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Friday, July 31, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday! with a Polar Bear!

The photo I'm including here could be a postcard. We took it through the bus window when we visited Yellowstone National Park. I think it goes along with the theme of the blog today. What do you think? It's of a bison just wandering around the parking area.

What do you do when a polar bear is coming straight for your tethered dog? This is not a problem we here in the lower 48 states have to think about, but my friend sent me these pictures and I thought that I'd post them. The polar bear in these pictures looks like the tamest and most well-behaved ever. I think what I like best about them is the gentle expression on its face and the compassion the bear shows to the dog. See for yourself. Scroll down and see the polar bear in its natural setting.

I've always hated that baby polar bears have been clubbed to death and imagine the horror a mother polar bear feels when this is done to her baby. The behavior you see here is the opposite of how you think a polar bear would react in the wild. But here is a good reason to protect these gentle creatures.

The polar bear comes close to the tethered dog. The person taking the picture
looks on in horror and worries the dog is now food for the bear.
The bear comes close to the dog and look at the expression on
its face.
Then it throws its paws around the dog and hugs it. Look
how sweet its face is.
Afterward the two stand quietly together in a friendly almost
human moment. They seem to be communicating wordlessly.
The polar bear holds the dog in the crook of its arm as if to
warm it or protect it from the elements. It looks more like
a furry blanket here than a giant polar bear.
Finally the bear feels secure and lays down at the feet of
the dog. The bear's expression is calm and peaceful. Its mouth
has been closed the whole time.

Yes, that was a departure for me, but think of the benefit of showing people the real behavior of an animal in the wild. Do polar bears in captivity act like this? Probably not, because everything in captivity changes. I'm using this for my Postcard Friendship Friday.:)

Okay, here is the winner for the free eBook from Penny Ehrenkranz.

It's and I just left a comment on his blog.

Not happy about Melissa going home on SYTYCD, but love Kayla and Brandon. Also love Evan, so Jeanine will have to be spectacular to out dance Kayla. Just my thoughts, of course.

Until the next time, please leave your comments about how you feel about any of this post. It's kind of a mish mosh of animal photos.:) Certainly not my usual fare, but my guest author is once again not able to be here. So we have to adapt. Jennifer Banash will be with us, hopefully, later today. Keep checking. I might put a new post on during the afternoon.

By the way, for anyone who wants to know today is my birthday! I'm a Leo and love lions. See my post about Why I Love Lions to know why.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Websites I Love and an Introduction to Our Guest Author, Jennifer Banash

Melissa, Ade, Jeanine, Evan, Kayla, Brandon

First of all, So You Think You Can Dance was outstanding tonight. I voted for my favorites, but I have a feeling from all the Twitter talk that they won't be there very long.:( I am very disappointed that no one voted in the poll that I had at the end of my blog. I'm leaving it there until the show ends. Please go look. It's after all the posts and you have to scroll down. I'm interested in seeing who is your favorite dancer. I thought I had a favorite until tonight when I realized I didn't want anyone to go home.:)

Okay, I've been collecting all of these great websites for a long time and I thought I'd introduce a couple of them to you.

1. - This website promises to increase your blog's traffic for free. According to their own information it aims to bring websites with common interests together. When you join you are asked either to write an honest review of the website or you can pay $20 to join. For this you will receive your own RSS blog for 10 years. I thought this was a great idea and decided to take the first approach. The registration is easy and all you need to do is give the name of your blog and it is approved instantly if it is not already registered. Also you are given choices of areas of interest for your blog and you can pick which category you are blogging about from a pull down of hundreds of interests. It was formed to be able to send traffic to blogs and also to build back links for search engine optimization.

Besides hooking you up with a lot of blogs that you might be interested in seeing, and bringing other people to see your blog, the website offers you a chance to learn more about internet marketing. The owner seems to be providing a spam free, ad free website where bloggers can feel safe and connect with each other anonymously. It's on the same principle as Google Reader where you can browse through and click on only things that catch your interest. There are lists of blogs in each category.

