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Hi Leeann, First, tell us a little about yourself. First of all, I am an alter ego, and I write cozy mysteries and contemporary suspense. My real life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. “We” are Canadian by birth, American by choice, and Donna is married to Patrick, her first-line editor and most avid fan. I enjoy reading, movies, and traveling for research and fun.
Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read? I read all the time. Anything and everything, especially if there was a horse in the story or on the cover. One time, I was so engrossed in my book that I missed my bus stop and ended up in the boonies at the bus depot. I was only 7, and my mother had to come get me.
Tell us about your latest book. In Petty Cash, Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, is headed off for another mystery. She and hubby Mike head to Cape Cod as emotional support for their daughter Denise and her dentist husband Don who finds himself in the middle of a potential practice dissolution. But when their host fails to make an appearance, and a tropical storm blows through the area, things are topsy-turvy. Then when their host’s body washes ashore, Don is suspected. After all, they’d had several arguments witnessed by a number of people. Can Carly figure out who the real killer is before her son-in-law is shanghaied into a life sentence?
What inspired you to write this particular book? I wanted to write this book in a place where I once spent a week’s vacation, somewhere close to Carly’s home but not at home. I love the ocean, the beach, and Cape Cod, so it was a natural fit.
What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it? As a born-again believer, I write from a Biblical worldview. In the first book in this series, I introduced the subjects of God and faith. Since Carly is spending a week with the same characters who first brought this subject up, I thought it was a good time to bring it up again. I’d love for readers to see that faith in Christ isn’t a once-and-for-all decision, and it usually isn’t a choice made the first time a person hears about Him—it’s a process.
In three words describe your style of writing. Second chance stories.
How do you get to know your characters? Sometimes I write a chapter or two of the story until I get to the real beginning of the book. Then I know a lot more about my characters, and I simply delete the first chapter or two and jump in where the story really begins.
Are you a plotter or a pantzer? I am a plotter. I have tried a bunch of different methods and styles, and now I write a 2-4 page synopsis, scene by scene, that keeps me on track.
Does your faith affect your writing? How? My faith does affect my writing because it’s who I am, and I believe that in order to remain true to myself, true to my calling, and true to God, everything I write should point to God in some way. I like to use themes of justice, forgiveness, and second chances for damaged people—because we’re all damaged in some way.
Do you put yourself in your books? Sure—doesn’t everybody? (laugh) I am an accountant by training, as is Carly. Her husband is a computer programmer, and guess what? My hubby is a programmer. I use names of people I really know, and so I warn folks that if they don’t treat me nice, they’ll appear in my next book. And actually, sometimes I name bad characters after people I really love—so go figure.
What are you working on right now? Polishing some completed manuscripts, plus working on a proposal for Hallmark Publishing.
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Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. See below for details.
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