Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
The seventh book in my Forensic Handwriting Mysteries, Written Off, will be released on November 7th. I've also written a standalone about a young woman with amnesia, and two nonfiction books about handwriting and handwriting analysis.
Just like my fictional character, Claudia Rose, I'm a real-life forensic handwriting examiner who testifies in court cases. Being the mother of a tattoo artist and a former rock star makes me a cool mom (at least, I'd like to think so). I live in Ventura, CA with Lexie the Very Bad Cat, but despite sharing living space with a feline, my books are not cozy. So if you find a bit of profanity and some violence disturbing, they are probably not for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy psychological suspense and in-depth exploration of characters, I hope you'll give them a try.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Written Off is dedicated "to all the children who deserved a better beginning." It explores the different paths people take despite similarities early in life. One of the characters is a female serial killer in prison. I hope her story will make readers see her as a full human being, not to excuse her bad acts, but to put them in context.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
You mean besides procrastination? I spend a lot of my day wasting time, then around ten pm realize that I need to get something productive done and spend the next couple of hours working on my current project.
Except for outlining and writing character profiles, I can only write right here at my desk on my desktop computer. I detest my laptop and the dreaded Windows 10 and find it impossible to work with them. So, here I sit!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
John Sandford is my favorite author. Love his characters and dialogue, they’re all so real. Tess Gerritsen-her writing style and voice reminds me of my own, so I guess it’s narcissistic. Tami Hoag is so good at writing beats, and her wise-cracking characters feel like old friends. Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Deborah Crombie. They all write compelling stories that make me want to turn the page. I aspire to be like them.
What are you working on now?
Taking a little time off to think about my next book, which is going to be outside the series.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have made as much in royalties in one month from a BookBub ad as I have from an advance from Penguin when I was one of their authors. It's worth the investment, but it's extremely difficult to be accepted. I heard that they accept only 20% of submissions. I've been lucky enough to be accepted three times and those as have been consistently effective. It's best to offer the book for free, as will pay twice as much for the ad if you charge for the book. as if it were a free offer. A word of caution, though: only do it if you have a backlist. Readers who liked the free book and seek more of your stories are the way you will make money from a BB ad.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Hone your craft, which means find a good independent editor and pay the money to make sure you're getting it right. Asking friends and family to read your work is not going to help you grow as a writer. They don't know what to look for or how to critique, and they probably want to make you feel good, so may not tell you when something isn't working.
Cut as many adverbs as you reasonably can. It will make your writing stronger.
And so on.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Make your protagonist strong. I learned from my first editor that my protag was always feeling guilty–had not recognized that until she brought it to my attention. "Nobody wants a weak heroine," said Ms. Editor. And that didn't mean I had to make Claudia Rose into Superwoman. She's allowed to have her foibles–that's what makes her human. But she needs to be someone the reader can respect.
What are you reading now?
Having just finished Tess Gerritsen's latest book (I Know A Secret), I'm reading the autobiography of Janet Mayer, a psychic medium. This is an area of great interest to me and it's a fascinating story.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I intend to write a supernatural story of suspense and am exploring several ideas to see which feels right. I already have the title!
What is your favorite book of all time?
That's hard to pin down, but Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag is a great favorite. The ending left me shivering and was a total shocker.
My favorite non-fiction is Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton. He explores life between lives in a way that resonates with me more than any other. Evolution Angel is a small book that answered many of my philosophical questions.
Author Websites and Profiles
Sheila Lowe Website