Strange but True: Tales from Authors with Sheila Lowe

In this episode of Strange but True: Tales from Authors expert handwriting analyst and author Sheila Lowe dives into a topic she knows A LOT about, but one fewer and fewer people are using on a regular basis. 

Reviving a Timeless Skill in a Digital Age by Sheila Lowe

The last time you sent a birthday card to your grandchild, did they have to ask for a translation of those ‘hieroglyphics’ you wrote? If so, you’re not alone. As a handwriting analyst, I encounter this issue frequently. At virtually every presentation I give—often dozens a year—I’m asked the same question: whatever happened to cursive writing?

In a world dominated by keyboards and tablets, many children and young adults have been led to believe that handwriting is a thing of the past. They think they don’t need to learn how to write in cursive, that handwriting has gone the way of the buggy whip, and that all we need are computers. (psst—that’s not true).

So, how did we get here? The story begins in 2009, but it’s a long story and I’m going to squeeze it into a few words: the Common Core Curriculum, designed to standardize elementary education, removed the requirement to teach cursive handwriting. Consequently, most states stopped teaching it, with the rationale that more time should be spent on keyboarding. Over the years, however, as learning disorders grew exponentially, and research began to highlight the importance of handwriting, educators and policymakers began to realize the shortsightedness of abandoning this important lifelong skill.

Thankfully, a shift has occurred as, recognizing their error, many states have moved to reintroduce cursive writing in public schools. In the first half of 2024, California reinstated it (yay!), followed closely by Kentucky and Michigan, with Indiana poised to join them. Legislation is pending in other states as well. By my informal count, 28 states currently require some form of cursive instruction, 10 do not, and some leave the decision to individual school districts. The big challenge now lies in equipping younger teachers with the skills to learn cursive themselves, and teach it.

Why is all this significant? More than just a method of communication, cursive writing is a crucial part of cognitive development and personal expression. Of course we need to teach computer skills—I’m writing this post on my keyboard—but research shows that writing by hand engages the brain in ways that typing does not, enhancing learning and memory. It fosters fine motor skills, encourages discipline, and allows for a unique form of creativity. For those who object that those flowery old letter designs are too time-consuming to write, there are simpler forms of cursive than the curlicues of old-timey copybooks. I could go on. And on. And on.

But what does all this have to do with my books? Handwriting is a window into the soul—a reflection of who we are inside—a frozen picture of our personality. Like me, my main character, Claudia Rose, is a forensic handwriting examiner. While she does not necessarily solve crimes through handwriting analysis, she does use it to delve deeply into the personalities of the characters who populate the books, and sometimes to identify who wrote what.

At a high school reunion two years ago, a bunch of my Anaheim High School classmates (who now know me as “the mystery writer”) prevailed upon me to murder someone at a reunion. On paper, of course. I was thinking about how to do it when I was invited to moderate the panel at the Anaheim Public Library Mystery Author luncheon. Several classmates reserved a table and bid in the live charity auction on a character name in my next book. They won, and we spent the rest of the luncheon deciding who I should kill. That book became MAXIMUM PRESSURE, scheduled for release on July 2nd. Here’s the logline:

When forensic handwriting analyst Claudia Rose attends her high school reunion, she doesn’t expect to stumble over a dead body. Was it an accident, or something more sinister? As she aids an old flame who is making a documentary about the mysterious disappearance of a classmate, Claudia is taken on a twisty path where old school friends come under suspicion. Secrets buried for decades resurface, and she must use her unique skills to unravel the truth before it’s too late.

Let’s hope the next time you send a card to your grandchild it won’t seem like hieroglyphics, but instead be a cherished piece of communication they will hold onto—and a handwriting for Claudia Rose to analyze and discover the real you…

MORE ABOUT SHEILA

Long before her first book was published, bestselling author Sheila Lowe was a handwriting analyst. Her study of handwriting and personality began in high school. Later, she branched into forensics. A certified forensic document examiner, she testifies in court cases. Upon returning to school, she earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Psychology. Sheila’s first two books were non-fiction. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis (2000) and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous (2001). Her first mystery, Poison Pen, debuted in (2007). A starred review in Publishers Weekly kicked off the Claudia RoseForensic Handwriting suspense series, which currently has eight (soon to be nine books) that have all been #1 Amazon bestsellers.  Sheila has written other nonfiction books about handwriting and behavior. Reading Between the Lines (2018), Advanced Studies in Handwriting Psychology (2018), Personality & Anxiety Disorders, (2018), and Succeeding in the Business of Handwriting Analysis (2019). She helped produce Handwriting Analyzer software that is used in law enforcement, governments, and business. Besides writing, Sheila teaches handwriting analysis to students around the world. She lives in Ventura, California. Learn more about Sheila on her websites here:  www.sheilalowebooks.com and www.sheilalowe.com

CLAUDIA ROSE FORENSIC HANDWRITING SERIES

Forensic handwriting expert Claudia Rose knows that despite the words it forms, a pen will always write the truth. Claudia uses her expertise in some cases to help understand the people behind crimes and in others to authenticate questioned handwriting. Although in independent practice, Claudia consults to the police and others. LEARN MORE AND PURCHASE HERE.

 

BEYOND THE VEIL PARANORMAL SUSPENSE SERIES

The series prequel, What She Saw: Imagine waking on a train with no recollection of how you got there, no idea who you are. No name, no memories, no life. The one thing you do know is, you cannot tell anyone, especially the police. By chance or by fate, this young woman runs into someone who knows her and gives her a ride home, where she finds two IDs, two sets of keys, one face, but two separate lives. Book two, Proof of Life: After recovering from amnesia five years ago, Jessica Mack never told anyone she had started hearing voices from the spirit world. Now, forced to use her "gift" to help find missing four-year-old Ethan Starkey, she can no longer ignore the voices. Book three, The Last Door: When identical twins inherit a Victorian mansion from a stranger, the bequest changes everything they knew about their past. LEARN MORE AND PURCHASE HERE. 

Add new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Your email will not be displayed to the public.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.