You are rewarded for gaining more readers and put into the Top 100 if you achieve the most readers each month. I like that you have a chance each month to gain a spot in this Top 100. In return you are sent hundreds of new visitors for your site. "It's a win/win" situation as the owner of the website states. For me it's another way to try to gain more traffic by writing.:) Gee that's hard for me!!:) I'm looking forward to seeing how this works and trying to get into the Top 100. I think anyone who has a blog should at least take a look at this website. I like the honesty of it all. I mean the owner even tells you in his blog that the website has been sold and for how much. He displays the check. It's very refreshing.:) Go take a look and see if you like it.
I have to credit, jobng with his post about the same website. Thank you jobng for pointing me in the right direction.

2. - I have to credit Outnumbered for finding this website. These women who are all Moms, have a video in which they each discuss the topic of the day. They are honest and funny and very interesting to see. On Monday of this week they had one of the best topics ever to discuss. How do you tell your child where babies come from? Before that the topic was order of birth. Each of the women has a chance to give an answer to the question and then after the video they urge comments about the topic. Monday's topic's discussion started with the funniest answer to this question I have ever heard. The woman answered her four year old daughter by saying that "magical elves" had placed it inside of her. ROTFL wish I'd thought of that when I had my three and half year old daughter ask me that question.:) If you are a Mom or will become one soon you must go see this website. Even if your children are all grown you will be enjoying this discussion.

The topics change daily and today's topic is date night. I really enjoy the different women talking about their own experiences. For this date night thing I'm reminded of how my husband and I used to subscribe to shows and go to concerts without our kids. Sometimes we just went out to dinner and a movie, but we always spent the time together getting babysitters all the time. It was worth it to find that connection and it helped us throughout our children's growing up time. I don't think a marriage can survive without a date night.:)

That's all I have for today, but more in another post.

Tomorrow if everything goes right we will have Jennifer Banash as my guest author. Recently I finished reading her new book, the last of the Elite series called Simply Irresistible. Jennifer grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan where the story is set. If you want to be prepared for our interview I suggest that you purchase this book. I am going to give a full review later, but I really loved it.

Until the next post, which will be tomorrow I hope, thank you to my readers. I am happy to say that I now have 100 people following me. I'm hoping that everyone is enjoying my posts. I know that I have way too much to say. And I didn't even talk about what happened to me this week. Next post.:)

Friday, July 24, 2009

What is an Homage? Katie Holmes Performs "Get Happy" on "So You Think You Can Dance"

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was a big fan of "So You Think You Can Dance". Actually it's become an obsession lately. This year the dancers are all so incredible that it's hard to decide who to vote for. So we haven't really voted much at all. We didn't vote this week and my family sat there while the results were read on Wednesday night with our fingers crossed. Would my favorites be sent home?

I was thrilled to see that my favorites are also America's favorites.:) But now that there are only three girls and three boys left I'm really torn. I love all of them so much for their individual talents. I wouldn't want to see any of the dancers go home. This is the first year that I feel this way and I don't know what to do. So if you are a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance" maybe you'll help me. I'm going to post the names of the dancers and I'm going to conduct a poll to see which are your favorites. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to vote. It's going to end on Monday, August 2nd. I'll post the winners before the next show on Tuesday night. Let's see if our winners are the ones who stay on Wednesday. :)

My post title is "What is an Homage?" On Wednesday night Katie Holmes did a dance and sang to " Get Happy" done by Judy Garland in the movie "Summer Stock". Katie Holmes did a very good job of singing and dancing and as you can see if you watch the original, the choreography was much more elaborate than the original choreography. Some people spoke out against her for doing this. I'm not sure that they understand what an homage is.

Merrium -Webster's online dictionary defines homage as:
2 a: expression of high regard : respect —often used with pay b: something that shows respect or attests to the worth or influence of another

I think Katie Holmes did that and all of those people who expected a word for word and dance move for dance move copy of the original don't understand what an "homage" is. It's a tribute to the style and the grace of Judy Garland. Was it a little more sexy than the original? Maybe. Did Katie Holmes move herself in a different way? Yes. But this routine compared to the original is so much more complex. They updated the dancing and I think it worked.

