Everything you wanted to know about…

Everything you wanted to know about…me. I posted a question on Facebook: What do you want to know about the authors you read? The questions were surprisingly personal and boiled down to several that were asked multiple times. I’m going to answer some of them here.

When did you know you were going to write? Was it always in your soul?

  • It feels as if I’ve always written. I started writing poetry as a child and eventually went on to writing stories about the Beatles. Yes, I was a Beatlemaniac and the year was 1964. I grew up, had 3 kids, got divorced, went out to work, and then started writing technical papers about handwriting analysis. I was determined to have a book written by the time I was 50 and I made it by a few months: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, followed the next year by Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous. After that, I finally got down to writing my first mystery, Poison Pen.

Where did you grow up, your education, family, profession?

I was born in London, England, long, long ago. We moved to the US permanently at the end of 1964 when my parents split up. By the way, my mother’s name was Elizabeth Taylor (yes, really), and my brother was Richard, so you can imagine the prank calls we used to get.

I didn’t get a college degree until I was in my 50’s thanks to the fundamentalist religion in which I grew up (Last Writes is my revenge book!). They frowned on higher education. But finally, I went back to school and earned a bachelor of science in psychology, followed by a master of science. I had started studying handwriting in 1967, but I worked in the corporate world until 1989 when I started a full time practice. I’ve covered that period in detail in my new book, Succeeding in the Business of Handwriting Analysis, so won’t belabor it here.

What about the little things–tea, coffee, wine?

I’m a Brit, so I am a tea lover (no coffee for me, please). People often gift me with variously flavored teas, but Earl Grey or English Breakfast with cream and sugar are my first choice. When it comes to alcohol, I’m a lightweight. A glass of white zinfandel once in a while, or some fruity mixed drink like a mojito or pina colada. Rum and coke is good, too (a favorite of the Beatles!).

How long does it take you to write a book?

I marvel at people who can produce a book in a couple of months. The way I write, it takes about a year. I start with a title, look for a story, eventually write an outline, and then get down to writing the book. Remember, I’m working around my other career as a forensic handwriting examiner, plus I sit on two boards of directors of nonprofits, so it tends to take longer than if I were strictly writing books. Maybe someday…

What is your writing routine?

Honestly, I don’t have one. My handwriting analysis practice comes first because it pays the bills. Sometimes I’m very busy with forgery cases or personality assessment, and at other times there are periods of relative radio silence. I spend a lot of time Facebook spouting politics, and do loads of email. After that, I write. Not every day, but when I’m working on a book, I set a goal of at least 1,000 words a session.

Was that everything you wanted to know about…me? That was probably more than you ever wanted to know. But if there are any burning questions I haven’t answered, please send me an email and I’ll do my best: sheila@sheilalowe.com

My Big European Adventure

Last time blogged I was getting ready for my Big European Adventure. Three weeks in Germany/UK/Gibraltar/Spain/UK. Then I actually went on the trip. And since October 14, have been recovering from the trip. I brought home a cold and ear infection. Lesson: if you have to fly with a cold, wear spongy ear plugs when the plane is ascending and descending!

The highlight was meeting the most perfect baby ever born, my granddaughter Cleo Ayla. She was two weeks old when I left Germany. I’m not allowed to post her pictures online, or believe me, there would be dozens of them. I am grateful, though, that though we are 6000 miles apart, her beautiful parents keep in touch via video and FaceTime. While in Frankfurt, I got to attend a military ball with my younger son, Benjamin. He’s a rock star in one part of his life, and my prince for the evening.

Isle of Wight

From Germany, I flew to England, my original home, and met a DNA-found cousin for a trip to the Isle of Wight. My mother’s great-grandparents lived there and I’d never been. We met a bunch of other cousins and I discovered that I’m part of a wonderful family who still live on the island.

King Charles I’s room

One of the fun things some of us did was visit Carisbrooke Castle–who knew there was a castle on IoW. There were hundreds of steps to climb. I lost 5 lbs whilst away! The picture below with the fireplace was the room where King Charles I stayed before he was beheaded on January 30, 1649.

Carisbrooke Castle

 

Gibraltar and Spain

Next stop, Gibraltar, this time with cousins from maternal grandmother’s side. My g-g-gmother was born in La Linea and I’ve always wanted go. Having our flight upgraded to business class made it even better. Champagne, good food, more room!

