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Monday, February 14, 2011

Life is Good Award

My friend, Penny Ehrenkranz, fellow blogger, and previous guest author here has awarded me the Life is Good Award.

Now, I have to choose fifteen other bloggers, that didn’t appear on Vampirique’s list and award them with the Life Is Good award and answer some questions.
If you’re on this list, this is what you need to do:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
2. Answer the 10 survey questions below.
3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked to let them know about the award.

Ten Survey Questions:

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you are not anonymous, do you wish that you had started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?
No, I don't blog anonymously. Now that I have been blogging for awhile I wouldn't want to be anonymous at all. Sometimes I'll post some things that are personal, but people are very good about these.

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.
Probably the thing that shows how stubborn I am is my inability to stop believing that my novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, would be published. I kept sending it to publishers and got rejection after rejection. Even after five years of trying I refused to stop and it paid off for me when MuseItUp Publishing decided to publish it.:)

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
I see the little girl who was usually quiet but has a mischievous streak. I see a woman who has lived a long time but still has a long way to go before I stop. I also see someone who has followed her dream and is about to see it fulfilled.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
That all depends on whether you're talking about alcoholic or non-alcoholic. I love ice cold homemade lemonade or iced tea with lemon. My favorite alcoholic drink is a frozen margarita with any fruit, though strawberry ones are good, I like the original.:)

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
This also depends on the mood I am in. I get very little time to myself in which I don't have chores to do. But when I am free I like to do either of these things, read, write or bake.:)

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
I still have more novels that I would like to publish.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?
I would have to say that I was not the class clown or an overachiever. I was really shy when I was younger and in college I did ditch classes. But on the whole I would say I didn't really pay as much attention in school during my undergraduate time. When I went for my Masters I really worked and became Phi Beta Kappa when I graduated.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?
I think it would be the last time I saw my father. That night when he dropped me off at the airport I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him and I was right. The following week he passed away in his sleep. I had never gotten the chance to tell him I thought I was pregnant.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
I'm always sharing things about myself in my blog. Though I also write about other people and events as well.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Again it would depend on the book and with whom I would be talking. I have a friend who lives far from me and we can talk for hours.

Congratulations to the lucky people who are getting this award.
Please pass this award on to ten bloggers you admire. You don't have to return the favor by giving me the award again. I'm thankful enough as it is for receiving it. Spread the love!

Thank you to all my readers and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to all of you. I hope that it is as romantic as you want it to be for you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Welcome Penny Ehrenkranz

Today my guest author is Penny Ehrenkranz, who is stopping here on her blog tour for A Past and a Future, her new anthology of fantasy short stories. Penny Ehrenkranz has been a guest here before and at that time we had a wonderful chat about her various writings and her writing itself. Since she has very little time I have concentrated on her new book and I am very excited to be introducing it to you!

Are you a lover of fantasy? If you are, then A Past and a Future is for you. Chock full of small vignettes of various fantasy worlds it's like a smorgasbord of fantasy stories.:) Penny has stopped by to talk about this book and here she is:

Guest Author Interview with Penny Ehrenkranz

Welcome Penny! It's so great to have you back here to talk about your latest book.:)

Barbara: When you began writing A Past and a Future, did you have all of the stories ready?
Penny: Yes. It was more a gathering than a writing when it came to putting together A Past and A Future. The original idea came in 1999 when I published a collection of stories with Bookmice, an electronic publisher. Unfortunately, the publisher folded after a year, and very few copies of the book were sold. Not many publishers want to do collections of stories. When I found out Sam’s Dot Publishing did collections, I approached them with the idea of resurrecting, Then and Later, my original collection. Instead of having all the same stories, I dropped some, added some, and put in a couple never before published.

Barbara: What made you start to write fantasy?
Penny: I read fantasy for my own personal enjoyment. Since that’s what I read most of the time, that is the genre I’m most comfortable writing. I also enjoy science fiction, which is why some of the stories are soft sci fi. I love the whole idea of magic and magical creatures.

