New Audiobooks

Happy New Year, everyone! Early this morning (Jan. 1, 2019), I emailed everyone in my contact list about my two new audiobooks (Inkslingers Ball and Outside the Lines). If you were on that list, you should have received the newsletter. If you think you’re on the list but didn’t get it, please check your spam folder or contact me: sheila@sheilalowe.com. Or just sign up on the contact page here. You’ll be automatically added.

Audible provides authors with a bunch of free promo codes to give away in exchange for fair reviews, and I wanted to spread the word.

Why are reviews important? 1) They let other readers know whether a book is worth reading, or in this case, listening to. 2) Amazon (who owns Audible) uses them in their algorithms to determine which authors should get free advertising. You know–those emails Amazon sends out with recommendations.

So, on this, the first day of my little campaign for my new audiobooks, I received about 50 requests for promo codes. I think it’s pretty cool that the offer generated so much interest. I’ve now given out all the codes I had (luckily, they were advertised as “limited quantities.”), but am trying to get a few more. For those who asked for a code but don’t receive one, I’m offering a free copy of the e-book.

Coming up next

I love meeting my readers. Have you checked my schedule lately? There might be an event where we can meet in person. On January 24th I’ll be doing a Facebook Live with three other authors: James F. Gray, Maryann Ridini Spencer, and Mike Kennedy. Stay tuned for the exact time, but I think it will be at 7:00 PM Pacific Time. We’ll answer questions and talk about our process. Hope to “see” you there. At least, have you see us!

Cover Reveal!

I love cover reveal blog posts. Yes, the new book cover is here, and I love it! When I start writing a new book, I always begin with the title. It gives me a framework within which to build the story. Then, over the next year (It takes that long because my career in handwriting forensics takes precedence), I write it.

Working with Ellen Larson, the independent editor who has been with me since Poison Pen, the story slowly takes shape. I send Ellen chunks of material, she provides feedback and offers suggestions for improvement, or argues against some scene or character. I also read it aloud to my friend, Bob Joseph, a longtime published author himself. Most of the time he is wildly enthusiastic, but he has no qualms about telling me when what I’ve written is bad.

So, by the time the manuscript goes to my publisher at Suspense Magazine, it has been well worked over. Even then, though, I’ll keep tweaking it. By the time editor Shannon Raab sends back comments, there will have been countless small changes, additions, and hundreds of deletions.

Deletions?

Once I’ve written “The End,” I run the manuscript through software called SmartEdit. I adore SmartEdit. It saves me from using too many dreaded adverbs (those “ly” words that weaken writing), and from redundancies. In my manuscript, I discovered over 300 uses of the word “know,” 215 “when,” dozens of “always,” etc., etc. Believe it or not, there were more than 50 exclamation points!!! (that’s a big no-no in mystery writing). Going back over those places gives me an opportunity to find alternate words, rewrite, and improve the story.

So, after addressing any comments Shannon has made, I run SmartEdit again and send the manuscript back. She sends it to another staffer for a final round of edits and when it comes back to me, I’ll make my final SmartEdit run-through. That’s the very last opportunity I’ll have to tweak. This process reminds me of what Dashiell Hammett said. Paraphrasing (or maybe correctly quoting) the famed author of the Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man (Nick and Nora Charles) series: “I could edit a book down to one line if given the chance.” Yep. I know the feeling.

But at this point, we’ve reached an exciting moment (I had written “really exciting moment,” but that useless adverb does nothing for the sentence so I ruthlessly lopped it) . . .

The new cover

When I used to write for Penguin, they would send me an email, always with the same message: “Here’s your new cover. We hope you love it as much as we do.” They wanted no input from me, the author, and no changes were allowed. Sometimes I did not love that new cover at all.

I’m thrilled to report that the situation could not be more different with Suspense. They welcome input. If there’s something I don’t like (which is rare), their wonderful cover designer works with me until I do. Which brings me back to where we started–the new book cover is here, and I love it!!!

Proof of Life occurs five years after What She Saw, reintroducing Jessica Mack, and taking us with her on her reluctant journey into the realm of spirit. Sage Boles is back, too, from the more recent Claudia Rose book, Written Off.

