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GREAT NEWS! Library Journal has chosen DESERT LOST as one of the Top Five Mystery Novels of 2009!!! This is a major kudo, folks, and I'm as thrilled as I can be.
DESERT LOST will debut at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Then I’ll be leaving on my whirlwind California tour, returning in six days to begin work on DESERT WIND, the 7th Lena Jones mystery. To find out if I'll be in a city near you, check my signings blog at http://bettywebbssignings.blogspot.com
Found at the age of four lying beside a Phoenix street with a bullet in her head, private investigator Lena Jones was raised in foster homes, where she was starved and raped. Yet somehow she survived and became a Scottsdale police officer. After being shot up in a drug raid, Lena opened Desert Investigations with her friend Jimmy Sisiwan, a full-blooded Pima Indian. Now she’s hunting down her biological parents at the same time she’s hunting down killers.
In DESERT LOST, Lena discovers that the polygamists she first faced down in DESERT WIVES have opened a small colony in Scottsdale. This time, Lena finds out that when one man can have 10 wives, 9 men will have none. And the prophet of Second Zion knows just how to get rid of the competition -- even when the "competition" is comprised of boys as young as 14. But why do their mothers not protect them? When Lena finds out the answer, she is even more shocked.
As in all the Lena Jones books, an Authors Note reveals the facts behind the fiction. One of them: polygamy is on the increase -- and popping up in cities, not just rural areas.
Expecting a rush on both my polygamy books, Poisoned Pen Press has re-released DESERT WIVES with a new cover and a new Authors Note.
The reviews of DESERT LOST have been wonderful -- even stronger than the reviews for DESERT WIVES! Here are just a few DESERT LOST reviews.
LIBRARY JOURNAL --Webb lays out the details of polygamy and cult life in this fast-paced sixth series entry that will appeal to readers who enjoy gritty Southwestern mysteries. No one writes quite like she does.em>
BOOKLIST -- STARRED REVIEW: This is a complex, exciting entry in a first-class series.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY -- Clear-cut characterizations help a complicated plot flow smoothly. As Webb points out in a note, polygamy still spawns many social ills, despite the recent, well-publicized conviction of Mormon fundamentalist prophet Warren Jeffs.
MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE -- In her brilliant sixth outing, Arizona PI Lena Jones is confronted by the horrors of polygamy and the toll it takes on its victims.
And to top it all off, my Lena Jones novels were discussed on the prestigious Huffington Post on November 4. Lena hit the big time!
So much of Lena's success is because of you -- Lena's readers -- and for that, Lena and I thank you, thank you, thank you!
To celebrate the release of DESERT LOST my web site is undergoing a major redesign. Check it out at http://www.bettywebb-mystery.com If it's not finished by the time you read this, keep checking back. Those web sites are killers to work with!
Judging from the cards & emails I've received, many of Lena's fans are aspiring writers. Sometimes they contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for writing advice (and I always respond), so here's some more advice, beginning with a quote:
“It’s easier not to write than to write. But write for a certain number of hours every single day, every day, no matter how you feel. Only by logging in those hours do you become the kind of writer you want to be – even if you have to spend those “writing” hours just staring at the blank computer screen. The logjam will eventually loosen, but only if you are there to nudge it along.” from Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers, by Susan Shaughnessy.
Researching and writing material like DESERT LOST isn’t easy -- especially when your writing day begins at 4 a.m. and usually continues until noon (I retired from full-time journalism 4 years ago). Many of my readers are under the impression that these books just roll out easily, but that has never been the case. For me, writing is like opening a vein. As I was writing on DESERT LOST, I kept a journal about the difficulties of the writing life. Below are some excerpts from that journal.
I can’t, I can’t, I just can’t...
The writing has gone horribly for weeks. It seems like ever day I’ve sat there in front of the computer screen waiting for inspiration to come. But it never did. I wrote anyway.
At first, the words I wrote were bland and the sentences clunked along like lead boots. It seemed like my characters wouldn’t do anything I wanted them to do, the plot seemed predictable, and the theme -- if there was one -- was so well hidden even I couldn’t find it.
I wrote anyway. Every day. From 4 a.m. to noon. All the time, I felt depressed and no longer believed in myself or my work. I decided to accept the fact that I was nothing more than a typing robot, a writer with no talent -- just a writing habit.
It was my writing habit that kept writing, not me. I’d been doing this for so long, that I couldn’t stop myself. The morning that I came down with that horrible stomach thing? I wrote between trips to the bathroom. The day I had the argument with my friend, I wrote to make myself stop crying.
But I wrote anyway, thank God. Because eventually, I wrote my way through the crap, and fought my way through to the good stuff.
People talk a lot about writers block. As a journalist, I've never believed in it. After all, if a reporter tells her editor she’s blocked and can’t write a story that is due at 3 p.m., that reporter gets fired. Above my desk is a plaque given to me by Arizona PressWomen. It says: THE ULTIMATE INSPIRATION IS THE DEADLINE.
I’ve found that to be true. Writing is NEVER easy. People who are experiencing what they interpret to be “writers block” often believe that if writing starts getting painfully difficult, there’s a problem. So they turn their backs on their computer and run away. Bad move. The truth is that writing is almost aways painful. Sure, every now and then you get a thrill when everything is working great and the words just flow. But I’ve found that feeling of ease and exhilaration to be very, very rare. Mostly you just slit open a vein, then sit in front of the computer and wait for the blood -- and words -- to flow. Still, what do you do when the words won’t come?
A long time ago I read an inspirational piece that said 95% of the secret to success is to just "show up.”
I truly believe that. When the words don't flow for me, I still sit there at the computer every bit as long as I do when the words DO flow. This means that I go to my computer at 4 a.m. every morning and sit there until noon -- regardless of whether the words are flowing or not. And guess what? Those words begin flowing after I’ve sat there for a hour or so. One caveat: by “sitting there” I don’t mean checking my emails or surfing the net. No, I mean sitting there, hands hovering over the keyboard, staring at the story that is giving me heartache. When I continue to do that, no matter how silly or heartbreaking it all seems, my "block" eventually disappears. Why? I have no idea -- it just does.
The lesson I've taught myself? Don't run from the pain; embrace it. In other words, just show up. Eventually, something magical will happen -- if you just show up.
The fact that DESERT LOST is now on its way to the stores is testament to the fact that “showing up” works. Lena Jones knows that life can be hard, and I -- her creator -- know that writing is just as hard. In the long run, though, both life and writing are worth every painful, bloody hour.
To close, I’d like to quote from the wonderful columnist Erma Bombeck, now deceased: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’ ”
Erma showed up.