Sorry, guys. I'm playing catch up. I'm on the mend from being pretty sick for a few weeks and under insane deadlines at my full time job. But it looks as if I'm through the worst of both of those for the time being. So hopefully, I'll get back to this regularly now.
Without further adieu, I welcome as our Fiction Friday Featured Author...
Tell us about your journey to become a published author?
I was first published in nonfiction in 2000 when my first book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis came out, followed by Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous. Since it had been so easy to get those books on the market, I was in for a rude awakening when I wrote my first novel, Poison Pen. It took 7 years and numerous rewrites from the time I won 3rd place in a contest to getting a starred review in Publisher's Weekly.
What sparked the idea for this series?
As a forensic handwriting analyst for many years, people kept telling me I should write a book. Although most of the cases I handle are fairly mundane, there are times when I think, hmm, that might make an interesting story. I use only the kernel of an idea to build the story around. In fact, I always come up with a title first, and then find the story.
Tell us about your latest release.
I've just turned in the 6th book in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series and hope to see it in publication in Spring 2016. Outside the Lines has to do with ecoterrorism and a protagonist dealing with PTSD. This is the second book in the series where much of the story is told from the point of view of LAPD Detective Joel Jovanic, the fiance of my main protagonist, Claudia Rose. My readers really like their relationship and since Joel seemed to want to come forward again, I was happy to let him talk.
Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?
Suspenseful, Realistic, Surprising
Give us one or two of your favorite lines from this book.
Two-hundred and fifty pounds of muscle slammed Claudia against the witness stand with the impact of a baby hippo.
“Blowing things up and killing people isn’t going to get the kind of attention you want, is it?”
Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.
I have a large semi-circular desk known as "the command center," which takes up half my kitchen. There are three monitors that always cause visitors to say, ""wow, how many screens do you need?!"" Three, apparently.
Routine? What's that? Since my first career is as a handwriting examiner, my writing time depends on the cases on my desk. I seem to be most productive in the evening. Or maybe it's just that I waste a lot of time on the internet during the day and then it's "oh crap" time when I realize I haven't done anything productive. I make a list and there are certain things that must be done before I can call it a night."
What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?
My favorite comments are from readers who tell me they had to stay up all night to see what happened. That's the best compliment ever.
My favorite review was the Starred Review by Publisher's Weekly when they called Poison Pen "a dynamite debut." I felt like a real writer. "
What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?
I don't feel like I have a great imagination, so plotting is the hardest part for me. But I have a terrific critique group who do come up with some wonderful ideas when I get stuck. I owe whatever success I've had to them.
What is the high point of your career, so far?
Making a deal with Penguin made me feel validated. Seeing the carton of books when Poison Pen came out was exhilarating. Even better was receiving a carton of the second book, Written in Blood.
What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?
"A real low point was when my wonderful editor left Penguin and the new editor wasn't interesting in continuing my series. Thinking I would be with Penguin for a long time I'd spent a significant amount of money publicizing the first four books. That was an investment that didn't pay off.
I handled it by writing a standalone and self-publishing it, then writing the next series book and publishing it with Suspense Publishing (the same people who produce Suspense Magazine).
Give us the name of a recent book you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.
I read in a fairly narrow range of mystery writers. Not sure anything stands out lately, though I did like Michael Connelly's latest, The Burning Room. John Sandford is my favorite and I consistently love his two series.
What’s next on your writing journey?
That's the question of the hour! And I hope to get an answer soon.
What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?
Cut out as many adverbs ("ly" words) and gerunds ("ing" words) as you can and you'll have a stronger book. Sometimes those words are needed, but when you get carried away with them, they're an indicator of lazy writing. I like SmartEdit software, which lets you run tests to show where all the adverbs are, the repeated words, etc. It's quite amazing and humbling to see how many escape notice while you're writing. THANK YOU!
Where can we find you online?
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/sheilalowe
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/SheilaLowe
If you want to find Sheila’s work online, check out
Poison Pen: http://amzn.com/B01AYJM068
Written in Blood: http://amzn.to/1owdEFD
Dead Write: http://amzn.com/B01B16INPA
(Author’s Note: Some of my books are currently only available in paperback. They will be back in ebook soon, I hope.)