News Flash: Annette’s winners are Grant at Tame Your Book, Becca B, and Patti Phillips. Congratulations, all, and please check your email!
Edith/Maddie writing from north of Boston, delighted to have my post-Malice COVID case now testing negative.
Even if I were still positive, it wouldn’t stop me from welcoming my good friend Annette Dashofy, with a new book (yay!), a tale of a perfect storm, and a generous giveaway!
But first the next in the Zoe Chambers Mysteries, one of my favorite series. Lucky for all of you – it releases today – and she’s giving away three Kindle version.
Doesn’t that cover spell Danger?
Here’s the blurb: As a massive weather system barrels toward them, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams and his wife, County Coroner Zoe Chambers-Adams, soon learn how unprepared they really are. A 911 call reports a dead young mother, her critically injured husband, and their missing seven-year-old daughter. Pete and Zoe realize that as the storm moved north from Louisiana, a mysterious killer came with it.
Pursuing the murderer and the kidnapped child, Pete and his officers battle downed trees, massive flooding, and a widespread loss of communications. They’re isolated with no backup, while facing rising water and impassable roads. As two lives hang in the balance, can Pete win the race against time and weather to stop a savage and cunning predator? And will he and Zoe be able to reunite a family before it’s too late?
I was privileged to read an advance copy of this suspenseful mystery. Here’s my endorsement:
Annette Dashofy exceeds her already high bar for fast-paced suspense and emotionally rich storytelling. You’ll be both breathless and helpless to stop reading this taut tale of deceit and rescue, of desperation and love. Zoe and Pete bring all their investigatory skills to bear as the clock ticks down on an abducted child and her dying father in another must-read page turner from a master.
The Perfect Storm (for a story)
The initial seed of an idea for Helpless settled into my brain back in 2004. Hurricane Ivan roared through the Gulf of Mexico, slammed ashore, and continued inland. At the same time, here in southwestern Pennsylvania, we’d received days of rain from another system. When Ivan, downgraded to a tropical storm, arrived here, we were already soaked to the core. From my house at the edge of a flood plain, I watched the creeks rise and crawl closer to my barn, my husband’s work shed, our yard, and our back door. It was one of the scariest days of my life, especially when our road flooded both north and south of us. I contemplated loading my cats in carriers, sticking them in my car, and driving up the old farm lane to wait it out on top of the hill.
Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. But what if the rain had continued for a few more hours?
As writers, we tend to mine the emotional moments in our lives for story fodder. Such was the case when a few years later, I needed a plot for a new book. I recalled that day, added the “what if” question mentioned above, and threw in a few more. What if someone like me, living in the lowlands, was hopelessly trapped with the water rising around him? What if a crazed killer had come to town and was likewise trapped by the closed roads? What if that same crazed killer kidnapped an innocent child?
The possibilities got my heart to racing, which seemed like a good sign.
Writing the book was hard. I mean, seriously hard. I had no choice but to make the entire story take place within one day.
Note: never write a novel that has to take place in one day.
Then, as if my memory of the storm wasn’t enough to satisfy the research gods, in the midst of drafting the novel, along came Hurricane Ida in September 2021.
The weather pattern here was eerily similar. Heavy rain from another system had already saturated the ground as Ida hit Louisiana and followed a similar route north, up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River Valley. I remember we had new neighbors who hadn’t been around in 2004 and who parked a tagalong trailer well behind their house. I texted them and recommended they move it to higher ground unless they wanted to see it floating downstream.
Thankfully, they took me at my word.
Once again, I watched out my back window as the water rose and crept closer. And closer. I wandered outside and stood near the river where my pasture used to be and listened to the fury of the flood.
I figured if the Universe was going to send me research, I should take advantage.
It’s no coincidence that after Hurricane’s Ivan and Ida, I named my fictional storm Iona. As Sylvia Bassi says in Helpless, “What is it with Hurricanes and the initial I?”
Writers, do you use weather in your stories? Readers, have you ever lived through a scary storm and continue to be affected by the memory? I’ll send a Kindle version of the new book to three commenters.
USA Today bestseller Annette Dashofy is the author of over a dozen novels including the six-time Agatha Award nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic-turned-coroner in rural Pennsylvania as well as the Detective Honeywell series set along Lake Erie. Her standalone novel, Death By Equine is the 2021 winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for excellence in thoroughbred racing literature. In addition, she is an active member of Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters. Annette and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm with one very spoiled cat.
