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.