Guest Chick Annette Dashofy: “HGTV”

The Chicks are so happy to welcome back Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series. Today she talks HGTV inspo and her new release, Til Death, the 10th(!) book in this beloved series.

Take it away, Annette!

I had lived my entire life without cable or satellite television until last September when I had a falling out with my internet service. (Not naming names, but the company begins with V and ends with zon.) I discovered a small, local company that provided faster, more reliable internet. It also provided a deal that included cable for dirt cheap. So last autumn, I switched from hiccupping antenna TV to a basic cable package that offered a plethora of channels and shows I’d only heard about before.

Welcome to my obsession with HGTV.

We built our log cabin in 1982. And I do mean we built it. Hubby, family, and friends assembled the logs. My cousin was a carpenter and did the interior walls, doors, and windows, but I was his unskilled labor assistant. Hubby and I were young and didn’t have a lot of money, so our kitchen cabinets and countertops were low-end.

Now, as I watched Chip and Joanna, Ben and Erin, Mina and Karen, and the rest remodel and renovate homes all winter long, my hankering for a remodel of my own grew from wish to lust to laser-focused online searches for light fixtures, sinks, and countertops. I couldn’t wait for March because my current book was due to my publisher in February. I planned to turn it in and start spending long hours browsing the lumberyards and home improvement centers to examine in-person the materials I wanted and to get estimates.

We all know what happened in March. So much for long, leisurely shopping trips. So much for having a little bundle of cash to put into home reno.

My kitchen remodel is on hold. Indefinitely.

However, I like to live vicariously through my characters. A few books ago, Zoe acquired a fixer-upper of a farmhouse—a “gift” from her mother. It had no plumbing, no appliances, no functioning furnace. Can you say, “money pit”?

Throughout the last few books, Zoe and Pete have been gradually making improvements, making the place at least livable. While the house isn’t based on mine, I can picture it in my mind and can sympathize with Zoe’s plight.

She and Pete are finally preparing to move in during the course of Til Death. They’re moving Pete’s furniture and “stuff” with the help of friends and borrowed pickup trucks. It’s how we do things around here.

Granted, I finished the book prior to the pandemic, so I didn’t feel the need to impose my own renovation frustrations on Zoe. She has enough to deal with. But as I’m now working on the next book, my feelings of HGTV envy might start seeping into Zoe’s life. Those kitchen cabinets and ratty countertops have to go.

If I can’t have nice things, at least Zoe should be able to get them!

Readers: Have you ever tackled a fixer-upper project, big or small? How did it turn out?


About Til Death: 

TIL DEATH front cover-smallWhen one of Chief Pete Adams’ first murder convictions is overturned, he and County Detective Wayne Baronick are assigned to reinvestigate the case. As new theories about the murder surface, Pete begins to question not only the original suspect’s guilt, but his own investigative skills from the days when he first took over the Vance Township Police Department.

Did Pete put his personal feelings ahead of his quest for justice and lock up an innocent man? Or is the defendant as devious as Pete first believed?

Meanwhile, Zoe Chambers, Monongahela County’s new chief deputy coroner, struggles with the turmoil of two mysterious deaths—including someone close to her heart—as she tries to master her new job and plan her upcoming wedding.

But her investigation soon links to Pete’s case, making Zoe the target of a killer determined to keep the truth from getting out. Can Zoe see the danger in time, and get to the church for her wedding…alive?

About Annette: 

sm_Dashofy2019_4098USA Today bestselling author Annette Dashofy has spent her entire life in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by cattle and horses. When she wasn’t roaming the family’s farm or playing in the barn, she could be found reading or writing. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT on the local ambulance service, dealing with everything from drunks passing out on the sidewalk to mangled bodies in car accidents.

These days, she, her husband, and their spoiled cat, Kensi, live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy. Her 5-time Agatha-nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series includes Circle of Influence (also nominated for the David Award for Best Mystery), Lost Legacy, Bridges Burned, With A Vengeance, No Way Home, Uneasy Prey, Cry Wolf, Fair Game, Under the Radar, as well as Til Death.






44 thoughts on “Guest Chick Annette Dashofy: “HGTV”

  1. I live by the strict commandment of “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” However I continue to stray from this good advice and my home has several defective doors, drawers, and light switches suffering from my handy work.

    Congratulations on the long lasting series!

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Oh, HGTV. How I love – and hate – you.

    Our entire house has been a reno project. Some of it (the painting, the bathrooms, the kitchen update), we’ve done ourselves. Other parts (the new sunroom) we hired out.

    Now that the second kid is going off to college, my own kitchen reno beckons. But since it involves stripping down the walls to the studs, maybe knocking out half a wall, and moving around appliances, there will be professional help involved.

    Congrats on the book, Annette! I can’t wait to see what Zoe and Pete do to the farmhouse.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thanks, Liz! I WISH my husband would agree to use a professional. It’s “funny” that his garage was all professionally built and finished, while the house only gets DIY status. There’s definitely something wrong here!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I try to avoid doing any type of home improvement project. If something breaks and I have to fix it, I do my best. Usually this results in hours of effort for what would probably be a ten-minute job for a professional. It’s enough to turn me off of any type of major remodel. Congrats on book ten!

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thanks, Marla!

      My own DIY skills are limited to fixing things with duck tape or WD40. Or tightening a loose screw. Otherwise, I need to call for help, too!

