Writer Wednesday – Rita Webb

PlayingHooky-banner

 

 

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Rita Webb, author of PLAYING HOOKY (the first book in the Paranormal Investigation series) and DAUGHTER OF THE GODDESS

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Wife to the sweetest man, mom of 3 extraordinary girls, adventurer, dancer, crazy lady.
I’m not a vampire (even if I am pale and allergic to the sun) or a werewolf (though I am married to one) or a faerie. I’m just a woman with an overactive imagination.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Loads of shorts stories (published in various anthologies), several unpublished novels, TEARS (my first novel, no longer in print), and the following novellas (currently available:

PLAYING HOOKY (Paranormal Investigations #1)
DAUGHTER OF THE GODDESS

…and what you’re working on right now.
My husband TJ and I are now writing together. We’re working on the sequels to PLAYING HOOKY:
BREAKING ANGELINA (Paranormal Investigations #1.5)
TAKING CHANCES (Paranormal Investigations #2)

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Visiting the library with my mom and picking out books:
The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I loved them both and was forever addicted. Strange how both are on banned book lists, and I’m impressed that my very religious mother actually recommended them to me.

What are your three favorite books?
I hate this question. I have hundreds of favorites, different ones in each genre, plus my childhood favorites. Really my favorite book might be whatever I just finished reading.

But if I have to narrow it down, this is my list:
The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
The Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

OK, I cheated. I named 3 series instead of individual books, but if you think of them as never-ending books that are just so long, they had to be separated into smaller editions…

How many books to do you read at any given time?
Sometimes I have two or three books that I’m reading. One will be an audiobook, one will be a paperback, and another might be a book I’m reading with the kids or maybe another paperback.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews!!! I’ve been waiting sooooo long for this book.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…forget the rest of the world exists.

To re-read or not to re-read, that is the question.
Definitely love to re-read good books! I’m on my 5th read of the Kate Daniels series, and I’m sure I’ll read it again next year in preparation for the next release.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely! Especially if the recommendation comes from someone I trust…

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
All the time! First off, I love promoting other authors. Second, I love books. I became a writer because I love to read.

What do you look for in a good book?
Lovable characters and good dialogue. Plots are important to keep the intensity of a book, but it’s not the plot I remember, it’s the people.

I discovered this when re-reading some of my favorites. The plot was a rediscovery as I couldn’t remember what was going to happen, who the bad guy was and why, but the scenes that burned into my mind were the ones related to the interactions between my favorite characters.

Why do you write?
Because I have to or I’ll burst into flames. Once I started on the road to writing, I couldn’t stop. I’ve tried. Many times.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Dancer, artist, musician… Writing has made me fall in love with the arts. I probably wouldn’t be any good at it, but I still have a day job. However, my day job is not ME.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My family, my friends, movies, books, art, music, a hike in the park. Writing, like all artistic endeavors, is best when it comes from the soul, and therefore, you must always keep your soul brimming with life.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I’m a dreamer. That I have determination. That I fight for my dreams and never give up. That I am officially insane.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband TJ has supported me, believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and helped me every step of the way. Now I’ve finally convinced him to write with me. We can live in insanity together.

My oldest daughter writes stories and creates characters now too, and she and I are writing picture books together. My other girls love to read what I write (when it is not too adult for them), and so I’m (slowly) working on a few Middle Grade books.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
The stereotype of the absent-minded writer is absolutely… Oh, did you say something? I just had this epiphany about a character.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The learning curve is steep. First, you have to learn all the techniques of writing (like how to craft interesting dialogue, how to pick strong verbs, how to show and not tell, how to intersperse description without bogging down the story), and then grammar is a whole other monster to tackle.

Then you have to learn how to lead a reader through a story. You have loads of threads to keep track of and characters that must be flushed out if you don’t want cardboard people walking like zombies through your stories.

Then you have to learn how to market those stories, whether to an agent, publisher, or directly to the reader. And if you decide to self-publish, you’ll have to learn about how to run a business.

