Sunday, April 24, 2011


On April 20, I flew into Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport to attend the races at Keeneland and a book signing for my novel, FULL MORTALITY, at Joseph-Beth’s book store. Got to meet up with old and new friends, too.

The Amazing Paula Weglarz in the Paddock at Keeneland

Keeneland and the horse racing I watched on Thursday and Friday were fabulous. Silks, bourbon, ladies in amazing hats an perilous high heels. I even bought myself a "fascinator" in purple and black.  

Since everything in life is a trade off, I shouldn’t be surprised my Friday evening book signing at Joseph-Beth’s was routed by a tornado. When the warning siren went off shortly after seven p.m., I stared at the sky beyond the store’s glass ceiling and walls and felt more than a little uneasy.

Notice the dark sky and glass wall behind my signing post!

 The staff herded me and what might have been FULL MORTALITY customers down the escalators to the store’s first level, away from the glass. We were all scared, and I felt especially bad for the mothers in the store with little children.

We got lucky. The twister skipped over us, sucked itself back into the sky, and taught me something before it departed: tornados are not good for book signings! Most people left immediately after the all clear, anxious to check on their families and homes.

Still, there’s a rainbow at the end of this post on Lexington book signing and tornado watching. Hall-of-Famer and Kentucky Derby winning-jockey Kent Desormeaux showed up around nine and bought a copy of FULL MORTALITY. 

After reading the back cover text, he said, “So if I read this, I’ll be going back to my glory days in Maryland?” 

“Yes,” I said, giving myself a mental head slap. 

I’d never made a conscious connection between my novel about fictional Maryland jockey Nikki Latrelle and Kent Desormeaux, who after his 1986 rocket-ride through Maryland won an Eclipse award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. Desormeaux nabbed his first career stakes race on December 13, 1986, riding Godbey in the Maryland City Handicap at Laurel Park Racecourse, and I remember screaming at the TV set for this former Maryland Jockey to win the 1998 Kentucky Derby. He did. And he won it again in 2000 and 2008!

Multiple Derby Winner Kent Desmoreaux and Sasscer Hill

I got a bit more racing in early on Keeneland’s Saturday program. What a whirlwind of a trip.  I know, I know – that was lame. 

I want to thank Brooke Raby of Joseph Beth’s for making the absolute best of a bad situation, to Lexington’s Paula Weglarz for ferrying me about town and making sure I was dosed with Kentucky bourbon, and to the amazing Sheppard racing stables for allowing me in the Keeneland paddock for up close research for my favorite jockey, Nikki Latrelle.
 Assistant trainer Barry Wiseman (striped jacket) and Hall of Fame Trainer Jonathan Sheppard (on  far  side of horse) saddling Farmers Club April 21 in Keeneland's paddock.


Rhonda Lane said...

Hoo, geez - I'm glad you're safe. Meeting Kent Desourmaux must have been a thrill, especially after such a scare.

Susan M. Boyer said...

Oh, Sasscer! So glad the tornado skipped over you! Sorry to hear it dampened your signing, but wow--you got to "meet" your character--how great is that?

Vincent O'Neil said...

Tremendous story! I can tell you're a first-time author, though, as those of us who have been doing this for awhile would have been pitching our books to the 'captive' audience waiting for the all-clear! See you at Malice!