I also think that Katie Holmes was very brave to go on a dance show and dance when she would probably not have been picked for the show. I don't really know if she would have, since the moves seemed to be very simple. However, that could just be the talent of the dancer. Many times moves look simple but you cannot do them. It's like what happened when people looked at Fred Astaire and thought, it looks so easy I could definitely do it. But no one dances like he did.

I don't judge dancers, because I'm not a dancer. I love to dance and shake my hips, but I'm not a dancer. I love this show, because these people are dancers and they really put everything on the line for dance. Katie Holmes was on the show to highlight her worthy charity, Dizzy Feet Foundation, and to pay a tribute to Judy Garland. I applaud her and wish that people would stop being critics and start just enjoying entertainment. It's time to enjoy the efforts of other people even if they're not always perfect.

That's all for today. Don't forget to vote in the poll for "So You Think You Can Dance". Then on Tuesday night call in your votes for your favorite dancers. I know I will be doing that.

Next week I will be having as my guest author, Jennifer Barash who has just had the third book in her Elite series, SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE, published this week. Come back and visit on Thursday for the interview.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are Ghosts Real? A Review of Ghost for Rent by Penny Ehrenkranz

Last Thursday my guest author was Penny Ehrenkranz (Lockwood). At that time I told you I would review her book. Unfortunately, the events of the past week including the bombings in Jakarta and the death of Walter Cronkite took up almost all of the week.

Then we also lost Frank McCourt, who more than anyone brought the events that were happening in Ireland to life for the rest of the world. Mr. McCourt was an educator as well as an author and his wit and humor will be missed. Though he was a native New Yorker, his parents moved back to Ireland, since they they couldn't find a job in America. Angela's Ashes which won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into a movie starring Emily Watson as his mother, is the story of his existence and what it was like to live in Ireland and be poor. Frank McCourt became a celebrity late in life and was part of the New York literary scene. He taught for 30 years before his book was published. Then in 1996 he became an instant hit and his career flourished. He also wrote a memoir about teaching, Teacher Man, which shows the daily grind of being a teacher in New York.

So that is why this review is a little late.:) But here it is as promised. Also anyone who comments on the interview will be in the drawing for a free book. Please go and leave your comment to be in the drawing. You have until Monday, July 20 to leave your comment.
Review of Ghost for Rent
by Penny Lockwood (Ehrenkranz)

What happens when a city girl has to move to the country? How will she survive leaving her familiar apartment for an old farmhouse on the outskirts of a tiny town? To add to her troubles the house seems to be haunted. Is it possible that the ghosts are trying to tell the new inhabitants something?

In Ghost for Rent by Penny Ehrenkranz, Wendy and her older brother Mike are forced to move to a farmhouse her mother has rented when her mother asks her Dad for a divorce. Soon she finds herself in the country. When her new friend, Jennifer, tells Wendy how she thinks her new house is haunted, Wendy doesn’t want to believe it. But soon, events change her beliefs and start her and her friend Jennifer on a quest to discover the mystery behind all the strange ghostly sightings at her new place.

The author involves the reader in the mystery as she puts you in the terrifying situations that the children face as they confront the apparitions that are desperately trying to find a way to communicate their message to the new inhabitants of the house. As each strange occurrence happens the reader can feel the same goose bumps the children feel as they encounter these ghostly presences.

Told in Wendy’s point of view the reader encounters the ghosts at the same time as she does, and as the real life story of the ghosts comes to light it is evident that this is not your usual ghost story. Intertwined with the ghost story is the uncomfortable experience of separation from Wendy’s Dad and her mother’s assimilation into a small town existence. The author writes of small towns with tenderness and makes the one in the story very inviting.

How do you find the answer to a mystery that is almost a hundred years old? Will the research unearth the answer? What is it like to see a ghost and be part of that experience? To find out you will need to read the book. You will find it a very fast and enjoyable read. Though it is written with younger characters, the story, which delves into teen age issues, should appeal to older readers as well.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Dies at 92!

Some people become part of your life even if you don't know them personally. That's how it was with me and Walter Cronkite. With his fatherly voice and kind smile and eyes his presence was a given on my TV from the time he took over the anchor position on CBS until he retired in 1981.

