Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leann Betts talks about her books, "Unbalanced" and "Five and Twenty Blackbirds"



We're happy to have Leann Betts with us today talking about her book, Unbalanced. The following is from the cover:

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, is at home in Bear Cove, Maine, happily planning her son's wedding, when she sees a bank robbery. The only problem is that nobody else sees the robbery, and when she tries to investigate, her credibility is called into question. Add into the mix her husband's long-lost brother who turns up then promptly leaves town, neglecting to take his young son with him, and Carly is up to her ears again in mystery and intrigue. Can Carly prove she isn't losing her mind, or will she lose her career in the bargain? 

To learn more about Leann and her book, please read on! 


  1. Why do you write?
I started writing seriously because I wanted to know if I had at least one book in me. I am a voracious reader, and even when I was in middle school, I wanted to write as well as Jack London and Louis L’Amour. I even copied four paragraphs from a book I loved (I don’t remember the title now) and submitted it as a writing assignment in a class in seventh grade. The paragraphs weren’t quite a complete story, but pretty close, but the language was beautiful. My teacher looked at me a little strangely when she gave it back to me with an A+, and asked me if I had written it. I lied and said I had. That was my one and only time I did that because her question really convicted me that I wasn’t doing the right thing.

As an adult, once I opened the floodgates of words, it seemed I couldn’t stop. I’d be part way through a book, and three more ideas would pop into my head. And just like an idea that comes to you in the middle of the night, but when you get up in the morning you can’t remember what it was, I soon learned to write those ideas down. Some of those books I’ve since written.

  1. Why mysteries and suspense?
I was raised by a father with a strong sense of justice, which I also inherited. Mysteries and suspense usually lead to the bad guy/gal getting caught and the good guy/gal living a happily ever after. And while I know--and inherently we all know--that life doesn’t work that way except in Christ--and even then we may not see it in this life--there is something built into us by God to desire justice well-sprinkled with grace and mercy. Plus, few other genres allow for ax-murderers and stalkers--but more of that later.

  1. What is your process in coming up with ideas for books?
I sometimes start with a title. Seems strange, but the original title of my first book was Just the Fax, Ma’am because one of the elements in the book is a mysterious job offer Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, receives which turns into a threat when she turns down the offer.

Sometimes the book idea comes from a newspaper article, a comment I overhear--I’m big on eavesdropping--a picture, or a place. My second book, There was a Crooked Man, came from the ranch my pastor was thinking of buying and turning in a pastor’s retreat. I thought, “What a great place to set a book, except it would be a working ranch turning into a dude ranch.”

Sometimes I start with a character. My third book, Unbalanced, began because I wanted a child to enter the story. In the first book, Carly had thought she was pregnant and when she wasn’t, she didn’t know how to react to that. So I wanted to answer the cry of her heart and carry through that character arc.

Sometimes I start with a setting. My fourth book, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is set in the fictional town of Raven Valley, Arizona, and is patterned after the small town where my dad and step-mother, who I dearly loved, were married. Although they’ve gone on to be with the Lord, whenever I read that story, I feel them near.

  1. What one conference would you recommend?
The one conference I would recommend is the one that fits your genre and challenges you to strive for the next level in your writing career. And if you’re writing for readers who aren’t Christian, that might mean attending a secular conference. Go for it. Be salt and light to the world.

  1. How do you overcome a sagging middle (of a book)?
If you find yourself bored when you’re writing the middle of the book--or any part of the book, for that matter--most likely your reader will be bored, too. When that happens, I usually do one of two things: I introduce an ax-murderer or a stalker. Depending on the book, that might come in the form of a body or a physical attack, or a reflection in a window or a threatening note or evidence of someone being in the home. Use your imagination. Even a sagging romance can benefit from some excitement. Introduce a stalker.

  1. What’s your happiest time in the writing process?
I have two happy times: writing the opening line. And writing THE END.

 Leann's latest release is Five and Twenty Blackbirds From the cover:

Join Carly Turnquist as she accompanies husband Mike to his twenty-fifth college reunion in Arizona. However, a sleepy little town is about to wake up to its first murder in over a hundred years, and Carly's nose for a mystery is on high alert.


Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, released in the fall of 2015 Book 3, Unbalanced, released in January. Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is due in April, with more planned for later dates. If you like accountants or are an accountant, check out Counting the Days: a 21-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, and Donna has published a book of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. You can follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com and Donna at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com . All books are available at Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital.