Celebrating Sasscer Hill’s FLAMINGO ROAD

Rhonda Lane and Sasscer Hill at the New York Public Library

No horses in this photo, but stay tuned.  Photo courtesy Rhonda Lane

I’m celebrating the debut of writer pal Sasscer Hill’s first Fia McKee mystery novel FLAMINGO ROAD, published by St. Martin’s Press, with posts here and over on my other blog. Each of my blog posts contain different stories, so you have to go to the other for more. It’s part of my evil plan to generate traffic. Bwahahaha!

You may have guessed: this is the horse-centric post. 🙂

Sasscer is a former amateur steeplechase jockey, a thoroughbred breeder, and trainer from Maryland. Winner’s circle photos from back in the day hang in her Aiken, SC, office.

Several years ago, after having cyber-known each other for five years, we she had signings in Saratoga Springs during racing season. Several years later, she and her husband retired from farm life to Aiken.

I’ve been lucky enough visit Sasscer twice in Aiken, SC, in early spring, when the snow storms have slowed but it’s still cold. Many New Englanders escape winter in Florida, but that’s not my style.

Part of the fun of visiting Sasscer and her husband Daniel is going out with her and her dog Roscoe for walks through Aiken. I tend to offer my services as a photographer because that’s how I roll.

So, come along with us on a morning walk.

Aiken’s dirt roads are perfect for riders. Photo by Rhonda Lane

My photos of horses and riders passing by in the street are, well, lousy, but this will do. Imagine this is a street.

Riders at Aiken Training Track

The morning was misty. Photo by Rhonda Lane

Wait. Here’s a better one from a previous visit. I took the photo from Sasscer’s car.

Horses Share Aiken streets

Kinda glare-y but you see the horse — and the dog. Photo by Rhonda Lane

Back to the overcast morning of our walk. We ended up by the Aiken Training Track.

Sasscer and Roscoe at Aiken Training Track.

While walking with Sasscer and Roscoe, we passed by the Aiken Training Track. Photo by Rhonda Lane

Some two-year-old fillies spotted us.

Curious Filly nose.

“Hello, nice ladies and doggie.” Photo by Rhonda Lane

At first, one came our way. Then others followed. They just kept coming from the other side of the turnout, some trotting and some jostling, all competing for our attention.

They wore halter tags engraved with the names of Grade I stakes race-winning stallions. Big stud fees. Valuable fillies that could get hurt in their excitement. Gregarious fillies who could maybe hurt us over the fence. Roscoe is a good doggie who once lived on a farm with horses, but could he cope in the excitement?

I’m cautious and respectful of Other People’s Horses. Especially Other Peoples’ EXPEN$IVE and Potentially Hot-Blooded Horses.

So, I defaulted into photojournalist mode.

Sasscer Hill hugs filly

Horse bliss with Sasscer Hill. Photo by Rhonda LaneRoscoe wagged his tail and stayed put.

Author Sasscer Hill with fillies at Aiken Training Track.

Sasscer and a filly bond over the fence. Photo by Rhonda Lane

As usual, Sasscer talked me into being on the other side of the camera. Part of the job of “photo subject” is to hold Roscoe’s leash.

Rhonda Lane and fillies at Aiken Training Track

Giddy from the onslaught of friendly, curious fillies.

A barn employee came out to see why the fillies were so stoked. She chatted with us. I appreciated her effort, even though we are trustworthy.

For more about Sasscer, here’s her website.

America’s Best Racing did a story on FLAMINGO ROAD.

Read the first chapter of Sasscer’s debut novel FLAMINGO ROAD on the Criminal Element blog.

Cover image for Flamingo Road by Sasscer Hill

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