Thursday, May 31, 2012


June 23, 2012

Book signing at Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent, Virginia on Saturday night. It's "Ladies Night," so it's free for all the gals and for children twelve and under. And there will be both turf and dirt stakes races that evening! The Buckland and the Chesapeake for fillies and colts respectively, with each race carrying a purse of $50,000.00.  

Sasscer will be signing her new mystery novel "Racing from Death" as well as the Agatha and Macavity nominated "Full Mortality." The event will take place in the Colonial Downs gift shop just inside the track's main entrance from six p.m. to ten p.m.

If your vacationing in Williamsburg, at Virginia Beach, golfing, or live in the Richmond area, come on by! The racing, dining, and ambiance at Colonial is tops.
Sasscer on Colonial's Jumbotron  in July, 2010


Sasscer will be appearing at this very popular mystery convention, held this year in Cleveland, Ohio, at the downtown Marriott Renaissance hotel. Schedule to be posted.
Lee Child with Sasscer, Bouchercon 2010
Here is the Bouchercon web site link:

Friday, May 25, 2012


On May 19, I squeezed into the suit my sister bought me fifteen years ago and grabbed my Preakness ticket.
The magic ticket.
I cranked up my 2000 Lincoln, and though the car has clocked over 150,000 miles, the motor still kicks obligingly when I hit the pedal. Like a good old horse, the car ferried me to Harwood to meet my ride to the races.  

My Turfside Terrace ticket included seats at a table near the finish line, a tasty meal, and more free water and sodas than I'd consume in a year. Booze, unfortunately, was extra, and my table was not the same as that of my traveling companions. But I counted my blessings. Especially when I discovered the people at my new table were all male and younger than me!

Sasscer Hill intending to have fun!

These guys were there to handicap the races and bet. They were extremely polite and were not hard drinkers. How lucky can a gal get?
Two of my table companions.
Four more of my table companions. Nobody had fun -- you can tell right?
 I spent some time with my niece Alidia Clagett and her beau, Jim.

For a while, I  sat with childhood friend Christy, and sports photographer Isabel Kurek. But mostly, I watched the track
A turf stake on Preakness Day!

Horses ready to break on one of the undercard stakes.

Not long before the Preakness and after an excellent meal, two vodkas, and two  brownies, I decided to venture into the infamous Preakness Infield. Sadly, I didn’t find Kegasus. 

But there there were plenty of other irrationally exuberant people and the way-cool band Maroon 5. I pushed my way as close as I could get to Maroon 5 as they performed live on stage, until the sweaty, often scantily-clothed-crowd closed in one me. It contained some interesting characters.
Interesting Character.
The infield mob and the Maroon 5 stage.  

About the time I decided I might be past my rock-concert-prime, I spotted a man in a natty, green jacket who looked like he was attempting to escape. I inched over to him.

“You don’t look like you belong out here,” I shouted.  

“Not really. I’m trying to leave,” he yelled back.

I hooked a few fingers on his sleeve and let him tow me toward the distant exit. About the time Maroon 5 began playing “Moves Like Jagger,” some gals in dresses with fancy hats, and a couple of sharp-dressed men materialized out of the crowd. 

Next thing I knew, we'd had formed a conga line and were dancing our way to safety. We boogied right on out of there, and I have to confess it was the most fun I’ve had in some time. 
"The Man in the Natty Green Jacket," and other dancing escape artists.

Then it was time to get serious. A Grade One, Triple Crown race was on the line. I was so close, I got a few pictures with my tiny camera.

Bringing them over for the Preakness!
Mike Smith and Bodemeister

Right before the race, one of the guys at my table looked up and said, “I’ll Have Another is going to win this race.” 

The way he said it, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Then I saw the horse in the post parade. He had his game face on. Anyone could see he intended to win!

                                                 And he did . . . .

Matt Wooley catches the winner, and the winner catches Bodemeister!

RACING FROM DEATH Goes to The Black-Eyed Susan.

I packed an optimistic forty books, two pens, and my cash box. I stuck a feather fascinator on my head, a Pimlico parking pass on the rearview, and drove north to Baltimore for black-eyed Susan Day.
The Black-Eyed Susan is a horse race with a purse of $300,000. It would be run that afternoon, followed by the million-dollar Preakness the next day. The Black-Eyed Susan is Maryland’s derby for three-year-old fillies, and is named after the Maryland state flower. It’s a day of festivity, excellent racing, and fashionable hats. Please note that the boys get the million-dollar purse and the girls get the three hundred thousand-dollar purse. Some things never change.
Men at work.
Pimlico was blessed with fabulous, sunny weather the whole weekend. That special mix, when it’s not too hot, not too cool, and the air is clear.  I walked into a grandstand that buzzed with excitement. I’d been lucky enough to be invited to sign my new mystery “Racing from Death.” After arranging my books at the table provided by Pimlico, I realized the key to my cash box was still in the car. It is possible I cursed.

