I am so happy to introduce friend, critique buddy, and frequent travel companion Annette Dashofy to Mysteristas. Annette is celebrating the launch of her seventh book in the three-time Agatha-nominated Zoe Chambers Mysteries sers, Cry Wolf. She’s gotten used to dealing with crowds by now, but she’s also discovered the joys, and potential pitfalls, of a certain type of crowd.
The Joys of a Hometown Crowd
With my seventh book now out (how did THAT happen???), I’ve become fairly accustomed to standing in front of a crowd and talking about anything book related. Sometimes the “crowd” consists of two people. Sometimes it’s a hundred or more.
The size of the audience doesn’t bother me. Much. I thought I’d overcome all my public speaking jitters. Then last week, a local restaurant and I hosted a Dinner With the Author event. By “local,” I mean four miles from home in the town where I’ve lived my entire life.
I was petrified.
Maybe “petrified” is too strong a term, but I definitely had a stream of potential disasters playing on a loop inside my head.
Let’s play Stump the Author.
I’ve done local events before and it never fails that someone from my high school days shows up, all smiles (or smirks…it depends), and expects me to know who they are. I’m really sorry, but I rarely do. We all change over the decades. Facebook has helped with photos, but I still have trouble pulling a name out of my brain when faced with someone I know I should recognize.
And let’s be honest. They have an unfair advantage because my face is on the promotional material!
The worst of these old friends is the one who flat-out refused to tell me who he was and instead offered clues. (If you’re reading this, John, I’m pointing at you.)
It’s not just old high school friends, though. When you’ve lived in the same area for your entire life, you meet a lot of people along the way. I’ve worked on the ambulance, been involved with horses, worked retail, been a professional photographer, and taught yoga. Plus a few other jobs and careers along the way. At this particular Dinner With The Author, I encountered folks who knew me from my EMT days, a woman who had hired me to take monthly photographs of her daughter from birth to one year—a daughter who is now in her thirties, farming neighbors from over the hill who used to lease property from my grandfather, as well as an old friend from high school.
Thankfully, I had a chance to mingle and unscramble all my identity crises during dinner and before my talk.
Which leads me to my other big fear during local appearances.
Let’s play Embarrass the Author.
Also known as history hecklers. Those people who have known me for years or knew me way back when and love to pull out the mortifying little anecdotes. “Remember the time you…?”
These are the kinds of things that don’t happen in appearances farther from home. Thankfully, they don’t happen all that often close to home either. But I still live in fear of these “fun” games every time I step in front of a local crowd.
So, Mysterista friends, have you ever been placed in an embarrassing position in front of a hometown audience? Or have you ever been heckled, even if it’s all in good fun? Feel free to share! Or not.
Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it. Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.
Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office. As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves.
A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price.
USA 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 Zoe Chambers mysteries have received three nominations for the prestigious Agatha Award. Cry Wolf (September 2018) is the seventh in the series.