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Poison Pen

I just jumped off a cliff

To jump off a cliff is Very Big Decision; one I recently made: I am going to independently publish my new book, Dead Letters (#8 in the Claudia Rose psychological suspense series). After publishing my nonfiction books on handwriting psychology for a while now, I find this choice infinitely more daunting. I waffled over it for a few weeks, not entirely sure it was the right thing to do. Then, this happened…

The day after making the VBD, I intended to go grocery shopping in the morning. But, procrastinator that I am, I put it off until well after lunch. Just before I left my keyboard, I emailed my friend and fellow author Peg Brantley to share the news. The subject line was: I just jumped off a cliff.

Patrick Stewart Interview

Sir Patrick Stewart

Words of wisdom

Driving across town to the local Winco, I tuned the radio to NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Thanks to my lagging, I’d caught the last few minutes of what had clearly been a great interview with the venerable actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. When I heard what he said, I confess to promptly bursting into tears. Speaking of his early days in the business, he quoted a teacher who had told him something he said he never fully understood until much later:

book cover

“Patrick, you will never achieve success by insuring against failure.” I thought, huh, that’s so true. But it was his next words that made my mouth drop open.

“You have to take risks,” he said as if directly speaking to me. “You have to be brave; you have to step into the unknown.”

Then: “You have to step off the edge of a cliff.” OMG, that’s what I had just written to Peg! But wait, there’s more…

Patrick Stewart said, “I always make sure I’m dead letter perfect.” OMG, OMG, OMG!!! Dead Letters is the title of my new book!!!

To make sure I wasn’t misremembering or putting words in his mouth, I looked up the interview online and transcribed exactly what he had said. I don’t know about you, but I believe in spirit guides and angels, and I believe that when we ask for help, we get it. Oh boy,  had I been asking! Just think–had I gone to the store in the morning, rather than procrastinating, I would have missed the interview. If I had been a half an hour earlier I would have missed the interview.

No coincidences

Look, I know that everything Sir Patrick said could be applied to any author. But I don’t believe in coincidences. If it had been just the first statement, well, that was encouraging. But the second, and the third—at that moment, those words were meant for me.

2020 was a super-rotten year for all of us, some more than others suffering intolerable losses of many kinds. But all of a sudden, a bright ray of hope carried me into 2021. Soon, I’ll have more to tell you about this adventure, but for now, I wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope that by my tale of jumping off a cliff, you will feel empowered and encouraged, too.

A version of this blog was published on 1/4/21 at Blackbirdwriters.com

VE Day – 75 years

King George, VE Day

May 8, 1945. During the reign of Britain’s King George VI, the Allies celebrated the defeat of Hitler and the Nazis. This date became recognized as VE Day: Victory in Europe.

Last Friday, May 8th, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, I received an early morning request from a UK publication. Prince Charles was to read an excerpt from the diary of his grandfather, King George (the one from the movie The King’s Speech!). They wanted to know whether I could provide a handwriting analysis of both Royals for an article that would be published at the same time.

Express UK

I had woken up in the night, sick, and was feeling pretty cruddy by the time I read the email. Still, far be it from me to turn down an opportunity for some free publicity. And it was flattering to be asked. As you may know, I’m from England but have lived in the US for most of my life. I still consider myself a Brit and wanted to participate in the celebration.

The only handwriting the reporter had found of the King’s was his signature, which is not sufficient, even for a quickie analysis–which is all the media really wants. I found a sample on Google Images and another of Prince Charles, whose handwriting I’ve always liked. So, if you would like to see what I had to say about these two very different men, click here to go to the article. I hope you enjoy my comments.

Also, my latest book Proof of Life came out in audiobook format. I have some free Audible codes for it and some others of my Claudia Rose series. Contact me if you’d like one (first come, first served).

If you are interested in learning more about analyzing handwriting, the e-version of my book, Reading Between the Lines: Decoding Handwriting, is free to download until May 13, 2020. Enjoy! www.sheilalowe.com

Kindness Matters

Kindness Matters happens to be the name of a radio show on which I recently appeared as a guest. One of the hosts, Lloyd Brock, is a longtime handwriting analyst, stage hypnotist, and retired Treasury agent. Way back in the 1990s, he contacted me with a questioned document case that he was unable to do because it conflicted with his job.

