Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks, Rich!

For two and a half years, Rich Penksa, a case manager and director of homeless services at HELP of Southern Nevada, has been an integral part of the Shine a Light community project. He braved the underground flood channels, offering housing, medical attention, mental-health care and other services to the people he encountered. He case-managed clients who used to live in the tunnels. And for the last year and a half or so, he oversaw the program that housed or helped (IDs, bus passes, etc.) hundreds of tunnel dwellers and former tunnel dwellers.

On several occasions, I saw Rich encounter someone in the drains, help them pack their stuff and then drive them directly to a group home or apartment—their lives changed in an instant. (It’s one of the most heroic things I’ve seen in person.) Many of these people are now clean, healthy, reunited with family and working or looking for work.

Rich’s last day at HELP was Sept. 15. (I won’t go into the details of his departure.) And while he’s no longer with the charity organization, and is unsure of what he’s going to do next, the work he did aboveground and underground will reverberate for years to come.

Thanks, Rich!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Twitter

So, I recently discovered this nifty networking site. Think  it’s got potential. Follow me @beneaththeneon. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Silver Pen Award

I was recently told I won a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. Established in 1996, the award recognizes mid-career writers who’ve “already shown substantial achievement.” (I’m flattered!)

The Silver Pen will be awarded Nov. 17 on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. Congrats to Hall of Fame inductee Waddie Mitchell, a nationally known cowboy poet (how Nevada is that?), and fellow Silver Pen awardee David Mullins, a short story writer who grew up in Vegas.

For more info on the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Silver Pen Award, visit:

My books in French

French publisher Inculte (www.inculte.fr), which specializes in contemporary literature, sociology and philosophy, bought the rights to Beneath the Neon and My Week at the Blue Angel and is in the process of translating the books. They’re both scheduled to be published in late January.

As part of the deal, I’ll travel to Paris for a week to help promote the books when they’re released. I’d love to venture into the catacombs/quarries. If you know someone who could serve as my guide, please pass along their contact info. I’d gladly return the favor with a tour of the Vegas drains.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Dear, Decatur Book Fest attendees: Thanks for making my homecoming and birthday weekend a very special one! Nice turnout at the talk, sold some books and drank some beer and caught up with friends and family. Good times! Much love!