Expert Opinion: Best literary things in Las Vegas

The local novelist has written two books (Wanna Get Lucky? and Lucky Stiff in 2010 and 2011, respectively) in her sexy and funny chick-lit mystery series set in a fictional Strip megaresort, and a third is due early next year. We asked her to pick the seven best literary things in Las Vegas:

1. The Vegas Valley Book Festival. In the beginning of November, when there is a cool, refreshing tinge to the air, the “largest literary event in Las Vegas” opens with author panels, publishers promoting their wares and storybooks brought to life for the kids. There’s even a flash-fiction contest. A wonderful place to steep your family in the magic of storytelling. Nov. 3-6,

2. Black Mountain Institute. This is an “international center for creative writers and scholars dedicated to advancing literary and cross-cultural dialogue.” Now, I’m just a commercial fiction hack, so I’m not sure what that means. But I do know that BMI sponsors a lecture series and several panels during the school year, bringing A-list writers and scholars into our community for a bit of lively, fun and enlightening dialogue.

3. Stephens Press. This small press publishes a variety of region nonfiction, from Holly Madison’s picture-heavy Vegas guide, The Showgirl Next Door (2011), to a slightly more serious biography of Circus Circus’ Bill Bennett, The Forgotten Man (2007). Its gritty, alt-weekly-flavored imprint, CityLife Books, gives fiction writers a wonderful outlet with its goal of publishing four titles a year.

4. Las Vegas Writers Conference. Yes, we do indeed have a writers conference. It’s a place where fans and writers alike can sit at the feet of agents, industry pros and writers a few rungs up the publishing ladder to learn the craft and other writing intricacies. Sam’s Town, April 19-21,

5. Las Vegas Writers Group. There is no better place to meet other local writers, published or aspiring. This group meets once a month for food, libations, networking and a speaker—topics run the gamut from nonfiction to picture books to wild tales of derring-do. Always something to be learned. In the Tap House, 5589 W. Charleston Blvd., 7 p.m., third Thursday of the month, $5;

6. The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. A treasure trove of wonderful stories waiting to be discovered—for free. They offer everything from graphic novels to Proust to eBook downloads to literary events. There’s even music, movies and audiobooks for readers who are experiencing eye strain.

7. Sambalatte. When I write, I like to squirrel myself away in a place that is welcoming for squatters (a table with ample computer plugs), serves chocolate and caffeine (my drugs of choice), and has a vibe my muse finds acceptable (locally owned with a European flavor). Well, this Boca Park coffeehouse meets those criteria and is my little secret … Oops. 750 S. Rampart Blvd., Suite 9, 272-2333, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun-Tue, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed-Sat.