Knowing the Author

Really getting to know someone is vital in any relationship. This includes our relationship with God. When we read His Word, we get to know Him and learn about His character, His love for us, and what He hates. His Word may be made up of many different accounts of different people, but it shows us just Who God is, that He’s real. Leeann Betts shares with us how this knowledge helped shape her online presence and writing. Read on…

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Knowing the Author
by Leeann Betts

I’ve recently been revamping my social media, mainly because now I have to do it myself. But this is a good thing, because I’d created a monster that got out of control.

When I sat down and looked at my social media plan, which really was “if it’s not working, do more,” I realized something very important: I’d completely left God out of my plan. (Thank you, wise husband, for pointing this out to me).

As I prayed about this, a scripture verse came to mind: “The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl” (Proverbs 25:11, NCV).

bible-839093_640I thought about that for a while, and the Lord spoke to my heart: “When you think of Me as Author, what do you want to know about Me?”

The answer was easy: I wanted to know God had written the Bible for me. That if nobody else read it, it was still worth writing. I wanted to know that I could learn about God through His book. And that when I meet Him in person, He will be exactly how I pictured Him from His book.

I saw where God was going with this: readers want to know that the author of the book they’re reading is real, that the author cares about them as an individual, not just as a cash cow. They want to believe they can get to know me through my books, and that if they meet me at a party and talk to me, they’ll say, “You are exactly how I thought you’d be.”

When we write authentically, our readers know more about who we are because we are in some of our characters through their worldviews, beliefs, and actions.

When we write authentically, we are writing with one single reader in mind. Our books should point the reader to God first, and then hopefully our stories solve a problem, fill a need, or encourage and entertain. And a really great book, like the one God wrote for you, will do all of these things.

So when readers read my books, I hope they learn that I love numbers almost to theread-515531_640 exclusion of everything else; that I trust numbers more than people because numbers never change; that I don’t much like to exercise; and that I strive to be a submissive wife to my husband but I still struggle with that.

And maybe they’ll also see that I wish I were more like Carly: quicker to jump in to help; quick on the comebacks; and not take myself so seriously.

Because really, in some way, even if it’s below the surface, the stories we write should contain some of ourselves.

God’s book did.

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aaaUnbalanced Final with Custom GreenJoin Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, who is in the midst of planning her son’s wedding when she sees a bank robbery nobody else admits seeing. When the news hits the national stations, her credibility is called into question. Then her husband’s long-lost brother shows up, but disappears soon after, leaving behind his young son. Carly is set to testify in a huge trial, but if she cannot be believed, she cannot give evidence. Can she salvage her tattered career—and her reputation—before someone tries to silence her forever?

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IMG_6534 Juggling the books - smallerLeeann 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 and 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.

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Let’s talk about it: Even if you’re not a writer, Leeann has some very wise words here. When you’re writing or on social media, are you allowing others to meet and know the real you? How does the example God gave us in His Word guide you into being more authentic?Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Before you go, if you’re local, I’d love to invite you to join me at the Oakview Barnes &
Noble
 today from 1-4pm where I’ll be signing books. Pop by to say hi and grab a mocha at the store cafe!

If you live in Lincoln, I’ll be in your area next Saturday at the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble, signing books from 2-3pm. I’d love to see you there!

And if you’re within driving distance, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

My Father’s Father

Tough choices can be painful. More so when a family covers those choices up. What happens when those secrets are found out? And how can perceptions of people change when you start to learn more, and even understand? Read Donna’s story to see what it was like for her.

My Father’s Father by Donna Schlachter

I learned that my grandfather was, in fact, my great-grandfather, and that my truth-257160_640grandmother, who had just passed away, wasn’t related to me by blood at all. And that my aunt was actually my grandmother.

My father learned when he was thirteen years old that the woman he knew as his sister was actually his birth mother.

The only reason my father found out was because his “father’s” brother had died, and his son, my father’s cousin, was going through some papers, and saw the birth certificate which my grandfather asked him to keep in a safe.

My father was a very pragmatic man. He couldn’t change the circumstances, so he decided he’d just carry on. In fact, he never told the man he called Dad that he knew the truth of his birth until about twenty years later, and he never discussed the matter with the woman he called Mom, who was actually his father’s second wife, the first having died.

The idea for a book came from my father’s idea that although the story isn’t unique—many children are born out of wedlock and adopted by family—he felt that the time and the setting were. Newfoundland, in eastern Canada, during the 1930s and 1940s.

I agreed, and I wrote a “family only” version of the story, using the real names of the people involved. I spent hours recording my father as he told his story, which included his birth mother’s story, his growing-up years, and ultimately finding his birth family.

I did a lot of research into the location and the time, including connecting with the town historian, who helped fill in the gaps. We also used the journals and cashbooks kept by my grandfather in the course of his business, a grocery and dry goods store in this same town. Wonderful notations such as “air ship landed on the ice last night” sparked visions of dirigibles crash-landing. However, when I checked into it, it was a small airplane that landed quite safely because of weather in the destination city.

Another notation, “gave to garden party committee” reminded me of those grand social occasions where everybody gathered to drink tea, play lawn games, and buy baked goods and knitted goods to raise funds for one thing or another.

There were more somber notes: “Rendell Walsh missing in woods” and then three days later, “Found Rendell. Funeral tomorrow.”

I worked my way through the source documents and the oral history, filling in the blanks women-740625_640when memory or information failed. I cried over several chapters, including the one where my father’s birth mother mourned her own mother’s passing; when she learned she was pregnant and the father nowhere to be found; and when she handed the child over to the birth father’s family and said, “Here. This belongs to Clarence.”

Through the process, I learned more about this glamorous aunt whose lifestyle I’d always admired. When I was only about eight, I realized the family treated her life a black sheep, and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was her three marriages and three divorces. Perhaps because she was a career woman who moved up the corporate ladder.

Only now do I understand that perhaps the circumstances of her childhood and pregnancy caused her to make these choices.

I also came to understand more about my father and his way of thinking. The man was a genius, even as a boy of nine doing experiments in electricity, chemistry, and physics that would astound most college students today, self-taught, in the attic of the family home.

But one real eye-opener for me was seeing his birth father from a different angle. During the writing of the story, I saw him as a man who used my father’s birth mother, then dumped her for a woman with more family influence and money. The man who never acknowledged my father, even though he knew for certain who my father was, and worked in the same building with him for years, even riding in the same elevator and never making eye contact.

But once the book was published, my father’s half-siblings started talking about their father, Clarence. He was a loving man, faithful to his wife, making sure his children had the best education money could buy.

This was not the man I’d imagined.

In fact, he was just like my father.

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IMG_6534  Juggling the books -midsizeDonna Schlachter pens historical suspense while her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense. Donna’s recent releases include Nuggets of Writing Gold and a collection of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. She plans to release her father’s story in the market version, with names changed to protect the guilty, in the Fall of 2016. Her books and her pen name’s books are available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. You can follow Donna at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com.

Let’s talk about this. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross examination begins. There’s always, always, always two sides to a story. But when we’re hurt or someone we love’s been hurt, it’s hard to see the other side. It’s hard to have the strength and courage to even look. That’s where prayer comes in. The next time you hear a scandalous story, or maybe simply a nugget of gossip, pause to pray. Ask God to show the situation or person through His eyes. You may be surprised by what He reveals.

Can you relate to Donna’s story, and if so, how? Share your thoughts in the comments below.