Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Betty Webb - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Betty Webb. She is a bestselling author of the Desert Wind, Desert Wives, etc. & the Gunn Zoo mysteries.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Betty Webb - The Lena Jones mysteries
Author's Blog: Webb's Blog
Blog: Wikipedia
Twitter: @bettywebb
E-Mail: webbscottsdale@aol.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Former journalist Betty Webb is a prize-winning mystery novelist whose books are based on true crimes, including human rights abuses. Publishers Weekly called her novels "mysteries with a social conscience." She lives in Arizona, where her Lena Jones mysteries are set.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your new book, The Llama of Death. What do you have coming next? Are you taking your readers near the zoo again? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

The next book will be DESERT REGRET, the 8th book of my Lena Jones series. In it, Lena tackles a seldom-talked about but fairly common medical procedure that often results in a situation the patient hasn't counted on, but now has to deal with. This plot line dovetails with intriguing information on odd peculiarities in the administration of the Death Penalty in Arizona. And for the first time in a Lena Jones book, the two protagonists are young teens, who have been accused of a mass murder.

Next a Phoenix question. Had you thought about getting your readers lost in the Superstitions? Or maybe writing about Investigative reporter, Don Boiles or The Trunk Murder, Winnie Ruth Judd?

First -- in "Desert Run," I have a long scene set in the Superstitions, so that's been done. As for Don Bolles (correct spelling) and Winnie Ruth Judd, those books have already been written -- and well -- by other people. My specialty is in writing about crimes and human rights abuses that haven't been written about before -- not covering old ground. That's why I won't write about the murders in Juarez or human trafficking, crimes currently being covered by numerous other writers.

You have a good social media following. How important have your social media relationships been? How much has it changed your book launch process?

It's hard to understand why not everyone is taking advantage of social media, including the various "lists" other authors and readers are on. Not only does it help a writer connect daily with her many fans, but it's fun! My favorite is Facebook, where I post several times a day, not only about my books. Sometimes I post about my cat & do, sometimes I praise other writers and artists, but sometimes I just grumble and gripe. And I frequently comment on other people's posts. But almost always, I try to be witty and entertaining. That way, people see me as a frequent correspondent and friend, not just a name. When I have a new book out, the first thing I do is announce it on Facebook (and Twitter, and all the other social networks I belong to). This bumps my sales tremendously.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. (We meet at the Tucson Festival of Books.) When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I'm busier than any human being should be (my psychologist husband is always muttering about "compulsive overwork), but the best way to keep track of my busy live is to check in on my signings page, which is http://bettywebbssignings.blogspot.com/

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

There are two answers to that question. On the Gunn Zoo books, a wonderful, witty artist named Nicholas Greenwood is responsible for those. But I design the covers of the Lena Jones books. Before becoming a writer, I was a graphic designer in Los Angeles and New York City, and designed a lot of book covers, among other things. I use the photographs my talented husband has taken of our surrounding desert, fiddle around with them on PhotoShop, then lay in the type. The "mechanical" part of the process is taken care of by someone else, but the designs and the artwork originate from my home studio.

You are one of the top authors for Poison Pen Publishers based in Scottsdale. How important was that alliance when you had to start publishing ebooks?

Very, very important. Poisoned Pen Press was a relatively small publishing house when I first signed on with them, but they have since become the second largest publishers of mystery novels in the U.S. They treat their authors wonderfully well. If it weren't for Poisoned Pen Press, I wouldn't have the career that I love.

You conduct writing workshops around the area. How important is it to you to give back to new writers your vast experience and knowledge?

I believe in giving back to my community, and to the new writers which are emerging from it. Hardly a day goes by that I don't do something to help another beginning writer.

