Beginning to Write a Series—No Accounting for Murder

By Leeann Betts

Folks who know about these things would say that we need to start a series with a bang—and that’s how I approached writing No Accounting for Murder, the first in the By the Numbers series featuring Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant.

First, I came up with a compelling character—a nosy introvert with a head for numbers and for mysteries. Carly is specially trained to hunt down hidden assets, to ferret out missing money, and to ask the questions that get the answers. Forensic accountants often work for the IRS, for divorce attorneys, for private investigators, or, like Carly, for themselves, where they hire out to businesses and individuals who need her special expertise.

Maybe Carly became a forensic accountant because she was naturally inquisitive, or maybe that skill developed as a result of her coursework and experience. Either way, she can’t let a question go unanswered. Think of her as a cross between Columbo and Miss Marple about thirty years younger. She prefers sweats and hoodies to suits and heels. She works from her office, and she’s always up for a road trip.

To offset Carly’s jump-in-and-ask-questions-later personality, I paired her with a laid-back computer programmer husband. To have the heroine already married flies in the face of most cozy mysteries or detective stories, because opportunities for romance either have to be built within the marriage relationship, or are experienced by other characters. So far, that’s worked out well, as I’ve been able to illustrate to readers how characters can work and live together, and I introduce in the next book a romance which will carry through the series.

Since No Accounting for Murder’s release, Carly has embarked on seven more adventures, with the most recent, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing May 2018.  She’s visited a dude ranch in New Mexico and solved a decades-old murder. She’s witnessed a bank robbery in her hometown and watched her son get married. She’s attended her husband’s college reunion and escaped the mob. Carly has helped a friend keep her retirement funds and proved her husband innocent of murder. She helped another friend find stolen assets in Wyoming, then solved a murder on Cape Cod. In her latest adventure, Carly solves a murder at home that takes place during a lunar eclipse.

Every story has a ticking time bomb, lots of suspects, and a personal reason for Carly to get involved, all crucial elements for a successful cozy mystery. And since she is so nosy, you can expect to see a new release about every six months or so for years to come.

Question: Do you choose which book to read based on the title, the cover, or the back cover copy?
One randomly-drawn winner will receive a free ebook of No Accounting for Murder.

About No Accounting for Murder:
Most people think accountants are boring. Carly Turnquist is about to prove them wrong. Join Carly, a forensic accountant, as she gets involved with a mystery business that threatens her quiet East Coast town, embezzled money, a missing mayor, and several attempts on her life. Will she live long enough to reveal who the killer is?

About Leeann: 

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

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Leeann Betts said…
Thank you, Marilyn, for having me on your blog today!
I enjoyed reading this, thanks for stopping by.

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