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Today’s guest on Wednesday Writers is Leeann Betts. She’s going to be talking about how she chose the occupation of the heroine of her cozy mystery A Deadly Dissolution. Leeann is also giving away a copy of  Deadly Dissolution. Read on to discover how to enter and get a sneak peek at the book. And now it’s time to welcome Leeann!

 

Choosing a Compelling Occupation

By Leeann Betts

When I sat down 15 years ago to see if I had one book in me, I had no clue where to start.

And now, all this time and more than 30 books later, every time I face the blank page, it’s the same. Where to start?

I’m an avid reader of mysteries, particularly what is now known as cozy mysteries, but at the time were simply called Agatha Christie-like mysteries. If you mentioned the name “Jessica Fletcher”, and said your books were like that TV show, everybody knew exactly what you meant. Amateur sleuth, small town settings that eventually expanded into New York City and major locations around the world, and a personal reason to solve the crime—usually a friend or relative was the victim or the suspect.

That was my basis. But I wanted a main character more like—well, like me. I didn’t have any idea how a teacher thought—Jessica. Or an older woman in a hamlet in England—Miss Marple. Or a retired detective from Belgium—Hercule Poirot.

I needed someone I could relate to. That hadn’t been done to death. No pun intended.

So I went to the library, and started strolling through the children’s section on occupation. And the word Forensic jumped out at me. CSI and NCIS were hot shows at the time, so I picked it up. And that’s where I learned about Forensic Accounting. In the days when I was in college and in the business workforce, we called those guys the Auditors or the Inspectors. They came in and went through all our work to make certain we were doing it correctly. To make certain nobody was embezzling funds. To ascertain clients’ trust funds were secure.

Which opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. Situations involving money are all over the news. Hardly a day goes by but we hear of someone stealing from a church, a business, a Girl Scout troop. And if you’re anything like me, I wonder how they managed it. How did they go undetected for so many years? What did they use the money for? Was it a one-time thing, they put it back, and hoped nobody would notice? (No Accounting for Murder). Or was it an ongoing theft to line their pockets? (There Was A Crooked Man). Perhaps gambling or other bad choices were involved. (Unbalanced) Maybe organized crime is behind the problem? (Five and Twenty Blackbirds) Identity theft? (Broke, Busted, and Disgusted) Maybe a divorce? (Hidden Assets) Or even counterfeiting? (Petty Cash) And what about using a natural event, like a lunar eclipse, as the inciting incident (A Deadly Dissolution).

Being a forensic accountant requires specialized training, and involves ferreting out financial information, understanding its implications, and applying that understanding to the situation. It also means preparing reports, spilling the beans on somebody, and testifying in court.

And while a lot of people think accountants are boring, Carly Turnquist is out to prove them wrong.

Just in case you think forensic accounting can’t be an exciting or important job, just remember: Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion by the 1930’s equivalent of a forensic accountant.

Question: When reading a series, do you start at the beginning, or do you like to mix them up?

One randomly-drawn reader will receive a free ebook of A Deadly Dissolution. To enter the drawing leave a comment. The winner will be randomly chosen from the blog commenters on July 3. By leaving a comment, you are agreeing to the use of your email to contact the winner for delivery of the prize.

And here’s a sneak peek at the book.

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A Deadly Dissolution

By Leeann Betts

The door to the mayor’s office opened, and a woman dressed primly in a long sleeved sweater, pencil-line skirt, and low-heeled pumps exited, files in her arm.

Carly smiled and dipped her head. “Hi, Evie.”

A flush ran up the middle-aged secretary’s neck and cheeks, complementing her dark hair. “Carly. He’s ready. Go right on in.”

So unlike Mayor Wells’s bulldog-like gatekeeper, Miss Cook, who retired after the unfortunate incidents involving a nudist colony and missing money.

Carly nodded and waved, then entered the office. The room had been repainted and updated in the months since the election, and now boasted a cheery shade of buttery yellow on the walls, offset with a brilliant white on the ceiling and trim. A potted plant of daisies picked up the palette, lending a feeling of being in a field on a warm summer’s day.

A happy place.

The door leading to Mayor Akerman’s office stood open, and she crossed the room, her shoes tapping on the refinished hardwood floors. She caught a glimpse of the mayor, paused and rapped, entering when he waved her in.

Walter Akerman sat behind his desk, papers spread out. Building plans of some sort. He rolled the documents and set them to one side, then stood and offered his hand. “Thanks for coming so quickly, Carly.”

She returned the shake. “You caught me at a good time. Just finished a project for a client. And you said it was important.”

He gestured to two wingback chairs set around a low coffee table. “Let’s sit here. I always feel like I’ve been called to the principal’s office when somebody sits across the desk from me.”

She chuckled then sat. Despite her misgivings about his photo in the hallway, she was going to like this man. “Been there, done it.”

“I bet you have.” He lifted a coffee pot and raised a brow in question, to which she nodded.

“Let’s settle in for a minute. We haven’t had a chance to get to know each other.”

“I’d like that.” She had nothing better to do right now. She sipped her coffee. Delicious. Better coffee? Or perhaps the china cup and saucer. She’d need to be careful not to break it. Or spill it on herself. “Are you settling in to the job?”

He glanced around the office. “Think so. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not more nervous about the whole thing. Maybe it’s because I don’t know enough to be worried.”

Yes, she was definitely going to like him. “Been there, done it.”

“How about you?” He peered at her over the rim of his cup. “You’re not a native, are you?”

“No. Moved here when I married Mike almost fifteen years ago. Most people accept that I’m here to stay. Unless if I try to get involved in important things like choosing what color to paint the library. Then I’m shunned like Typhoid Mary.”

Folks in Bear Cove were a funny lot. Despite solving multiple murders, saving people’s lives, revealing nefarious plots to embezzle or steal, those born and raised in the town still held her at arm’s length. Except for a few compassionate souls, like Mrs. Olsen at the pharmacy, or Jacob

Roy at the garage.

The mayor set his cup on the table. “Understood. Thankfully I’m at least a third generation native.”

“If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have won the election.”

“Right. The last time, I ran against a man related to an original town father. Nobody stood a chance there.”

“I’ve heard good things from folks.” That was true. She wouldn’t offer up empty flattery—not even to get a town contract. “I think the town needs some peace and quiet. After all that’s happened in the last few years.”

“Which is why I wanted to use somebody local to look at the town’s financial records. If I brought in a big firm from outside, word would be around town in about two minutes.”

She pulled out her notebook and pen. “What’s the problem?”

“Money is being moved around to various unconnected accounts, including assets and liabilities, from expenses and income. With no obvious reason. No explanation other than a notation about correcting a previous error. A couple of those I can understand, but this is dozens of them.”

“Has something changed in the accounting methods used by the town?”

“Such as?”

She glanced up from her notes. “Have you changed your accounting method from cash to accrual? Or vice versa? Or did the fiscal year end change?”

He shook his head. “Nothing like that. We’ve used the same accounting firm for years. I checked with them. They don’t know anything about it. All of the entries happened in the last six months or so.”

“Since your election.”

“Right.”

“And you think?”

“I think somebody is stealing from the town, and trying to make it look like I’m involved.”

 

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Want to read more? You can find A Deadly Dissolution at Amazon and Smashwords

 

About the Author:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with number 8, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing in 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 two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More 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, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.

You can also find Leeann on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV 

 

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