Between your book writing, workshop, personal appearances, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

A person as busy as me needs a tight schedule, and I have one of the tightest. Here is a day when I DON'T have outside obligations: At 4 a.m. I start writing; I break for breakfast at 6 a.m.; at 10 a.m. I take a walk in the 16-mile-long park by my house and enjoy the wildlife, and when I get back, immediately start writing again. At noon I break for lunch, then write again until around 4 p.m. After that, I begin reading other people's books, and read most of the evening -- unless "The Walking Dead" is on; I never miss that. I generally turn in around 10 p.m. Yep, only 6 hours sleep a night. So there you are -- my typical workday. Family demands eat into it, and does preparing taxes -- the living hell I am now emerged in.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans? Was it difficult to embrace social media?

All my books are available in every format, from hardback to soft cover, to mass market paperbacks, to ebooks, to audio downloads to CDs. Poisoned Pen Press takes care of all that for me, so I don't have to worry about it. And I love social media, so embracing it was never a problem. The big problem is for me to stop yakking on Facebook, I love it so much!

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I don't give away my books for free, other than as auction material for various charity organizations. When my books are about to come out, Poisoned Pen Press prints up hundreds of soft-cover ARCs (Advance Review Copies) and sends them out to the media, bookstores, and libraries. That's how they get so many reviews, and library orders.

Discuss briefly your review process? How can authors submit their books for review?

I'm a reviewer for Mystery Scene Magazine, a print magazine based in New York City (but they also have an Internet presence). I receive all review books from them; I am not allowed to accept books straight from an author. So if anyone wants me to review their book, they need to send their book directly to Mystery Scene Magazine, 331 W. 57th St., New York, New York, 10019-3101. But they should query the magazine first.

Author's Book List
The Llama of Death - A Gunn Zoo Mystery
Zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley takes Alejandro, the Gunn Zoo llama, to a Monterey Bay-area Renaissance Faire only to discover the still-warm body of the Reverend Victor Emerson, owner of the local wedding chapel, dressed in his royal robes as Henry the Eighth. At first it appears as if Alejandro stomped the man to death, but a closer look reveals a crossbow dart in the man’s back. Teddy’s investigation proves the “reverend” isn’t really a reverend at all — he’s an escaped convict, and every marriage he’s performed in the past twenty years is null and void. Teddy’s mother Caro, a spoiled ex-beauty queen, becomes the chief suspect and is immediately jailed when she causes a riot in the courtroom. The ”reverend” had twice married Caro to wealthy men, and when both marriages failed, Caro received large financial settlements. Now she may have to give all that money back, certainly a good enough reason to commit murder. But Caro wasn’t the only person gunning for Victor. The child of the man Victor once murdered may have wanted to kill him, too, and at one point, even Teddy herself is handcuffed and jailed. Even worse, Teddy’s embezzling father flies in from exile in Costa Rica to help spring Caro from jail, thus putting his own freedom in jeopardy. As Teddy continues her investigation, she finds herself up to her ears in girl gang members, squabbling boat liveaboarders, Renaissance Faire actors and stuntmen, and assorted animals. Written with a humorous touch, “The Llama of Death” portrays Renaissance Faire life, and gives the reader a rare behind-the-scenes look at modern zoos.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Wind - A Lena Jones Mystery
When P.I. Lena Jones's Pima Indian partner Jimmy Sisiwan is arrested in the remote northern Arizona town of Walapai Flats, Lena closes the Desert Investigations office and rushes to his aid. What she finds is a town up in arms over a new uranium mine located only ten miles from the magnificent Grand Canyon. Jimmy's sister-in-law, founder of Victims of Uranium Mining, has been murdered, but the opposing side is taken hits, too. Ike Donohue, the mine's public relations flak, is found shot to death, casting suspicion on Jimmy and his entire family. During Lena's investigation, she finds not only a community decimated by dangerous mining practices, but a connection to actor John Wayne and the mysterious deaths resulting from the 1953 filming of “The Conqueror.” Gabe Boone, a wrangler on that doomed film, is still alive, but the only person the aged man will confide in is John Wayne's ghost. It's up to Lena to penetrate Gabe's defenses and find out the decades-old tragedy no one in Walapai Flats wants to talk about. By delving into the area's history, Lena learns that old sins never die; they're still taking lives. As with “Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder,” this seventh book in the Lena Jones series exposes real life crimes, and the reason why high-ranking government officials want those crimes to remain under wraps.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Noir - A Lena Jones Mystery
Survival in the upscale Scottsdale art scene depends on how well a private eye does her footwork… At the age of four, private detective Lena Jones had been found lying unconscious by the side of an Arizona highway, a bullet robbing her of her memories. Now the scarred survivor of a dozen foster homes, Lena has vowed to find the truth about her origins—no matter how terrible that truth might be.

