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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Welcome Guest Author Sara Jayne Townsend

My guest author today, Sara Jayne Townsend, has been a guest author on my radio show and she was supposed to be here a long time ago. However, she is here now and she has brought us a guest post. 

Her post is about something we all have thought about. Which form is better to read? Is it a print book you can hold in your hand or an ebook on your phone, a tablet or your computer? 

Print books vs e-books
By Sara Jayne Townsend

Every writer dreams of the first time they hold a copy of their book in their hands. To do so is one of those ‘milestone moments, along with the first acceptance, the first novel contract, the first review on Amazon.

In the digital world, though, this goal becomes much more complex. There are far more options for the up and coming writer than the traditional path of agent, publisher, book shop signings. There are a great deal of small publishers out there, most of whom are far more willing to take a chance on the unknown writer than the larger, commercial publishers. However, quite a lot of those publishers only deal in e-books. And those that do deal in print tend to use Print on Demand (POD) publishing arrangements, which are very difficult to get into book shops (at least in the UK), since most chain stores will only accept Sale or Return arrangements.

My horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be released in e-book format by MuseItup Publishing on 9 August. This is the third edition of this novel since 2010, when it was first published by Lyrical Press. It has been far and away my most successful publication, sales-wise, but it has never been available in print.

Does this matter? Well yes, and no. I still dream of holding print copies of my books. I do have two books available in print – my horror novel THE WHISPERING DEATH and my short story collection SOUL SCREAMS. Sales of the e-book version of both, though, far outstrip the print sales and I have to wonder if the whole print book thing is worth the effort.

Personally, I love my Kindle. It’s invaluable for commuting, and travelling, and I increasingly find myself these days browsing the Kindle store during my lunch hour to discover new writers and new books to read instead of browsing the bricks-and-mortar book store. It’s not that I am buying fewer books. Far from it. I love buying books. But I like to keep them when I’ve finished reading them, in case I ever want to read them again, and I am physically running out of space to store any more paper books. My Kindle allows me to store thousands of books, and if I finish reading one on the way to work, I can just open up a new one on the journey home without having to lug around two paperbacks. So I find myself buying more books than ever before.

I know there are people out there who still prefer the feel and smell of paper, and view the whole e-book revolution with suspicion. But I am not one of them. I am a big fan of e-books and not just because of the convenience. I spent years – literally – submitting to agents and editors and building up a stockpile of rejections. And then it was a small electronic publisher that first decided to take a chance on me and my writing, and for that I will always be eternally grateful. I may not be able to attract the crowds at book stores, and I may never be as famous as JK Rowling, but I have editors and publishers who believe in me and my writing. And that makes the whole writing game worthwhile.

I have to admit that I really enjoy reading a print book, but at times I like reading an ebook. I think there is room for both of them. What do you think? Give your answers in the comments. Let's do a little blog poll. I will publish the results on my next blog. 

Now let's learn about Sara Jayne Townsend's books:

Fear has a face…

Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne’s life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.

But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?

Here is an excerpt:

