Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mystery Writer and Forensic Analysts Asks the Question: When do you find the time to write?

When do you find the time to write?
Sheila Lowe, MS, mystery writer and forensic handwriting analyst

It’s the question people frequently ask and which drives me crazy (trust me, it’s a short ride). The next time I think I’ll respond by asking, “What do you do for a living?” And when they tell me, I’ll give them a knowing look and say, “When do you find the time to do that?” I’d like to think there would be dawning understanding on their face, but that’s probably unrealistic. Unless someone is an entrepreneur or in the creative arts, people in general don’t seem to recognize that what we as writers do is work and “finding time” for it is not an option; like any 9-5 job, it’s a requirement.

I’m lucky enough to have two careers. Handwriting analysis and forensic handwriting examination
still pay most of my bills and will probably always be my day job, but I’m working toward fiction writing taking on a bigger share of the burden. Looking back at January, which was without question, the busiest month I have ever had, work-wise (praise the handwriting gods!), it’s true that I did not get much time to work on my latest WIP. Court dates and my testimony cannot be postponed because I need to write another chapter. And when a woman calls with an urgent need to know about the potential for danger in the handwriting of a guy she’s seeing, it’s hard for me to say, “Sorry, you’ll have to wait.” Juggling all the moving parts can be a bit of a challenge.

I saw an article whose title suggested it could help one find time to write. No doubt it would have been an interesting read, but I decided to use the time I would have spent reading the article to do some actual work. Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time I use daily on emails and Internet. I’m working on my self-discipline by not leaving Facebook open all the time (I find all those little “dings” letting me know someone has commented irresistible). Now I just check in from time to time and post a lot less. Same with emails. Have you ever noticed how they proliferate—the more you answer them, the more you get! Answering them less frequently seems to cut down on the pile waiting in the in-box.

It’s all about setting priorities, I suppose. For anyone serious about their writing—that is, trying to make a living by writing books—it can’t be a matter of “when do you find the time?” There has to be time (I know, I’m preaching to the choir, here).

My latest photo is posted with this entry. In connection with an interview I did for the Daily Express, a UK newspaper, they sent out a photographer who took 234 photos. This was the one I liked. Sad, isn’t it?! Needless to say, it’s not the one the Express used. Why do newspapers always pick the worst photos? Oh, never mind. That’s a subject for another blog.

For more information on Sheila and her books check out her website at
Follow her on Twitter at @sheila_lowe 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Meet Author Mark Ellis Whose Historical Police Detective Frank Merlin Gets Rave Reviews

After an interesting and enjoyable career in law and business I decided a few years ago to fullfil a long-held ambition and take up writing. To date I have completed two well-received novels both set in World War Two London and featuring my creation, the Anglo-Spanish Scotland Yard police detective Frank Merlin. The first, PRINCES GATE, has Merlin investigating the deaths of employees at the American Embassy in London in the early days of the war in January 1940. In the second, STALIN’S GOLD, published this year, it is September 1940 and Merlin enquires into the disappearance of a Polish RAF pilot as the Battle of Britain and the Blitz rage around him.
   My stories are fictional but set in a historical period which I have very thoroughly researched. Many hours have been spent reading the numerous diaries, social and military histories of the war. Biographies have also been a helpful source and many fruitful days have been spent in the London Public Records Office, Kensington Library and on the internet. I believe I have built up an accurate picture of a fascinating era. In this context, one of my most pleasing reviews came from the eminent bestselling historian, Andrew Roberts, who commented that ‘as an historian I can attest to Ellis’s impressive accuracy in his fine descriptions of Blitz-hit London of 1940.’ He was also kind enough to describe STALIN’S GOLD as ‘masterly’ and ‘compelling’ and to call Merlin ‘one of the most attractive characters to emerge in recent detective-thriller fiction.’
PRINCESGATE’s setting, early 1940, was called 'the Phoney War' because there was no real sign of war activity in London or the country, with some few exceptions such as rationing and the blackout, while British forces were not yet engaged in military action. This was also a time when many powerful and influential people were supporters of appeasement and favoured a quick settlement with Hitler's Germany. One such was Joseph P. Kennedy, the American Ambassador and father of the future President John F. Kennedy. He is joined in the book by other characters of the same mind, some fictional some not.
  In STALIN’S GOLD set seven months later in September 1940, the appeasers’ influence has waned, Churchill is Prime Minister, the RAF is valiantly fending off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and London is enduring heavy bombing in the opening weeks of the Blitz. One surprising fact about the Blitz is that the looting of damaged buildings and areas was rampant. Looters, RAF pilots, Russian crooks and spies and many other I hope entertaining period characters feature in this book.
   I enjoy mixing real historical figures with the fictional characters in my casts. PRINCES GATE features Joseph Kennedy, Cordell Hull (Roosevelt's Secretary of State) and various British politicians. 

