Monday, February 28, 2011

What is Sunshine Boulevard All About?

Are you curious to discover what the story is in Sunshine Boulevard, a mystery/light horror novella coming out tomorrow, March 1?

Back of the book blurb: Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies... 


“Jim, Jim!” Gloria threw her keys on the kitchen counter and then stashed her mat and barbells in the hallway closet.
            “Jim!” She called louder. He was not in the Florida room. She gingerly stepped from the kitchen to the carport. She darted into the attached shed housing the laundry room with storage in the front and Jim’s workshop in back. She walked through the workshop and out the back door to the neat little back yard and found him watering their garden plot.
            “Did you hear about George MacDonnell?” Gloria shook her auburn hair, compliments of her favorite brand of hair color #118.  Her clear blue eyes filled with tears.
            “Yes, I heard.” Jim kinked the hose to stop the water flow and dragged it to the faucet on the back of the house. He slowly turned the tap to cut off the stream of water and dropped the hose to the freshly cut grass.
            “How sad that he died alone. Oh, Jim, he wasn’t discovered for so long his body just ro...” She couldn’t say it.
            “Gloria, come in the house. I have to tell you something. I don’t want the neighbors listening in on this conversation.”
            Gloria knew her husband of thirty-five years well enough to realize something
wasn’t right.
            As they stepped into the bright kitchen, Jim turned to her. Looking straight into her eyes, he said, “Royce called this morning. George’s death was peculiar. I guess, that’s what the Medical Examiner is saying.”  
Jim was friends with the county M.E., Royce Williams. They worked together on investigations involving the First Responders Unit. Living in a retirement community, the Medical Examiner and medics were frequent visitors. An ambulance at a home was not a significant event at Citrus Ridge. It was part of life and death.
            “Royce told us George’s body did not rot. It couldn’t have decomposed that quickly because Miss Lottie checked on him every day when she brought him the mail in the afternoon. She delivered it the day before he died. He was alert and talked about the weather.
            “When Lottie called 9-1-1 at one o’clock yesterday, she was so upset she couldn’t even speak. They traced the call to her house. When the police arrived, she only pointed to George’s house.”
            Jim stopped a minute. Gloria saw the anguish in his face. “They discovered George sitting in the living room in his recliner. His body was mustard yellow. His clothes were melted to his body. The odor was not a rotting smell, but rather like burning or scorching. In fact the fabric in the chair was charred. Ron was the first responder. He told me when he and the paramedics touched the body, it turned to powder.”
            Gloria cried out in disbelief. She covered her face with her hands. “Dear God. What happened, Jim? What could have caused such a thing?”
             “Ron arrived at the scene first. You know Ron. Always talking and telling great stories.” Gloria remembered the usually fun-loving raucous Ron.
            “Royce told me there was such a look of horror in Ron’s eyes. He was traumatized by what he saw. Ron told him he moved George’s wrist, and his hand fell making a pile of yellow ashes on the floor.”
            “Dear God.” Gloria sat down at the dining room table feeling nauseous. Jim wiped his eyes. “I don’t know how Ron and Lottie will ever forget this nightmare.”
             The ominous feeling of inexplicable danger washed over her. Jim sat down heavily in the chair across from Gloria reaching his hand across the table. She rested her hand lightly on his. After thirty-five years of marriage, she knew they needed no words; just a touch for comfort and strength to carry them through what she feared would be the difficult days ahead.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

First Review of Sunshine Boulevard

I am doing a happy dance today after reading the first review of my book, Sunshine Boulevard. Sue Perkins, author and reviewer from New Zealand, posted the review on her blog on February 25. She summed up the story very well and gave enough tease to interest the reader. She did a great job and did not reveal the answer to the mysteries. Thanks so much, Sue!

This review from someone in New Zealand opened my eyes to the idea of the possibility the whole world can read my book...I'll be very happy if I sell a few copies to my relatives!!! LOL..

For book ordering after March 1, check the Muse It Up Bookstore page or go to,, or any online ebook retailer.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Astonishing Realization--Thank You!

An astonishing realization hit me this week.  I discovered that I began this writing journey secluded at my desk with my laptop. Now I am not alone at all as I prepare to send my debut novella out into the big, cold world. I received benefits from joining the writing community that I never imagined, namely the support and goodwill from so many strangers who are now friends to me.

First at the newspaper where I was given a chance to contribute "people centered" stories. I have maintained a camaraderie with that office. Through my feature articles, I met a great group of editors who supported me. Crazy enough, I still have friends from the years when I was a contributing editor for an ezine which sold out. But those writers still maintain a loop and we try and keep up with each other.