Barbara: In your first middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent you wrote about a family that moved to a rural area from the city. Is Ghost for Lunch about this same family?
Penny: Yes, Ghost for Lunch is about the same family. In this one, though, the MC’s best friend moves away, and a new family moves into the neighborhood. When Wendy and her brother meet the new neighbors, they get involved with the ghost in the restaurant the neighbors are planning to open.

Barbara: A Past and a Future is composed of many different stories with various main characters. How did you decide which stories to include? Or were all of these stories written especially for this book?
Penny: Many of the stories were previously published in small press magazines with limited readership. I chose the stories that I enjoyed writing. I wanted a combination of stories from the past (fantasy) and stories from the future. The theme which ties them together is a message of hope no matter who you are or where you are.

Barbara: Yes, I definitely got that after reading several of them.

Barbara: As I read each story I found the main characters of each to be very memorable. I do not usually read fantasy stories, but your first story gripped me and I continued to read several more in a row. Have you thought of developing any of these stories into a novel?
Penny: Not any of the ones in this book. I do have two short stories which ended up being expanded into a series of shorts about the same characters. One of my back burner projects is to combine those shorts into either novellas or novels.

Barbara: Please tell our readers the path to publication for this book.
Penny: I answered this above. The only thing to add would be after the book was accepted, it still had to go through an editing process, like any other book, even though most of the stories had already seen publication in one way or another.

Barbara: Besides writing, do you do anything else?
Penny: I enjoy spending time in my garden. In fact, today I will be working with my seeds and getting them into their little pots for transplanting later. In the evenings, I usually crochet, either making gifts, crafting for my 3 year old granddaughter, or for my grandson who will be born in June. In my other “spare” time, I edit for three small traditional publishers, MuseItUp Publishing, Damnation Press, LLC, and 4RV Publishing. My other activities revolve around cooking ethnic foods, spending time with friends and family, and of course, reading.

Barbara: Do you have a favorite story? Why did you pick this story?
Penny: My favorite is probably Ashley of Ashland. I like the characters. They’re not handsome or particularly talented, but they love each other, despite the odds against them. They are also loyal to each other through all the trials and obstacles they have to face.

Barbara: When writing a short story, what are the most important aspects to remember?
Penny: Like any story, you need a strong plot, characters readers can identify with, and tight writing. With a short story, the tight writing is essential. A short story writer only has a limited number of words to work with to bring the story to a satisfactory ending. Even with a couple of thousand words, the author needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Barbara: Are you planning a sequel to A Past and a Future?
Penny: I do have some thoughts about another collection, but nothing concrete.

Barbara: You write in many genres and for many age groups. For which genre and age group do you prefer to write?
Penny: I actually enjoy everything, except erotica. I don’t write that at all. I do some light romance, I write soft horror, I write paranormal. My favorite is probably fantasy, although right now, I seem to be concentrating more on my children’s writing.

Barbara: Please tell us if you have any other books that are going to be published soon?
Penny: I have contracts for two romances, which will be published by MuseItUp Publishing this fall…Love Delivery and Lady-in-Waiting.

Barbara: Wow, Penny, I didn't know this! Congratulations!! My book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor will be coming out in September. When they are released you will have to come back here and talk about them.:)

Penny: I have contracts for four children’s books, which are scheduled with 4RV Publishing. The sequel to Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch will be coming in 2013. Funny Dog, a picture book, will be published in 2012, Many Colored Coats, a picture book, is contracted for 2014, and Boo’s Bad Day, also a picture book, will be published in 2015.

Barbara: 4RV Publishing is another great publisher. I do some editing for them and maybe I'll be editing your books. You never know.:)

Barbara: Do you have any WIP’s?
Penny: I am working on a YA paranormal, but I’m not sure yet what direction it will take. I’ve also started working on the sequel to Ghost for Lunch, tentatively titled Ghost for Sale.

Barbara: Where can our readers find A Past and a Future? Where can they find your other books as well?

