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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Welcome Guest Author Penny Ehrenkranz!

I hope everyone had a chance to familiarize themselves with Penny Ehrenkranz from the information I posted yesterday. But if you didn't you can read about her here.

Penny is here courtesy of the Red River Writers Blog Tour. I am also associated with this wonderful group led by April Robins. It is a very supportive group for writers of all genres. If you follow this blog you know I was on Blog Talk Radio in June. What you don't know is that I am going to be on Blog Talk Radio again. Only this time I will be talking about my adult story. I'm not sure of the time, but I will definitely let everyone know about it.
Here is more info for Penny:
Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Now on to our guest author interview.

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.

Barbara: That sounds very familiar. I write the same way and sometimes the characters don't act like you would like them to. Right?

Barbara: Which do you like to write more, fiction or non-fiction?

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
Kindle 2?

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.

I've really enjoyed having you here too. After hearing how you got the idea for this book I really want to finish reading it. I hope to have the review up here next week! For anyone who wants to read it you can go to Amazon now and find it there. Check the badge on the side of the blog.

Thank you Penny for your excellent answers and please everyone who reads this leave a comment or question for Penny.

Until the next time, have a great weekend. Hope it stays sunny here and where you are.
Remember I'm on Twitter now and you can follow me: barbehr.


  1. Barbara, it's a pleasure to read these interviews with writers. To discover the myriad ways they all go about discovering what they have to say and how to say it. Very valuable information.

  2. Glad you find these interviews valuable. Thank you for stopping by and hope you will come back.:) It's always great to know that people find value in what I post.:)

  3. This is my first time on your blog, but I loved the interview. I especially liked the last answer. Rejection truly is a part of the process, and as writers, we all have to go through that experience. I hope not too many times, though. :)

  4. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Barbara asked some great questions. I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Barbara on this. Thanks for your support, Barbara!

  5. Hi Lazy Writer,
    I gather you are a writer and have experienced the rejection that all writers have to go through. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview and I'm also happy it was valuable for you. I hope you will visit again.:)

  6. Penny,
    You are too kind! I'm glad you enjoyed the experience and hope you'll be around to answer more of the comments as they arise. Thank you for being such a great guest!

  7. I like your writing process, Penny, and enjoyed reading Ghost for Rent.

    Nice interview, Barbara.


  8. Beverly,
    Thank you for the kind words!

    It's funny, but Penny and I have similar writing processes. I also start with writing until I bog down. Then I do a little bit of plotting. I can't understand people who plot first, but everyone has a different process. That's why I like to know how everyone goes about writing.

  9. Barbara, it's interesting to read about Penny's and your "process" or lack thereof -- I haven't done much outlining -- but then, the longest thing I've written is the 10,000 word chapter book I'm working on now -- and this is the third revision.

    I do wonder if I would have "converged" faster with an outline -- but, ultimately, I'm stuck with the writer I am, and at the moment at least, that's someone who doesn't outline.

    Margaret Fieland

  10. Lionmother, fascinating interview. Loved how Barbara got the idea for her ghost story too.

    And it is great to know somone other than me writes by the seat of their pants - YEA Barbara!!

    Margot Finke - Books & Writing Help.

  11. Peggy,
    I have lost count of how many times I've revised my novel. I think it's about 15 or 16 times.:) But the first chapter has been revised double that amount.:)

    I think some people can't write without an outline. I remember in my first writing class we were told to write for 15 minutes and some people just started talking to each other. I started writing. Then these people jotted down different phrases. I had a whole paragraph written. It's the difference between people. When I started teaching writing I had to teach kids to jot down ideas and use graphic organizers. It seems many people need to do that to organize their ideas. I need my ideas to be there and then I can organize them.:)

  12. Margot,
    Great to see you here!! I would like to clarify something though. Penny got the idea for her ghost story from a friend of hers. I'm not writing a ghost story as far as I know.:)

    What we do have in common is our writing process. Now I see that we also share that with you!!:)

  13. This comment was sent by email to Penny, so I'm posting it here for you Lisette. Sorry you had so much trouble. Google Blogger is so security conscious it's hard sometimes to post a comment. You have to ignore some of the error messages and post it. I do.:)

    Hi Penny:

    I just read your interview with Barbara and I tried for 15 minutes to leave a glowing comment about you, but it just wouldn't work. Several people tried to leave a comment on my interview, but they couldn't do so either. The only reason that I was able to do so the one time is because I have a Google email (that I NEVER use) and the password was stored in the computer. Since having the drive erased so many times, my computer doesn't maintain them any more and I have no clue what it is.

    I feel really bad -- I would have enjoyed leaving the comment for you as would the people who read your interview with me.

    I'm delighted to see you are working on the sequel to GHOST FOR RENT. Did you ever think of collecting ghost stories and putting them together in a book? I absolutely believe in them, too!

    Hope all's well.

    Keep in touch, :0)


  14. So nice to see so many people stopping by to read the interview and comment. I agree it's been informative to read how different writers approach the process of putting their thoughts onto paper (or computer screen). Thanks again Barbara for this opportunity to visit with your readers.

  15. Penny,
    Thanks for summing it all up for us. I am planning to post the review for your book on my next post. A few things moved the time up a little.:)

    Thank you everyone for visiting and commenting. The drawing for the free book will be held after Monday. You still have a chance to get into the drawing if you post by tomorrow night!

  16. Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.
    write term papers-Essay Writing Help

  17. Hi James,
    I'm so glad you were browsing my blog! I'm also happy that anything you find here you can use. I was a teacher and I know how teachers are always looking for new ideas. Writers also need places where they can find writing tips. So good that you found me and I hope you will visit again.:)

    Please also listen to my radio show on Blog Talk Radio. The authors and publishers who are my guests are fantastic for ideas.

    Red RiverWriters Live Tales from the Pages


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