Thankfully, in our day and age, there’s loads of information and resources to make things happen…if you have the determination to learn.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
All the time! But that’s how we learn, by making mistakes, falling down, and getting back up. Your understanding is more complete when you know what fails.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
No, I have projects and ideas coming out my ears. I’ve scheduled my writing time for the next 3 or 4 years, and then I have another series I can’t wait to get started on.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I always try to answer emails and be available for conversation. You can often find me on Facebook.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
How shy I am. Sooooo glad I can do this interview by typing on my computer. 😛

And yet this year, I performed a monologue in front of 300+ people and danced 3 performances (hip hop, lyrical jazz, and musical theater) in front of 500+ people. I try my hardest to ignore my shyness.

Anything else we should know?
If you come across an Elvin wizard, don’t drink anything he gives you.

bookstuff

 

 

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Because this post was a wee bit late, I present you with a bit of bonus material – the first chapter of Rita’s novel!

 

 

EXCERPT FROM PLAYING HOOKY


 

Chapter 1

~ EMMA ~

 

THE ALARM CLOCK hammers ice picks into my brain. My freshman year of college, I swore I’d never do another eight o’clock class, but here it is my junior year and I am torturing myself with English Lit after staying up until three in the morning to finish a paper.

I try to peel my eyes open, but they’re glued shut. I rub them and squint at the clock, trying to read the red numbers swimming in circles, but nothing makes sense.

Letting my eyes drift shut, groping for the right button with my hands, I punch snooze and roll over.

It’s Thursday. Valentine’s Day.

My twenty-first birthday.

And all I want is the pounding headache to go away.

It seems like no time at all before the alarm goes off again.

“Emma, either get up or turn it off.” My roommate Maggie—but we all call her Magpie—kicks the thin wall separating our rooms.

With a groan, I turn off the alarm, roll out of bed, and pad into our kitchen, still in my cotton panties and T-shirt. Sleepwalking, I fill the coffee pot with water, scoop one tablespoon of coffee grinds into the filter—no, two, because Mr. Linden likes to drone on about eighteenth-century poetry—and hit the start button.

Coffee. Breakfast of champions. And sleep-deprived college students.

A knock on our apartment door, and my sister trills a happy, “Good Morning, Emma,” and begins to sing me Happy Birthday, along with several embarrassing verses we wrote when she was five and I was seven. It includes something about monkeys slipping on banana peels.

“Someone shoot her.” Magpie grumbles from her doorway and slams her door shut.

Still in my skimpy sleep-clothes, I open the door to find my sister—long, blonde hair curled to perfection, not a strand out of place, red hair band matching her flouncy short skirt and the red hearts on her too-cute-for-words tights. Glimmering strands of silver lace peek through her pink sweater. As always, Angelina’s the image of vomit-inducing school-girl perfection.

And standing behind her—

Jason.

My best friend from childhood. The boy—er, man—who should be ten hours away in Kodiak, Alaska, rather than here in Anchorage.

The man staring at my naked legs.

And I’m standing here in my panties and baby-doll T, which clearly shows I’m not wearing a bra, especially as Alaska is cold in February and the door gapes wide open.

I cross my arms over my chest to hide my breasts and duck my bottom half behind the door. “Jason, what are you doing here?”

“To take you out for the day. It’s your twenty-first birthday. Did you think I’d let you celebrate without me?” He grins and slips into the room before I can stop him. His eyes travel up my bare legs (thank goodness I shaved last night) with the ugly wool knee-high socks, the black T with the pink Batman symbol, and ending with my short, blonde hair, sticking up in all directions on one side, matted on the other.

I glance out the door. A few girls, gawking at the man who is too handsome for his own good, stand out on the landing and whisper. I grab Angelina’s hand and drag her inside and slam the door.

“What about what’s-her-name? Sarah? Sally? Mandy? Whoever your latest thrall is. She really let you come out and play? I thought she’d have your Valentine’s Day booked.”

“I broke up with her right after Christmas.” He shrugs.

For the first time in about ten years, neither of us has a significant other. Once upon a time, when I was twelve, I decided Jason was the one for me, and I set about trying to get him to kiss me. He was clueless, and I settled for Mark Jameson, a boy down the road. Three years later, Mark moved to Ohio somewhere. Or was it Idaho? And I never heard from him again.