Gibraltar is tiny–2.5 square miles–but seemed much larger while driving around. We took a cable car to the top of the Rock, where monkeys roam free, stealing what they can from tourists. There are also vast caves full of immense stalactites and stalagmites. The tunnels Napoleon’s men used were, sadly, closed that day (not that I knew there were tunnels before the tour guide told us).

Clouds over the Rock

Upon crossing the border to Malaga, Spain, the first thing we saw was a Burger King. Seriously! We rented a car and drove up the mountains to Casares, where Diego Garcia, another ancestor, lived in the 1700s. Casares had extremely narrow, cobblestone streets. Loads more walking, more steps to climb, and fabulous views. I had a Coke in a little cafe–some things are everywhere.

Back to England

Tower of London

Victoria clock

The last two days of my trip I spent in London. This time, the cousins were on my dad’s side and we’ve known each other forever. A visit the Tower of London got the kibosh. Amazingly, despite living his whole life in the area, my cousin had never been there. I have, twice (though I haven’t been to Disneyland in the past 30 years). But it was late in the day and the 30 pound entry fee was a bit much. Seeing it from the outside this time was good enough. For being nearly 1000 years old, they’ve kept it pretty clean, lol

Last day in UK

Three weeks away from home is a lot for an introvert, regardless of how wonderful the trip. But my last day in England was fun. One of the new cousins came down from Kent on the train. When I asked where we should meet he said “Victoria Station, under the clock, like in the movies.” So that’s what we did.

The Underground

We then went into the London Underground, something I vow never to do again. Ever. OMG!!! There were at least a million people on the Tube platform. And that was Saturday at noon. Once we had pushed our way onto the train, others pushed in behind us. Somehow, the doors managed to shut with riders crammed against it. Eventually, we left the train for long staircases and a lift (elevator) that held about 50 people. I’m getting claustrophobia just remembering.

We got off at Battersea Park, where there is a famous cat and dog rescue. But that’s not where we were headed. We each had an appointment at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. I had a terrific reading with a medium named Pauline Mason. My grandmother came through as my caregiver early in life and a wonderful pianist. There was also my daughter, my dad, and my late boyfriend. I love being reminded that there is life after earth.

Getting to the end…

After our readings we went to Covent Garden, where we had planned to eat at the Cheese Bar. Sounded like fun when I read about it in the LA Times. Unfortunately, the wait for a spot at the bar was nearly 2 hours and that’s too long to wait for food when you can get it elsewhere.

We left the market and I ducked into the Astrology Shop, which was way cool, but…it was as crowded as the Tube. Apparently, Londoners are as interested in New Agey stuff as I am.

So, after a lovely Italian lunch I left my cousin for a very expensive cab ride to my airport hotel. There’s a bit more to that story, but probably not so interesting to anyone else. If you’ve got this far with me, I’ll say thank you and leave it there.

I finished the last day having fish and chips with a friend/colleague at my airport hotel. We covered handwriting and life after death–how’s that for a mix?!

BTW, compliments to LHR Hilton Garden Inn, whose bed was the most comfortable ever. It helped me prepare for the 10.5 hour flight the next day, which felt twice that long (can you sleep on a plane? I cannot. Ever).

Heathrow is the size of a city, and not such a small one. If I ever go back, Gatwick will be my choice of airport. The flight was good (considering my dislike of flying), and all went smoothly when I arrived at LAX Customs. Trump didn’t stop me coming back into the country. My very good friend Raul Melendez arrived at the curb to drive me home. Even Lexie the Evil Cat welcomed me back.

If I wrote all about the trip I’d fill a book. Speaking of which, I’m already working on the outline for Claudia Rose’s next outing, DEAD LETTERS. Of course you know my next book is going to feature some of this scenery, right? Oh! And my next audiobook, DEAD WRITE, will be out any day now.

Thanks if you read all this. I loved every minute of my Big European Adventure, but am thrilled to be back in my own chair at my keyboard.

We Love Libraries!

We love libraries and they have been around a long time. Since 30 AD in Alexandria, Egypt, in fact. My first library experience was a later than that. As a little kid growing up in Islington (a borough of London, England) during the mid-1950s, I still remember the feeling of awe, staring at all those amazing books. Billions of words, arranged into sentences and paragraphs and chapters that tell incredible tales. And credible ones, too. I learned to read at four, so the access to all those books opened up the universe.

When my family moved to the US, I haunted the children’s section of the old Anaheim Library. Down in the basement, scouring the shelves for Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books–my favorite pastime. (I just googled her and learned that amazing lady is still going strong at 102!).