An extremely nice Sasscer Hill fan, named Natalie, volunteered to watch my stuff. I dashed out the entrance, then fought like a fish swimming upstream against the incoming crowd, before jogging across acres of pavement to reach the car. I snatched up the pesky key, and dashed back to the grandstand. I composed myself and sat. 
A Wendy Wooley Photo.

Several other authors were signing that day. Next to me was Ann Hambleton, with her children’s book, “Raja.” 
Ann Hambleton 

Nearby were authors Martha Dugan Hopkins, and Phil Dandrea. My friend Frank Vespe, the man who runs the “That’s Amore Stable” syndicate and racing blog, stopped by.
Frank Vespe and Sasscer

A stranger stopped by and bought a book. He handed me his card. His name was Thomas and he was small, wiry, and wired. He asked me to sign the book and to write “Go Army.” I did. I started to hand him his book, and he said, “Can you do one more thing? Can you write ‘major?’ I’m a major, in the Army, Major Tom.”

In certain instances I don’t bother to restrain myself. I looked him in the eye and sang, “Ground control to Major Tom.” A line from the old David Bowie song “Space Oddity.”

He said, “I get that a lot.”

I said, “Why am I not surprised,” and handed him his book. He promptly blasted off toward the track.  

A little later, two photographers with lenses the size of Zenyatta stopped before my table and started shooting pictures. I stared at them in full blonde-moment non-recognition. Amazing racing photographer, Matt Wooley had to remind me who he was. Ah, duh. Only the guy that took my all time favorite photo of me and Paula Marie Weglarz.

Me and Paula Marie! Keeneland 2010.
And Matt's adorable, super charged wife, Wendy. I’m so mad I neglected to take their picture. The two of them together blaze with energy. Awesome couple!

The thing about book signing is, you can’t leave your table. Not if you want to sell copies. Since I was coming back for the Preakness the next day, I planned to rocket out of there mid afternoon to avoid the worst of Baltimore Friday afternoon rush hour. I did, however, wait around for the highlight of my day, the arrival of TV personality Donna Barton Brothers who was signing her book, "Inside Track: Insiders Guide to Horse Racing." 
Donna Brothers Barton

If you’ve ever watched a triple crown race or the Breeder’s Cup you have seen Donna. She is the gal followed by the NBC camera truck, who rides out on the track with her microphone and interviews the jockey as he gallops the winner back toward the grandstand and winner’s circle. Donna used to be a jockey and she really knows her stuff.

After I got a picture with Donna, I hit the road.
Donna and Sasscer

 Late that afternoon a filly named “In Lingerie,” won the Black-Eyed Susan. By the time she ran and with a name like that, you think  the fellows deep in their beers had bet her off the board? 
In Lingerie winning the Black Eyed Susan

Monday, May 14, 2012


KY Derby winner, I'll Have Another galloping at Pimlico

Derby runner-up Bodemeister stretching his legs
Kentucky Derby winner, "I'll Have Another," is hoping to do exactly that on Saturday when he runs in the Preakness. It is also rumored that Bob Baffert's runner-up "Bodemeister" has vowed not to get baffled again at the wire.

Trainers, grooms, gamblers, exercise riders, jockeys, and sports writers are anxiously studying the stats of all the high dollar races to be run at Pimlico during the upcoming Preakness weekend.

Being entirely female, it's most important to me that the horses are happy, nobody gets hurt, and the fascinator I ordered arrives in time so I can wear it to the Preakness!

On Friday, May 18, Black Eyed Susan Day, I will be signing copies of  my two mystery novels, “Full Mortality,” and “Racing from Death.”  Catch me from noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Pimlico grandstand. 

An entirely different hat will be worn while signing the two novels. It wouldn't do to wear the same fascinator twice. Not on Preakness weekend.

I'm delighted to report NBC and TVG news personality, Donna Brothers Barton, will show up at 2:00 p.m. in the grandstand to sign her new book on handicapping. I look forward to seeing her again. 

My sister, Lillian, bought me a Preakness ticket! On Saturday, I have a seat in the Turfside Terrace where I can watch Donna Barton gallop by on her track pony followed by the NBC camera truck.

Donna Brothers Barton covering the Preakness.
 I can scream as "Bodemeister" and "I’ll Have Another" battle it out down the stretch. Unless an unknown explodes into the picture.

I am a bit emotional about these two days at Pimlico, the Maryland track where I won my first horse race with a home-bred colt named Sea Surge. An amazing full circle, a journey that led to my third, just completed Nikki Latrelle novel, “The Sea Horse Trade.”

 Maryland racing and every racetrack provide a microcosm for life. In one place at one time, there is greed, crime, treachery, cruelty, love, heroism, bravery, determination, and underdogs who reach deep into their hearts to get the win. Terrific fuel for the writing of novels!