Saturday, May 18, 2013


Sasscer at Gulfstream Park

Today's guest blogger on Salad Bowl Saturdays is Sasscer Hill, author of the Nikki Latrelle  mysteries. I first met her in person at Malice Domestic. Tomorrow she, Susan M. Boyer and I are appearing at the SC Book Festival on a "Mystery" Panel moderated by WWK's Paula Benson. If you are in the area, I hope you'll stop by and see us.

~ Jim


I work like a lunatic writing novels, blogging, editing my work and other people’s, marketing, social networking, Tweeting, and schlepping books around since my publisher prints non-returnable books that no chain book store will stock. Ever.

I remember how my husband’s shoulders slumped and his head drooped forward when he saw my first royalty check for $90.00. Me? I threw myself off my desk. Again. But did I rush out and get a real job? No, I wrote another book because I must be nuts.

One of the hardest things to contend with is well-meaning, authoritative friends who say things like, “I saw this thing online where somebody made thousands of dollars with this publisher that only requires a small fee to print your book.” You can’t convince them that they have no idea what they are talking about. Who has time to bring these people up to date on the rapidly changing publishing world? How does an author keep up with it?

But I’m a gambler. I used to own race horses and there is no more dicey business out there. I know I’m a good writer and have to believe that I can make a small living off this business. Somehow.

My newest book, THE SEA HORSE TRADE, deals with human trafficking and sex slavery. It’s selling well but people don’t realize what a tiny percent authors make on paperbacks. My publisher gives me a fair deal on ebooks, so I keep hoping I’ll sell a couple of hundred thousand copies, but am certainly not holding my breath.

Saturday, May 11, was a good day. After dragging copies of the new book to the local independent book store, I picked up the Aiken Standard newspaper hoping the small article they said they’d run would actually be in the paper.

I almost passed out. There, above the fold, on the front page of the Style section was a huge picture of THE SEA HORSE TRADE with a black type headline over half-an-inch tall that said, “A Racing Mystery.” My god, is there hope after all? I stared at the article. My story dwarfed an Associated Press article about John Lescroart’s latest book. Imagine such a thing!

I got lucky. I wrote a good book, but within two weeks of the book’s debut, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight had the great fortune to escape a ten-year hell of abduction, torture, and sex slavery. This was a lucky break for all of us, but I don’t see the Associated Press picking up the little article from the Aiken Standard. If only I had a magic wand . . .

In order to “gain a wider audience,” I am starting a new series. Another big gamble. So, even though I have a readership that loves my heroine, Nikki Latrelle, I’m going to abandon her and write about Fia McKee, an agent for the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau (TRPB). Fia is a former Baltimore City cop who's put on administrative leave after a horrific incident in west Baltimore. Because she knows about horses and horse racing, the TRPB approaches Fia
to come and work for them as an undercover agent.

Fia will be a little older than Nikki, a little more world weary, but determined to seek justice, protect the integrity of horse racing, and stand up for those in danger.

So, I’m starting a whole new series, and my family really thinks I’m crazy. Does your family think you’re crazy?


THE SEA HORSE TRADE is available in paperback from and directly from the publisher at The e-book version is available from Amazon, and from Barnes and Noble.

Sasscer on Malice Panel with Laura Lippman on right

Please visit Sasscer Hill on her Facebook page, you do not have to be a Facebook member to go there and you can listen and watch Sasscer read the first chapter of THE SEA HORSE TRADE!


Kath said...

Kudos for your courage and your books!
I live here in the Bluegrass of KY, and your new series is a fantastic concept!


Jim Jackson said...


It was good to see you at the South Carolina Book Festival reception last night in Columbia. I'm looking forward to our panel Sunday afternoon.

If any of our readers happen to be in the area, do stop by. It's free, and starts at 2:20 pm.

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

So terrific to have you, Sasscer, and Jim Jackson at the S.C. Book Festival this year. Looking forward to our panel Sunday with Susan Boyer.

Yolanda Renée said...

My family is convinced I'm crazy. I think I may foster that notion by frequently sending short stories to them of horror and death.

I say go for it - creativity needs to be shared!

Great post! Good luck with the new series, sounds awesome!

Warren Bull said...

My family knows I'm crazy but its a fairly cheap obsession.

Unknown said...

Ohhhhhh, my family acknowledged this a long long time ago! Don't feel all alone...:)

Sasscer Hill said...

William, that is one of the pluses of being a writer. Your peers understand and you're not alone!Yolanda and Kath, thanks for the supportive comments! Paula and Jim, I'll see you guys over a vodka later.

E. B. Davis said...

Not many people are nominated for an Agatha for book 1 of the series only to abandon the series on book 4, Sasscer, so may family is usually wrong. Well, maybe, but we'll find out.

Stay tuned to this blog on June 5--when I interview Sasscer in depth about this startling (and perhaps) crazy revelation.

Sasscer Hill said...

The bottom line is no "big" publisher will take on a series character that came out with a small press in a print-on-demand only format. Personally, I think that is crazy and maybe stupid. But there it is.

I will reserve future comments on this annoying fact for the June 5 edition.

Gloria Alden said...

Sasscer, I enjoyed your first two books, and am looking forward to reading the 3rd, which I bought at Malice. I'll be disappointed if there are no more in the series.

Still, I understand your reasoning, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the next series just as much as this one. Your voice will be the same and it will still be about horses and racing.

By the way, the three kidnapped girls have really been in my newspaper and local radio station nonstop because Cleveland is less than 50 miles from me, so it's sort of a local crime.

Elaine Will Sparber said...

I've gotten used to my family and friends thinking I'm crazy. It's the strangers who need to come into my office and see my reference books on topics such as poisons, kidnapping, and forensics that get to me. At least they end up minding their manners with me.