A fantastic group of fun-loving, articulate, intelligent writers make up my writers circle where we meet together at the local library. Many are now published authors, including me, mainly because of this fantastic group of people who I call "friends."

I am now experiencing a warm new group, the Muse It Up Authors, who are so supportive of each other offering opportunities for promotion on their blogs, advice on the loop, information, and warm chocolate chip cyber cookies for all those who sign up with the Muse. They make me laugh, think, smile, and just be proud to be an author!

Thanks to all of you for making this writer feel blessed.


Monday is President's Day. Growing up in Illinois, Land of Lincoln, we never had school on Lincoln's birthday, February 12. All the government agencies closed...a true holiday! 

I love Abraham Lincoln. You can imagine how disappointed I was when someone decided to combine the two presidents, Lincoln and Washington, who have birthdays in February into one holiday to honor all the presidents. But I do believe it is a good idea to recognize the presidents. I can't imagine ever wanting that job!

Do you remember the story of Washington who chopped down the cherry tree when he was a boy? When his dad asked him if he did it, he told the truth and admitted chopping the tree down. So one can not think of Washington without thinking of cherry pie. Well, that's how my mind works anyway.

Have a wonderful Presidents Day!

Is cherry pie your favorite fruit pie? Vote in the poll in the right column and see if cherry pie is as popular as our first president. Thanks.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And the Winner is Emily Pikkasso!

Congratulations, Emily, on winning the drawing for Penny Ehrenkranz short story. You commented on her interview when she was my guest author on February 8. This short story is not one included in Penny's new anthology, A Past and a Future. Thanks for stopping by for the interview.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Author Interview: Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz--Welcome Penny

I am happy to welcome author and editor Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz today. Please comment and leave your email address here to be eligible to win a short story not included in Penny's new anthology, A Past and a Future.

Thank you, Penny, for visiting. You have an anthology just released from Sam's Dot Publishing. At the end of the interview, I added an excerpt from one of the stories and the list of the sixteen stories in the collection with a little tease for each one.  We are anxious to learn more about the story collection and your writing career. 

Why did you decide to write the anthology? Is there a running theme for your stories? 

My collection is A Past and a Future, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing.  I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and soft science fiction.  Eight of the sixteen stories included in the selection are fantasy, and the other eight are soft science fiction.  Perhaps the theme would be relationships as most have a romantic element, although I wouldn’t designate any of them as standard romance.

 What made you decide to write it?

I’ve always enjoyed writing short stories. While some writers find them more difficult, I find them easier than writing a novel. I like the challenge of fitting a complete story within a limited number of words.  I’ve written a number of these over the years and decided it would be fun to put them together into a collection.

  Tell us about one of your favorite.

My favorite story is “Ashley of Ashland.”  It won an Honorable Mention in a short story romance contest.  Ashley is the younger brother with some magical abilities.  He is destined to be the court mage, while his older brother, Gerand, has been promised since birth to Princess Thalia.  Unfortunately, Thalia and Ashley love each other.  Gerand is a brute and a womanizer.  Ashley and Thalia decide to run off and leave their families and commitments behind.  What follows is an adventure fraught with obstacles and frustrations ending in their capture and Ashley’s imprisonment.  I won’t tell any more of it because it would spoil the ending.

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I don’t outline.  I’m what’s referred to as a “panster,” writing by the seat of my pants.  For me, when I’m captured by my story, I can actually “see” it in my mind’s eye, almost like watching a movie. Once it’s going, it’s hard to stop it. 

How much do you know about your main character before you begin writing? How do you develop your character?

I really don’t know much about the main characters when I start.  I often see something in a magazine or news article that sparks my interest, and I go from there.  The characters grow as the story develops. If I’m writing a longer work (like my middle grade novels), I will create a character outline to keep track of eye color, character traits, etc.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

Finding the time I need to write!  As I’ve gotten older, it seems harder and harder to focus on my writing.  When I was younger, I’d work all day and still have energy to write at night.  I retired from my day job in 2008, and now I work at home as an editor for two small publishing companies, plus write and market my books.  I’m still trying to come up with a good plan for which days to do what writing related chores.  I try to work on my own stories on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do my editing job the rest of the week days. Still, it’s easy to get side-tracked, especially when the days are nice.

Once I start writing though, it doesn’t seem to be a challenge <g>

What are your favorite endings?

Happy endings, of course.  I like the good guys to win no matter what obstacles they may face.  I try to do that with my stories.

What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I read all the time and in a lot of genres.  For pleasure, I tend to read fantasy and science fiction, but I also belong to a women’s book group, and we read more challenging, thought-provoking books. 