Fumbling for her key, she reached her front door. It had once been painted blue, but the original colour was lost under many layers of spray-painted graffiti.
The interior of the flat was dingy, as usual. Even during the daytime it was dark because the living room window, which gave an uninspiring view of the walkway outside, was covered with a big piece of hardboard. Someone had lobbed a brick through the window a few months back. Though the estate manager reluctantly came to knock out the shattered glass and board over the empty space, he never returned to replace the glass. Most of the windows on their level were in the same state. Leanne wrinkled her nose at the strong smell of liquor that assailed her nostrils as she walked through the door.
The TV blared from the living room, its flickering lights providing the only illumination. Leanne flipped on the lights. The room was a mess: dirty dishes everywhere, two empty vodka bottles, rumpled clothing scattered over the floor. “Mum?”
There was no answer. She switched off the TV. A dog barked outside, a woman a few doors over screamed at her kids, but the flat was silent.
The pungent aroma of unwashed flesh mingled with the liquor smell. Leanne stepped into the hallway and pushed open the door to her mother’s bedroom, inadvertently kicking another empty bottle of vodka that lay on the floor. The putrescent smell in the air was stronger, a smell of sour flesh and bed linen long overdue a change. Leanne had learned to associate the smell with her mother’s drunken binges, when she would spend days in bed and ignore basic hygiene. Seeing her mother lying on the bed, she called again, “Mum?”
Claire was lying face down on the bed, amongst the rumpled and soiled covers, wearing a satin dressing down. The dressing gown had been a present from Colin, who’d spent a lot of time at the flat for a couple of months and then disappeared. Whether he’d been a boyfriend, a punter, or a pimp, Leanne had never known. She didn’t care much about the men in her mother’s life. At least Colin had left her alone. Others hadn’t.
But it wasn’t a man who had done this to Claire. Her right arm was pinned beneath her body, the left dangling over the side of the bed. Leanne saw the tourniquet on the left arm and the empty syringe lying near the outstretched fingers. She touched her mother’s arm to shake her awake and felt ice-cold flesh.
Leanne backed slowly out of the room, stumbling into her own bedroom, and sat on the edge of her unmade bed. If her mother was dead, what would become of her? Would she have to leave the flat? They couldn’t throw her out, could they? She would end up on the streets. All the hours spent on hands and knees cleaning up after her mother, hiding the drugs and the booze. The nights spent alone, while her mother lay comatose on the bed, sleeping off the effects of a drinking binge. Her efforts to get Claire looking clean and sober to get through visits from the social worker. The hours Leanne had spent doing her homework by candlelight, because the electricity had been switched off again. The days she’d gone to school hungry, trying to concentrate in spite of the aching emptiness in her stomach, because she didn’t want social services to come snooping when she cut classes. Had it all been for nothing?
She got up and walked out of her front door, leaving it ajar. The phone in their flat had been cut off months ago, and her mobile phone had long ago run out of credit. She knocked on the next door along, where old Mr Solomon lived. He was the only neighbour she had time for—a Jamaican octogenarian who was always nice to her, never judging anyone or interfering. Sometimes he came round and gave her groceries—bread and milk and the like—when there’d been no money and her mother was too drunk to care.
She was standing in the walkway outside Mr Solomon’s door for a long time, shivering in the cold, before there was shuffling inside the flat. She put her face in front of the spy hole on the door. “Mr Solomon, it’s me, Leanne, from next door. I need to use your phone.”
The door opened a crack. Mr Solomon’s lined brown face peered out from behind the security chain. “What’s wrong, child?”
“I need to phone for an ambulance. It’s my mother. She’s…ill.”
The door closed abruptly. A moment later, there was the sound of a chain scraping against wood, and Mr Solomon swung open the door wide. “You’d better come in, then.”
She went to Mr Solomon’s phone in the hallway and dialled 999. After what felt like an age, a polite female voice enquired, “police, fire, or ambulance?”
She asked for an ambulance and was put on hold for a moment, then a calm male voice came on the line asking for an address.”
She gave the address, doing her best to keep the quaver out of her voice, hesitating when the male voice asked what the problem was. She still couldn’t bring herself to tell anyone her mother had overdosed on heroin. Again. Last time, Claire pulled through. The odds didn’t look too good this time.

Besides this new book, Sara has several other books you should check out. Here is her Bio.


Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based author of crime and horror. 

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old. It took 30 years for her to fulfil that dream.

Her horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN is released by MuseItUp Publishing on 9 August, and is available on pre-order from Muse and all e-book retail outlets:

Learn more about Sara and her writing from her website ( and her blog (

Until the next time don't forget to tune into my radio show Red River Radio Tales from the Pages this Thursday, July, 28, 2016 at 4PM EST - 6PM. My guests will be Michael Amidei, musician, radio host and published author and  multi published children's authors Ken and Ann Hicks. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Welcome Back Guest Author Penny Ehrenkranz (Penny Lockwood) Part Two

It is unusual for me, but this blog post is in two parts. I am happy to host Penny Ehrenkranz for another day! Now we are going to learn more about her and specifically more about the books in Ghostly Visions.

My Interview with Penny Ehrenkranz:

What made you decide to write Ghost for Rent?

I had been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for magazines for several years.  My young daughter wanted me to write a “real” book.  A friend told me about a piano playing in her rental house when no one was at the piano.  The idea intrigued me, so I decided writing a ghost story for the middle grade reader would be the perfect story for a “real” book.  I would have to credit my daughter for giving me the inspiration to write a full-length novel.  It took several years and lots of rejections before I found my publisher.  Unfortunately, they went out of business shortly after the book was published.

What made you decide to write a sequel to Ghost for Rent?

I had fun with the story and the characters in Ghost for Rent. When I found a publisher for it, I thought about writing a sequel.  It was a few more years before I actually followed through on my plan.  It took an article in a local paper about a haunted restaurant in a neighboring town to get me going on Ghost for Lunch.