A Past and A Future

Ghost for Rent

Dragon Sight

Love Delivery, coming August, 2011
Lady-in-Waiting, coming November, 2011

Funny Dog, coming May, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, coming June, 2015

Barbara: Where can readers learn more about your work?
Penny: My website is
My blog is:

Until the next time, thank you to all my readers and I wanted you to know I will be a guest on Teen Word Factory on February 15th blogging about the problems a high school girl might have. Also please join me on Thursday, February 24th for my February Blog Talk Radio Show, RRWL Tales from the Pages when a couple of my favorite authors from MuseItUp Publishing, Lin Holmes and Kat Holmes stop by to talk about their ever increasing amount of published books.:)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Thoughts on What is Going on in Egypt

Several cars went up in flames near Liberation Square as riots
raged deep into the night [AJ online producer]

When a country that has been stable for thirty years suddenly becomes a place of revolution and chaos you have to wonder why. A few days ago as some commentators said, the atmosphere in Tahrir Square in Cairo was one of peace and very much like being at a peace march or peace rally. However, this all changed when goons from the Mubarak administration began to attack the peaceful demonstrators. The Mubarak government held the country together in a benevolent dictatorship. But even a dictator can't overcome a country that is awash in poverty and joblessness. They have 25% unemployment and no end in sight. When Mubarak won the presidency again it must have been the final straw for so many Egyptians who had lost everything

According to the news commentators the country is pretty much non-existent. You can no longer get money from ATM's, buy food, get gas, etc. Last night cars and trucks were set on fire. As an onlooker with no frame of reference I had no idea which side was doing this. But I did see the men on the bridge throwing Molotov cocktails toward the revolutionaries without stopping. The demonstrators tried fighting back with rocks and Molotov cocktails of their own as they tried to defend themselves. Then they began to get proactive and now it looks like Mubarak will be forced to resign and a new government will be put in place. I worried that a stray cocktail might hit the museum which housed antiquities that are irreplaceable. They are thousands of years old and if anything happened to destroy this building it would be tragedy for the world.

The other thing is journalists are being attacked and beaten. When a country doesn't want news to get out they attack the journalists and censor the news. I just heard that several news people in Egyptian TV have resigned in protest over the control of the government over the news. I applaud these people. On a sad note I just heard on MSNBC that a blogger in Alexandria was beaten and died in prison and now there is a protest over this in Alexandria. This blogger had actually posted the names of police in the area on his blog. The Egyptian government has gone too far and I hope the people can keep freedom alive in Egypt.

One thing I wonder is with a dictator like Mubarak were the people losing their freedom gradually or is this all of a sudden? When did it become impossible to talk against the government? If I were an Egyptian, would this blog cause me to be arrested and imprisoned for speaking my mind? Were the Egyptian people living in a blanket of lies when they went about their business? Or were they aware that this guy had hidden claws? Well, Mubarak has pulled out his claws and sharpened his teeth, but I am hoping he won't be able to use them for long.

I don't know how this will play out, but I hope that Egypt will finally be able to have democracy and be able to go back to being a normal country. I feel for the Egyptian people and especially for the normal families whose lives have suddenly changed. I feel for the children who are caught up in this disastrous time and hope that their lives will be improved by this. All of the schools have been closed. I am on the side of peace and democracy and I always will be.:)

I know this isn't about writing per se, but in a sense it is, because we need writers to be able to tell the truth and I hope that when this area is stabilized the writers will be able to tell their own stories.

Until the next time, I want to congratulate MuseItUp Publishing for it's 2nd place win on Preditors & Editors' Poll and congratulations to all of the writers from this same publisher (my publisher:)) who won too. Come join us in our Book Club to interact with authors, get sneak peaks into upcoming books and contests for free books. My own book for anyone who doesn't know by now, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is coming in September from MuseItUp Publishing and of course I am thrilled, but I am also very happy to be part of the Muse family.

If anyone is interested I am on Twitter: @barbehr. Also find me on Facebook: Barbara Ehrentreu.

Upcoming visitor:
On Sunday, February 6th I will be hosting Penny Ehrenkranz on her blog tour for her new book of short stories, A Past and a Future: Speculations in Fantasy If you like fantasy and enjoy reading fantasy you won't want to miss this guest author interview. Penny has been here before as a guest for her book Ghost for Rent.

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