Taking the Plunge – with the Fabulous Debra Webb

I am so thrilled and happy to welcome Debra Webb to the convertible today!  Deb is not only a wonderful friend, but she’s a woman I admire beyond measure.  I think you’ll understand just some of the reasons why when you read her post!  Please give Deb a rousing Top Down Welcome!!

 

Taking the Plunge!

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind for me, personally and professionally. Tragically, on April 27th Alabama was hit with devastating tornadoes—the worst disaster in the state’s history. The horror of that day will not be forgotten, not in the minds of those who lost so much or in the view of all others who every day see the change in the landscape of our community. Just before this horror turned our world upside down, I was in the midst of taking a major step in my publishing career.

Last summer I met with a personal tragedy that changed my life forever. I lost most of the use of my right arm and my right hand. Wouldn’t you know it, I was right-handed. I say was because I can no longer do much of anything with my right hand. Learning to write with my left hand has been a huge challenge (my handwriting looks like a third grader’s). I could name all the things I can’t do anymore but I’d have to blog for seven or eight days in a row to get it all in. Suffice to say anything that requires two hands is difficult if not impossible. Throw in the inability to reach higher than my shoulder and you get the picture. The massive change included typing. Can’t type with fingers that won’t work. Yes, I tried the Dragon process (my dear friends got together and bought the newest version for me right after I came home from the hospital). But you see I’ve always told my stories from my brain to my fingers. First with a pen, then a typewriter and eventually a computer. As I told my friends, “I tried to create my stories that way (with Dragon) but it didn’t turn out right.” Of course, they asked, “What do you mean?” I thought for a moment then offered, “It’s like a heart surgeon preparing to open the patient’s chest and reaching for a chainsaw rather than a scalpel. Either one would do the job, but the end result would be vastly different.” Need I say more? Anyway, I had to learn to do the best I could with one working hand.

Lots of pain, depression and hard work later, I had a few decisions to make. I could no longer produce the quantity of work I did prior to the loss. In fact, ten months later, we’re talking less than half what I used to be able to do. Something had to give. I love writing my Colby Agency stories for Harlequin Intrigue (#45 is out next month!). But I also love creating the bigger stories. Considering my situation, it looked as if I would have to give up one or the other. Let’s face it, most publishers want an author they can depend on to produce at least two big books (big meaning single title, 80k or more words) per year. That isn’t going to happen, particularly if I try to keep my Colby Agency series going. I was worried sick. I had many long, painful discussions with friends (like the wonderful Cindy Gerard!). Did I risk the ability to maintain a roof over my head to keep my dreams alive? One of my friends asked about a series I started a while back but never pursued. The conversation went something like, “Whatever happened to that story I liked so much? You know, the one with that super cool forty-something woman?” I smiled and hurried to the computer. And there she was just waiting for me to have the time to give her a little attention. Jackie Mercer!

Jackie Final Cover

When I wrote the first Jackie Mercer novel it was well received by four publishing houses. The editors who read the story LOVED it (if I do say so myself). The problem was they couldn’t get the concept past the marketing folks at committee. Truth is, Jackie was written before her time. Desperate Housewives hadn’t appeared on the scene. Cougar Town was nowhere in sight and Body of Proof was called Crossing Jordan (no wait, that was a much younger protagonist). The middle-aged woman was rarely a leading lady in films or the heroine in novels. Some flirted with forty, but those beyond forty were very few and far between. Jackie is 45. Yes, I said forty-five. She still loves mini-skirts, high heels and sexy lingerie. She is divorced with a son in law school, a feat she takes singular credit for since her no-good, cheating husband left her a decade ago to start a new family with his younger wife. Jackie put her husband through college, leaving her with no higher education and no true marketable skills to keep a roof over her head and raise a kid on her own. But she wasn’t about to be bested by the likes of her scumbag ex. So she launched a new career that required only two skills—determination and the willingness to do most anything for money. With the help and guidance of her newly retired uncle (a Houston homicide detective) she started the Mercer Agency.

Ten years later Jackie has put the agency on the map in Houston. Her uncle has retired for real and she needs a new partner. Enter Derrick Dawson. Scorching hot. Sexy as hell. He wants the job and he isn’t taking no for an answer. Jackie knows Dawson is trouble—for her. A decade after the divorce she is still having bad luck with men. Allowing pure temptation to join her agency is just asking for trouble. Check out the excerpt and you’ll see what I mean.

