Today’s guest is Penny Ehrenkranz, a familiar face at MuseItUp. Penny, it’s good to have you here today.
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Lisa, thank you for hosting me on your blog today. Before I start, I’d like to let your readers know that I’m running a contest. Everyone who comments and leaves contact information will be entered into a drawing. At the end of my blog tour, I will choose two names. One person will receive a copy of Lady In Waiting and another will receive a copy of Mirror, Mirror.
In addition to being a writer, I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. For me, family always comes first. Even when I first started writing, I would feel guilty if I had to turn my kids away to say “Mommy’s working. I’ll play later.” I am also an editor at MuseItUp Publishing and do some acquisitions at 4RV Publishing. Up until a few months ago, I was also editing for Damnation Books.
When I’m not writing, blogging, or editing, I enjoy gardening, crocheting and craft projects, water aerobics, and of course, reading. My husband and I live on six acres in rural Oregon and have two cats and two LhasaPoo dogs. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve downsized our animals, and at some future time, we will be considering downsizing our home as well.
- What is the title of your most recent novel, and can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m promoting two eBooks on this tour. The first, releasing in November, is Lady In Waiting, and the second, releasing in December, is Mirror, Mirror. Here are the tag lines and blurbs:
Tag Line: 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?
Lady in Waiting released November 18th. The buy link is http://tinyurl.com/6u4keh5
Tag Line: 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?
Mirror, Mirror will release in December. The MuseItUp Bookstore buy link: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2
- When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Like many writers, I first started writing almost as soon as I could compose a sentence and put it on paper. I was an avid reader as a child and loved to be lost in a book. When I was bored, I would create my own stories, hand printing them, illustrating them, and then binding them with ribbon and cardboard.
I became a professional writer in 1993, after twenty years of feeling inadequate as a writer after my early rejections in the late 1960s. Since then, I’ve published numerous articles and short stories for both adults and children. I’ve been published in a few anthologies, and I’ve got a print collection of my short stories, A Past and A Future, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing and available as an eBook through Smashwords. I’ve also published a middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent, which is being re-released next year with a new publisher.
- Do you have a day job/family/children, and how do you balance everything?
In 1993, I did have a day job as well as children still living at home. At that time, I would work all day, come home to make dinner, read to the kids and get them ready for bed, and then I would begin working on my writing. In 2008, I was fortunate enough to be able to retire from my day job. I can now write whenever I want, whether it’s during the day or in the middle of the night. My time is finally my own, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
- How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?
I actually enjoy writing in a number of genres. The two books I’m touring are romances. Lady In Waiting is an historical romance and Mirror, Mirror is a time-travel romance. I really enjoy fantasy, and Lady In Waiting did start out as a fantasy, with one of the main characters planned as a wizard. He told me otherwise, part-way through the book, and the slant of the story changed.
While I’ve written fantasy, soft science fiction, and romance, all of my tales seem to have a touch of romance, or at least an exploration of relationships between men and women. I’m not sure if I chose the genre or it chose me, but if I had to choose, I’d say it chose me.
- Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from any number of places. I’ve found inspiration in magazine articles, newspaper articles, stories told to me by friends, and just plain “what if” scenarios.
- Is there any particular author or book that influenced you while you were growing up?
While I was growing up, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I’m not sure the authors influenced me in any way, other than to strengthen my desire to be a writer. I loved the way they could transport me to other places, times, and worlds, and I wanted to do the same for other readers.
- Have you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes. There are times when either the story is stuck, or the ideas simply won’t come. Fortunately, I’m comfortable writing in both fiction and non-fiction and writing adult as well as children’s stories. If I find I’m stuck on something, I will switch gears and do some research on another story or article. It helps sometimes to just step back from a project. Give it a day or two, and a new idea or direction will present itself.
- Random Question #1: Light or dark chocolate?
No doubt about it for me. I don’t like either particularly. My favorite is white chocolate, which isn’t even chocolate. If I were forced to make a choice between light or dark, it would be light.
- Do you work from an outline, or do the characters dictate the plot (I’m a mix of both)?
I never outline. I didn’t like it when I was in school, and I still don’t like it. I tend to keep track of things like hair and eye color, character traits, and names, but not the plot. I get an idea and the characters take off with it. On a longer piece, I might make a couple of notes about what I think should happen in the chapter, but I often find what I want isn’t what the characters want. I’m definitely of the “pantser” variety.
- Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The first book I had published was a middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent. Prior to writing this, I had concentrated completely on articles and short stories. My daughter, who was about ten at the time, insisted I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t have a “book.” I set about writing it, finished it, edited it and began the query process. I didn’t try to get an agent, simply because I’d heard it’s not that important for a children’s author. Naturally, I did my research in Writer’s Market and found a number of houses which published children’s stories. I sent off my queries, but I received only rejections. I then considered eBook publishers and checked out a number of those on the Internet. I located Hard Shell Word Factory, subbed my book to them, and they accepted it. Then came the arduous task of editing with their editors, approving the galleys, and waiting for the final eBook. They offered to do a POD edition in a series they called “Twin Spins.” In this edition, I was paired with another author who had written a ghost story for the same age group. Having the print edition made it easier to promote to children than an eBook, so this worked well for me.
- If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
With Lady In Waiting and Mirror, Mirror, there isn’t anything I would change. I’ve very pleased to be published by MuseItUp Publishing. I’ve been very pleased with the process from start to finish. Muse responds in a timely manner to submissions. If the piece needs work, the editors offer helpful suggestions. If it is accepted, the authors work one-on-one with the content and line editors. The authors also have input into the cover for the book. Once published the house offers lots of promotional opportunities and keeps authors advised of any changes and marketing ideas.
