Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome to: Author and Editor Penny Ehrenkranz

Greetings, friends! I have a wonderful guest today—Penny Ehrenkranz—and she's not only talented and successful, she is a very interesting person. She writes several genres, including historical romance, time travel romance, young adult novels, and children's stories. You'll learn this for yourself from her answers.
If your real name is Susan, why do you use Penny?
   I have an older brother. When he found out my mom was pregnant, he asked if my folks would name me Penny. He had a fascination with Penny of long-ago Sky King fame. My dad wanted to name me after my mom, so my official name is Susan. My brother insisted on calling me Penny and soon everyone else was, too. I was called Susan by my teachers in school, but it never felt like “me.” Susan is my mom.

What inspired you to write your first book? What is the title?
   When I first became a published author, I focused on short stories and articles. I wrote primarily fantasy, soft science fiction and romance. My daughter, who was in upper elementary at the time, insisted I wasn’t a writer because I didn’t have a “real” book. I decided to give it a try, and Ghost for Rent was conceived.
   A neighbor had moved to a rented farmhouse in the area and related a story of hearing ghostly piano music in the living room. I thought this would be a great middle grade novel and started working on Ghost for Rent. It was first published in 2002 through Hard Shell Word Factory. I recently regained my rights, and it is now under contract with 4RV Publishing who purchased the sequel Ghost for Lunch. Both are tentatively scheduled to be released in 2012.

I know you're an editor as well as an author. With this unique view from both sides, what advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
   The best advice is to read everything you can in the genre you wish to write. Read what’s well-written so you have an idea of how to write, but also take the time to read some of the work which isn’t written as well, so you can see what not to do.
   I strongly recommend having a good grasp of English grammar and spelling rules. When the manuscript is finished, put it aside for a few days. Then, go back over what’s been written, line by line, looking for errors. Spellchecker, while useful, can’t tell the difference between “there” and “their.”
   The other big thing to watch for is point of view slips. Some genres will accept multiple points of view within a scene, but as an acquisition editor, these slips jump out at me and scream confusing. Unless you are skilled at maintaining one point of view (and most new writers aren’t), try to avoid switching point of view mid-chapter. If you want more than one point of view (romance is commonly in both male and female POVs), switch at a chapter or scene break.
   Finally, I strongly recommend attending writer’s conferences, online forums, and taking community classes to keep skills sharp and network with others.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask?
   I always like it when interviewers ask what other news there is to share. In response to that I’ve got a lot of contracts in the works. In addition to Love Delivery¸ http://tinyurl.com/4ajo9wz  MuseItUp Publishing will release in November, Lady-in-Waiting, an historical romance, and in December, Mirror, Mirror, a time travel romance. https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2  
   4RV Publishing has contracted three picture books: Funny Dog, Boo’s Bad Day, and Many Colored Coats in addition to my two middle grade novels Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch.    http://4RVpublishingllc.com/Childrens_Books.html 
   I released a collection of my short stories with Sam’s Dot Publishing, A Past and A Future in January 2011. http://sdpbookstore.com/anthologies.htm  and

What is your strangest habit?
   Hum…Strange habit? I’m not sure if any of my habits would be considered strange. I’m a pretty boring gal these days, since I retired. Maybe staying up late (1:00 p.m.) and sleeping in until 9:00 a.m. might be the strangest thing I do.

Do you have a favorite quote? Please share. I love quotes.
   I have two. The first I’m not sure where I heard it, but it’s “These things too shall pass.” The second I have hanging on my wall, and it’s by Han Suyin, “There is nothing in the world stronger than gentleness.”

What is your heritage?
   On my mom’s side, my grandparents spoke Slovak, and I always thought they were from Czechoslovakia, but their death certificates indicated Austria. My mom is a first generation American. My dad’s family came from England, but I don’t know when they arrived in the States. I was able to trace back a few generations born here.

What is your favorite food or dish?
   I love ethnic foods, and it’s hard to pick a favorite as I enjoy Thai, Indian, Chinese (real Chinese not American Chinese), and Mexican. If I had to choose an absolute favorite, I guess it would be curry, but again there are lots of kinds of curries, and I enjoy them all.

In three sentences, tell us about "Love Delivery."
A waitress in a donut shop, Ann is happy with her single life and her cat, Mittens, until she finds herself interested in Tom, the handsome man who makes deliveries to the shop. Unfortunately, Tom comes with some baggage, including five cats; Maria, his vicious ex-wife; and Maria’s adorable daughter he calls Kitten. When Maria is hired at the donut shop and learns Ann and Tom are beginning a relationship, she does everything she can to tear them apart.

Where can a reader find your book?
The best place is at the MuseItUp Bookstore. While there, be sure to check out the other great titles available. http://tinyurl.com/4ajo9wz
I don’t have the buy links yet, but Love Delivery will also be available at Amazon, Smashwords, Omnilit, Bookstrand, Digibooks Café, and Coffeetime Romance.

Where can a reader find YOU?
My website is:  http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com
My blog is: http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com
My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/penny.ehrenkranz
My Twitter is: http://twitter.com/pennyehrenkranz
My author page at MuseItUp Publishing is: https://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=82

Penny, would you like to share a short excerpt? Readers like to learn about an author's style.
“Here it is,” he said, steering her to a quiet corner. Candles lit the table. A bottle of red wine stood open. Tom held the chair for her, and then sat close so their knees touched. “Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked, reaching for the bottle.

“No thanks,” Ann said. “I don’t drink.”

Tom poured a glass for himself. “Here’s the menu.” He handed it to her.

“I know what I want.”

“What’s that?”

“Fettuccini Alfredo.” Ann shook out her napkin and placed it on her lap.

“This chicken dish is good,” Tom said, pointing to an item on the menu.

