BURGETTSTOWN - "For some reason, I like to kill people off on paper - only on paper, but my husband says he sleeps with one eye open ..." said Annette Dashofy of Burgettstown.
Dashofy's passion for writing - particularly the mystery genre - recently resulted in the publication of her first novel, "Circle of Influence." The book follows small-town paramedic and deputy coroner Zoe Chambers as she is drawn into the mystery surrounding the death of an old friend - and former lover.
"It's a small town, rural setting," Dashofy said. "It's based on this area. If people read the book, they'll recognize the setting."
AUTHOR — Annette Dashofy, “Circle of Influence” author, will do a talk, reading and book signing at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Burgettstown Community Library. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
Zoe unravels the mystery with the assistance of Township Police Chief Pete Adams. Dashofy is a former emergency medical technician and attended Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's and Pennsylvania State Police's citizen's police academies.
"They (Zoe and Pete) do the things I wish I had the guts for," she said.
The book is the first of three Zoe Chambers mysteries Dashofy has been contracted to write for Henery Press. The second, "Lost Legacy," will be available in September, with a third becoming available in April 2015.
"I just turned in revisions and I'm waiting for the cover art (for 'Lost Legacy')," she said. "After I get through this push, I'm only going to do one a year. I only was able to do this (schedule), because the first book was written and the second was three-quarters done. I've got to buckle down and finish the third."
Dashofy admitted to nervousness at having a deadline, instead of writing and polishing at her own pace.
"My husband keeps telling me they aren't real people and they have to do what I want them to, but, they have minds all their own," she said.
Dashofy began writing as a teenager, writing serial stories long-hand in a spiral notebook and passing them around among friends and fans of her writing. She never lost the passion for reading, but it would be years until her interest in writing blossomed into a career.
"My husband takes it seriously now," she said. "He used to come in while I was writing, but, now, he's says 'take all the time you need.'"
Ultimately, Dashofy was published because of the advice and encouragement of those she met through local writing groups. In addition to the guidance she received, she benefited from attending workshops and being able to pitch her work to agents through conventions and events hosted by writers' groups.
"I wouldn't be published if it wasn't for all the people who helped me," said Dashofy. "I came up with a story idea - just a seed - it was the book I wanted to read, so I wrote it. And it stunk. It will never see the light of day."
In particular, Dashofy benefited from the mentorship of Nancy Martin, Blackbird Sisters Mysteries author.
"She kicked my butt a number of times," she said. "I've been blessed with great beta readers. Sometimes I think they know my characters better than I do."
Dashofy will be the guest of the Night Light Readers for a presentation and book signing at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Burgettstown Community Library located at 2 Kerr St. Dashofy noted book club member Sarah Mitchell also is a member of a writing group in which Dashofy also is involved and invited her to speak.
"I'm going to do a reading, but, because it's a book club, some of them have already read it," she said. "I love book clubs."
The event is open to the public.
She also will be at Sri Yantra Yoga, located at 10 Cherry Ave., Houston, at 2 p.m. April 27, where she will give a 40 minute yoga class, followed by a book signing. Those interested in attending only the signing should arrive at 2:45 p.m. Those interested in participating in yoga can contact Sri Yantra Yoga at (724) 746-1327 or email@example.com. It is free and open to the public.
Dashofy also will sign at 6 p.m. May 22 at the South Hills Village Barnes and Noble. She will appear as a panelist May 2-4 at Malice Domestic Mystery Fan Fest in Bethesda, Md.; May 16-18 at Pennwriters in Lancaster; and May 30-June 1 at the Pennsylvania Literary Festival in Uniontown.
Dashofy wrote for Pennsylvania Magazine and was an author liaison for Mystery Lovers Book Shop in Oakmont, where she recently held a book debut party.
"They sold out and I had to sell back the 40 books I bought to sign," she said. "They only had 14 (signed) copies left."
She received a Derringer Award for short fiction in 2007 for "A Signature in Blood."
"That story was the real start for ('Circle of Influence' protagonists) Pete and Zoe," she said.
"Signature" has been published in the e-magazine Mysterical-E, available at www.mystericale.com.
She also has been published in two anthologies, including "A Murder Runs Through It" in "Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology" and "Sweet Deadly Lies" in "Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales," and Spinetingler Magazine.
She is a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is Pennwriters vice president. For information on Dashofy and her books, visit her website at www.annettedashofy.com.
"Take workshops, learn your craft, write the best book you can and finish it," Dashofy advises beginning writers. "Never give up."
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)