Fast forward to 1964, more libraries

By the time the fancy new library was built, I was devouring one mystery after another (Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart). Every morning at school, Jo Levetsky and I traded books. Those Gothic tales were far more interesting than homework. It was during those times that I started writing stories for my friends to read. They would check them out from me, just like at the library, and return them. 50 years later, I still have those checkout lists! And now, my own books are on library shelves next to the authors I admire so much. A dream come true.

Recently, a friend and handwriting analyst colleague, Betty Almeida, asked her local librarian to order my Forensic Handwriting mystery series. The result is in the photo above. All it takes is asking, as Betty did.

I would love to see my books in more libraries around the country, so I’m offering a bribe prize, to anyone who posts or sends me a photo of themselves next to a library shelf with my books on it. Your choice, a mini handwriting analysis or a free book. I’m also happy to send the librarian a list of my ISBNs and a stack of bookmarks to give away to their patrons. Email for details: sheila@sheilalowe.com 

Meanwhile, keep reading!

From the Land Down Under

Barry Eaton, host of Radio Out There

I recently did an interview with Barry Eaton of Radio Out There, from the land down under–Australia. Barry has some fascinating guests who talk about all sorts of things. He and I discussed what happens when someone dies, which is the topic of my new book, Proof of Life.

I hope you enjoy the chat. Feel free to leave a comment:

My spiritual journey

My spiritual journey began in 2000, when my daughter Jennifer became the victim in a murder-suicide. Her brutal death sparked my need to know what happened next. I was raised in a fundamentalist religion that did not believe in life after earth. Experiences I believed were evidence to the contrary led me to investigate further.

Delving into the world of spirit, I read books and attended meetings on the subject. I meditated to make my own connection with the other side. Astonishing contacts with Jennifer came through spirit mediums John Edward, and James Van Praagh (who even taped a show at my house). I continued interested but my studies dropped off.

Life intervened until last year. Several events made me believe I was being led on a new spiritual path. One of those was the discovery of the calcite rock you see here. The rock was in my home for ten years before I saw the face. One day, I moved it from one place to another in my living room. When I looked down, I thought I was hallucinating! People in the spiritual arena who I’ve showed it to have been just as stunned as I was. Could it be an apport (a gift from spirit)?

Proof of Life

I decided to write a novel with the afterlife as a theme. Imagine my surprise when the idea “dropped into my head” to make it a sequel to my earlier standalone, What She Saw. I’ve been working on Proof of Life for nearly a year and just finished it. My publisher, Suspense, plans for a spring 2019 release (sign up on the contact page to be notified). And guess what–I’ve been told that my daughter worked with me on this book!

Proof of Life picks up Jessica Mack’s story five years after her recovery from amnesia. When FBI agent Zach Smith needs help locating an abducted four-year-old, Jessica is forced to confront the spirit voices she’s been trying to ignore and use her unexplored “gift” for good.

My spiritual journey, though it started twenty years ago, has barely begun. I’m now hosting a bi-monthly group on zoom of likeminded people. Email me for info: sheila@sheilalowe.com

Proof of Life is here

Proof of Life

My new book, Proof of Life, was released

on May 7th, with more than eighty people celebrating with me at Orozco’s de Ventura Mexican restaurant. With dishes from his mother’s own recipes and excellent service, not to mention the ambiance, I have a feeling that our wonderful host, Guillermo Orozco, is going to be serving many new diners.

It was a perfect event for a hermit like me. I got to sit at my table and sign books, hand out mini Ouija boards, angel wings, and crystal necklaces, while everyone else chatted up a storm and enjoyed the food.

Four delicious flavors of Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes made a perfect dessert. But I can’t help thinking there’s something wrong with calling yourself “nothing” even if it is a good pun. Still, if you’re in the mood for a couple of bites of something sweet, my favorite is always white chocolate raspberry.

Fellow authors, Peter Sexton and James Frances Gray were there, too, with thei

r books. Both were generous sponsors of the event. Check out their websites!

The prizes

I went a little crazy at one of the local New Age shops and gave away all kinds of cool stuff. Plus,
Amy Herron and Dianne Maggio won character names in the next Beyond the Veil mystery, The Third Door.

Several people donated prizes and had an opportunity to introduce themselves at the mic. Authors AJ LlewelynMike Kennedy, and Connie Hood gave away copies of their books, plus Connie gave me a gorgeous

double moonstone ring (my goal is to lose enough weight for it to fit my fourth finger).