- Do you have any tips for new authors marketing their first book?
Before your book is released, it’s important to build your author platform. Join some networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Don’t just tout your own book, but offer helpful information others can use. Create a blog and a following. Visit other blogs. Once your book is released, you’ve already created a group of faithful readers. Never pass up an opportunity for free promotion. Send out media releases, do book signings, offer to do a reading at your local library. Do everything you can to keep your name out there.
- Random Question #2: Favourite colour?
It varies from month to month sometimes, but right now, looking at my closet, I’d have to say blue, closely followed by purple.
- Can you tell us about your new/upcoming book?
Here are a couple of short excerpts:
“Today’s the day, Mabriona,” Princess Alana said as Mabriona entered the
chambers. She wiped tears from her eyes with an embroidered linen. “Prince Blayne will be here, and soon I’ll be his wife. I think the worst part of being father’s daughter is marrying someone I’ve never even met.”
“You’ve always known your marriage would be arranged for the benefit of the kingdom, Princess, but I’m sure he’ll be very nice,” Mabriona replied as she opened the heavy drapes covering the windows. She looked at her cousin and sighed. She wanted to feel sorry for Alana, but they’d had this discussion so many times. Mabriona was tired of it. Alana had known from the time she was a child that she would not wed for love. Why can’t Alana just accept her fate? Outside the day was as wet as the one before and the one before that.
“Nice? Who wants nice? I want someone handsome and dashing. A knight in shining armor who will love me forever. I certainly don’t want someone like my father who will make me do everything I don’t want to do.”
After Stefany left, Lindsey adjusted the water spigots on her tub. A few drops of bubble bath went into the water, and the soothing scent of lavender filled the moist, steamy air. While the tub filled, Lindsey tried on her Renaissance outfit for the upcoming Faire. She couldn’t believe her good luck at finding the perfect pieces. She tested the bath water to be sure it was the right temperature. Then she picked up her antique mirror to get a better view. Was this a scryer’s mirror at some point in time? It slipped from her wet hands into the bathtub.
“Nuts,” she mumbled as she leaned over the tub. She pulled one sleeve up on her blouse and fished around in the bubbles for the mirror. When she pulled the mirror from the water, spots appeared in front of her eyes, and she felt faint. While she watched her reflection in the old mirror, the background changed. She no longer saw the inside of her bathroom. She closed her eyes as the room around her went black.
- Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Lady In Waiting is purely imagination and research into the time period. Mirror, Mirror was based upon a day at a Renaissance Fair. I’d have to say everything I write has a touch of real life and imagination both.
- Do you have any favourite characters?
In Lady In Waiting, my favorite character is Prince Madoc. He’s sweet and un-judgmental. In Mirror, Mirror, Lindsey Baker is my favorite character since she’s bright, curious, and headstrong.
- Random Question #3: Tea or coffee?
That depends upon what time of the day it is. I have one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning for breakfast. The rest of the day, I will drink tea, either chai or mint.
- How did you come up with the title?
Lady In Waiting is a play on words. Mabriona, my MC, is lady-in-waiting to her cousin, the Princess Alana. She also is a lady who is waiting for love and thinking it will never come to her because the man of her dreams is betrothed to her cousin.
The title for Mirror, Mirror came while I was thinking of Snow White, actually, and the evil stepmother standing in front of the magic mirror. This isn’t to say Mirror, Mirror is anything like Snow White, because it isn’t. Still there is a magic mirror and it seemed like an intriguing title, so I went with it.
- What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m editing other people’s writing. LOL. If the weather is nice, I’m out in my garden, either working on it, or enjoying it. I spend at least some portion of each day reading. I enjoy crocheting in the evening while I’m watching t.v. with my husband. Whenever possible, I love to spend time with my granddaughter who will be four in January and my grandson who was born in June.
- Last Random Question: Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or horse, bird or whatever else floats your boat. LOL.
I am equally a dog and cat person. I have always had both and will continue to share my life with both. Each type of animal offers their human something different and I find I get equal pleasure from dogs and cats. Of course, we’ve also had other animals in our lives over the years, including birds, a turtle, rabbits, and goats.
- Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Not yet. I’ve written more short stories than books and there are a few of those I never found homes for which I loved, but unfortunately, I couldn’t convince an editor of accepting.
- Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
My constant advice to new writers is don’t give up. Always have faith in yourself. Do your homework and research the markets before you submit. Be sure your work is well edited. You’ll be competing with a lot of other writers, so be certain to submit the best you can. Don’t rely on spell checker. Keep yourself informed and attend conferences and workshops. There are a number of them now on the Internet which are free and while they are free, they are also excellent sources of information.
- If it was possible, would you ever want to meet your protagonist?
Only in the pages of a book.
- In regards to a new project, do your new characters speak to you, or do they shout?
I have a couple of projects in the works, but they are mostly sitting on back burners at the moment, so I guess the characters aren’t shouting very loudly.
- Have you ever had a character derail your plot?
The closest might be Lady In Waiting. I really wanted Madoc to be a wizard who would weave his spells around Mabriona, my female lead. Unfortunately, he insisted on being a bard and a poet instead, so he had no magical powers.
- Do you have a new book coming out soon? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
After the release of my current books from MuseItUp, I will be releasing four books from 4RV Publishing…all children’s books. I am re-releasing Ghost for Rent in a newly edited and illustrated edition as well as the sequel Ghost for Lunch, also in an illustrated edition. These two stories are middle grade paranormal mysteries. Also under contract are two picture books, Boo’s Bad Day and Many Colored Coats.