I lived through Super Storm Sandy and sometimes I think of what could have happened.
I have not lived through a bad weather event. But in September 1989 Hurricane Hugo did tremendous damage along the East Coast. My brother Michael lived in Charlotte NC, the far western inland part of the state, not on the coast. He lost power for over a week but was fortunate that nothing worse happened than losing the contents of his refrigerator. The very next month the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit in the Bay area. It is sometimes referred to as the World Series Earthquake since it was caught on camera shaking Candlestick Park in San Francisco. My brother Doug lived with his wife and baby in the East Bay city of Fremont. He knew immediately that it was worse than any earthquake he had felt before. Luckily, he was able to call our parents in Ohio and reassure them that he and his family were fine. The phone stopped working shortly after as all the people trying to use it overwhelmed the system. My family and I were so thankful that year that my brothers had not been hurt or suffered any major loss like so many had. It made Christmas at my parents that much more special with all of us together at our parents, including my sister who was a student at Indiana University at the time.
Sue, I’m glad your brother was able to contact your parents before the phones went down. Such a relief for them.
I remember the TV coverage of Sandy. OMG, it was terrifying, Dru!
We just lived through Hurricane Ian here in SW FL. It was awful. Watching neighbors roofs fly off and other debris like fences. We had to cut our Hawaii trip short to get back to pick up our 3 kitties from the place we always take them to when we travel as they are in a flood zone. Now we have the nightmare of fighting with the insurance company as they don’t want to pay.
Wind is so scary. Sorry you had to cut your vacation short, but glad your kitties are okay. Good luck with the insurance!
Tornadoes are a fact of life in Texas. How people react to the weather creates opportunities for a wide range of emotional conflicts. Likewise, the weather heightens the five senses, with more chances to engage readers with riveting descriptions.
Thank you, Annette. I look forward to reading Helpless: A Zoe Chambers Mystery!
My younger son lived through Maria in western Puerto Rico. It was terrifying not to be able to reach him, but eventually someone in his community got to a satellite phone and started a phone tree to various family and friends up here on the continent. You can still see unrepaired damage down there.
John David and his community are all about resilience, and they already had hurricane-proof homes, solar power, water filtration, and flood management. They got to work immediately helping neighbors, clearing roads, and feeding shut-in elders, and eventually distributing small water filtration systems and teaching people how to use them. I’m so proud of them.
Edith, I remember when you were going through that. I can’t even imagine your worry.
Oh yes, there’s been devastating ice storms here that cracked piping and killed so many trees it took years and years to recover. Rain and melting snow combine to cause flooding – as a matter of fact, our RV is in water from floods at the campground right now – we’re not sure when we’ll be able to get in it. Thankfully, the flooding stopped near the top of the tires, so the underside didn’t get soaked. So, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature all the time!
Kathy, I hope you get to rescue your RV soon!
Congratulations on the release of HELPLESS! Sounds like an awesome book and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.
Thankfully, I’ve not been through what I would consider a horrible weather conditions like a tornado. We have lived through some pretty rough winter storms. One was an ice storm that hit Christmas Day. Knocked out everyone’s power for days – ours for 9 days. Lots of damage to trees and then the damage they caused when they fell. Everything was shut down from getting gas to buying food because no one had power. It was after this event that we determined that it was worth the sacrifice to get a whole house generator. When we moved to the northern part of the state and built our dream home, the generator was the first things discussed with the builder. If not for having my spine procedure at a satellite clinic, we would have been right in the middle of the tornado that hit Little Rock a few weeks back.
Since I can’t read ebooks, I’m not entering the contest. Medical issues make it impossible to sit at the computer for long enough periods to do the book justice or to satisfy my desire for reading.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Kay, how scary, barely missing a tornado. We had one of those hit a few miles from here last year. Absolutely terrifying.
I’ve used weather, but not to this extent. I remember a serious micro-burst that caused massive damange at Kennywood right after I moved here and we lost power for four days. Similarly, there was a winter storm that took the electricity out for days. We have a gas boiler, but that doesn’t matter when there’s no power to run the pump. We hung plastic sheeting over the doors to the living room and kept the wood stove going full throttle.