In STALIN’S GOLD I have been a little more ambitious including, amongst others, Stalin, Beria, Churchill and the King and Queen.  Some have walk-on parts while others are more integral to the plot. Frank Merlin 3, currently being written and set in the summer of 1941, will have more of this mix.

For more information please visit Mark at

And follow Mark on Twitter at

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet Author Dani Collins who loves Christmas all Year!

I’m so excited to be visiting StoryFinds today, mostly because I can offer you an early Christmas present! You can download my first Montana Born book, Hometown Hero, for free (Oct 14th – 18th)!

Hometown Hero is my first for Montana Born. Chase Goodwin, professional baseball player, returns to his hometown of Marietta to help his younger half-brother. Chase winds up in a small-town scandal with Skye Wolcott that goes big-time viral online.

Writing this story felt like going home to my own small town roots. I enjoyed it so much I signed on to write a Christmas story set in the same fictional town.

In Blame The Mistletoe, Liz and Blake meet at a cocktail party hosted by Skye and Chase, but it turns out that Liz and Blake know each other from a previous life. Liz’s ex-husband is the brother of Blake’s ex-wife. Liz has never enjoyed the season and she’s stuck in Marietta for the holidays. Fortunately, she has Blake to show her why Christmas is actually the best time of the year overall.

Dani loves to hear from FANS. 
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~ * ~


“Uh oh, Liz. You have a decision to make,” Skye said, pointing above Liz’s head.

Liz looked up. Mistletoe.

“The girls made me hang it,” Chase said from behind her, referring to Skye’s nieces who’d been running around with the rest of the children this evening.

Liz’s gaze caught Blake’s on the way down from the little sprig and her heart skipped at the light in his eyes. Her brain grasped for a smart remark, but nothing came.

Blake stepped into her space. “I think we owe it to ourselves,” he said. “Don’t you?”

Swaying, she set her hands on the cold, brushed texture of his coat, feeling ridiculously small and girlish all of a sudden. “Because of our mutual experience with the Flowers?” she asked.

“Actually . . . ” His gaze narrowed as he stared at her mouth and started to lower his head. “Let’s not think of them at all.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why one Author's Love of Egypt Inspired her to Write Novels

So why Egypt?

I've been in love with Egypt all my life. By the time I was nine I had read every book on Egyptology in  every library in our city. I longed to go there, but life had other plans and I was a fully grown woman when I went with my mother (who became a camel thief, but that's another story) on a perfectly horrible tour.

Still, it was wonderful. I wandered the temple of Karnak in the moonlight, all too aware that my sensible Nikes were treading on stones that had known the touch of pharonic sandals. Egypt has a magic... Later The Husband proposed to me in a moonlit garden at the base of the Pyramids, and still later, we went back for an almost month-long holiday where we leisurely explored the country.

That's where the idea for THE EGYPTIAN FILE originated. At El Kab there are old tombs that have been open since the Middle Ages, tombs still lively with paint. One of them also has a graffito, long reputed to be early Phoenician, since shown to be a degraded form of demotic. For some reason that sparked an idea of using the graffito as part of a key to solving a mystery. How does one use a two-thousand year old graffito as a clue in a modern mystery? (I'm not going to tell you how, but it does work!)

Every romance has to have conflict between the hero and heroine; every mystery has to have a puzzle that needs solving. After much stewing and (to the discomfort of our traveling companions) muttering, the story of THE EGYPTIAN FILE finally started to come together. Melissa is an art dealer suspected of being an antiquities smuggler, who comes to Egypt to retrieve a file left by her late father. David is a professor of Egyptology who is working with a task force to catch an antiquities smuggler. Of course they end up together, running across Egypt in fear of their lives from both a corrupt task force and a murderous rival who wants the file at any cost. Their adventures are great fun.

I got permission from Dr. Dirk Huyge, head of the El Kab dig, to add a tomb, as things go on in that tomb which should never go on in a real one! Also, the prototype of the hero David really exists. He was our Egyptian security guard during our group's Death March through the ancient quarry of Geb-el-Silsilla (that's another story, too!) and perhaps the best looking man I have ever seen.

I could blather on about Egypt and this book forever, but this blog has a 500 word limit (which I think unfair; some of us have difficulty saying 'Good Morning' in less than 500 words!) so I had better quit now. I hope you enjoy THE EGYPTIAN FILE and perhaps through it come to share a little of the love and fascination I feel for that ancient country.

For more information on Janis check out her website at
or tweet her at