or just a bad gambler. The only money I've made off casinos is by working on their advertising campaigns.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

"Sometimes I can have a lotto ticket with five lines and I don't get a single number on the entire ticket. I don't even know why I bother. I guess it's that 1 in 16 million chance. :)"

Jana - it's that old "you can't win if you don't play" thing that keeps sucking us in...

Jana DeLeon said...

Angie - hey, any money made off casinos counts. And I think it's cool that you do advertising for them. I just don't have the creativity for that sort of work.

Jana DeLeon said...

Aaaah, Jenyfer, how right you are. :)

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