Thursday, April 28, 2016

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Leeann Betts

Meet Author Leeann Betts!

Some authors have so many books to write, they need an alter ego to help them out. Donna Schlacter is one of those folks. She writes historical suspense as Donna Schlacter, and contemporary suspense as Leeann Betts. Leeann recently released a new novel, so I sat down with her to get the scoop:

LM: You write both historical and contemporary suspense. Do you have a preference?

LB: As my real life persona, Donna Schlachter, I love both. As Leeann Betts, well, I’m very contemporary even though I’m getting up in years. I like to write about contemporary characters who need another chance from our second. . . and third. . . and fourth-chance God. Donna likes writing history because she loves researching history. Me not so much.

LM: You use a pen name for your contemporary fiction? Was that your idea or your agent's? How did you select the name?

LB: It was actually my first agent’s idea. She felt that Schlachter was too far down in the alphabet, and that I needed a name closer to the front. Lee is my husband’s middle name, Ann is his mother’s name, and Betts was my mom’s nickname in nursing school.

LM: Your book "No accounting for Murder" is about a forensic accountant. How much research was required for you to learn about that field?

LB: I--or rather Donna--is an accountant by training. She loves doing audits, and I love asking the What If? Questions. I researched types of accountants when I was coming up with my character, and a forensic accountant uncovers hidden assets such as money and offshore bank accounts, and often testifies in court cases such as divorce and estate issues.

LM: Do you have any unusual research incidents?

LB: So the opening scene for There Was a Crooked Man, the second book in the series, takes place on an airplane. Carly sees what looks like a suspicious death that an equally suspicious-looking doctor on board claims is natural causes. I had no clue how that would be handled on a real airplane, particularly post-9-11. So one day I was in an airport, between flights, and I saw a man in a flight officer’s uniform eating at the next table. I went over, introduced myself, gave him my writer’s business card, and asked, “If someone died on your plane, what is the protocol?” He said he wasn’t sure and that I should call the airline public relations office. As I turned to leave, he pulled out his cell phone. I headed for my gate, and when I turned around, there were two police officers following me. Really. When I walked, they walked. When I stopped, they stopped. I was already through security, so I guess they didn’t see any immediate risk. But they followed me all the way to the gate. That was nerve-wracking!

LM: Where do you get your ideas for stories?

LB: I am fairly observant, and I have good hearing, so I listen in on people’s conversations. I notice oddities, such as if someone goes into a restroom wearing a jacket and comes out without it. That gets me to thinking about disguises. I also read the newspaper from cover to cover, and find ideas in anything from “This day in history” to obituaries. Plus I like to wander in cemeteries and take pictures of peculiar headstones.

LM: I love cemeteries too! Are any of your characters based on real people?

LB: Okay, confession time. Carly is a lot like me. Her husband Mike is a lot like my husband. As for the rest, most are bits and pieces of people I know or have met.

LM: Age-old question for writers: are you a panster or a plotter?  

LB: I am a plotter. I write down 2 to 3 sentences about every chapter to keep me on track. And no, it’s not boring. I still allow my characters to say or do something I wasn’t expecting. They might even take the story in a different direction. Just like when I travel, I might miss an exit or see something else I want to do along the way. Just like when I travel, I have my hotel reservation already made, so I know where I’m going to be at the end, and I have some things selected to do along the way (my major plot points), but I’ve been known to take a 100-mile detour because I saw a sign that said, “point of interest.”

LM: Besides writing, what are your other passions?

LB: My Jesus, my husband, my family, and an international ministry we’re involved in that reaches the lost for Christ. I like to read, watch police procedural and forensics programs, and take part in forensics stuff whenever I can.

LM: Sounds very interesting! What's your next project?

LB: There is rarely a clear dividing line between my current and my next project because it seems I’m always working on several things at once. I am editing several novels on a professional basis, editing one of my own, writing a series of Christian living books that will come out about one every six to eight weeks, and writing a novella for a traditional publisher.

LM: What else should people know about you?

LB: I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe that writers write. There is a difference between being a writer and wanting to be a writer. You can go to all the conferences you want, but if you never sit down when the writing is tough and push through, you aren’t really a writer. Just saying.

Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Leeann! You are one busy lady. 

Learn more about Leeann and Donna on their website:

NEW RELEASE: Second Chances and Second Cups – sweet stories about a second-chance God – available on in print and digital, and on Smashwords in digital

WRITING AS LEEANN BETTS: Counting the Days-a 31-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. No Accounting for Murder – book 1 in the By the Numbers series, featuring Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant. Carly has a nose for mystery that gets her into trouble. Book 2, There was a Crooked Man, released in Novembr 2015, Book 3, Unbalanced, released January 2016, 5 and 20 Blackbirds is due out April 2016, with more to follow.

WRITING WITH LEEANN BETTS: Writing Nuggets of Gold – a compilation of short essays on writing meant to inspire and educate. Released November 2015


  1. Hi Linda: Thanks for the chance to visit with your readers.

  2. Thanks for visiting. It was fun getting to know you.