Congratulations on the latest Zoe. Obviously no need to enter me in the giveaway. 🙂
I remember that micro-burst. Yikes.
I remember Ivan well. I worked for the PD back then and manned the phones that evening. Hubs was stuck at work–on high ground in the parking lot of Glenshaw Glass.
It was definitely memorable.
We had a tornado go through our back yard. Fortunately, it stayed slightly about ground and didn’t do too much damage to our property. We were the luckiest of the people that it hit. Lot of damage occurred around us. I’ve always been alert to tornadoes since I grew up where they were not unusual. We don’t get many around here.
Ginny, I never used to be concerned about tornadoes. We rarely had them. But now I have the retreat-to-the-basement routine down pat.
Oh, I’m so sorry you have COVID, Edith! I sure hope it is a mild case and you recover quickly.
Thanks, Ginny. I’m pretty much over it. The first couple of days were wretched, but Paxlovid did its magic and turned things around.
I’ve never used a storm in one of my books, but I’ve always thought a book set during Hurricane Hazel (the only hurricane to ever make it’s way to Toronto) in the 1950s would be a cool idea. But there’d be a lot of research since I wasn’t alive at the time. But…I think I’ll add it to my To-Write notebook thanks to your inspiring post. LOVE the cover!
Thanks, Judy. You should definitely go for it!
Congrats on the new release. I’m guessing the writer’s ‘what if’ mind makes some situations even worse. The ice storm of 1998 will always stand out in my mind. I’m thankful we were no longer milking cows, but I won’t forget watering the heifers by bailing the flooding basement into a stock tank in the tractor bucket while trees snapped like gunfire. Then the relief when the local fire department used its tanker to fill the stock tanks in the barn. Certainly gained a new appreciation for the workload of pre-electricity during the 10 days we were without power!
Oh, wow, Becca. We were fortunate to have a spring-fed water trough for our horses. That saved us every time the power went out.
Welcome back, Annette! And congratulations on Helpless. You made me laugh because I am currently writing a novel that takes place in one 24 hour period.
Good luck, Barb! And thank you.
I remember a frantic phone call from my husband on the evening of May 31, 1985 concerned because he heard there was a tornado crossing Mosquito Lake and we lived on the western shore. I had no idea what he was talking about but soon learned that the tornadoes were both north and south of us, thankfully. Over 40 tornadoes hit northeastern and central Ohio and western PA that day. One of the worst, an F5, stayed on the ground for over 40 miles resulting in over a dozen deaths and leveling major sections of Newton Falls and Niles including a roller rink that was flattened..Oddly enough it followed roughly the same path as a June, 1947 tornado. The Niles Historical Society has pictures and maps of the destruction, https://nileshistoricalsociety.org/1985Tornado.htm and there are a number of YouTube videos from that time and from 7 years ago when a violent storm blew through on the same day. Remnants of the destruction can still be seen today. Other than that I’ve lived through major snowstorms and blizzards including the 1950 Thanksgiving Blizzard, 1964’s record of 14″ in 24 hrs, 1978’s blizzard and more in the 2000s. The worst I was actually in was in December, 2010. I was working in Cleveland and the city became gridlocked. It took almost 5 hrs to go from E. 40th to E. 100th. My husband was in the Cleveland Clinic and I stopped as much to use the bathroom and get coffee as to see him. It took another 4 hours to get from there to home in Cortland, OH. Needless to say, I worked from home the next day.
I don’t recall those storms, Susan, but I’m familiar with the area. And I totally get stopping to use the bathroom!
I am grateful that I have never had to live through a scary storm. I have lived through many, many storms, but I never believed that my life was in danger. Yes, I was afraid of property damage many times, but that is all.
Property damage is plenty to worry about, Patti.
Storms of a different kind – fires. That’s been the scariest thing I’ve had to live through, especially after my brother lost his house to a fire in 2017.
I’m waiting for my pre-order to ship, although I still have a few books to catch up on before I am ready to read it. (So please don’t enter me in the giveaway.)
Mark, I have been in northwest New Mexico when fires were raging in southwest Colorado and have experienced the smoke and see the burn scars. I’ve been a pyrophobiac since our house caught on fire during a lightning strike when I was little. Absolutely terrifying.
Sounds like a very interesting book. I lived through Hurricane Beulah in Harlingen, Texas in 1967 which was a category 3. Harlingen is about 39 feet above sea level or so. We are 30 miles inland from South Padre Island. The winds were bad enough but the water after was the worst. We have the Arroyo Colorado running through town (an arm of the Rio Grande) which generally only has a trickle of water in it. I think that it finally crested around 22 feet and flooded much of Harlingen. Our house was not flooded as it sits up high, but we had to stay at a friend’s house as the sewers backed up and the streets around us were flooded. We were lucky as many expensive homes flooded on the other side of town. I was also in an earthquake in Mexico City in 1965. Scary. But the idea of rising water never left me and we got flooded when we lived in Grand Prairie, Texas after a record rainfall from our creek and I am still in fear of moving water. You can’t stop it. But living in Texas and now in Georgia those things happen in the South, and you just have to be prepared. So many people have been affected by storms in the last few years in the America. Sad. God bless us all.
So glad you survived it, Madeleine!
Welcome back and congratulations on the new book. I’ve avoided having a hurricane in my Florida based books because it’s almost a cliche. Having moved around the country so much, I’ve experienced pretty much every natural disaster except for a volcano and I really hope I’m not tempting the fates by saying that out loud! And now that I think about if I haven’t been in an avalanche either — near one but not in one.
Thanks, Sherry. Yeah, don’t say that out loud. No sense tempting the Universe.
I’m not entering since I’ve read it already and just got a print copy but I’ve gone through hurricanes Floyd and Sandy. The town I lived in during Floyd had really bad flooding and we had no power for about a week after Sandy
First of all, I just have to say I am a huge fan of Annette Dashoffy, Zoe Chambers and the new series set in the Erie, PA area- my former stomping grounds. There was a terrible tornado that hit the Titusville & surrounding area in the late 1980s. The devastation was devastating.
Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
Thanks, MaryAnn. I remember that tornado!
Hi Annette Can’t wait for the new book. I was in a tornado at Idlewild Park many years ago. We were on a covered dock with about a hundred people and just watched the trees tumble around us. I went to get my car when things calmed down and so many cars were crushed by the trees. The car where I first parked was demolished by a tree but for some reason I had moved mine because I didn’t like that spot. I only had a twig on mine. It was the most scary storm I have ever been in. No shelter made it even worse but at least we were lower than the tornado came down and there were no trees close to us.
Wow, Carol! That’s so scary.
The new book sounds phenomenal! Hurricanes don’t often affect my area of NC, other than lots of rain, but Michael? I’m on high ground by design, but the rain was torrential and took off all the topsoil in my yards, created a mini lake and brook, and killed a bunch of newly planted bushes, shrubs, and plants. I’m still working on stopping the erosion issues with stone, sweat, and new plants in the recovered areas. So, yes, I have lingering bad feelings about that particular force of nature.
I’m glad you’re on high ground. I often wish I was too!
The high ground has saved us from losing the whole house in other storms. We had to replace the roof as well, but were fortunate otherwise.
I lived through the blizzard of 1978. My Dad had to have surgery. He insisted that my Mom go with him. They left me home with close friends all around me as well as my aunt and uncle in the next block. The electricity went out so there was no heat. When it came back on, my uncle came over to light the pilot lights. I am not sure I want to do it again. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.
No power in the middle of winter is never fun. Glad you had your uncle to help with the furnace.
In 1997 my cousin and I were headed home from an uncle’s funeral. We were driving north on I-35, a major highway through Texas — going from near San Antonio back to Dallas-Fort Worth. It was pouring down rain and suddenly we were being routed off the highway. Just before we had to get off, the highway was reopened and we continued. We saw people getting up from roadside ditches and cars stopped everywhere. It turns out we were just behind a huge EF 5 tornado that crossed the highway and pretty much destroyed the town of Jarrell TX. Some of my other relatives actually saw the tornado — they were a little ahead of us on the roadway. That’s as close as I ever want to be to a tornado.
Wow. Just wow!
The book’s storm may have been “perfect,” but it was hardly ideal. I was holding my breath while reading parts of it, and I’m grateful that while I’ve been snowed in a few times, I’ve never faced anything that scary up close. I just posted my review on Am., and as I have an ARC, someone else should win this give-away. <3
Thanks so much! Reviews are always much appreciated!
I have experienced a number of hurricanes since I live in Florida and they are always scary whether I evacuate or not.
Stay safe, Cherie.