Since then, Lloyd has had me on his show a couple of times. Here’s a link to the latest discussion: I would have been on video with them, but there were technical difficulties, so we did my part on the phone.

I love the theme of the show. Especially these days, when it’s so easy to be anonymously snarky and mean on various social media platforms, we need to be reminded that kindness matters. I love it when I can re-post stories of random acts of kindness. One I posted today is about a 15-year-old Texas boy who bought a Valentine flower for every girl in his school (172 of them). He had noticed the year before that not everyone got a recognition. This was his beautiful remedy.

Kindness matters in handwriting, too. While there is no “this-means-that” in handwriting, some features point to kindness more than others. For example, some curves balanced with straight lines and a moderate slant. Features that point away from kindness are extremely heavy pressure combined with many angles and sharp strokes, especially when there is also an extreme slant.

Where to learn more

But those are generalities. A handwriting professional always looks at the whole handwriting when making an assessment. Here’s a link to my other website for more information. And here’s a link to the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation. This wonderful nonprofit organization is more than 50 years old. I’m currently the president, so a bit prejudiced. But you won’t find another handwriting analysis organization that offers more free resources to its members.

News

I’m now working on the next Claudia Rose book, Dead Letters. In actual fact, writing this blog post allows me to procrastinate working on a difficult chapter. I’ve also just finished re-editing What She Saw with the help of Betty Almeida’s eagle eye. Readers had pointed out errors (typos and stuff) 🙁 While correcting them I found bits that I wanted to rewrite–like the whole first page. So, hopefully, my excellent publishers, Suspense, will soon have the new version up on Amazon.

And now, no more procrastinating…

From the mysteries in handwriting to mystery writing

Today, I was a guest blogger for Anne Louise Bannon on the mysteries of handwriting. Anne is the president of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime and a fellow author, so it was an honor to be invited to write something for her.

I decided to use the opportunity to talk about how I went from the mysteries of handwriting to mystery writing. My work as a handwriting analyst, uncovering the mysteries of personality has been intriguing. But the fact is, after so many years in that field, I was ready to kill someone. Obviously, not literally. Doing it on the page is enough excitement for me. It was quite a leap from my first career as a forensic handwriting examiner to mystery writer. If you would like to know how it all came about, click on this link.

In other news, watch for updates about my next book, Dead Letters, coming in late summer 2021.

This is an old blog post and having given my website a facelift, I’m attempting to improve the SEO. I’m going back over some of the older posts. If you are reading this paragraph, I apologize. I needed to add some words, and here they are.

National Handwriting Day

In the 1980s, the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association designated January 23rd as National Handwriting Day. The birthday of John Hancock marks the occasion. Why John Hancock? Because he wrote his signature on the Declaration of Independence big and bold. The story may be apocryphal, but legend has it that he signed it that way so King George could read it without his spectacles!

Other countries may not be invested in celebrating American independence but want to honor handwriting, too, so the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation (AHAF) suggests we expand National Handwriting Day. We’ve now made it International Handwriting Week.

We encourage everyone to find a way to celebrate with us. Take a picture of your handwriting and post it on your social media like I did. You can click here to see it. Or make a “pencil toast,” selfie like mine below. Just hold up your pencil and smile.

The SoCal chapter of AHAF’s meeting on Saturday, January 25th will mark the occasion. The public is always welcome to our meetings and there is no fee. Attendees bring snacks to enjoy together during the break. We meet at the EP Foster Library, 651 E. Main Street, Ventura CA, in the Topping room. Time: 10:00 a.m. to noon. Learn what your handwriting says about you. Join us!

If you are interested in learning more about handwriting analysis, please take a look at my nonfiction books. Readers of my Forensic Handwriting Mystery series say they learn a lot about handwriting, too.

Be sure to check my events calendar to see where else you might find me.

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

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.