In Ghost for Lunch you continue the story of the ghosts in the first book. Is this based on a real story? 

As I said above, one of our local restaurants has been reported to have ghosts.  I’ve eaten there many times, but I’ve never witnessed anything myself.  Employees, however, swear they’ve heard strange goings on, voices, etc.  I added odors, sounds, and mists to give my young sleuths clues to follow.

You bring up the idea of Tarot cards in this book, but why didn’t you actually have Mrs. Adams read the cards for Wendy?

I’m intrigued by Tarot and know several people who read the cards.  Although I purchased a deck many years ago and toyed with the idea of learning how, I never did.  I thought about having Jon’s mom read Wendy’s fortune, but then I decided there was enough going on with the ghosts.  Maybe Wendy will be ready for a Tarot reading in the next book.

Did you have to do a lot of research for Ghost for Lunch? 

No.  I based the story loosely on the newspaper article.  It’s set in the county my husband, children, and I have lived for almost 38 years.  I relied more upon my memory than research for the book.  Because I started writing the book in the mid 1990s, I set my books during that time period. At this point, I guess they may be considered historical, too. LOL.  There isn’t any reference to time in the first book, but I do mention in the second that Wendy will graduate in 2001.

Now I understand why it feels dated. It takes place in a different time period. I don't think I really caught that, so thank you for letting us know.  

Ghostly Visions is the first book and the sequel. Whose idea was it to bundle it like this and rename it?

My publisher, Vivian Zabel, at 4RV Publishing LLC, wanted to publish the two as a bundle.  I submitted Ghost for Lunch to 4RV and they accepted it.  In my cover letter, I mentioned I had written Ghost for Rent, published by Hardshell Word Factory in 2002, but they had gone out of business, and I had regained my rights to the book. Vivian wanted to see GFR and after reviewing both books wanted to publish them.  Based on the length of the books, the editorial and art staff felt it would make a nice package bundled together as Ghostly Visions. I’m not sure who came up with the new title, but it worked for me.

Besides these two books, have you written any others? What are the titles? Tell a little bit about them each.

I have a picture book aimed at preschoolers, Boo’s Bad Day.  It’s based upon a true story of our black cat Boo who had been trapped in one of our tall fir trees during an ice storm.  This is also published by 4RV.

I have three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing.  Love Delivery is a contemporary story about a waitress and a deliveryman who connect over their love of cats.  It’s a sweet story with a happy ending.  Lady in Waiting is an historical romance where my main character finds herself mistaken for her mistress, a princess.  After several ups and downs, she, too, finds her happy ending. Mirror, Mirror is a time travel romance.  My young protagonist is thrust back in time to the middle ages where the only way she can get back to her own time is to make sure two lovers get married despite the differences in their station and a father’s decree they shouldn’t.  This time there is a delicious twist and a happy ending.

My other book is a collection of short fantasy and science fiction stories, A Past and A Future published by Alban Lake Publishing. Each of the stories has a touch of romance, but that isn’t the main focus of any of the stories. Here’s what’s included:

1. "Flight of the Roc" -- What would you do if your master told you to collect a roc's egg?  What would happen if the egg you collected hatched?
2. "Blurred Vengeance" -- Temur's father is murdered.  Will his journey to avenge his father's death bring him what he wants, or will it destroy him?
3. "Who Will Heal the Healer" -- Marzan teaches Niane to control the winds, but what about the winds of fate?  Will Niane be able to save her mentor when the underworld claims him?
 4. "Ashley of Ashland" -- Ashley, a young magician covets his brother's fiancĂ©, but what are her feelings?  Can Ashley's magic be enough to save him and his true love?
5. "The Watcher" -- Zerelda is a watcher in a world of women.  When a prince comes to impregnate her ruler, will they find a forbidden love instead?
6. "Enchantress" -- Merlin knows his fate, but he struggles to stand against it.  Will his powers be stronger than his apprentice’s, or will he find himself a victim of love?
7."Drakoni" -- She is from this world.  He is from another.  A dragon draws them together.  Will she look beyond his pointed ears and see the man of her dreams? 
8. "Heshe" -- Lyda runs, hiding her identity from her abusive stepfather.  Her rescuer has a secret of his own.  Will they both find happiness or will their pursuers stop them before they find their paradise?
9. "The Baby Makers" -- How far would you go to have a baby if you can't conceive on your own?  Would you accept a clone?  Would you fight for that's child's rights in a world unprepared for it?
10. "3-D Pictures" -- Avery's boss thought he was crazy, but was he?  When he stared into the 3-D picture, he saw a land others couldn't.  Will he enter the picture, or accept the doctor's diagnosis?
11. "Screen Saver" -- Clancy is used to strange people.  His boss represents them.  But when the bullets start flying, will the screen saver save him?
12. "Isolation" -- The world has died, except for small pockets of isolated communities.   But what if you are tired of the isolation?  What if you wanted to find somewhere to be free?  Would you take the chance?
13. "Love in a Different Hue" -- Chiri's father is a scientist who invents artificial life.   What should she do when the robot her father created looks better to her than her husband?
14. "Down So Low The Ground Looks Like Up" --  Sylvan is sensitive to others’ feelings.  It drives her crazy, so she drinks to dull the pain.  Will Dev, the police officer who finds her, rescue her from her demons?
15. "Rebels With a Cause" -- Shahleena is bored with her existence.  Will volunteering to help juvenile offenders help her or help them?
16. "Clockworks" -- John lives in Structured.  His ancestors came from Upheaval.  On a whim, he decides to visit.  What will happen to him when he cannot leave fast enough?

