Guest Chick: Annette Dashofy

Ellen here, and I am so happy to welcome back my dear friend, the wonderful author Annette Dashofy. Annette’s post today both inspired and moved me to tears. I’m sure you’ll have the same reaction to it…

Why We Write

Every so often, the question comes up: Why do we write? The answer varies from one author to another. Writing is an outlet for the voices inside our heads. The alternative might be a padded room for some of us! We’re natural-born storytellers and need to get the tales onto the page. For others, we simply can’t not write.

One thing’s for certain. For 99.99% of us, it’s not for the money! Even if you’re one of the lucky few who earns more than you spend and can even pay a few bills with your royalty checks, you still need to love writing to keep doing it.

For me, all that is true. But years ago I also discovered a deeper reason.

Back in the late spring of 2015, I’d just come off the high of being nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Debut Novel followed by the letdown of not winning. Yes, it’s absolutely true that the nomination is a huge honor, but I will be candid here. I was bummed. At the time, I figured I’d never get another shot at a nomination. I allowed myself to privately wallow in my own self pity for a while.

I was in the midst of licking my wounds when I received an email from a woman I didn’t know but who lived only 20 or so miles away. She’d purchased Circle of Influence (that Agatha nominated debut) as a Mother’s Day gift for her mom to read while undergoing chemo treatments. The daughter wanted to thank me for writing the book because it helped distract her mom during those treatments.

I broke down and wept. Then I wrote back and asked where and when her mom was having her next chemo. I went to the hospital and tracked them down.

I was simply a local author with a single title out, but they treated me like a rock star. I posed for a photo with the mother. I signed her book. I sat and chatted with both her and her daughter.

And in that moment, I didn’t need an award. That day was my award.

A few months later, the daughter wrote me again. Her mom had passed away, but they’d never forgotten my visit.

A few years later, I learned the daughter too had died.

I still cry when I think of them, but I smile too. Those two special women gave me the gift of knowing the true reason I write.

I write for my readers.

(P.S. I’ve since been nominated four more times for Best Contemporary Novel, and it truly is an honor.)

Fellow writers, have you ever had a reader reach out to you with a touching story about how your book affected them? And dear readers, do you have any go-to books or authors who help get you through the bad days?

ABOUT FATAL REUNION: As Monongahela County’s new coroner Zoe Chambers-Adams gears up for a third day searching for a missing woman, she receives the news she’s been dreading: a body has been found. What she discovers at the scene leaves no doubt—the missing woman was violently murdered. Worse, the manner of death mirrors the Monongahela Strangler case that terrorized the county when Zoe was in high school. Those murders stopped, but the case was never satisfactorily solved. And with people arriving in town for Zoe’s twentieth high school reunion, the memories of those scary days return with a vengeance.

But Zoe’s new husband, Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, sees the murder differently. His investigation reveals two feuding families and a forbidden relationship between their children. The homicide appears to be a crime of passion, until Pete’s relentless digging unearths a link between his prime suspect and Zoe’s serial-killer. Suddenly, with the predator threatening to strike someone near and dear to both Zoe and Pete, they must race to uncover the truth and catch a madman before another innocent victim is brutally murdered.

BIO: Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of twelve novels including the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic turned county coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. The eleventh book in the series, Fatal Reunion, is available now in digital and is coming soon in paperback. Annette and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm in Washington County, PA, with their very spoiled cat, Kensi.

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33 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Annette Dashofy

  1. I love that story, and how nice that you and that mother/daughter duo were able to touch each other’s lives. I’ll never forget when I first received an email from a stranger thanking me for writing my books. It was so touching. Congrats on your new release!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thanks for your story, Annette. It’s a great feeling to know that something you created brought joy into someone else’s life.
    I’m not as altruistic as you are. Primarily, I write for me. I’ve heard from only a few readers who have thanked me for what I do, so I know that’s not why I do it. My stories are dark, not cozy, and shed light on the worst of humanity. My series was conceived as a documentation of a loss of innocence. But in my protagonists, I also try to showcase the best of us–with all of their flaws, they fight against the darkness and triumph over it, even if they lose another little piece of themselves in the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Tom, you say you’ve had “only a few” readers who thanked you. Trust me. There are many many more who never go to the effort to reach out, but you do touch their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Annette, this is such a moving story. I know exactly what you mean. I once had a reader write to me that her husband of 55 years was disappearing from her due to dementia. My books provided an escape from her grief. I wept reading her email. With her permission, turned it into graphic with the title, “Why I Write.”