Ann grimaced. Is he a control freak? I already told him what I want. “I don’t eat meat.” Her voice sounded harsh in her own ears.

“Ah, well, okay, then. Fettuccini Alfredo it is.” Tom called the waiter and ordered the Alfredo for Ann and a spicy chicken dish for himself.

I guess we don’t agree on everything after all. He drinks and eats meat, too. I hope he doesn’t drink a lot. Maybe we weren’t made for each other. Not knowing what else to do, Ann took a sip of water and smiled.

Tom smiled back. “You’ll have to come meet my cats one of these days. Tyra, a gorgeous, long-haired black female, is my bathroom kitty. Whenever I’m sitting in there, she has to be in my lap. There’ve been times when my pants have been around my feet, and she’s curled up in my underwear.

“Then there’s BeeBee. She’s a Siamese. When I first got her, I thought she liked to cuddle, but it turned out she was just scared. It took me a long time, with lots of persuasion, to get her to come close to me. Finally, I was able to pick her up. I had her in my arms, and I put my face down to smell her fur. Suddenly, she turned and bit me on the nose.

“I think my favorite, though, is Loki. He’s the smallest of the bunch. He has allergies, and if I don’t get him to the vet for a shot in time, he loses his fur on his rear quarters, right by his tail. He loves to ride on my shoulders. Looks just like I’m wearing a fur collar.

“Then there’s the two new ones, they’re the kittens. They haven’t developed personalities yet. You should always get two kittens instead of one,” Tom said when the food arrived.

“Why?” Ann asked. Her face hurt from laughing at Tom’s cat stories. Mittens never did any of the things Tom’s cats did.

While she ate, Tom continued to share funny stories about the cats and kittens. “Kittens play with each other so you don’t need to play with them. You can just sit back and watch them. When I have kittens in the house, I don’t even turn on my T.V. set.” Tom twirled pasta on his fork. He lifted the fork halfway to his mouth and stopped. “Looks like we have company,” he groaned.

Ann turned. Maria and a curly-haired blond child entered. Ann watched Maria’s smile turn to a frown. Maria pulled the child toward their table. Ann gulped. Now what? Can’t she leave us alone? How can Tom and I ever get to know each other if she’s always showing up? She pasted a false smile on her face and clutched her napkin tightly.

“So you decided not to listen to me,” Maria spat at Ann.

“Daddy!” the little girl cried, holding up her arms.

“Hi, Kitten,” Tom said, scooping the child into his arms. He gave her a bear hug, and she giggled. “I want you to meet my friend, Ann. Ann, this is Kitten.”

“Hi, Ann. Daddy calls me Kitten, but you can call me Catherine.” The child put her arms around Tom’s neck and hugged him.

“Hello, Catherine,” Ann said, finding her voice.

“At least you could have gone somewhere else, Tom. We always ate here,” Maria accused and pushed Tom’s shoulder.

Tom moved Catherine to his other knee and glared at Maria. “Do we have to fight in front of Kitten?”

“Hey, Mr. Nice Guy, you’re the one who left us, remember?”

Removing Catherine from his lap, Tom stood up and faced Maria. “You’re creating a scene. Why don’t you leave before things get ugly?”

“Maybe you should have thought about that a long time ago.” Maria poked Tom’s chest with her finger.

Ann watched in fear. Only moments ago, she and Tom were enjoying dinner. Maria’s face now looked hard and dark. She swore at Tom and poked him again. Then she shoved him on the shoulder.

Tom grabbed her hand. Maria spat at him and reached up, clawing his face with her other hand.

“I hate you,” she screamed, grabbed her child, and ran out crying.

Tom turned to Ann. There were bloody scratches on his face. Ann dipped her napkin in her water glass and dabbed his cheek. “I’m sorry, Ann, I guess this spoiled dinner.”

This is never going to work for us, not as long as Maria is in the picture. Ann nodded her head. “Sure did. I’m not very hungry now. I think I’d better just go home.”

~*~*~*~Celia, thank you so much for having me. I want to remind your readers I am offering a copy of a short romance, “A Midsummer’s Knight” to one person who leaves a comment on your blog. I will also give a grand prize at the end of the tour to one name picked from all who leave comments at all the blog stops. This will be a copy of Love Delivery in an appropriate eBook format.
Penny, you are so welcome. I enjoyed your answers and also learning more about you. Best wishes for your continued success.
Readers: Leave a comment to be eligible to win a Free Copy of Penny's short romance,
"A Midsummer's Knight."


  1. Celia, thank you for hosting me on your blog today. You asked some excellent questions!

  2. Penny, I'm so glad to meet you. Each of your books sounds fascinating, but I think I'll order the romance. :-) I'll tell my school librarrian daughter about the ghost books. Kids love books with ghosts, don't they?

  3. Nice to meet you today, Penny. Your stories sound interesting - I love ghost stories, too, but romance is my favorite.

    Glad your daughter got you to writing 'real' books. :)

  4. Hi Penny, I enjoyed your excerpt and you editing advice.

  5. Caroline, thank you for stopping by. The ghost books won't be available until late 2012 at the earliest. I've had my rights reverted from the original publisher so I could keep both books together. Thank you for your kind support.

    Paisley, thank you for commenting. I'm one of those writers who likes almost everything. LOL

    Mona, I'm glad you were able to take something of interest from the interview.

  6. Penny, it's great to find you here on Celia's blog! Glad to hear 4RV got "Ghost for Rent" and the sequel! I love the cover for "Love Delights." Very eyecatching. Great editing advice about reading the genre you want to write for it. It really helps one develop a feel for the genre.


  7. Steph, thanks for the kind words. I'm excited both my Ghost books are with 4RV. Likewise, I'm thrilled to be part of the MuseItUp family who have all my adult romances.