With Eric Sevareid by his side to sum up all the events in a harmonious and artful prose I watched the CBS Evening News every night like clockwork. I got married in 1965 and my husband and I never missed a show unless it was impossible to see it. I didn't realize that in 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated that Walter Cronkite had only been on the air less than a year. Here was this news anchor who was there to show us the unfolding events on our TV screen. Though it was black and white and tiny by modern comparison it was just as mesmerizing for us. I watched the funeral with Cronkite's narration and witnessed the black veiled Jackie Kennedy and her two adorable children as they were on display for everyone to see. Being a media sensation was a new thing, so there weren't all of the zillions of camera people as there are today. But Walter Cronkite made it palatable for us with stories of her and a respect for privacy that TV has lost somehow. He made sure we saw everything including the transfer of the prisoner Lee Harvey Oswald. I remember his shock when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby and all hell broke loose. Walter Cronkite kept his cool and reported the facts to us.

As the Viet Nam War built to a crescendo and they began sending back films of the fighting going on over there we watched every night and saw the battles with no respite from the suffering that was going on over there. Also we saw the flag draped coffins every night on the news and the body count was always mentioned. Until the war ended we lived with it on our TV during dinner. We didn't want to miss anything so we watched the news during dinner. There were no video recorders or Tivos around then.

In 1968 after a horrible spring when we lost Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, Walter Cronkite covered both the Republican and the Democratic Conventions with their protests and chaos. Unable to stay in the booth because he was thrown out of it for Huntley and Brinkley, he had to report from the floor. It wasn't like it was today. No computers to replay anything. You saw what was filmed.

Later in 1969 my husband and I were working in a camp and were in front of a TV in the camp's auditorium/mess hall with the entire camp assembled as we watched the landing of a spaceship on the moon. That in itself was amazing and for me something out of a science fiction movie. I had to pinch myself to prove it was true. But Walter Cronkite told us there was going to be more. There he was at Cape Canaveral interviewing the launch director and telling us there was going to be a walk on the moon. We held our breath as the hatch opened and Neil Armstrong came down the ladder. We could barely understand the sentence he said, but we saw his foot step onto the moon. "One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind." Walter Cronkite chronicled it for us. As he did with anything of note he stayed until the launch was complete.

Later when Lyndon Johnson died Walter Cronkite broke into our afternoon and told us about it. Soon afterward we were involved in the Watergate break in and Walter Cronkite led us through that and the hearings afterward. In between all the major events mentioned he reported the news concisely and with intelligence and humor. He had written most of it, so he knew it very well. I heard tonight from a few people who knew him that he was a good ad libber. I can believe it. He was on TV once for over 24 hours and had nothing to do except wait. He was able to talk the entire time.

When I heard his voice it made me feel safe. I'm sure that a lot of other people felt the same way, because at one point the entire country felt that he was the person with whom they felt the safest. He was the most trusted person in the United States. When he spoke it was like he was putting his arm around you and telling you everything would be okay. I miss that and have probably missed it much more than I thought.

Just now I felt a few tears start to well up. When you lose someone who has been a part of your life for so long it's often a big shock. But now thinking more about him and writing about him it has brought home to me that Walter Cronkite was very special and in a different mold than our current news people on TV. He was a newsman's newsman. He reported the news without any bias. That is something that some newspeople don't do today. I won't mention any names but they are mostly on places like FOX News and occasionally CNN.

Farewell Walter Cronkite. As you used to say: "And that's the way it is" on this 18th day of July, 2009. We will all miss you very much.

Postcard Friendship Friday!

Frankly My Dear I Don't Give A Boop!
I'm posting this postcard sent to me by a friend who is now deceased. I ran across it and decided to use it for Postcard Friendship Friday. She sent this from South Carolina when she was there during a hurricane. I'm not sure if this was sent before or after the hurricane. But she knew how much I loved Betty Boop and it was very thoughtful of her to do that.:)

For anyone who doesn't get the reference it comes from "Gone with the Wind" the movie made from the book by Margaret Mitchell. The heroine Scarlett O'Hara has grown up in a beautiful southern mansion on a plantation. Rhett Butler is the man in her life and they have a tumultuous love affair. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it or seen the movie so I'll leave it like that. Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable played Scarlett and Rhett. Rhett is disgusted with Scarlett and as he is leaving her he says: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
Just a little different:) See the actual scene when you click the link.

