Donna Schlachter:aka Leeann Betts

Donna Schlachter

A book with a cowboy on the cover. Historical.

That’s what the editor wanted. Did I have such a story, she wanted to know.

No. Well, not really. But I could.

After all, I’m a writer. I could come up with an idea, couldn’t I?

Let’s see. Set it in Colorado. In the 1880s. Do some online research. What happened in Colorado in that time? A drought in the southwestern part of the state. For several years prior, in fact. Gold mining. Silver mining.

Wait a minute. Cowboys care about water. And silver mining? Who knew.

So I was off and running on these two topics. Until I ran out of information. And knew this was the story I wanted to write.

But who was my heroine? I wanted feisty. Sparks. Problems. Romantic tension. Danger.

Bring in somebody totally unsuited for either lifestyle. She couldn’t cook. Didn’t know how to ride a horse or rope a calf. Hadn’t a clue how difficult and dangerous silver mining could be.

But why was she there? And where was this idea about a mock marriage coming from? How to initiate that?

double jeopardy

Double Jeopardy

Before you knew it, I had the plot for Double Jeopardy. The tagline is: Mining, murder—and a mock marriage? I sent it to my agent who sent it to the publisher.

Who promptly sent it to another imprint under the same company because she felt it would be a better fit. And guess what? No cowboy on the cover after all!

But they captured the essence of Becky, my feisty yet spunky heroine.

Seems a fine trade-off.


About Donna Schlachter:

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests.




My recent retirement prompted a personal move from Illinois to my home state of Wisconsin—which meant my awesome nine-year-old quarter horse mare and I also moved to a new barn and horse trainer. All of these changes resulted in prepping, practicing, and praying for success on a brand-new horse show circuit this year. We agreed to an aggressive schedule of shows that would take us from Wisconsin to Oklahoma City for our first event; onto Las Vegas for our second show—The Silver Dollar Circuit—and then to Scottsdale, AZ for our final event, the Sun Circuit. This was my first series of horse shows with my new trainer and new barn mates.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

In preparation for our training and showing debut, my friends and family lit candles for the poor guy and wished him all the best from afar. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mare, and everything about the showing process, and I appreciate and respect my trainer—but he hadn’t yet experienced me at a horse show. And by that, I mean he hadn’t seen me after too many late nights and early mornings in a row, jacked up on extra strength Excedrin and French Roast coffee, limping around the show pen (me, not my horse) waiting for my next event.

Willie Nelson lyrics rang through my mind as I packed up Cosmo, my 2016 RV built by Pleasure Way—a Canadian company making great use of the Mercedes Sprinter to create a small but mighty road warrior. With nearly 4,000 miles and six weeks to cover together, every aspect of packing was carefully considered. Mostly. Until that critical 24-hour window where a few things may have slipped past me. And definitely around that 10 hours to go mark when I may have accidently thrown in two coffee makers but not one pair of spurs. Oops.

The interesting antics and chance encounters with strangers falling into and out of my life on this journey are already making their way into my latest novel. As I write tonight, melancholy tunes from a country western band staged across the parking lot seep into my little camper, spurring me to write on.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Where do you get your ideas?

We writers know, love, and sometimes hate this age-old question.

My Jo Oliver thriller series started with a desire to write compelling stories of triumph, choice, and the power of emergent faith and community. Each story was fueled by a strong character, a plot idea, or an idea of what justice might look like via a twisty series of events. And while I am playing around with my next installment, I find myself distracted by new dreams.

For the past year or so, I’ve been toying with a new story that I finally had to start writing. This idea came to me in my sleep. Literally. I dreamt of my protagonist and how she meets her man— a paunchy insurance salesman with a deep alternative history steeped in international espionage. I loved the scene that first appeared to me in that memorable dream and ignored it soundly for about a year.

Yet the dreams returned. At night. While napping on planes. And once, while driving, an idea presented itself so strongly, I had to pull off the road into a highway oasis and furiously stab it all down on fast-food restaurant napkins. That chapter involved a kitchen island sex scene, with my 60-something arthritic protagonist secretly desiring to be ravished by her man on her granite counter—while fearing the possibility of breaking a hip with equal ferocity.

I’m thoroughly enjoying creating a life of unexpected purpose and adventure for two recently retired individuals who find themselves at the same banquet table at a hotel facing the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stuff happens—and it is stirring my writer’s heart to share their story, giving me that excited I can’t wait to get to my keyboard to see what happens next kind of feeling.