Stephen Joyce gave away a trip (not a timeshare!), Anna Crowe, who narrates some of my audiobooks, gave a month of free audiobooks. Tracey Bolton gave away a bag of goodies. Mary Gabriels, who helped make this party work, gave a jacket embroidered with “Claudia Rose” and one with “Proof of Life.” Linda McCarthy of BNI–and though she couldn’t be there in person, my friend Suzanne Bank sent a certificate for an energy clearing. There were so many prizes, I have forgotten some. So, if you brought a prize and I’ve left you out, please forgive my bad memory. Remind me and I’ll add you in here.

I have an embarrassment of riches in supporters. Friends came from all over to help me celebrate. As always, big thanks to Debbie Mitsch of Mystery Ink for being my bookseller and schlepping all those boo

ks up from Orange County. More thanks are due to Mary Gabriels, who does a fabulous job of making things look great (check out the purple “veil” behind my table). She also stood by the door and got everyone to sign in. I hope the read makes it all worthwhile.

The photos

Finally, I love the cool miniature library from Nina Nelson. She sent me a

kit that contained at least 9 million parts. For about thirty seconds as I gazed at that box of wood and paper, she was not my friend. But once it was done and it was so adorable–including teeny-tiny copies of my books (the covers, anyway), it was worth getting all that glue on my fingers. Thank you, Nina
:-).

And if these aren’t enough, big thanks to Amy Herron, who is a terrific photographer, here are some more.

Interviewed by Suzanne Giesemann

Suzanne Giesemann

Being interviewed by Suzanne Giesemann, and then getting a reading from her is astounding. Suzanne is a spiritual medium whose list is two years long! I first heard her speak at the Afterlife Education Research Institute Symposium in 2017, where I was impressed to learn that earlier in her life, she was a naval commander–an assistant to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After a tragic loss, she began looking into what happens when we leave the physical body.

Within a few years, Suzanne had become a highly-skilled medium who studied with some of the best in the field. She now writes wonderful books about spirituality (I recently read and loved Droplets of God, the biography of Mavis Pitilla), and with her husband, Ty, and their dogs, travels around the country, speaking to all sorts of groups, bringing comfort to those whose loved ones have crossed to the other side. She hosts a monthly mentoring session online and a weekly radio show on Unity Online Radio

My request

When I emailed Suzanne to ask if she would consider reading Proof of Life, I truly never expected her to agree. As busy as she is, I would have understood if she had politely declined. But apparently, Spirit was behind my unlikely chutzpah. She read the book immediately, and gave it this lovely cover blurb: “A delicious glimpse at what happens when the veil between the two worlds unexpectedly parts. I dare you to put this book down!”

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, she invited me to be a guest on her radio show and talk about all kinds of things, and being interviewed by her was icing on the cake. But wait, there’s more…

Before the show, Suzanne gifted me with a Zoom session that brought through both my daughter, Jennifer, and Arnie, my late partner. It was a true and comforting connection. With her years long waiting list, I certainly never expected her to do this for me. But when Spirit wants something to happen, it happens. I cannot begin to express my gratitude. In return, I was delighted to analyze Suzanne’s handwriting, which showed her to be as beautiful inside as she is outside.

The Interview

Here’s a link to the interview from last week’s Messages of Hope radio show. Listen here!

Barnes & Noble Signing

On May 18th, I had the distinct pleasure of signing Proof of Life and my other books at my Barnes & Noble signing in Ventura, CA. Arriving 30 minutes early, I found a customer waiting for me to sign two books. I cannot think of a better way to begin a signing event.

Soon, friends started showing up. Some had been unable to attend the launch party last week. I was delighted to sign books for them. In the photo above, from left-right are Ventura County Professional Women’s Network sisters and mister, author James F. Gray, kick-ass coach Kathy Murphy, me, financial adviser extraordinaire Sue Osborn. Thanks also to Diane Myers, Rita Peterson and Randy Jewell, and everyone else who came and bought books. Barnes & Noble signings are always fun because I get to meet new readers. 

One customer bought PoL for his 13-year-old son, who he said is mature for his age. These days kids are exposed to so much, I doubt the themes in the book will scare him. Video games are scarier than a seance!

Gift with purchase

Celebrating the release of Proof of LifeThe “gift with purchase” proved a popular feature. Mini Ouija boards for those who wanted them, stone necklaces to those who were afraid (okay, some people got both). There were numerous comment on the miniature, which you can see on the corner of the table. I brought it along because in Proof of Life, Jessica Mack is a miniaturist. I freely admit, her work is much finer and tinier than mine.

