Friday, March 28, 2014

Guest Annette Dashofy: Mom, the Realist

Friend of the Pens Annette Dashofy has a new book out this week! If you’d like a chance to win an Advance Reader Copy of CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, leave a comment below.

My mother, God love her, has never understood my “writing thing.” She watched me as I “penned” stories—in crayon. She worried over my sanity when I told her tales of my “imaginary friends.” You see, Mom is of hearty stock, born and bred a farm girl with little time for flights of fancy. She’s an introvert with her feet planted firmly in the reality of hard work. I would mention that she’s about to turn 94, but she would give me one of her stern Mom looks if I gave away her age.


Oh, well. Anyhow, she humored me over the years as I wrote stories, even though she never understood why I wanted or needed to do such things. Reading, in Mom’s view, involves the daily newspaper (print, not electronic). She recently told me the last time she read a book was probably back in high school.

So I guess all those books I’ve bought her for gifts over the years were a waste.

Finally, last summer I signed a three-book contract with Henery Press. Mom wasn’t impressed. She’s watched me face disappointment so many times, I don’t think she believed it was going to happen. To be honest, I kept waiting to wake up from the dream, too.

I didn’t wake up. The ARCs arrived. And I started planning my dream book launch party at Mystery Lovers Bookshop, where I’ve been a loyal customer, supporter, and—more recently, member of the staff—for the last ten years. I’ve seen other authors do events there, so I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted.

I wanted my family there. Including my mom. I wanted her to see this was the real deal. My writing pals weren’t more imaginary people in my head. (She’s still concerned about my sanity, I think). But after she agreed to come, I worried—what if no one else shows up? What if she gives me that sad my-poor-child face?

My launch party was last Saturday. It was a smashing success. Sales were incredible, and my signing line circled all around the store—or so I’ve been told. I was too busy scrawling my illegible name inside books to look around much.

Mom was impressed. She hugged me when we got home and told me she was happy for me. Then she told me she was going to read my book, although she admits it may take a year or two.

Now I’m remembering all the swear words in it. Here comes the stern Mom look again.

Annette Dashofy, a Pennsylvania farm gal born and bred, grew up with horses, cattle, and chickens. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT for the local ambulance service, giving her plenty of fodder for her Zoe Chambers mystery series including CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE (Henery Press, March 2014) and LOST LEGACY (Henery Press, September 2014) Her short fiction, including a 2007 Derringer nominee, has appeared in Spinetingler, Mysterical-e, Fish Tales: the Guppy Anthology, and Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales (December 2013).
CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE: Zoe Chambers, paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township, has been privy to a number of local secrets over the years, some of them her own. But secrets become explosive when a dead body is found in the Township Board President’s abandoned car. As a January blizzard rages, Zoe and Police Chief Pete Adams launch a desperate search for the killer, even if it means uncovering secrets that could not only destroy Zoe and Pete, but also those closest to them.

Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win an ARC of the book! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Conventions Are Inspiring

Gigi here. Last week, I was in Monterey for a mystery convention. I already posted a bunch of photos from Left Coast Crime on my own blog, but I wanted to talk about a different aspect of the convention today: why conventions are so inspiring.

Aspiring mystery authors quickly learn the difference between craft conferences and fan conventions. When I was learning how to write a book I attended wonderful writing conferences like the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference. Now I primarily attend fan conventions as an author. I've heard some new authors complain that they get lost in the shuffle at fan conventions. It's true. You might not sell many books. You might be seated at a signing next to an established author who has a line of fans out the door, while you twiddle your thumbs. You might speak on a sparsely-attended panel. But you know what? None of that matters. Because you'll also meet readers you never would have connected with if you hadn't been there. You'll connect with other writers who are going through the same things you are. You'll catch up with old friends who live across the country and you only have the opportunity to see at conventions. You'll see authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself. It was an exhausting few days (especially for us introverts who need time alone to recharge), but when I returned home I was more inspired than I'd been in months.

Photos of some of the inspiring happenings at Left Coast Crime: 

Seeing friends be brilliant on panels.
Juliet Blackwell speaking on a paranormal mystery panel. 
Mysti Berry speaking on a San Francisco mysteries panel.

Running into one of my literary idols, who has become something of a mentor. 
Aaron Elkins and Gigi Pandian.

Hanging out with friends I don't see nearly often enough.
Gigi Pandian and Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts.

Dressing up. I rarely have a reason to don a dress and Fluevog shoes! 
Pat Morin, Gigi Pandian, Sue Trowbridge (LCC Fan Guest of Honor).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pack Up the Moon

Hello, you!  

It's today! My book is out TODAY! If you haven't read my books, this is the one I want you to read. If you're already a beloved reader of mine, this one is a little different. It's both heavier and lighter at the same time, a bit more intense and quite a bit more emotional. This will require more Kleenex than Cypress Hollow does, but I'm hoping it will also bring you even greater joy.  

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Indiebound
 In Australia and New Zealand, it has a different gorgeous cover (I won the cover lottery for both): 
(Now, to whet your appetite, let me give you a quick sample. This is at the very beginning of the book, the moment Kate's life, off-track from a great tragedy, turns and heads in a new, wonderful, frightening direction.)

A girl pushed her head in. "Can I just have a quick word with Ms. Monroe?" 

Kate had seen the girl--no, the young woman--during the talk. She'd stood in the back, her spine straight, the picture of an earnest art student. She wore a black, oversized tunic with red pockets and torn black tights. Her hair was multi-colored, stripes of blue and green cascading through her black curls. Kate had looked right at her, thinking she was a pretty girl who probably didn't know how beautiful she was going to be. An idle thought, that's all it had been. 

Vanessa raised her eyebrows. "Maybe in a moment? We'll be out in a--" 

Kate felt something twist in her stomach, an edge of nervousness, and she said, "No, it's fine," even while she wasn't sure if it was. She held the stem of her glass more tightly. 

Something was about to happen. 

Vanessa gave Kate a sharp, curious look and then nodded. The door clicked behind her. 

"It's me," said the girl.


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