I would have to say the fantasy writers influenced me the most.  Those like Tolkien, Jordan, Eddings, Brooks, Martin, Harrison and Butcher are on the top of my list, although King has also had some influence as well.

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for

Most of the work is written as Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, with the exception of my middle grade novels and picture books, which are written as Penny Lockwood.

A Past and A Future (short story collection) is now available

Ghost for Rent – writing as Penny Lockwood (middle grade novel) is now available (also on Amazon)

Dragon Sight (YA illustrated chapbook) is now available

Love Delivery, (contemporary romance) coming August, 2011
Lady in Waiting, (historical romance) coming November, 2011

All the following are written as Penny Lockwood:
Funny Dog, (picture book) coming May, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, (MG novel) coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, (picture book) coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, (picture book) coming June, 2015

Where can we find more about you?

I have my web page and a blog where I feature other writers, occasional reviews, and writing tips. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Jacketflap, and Amazon.

J Q, thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your blog today.  You asked some great questions.

Excerpt from Ashley of Ashland:
Ashley, younger son of Brandon, Duke of Ashland, sat brooding in front of the
fire. Although it was late spring, the stone castle was drafty and always cold. Deep
in thought, he tried to ignore the gaiety around him, as party guests frolicked and
made merry. A spark from the fire fell on his blue silk hose, and he flicked it away
angrily. He sat up straighter on his chair and adjusted his dark blue brocade jacket.
He noticed a small smudge spot on one of the white lace cuffs protruding from the
right sleeve. He rubbed at it absently, but that only pushed the soot deeper into the
Ashley glanced back over his shoulder. A small group of musicians, gaily
dressed in green and gold brocade, played a rollicking dance tune. Dancers of all
ages bobbed, swayed, curtseyed and bowed to each other as their feet flashed
through the intricate dance steps. Serving girls wove among the dancers, tankards of
ale and goblets of wine balanced on their huge trays. Ashley sighed and turned back
to his fire; he had never managed to conquer those dance steps.
Ashley picked up a poker leaning against the stonework and shoved it into the
pile of burning logs. The flames danced higher, the sparks flying like tiny fairy
lights. Ashley sighed and looked back over his shoulder again. Princess Thalia
danced with his brother, Gerand. Her small blond head was thrown back in
laughter, her cheeks lit with a rosy glow. She was dressed in a low-cut, lime-green
brocade dress, the full skirt trimmed in the finest ermine. Around her neck flashed a
choker of emeralds and diamonds. Woven into her hair were strings of pearls.
Gerand’s tall muscular frame, topped by his head of thick, black hair, created a
stark contrast to the small plump princess as he propelled her around the dance floor
in an intricate maneuver. Ashley sighed again. Thalia was so lovely, if only he had
been born first, she’d be pledged to him, not his older brother.
Ashley stirred the logs while muttering under his breath. A rainbow of colors
flickered, and suddenly an image of Princess Thalia appeared, hovering in the huge
fireplace. Several more words created Ashley’s image standing alongside Thalia’s.
When a hand touched Ashley’s shoulder lightly, it startled him. The images
flickered and disappeared.
“Impressive, Ashley of Ashland,” Thalia’s soft voice murmured.
Ashley spun around quickly, a blush coloring his pudgy cheeks. “Good evening,
Princess. I thought I was alone.” Ashley stood and bowed, his eyes never leaving
Thalia’s face.
“You were. I just came to see if my future brother-in-law would like to dance
with me?” Thalia’s cheeks dimpled slightly as she smiled, extending her hand.

Readers, please take a peek at the diverse stories included in Penny's anthology.