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I’ve had readers send me notes, but nothing like this. Until a few weeks (days?) ago on Facebook. A reader posted that she was disappointed that my Laurel Highlands series was not in audio. She has low vision and can’t read. But she did purchase the first book and her daughter read it to her. When I said I hoped she enjoyed the book, she said she did, “And I had a lovely time with my daughter.”

    That made me smile.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. What a beautiful story! I belong to a mystery buffs book club at a local library. A few of our group have lost husbands in the last few years and they all say the same thing, the reading got them through the pain. My own sister just passed away this spring, followed by another death, and my husband being hospitalized just this past week. I looked forward to being able to sit down and travel with my books to English Villages, 1920’s NYC, or the Bayou etc. Reading is a much needed escape even for just a little while. Thank you to all the writers for giving us that much needed rest and escape from daily life that can be so difficult at times. Don’t ever take your gifts for granted.
    Carol

    Liked by 4 people

  7. That’s beautiful, Annette! I didn’t realize you’re in PA too. I’m in southeastern PA. About an hour from Philly or NYC. Anyhoo, Many of the Chicks are automatic pre-orders along with a few other cozy writers. I couldn’t list them all. I’d be afraid of accidentally omitting a name. I can assure you, that they carried me through the decline and death of my wife. They still lift me up even more than four years after the fact. Where would we be without our favorite writers? So, thank you all! You’ve given most of us more than you’ll ever know!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for saying that, Tracy.

      I’m headed to southeast PA tomorrow–Lancaster for the Pennwriters Conference. Gotta love the Pennsylvania Turnpike. :-/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ew, I hate the Turnpike! Traveled it way too often taking my daughter back and forth to Temple U. Have a great time at Pennwriters. I will cross my fingers for smooth sailing on the roads for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely story, Annette! I’ve not had the experience of a reader reaching out to me like that. On the other hand, when I announced that my Allie Cobb series was ending, some very kind folks let me know on social media how much they’ll miss Allie. That was pretty cool.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Thank you for this reminder, Annette. I sometimes get so caught up in the frustrations, details, marketing and promotion of my books that it’s easy to forget the real reason our books are so important. The reader is EVERYTHING!

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

    Liked by 4 people

  10. That’s such a sweet story, Annette. I treasure those letters and emails from people telling me that laughing through my books got them through very tough times. But the highlight for me was when I used to write for kids and a little boy wrote to me (an actual, physical letter) and said, “I didn’t like to read until I read your book.” Not gonna lie … that turned me into a gooey little pile!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Wow! What a touching story. And it is so true. Reading a great book is a wonderful escape from what else is going on around me. It’s been a huge help the last couple of years.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Annette, thank you for visiting Chicks to share this beautiful, bittersweet story. A reminder indeed for all of us authors! I’ve received several emails and letters from Ladies Smythe & Westin readers, often adult children with parents living in senior communities. Apparently several generations enjoyed the books and “recognized” some of the supporting characters. But I heard the most from readers who said that Grace, a character with Alzheimer’s, helped them smile. Little did they know she grew out of my encounters with my dad’s neighbors in his Memory Care unit, and their shared experiences. Congrats on your new book, Annette! Just seeing the cover brought chills.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thanks for visiting us, Annette, and for that touching story. I’ve only had a few experiences like that… 1) My historically inspired women’s fiction. An older gentleman thanked me for coming to his senior home to talk about Taiwanese history–the staff there said he never went to events, and he even shared his remembrances with me. 2) Mimi Lee Gets A Clue. A book club of tweens picked up my novel and gave me a handmade thank you card, complete with drawings. 3) Malice Domestic. I got fangirled over at the conference and even given a gift bag–so exciting!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay, Jennifer! Being the recipient of fangirling is always VERY cool! And how sweet regarding the older gent and the tweens. You go, girl!

      Like

  14. What a sweet story and so kind of you to visit with them at the hospital. You’re a rock star author in my book, too!
    Congrats on the release of Fatal Reunion!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Annette, what a beautiful and touching story. I’m so happy that you shared it with us!

    I had the lovely experience of a woman reaching out to let me know that my books brought her some joy as she dealt with a progressive illness. We became online friends, and message one another and exchange Christmas cards.

    Congratulations on your nominations and writing books that so positively impact others. ❤

    Like

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