So Betty Boop in a hoop skirt with that quotation is perfect. Betty is so much a Scarlett O'Hara.:)

My next post will deal with my thoughts about Walter Cronkite who died at the age of 92 today on the 40th anniversary of a man walking on the moon. More in my next post.

Explosions at Jakarta Hotels!

I was wondering what to write my blog about for this post when I heard about the bombings in luxury hotels in Jakarta. I have some pictures here from Twitter that show the devastation these explosions have caused. Especially awful to me are the expressions on the people's faces. They're saying it could be a group called Jemaah Islamiah, which was blamed for attacks in 2003. There's no way of knowing. But I'm sure that it probably has something to do with the election they had there for president. The president who was re-elected a week ago, has been successful for a few years in preventing these kinds of attacks. People relaxed and luxury hotels have been built there. The president of a cement company has been killed in one of the attacks. People fear that these attacks may weaken investors' confidence. They targeted the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, which were relatively close to each other and the attacks were minutes apart. There was also a roadside bombing on the outskirts of the city.

Here is yet again an example of how Twitter has the news on the instant. We were watching TV tonight when my daughter, who was Twittering on her IPod, gave a loud exclamation and said that there were explosions in Jakarta. This was about 11:30 PM. The TV did not have any news about it. This article you will see was written around 2:30AM. Twitter had the news almost two hours before the AP. This is probably why I have gotten onto Twitter and it's a whole new world. I'm not even sure how to do some things like retweeting, but I'm following some interesting people. If you want me to follow you, please find me on Twitter: @barbehr.

Meanwhile the video of the explosion site is now on CNN and the eyewitness who took this video was interviewed by Anderson Cooper. This looks like it's going to take awhile to figure out what happened. As you see the video you can see the damage that was done. It looks to me, though this is without any evidence of course, that it might have been an inside job. The witness talks about the level of security and it just sounds like it may have been one of those super secret put the bomb together with spit and string kind of operation. How awful for this country that has been trying to stop these attacks. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world. Yet it is keeping its modernity and encouraging investments. I hope that it won't disintegrate into a real disaster. The president of Indonesia says that he is going to be investigating and will not stop without knowing the answer. I give him credit.

This is BREAKING NEWS. So it might have changed by the time you read this post. Please keep up with the changing facts. While I was preparing this post Twitter updates came at hundreds per second. When I got onto Twitter and started reading about the bombings there were only a few hundred updates. Now there are thousands of tweets about Jakarta and all the major news networks have the story.

Next post I am posting the review for Ghost for Rent by Penny Ehrenkranz. Thank you again to everyone who left a comment. I gave you more time to comment. You have until Monday if you didn't read the interview or didn't have a comment posted. Just heard from Jason Mayo who writes one of my favorite blogs, Outnumbered. He won the last drawing and thanked me for Cynthia Polansky's Remote Control that he won. The winner of this drawing will probably get a book from my own collection.

Until the next time, thank you to all my readers and hope you were not involved in the devastating explosion in Jakarta.

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.

Learn About Guest Author Penny Ehrenkranz

Welcome to our Guest Author for this week: Penny Ehrenkranz

It seems I passed a milestone for my last post and didn't know it. It was my 100th post!!! Yay!!!! Cue balloons and confetti!!!! Well virtual ones at any rate.:)

Today I wanted to give you a little bit of background about the guest author for this week, Penny Ehrenkranz. She will be joining us tomorrow, Friday, but you can learn more about her here. It's cool that our last names begin the same.:)

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, where she graduated high school in 1964. A zest for life and adventure gave her the desire to sample many of life's pleasures including being a "flower" child in the late 60's and early 70's, a motor-cycle enthusiast, and a practioner and teacher of yoga. Travels in an old VW van brought her to California in the late 1970's where she met her husband. They now live in Oregon with their three dogs and five cats. She is a mother and a grandmother and enjoys gardening, reading and crocheting in her spare time. She has published more than 85 articles, 60 stories, two e-books, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children's publications and non-fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications. Her writing blog is available at:

Before she joins us you can familiarize yourself with one of her novels, Ghost for Rent. By the way, anyone who leaves a comment or question will once again be in the drawing for a free book!! So let's see a lot of comments or questions starting today. If you leave a question for Penny she will answer it for you when she gets here.