Proof of Life is scheduled for release on May 7, 2019 and will be available for pre-order on Amazon in the next week.

Launch Party

If you’re in the Ventura area and would like to attend the book launch party (date TBA), sign up here. There will be food, prizes, networking opportunities, and, of course, BOOKS!!!

What readers say

Reviews are vital to the success of a mystery-suspense author. Besides, I deeply care what my readers think of my books and read all reviews, good or bad. Most of them make me glow. The other kind either complain about profanity or a formatting problem. In the first case, well, I don’t pretend to write cozies, and that’s how modern people speak. In the second, formatting is between the publisher and Amazon. No fair penalizing an author for something beyond their control.

Reader comments

  • I woke up in the night worrying about how Claudia was doing so I guess that’s a testimony on the quality of your work. – Rick
  • You really know how to write an emotional thriller. With all the feeling you put into it, I can imagine you felt quite drained at the end of each scene. – Molly
  • I started reading Inkslingers Ball yesterday afternoon. WOW! I can’t wait to read more. – Michelle
  • I’m working my way through the Claudia Rose series and so far every book deserved five stars. – Ann
  • This fast-paced tale will keep you glued to the pages ’til the exciting end. – James.
  • I couldn’t put it down & finished it last night, really liking how it unfolded. – Cindy
  • I found the story to be so suspenseful and it really kept me going. You did such a wonderful job with the forensic part. – Gayna
  • Sheila Lowe is a friend who can write one mean story. If you’re not already reading her you should slap yourself in the forehead. Then go get your hands on her books!” – (fellow author) Peg Brantley
  • One of the best mystery books I’ve ever read. – Diane
  • I was not disappointed! An afternoon well spent! – Andrea
  • I stayed up all night reading your book. I was enthralled. My only regret is that I’m so sleepy I may not finish the review until tomorrow. – Larry

Signing books at Book Carnival & Mystery Ink

Signing books at Book Carnival and Mystery Ink is always fun. Orange County, where both signings took place, is my old stomping grounds. After moving to the US from England, I grew up in Anaheim and graduated Anaheim High School in 1967. Last year we held our 50-year reunion. How on earth did that happen? Where did 50-years go?!

Last November I had a new book out–Written Off–so I bit the bullet and made the 100-mile drive. It took about four hours, but seeing some old friends and making new ones made battling the traffic worthwhile. I had the great pleasure of welcoming several high school classmates to the two book signings.

Anaheim High Class of 1967 Classmates

Dan Howard (aka Earl Javorsky), Patty Smiley, Anne Saller (owner of Book Carnival)

At both events, I shared the podium with fellow mystery author, Patty Smiley, who was promoting her book, Outside the Wire. At first I was a teeny bit confused. The year before, my release was titled Outside the Lines. The penny finally dropped and I understood we were talking about two different books.

High school classmate John Parsons and Sheila

 

The two independent bookstore owners, Anne Saller at Book Carnival and Debbie Mitsch at Mystery Ink are unfailingly welcoming and ready for the signing. You might think that goes without saying, but in my experience, the big box stores aren’t always as well prepared. Debbie drives wherever I need her to act as my bookseller at book launch parties and other large events. She’s always efficient and on time. I know I can count on her.

If you want to know when I’m going to be signing at a bookstore in your area or giving a lecture, etc., please check my calendar often–I frequently add new events or sign up for notifications.

Whenever you can, please support your local independent bookseller.

2018 Book Events

All the 2018 book events made for a busy year where I had fun around Southern California. At the L.A. Times Festival of Books I signed at the Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America booths. Those 2018 book events included author panels at several Southland libraries: Culver City LibraryEP Foster LibraryThousand Oaks Library , Camarillo Library.

Ventura hypnotherapist Bunny Vreeland hosted a book event at her office, where she gave eight local authors a forum to display their work.  Another venue was the Latino Expo at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, Seaside Park. The Expo is held twice a year, it’s full of fun, vendors, free food and tequila. At one event, the Ojai Valley Retired Professional Businessmen’s Club, members bought a ton of books, which always makes me happy. Ventura Barnes & Noble hosted a writers panel. It was fun to be back and see my books in the store.

