If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of June!

June 6 Maggie Toussaint, Confound It

June 13 Nicole J. Burton, Swimming Up the Sun

June 20 Julie Mulhern, Shadow Dancing

June 27 Abby L. Vandiver, Debut author, Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

Our June Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 6/2--Joanne Guidoccio, 6/9 Julie Mulhern, 6/16--Margaret S. Hamilton, 6/23--Kait Carson, and 6/30--Edith Maxwell.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sasscer Hill's Announcement

 Sasscer Hill’s first novel, Full Mortality, garnered an Agatha nomination. After writing the third book in the horse racing series featuring Nikki Latrelle, Sasscer came to a decision, one I’m not sure I like. But I know whatever decision Sasscer makes good writing will result. Please welcome Sasscer Hill back to WWK.  E. B. Davis

1. Did you know before writing The Sea Horse Trade that you were abandoning the series?

No. I only knew that a number of publishers had indicated a horse racing series about a jockey was limited. In fact every publisher that rejected the series said the writing was excellent, but the subject’s audience  felt too “small.”

2. Was it hard to leave your characters suspended?

No. Every time you finish a novel, you leave the characters suspended. Even if everyone in your story dies, there is always the cousin, or unknown sister, or lost lover (the list is endless) that can show up and plant seeds for a sequel. 

3. Full Mortality, the first in the Nikki Latrelle series, was nominated for the Agatha and Macavity Best First Mystery Awards. Why do you think the Nikki Latrelle series has limited appeal?

I never thought it had limited appeal. But too many people think it is only about horse racing and horses. If they are not interested in horses or racing they will not pick up the book, which is why I encouraged my publisher to use a different cover for The Sea Horse Trade. The new cover appears to be selling more copies as it reeks of intrigue and danger.

4. How does your publisher feel about your decision?

My publisher, John Betancourt of Wildside Press, thinks it’s a good idea. John is a thoroughly decent human being and has told me he will not hold it against me if I find a new publisher because he wants me “to succeed.” When I read his website in 2010 it indicated that writers who wanted to publish more than 5,000 copies a year need not apply. He couldn’t have been more up front that there was no marketing budget and that Wildside Press is a “small” (there’s that word again) press.

This new series was my agent’s idea. She, and everyone in the business that I have spoken to, say if I want to get a bigger publisher, I have to write a new series. Everyone insists that no publisher will take on an existing series unless it is selling like Fifty Shades of Gray. 

When my agent shopped my second novel, Racing from Death,  an extremely “big”editor for a very large house read it and immediately asked for the already-published Full Mortality. This editor “loved” both books and I quote the email: “The author's voice is smart and rich and true and the setting is gloriously rendered. It's really, really, really good--but it's not "BREAKOUT!" Gosh, it breaks my heart to pass on this--I'd love to see future work from Ms. Hill: she's a gem of a writer.”

After reading the above, I threw myself off my desk, which I do periodically. This business is just that tough.

5. The new series main character, Fia McKee, serves as an agent of the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau (TRPB), which I assume is a real agency. What jurisdiction does TRPB have in geography and enforcement?

Yes, the TRPB is a real agency. They have jurisdiction over all US Thoroughbred racing and their services are used often in Canada and Europe. Their mission is to protect the integrity of horse racing. TRPB agents do not carry guns and a lot of their work is investigatory. I have seen their  huge computer server in the home office in Maryland, and I have spoken at length with both the president and vice president of the agency.

Fia McKee is a hotheaded Baltimore City cop who is on suspension when the TRPB approaches her and tells her maybe a job where she can’t carry a gun anymore would be a good thing.

Susan Duffy, Sasscer Hill, Susan Boyer and Hope Clark at the South Carolina Book Festival. Picture taken from "The State" Columbia, S. C. newspaper

6. What elements will the TRPB series have that will spur wider appeal?

The cool thing about the TRPB is their cutting-edge technology. For example if Fia is working at New York’s Belmont racetrack and she suspects a betting scam, the home office computers can “see” if there’s a pattern. Has there been a sudden surge in long-shots winning big for certain jockeys or trainers? If a jockey’s name comes up more than once, she can get a background check in minutes.

But even more fun is that the TRPB uses undercover agents, and Fia is really good at undercover work. She can pose as any of a huge number of racetrack personnel – an exercise rider, a groom, or pari mutuel clerk. And she could travel to England, France, Canada and even Australia or Dubai.

Fia keeps her white blond hair extremely short so no perp can grab it, and of course, it works well for the wigs that are her specialty. And yes, she is still a bit of a hothead about accomplishing the TRPB’s mission of protecting the integrity of horse racing, as well as the well being of  the horses, jockeys, and backstretch help.

7. Have you finished the first book of the series? If so, can you give us the book jacket copy?

Sorry, the novel is still in progress.

8.  Will you stay with your current publisher or query agents, which may result in a contract with a larger publisher?

If my agent likes it, then she will query editors. And yes, I am keenly aware that the whole thing is a huge gamble. But as a former breeder, owner, and rider of race horses, I am a gambler at heart.

9. Have you considered self-publishing?

Who hasn’t? I have self-published two short stories and I have a novel in a drawer that needs a lot of work before it can be self published. Fool that I am, I am afraid to only self-publish everything. That could change.

No doubt--Rosco adores Sasscer!
10. You recently left your ancestral home in Maryland for the sunny south and a new home. Is the new series a corollary?

