Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#085 Inside the Emotion of Fiction: "PROOF OF LIFE" by Sheila Lowe

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****Sheila Lowe’s PROOF OF LIFE is #85 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 
Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? My latest book, released last week, is Proof of Life. I always start with the title so there are no other names I considered. Titles just comes to me and I build the story around them.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date?
Suspense Publishing (http://www.suspensemagazine.com/publishing.html) published the new Beyond the Veil series. Proof of Life was released on May 7, 2019.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I think I started Proof of Life in February, 2018. I turned it in to my publisher in March, 2019. It takes about a year for me to write a book because I work on them in between working at my day job, consulting as a forensic handwriting examiner.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail.  Other than when I’m handwriting my notes and beginning my outline, I always work at my desk, dubbed The Command Center. My office is half my kitchen. (The box of knitting supplies behind me is for baby clothes I intend to make for my one and only grandchild, baby Cleo, born this past September)
What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I usually have classical music or bluesy jazz playing, and a cup of tea with cream and sugar to start with. Later, I’ll switch to Diet Dr. Pepper and water. Since I tend to waste a lot of time on email, when I get down to writing, it’s usually late at night, often after ten. So, I go to bed late and get up late.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? Proof of Life: After recovering from amnesia 5 years ago, Jessica Mack never told anyone she had started hearing voices from the spirit world. Now, forced to use her "gift" to find missing four-year-old Ethan Starkey, she can no longer ignore the voices. Time is running out for little Ethan as Jessica, and Sage Boles, a man with a mysterious past, are guided by the voices to a seance, where they hope to get clues to the child's whereabouts.
Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? In the prequel, What She Saw, Jessica Mack had amnesia due to a head injury that resulted in coma, and a traumatic loss. Proof of Life picks up five years later, where we learn that she has been hearing voices from the spirit world. 

Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference. This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
I am including the prologue as an attachment.

Excerpt from Proof of Life by Sheila Lowe

Five Years Ago
Jessica Mack’s head hit the windshield, killing her instantly.
Her spirit, detaching from her body, hovered above it for a short time before rising higher and higher above the cliff. High enough to see the driver of the eighteen-wheeler park his big rig on the shoulder of the highway and jump down from the cab, his yellow slicker a neon point of color in the night as he ran to the twisted guardrail and yelled down that help was coming.
The Camry had come to rest at the bottom of the steep canyon, a smoky plume drifting in defiance of the torrential rain over what was left of the engine compartment. The passenger side windshield where Jessica’s head had connected was reduced to a spiderweb of glass mesh.
Through the moonless night, her eyes found her husband, full of alcohol and road rage, struggling up the steep cliff, clinging to the manzanita and scrub brush. Greg had been thrown clear when they hit the semi and the Camry went airborne, rolling over and over down the hillside.
Why wasn’t he checking on her and Justin?
As her son’s name entered her thoughts, a tunnel of brilliant white light opened in the heavens. His spirit, luminescent in the darkness, left the small body still strapped into its safety seat ten yards from the car and began to ascend.
Jessica tried to call out to him. Wait for me.
But like a dreamer whose voice fails to produce sound in the dream, her vocal cords were as unresponsive as the physical body she had left behind.
The tunnel grew and expanded, accepting her little boy into it, leaving his mother with a last glimpse of his face, radiant and beaming with joy.
As he disappeared from her sight, Jessica became aware of a shimmering presence, a majestic Being beside her, dressed in pure white robes and bathed in golden light as bright as the sun. Its features were indistinct, but she experienced the Being as masculine.
Are you an angel? Am I dead?
She sensed the Being smile with great tenderness as if her questions amused him. That he knew her completely, she had no doubt, and opened herself to the connection without reservation. No words were spoken. He touched her with his mind, impressing his thoughts upon her.
“You must go back.”
But I don’t want to. My baby is too young. He needs me.
“He will never leave you. At the proper time you will be together again.”
She wanted to resist, to argue and insist that no one could care for her son the way she could. But within the deepest reaches of her soul, she knew that the Being spoke the truth, that her son would be protected and cherished, even though she was not there with him.
And so, for Justin’s sake, Jessica made the most difficult decision of the thirty-two years she had existed upon the earth. She let her child go on without her.
In that moment, she felt herself enfolded in unconditional love more profound than anything she could have imagined. Glorious, incredible music entered her, permeating her very being. She was the music. She was the energy of every living thing: animals, plants, the elements.
There was nothing Jessica wanted more than to stay here, safe and infinitely cared for.
Without warning, as if she were cresting the tallest roller coaster on earth, then rocketing down the other side at breakneck speed, she found herself shocked back into her body. A body wracked with searing pain. A heart broken by the unspeakable loss of her son. And the utter wretchedness of being separated from the Light.

The whispers, quiet but incessant, started soon after Jessica awoke from a two-week coma.
For five years she had kept them at bay.
Now, they refused to be silenced any longer.

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? My interest in the afterlife began when my daughter (Jennifer Lowe, Left) was murdered. I needed to know what happens when we die. Writing the opening of Proof of Life made me think about what my daughter’s experience might have been when she closed her eyes to her earthly life and opened them in the spirit world.  When I started writing this book, I was told by several spirit mediums that Jennifer would be working with me. Clearly, she was.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? I don’t have any rough drafts. I just keep reworking and saving the same file until I’m satisfied with it.

Other works you have published?
Reading Between the Lines - Decoding Handwriting
Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous
Advanced Studies in Handwriting Psychology,

Personality & Anxiety Disorders (How they may be reflected in handwriting, and other important topics)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis
Succeeding in the Business of Handwriting Analysis

Poison Pen
Written in Blood
Dead Write
Last Writes
Inkslingers Ball,
Outside the Lines
Written Off
What She Saw
Proof of Life

Anything you would like to add? Writing is hard work, but for me, it’s a compulsion. So, I always say, while I don’t like writing, I like having written.  And while writing is hard, getting published is harder, and marketing your books is the hardest of all. So, unless you are prepared to do the work, you might as well just write for yourself if it gives you pleasure. Even with a major publishing house, unless you are already a big-name writer, you will be expected to do your own marketing. I say this, not to discourage anyone, but so they know what to expect. When I wrote my first book (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis) I expected the publisher to send me on a book tour and take out ads, as I had seen in movies. That did not happen. And now, nearly 20 years later, it’s still not happening. I have hired publicists, some more effective than others, and it ain’t cheap. It’s hard to tell how their efforts directly affect sales, too. At least with social media, which was not around when my books were first published, it’s easier to get free advertising.         
          Like her fictional character, Claudia Rose, Sheila Lowe is a real-life forensic handwriting examiner. The mother of a tattoo artist and a former rock star, she lives in Ventura. She’s published five nonfiction books on handwriting psychology, seven in the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, and is now writing the Beyond the Veil Mysteries. Sheila is the current president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, a 50-year-old non-profit educational organization, and is on the board of directors of the Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners. She is often seen in the media, and works with clients around the world.
Email: sheila@sheilalowe.com

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