In Desert Noir, the first of the Lena Jones mysteries, Lena’s quest is interrupted when her friend, heiress Clarice Kobe, is beaten to death in the Western Heart Art Gallery. Lena and her Pima Indian partner Jimmy Sisiwan at first suspect the art dealer’s abusive husband, but their investigations soon reveal that domestic violence was hardly the only problem in the victim’s troubled life. Clarice, for all her money and beauty, had a dark side; her enemies far outnumbered her friends. Among those who wished her dead are George Haozous, the fiery Apache artist whose graphic work she once banned from her gallery. Another enemy is Dulya Albundo, the daughter of an elderly Hispanic woman whose death was directly attributable to the art dealer’s greed. Even Clarice’s parents—wealthy land developers whose housing tracts have ravaged the beautiful Sonoran Desert—appear to be oddly untroubled by their daughter’s death. Lena’s search for Clarice’s killer brings violence back into her own life, yet it also brings her closer to the solution of her own mystery—her real identity. Set against the backdrop of the posh Scottsdale, Arizona art scene and the nearby Indian reservations, Desert Noir heralds the debut of a detective as wounded as her clients, a woman battling her own demons while trying to rescue others from theirs.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Wives - A Lena Jones Mystery
Polygamy can be murder! That’s what private detective Lena Jones learns when she helps thirteen year old Rebecca escape from Purity, a polygamy compound hidden in a desolate area near straddling Utah/Arizona border.

When Rebecca’s mother is arrested for the murder of Prophet Solomon Royal, Rebecca’s intended husband, Lena enters Purity masquerading as a polygamist wife to uncover the real murderer. In doing so, Lena finds out more than she bargained for—the shocking secret the cult’s Circle of Elders will kill to keep. During her investigations, Lena also discovers more about her own past. At the age of four she was found lying unconscious by the side of an Arizona highway, a bullet robbing her of her memories. Raised in a series of foster homes, Lena does not remember her real name nor the names of her parents. She thinks she has put the past behind her, but the sins of Purity’s polygamous mothers and fathers force her to reexamine the few memories she has of her own mother the woman who shot her…
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Lost - A Lena Jones Mystery
While running surveillance in an industrial section of Scottsdale, P.I. Lena Jones discovers the body of a woman connected to Second Zion, an infamous polygamy cult based in northern Arizona. With the help of a former polygamist “sister wife,” Lena soon discovers a shocking secret: in a society where one man can have ten wives, nine men will have none. Second Zion makes certain these possible rivals don’t stick around by turning these young teens into Arizona’s “lost boys.”

While searching for the dead woman’s lost son, Lena is surprised by a visit from Madeline, the beloved foster mother from whom she’d been forcibly parted at the age of nine. Madeline’s presence renews Lena’s memories of her own damaged childhood and brings new clues to the identity of her biological parents, who seemingly abandoned her when she was four years old.

But their joyful reunion is interrupted when Lena learns that her close friend, television star Angel Grey, is being stalked by an increasingly violent mental patient. When Lena flies to Angel’s aid, she finds that danger has followed her to Hollywood.

Arizona polygamy and its discarded sons, the deceptively insulated world of Beverly Hills, and Lena’s lost past converge in a case fraught with danger.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Anteater of Death - A Gunn Zoo Mystery
The Anteater was framed! But if Lucy, the pregnant Giant Anteater from Belize, didn’t kill the man found dead in her enclosure, who did? California zookeeper Teddy Bentley must find the real murderer before her furry friend is shipped off to another zoo in disgrace.