This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 13,280 words, 10 chapters, and 65 pages long. The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced. Forced to leave her beloved city home for a cheaper country place, Wendy, her mother, and her twelve year old brother move to rural Warren, Oregon.

On move-in day, Wendy meets a neighbor girl who tells her their quaint country home is haunted. Events proceed quickly as Wendy, her new friend, Jennifer, and Wendy’s brother, Mike, see ghostly figures dancing in the woods. Despite Mom’s claims that “there’s no such thing as ghosts,” paranormal events continue to occur in the Wiles’ home. Meanwhile her brother Mike, arch-tease, continues to torment Wendy, claiming he’s causing the unusual happenings.

Wendy searches through library records to get to the bottom of the mystery. Finally with Jennifer’s help, Wendy begins to unravel the truth. At last even Mike can no longer disbelieve and decides to aid Wendy in her search. By the end of the story, the three young sleuths have uncovered an accidental death, a suicide and a murder.

Her middle grade novel Ghost for Rent, in trade paper back is available at and as an eBook at
Her young adult illustrated chapbook, Dragon Sight is available at
Author: "Ghost for Rent," a children's story available from Hardshell Word Factory. Do an author's search for "Lockwood" at

Author: "Dragon Sight," an illustrated, staple-bound chapbook, available from Sams Dot Publishing at and

You can contact her:
Free-lance Writer of Genre Fiction and Non-Fiction

One thing before I go. I've gotten onto Twitter. If anyone wants to follow me I am: barbehr. Yes, I finally caved and did it. Maybe I'll see some of you there.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!

American flag ~ in GOD we trust
4th of July 2009

Where did you spend your 4th of July? If you are an American this is probably the one holiday that most people spend either at the beach or at a barbecue. For years my family went to family barbecues. Some were a little more elaborate than others, but they were always at someone's home. Occasionally, we'd go to the beach to view fireworks up close. But many times we watched them on TV. When we lived in Kew Gardens, Queens we used to go up to the roof of the highest building there, the parking garage and we'd see them in the distance when the kids were young. Afterward we'd come home to our neighborhood of apartment houses to find the place exploding with firecrackers and small fireworks. It was exciting and slightly dangerous. You could smell the fireworks in the air there were so many!

But last year and again this year, we spent the evening of the 4th of July at Trump's Golf Course in a secret location in Westchester as the guests of a relative who is a member. There is nothing to compare with this experience of being with hundreds of people at this sumptuous place.:) There is an entire roomful of food of all kinds and of course, barbecue items as well. You could get the hamburger or hot dog and the potato salad and cole slaw, but inside were Asian foods like egg rolls and lo mein and a salad station where you could get your salad custom made. My favorite station was the giant table of cooked shrimp piled high on blocks of ice. Add to this two chocolate fountains where you could dip pieces of cake, marshmallows, pretzels, fruit and also create your own S'mores with the graham crackers they had there too. Also pastries like bite-sized eclairs and napoleons, the classic apple, cherry, and blueberry pies, cheesecake, cookies and outside a person making cotton candy and a fresh-popped popcorn cart. The place was filled with kids and before we came there was stuff like those bouncy houses and the usual kid fun. The whole atmosphere was relaxed and even homey with all of the things I just described. It was like going to a really casual wedding in someone's backyard that happened to look like Trump's Golf Course!:)

But the best part of the evening were the fireworks! They started out with a heart!! Each set was accompanied by a song and they were really well suited to the fireworks. You are so close to them that you feel they are going to explode on top of you. This year we viewed them from the balcony. Last year we sat on a wall near the golf course and it was truly mind blowing to watch fireworks like that. We'd seen them on the beach, but these were even closer to us!! For a full half hour I felt like I was a child and I'm sure I had my mouth open as I held my hands together in awe of the amazing display above me. My daughters were standing and they said you could see part of the Macy's fireworks in the distance as ours were being displayed.

