Saturday, January 21, 2012
One of Our Stars, Penny Ehrenkranz, Talks About Her Life and Work
Okay, I'm prejudice. Penny is not only a fine writer but also a first-rate editor. I should know, I'm lucky enough to have her edit my Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series. Penny is knowledgeable, insightful, knows what I'm trying to say (only better), and just plain tops! I absolutely love working with an editor of her calibre.
But enough waxing poetic and on to Penny's writing, of which I personally know is crackerjack stuff, having read much of it. Below, Penny answers some questions and we get to know this talented woman a little better:
1. How old were you when you were first published?
I was 47 when I had my first official byline in a magazine. I had certainly written for a lot longer and started when I was a child. Unfortunately, life got in the way and my writing was put on a back burner for more years than I would have liked.
2. When and how do you write? (typewriter, Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc?)
I generally use my PC when I’m writing because my office is quiet and away from the hubbub of the house. When it comes time to edit, though, I transfer my work to my laptop, which is a Mac, and go out to my garden or my favorite easy chair if the weather outside is too rainy or cold.
3. What is your greatest fear when you first turn in a manuscript?
Isn’t it the same as everyone’s? I am going to be rejected and get back a nasty letter from the editor telling me I should find a new career.
4. In what era do you wish you’d been born?
I am actually quite happy having been born when I was (I’m 65 now), since I was part of the sixties and seventies when so much happened and so many doors were opened to women.
When I was younger, I used to think being a pioneer would have been fun or even further back, living during the age of knights and chivalry. Now, as a wiser person, I realize I would miss my comforts of a hot bath, indoor running water, central heat, cuisine from around the world, and, of course, all our modern conveniences.
5. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m sure I overuse “was,” and I found out recently I overuse “just” as well. I haven’t noticed too many phrases being overused, but then I tend to write in a variety of genres. I did have a problem with my MG novel, which is about a ghost. My MC kept having “shivers run down her spine.”
6. Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to play guitar. I took lessons about twenty years ago, but I didn’t get any further than being able to do a basic strum and hold a few chords. I envy people who have musical ability.
7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children. My husband and I met in our 30’s and I didn’t realize what I was missing until my children arrived. Suddenly, I felt like my life had been fulfilled. Second to that would be having reached my goal of being a published author.
8. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
If he is a hero…I love Harry Dresden in the Jim Butcher books. I am quite sure there are other heroes, but Harry always comes to mind first.
9. How would you like to die?
I would definitely prefer to go to sleep one night and not wake up the next morning. I am a total wuss when it comes to pain, so I am definitely not looking for a long painful illness, car crash, motorcycle accident, or being attacked with a gun, knife, ax or other weapon of destruction.
But don't go yet, Penny! You've got more books to write! Below are three of her offerings:
Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit?
Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana. When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.
Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle. Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.
While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.
When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?
Mabriona assisted Alana down to the common dining hall as was her duty. The big room was warmed at both ends by huge hearths. In honor of Prince Blayne’s arrival, the boards had been scrubbed until they gleamed. Warm, fresh-baked loaves of bread graced each table, and the delicious aroma made Mabriona’s mouth water as they entered the room. Jars of honey mead sat within easy reach of all. Pewter bowls piled high with fresh picked apples and pears were artfully placed. Serving wenches waited, poised, with huge pots of steaming porridge.
King Cedric already sat at the upper table with Prince Blayne at his right hand. His face lit up with a smile when Alana and Mabriona approached. His voice boomed as he greeted his daughter, “Here she is, the flower of my life.”
Mabriona’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes met Blayne’s. As Alana had feared, the young prince was dark-haired with eyes the color of jet, his stature kingly. Broad shoulders and well-muscled arms nicely filled out his deep purple brocaded doublet. A full beard of coarse black hair covered his cheeks and chin, but what stopped Mabriona was his smile. Never before had she seen someone’s face light up like the sun rising on a summer’s morn. Yet, this was what came to her mind. Clearly, Blayne’s smile was meant for her, but why?
He stood and walked toward the women. “Princess Alana,” he said, bowing before Mabriona, his glance speaking words of heat and passion.
“Oh no, Your Highness,” Mabriona said, blushing. “I am Princess Alana’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Mabriona.” She felt Alana glaring daggers at her and quickly curtseyed to hide her embarrassment. Alana made it clear earlier she wasn’t attracted to dark-haired men, why is she so angry? It isn’t my fault the prince was confused. Alana looked down at the floor before glancing up at the handsome prince.
“Forgive me, Lady Mabriona. I’ve made an unthinkable error.” Prince Blayne bowed again and then turned to Alana. “Your Highness, your beauty should have made it clear to me you are my intended.”
Mabriona’s heart sunk. She saw Alana’s cold look as Blayne bowed and took her hand to kiss. She knew then that Alana hated him, yet Alana would marry him as her father decreed. It was unfair, but Mabriona was already wise enough to know she couldn’t change her lot in life. Alana would marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after, and she would remain the ever-faithful servant catering to Princess Alana’s every wish.
Blayne grasped Alana’s elbow and led her to the table to sit beside him. Yet as Mabriona watched them, Blayne’s gaze slid back to her, lingering as if he could imprint her image upon his soul. Her knees felt weak, and Mabriona quickly took a seat at the far end of the board. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest. What was happening to her? Prince Blayne was not the first man to have caught her eye, yet he was certainly the first to have affected her so she could barely breathe. Unobserved and temporarily forgotten, she watched the couple. Just as she suspected, Alana kept her nose in the air and cringed each time Blayne looked at or touched her. King Cedric would get an earful as soon as Alana got him alone, of that Mabriona was certain. Her heart bled for the handsome prince.
She looked up to see Alana motioning furiously at her. She went to the princess and bent near her. “Yes, Princess?”
“Get me out of here, now,” Alana whispered harshly.
Mabriona offered her hand, and Alana rose from her place. Blayne looked up, catching Mabriona’s gaze. His eyes sparkled, and a smile spread across his face. He bowed his head slightly. He openly flirted with her. This could not be happening. If King Cedric saw the interplay, what would he think? Blayne was the intended of Alana. Things could not get any worse. Her thoughts tumbled like the bones the guards threw when they played at betting games.
Lindsay Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.
Blurb: Lindsay Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time. There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong.
Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter. Before Lindsay can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes. Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.
Can she find her way back to her own time, or will she be stuck in a time when women had no rights?
Temporary buy link: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2
Her latest book, Love Delivery,can't help but appeal to everyone. Just look at those donuts on the cover!
Blurb: 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. Will Ann and Tom’s love prevail, or will the evil ex-wife win in the end? Love Delivery is a sweet romance, which will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.
“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.”
“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.”
Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 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. She edits for two small traditional publishers.
Visit her web site at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com
Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/
Her anthology A Past and A Future, and her YA chapbook, Dragon Sight are available at Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords. Love Delivery, Lady-in-Waiting and Mirror, Mirror are published by MuseItUp Publishing. Boo’s Bad Day and Many Colored Coats, picture books, and Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, MG novels, are scheduled for publication with 4RV.
A Past and A Future
Love Delivery, August, 2011
Lady-in-Waiting, November, 2011
Mirror, Mirror, December, 2011
Ghost for Rent, coming September, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, coming June, 2015
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: