Guest Author Leeann Betts – Choosing a Setting

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today we welcome Leeann Betts to Word Sharpeners. Leeann Betts contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. 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. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.

Choosing a Setting

By Leeann Betts

With so many great places to set a book, how do authors go about selecting that perfect location that is not merely a backdrop to the plot but actually becomes an integral character?

For me, I go about this two ways: I either know the story and choose the setting based on what’s going to happen in the story; or I know the location and want to set a good story there.

For example, in my first book, No Accounting for Murder, since I’m familiar with small East Coast towns (I lived in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia before emigrating to the US), and because the culture in a small East Coast town is completely different than a city, I knew I wanted to set a story in such a place. That culture not only defines what happens in the story, it also defines the characters.

However, when it came to the setting for the next book, There was a Crooked Man, this was borne because my pastor was contemplating buying a property in New Mexico and turning it into a retreat center for pastors.

Having my main character, Carly Turnquist, start out in her town of Bear Cove, Maine, then travel to New Mexico meant I wanted the next book to be set back in Bear Cove, which is why Unbalanced was set around not only that small-town lifestyle and mindset, but also the larger regional city which tends to govern and sometimes bully the smaller towns.

And then we come to Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, which releases April 30th. In this adventure, Carly and husband Mike visit the area where my dad and step-mother were married. While I prefer setting my books in fictional towns, Raven Valley is fashioned after the town of Cave Creek, Arizona. Both my father and step-mother are now with the Lord, so when I read this story, I feel their presence and influence on my life, for which I am grateful.

Broke, Busted, and Disgusted was set back in Bear Cove, but this time I branched out a little into the surrounding countryside, which was fun. I love creating new worlds, even though I based it on what I knew about Maine.

And my most recent release, Hidden Assets, which comes out June 30th, was set at a B&B in eastern Wyoming and a small town in western Nebraska. We had been there recently, and I love the area, which is why I chose it. We are also choosing to stay at B&B’s booked through an online source because they are generally cheaper and nicer than motels, plus we get to meet some interesting people. One time, we met a man bicycling from Anchorage Alaska to Ohio for his 50th high school reunion. I think I’ll be putting him in a book soon.

Please leave a comment about connections you have with particular settings, whether in books you’ve written or books you’ve read.

Hidden Assets

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?

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