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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.

Proof of Life

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

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!!!

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.

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

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.