Will you be doing any in person or online events for Ghostly Visions? 

I’ve got several blog spots set up and I’m happy to answer questions anyone may have for me.  I have donated books to our local libraries and have press releases in both our local newspapers. Since we no longer have any bookstores in towns, I’m not planning on doing any book signings.  I may do a couple of school visits in the fall, but I haven’t set up anything yet.

You say there are no bookstores, but I think they are making a comeback in some places. I hope you will reconsider this.

Where can my readers find your books? 

Ghostly Visions is available direct from the publisher 4RV Publishing LLC for $15.99 including shipping and handling:  It can also be ordered from your local bookstore with the following ISBN numbers: ISBN-10: 0982642326, ISBN-13: 978-0982642320, or through Amazon.

My MuseItUp e-books can be ordered from the publisher and from Amazon:

A Past and a Future is available in print and e-book from the publisher and Smashwords

Please post your links where we can find you.

I am also on Facebook and Twitter.  My blog is no longer active, but there are archived articles about many fascinating authors at

Barbara, thanks so much for hosting me today and for your ongoing support for so many years.

You are very welcome, Penny. It has been my pleasure and you are always welcome back here to talk about any new books you might have. Now I see you have brought excerpts from Ghostly Visions.

Excerpt Ghost for Rent

Before the girls could leave the porch, a light breeze came up, creating a swirling of mist and wet leaves. The twirling mass took on the shape of what appeared to be two people. Startled,
Wendy and Jennifer stumbled back and bumped into Mike. All three trembled.

Wendy couldn’t believe how scared she was. Her mouth was dry, and she licked her lips. She looked at Jennifer and Mike. Jennifer put her hand to her mouth and whimpered softly. Mike’s eyes looked like saucers in his face, and she saw his knuckles were white where he gripped the porch railing.

She turned her gaze back to the mist. While they didn’t have distinct features, clearly the swirling leaves looked like a couple dancing. Strange music played. Wendy’s hand grasped Champ standing between her and Jennifer. His neck fur stood on end, and a low growl rum- bled in his chest.

Mom said there was no such thing as ghosts, yet right before her danced two very ghostly beings. Could this be possible? She reached for Jennifer’s hand. It felt cold and clammy as Jennifer squeezed back. Jennifer at least was real. Frightened more than she had ever been before, Wendy felt tears in her eyes, and she squeezed them shut, hoping when she opened them the figures would be gone. They weren’t.

“What’s going on?” Wendy whispered. The hairs on her arms and the back of her neck stood up.

“I...I don’t know,” Jennifer said.

“What are you two scaredy-cats worried about? It’s just a bunch of leaves blowing in the wind.” Mike chuckled, but Wendy heard the tremor in his voice.

Unable to move, they watched the couple glide around the summerhouse, dipping and swirling to the music. The forms came together in an embrace. A third, smaller form appeared, and the embracing couple flew apart. The smaller figure tumbled backward, rolling down the steps followed by a crashing noise.

Wendy and Jennifer jumped. A strong wind blew through the open house, blowing the misty figures away and leaving wet leaves scattered on the floor. A strange stillness settled over everything.

Wendy and Jennifer looked at each other, wild-eyed.

“Boo!” Mike yelled.

They screamed and clutched at each other.