By then, Jason had a girlfriend, and though he never took her fishing with him or mountain biking (my role in his life), they went to homecoming together and then to the prom. And I went out with Troy Simmons up until the middle of our first year of college when I caught him in another girl’s dorm room where he’d sacked out for a week.

Troy was so pissed about the breakup—because I should just forgive and forget the cheating, since it was my fault because I refused to sleep with him—that he spread rumors about our supposed sexual escapades.

Whenever I tried to date since then, the guys I went out with only wanted me to put out, so I’ve been single ever since. Whenever I consider dating him now, I remind myself of all the ways we are incompatible. We would fight over everything as we’re both too stubborn for our own good.

Angelina tucks her hand through his arm and smiles up at him. “Isn’t he sweet? You have the best friends.”

Not even a note of jealousy in her voice, even though she’s had a crush on him ever since third grade when he put a band-aid on her skinned knee.

My sister Angelina is too perfect. Straight-A honor student. Mother’s sweetie pie. Father’s angel. Never snuck out of the house to go partying. Always kept her curfew. Never broke her leg jumping out of trees while trying to chase squirrels or ramping bikes on the homemade ramps. Always prissy and clean. Never leaves anything out of place.

Always the perfect lady in her cute little outfits.

I can’t hate her for it because she doesn’t even act superior about it. She’s never been the goody-goody. Never lectures me on my messy room, sloppy hair, torn jeans, or skipping classes.

Jason grins. “I’d never miss your birthday. Remember last year?”

“Ugh! I thought I’d never thaw out after we went skiing in a blizzard. We were stranded for three days in that cabin we found in the woods.”

“Aw, come on, you didn’t even get frostbite. I took care of you.”

“At least I didn’t end up with any broken limbs. That time.”

“I still can’t believe we went snow-boarding on East Pillar Mountain Loop. That’s a tough trail, and then you broke your arm slipping in the parking lot on the way to the truck.”

My muscles were exhausted, and carrying my board on my shoulder, I wasn’t watching where I was going. I didn’t see the patch of ice. “Remember when you took me spelunking?”

“I had no idea that bear was in there.”

“I can’t remember ever being that scared.”

“But it was fun! Come on. We can’t break tradition.”

“What are you planning this time?” Angelina smiles up at him with a glimmer of wistful longing.

“It’s a secret.” He extricates her hand from his arm and takes a step away from her, and her hand falls back to her side.

For a moment, her smile falters, but then she bounces from the room. “See you! Tell me all about it later. Emma, I’ll tell your professors and coach that you are sick today, and I’ll collect your notes and assignments.”

“Thanks, Angelina. You’re a sweetie.”

She gives me her smile, cheeks dimpling in the cute china-doll way she has, and blows us kisses. Sometimes I wish she could be a real human being for once—throw a royal temper tantrum, break a rule, or actually make a mess—but either she keeps all negativity bundled up deep inside or she really is incapable of baser emotions.

I’m left alone in the apartment’s tiny entryway with Jason.

“Emma,” he says, stepping closer, his head leaning down toward me. He is way too close, and I remember I’m not dressed.

Tall with wide shoulders, Jason is muscular from hard labor (construction and welding) and athletic adventures (kayaking and mountain biking). The perpetual scruff movie stars work hard to perfect shadows his jaw, and his tousled black hair kept short. He cuts it every week because it grows too fast, like at least a half inch a day. With the smoky blue eyes and the confident grin he usually wears, he’d make any girl swoon.

Well, any girl but me. I’d more likely hit him upside the head with a broom than swoon over him.

“Coffee’s in the kitchen. I need to get dressed and showered; then we can go for pastries at the bakery around the corner.” Just off campus, there’s a scrumptious little shop, but I never have time in the mornings. I turn back to my room but then stop. “Oh, how do I need to dress for the day?”

“Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair, but his eyes are too busy following my ass to pay attention to anything I said.

“Jason.” I snap my fingers. “Up here. What do I need to wear?”

His gaze shifts to my face, and he grins, not even having the decency to flush. “Dress warm.”

Good. So we’re going to have an adventure.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tina Brimlow
    Aug 15, 2013 @ 22:28:09

    I so can not wait to read Playing Hooky by Rita Webb its gonna be awesome

    Reply

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