Rest assured, as the story reveals itself, I’ll share more with you!

Enjoy today,


Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday, CAN Family!

 I’m writing to you from deep within the Iowa farm country. It’s chilly, but a small price to pay while on my way to ride my horse this morning. To warm the heart and soul, I’m thrilled to share an interview with professional coach, author,  speaker and teacher Linda Goldfarb. A favorite on the AWSA and CAN circuits, and serving as Regional Group Director for CAN, Linda blesses others with her thriving coaching practice. I caught up with her today and look forward to sharing the wisdom with you. 



Thank you for joining us today, Linda! Let’s start out learning about some of your passions. What would you like to share with us about the passions of your heart?

 First, I must say thank you for making passion plural. As much as I am a multifaceted daughter-of-the King, my passions are equally numerous. I will say the root of all my passions stems from my love for God’s truth. I’m known for being a Truth-talker by choice.

I’m passionate about my spirituality as I seek God’s Word daily to know more about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and how I can walk out His best for me.

I’m passionate about my family and the role I play in the lives of my four adult children, my grandchildren, and my,(he really is) amazing husband, Sam.

I’m passionate about my health and being a good steward of my body. My goal is not perfection. My goal is to be the healthiest me I can be in the time God has given me here on earth.

I’m passionate about helping my coaching clients grow from strength to strength to experience God’s best life.

I’m passionate about helping others discover more about their God-given personalities.

In addition to serving as the CAN Regional Group Director, where else do you volunteer in your spare time?  Spare time? What’s that? LOLO(Loving Our Lord Out-loud) I’m blessed to have a balanced life – though it hasn’t always been that way.(I’ll leave for for another time.) As far as volunteering—I’ve had the pleasure of serving in multiple capacities in my local church as the women’s ministry director, parenting ministry director, and more. I’ve traveled on mission trips with the youth and adults. I’m honored to volunteer with the San Antonio Marriage Initiative, speaking on parenting, marriage, and personalities across the city at local YMCA facilities. I also mentor writers, speakers, and parents on a regular basis, outside of my coaching clients. Whew!!

Linda Goldfarb

Linda Goldfarb

How do you use this experience in your writing? Hmmm, good question. God has used every experience I’ve walked through in my writing and speaking. No wasted pain, no wasted relationships, no wasted time.

What short, humorous thing would your readers want to know about you or your writing life? I am a pantser. I write in spurts and pray all the dots connect when I’m finished. I talk to my dogs while I write, sharing a thought or two when I get stuck. Their usual response is to wag their tails, lick my face, and lay back down. I take this as affirmation—I’m doing a good job so far!

Do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event? There’s one memorable moment coming to mind. I was the keynote speaker at a ladies retreat in the piney woods of east Texas. Our event took place on a lake and the room we were in had floor to ceiling windows facing out to a deck directly on the water. This one evening, I was sharing on the power of the Holy Spirit in us. As the full-moon cast its glow across the lake it spotlighted a large opossum on the deck who made his presence known by standing up against the window and scratching the glass. Mind you, I was closing out the talk and we were at a pivotal point in the message. The last thing the group needed was a distraction. In that instant the power of the Spirit showed up in a great way. Without hesitating I said, “There are many of us here today who shut down as though playing dead when we are faced with unfamiliar obstacles in our lives. (I threw my shoe at the window, the opossum fell backwards with his feet perfectly still in the air I went on) But, unlike that opossum who has been stopped in his tracks, we have the Holy Spirit who will make a way when there seems to be no way. Let’s pray.” There were many of the women who cornered me to ask how I planned that so perfectly. I replied with a smile, “All things are possible with God.”

Did you find a fascinating fact/story while doing research for your book? The book, Loving the ME God Sees, is about embracing relational transparency for women and it is based on the book of James. For me, I was fascinated by the way God moved me to put pen to paper. It wasn’t with a still small voice, He used a 2×4!

It began on a Monday morning in September of 2009 with my usual routine of getting up early before the rest of the family. Positioning myself on the couch in our sunroom, I read God’s word and contemplated its Truth, current relevance, and finally how I was to apply it to my daily life. This one morning everything was going along as usual when I felt a specific prompting in my heart, “I want you to write a Bible study.” Believe it or not, I actually looked around the room.

