Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ghost for Rent



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.


By Penny Lockwood

Ghost stories are some of my favorite books, and this one kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.

Eleven-year-old Wendy Wiles’s life is falling apart. Her parents are talking divorce. Her dad leaves home. Wendy, her mom, and her older brother, Mike, move to an old house in the country. Wendy is one unhappy girl. An aspiring poet, she writes a poem about the unfairness of life. After all, poets are supposed to suffer, aren’t they?

As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, Jennifer, a girl she meets who lives on the other side of the woods, tells Wendy the house they’re living in is haunted. Mike, as brothers delight in doing, teases Wendy, because he, of course, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Wendy’s mother also agrees that there’s no such thing as ghosts. But they don’t know the weird stuff that happens in Wendy’s bedroom.

Ghostly sightings and unsolved mysteries finally make even skeptical Mike a believer, and the children decide to discover the truth about a long ago tragedy. And what about Mom and Dad? How does their story end? I’m not telling.

Ms. Lockwood has written a chilling tale that once you start reading it, you’ll turn on all the lights and check your doors to be sure they’re locked, unless you’d like a visit from a ghost. This is a great story for middle-grade readers who love a good mystery and the paranormal. The brother and sister relationship is true-to-life, and you root for the children to succeed in their quest. I think even older folks will enjoy the book. I know I did.

Interview with Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 75 articles, 50 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. Penny granted me the pleasure of interviewing her recently. Here's what she has to say.

Bev: When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

Penny: I can't remember a time I didn't want to be a writer. My father used to make up stories for me when I was a child, and I was always fascinated by them. I guess that made me want to tell stories too. Like many writers, I started as soon as I could spell. I used to write my own stories, illustrate them, and bind them. I still have some of them my mom saved for me. In high school, I convinced my English teacher to let me write a novel instead of doing homework. After graduation, I started submitting stories, but I didn't have a clue what to do. Back then, there wasn't such a terrific support system for new writers like there is now. After a few rejections, I decided I probably wasn't as good as I thought I was and gave up for too many years. In 1993, I took a writing course through The Children's Institute of Literature and finally had success. Since then, I've had numerous articles and short stories published including in two anthologies.

Bev: What was your inspiration for your children's book, Ghost for Rent?

Penny: A neighbor got divorced and moved into an older home when the house she was living in was sold. Shortly after she moved in, she and her children heard music and said they saw what appeared to be a young boy playing piano. The area in which I live has many such tales, and I was intrigued by the idea of telling a ghost story for young people. At the time, I had written and published quite a few articles and short stories for adults, but my own daughter didn't think I was a writer because I hadn't written a "book." I decided to write one, and Ghost for Rent was the result.

Bev: Do you outline a story first or just start writing and let the characters take you where they want to go?

Penny: I have never outlined, except when I had to for school reports! I always just start writing and then let my characters take over. Most of the time, I can close my eyes, and it's like watching a movie playing in my head. Sometimes, the characters have a different idea of what they want to happen and then I have to change gears. When I start a novel, I have a vague idea of what I want to write in each chapter, but that often changes.

Bev: Tell us about your other work and future plans.

Penny: As I said, I do write a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction for adults. My non-fiction is mostly writing-related articles, parenting articles, and teen self-help. My fiction leans toward fantasy and soft science fiction with a little bit of romance thrown in. Several years ago, several of these stories were compiled and published as an anthology, Then and Later. Unfortunately, the eBook publisher went out of business, and I haven't yet tried to find another publisher. Not too many publishers are interested in anthologies. I also have an illustrated young adult chapbook, Dragon Sight.I would love to write travel articles, and have written a couple, but so far haven't had any acceptances. The other market I would like to crack is for retired and senior citizens. I am also working on a sequel to Ghost for Rent as well as a picture book for toddlers.

Bev: Just for fun: If you could live in any other time period, when and where would you choose? Why?

Penny: Oh, I would love to live in a fantasy land with magic, elves, fairies and dragons. But since that's not possible, I guess right now is a good place to be. While I love the idea of living in the past (middle ages), it would be an incredibly hard life, and I have to admit I would miss all the technology and time-saving devices (imagine washing clothes in a river with a rock). To live in the future would also be appealing; except at the rate we're damaging our planet, I wonder what will be left of Earth in 100 years. I'm quite happy with my life right now. I have a supportive, loving husband, two wonderful children (who both married delightful partners), and a beautiful grandchild. What's not to love about that?

Bev: What is your favorite movie, TV show, book? Your favorite author and actor/actress?

