Ghost for Rent
Guest Author Interview Questions for Penny Ehrenkranz
Barbara: How did you come up with the idea for Ghost for Rent?
Penny: I was chatting with a friend years ago. She and her husband had divorced, and she moved the family to an old farm house which sherented. One evening she heard piano music playing, went downstairs and saw a ghostly figure seated at their old piano. Of course, that got mycreative muse thinking about why her rental house was haunted, who the boy was, and what a great story it would make.It took awhile for it to gel completely and turn into Ghost for Rent, but I had fun with it.
Barbara: Why is Ghost for Rent listed under two different author's
names? Is Lockwood your pen name?
Penny: Lockwood is actually my maiden name. I thought about publishing it under Penny Ehrenkranz, but since it's a kid's book, I thought they might be able to remember Lockwood better than Ehrenkranz.
Barbara: You have an enormous amount of articles published in both print magazines and online. Have you ever thought of publishing a book including all of your articles?
Penny: My articles cover a wide variety of topics, but I suppose some could be combined into an eBook. The writing articles especially might be something I should put into a collection. Newbie writers always seem to be looking for help from those of us who have been published. The other articles relate to parenting tips and teen self-help. It's a good idea and I'll have to look at the different pieces a little bit closer.Now that there are so many options for self-publishing available, it does make sense. Thanks for the idea!
Barbara: Would you share with us your writing process for Ghost for
Penny: Ah, the process. . . Would you believe I have no process? I'm the kind of writer who writes by the seat of her pants. I get an idea for a story. I sit down and the story just happens. Ghost for Rent was probably my hardest because it was a novel as opposed to a short story, which is what I mainly write. I tend to let my characters take over, and they more or less tell me what's going to happen. I don't outline or make cards. I do make quick character sketches so I don't change eye color or hair color or the character's name half-way through the story. When I'm really in my writing mode, I can close my eyes, and it's like watching a movie. Then I write it down. Sounds weird, but it works for me.
Penny: It's probably fairly even, although I have published more
non-fiction. I love to write fiction, but I learned early on in my writing career that it's easier to sell non-fiction. Not as many people want to write it. Magazines have a greater need for it. For the most part, it pays better.
Barbara: How do your own experiences help you in your writing? Did you put any of them into Ghost for Rent?
Penny: My own experiences tend to show up in my writing, particularly the non-fiction. Most of the non-fiction I've written is based on either personal experience as a parent, my volunteer work and training,or my non-writing paid jobs. As for personal experiences showing up in Ghost for Rent, I would say the following relate to my own experiences:1. Wendy's mom is a writer. 2. Wendy likes to write poetry. 3. Wendy believes in Ghosts. 4.Wendy has an older brother. 5. Wendy lives in Oregon. Although I'm the writer, not my mom, as a child I wrote poetry, I believed in ghosts, I had an older brother and while I didn't grow up in Oregon, I do live there now.
Barbara: How long did it take until Ghost for Rent was accepted for
Penny: I only submitted to one publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory, in February, 1999. I queried with a synopsis. In June, they asked that I send the full manuscript, which I did. They requested a rewrite of some parts of the manuscript in December, 1999. I completed the rewrite and returned it in January of 2001. They accepted and sent me a contract. The book was published in May of 2002 as an eBook and a print on demand
trade paperback was available in June, 2002.
Barbara: Do you have an agent? Do you think authors need an agent?
Penny: I don't have an agent. I chose to publish with an electronic book publisher because I've heard how difficult it is to publish with traditional houses. While I've had success with magazine articles and short stories, I didn't feel like I had much chance of making it out of the slush pile. I've been happy with my choice. As a first time novelist, I felt excited to hold my book in my hands and to know that I had a novel published. It's been a learning experience. I know a lot of people feel like they need an agent. I think it's a personal choice. There are so many publishing options available these days, and many don't require an agent. I think authors need to decide what works best for them and pursue that option.
Barbara: You have your book published in three different formats
including an ebook. What do you think of the future of ebooks?
Penny: Actually, only two formats. One is the eBook, the other is a print on demand trade paperback. When eBook readers become more affordable, I think eBooks will become more popular. Personally, I like to hold a book when I read it. This is one reason I liked working with Hard Shell Word Factory since they did offer the print on demand paperback version. Then again, it's also nice to know that a tree isn't destroyed to create an eBook.
Barbara: What do you think of digital readers such as Kindle and
Penny: I haven't had any experience using digital readers, so I can't respond to this question.
Barbara: How are you marketing your book? Do you have any events such as book signings or radio spots planned?
Penny: I did a book signing at my local book store. I live in a small rural community, so it's harder to do anything big without traveling. Right now, I'm not in a position to do that. I also had some write-ups in our local newspapers. I am doing this blog tour now, and I'm curious to see if that will increase sales at all. When the book was first published, I really didn't have a clue how to market it. The publisher was supposed to do some marketing, but I don't think they did much.
Barbara: How much value do you think appearing on Blog Tours has been to your book sales?
Penny: Hopefully, it will help, but I won't know until I get my next royalty statement. This is an experiment for me as I'm not sure if there is a better way to do a blog tour. For example, are there specific types of blogs I should have approached? Should I have answered interview questions differently? Am I reaching the right people? I tried to find bloggers who were also children's authors to review the book. I thought they would be more likely to have an audience interested in learningmore about my children's novel.
Barbara: Do you have any works in progress that you can let us know about?
Penny: I just sent off a collection of my adult short stories (science fiction and fantasy) to a publisher. Several years ago several of these stories had been published as a collection by an eBook publisher.Unfortunately, that publisher went out of business. There aren't many publishers who want collections. I found one who might be interested. Ideleted some stories from the first collection and added some new ones.If the collection finds a home, it will be titled A Past and A Future.In addition to that, I am working (it's been a slow process with lots of interruptions) on the sequel to Ghost for Rent. The working title isGhost for Dinner.
Barbara: Is there anything else that you would like to say to our
Penny: Being a writer is one of the best professions I know. It's a lot of hard work and it can be frustrating at times, but it's so exciting to see your name in print. The one thing I learned later than I should have is that it's okay to be rejected. Being rejected means that you are writing and submitting. What one editor doesn't like, another might. If an editor offers suggestions to improve your manuscript, take a good look at what you've written and see if those suggestions might be a good idea. Don't be afraid to get your work out there. Even the best and most widely read authors get rejections.
Thanks for having me here today, Barbara. I've enjoyed our visit.