When we got home we watched the Macy's fireworks which we had Tivo'd. They were also amazing and if you read my first post today I said I was going to see them. They were so good I have the video here so you can see part of them if you didn't see them. Ours at Trump's were as good, but we only had one column of them. The Macy's fireworks are amazing too, because there is such a large expanse of them. This year they returned them to the Hudson River, because it is the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage up the Hudson River.

I was looking for great photos of the fireworks and found a blog called "Culture Mob" where you can see some of the best pictures of what it looked like. Also check out the where you can see more incredible photos. Also, though it isn't as close as some of the others this video is without any background noise from the videographers. One video is really great,but the amount of noise from the crowd is so intense that you can't concentrate on the fireworks. So here is the one I chose to put here. When you go to Youtube you can find the others. Enjoy this one!

So let me know what you did for 4th of July. Send pictures too. I hope to have the photos of us at Trump's very soon. Hope everyone had a great 4th of July and here's summer already! Have fun.

I hope to have a guest author this Thursday, Penny Ehrenkranz, who has an ebook we will be giving away to the winner of the drawing. Please come and enjoy the interview on Thursday, July 9th. More on the next post, also will talk about my experiences with ways to make money on your blog. I've done a lot of research on this and I have my own opinions to share with you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We Help the Economy and Get a New Car!!

It's been a very busy and in many ways exciting week for me. First of all, we got a new car and that is always exciting. The second thing is that I have been researching many ways to try to make money online. I've been doing this for a few weeks and I've learned a great deal from this. I will let you know what I found after I tell you about my car.:)

We've had a leased Honda Accord since 2006 and we have been ecstatically happy with it. If not for some unfortunate accidents caused by weather conditions we would not have had a moment's problems with it. We fixed all the collision damage and thankfully no one was injured in the accidents. So we were able to switch our old car for a new car easily. We got a brand new car for three more years without needing to put down a down payment. So it was very cool!

The new Honda Accord is nothing like the old one. They have changed the outside and the inside of it. They angled the dashboard and made the outside more curved. The rest of it is still the same and that is why we got a Honda instead of an American car. The other thing is that when you have a leased car you have to give it back to the same company from where you leased it. The great part about a Honda is the way it drives.

One unusual thing happened to my daughter when the guy at the gas station filled up our car. He knew us from before with the old Accord, but he looked at the new car with a great deal of admiration. "Nice ride," he said! It really makes a statement, unlike our other one.

Sometimes I wonder if the power up there is playing a joke on me. The minute I drove the car out of the dealership it started to rain. But this wasn't just any rain. By the time I was on the road I had to put the windshield wipers on the second speed. Here I am in a brand new car with an impending flash flood and praying that no one would drive into me. Or that the car wouldn't skid and drive me into a ditch.

Yes, this has happened to me. We once had a Ford Taurus back in 1989 and I was in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains. There must have been something wrong with the steering and the tires, because suddenly I was skidding off the slippery winding two lane road and smashing into the jutting rock face on the side of the road. This wasn't too bad, but I was a little shaken, though not hurt. I got the car back on the road and continued driving, but once again the car slid to the right and I found myself in the same predicament. Now, barely two nanoseconds from crying I got the car back on the road and continued traveling. Did it happen again? Yes! By the third time I was a mess and sat in my car with three bumps on the right front fender of my car with the paint scraped away there too.

When I tried to explain to the mechanic what had happened he told me that it was probably the alignment of the car that was messed up, but also that I needed to drive slower in the rain. But on those mountain roads the water sluiced down toward the valley and it was difficult to drive on them. However, if I had a Honda then I would never have had those accidents. The Honda holds the road in the rain and goes around curves so well you don't even realize you just passed a curve. In that downpour two days ago I felt secure that my new car was going to come out okay. I was right. :)

Of course, after those unfortunate accidents I drove so carefully in the rain and maybe it was a cautionary experience for me. Whatever it was, now I never drive faster than twenty miles below the speed limit in the rain, ever!

Forget about the money making stuff for now. More in the next post. I have to go watch the Macy's Fireworks!!

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