“You are this close—” I held my thumb and forefinger about a millimeter a part right in Dawson’s face “—to being out of here, buster.”

Unbelievably, the warning didn’t faze my new partner. In fact, he had the nerve to move closer. His nostrils flared and every female chromosome in my entire being went ape shit, which only pissed me off all the more. “That’s what you said. That night was about sex, not talking. No information exchange, just hot sex, right?”

I was fire-breathing, punch-his-lights-out mad, but even in that wacked zone, I understood that, somehow, for reasons I couldn’t yet comprehend, he was angrier than me.

“I’m going to give you this one, Dawson.” Mainly on account of Texas being so big on the death penalty that the powers that be had actually put in an express lane for heinous criminals. Considering what I wanted to do to Dawson right now I’d be at the front of that unpopular line. “But this ain’t no frigging baseball game. You won’t get three strikes.” Fact was, I’d already given him that leeway up front.

“Tell me, Jackie,” he went on as if I’d said nothing at all, “how does it feel to know you were the last one to see him alive besides whoever killed him? Maybe being with you just put him in the right place at the wrong time.” He leaned down and flattened his hands on my desk on either side of me, forcing my bottom down onto the edge and still his face was so close to mine I couldn’t take a breath without it coming from his lips. I almost drew away but refused to surrender that easy. “Think you were worth it?” he murmured.

Before good sense could stop me I’d grabbed him by the shirt with both hands and lunged to my feet, maintaining the intimate proximity, face to face, but forcing him back and leveling the playing field a couple of notches. “One thing’s certain, Dawson, you’ll never know.”

Both of us were breathing hard, the air sawing raggedly in and out. My whole body shook with equal measures anger and awareness. In spite of those volatile emotions I couldn’t take my eyes off his…felt lost in that churning sea of blue. His lips trembled making me shudder with some new, indefinable rush of sensations. In that infinitesimal moment I knew with complete certainty that if he touched me we were both goners.

Breathing new life into Jackie Mercer was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I love her. I love the story and this time nothing was going to stop me! I started my own publishing company, Pink House Press, and I took that heart-pounding plunge into the e-book world. It was exciting and terrifying! Kind of like being a virgin all over again! The cover creation process was awesome! For the first time in my career the cover is exactly what I hoped for. I picked the title, DIRTY. I am so proud to be a part of this new and exciting evolution. And I’m still a little terrified! So let’s get DIRTY and talk about why women over forty are not only alive and well but they are kicking butt!

 

DEBRA WEBB, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen.  It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain—and a five-year stint with NASA—that she realized her true calling.  A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned nearly 100 novels. Visit her at www.debrawebb.com

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About cindygerard

Cindy Gerard is a New York Times best-selling author of action packed romantic suspense novels. Learn more about Cindy at http://www.cindygerard.com
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34 Responses to Taking the Plunge – with the Fabulous Debra Webb

  1. Helen Brenna says:

    Wow, Deb. You breathe life into the famous Nietzsche quote that goes something like that which does not kill us, only makes us stronger! Love your concept, your cover and congrats on taking that ebook plunge!

    I think women over 40 are finally starting to get their due, probably because we’re now a big part of almost every market. Hope you kick butt!

    My take? No more nasty hormones! lol

  2. Deb Webb says:

    Good morning, yall!

  3. Terry Odell says:

    As someone who didn’t even start writing until she had her AARP card, I love finding books where you don’t have to be twenty something. And welcome to the e-book world. I’m almost ready to put up a new book in my Blackthorne series, after long and hard thoughts about whether I should go it “alone” or go the traditional route.

    Terry
    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

  4. Leanne says:

    I read this book and loved it! Debra your such an inspiration and a wonderful woman! May all your endeavors have succes.

  5. cindy gerard says:

    Hey Miss Deb.
    Jackie’s book really is an ‘anthem’ to strong women everywhere. She’s so sassy and sexy and savvy and man, does she have spunk. I truly loved every word! Congratulations on writing such a fantastic heroine and a story worthy of all her greatness!

  6. You are my hero, Deb. I so admire the amazing courage you’ve shown coming back from a year packed with adversity.

    Congratulations on the release of DIRTY. Yay!

  7. Desiree Holt says:

    I can’t tell you how much my heart goes out to you for your situation. But the talent still shines through. I just finished Damaged and once again it clicked right along. Up next: Dirty. I love strong, feisty heroine who are well past the Barbie stage. Kudos to you for doing this. And for pushing past your situation. I was a reader long before I was a writer and your books are all on my keeper shelves. Please keep on keeping on.