Once again an inaudible voice clearly said, “I want you to write a Bible study.”

I chuckled out loud, “You have got to be kidding! There is no way I could write a Bible study. I speak; I don’t write. Well, okay I write articles and How-to Books maybe, but not Bible studies. And besides, I’m not what anyone would consider a Bible scholar.”

I breathed in a deep sigh and quietly justified my feelings, I think there’s been a mistake. With that, I went on about my day refusing to acknowledge a “whisper” as Bill Hybels calls it, from my Father—the struggle was on.

Over the course of two months, God’s whisper remained a constant companion during my quiet time as did my refusal to consider it. Finally on a Friday morning early in November 2009, I’d had enough. His whisper was not going away.

“Fine, if You really want me to write this study, I need to know it’s of You and not just a whim I’m dreaming up. So, today I am claiming the wisdom You say You want to give me according to James 1:5 and I am believing this day You will make it clear if I am to begin writing a Bible study.” With that, I closed my Bible and walked into the rest of my day.

Late that afternoon, I was meeting with some friends of mine from church. When I arrived at our get together, Brenda Blanchard (a dear friend and mighty prayer warrior) walked up to me in her usual sensitive and caring way and said, “Linda, you know I pray for you everyday, right? Well, this morning during my quiet time, God said you were writing a Bible study. What’s it about?”

After a moment of standing there dazed by her pronouncement, I looked up towards the sky, looked back at Brenda and sputtered, “What did you say?”

We laughed together in amazement when I explained the last couple months and my refusal to obey God and His persistence to not let me go about business as usual. The rest as they say is—this story of Loving the ME God Sees. Is God good or what?

What a wonderful story, Linda! Thank you for sharing your heart and your stories with us today!

Linda Goldfarb is a bold communicator who’s passionate about personalities. Her frequently quoted mantra, “transparency transforms” is most definitely experienced by her readers, audiences, and clients. This Powerful-Popular personality is an award-winning author, international speaker, certified personality consultant, professional actress, audiobook narrator, and board-certified Christian life coach. When Linda is not performing, speaking, podcasting, or equipping her clients, you’ll find her sipping frothed coffee and photographing nature from odd angles while she and her hubby, Sam, play golf and hike their way across the USA

Connect with me on Facebook and follow my Tweets.



Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday, CAN Family!

 From the freezy flatlands of Illinois, I come bearing a fascinating tale from bestselling author, award-winning journalist, media professional, speaker and teacher Ginny McCabe. While the retired school superintendent in me bristled just a bit when I read about the award-winning journalist part—making her a natural nemesis in my past life—I’m thrilled to say she’s the real deal and the kind of writer you’d love to learn from. So put down your fears, pick up your beverage of choice, and enjoy the read!



Thank you for joining us, Ginny! Let’s start with what drives you from the inside out. What are your passions?

Award-winning Writer, Ginny McCabe

I love writing and I enjoy being able to share stories with others through writing. Writing has provided a platform for me to tell all kinds of stories. I have had the chance to meet and talk to people from all walks of life. I’ve been able to learn so much, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to write thousands and thousands of stories over the course of my career. Writing has also taken me to many places I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience if I wasn’t an author and a writer. I spend a lot of time writing, researching and interviewing. I love every aspect of writing. Encouraging and inspiring others about writing, publishing, media, and being an author is also a top priority for me through avenues like speaking and teaching. A few of my hobbies when I’m not writing include photography, live music and theater, movies and shopping.

Sounds fabulous! Where are some of the places your writing has taken you?

Based on my own experience, it’s taken years to become an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and writer. I’ve worked extremely hard and been very persistent. I continue to set goals for myself and I have always believed in my dreams. My faith has also been a tremendous, driving factor. I love reflecting back on all the different aspects of my writing life and spiritual journey. God has been at work every step of the way, through all of my experiences, and He has allowed me to use my gifts and talents for His glory. I pray that He continues to guide my steps and open doors for me. This past semester, I taught Newspaper and Introduction to Communications classes to undergraduate students at Cincinnati Christian University. I loved being able to teach young writers new skills, and it also gave me a chance to share my own experiences about writing. Other recent career highlights I’ve been excited about include being named “Freelancer of the Year” in 2018 for my work with Reuters, and I was selected as a “Kiplinger Fellow” in 2019. The Kiplinger program took me to Ohio University for a week to learn more about digital journalism. I spent time with a group of 22 elite writers from all over the globe. In 2019, I also had work published in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes and Entrepreneur. When it comes to my expertise as an author, I specialize in non-fiction, and I have written or collaborated on nine books, including the bestselling Secrets Young Women Keep with Dr. Jill Hubbard from Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and Rich Chick with Michelle Matson, which shares basic financial principles for women. As far as future book ideas, I would enjoy exploring topics related to news and culture, current events and biographies, to name a few. I also have a passion for youth culture and a number of topics that appeal to women. I have quite a diverse background as far as the writing projects that I’ve been a part of and I am thankful for every opportunity.

