Bio: Donna lives in
husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical
suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of
Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under
her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian
Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime, facilitates a local critique group, and
teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of
fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves
history and research and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be
represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
Welcome back, Leeann. Tell us about your salvation experience.
I came to Christ when I was about 12. I was attending a Pentecostal school and went forward in an altar call in assembly. And although I had great examples in my friends, I had no real instruction about how to act. I fell away within a few years and lived a backslidden life for about 25 years. When I finally came to the end of myself, I turned back to what I’d been raised in, and returned to church, recommitting my life to Christ shortly after, and receiving adult baptism a year later. I have truly seen how God preserved my life in those 25 years, and honestly, I should be dead or in prison. I think it’s through this that I’ve experienced our second . . . and third . . . and fourth chance God, which is why I write stories that reflect characters much like myself.
You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
I would invite Agatha Christie because she’s my hero. I’d invite Brandilyn Collins because I love her sense of humor. Also on my guest list would be Lillian Jackson Braun because of her great Cat Who series, and Max Lucado because I love the way he peels open scripture so we can see it a different way.
Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
My speaking ministry consists of speaking to writers and authors about various elements of the writing life, and to writer-wannabe’s because I believe everybody has at least one book in them.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I once carried a dog out of my seventh-grade classroom, down the hall and out the door. What I didn’t know what his hind leg hooked in my uniform skirt, lifting it up over my hip, which meant the entire class—who gathered at the door to watch me take this dog out—saw my pantyhose-clad backside. Thankfully I had on pantyhose.
People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
“What’s stopping you?” They’d list their excuses, and I’d say, “No, really, what’s stopping you?” Most people are afraid to start because they don’t want to do a single thing badly. We need to encourage them to get past that and just write the story to prove to themselves they can. The cemetery is full of unfulfilled dreams. Let’s not add to them.
Tell us about the featured book.
Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jetsetter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.
Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets, and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.
Can Grace and Luke solve the clues and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Grace Bellows jammed the single sheet of paper back into its envelope for the umpteenth time in the past hour. Did she really want to go any further with this project? No siree. She wanted a quiet life, a family, stability. Not some bizarre scavenger hunt directed by her quirky grandmother.
And for sure not a week in freezing cold
Colorado over Christmas break.
Not for Grace Bellows.
She wanted a beach, sand and surf, cute guys. A chance to strut her stuff.
The linen notepaper called to her once more. Grace pictured her grandmother sitting at her antique roll top desk, scribbling out the poem. Sunlight filtered through the window, kissing her head of white hair, creating the impression of a halo.
But Grammie was no angel.
Grace sighed. At first read, the poem made little sense. Yet the older woman took the trouble to pen the note and ditty three days before she died. Three weeks ago yesterday, to be exact. Grace dropped the paper onto the sofa cushion. Had Grammie known her days were so few? She hadn’t said anything. She didn’t suggest Grace visit. She seemed satisfied with the weekly phone calls from college. No premonitions about the afterlife, whatever that was.
As much as she wanted to ignore the poem and focus on her studies, something gnawed at Grace until she unfolded the paper. The scrawling cursive brought to mind birthday cards and gift tags from years past.
Take this trip and you will see,
How much fun this hunt can be.
A garden full of Christmas trees
One special bough, think of the seas.
What at first may seem lost,
Can be found, but it will cost.
Collect your prize and you will find
A precious gift of a different kind.
What the—Grammie was serious about this being a scavenger hunt, just like when Grace was a kid. Didn’t matter where they were, Grammie hid notes and clues and presents for Grace to find.
“Gracie,” she’d say, “the best gifts are hidden until we’re ready to go looking for them. Just like Jesus.”
Interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.
Thank You, Leeann, for sharing this new book with me and my blog readers. I’m eager to find out what the scavenger hunt is all about. Hope my copy arrives soon.
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