Next signing will be at the California Crime Writers Conference June 8/9. Then on June 29th in Orange County, California, at 2:00 I will be with fellow author Rachel Howzell Hall at Book Carnival and at 4:30 at Mystery Ink. For details check my calendar.

Left: James Gray, Kathy Murphy, Sheila Lowe, Sue Osborn, members of Ventura County Professional Women’s Network.

Staying Motivated

Staying motivated was the theme today as I joined authors Mike Kennedy and Maryann Ridini Spencer in our first official Writers Table Faceook Live panel. We discussed some of the ways writers are staying motivated. More to the point, how the three of us stay motivated.

From our discussion it was clear that every author has his or her own process and none is right or wrong. Maryann is an early morning writer who ignores her emails while she’s working. Mike works late into the night. As for me, I’m all over the place and I answer loads of emails as they come in. This can have a big impact on productivity. Since I waste so much time during the day, I catch up later in the evening.

Click on the link above or here and listen/watch for yourself. I’ll just recap some of my opening remarks.

What needs motivate you?

Staying Motivated

Maslow’s Pyramid – hierarchy of needs

In my work as a handwriting analyst I often use information from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s all about the levels of needs that motivates all humans: basic stuff like food, air, water. Safety and security needs; love and affection from family, friends, society. Self-esteem. The need for creativity and self-expression–what are considered “transcendent needs.”

I wasn’t giving a lecture, so didn’t go into a lot of detail. Our needs can change from time to time as situations change. However, it’s my belief that if we know which of these basic needs motivate us most at any given time, it can help one stay motivated or get re-motivated.

Examining and re-examining what motivates us offers a new perspective. If you need to write in order to pay the bills, that’s one big motivator. If your writing makes the people you care about express their love and admiration for you, it can be a motivator. Achievement builds self-esteem, so there’s another. And writing for the sheer pleasure of creating is a really big one.

Egyptian God of Writing

Thoth, Egyptian God of Writing

One of my small motivators is to put a physical symbol on my desk related to my plot. Part of my current work in process, DEAD LETTERS, takes place in Egypt. I have a small figurine of the Ibis-headed god, Thoth, god of writing.

Even those of us who are fine with staying home for long periods may be suffering from quarantine-fatigue. Zoom, which I have used and loved since 2012, gets to be old after two or three meetings a day! For some people, staying motivated without regular face-to-face interaction is a challenge. Knowing we’re in it together and that we can learn from each other can help.

What’s next at the Writers Table?

At our next Writers Table Facebook Live, June 26 at 1:00 PST, we’ll be talking about traditional vs self-publishing and marketing. Between the three of us, we have a ton of experience. We’d love your questions and your comments, too.

Meanwhile, I still have free codes for some of my audiobooks. If you’d like one or some email me: sheila@sheilalowe.com

Blatant self-promotion

Blatant self-promotion – Outside the Lines

“Congratulations! Your book will be highlighted on Book Club Central’s Sisters in Crime: Very British Murder list!” 

“Book Club Central is an initiative of the American Library Association. Book Club Central is a new online resource for book clubs and readers featuring book reviews, author interviews, discussion questions and more. Award-winning actor, producer, and avid reader Sarah Jessica Parker is the Honorary Chair of Book Club Central and a passionate advocate for libraries and literacy.”

Outside the Lines is the book Book Club Central plans to highlight. Published a few years ago, much of the story takes place in Great Britain, which is good timing. Outside the Lines is on sale next week on Amazon. February 10-17 it’s only .99. Please help me spread the word.

I’ve lived in the US since I was 14, but am always excited to lecture in my home country. I received an invitation to speak at the British Institute of Graphology and jumped on the opportunity. Being back in London reminds me of my roots, though the memories are bittersweet. My grandmother (“nanny”) and the aunts and uncles are gone now. My old primary school on Ecclesbourne Road is gone, too. But not the flats in Islington (N1) where I lived as a child. That old block still rises across the road from the old church. Islington is being gentrified now. Back in the 1950s we played on an old bomb site between the flats and a newer playground. Bits of broken furniture littered the area. I have a clear memory of finding a jawbone–animal, I hope. Do you think that’s where my interest in mystery got started?

Blatant self-promotion is the uncomfortable part of being an author; a necessary evil.