Now I’m intimidated…that’s quite a writing resume, Ginny! Let’s redirect and talk about what you do when you are not writing. I know you are a faithful servant and volunteer your time to serve our CAN members in your role as assistant treasurer. Where else do you volunteer your spare time—giving you a more rounded life?

I volunteer with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). I currently serve as the president of the Cincinnati Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. I am also involved with SPJ on a national level as the membership chair of the Freelance Community and I am part of the Membership Committee. I also volunteer as a media coordinator for the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention and I serve as the assistant treasurer of CAN. I love and appreciate all of these wonderful organizations and I am honored to be involved with each one.

Whew! Now I need a nap! Thank you for sharing a bit more about you with our readers today, Ginny. Now let’s dig a little deeper into your writing life. What would you like our readers to know about you or your writing life?

I have been surrounded by family and friends that love me unconditionally. I have a handful of mentors that have poured into my life and offered solid advice. I’ve had boots on the ground and I have not been afraid to take off running. From the deadlines, expectations, and sheer volume of work, it’s been adventurous and crazy at times. It’s taught me so much through each and every experience. My passion continues to fuel the creativity and further the ways that I’m able to tell people’s stories. I also see my writing abilities as a way to give back or to tell someone else’s story that might otherwise go unheard. I think the biggest thing I’d want to share about being a writer is God knows the desires of your heart and when you seek Him first, He will give you the desires of your heart in ways you didn’t even think were possible. He takes you to places to accomplish things, so that people can see His glory shine through you. And, He often uses everyday people. This is true in many areas of our lives, including our ministry, home-life, relationships and careers. Also, I would say that everyone’s writing path may not follow the same formula with the same rules. Everyone will achieve success, or surpass the finish line in their own way, in God’s time. God’s plan is always bigger than our greatest successes or failures. One piece of advice I’d offer others is to seek God, His direction for your life, keep your pace and stay focused.

 Do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event?

I have so many fun and neat stories. I’ve laughed and cried. I feel like I could put together a book about my experiences alone – from the people you meet to the places you go and what you get to do. Funny and unusual things happen all the time. I’ve covered some high-profile people and stories that have taken me and my writing experiences to all-new levels. There can be a lot of pressure and demands that come with that. All the experience in the world can’t prepare you for some of the things that might happen. That’s when you rely on the Lord, your intuition, and your best instincts as a writer and as a person. Sometimes, you just have to go with where a story or circumstance takes you, and do your best.

Thank you for sharing a bit more about you with our readers today, Ginny. Before we go, I’d love to hear what’s surprised you most as a writer.

The biggest thing that always surprises me and makes me happy is that people want their stories to be told and they hope their experiences will be heard. Often, being a great writer means being a good listener, an interpreter, and an amazing storyteller. If you would like to connect further, I can be reached at or online at @ginnymccabe on Twitter and at

Ginny McCabe Ohio SPJ Awards

Ginny McCabe is a bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, media professional, speaker and teacher. Her work may be seen in publications like Journal-News, Reuters and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her books have been published by Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and Standard Publishing. McCabe has spent decades covering topics like news, entertainment, real estate, business and faith-inspired themes. McCabe was named as a Kiplinger Fellow in 2019. She serves as president of the Greater Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists, acts as the membership chair of SPJ’s Freelance Community and was named “Best Freelance Writer” in 2018. Ginny is also a member of Christian Authors Network and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Her book with Dr. Jill Hubbard, Secrets Young Women Keep, was honored as an ECPA Silver Medallion winner and has been featured on the Young Adult Bestseller Lists. Connect with Ginny at and on Twitter @ginnymccabe.