Penny: My favorite movie would have to be Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I love the martial arts scenes and flying through the bamboo forest. The last time I was in China, we actually visited the area where it was filmed. It was breathtaking. My favorite TV show would be The Dresden Files, which unfortunately was canceled. It's hard to pick a favorite book as I love Jim Butcher's Dresden File series, but I also enjoy reading J.K. Rowling, George R. Martin, Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffery. . . you get the picture. I don't think I have a favorite actor or actress. I like Jet Li, Sean Connery, Fred Astair, Brad Pitt. As for actresses, I've always liked Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, and Drew Barrymore. There's others, of course, but that's a good list.

Bev: Where can your fans learn more about Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz? Web sites? Blogs?

Penny: I don't have a web site yet, although I realize it would be an advantage to do so. One of these days... My blog is at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/ If people are interested in purchasing either Ghost for Rent or Dragon Sight, here are a few places where the books are available for sale:
Sites where the book can be purchased:

Ghost for Rent:http://www.hardshell.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=0759910057 (trade paperback)

Bev: Thank you for sharing your world with us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shiver Contest

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human...until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Shiver, coming soon to bookstores near you. Pre-order now through Amazon or your local indie.

For details of how you can win arcs, signed books, critiques and other stuff, stop by Maggie's original contest post.

Thanks, Kai. I hope we win cause this sounds like a super read.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Summer Conference

I'm drooling over the brochure from the SCBWI Summer Conference. Me drooling isn't a pretty sight. I'm also dreaming. Not quite as gross as the other. Someday, perhaps. The faculty ... Wow! And books, books, books. For everyone who's going, you lucky people you. For me, I'll pretend I'm there and imagine what it's like.

Latest read: Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer. Caught me by surprise there at the end. I love it when that happens. Fantastic read.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Interview with Jo Linsdell

PROMO DAY is this Saturday. Don't forget. Here's an interview with Jo Linsdell, founder and organizer of this day to help writers promote their work.

1. Tell us about your current books. What was your inspiration for writing them?

My latest book is Italian for Tourists Pocket Edition which is due out on 1st May 2009. I came to Italy with the plan of staying for 3 days and figured I could get by for such a short stay using English. With this in mind I hadn’t prepared for the fact that Italians might not speak English. In fact a lot of them don’t or if they do it’s very limited. I felt rude not being able to thank or greet people in Italian, after all I was in Italy. If an Italian came to England not being able to speak English how far would he get? I got myself a phrasebook to help me but a lot of the information was irrelevant and it took ages to find what I needed. I wrote this book bearing all this in mind. A tourist doesn’t need to know everything about Italian grammar and the in’s and out’s of renting an apartment. They want to have an easy to use reference book of the language they will need to use and understand during their stay. Italian for Tourists Pocket Edition will be available to purchase from http://www.lulu.com/jolinsdell

2. The upcoming Promotional Event for the Writing Industry is a great idea. How important is it for writers to promote their work?

If you don't promote, you don't sell. PROMO DAY is a great way to promote, network and learn all for free and in one day. As an international event is means you get global coverage too. Everything a writer wants all in one place and for FREE.

3. Which works best in your opinion, Online promotion or personal book signings, speaking events, and things like that?

A combination of both on and offline is the best way. If your books are on sale online then online promotion is a must and very effective as you can add a direct link to your book making sales easier. You can also sell on an international level and make it easier to 'spread the word' about your and your work.Offline promotion is also important though as it's more personal. As my book is designed for tourists I often print off flyers advertising it and leave them with bars and shops or give some to restaurants visited by tourists.As a non fiction author I find that writing articles linked to the topic of your books is also helpful as it shows that you are an expert in your field. I've had articles published in newspapers and magazines for English speakers in Italy. These are read by both English speakers living in Italy and tourists visiting.

4. What are you working on now? New books in the future?

I'm currently busy with the release of Italian for Tourists Pocket Edition (due out 1st May from http://www.lulu.com/jolinsdell), but hope to have some more time after May to work on my novel. It's my first attempt at writing a fiction book and so far I'm enjoying the experience.

5. How may your fans contact you? Web sites? Blogs?

Lots. I get a lot of emails from people all over the world asking for more information about my books and projects. I also get a lot asking for tips and advice for visiting Italy. It's nice to feel loved :)

Thank you for all you do to help writers in their work.

Thank you for having me.

Jo LinsdellFounder and Organiser

PROMO DAY! 9th May 2009

Blog: http://promoday.blogspot.com