Check my calendar to see where I’ll be next. I’d love for you to come out and say hi.

New books about handwriting

The big news today is about the other side of my other career. I’ve just published three new books about handwriting.

After 18 years as an international bestseller, my first book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis (2nd Edition), went out of print. Readers around the world have written to me, saying it helped them understand handwriting better. Graphology teachers use it to teach classes, too. So, I spent over 100 hours rewriting it. I added new samples of celebrity handwriting and gave it a new name: Reading Between the Lines: Decoding HandwritingSo far, handwriting analysts like even better than the first book.

That inspired me to combine seven of my monographs into a second book: Advanced Studies in Handwriting Psychology. This book is a deeper dive into personality through handwriting. Complex topics include childhood sexual abuse in adult handwriting, addictive personality, defense mechanisms, serial killers, and more.

The third book is Personality & Anxiety Disorders: How they may be reflected in handwriting and other important topics. It’s based on a series of online classes.

The book is about personality and anxiety disorders described in the DSM-IV. If you are a psychologist, you’ll know that’s the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual. Since then, the DSM-V came out, but its unpopularity led me to leave it as-is.

New formats, too

All three books are available in paperback and e-books, which makes it easy to look things up.

Amazon purchase links

Reading Between the lines: e-book, print book

Advanced Studies in Handwriting Psychology: e-book, print book

Personality & Anxiety Disorders: e-book, print book

Succeeding in the Business of Handwriting Analysis: e-book, print book

Signing at Barnes & Noble

What’s better than an author signing at Barnes & Noble? A group signing with six authors! That’s what happened on October 20, 2018, when fiction and nonfiction authors were hosted by the Ventura store.

Along with James F. GrayMaryann Ridini SpencerMike Kennedy and I signed together at several events this year. We’ve also created a Facebook page called the WritersTable. Watch for notice of our first Facebook Live event, scheduled for January 24, 2019. Time TBA

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We were joined at Barnes & Noble by Crystal Marshall, a young author who wrote a wonderful children’s book about a hairless cat. Holly K. Thrasher’s book deals photographically with her journey through breast cancer, and Spencer Labbe, a young artist and author who has self-published his first fantasy novel.

My books are back at Barnes & Noble

Seeing my books back on the shelves of a major bookstore was a thrill. They are in the catalog, and with this signing, they are back, at least for a while. If readers go in and ask for them, they are likely to be around longer (hint, hint).

Mike’s wife, Andrea, memorialized the event with her mad photography skills as we answered audience questions and described our writing process. Afterwards, we signed books. After all, that’s what we were there for, right?

Book signings used to be more popular when meeting authors was unusual and exciting. Now, it’s easy to download a book and read it anywhere, and visit authors online. Besides, everyone is so busy, it’s not always easy to wedge another event into the schedule. And that’s why Mike, Jim, Maryann and I are doing the aforementioned Facebook Live.

Check back often for details. And if you have a question you would like answered by four experienced authors, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send an email: sheila@sheilalowe.com

Santa Paula Library Author Fair

The Santa Paula Blanchard Library held its first author fair and people bought books! You might think it’s strange, but I was surprised by this. The fact is, I’ve found that people who attend library talks rarely buy books. It makes sense–they go to the library to borrow books. But the holidays are coming and people are already thinking about gifts. Books make the perfect gift!

I’ve reached an age where I dislike seeing myself in pictures, but a blog post is more interesting with visuals, so I’ll include a picture of the Library. I have been invited to give a talk at her early next year, which should be fun. And it’s exciting to see my books on the shelves.

A lovely woman who sat next to me at the Santa Paula Library today said, “Oh, I only write children’s books,” apparently not recognizing how important that is. Encourage your children, grandchildren, or other kids in your life to read.

