Saturday, July 8, 2017

Paint Yourself Into a Book With Special Guest Leeann Betts

Today we sit down with author and storyteller Leeann Betts as she brings us inside her house and writing projects. Welcome, Leeann! Take it away.

Living in an old house provides lots of opportunity for devising plots, particularly when the task at hand is painting a room. As I slathered yet another coat of paint over the neon blue bedroom walls, I got to thinking about how painting and writing require similar processes.

Here is mine:
  1. When painting a room, the first step is to visualize what color you want on the walls: choose the genre, then the characters and setting. If your book is a romance, you want to choose your hero and heroine and an antagonist who will try to keep them apart. For a mystery, you will choose the problem, who did it, and then create a sleuth to find the solution. Setting includes the time period as well as geographical location. Understand your characters’ goal, motivation, and conflict, and make the goal worthy of the journey.
  2. The next step in painting a room is repairing the defects: come up with a plot line. Most often, you’ll find that the first thing you think of for a plot will be the easy point. To create a compelling story, you must think beyond that first idea, and ask more “And then what?” questions.  Fill in the holes in the plot. Don’t let your hero off the hook too easily.
  3. Unless you want your entire room the same color, you’ll likely tape off areas: In writing, your outline, synopsis, and elevator pitch will keep you on track. For seat-of-the-pants writers, you don’t have to write a ten-page outline. Even an elevator pitch, fifty words or less, can keep you on track. And for those who love to outline, the joy still emerges when a character says or does something you weren’t expecting.
  4. Finally, after all the preparation, now paint: Writing requires tools. Included in your toolkit will be something to write on; a notepad and pen; a space where you can write; some software, and patience. Set daily or weekly goals for your writing. Occasionally read over what you wrote the previous day and make a few changes. Keep your outline in front of you to keep you on track. Review your characters’ GMC to make sure your character is changing and moving toward their goals.

Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I can paint a room in a couple of hours, forgetting all the preparation and clean-up to make the job truly complete. Just as painting a room doesn’t begin and end with a single brush stroke, writing a book takes a lot of preparation, process, and finish. But it can be done. I am living proof of that. I’ve painted many rooms and written a number of books. You can too!

Readers, leave Leeann a comment to get your name in the drawing for this week's giveaway of a book by Crystal Barnes!


Leeann Betts writes 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 released 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 or follow Leeann at All books are available on in digital and print, and at in digital format.


  1. I enjoyed reading LeeAnn's tips and learning that she and Donna are the same person :-)

    1. Hi Connie: Thanks for stopping by. I bet you probably have an alter ego living inside you, too!

  2. Please come to my house with your paint brushes! Love the analogy.

    1. Hi Patricia: Thanks for the kind words. Do you have a story you want to paint yourself into?

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Melanie: Thanks for stopping by. Me, too -- about the old houses, that is!

  4. What a great comparison. Lots of preparation, time to complete and then the polishing to have a beautiful finish. I haven't painted a roomk for a while but always planning what my change would look like. Thank you for sharing, Leeann.

  5. Hi Marilyn; thanks for stopping by. I find that if I'm bored with a room, a fresh coat of paint changes my perspective. And if I'm bored with a book I'm writing? Well, the reader will be, too. So I need to liven it up some :)