Excerpt Ghost for Lunch

They finally got to old town St. Helens. Wendy loved it here with the quaint shop fronts and Columbia River just past First Street. The 1906 county courthouse, located on the river, was built from stone and always intrigued her. Wendy had heard rumors the courthouse was haunted by a criminal who had been hanged there in the early 1900s. Wendy felt goose bumps pebble her arm as the car drove past the Plaza Park in front of the courthouse. So many ghosts for such a small town, she thought.

“Here we are,” Mr. Adams said as he pulled into a parking space in front of the restaurant building. Everyone piled out of the car, and Wendy got her first look at the Adamses’ new restaurant. The building was a large, clapboard structure on the corner of First Street and Cowlitz Street. It had a small porch and stairs on the side. Even Wendy could tell it needed a good coat of paint, and some of the stair boards should be replaced. There were a few windows on the ground level and several more on the upper floors. A couple of the upper windows had cracks.
A cold shiver crept down Wendy’s spine when she looked up. Maybe it was only a play of the sunlight, but she thought she saw someone looking down at them. “Is there anyone else in the building now?” she asked in a small voice, then swallowed the fear that threatened to overwhelm her.

“No. Of course not, Wendy,” said Mrs. Adams. “We will be the only ones here today. We plan to hire a cleaning crew, but we will be doing the initial work ourselves. Today, we just wanted to show you, Mike, and Jon the building. Come along now.” She lifted her long, flowered skirt and hurried up the few stairs. “Watch out for that rotted third step.”

Mr. Adams followed along behind. “ The realtor told us this was originally called the First Street Hotel. It was built in 1910. The main portion of the hotel extended down the block, but it was torn down in 1954. What’s still here was the dining hall and kitchen on the main level and some of the guest rooms on the two upper stories.” He unlocked the front door and a puff of cold air pushed past to hit Wendy squarely on the chest. She rubbed her arms to shake off the chill.

The old building smelled musty, and dust stirred when they passed through the dark entryway into the main room. There were wood- en tables and benches along the window side of the room, and off to the right was a separate area which looked like it might have been a bar. More tables and chairs were in an open space beyond the bar. Mr. Adams flicked on some lights, and Wendy saw swinging doors at the rear of the bar area.

“What’s back there?” she asked. She felt something brush against her leg, and she shook her foot as she looked down. Nothing was there! Goose bumps peppered her arms, and her body gave a little involuntary shake.

“That’s the kitchen. It’s quite interesting. A lot of the original equipment has been left behind. It’s quite an antique lover’s paradise.” Mr. Adams gently pushed Wendy in the direction of the kitchen. “I’ve heard rumors that some of the kitchen utensils will just sway and bang together by themselves. I know Mrs. Adams believes it’s a ghost, but I’m sure it’s only a draft causing the commotion.”

Wendy wasn’t sure it was a draft at all. When she entered, she glimpsed a wisp of white out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned to look full on, it disappeared. Wendy shivered and rubbed her arms.

Mr. Adams turned on the light switch. The lights flickered to life, and then died, leaving only a small illumination from the adjoining room filtering in through the door. “Hum, I wonder if the fuse blew. All the lights couldn’t go out at once.” Mr. Adams murmured to him- self as he snapped on a flashlight and opened the basement door. As he started down the stairs, an odor like rotting meat rolled out the open door.

Wendy gagged, backed out of the kitchen, and ran to find Mrs. Adams and the boys. She found them at the rear of the common room standing in front of a locked door. “I know one of these keys fits,” Mrs. Adams muttered as she tried one key after another. She looked up as Wendy joined the group. “There you are, dear. Where’s Mr. Adams?”

“He went down into the basement to check some fuses. The lights went out in the kitchen.” Wendy looked back toward the kitchen doors and shivered again.

“Watsa matter, Sis? Ghosties in the kitchen?” Mike jeered, poking Wendy in the shoulder.

“Maybe. I don’t know,” Wendy replied, too ruffled to rise to the bait of his jab.

“Ghosts? Really?” Mrs. Adams perked up. Her expression became curious; her eyes brightened; and her head jerked around.


Until the next time, I hope you have enjoyed this two part blog post. It is certainly a first for me and really, Penny is an author who deserves more than one post. 

On July 25, I will be participating in an event on Facebook: Christmas in July. My appearance will be at 10AM EST - 11AM. Come over and join in the fun there. It will be going all day. On my spot I will be giving away prizes and we will be playing games. I will share a little of my next novel, the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and part of The Mill Valley High Series. 

News about After: The print edition of After will be available this summer. 

Happy 4th of July to my American friends and Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends! 

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