  8. Kylie Brant says:

    Welcome Deb! I’m with you…I need the kinesthetic act of typing to get the story down. I’m not an auditory learner at all…visual is my strongest modality. I’m afraid I’d have exactly the same problem with Dragon.

    You’ve survived so much in the last year…here’s hoping that the advent of your new release opens the door to all sorts of wonderful things heading your way. You sooo deserve them!

  9. Deb Webb says:

    Thank you, Kylie! Fingers on left hand crossed! If folks enjoy Jackie I’m hoping to have her next adventure ready to release next spring!

  10. Michele says:

    Wow! That little excerpt makes me want to read the rest! And bravo to you for rising up before an incredible challenge and showing it your teeth. 🙂

    • Deb Webb says:

      Thanks, Michele! The chemistry between Jackie and Dawson just worked. It was effortless. That doesn’t happen often but when it does, it makes the story a joy to write!

  11. Deb, you’ve come so far from the woman I found broken on the floor last summer to where you are today that you deserve a medal of some kind. I stand in awe of your courage, your spirit and your talent!

    I am so happy that you’ve finally brought Jackie Mercer to your fans. You’ve loved her for years. So do I. If I could do cartwheels, I would. You’ll have to settle for a big HOORAH!! from your friend and “twisted sister.”

    • Deb Webb says:

      Thank you so much, Peggy! You and so many other dear friends, like Cindy, have been right at my side for this tough journey. Mere words cannot adequately convey how very much I appreciate your love and support!

  12. Welcome, Deb! You’ve really inspired me today. In this life stuff happens, and strong women celebrate the highs, slog through the lows, and find a way to weave it all together and make something good. That’s what you’re doing, and that’s a story in itself. Thanks for sharing it.

    I’m eager to dive into Jackie’s story, too. I have to get myself an e-reader first, but, boy, what a premise! What an excerpt! Frankly, I’m much more interested in a woman who “has a little age on her” as Clyde says. (He’s a cowboy. They often talk about women and horses in the same terms.) And I hope you’ll come back soon and update us on your e-pub experience. Thank you for helping pave the way. We’re all headed in that direction, and we’ll make it work.

    • Deb Webb says:

      Kathleen, thank you! How could I possibly fail with this kind of support! And you can download the kindle or nook software to your computer for free so you can test drive a few ebooks!

  13. Deb, you were always an inspiration, but even more so now, considering your remarkable tenacity in the face of your injury. I’m glad to see you jumping into the ebook fray and look forward to reading about Jackie Mercer.

    Congrats!

  14. Leanne Banks says:

    Deb, welcome to the vert! What an amazing year you’ve had. I’m so proud of you for taking this plunge and I hope it’s a tremendous success!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo, Leanne

  15. kc stone says:

    Oh my.
    I’m in awe of your strength and gumption. My stories also come directly from my fingertips and I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have part of that connection taken away.
    Horray that you have overcome the impossible and we will still be able to read your creations.
    I loved the excerpt so much that I was about to whine because I don’t yet have an e-reader… until I saw your comment about the Kindle free download.
    Thanks for being strong, being a great role model and continuing to give us characters we can believe in.

  16. Stephenia says:

    Can’t wait to read Jackie and Dawson’s story – I’ve been looking for a book with a kick butt heroine who is more mature (er…older) than the usual ones. Best of luck to you and overcoming your challenges!

  17. Lynn in Texas says:

    Deb, you’re an amazing inspiration to all of us, esp. we “women of a certain age”. Thanks for reminding us about the Kindle download. I can’t wait to read about Jackie’s adventures. It sounds like a story right up my alley! Kudos to you!

  18. Deb Webb says:

    Thanks for having me, yall!

  19. bkrahn007 says:

    Deb, you’re amazing! We’re so honored to have you here and so intrigued by the possibility of “Dirty.” Congratulations on your self-pub venture. . . we’re all waking up to the possibilities of it. And it looks to me like you got a dead-bang fabulous cover. I was blown away by it! And the excerpt!

    I’m heading off to buy it now!
    Sell a million!

  20. Brynna Curry says:

    So sorry you had to go through such a terrible ordeal, but you took the bad, made it your own and found a light to go forward with. Congrats on the new company! May you have many years of success!

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