      Liked by 4 people

    2. I am generally the queen of MacGyver fix-its. But I am very best at hammering nails back down into the floor or deck–until I get impatient and whack/bend them and then can’t get them out. If I notice a popped-up nail now, or my husband does, he races to grab a hammer before I try to “fix” it.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Jennifer, I think the trick to driving a nail straight is to drill a pilot hole first. Of course, that means handling power tools, which is a whole other can of worms.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. Thank goodness our house is now, finally, done with all remodels (crosses fingers), for not only are they generally a mess to accomplish, but they can cause a mess in one’s marital relationship, as well. Though I always do think fondly of that fabulous movie with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” (“No, more of a Robin’s egg blue…)

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Annette, and congrats on the new book! Yay!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks so much, Leslie!

      Oh, my, yes. The mess. Every time we do some sort of remodel or renovation, I swear “never again!” Until the next time. And by then, the memory of dust and debris has usually faded.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I rarely try any fixer upper project. When I do, I hire a professional. It’s either that or start it myself and then need a professional right away.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Mark, that’s my big fear with my kitchen reno. I want to hire a pro but my husband refuses. “We can do this ourselves!” I have this horrible feeling we’ll end up trashing the cabinets and having to spend twice the money to get everything done right.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Annette, what a fun post–and love your series! So happy to have you back on Chicks. We were waiting for a financial windfall to (professionally) “remodel” our country-style pine kitchen, which doubles as our dining area. Maybe not remodel so much as, get rid of the mauve counters, faded linoleum, and 80s appliances (we’ve lived here since 2008). At the exact start of the pandemic shut-down, our fridge, dishwasher, vac, and dryer all went simultaneously haywire. (Poltergeist?) Since the $$ windfall hasn’t quite happened yet, we went with the new washer and dryer first. Currently, we have “foam parties” (they’re a thing, I swear) when the dishwasher leaks in the soap cycle and our vac is held together with bungee cords. So now I flip past those HGTV channels and zero in on how-to shows like Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (I share her distaste for her fennel.)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa!

      I don’t even want to think about appliances. My washer has been gasping and wheezing for months. I keep hoping it dies when the one I want is on sale. But I can’t bring myself to simply buy something new when the old one is still working.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. So glad you stopped by, Annette! Congrats on the new book. Can’t wait to read it.

    When we bought our house in 1998, we allocated $ to update it, with plans to eventually re-do the kitchen and dining room, which share the same hideous tile. That never happened. I now point to where the wood floor ends and tile begins and tell people, “This is where the money ran out.” We did re-do our master bathroom, which desperately needed it. It’s gorgeous! But oh, that kitchen…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you, Ellen. And it’s my pleasure! I love visiting with you Chicks!

      We re-did our bathroom almost ten years ago. It was great! Still is. But I see bathrooms just like it on the HGTV shows where the hosts point and tsk-tsk about how dated it looks.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. As I get older, the less likely I am to take on projects on my own! We’ve been in this house for 22 years and the first thing I tackled was the main floor bathroom. (circa 2005) I ordered new parts and happily demolished the old. I also chickened out about 3/4 of the way done and called some friends in the trades and managed to get the thing finished for the cost of a couple cases of beer. 4 years ago we hired a company to do a kitchen remodel much like the one you’ve described – a pass-through in place of a half-wall and moved all of the appliances. Oddly enough, it was to put them back in their 1963 places, undoing a remodel from sometime in the 80s! Now I just watch.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Robin, that’s so funny! And it does seem that some of the HGTV shows want to restore houses to how they were meant to be while others completely rip out the original design and start from scratch. One time they’re improving a space by adding built-ins, the next they’re tearing out those awful built-ins.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Congrats on #10, Annette — that’s huge! My lone home DIY skill is painting. Otherwise, I’ve knocked holes in walls while trying to hang pictures and hung a few slightly askew shelves! I also watch HGTV and fantasize I could actually do some of those projects!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Vickie, I can’t paint. We have a log house, so all I have to do is wash down the logs from time to time. My dream is to drywall my office just for a change of pace, but then I fear I’ll learn that I’m awful at painting!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for a great post, Annette! Congrats on book ten!

    When we first moved into our home, we noticed that the living room area didn’t have lights. My husband likes watching YouTube improvement videos and proceeded to buy a hole saw to put up recessed lighting. (It turned out really well. Success!)

    Someday, we should probably remodel our dated kitchen…

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I can only do the very simplest of repairs. Anything else I live with or hire someone. I won’t climb a ladder any longer, so when the fire department changes smoke alarm batteries, I ask them to do light bulbs also. 😉
    Do you and Zoe know about the Habitat Restore for used cabinets and appliances?

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Welcome, Annette, and congrats on the latest in this MUCH beloved series!!

    It’s DIY all the time around here with mostly good results. I prefer the low-stress/low-commitment tasks. My specialty: taping off for painting!

    Congrats again (and again!), and thanks so much for a fun post.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Love those shows, and they get me all riled up to take on a project, but we always end up with…well, not what THEY have on tv, anyway.

    Like when we tried to retile the galley kitchen in our first house ourselves with those stick-and-peel squares, then rolled the fridge back into place…which made two deep tracks right through the floor and we had to redo it. It’s funny now but wasn’t then…

    Thank you for visiting us today, Annette! I am so impressed that you built your own house! (And of course I adore your books.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Cynthia! And don’t be too impressed. It was a log cabin kit. Basically a life-sized Lincoln Logs set, all pre-cut, notched, and labeled. We had professional help with the foundation, roof, and interior walls.


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