No, I had wanted to leave my huge, ancient home for a long time and live a simpler, less expensive life. I wanted to get away from the exorbitant taxes and cost of living of the DC area.

11. We’ll miss you at the Chesapeake Chapter of SinC. Is there a local SinC group near your new hometown?

Sadly the closest SinC group is two-and-one-half hours away. But I have found a good fiction-writing group right here in Aiken and hope to form a mystery-writing group over the next year. And thank goodness, there is always Malice Domestic and the chance to come north to see people I both  adore and admire!

Beach or Mountains?


Thanks for answering my questions, Sasscer. Telling the truth takes courage, and I'm sure you deliberated over your decision. We'll look forward to your next series and wish you the best of everything. 

All of Sasscer’s books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and from her publisher, Wildside Press in Trade paper or ebook.                               


Gloria Alden said...

I like Nikki Latrelle and I'm looking forward to reading THE SEA HORSE TRADE as soon as I can get to it, but I'm sure I'll enjoy your new series just as much because it wasn't the character as much as the setting and your writing, Sasscer, that gripped me and that will still be there. In fact, I think I'll really like your new character just as much. She will have more options as an investigator as Nikki had for taking on crime and the baddies. Good luck on the new series.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Good wishes for your new series! It's tough abandoning something that you do well. But it sounds like you're destined for major success.

G.M. Malliet said...

The gambling metaphor is so apt! That breakthrough can take years. It will come for you, I predict. Fingers very tightly crossed for the new series - I'm already hooked. Great premise!

Karen Pullen said...

Whether Nikki or Fia - I love your writing Sasscer. And welcome to the Carolinas!

Kaye George said...

I can relate to the heartbreaking agent's comments. I've gotten those myself. I hope for tremendous things for you with the new series. You can always still in another Nikki book is you can find the time. (hint, hint)

Sasscer Hill said...

Gloria, thank you so much!. It is scary to leave the nest and launch into space!

Sasscer Hill said...

Jacqueline thanks for the kind words and Gin, wouldn't it be awesome to have "the breakthrough!"

Paula Gail Benson said...

Sasscer, so good to have you in SC and on WWK. Best wishes on the new series!

Sasscer Hill said...

Kaye, I don't know if I can write fast enough to finish two manuscripts a year which, I believe, is what you need to do to "keep the audience." It's not that I am a slow writer, it's just that I'm so careful, and write and rewrite over and over until each page satisfies me. I'd rather have a really good book once a year than two mediocre books each year.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Dick Francis seemed to do well with jockeys and trainers. That said, I do think your new idea opens up new vistas. I am also convinced that agents do not want series-in-progress unless they are selling big time, in which case one wonders why you might need them (but that’s a different issue.)

Best of luck and hope we can do some joint events when I return south in November.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

Kudos on your persistence and willingness to listen.

Sasscer Hill said...

Regarding the in progress Fia McKee novel, I pulled my "Hero's Journey" notes that helped me plot the Sea Horse Trade and am filling out some of those same templates. The old archetypal questions that need to be answered.

Questions like what does your hero want externally when the book begins. What does she want internally? What is the "call to adventure."

Doing this does not necessitate a formula novel, instead it make me dig deeper and ask hard question about my characters. If these questions aren't looked at and dealt with, I cold end up with two dimensional characters and I surely don't want that.

Sasscer Hill said...

Jim, I know we talked about how hard it can be for authors when we were at the SC Book Festival. It's obvious that everyone on this blog loves to write and even if battered with hard times,there's no stopping us!

Mary Ellen Hughes said...

Sasscer, your new book idea sounds great. You'll still show us the world of horse racing - which you do so well - but have broadened the horizons. I predict success!

Sasscer Hill said...

Thank you Mary Ellen. I hope you will come back to Aiken this winter!

Mary Ann Corrigan said...

Exciting news, Sasscer! It takes courage to move on, and you definitely have courage. Good luck with the new book and series.

Sasscer Hill said...

Thanks Mary Ann C. Next year let's take the time to talk a minute at Malice. Sometimes I think I rush about like a chicken without its head!

Kara Cerise said...

There is a saying, "The bigger the risk, the greater the reward." You took a courageous leap and I think a large reward will follow. Best of luck on the new series, Sasscer!

Sasscer Hill said...

Kara, I would so love it if you are right!

Su said...

Terrific interview. The new series sounds great. I'm also a SC transplant.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sasscer, I've enjoyed your Nikki Latrelle books, so I'm sure I'll love the new series, as well. It's true that it sometimes seems as if the deck's stacked against us in the publishing world, and as Gin says, the needed breakthrough can take years. I'm so glad you're persevering.

Best of luck with the new series!

Sasscer Hill said...

Su, where are you in SC. I am hoping to put a critique together at some point for people who live in the Aiken/Columbia/Augusta, Georgia area. Feel free to contact me on my Facebook Author page.

Anonymous said...

An exciting development! You can always go back to Nikki Latrelle in the future if you want to.

Best of luck (although I know there's a lot more than luck involved) with the new series.

E. B. Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E. B. Davis said...

Sorry I was on the road when this interview posted, Sasscer. Since I have yet to have a novel published, I found it hard to get my head around your decision, especially when the first of the series was nominated for an Agatha. But I do understand that it is not enough to write well and to have a small fan base. Marketing seems to dictate, and writing is a business. No matter the series, you will succeed, Sasscer, because of your great ability to write. Thanks for teaching me a lesson. It must have been a very hard decision.