Then another human bites the dust, the monkeys riot, and the wolves go nuts. Things get worse when the snooty folks at Gunn Landing Harbor attempt to evict Teddy from the Merilee, her beloved houseboat. That’s just the beginning. Her father, on the lam from the Feds for embezzling millions, gets targeted by a local gangster; and Caro, Teddy’s socialite and former beauty queen mother who loathes Teddy’s dangerous job, starts introducing her to eligible bachelors. But Teddy has already given her heart to Sheriff Joe Rejas, a migrant worker’s son. Caro is not pleased. Zoo life, animal lore, and the leaky ups and downs of Central Coast California houseboat living create a thrilling backdrop for murder.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Koala of Death - A Gunn Zoo Mystery
When zoo keeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley fishes the body of Koala Kate out of Gunn Landing Harbor, she discovers that her fellow zoo keeper didn’t drown; she was strangled. The clues to Koala Kate’s killer implicate other animal keepers at the Gunn Zoo, including Outback Bill, marsupial keeper and Kate’s Aussie ex-boyfriend; and Robin Chase, the big cat keeper who’s got it in for Teddy. Also displaying suspicious behavior are several “liveaboarders” at the harbor; Speaks-To-Souls, a shady “animal psychic”; and even Caro, Teddy’s much-married, ex-beauty queen mother. But murderers aren’t all Teddy has to worry about. Her embezzling father is still on the run from the Feds, and the motor on the Merilee, her beloved houseboat is failing. To pay for the repairs, Teddy agrees to appear on a weekly live television broadcast featuring misbehaving animals that range from Wanchu, a cuddly koala, to Abim, a panicky wallaby – and all hell breaks loose in the TV studio. To add to Teddy’s woes, the killer zeroes in on her with near-fatal results. The Koala of Death brings a return to Gunn Zoo and the social-climbing humans and eccentric animals that made the prize-winning The Anteater of Death so popular. Readers will enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at zoo life, and learn that poor little rich girls like Teddy lead much more complicated lives that they’d ever imagine – especially when they’re tracking killers.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Cut - Lena Jones Mysteries
While searching for a location for a new documentary, Lena Jones and director Warren Quinn stumble across the body of a mutilated young girl. Lena is suddenly reminded of her own rough childhood. Her investigation into the girl's death leads her into the small town of Los Perdidos, an Edenic town still alive with the memory of Geronimo's war. Here the hard life on the Arizona/Mexico border contrasts with Hollywood's slick production meetings, and the revival of an ancient practice is tempered by a growing underground railroad fighting to save its young victims.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Desert Run - Lena Jones Mysteries
Things are never easy for Scottsdale private eye Lena Jones. Her partner in Desert Investigations is leaving for a wife and a job at Southwest Micro- Systems. Her old captain at the Scottsdale PD is moving home to Brooklyn. Now shes doing security for Warren Quinn, director of a documentary being shot at Papago Park about the German POW camp and the great escape of Christmas Eve, 1944, when some prisoners tunneled out and fled. And one surviving escapee, Kapitan Zur See Erik Ernsta man in his nineties confined to a wheelchair after a boating accidenthas just been murdered. Worse, his Ethiopian caregiver begs Lena to clear him as a suspect. Lena, experienced in probing the past for answers to the central mystery of her own life, learns that Ernst and two other POWs hid out in the rugged Superstition Mountains. Nearby, on Christmas Night, the Bollinger family was slaughtered. A jury didnt convict the only survivor, the teenage son. What might Chess Bollinger know about Ernstand vice versa? And how much can Lena trust Quinn, either as a client, a witness, or a lover? Webb combines evocative descriptions of place with fine historical research in a plot packed with twists. Publishers Weekly Webb effectively evokes the beauty of the Arizona desert. Booklist Betty Webb is a journalist and book reviewer for a major Phoenix area newspaper. She lives and writes in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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