Posts

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.

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.

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!!!

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.