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?


Nancy Bell said...

Hey Penny, Great interview. I love the excerpt. Best of luck with the anthology


J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks, Emily, for stopping by. Penny's stories are intriguing.

Laurie Boris said...

Hi, Penny. This is excellent! I can identify with the "pantser" technique! Feel like I'm following characters around, listening and writing. Best of luck with the anthology...I'm looking forward to reading it!

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Hi J, thank you so much for hosting me today. Sorry, I'm late checking in. I now volunteer one day a week with 4th graders, helping them learn to write :-) Very rewarding experience for me...

@ Nancy, thank you for stopping by. Ashley is one of my favorites from the collection.

@ Laurie, thank you, I hope you get a chance to read the collection. I think there are more than a few of us pantsters.

Cellophane Queen said...

I've read all the stories and enjoyed the whole anthology. The trouble with trying to review a set of short stories is how do you do it. I'll think of something soon and give it a try on my blog. I'll let you know when I manage that, Penny.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Penny, I didn't get to Ashley of Ashland yet, but it looks really good. I can see why it's your favorite.:) I have to finish the book so I can review it.:)

This is a great interview J.Q. You asked some great questions. Oh and by the way, I'm a pantser too!!!

J.Q. Rose said...

Penny, that sounds like a lot of fun and a rewarding experience working with those creative young minds.

J.Q. Rose said...

Welcome all you "pantsers" and that must be the majority here...LOL. Thanks for stopping in.

Unknown said...

Another pantser here and thank you for helping me feel like I'm not the only one.lol. Loved the interview and the blurb from your work. Very well described, I felt like I was there!


Anonymous said...

Great interview!

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Marva and Barbara, I'm looking forward to reading your reviews.
Karen, thanks for stopping by.

J.Q., You've been awarded the Life is Good award. Please see instructions at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com

Thanks again for your support, Penny

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