FLIGHT OF THE ROC – Girl collides with Roc as she struggles to find her magic powers
BLURRED VENGEANCE – Vain and aggressive, Temur ignores the warnings as he seeks vengeance for his father’s death
WHO WILL HEAL THE HEALER – How can a young sorceress save her mentor when the powers of darkness threaten?
ASHLEY OF ASHLAND – Will the plain, younger brother win the heart of the fair princess or be executed as a traitor?
THE WATCHER – Her vision causes her to become a betrayer of all she
holds dear. Can she be saved?
ENCHANTRESS – Merlin knows the one he loves will be his downfall, but
can he win in the end?
DRAKONI – Torn from her modern day world and thrust into a world of
dragons, evil magicians, and handsome elves, will Farah succeed or die
HESHE- Forced to hide as a young man, will the young noble woman tell
her benefactor who she is, or will her pursuers capture her and take her
back into slavery.
THE BABY MAKERS – In a world where cloning is possible, will Reese be
able to save his illegal newborn child from a government determined to
make her a non-citizen?
3-D PICTURES – The government thinks he is crazy and sends him to a
shrink.What will Avery do when the elves appear in the 3-D picture in
the waiting room?Go or allow himself to be “cured?”
SCREEN SAVER – The program arrives as a demo. Will it be Clancy’s ticket to
survival or a rip-off which brings him to destruction?
ISOLATION- The world as we know it is gone. The rich are isolated from
the dying poor. Will Caryn and Rader make the right decision when they
search from freedom?
LOVE IN A DIFFERENT HUE – What would you do if a blue-skinned robot
wanted to protect and love you?Chiri isn’t sure until he takes her in
his arms.
DOWN SO LOW, THE GROUND LOOKS LIKE UP – Sylvan drinks herself into
oblivion to compensate for her psi talents. Can Deveneaux save her from
her demons, or will he lock her up for proposition an officer of the law?
REBELS WITH A CAUSE – Shayleena is tired of living her life through
holovision. She wants a real life with real people. Will she find it as a
volunteer for juvenile offenders, or will she be mugged and left to die?
CLOCKWORKS – John lives in Structured. His ancestors came from a country
where time means nothing. What will he do when he tries to trace his
roots and finds his structured life is now in chaos?

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Very Special Gift

This past rainy Saturday afternoon about 1:45 pm my brother Jim called. He and his wife, Sandy, had a gift for me and wanted to bring it down right now. I could tell from his excitement and plain old giddiness, it wasn't exactly something I was expecting. I told him we were having a card party tonight, but he said they would just drop in for awhile. I hated to have them drive for an hour and a half to my house and not be able to visit with them longer. But he said that was fine, they just wanted to drop off the gift. So they arrived about 3:30 pm with a big styrofoam Omaha Steaks shipping box. They proudly set it on the dining room table for me to open. I had an inkling it was something that I had mentioned to Sandy when we were at Webster flea market on the previous Monday.

It was so fun to watch them watch me open it. You'd think it was Christmas morning. After layers upon layers of newspaper, I uncovered a 12" tall figurine of a pair of pink flamingoes. They were standing together making a heart shape just like on the front of my book cover for Sunshine Boulevard. It was a beautiful statue with orchids, etc. I told Sandy on Mon I was looking for flamingo items because if I ever have a book talk, I want to put them on the table. These are perfect! What a fun surprise for me and a delight for the gift-givers.
Sunshine Boulevard will be released by Muse It Up Publishing March 1, 2011. I am getting so anxious for the release date. It's been nine months since the book was accepted. It's like waiting for a baby to be born....LOL...

E-book Formats Are Confusing...Here's Help

Once upon a time there were e-books and e-zines in their own little world on the Internet. The people laughed and thought how clever to write a short little booklet of information accessed on the pc. Then the clever little electronic books found their niche as promotional tools in business.

In 2000 Stephen King presented his fiction in the form of a "digital novella" which added credence to the idea of e-books having a place in the publishing business. Today with the Kindle, Nook, and more e-readers, plus apps for reading on other devices, the e-book is part of the national scene, not replacing print books, but enhancing the availability of stories and information to readers.

With so many reading devices, there are different e-book formats. Nothing is standard...yet. So if you are confused as to what format you need to order when purchasing an e-book, David Normoyle has added a Format Guide to his website. This clear, easy-to-read guide is a great reference for you. Thanks, David.

David's new e-book, Crimson Dream, is available now at Muse It Up Publishing bookstore.

Author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz Interview Tomorrow

I am excited to have the opportunity to host author and editor Penny Ehrenkranz tomorrow. Join us to win a new short story from Penny and learn about her new anthology, A Past and a Future.

Follow her on her blog tour this month for the new fantasy anthology, A Past and a Future.

A PAST AND A FUTURE Blog Tour - Feb. 1, Jamie Bevans Marva Dasef – Feb 2 - Feb. 2 - Professor Baker Janie Franz – Feb 3 - Feb 4, Heather Kuehl - Feb 5, Barbara Ehrentreu - Feb 10 & 11, Joyce Anthony Feb 10 - Judy LASR 13 Stories from APAAF Feb 13, Ginger Simpson Feb 13, 7 PM EST, The Writer’s Chat room  Feb 14 Kelly Harmon  Feb 15 - Su Halfwerk

Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream, Happy Mother's Day, Working Moms

YouTube VIDEO: Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream Hello and welcome! I wanted to pop in to wish you moms, grandmoms and those w...