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Saturday, August 20, 2011
Author Interview with Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz as part of the virtual book tour she is doing to promote her latest book Love Delivery, from MuseItUp Publishing.
She will be giving away a prize at each stop as well as a grand prize at the end of the tour, so check out her dates and stops here.
I asked her to tell us a little bit about Love Delivery.
"It's a story about two very normal people struggling to find happiness despite the hard-knocks life has thrown their way. Just as they feel they’ve found something special in each other, an evil ex-wife, an adorable child, and custody battles intrude on the path toward love."
Penny told me that it seems she's always been interested in writing. Her father used to make up stories for her at bedtime and then, when she could start to write herself, it was natural to make up her own stories. She spent a lot of time reading and loved being able to be transported to new worlds and exciting places. When she was a senior in high school, she convinced her English teacher that she could write a novel instead of doing her homework assignments.
"I never quite finished it," she admitted. "After I graduated, I tried submitting to magazines, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Back then all the online support available to writers now wasn’t in existence. I was operating in a void with no one to ask how to do things. After a few rejections, I gave up until 1993. At that point, I wrote grants for non-profits and was asked to write a large grant for a large sum of money. I then decided to try again and took a correspondence course with The Children’s Institute of Literature. Shortly after that, I sold my first story, and it’s been ongoing since then."
Penny's daughter was her inspiration for her first book. Penny had been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for several years, but her daughter insisted that Penny wasn't a "real" writer because she hadn't written a book her daughter could hold.
"It was a challenge I couldn’t resist, so I wrote my first middle-grade novel, Ghost for Rent," she said. "Unfortunately, she was too old to enjoy it when it finally got published. She did, however, invite me to be a guest in her classroom (she’s a grade-school teacher) to talk about being a writer. It felt really great to be able to do that."
I asked Penny which came first for her—the plot or the characters.
"It changes for me. Sometimes I think of what type of story I want to write based on something that’s happened or something someone has told me about. Other times, I think of a character whose story is aching to be told. I’m not a disciplined writer, and I guess it shows in the way I work, which tends to be a bit haphazard."
Penny's office is a small 6x6 area with a wrap-around desk covering three walls. One window looks through her greenhouse out to her vegetable garden and fruit trees (when she's not writing, she can often be found gardening). There are shelves on three of the walls which contain reference books, her supplies, and artwork by her daughter. She has a landline and a printer as well as various notebooks for taking notes. Her daughter's artwork also adorns the walls, along with a calendar and photos of friends and family.
She also enjoys playing with her animals (she and her husband have two LhasaPoos, Ricky and Lucy, as well as cats), reading, crocheting, and she also goes to water aerobics and walks several days a week.
"I can’t imagine not having dogs in my life. I had them as a kid, and my husband and I have always had at least two," she told me. "This is the first time we’ve had only small dogs, however. I’d love to still have large dogs, but unfortunately, we’re getting too old to carry those big dogs up and down the stairs when they get sick or old."
Ricky and Lucy like to cuddle next to Penny and her husband in bed at night while the humans each read on their Kindles.
When it comes to favorites, though, it's a toss-up between dogs and cats. "I have both and love both. Both types of animals offer something different to me in the way of love and companionship. I think I’ll always have to have both around me."
On a personal note, Penny told me that she hates how she looks in pictures. "It’s been a long time since I thought I took a good picture. Hate this getting older stuff," she said with a grin.
Some things you might not know about Penny:
~her favorite pizza is a Greek pizza with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lots of garlic, spinach, and Kalamata olives.
~she's definitely a night person. One reason she's glad to be retired is so she can pick and choose her own hours.
~when she was a kid staying at her aunt's house, lightning struck the side of the house. They ended up having to sleep downstairs on the floor.
~she still likes thunderstorms and can remember standing in front of a huge plate glass window mesmerized by the ferocity of a storm raging outside.
~she has to have her bedroom completely dark to get a good night's sleep, while her husband likes a night light because he gets up with the dogs to take them out at night. Penny has learned to live with that small glow, but can't sleep at all if the overhead light or even a bedside light is on.
Finally, I asked Penny, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"I always encourage them not to give up. It’s important to have faith and believe in yourself. Ask questions of people who have already been published. Join support groups, even if it’s a social networking site like Facebook. I’ve met some wonderful friends from around the world there. Take online or community college writing courses. Be sure your work is edited, proofread, and professional before you submit."
You can keep up with Penny on her blog, http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com,