There’s no better way to learn about the world. You can go places on Youtube, but reading an author’s impression of people or places takes you inside a story in a way that passive watching cannot. Children who learn to love reading at an early age will be readers for life. Whether you prefer to hold a physical book in your hand, or enjoy the convenience of carrying a hundred books around in your tablet or phone, just read (or listen to audiobooks).

Let’s hope that this Santa Paula Library Author Fair is just the first of many.

Where have I been?

Where have I been since my last blog post a month ago? There’s a good reason for my absence. I’ve been working my butt off to finish my new book, PROOF OF LIFE. Last Sunday night around midnight, I sent the manuscript Suspense, my publisher. Monday, I was brain dead and could barely move. By evening I looked like someone strangled me–stress rash. On Tuesday, I rewrote the last two pages. The big challenge now is to keep my hands off Proof of Life until my editor at Suspense sends comments a few weeks from now.

Today, I’m beginning to feel halfway human. I’ve been answering 70+ emails that piled up while I was elbows-down. Remember the Tribbles on the original Star Trek? Little balls of fur that proliferated astonishingly fast? That’s how emails are. The minute you send one off, ten more arrive. When I’m on a deadline and need to get something done, I have to discipline myself to power down Outlook and pretend it doesn’t exist for a while. That’s so hard to do!!!

Freddy Mercury

Again…where have I been? In the middle of it all, I took an afternoon off to go to the movies. Busy raising 3 kids on my own, I was never aware of Freddie Mercury or Queen. That is, unless they were one of the bands I used to yell at my daughter to “turn that noise down.” Bohemian Rhapsody, whether or not it accurately portrayed the goings on, was really good. It roused my interested in Freddie and I looked for his handwriting.

You probably want to know what it says about him, right? Freddie was 43 at the time of writing. Take into account that it’s lyrics and may be written faster than normal. The writing is highly simplified. Most extra strokes that are taught in school are stripped away, a sign of someone who cuts to the chase, gets right down to basics. He could be extremely impatient.

The extra-wide spaces between words point to his feeling isolated. However, the capital I in the 10th line down makes me smile, as it reminded me of Freddie’s strut. English is the only language (besides Cyrillic) where a single letter represents the personal pronoun I, so that letter is quite significant. It reveals much about how one sees themselves.

One other aspect I’ll point out is in the second line from the bottom. The letter “g” at the end of “living” pulls strongly to the right, symbolic of Freddie’s difficulty with male authority figures (his father, a boss, etc.). He pushed against anyone who tried to tell him what to do.

If handwriting isn’t proof of life, I don’t know what is :-).

There’s lots more, of course, but that’s enough for now.

Beyond the Veil

Proof of Life

What She Saw

Watch for a May 7th release of my new book, Proof of Life. The prequel, What She Saw, was published five years ago. Together, they introduce the new Beyond the Veil mysteries, which is paranormal mystery-suspense with a dash of romance.

In What She Saw, a young woman wakes up on a train with amnesia. Proof takes up her story five years later, when we learn she has been hearing voices. She’s not crazy; what she’s hearing comes from the world of spirit.

The Afterlife

My interest in the afterlife began when my daughter was the victim in a terrible murder-suicide in 2000 and I felt compelled to find out what happens when we “die.” I learned from my research that there is no death. Our loved ones continue to be involved in our lives on earth, and they want us to know they are okay. So, when a spirit comes across someone with the ability to pass along messages to those of us still in human form, they tend to glom onto that person and bombard them with requests (until otherwise instructed).

That’s what happens to Jessica Mack in Proof of Life. For five years she has ignored the voices from beyond the veil. Now, called on to help find a missing child, she can no longer ignore them.

Central characters tend to take on lives of their own, and Sage Boles wanted in, too. We met this man with a mysterious past in Written Off, the seventh Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting mystery. in Proof of life, Sage and Jessica team up, turning to the spirits for help in finding four-year-old Ethan.

Ballona Wetlands

One of the locations in the book is the Ballona Wetlands, near where Claudia lives in “Playa de la Reina,” where Jessica is drawn in her search for Ethan.

If you plan to be in Ventura on May 7th, you are invited to my book launch party. Sign up here for notification. Or RSVP on Facebook.