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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Penny Ehrenkranz Delivers "Love Delivery"
Penny, thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you.
Marva, thank you for hosting me today. 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: http://tinyurl.com/3ty38r
Tell everyone a bit about your books including buy links.
My current release, Love Delivery, is from MuseItUp Publishing. The direct buy link is: http://tinyurl.com/3qlhyu4
Love Delivery is 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.
Where did the concept for the book (or books) come about?
Love Delivery begins with Ann, my main character, working in a donut shop. When I was a teenager, my first “real” job was selling donuts and pouring coffee in a small family-run donut shop. When I decided to write this story, I wanted my characters to be blue-collar workers, people who hadn’t finished their college educations, and people who had been dealt a few blows along the way. The donut shop seemed to be a good place of employment for my female lead. Her romantic attraction needed to either be a customer or a delivery person. Since a delivery person would always be showing up, no matter how the relationship went, this seemed the better choice for creating obstacles. A vindictive ex-wife, a sweet child, and a few cats are thrown into the mix for a little extra spice.
How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?
This particular story took a while and several incarnations before it was completed. I’d never written a romance before, although most of my stories contain some type of relationship. I had to do some research, read a couple of romance books, and try to get the story to flow smoothly. My first attempts were less than satisfactory. I tried switching POV. I also tried adding multiple POVs, and at one time, I tried lowering the vocabulary level and marketing it for slow adult readers. Ultimately, I ended up almost completely rewriting the story, submitting it to MuseItUp, having it accepted, and with help from my wonderful MuseItUp editors, now have a well-crafted romance.
Which authors have most influenced your own writing?
It’s hard to say as I’ve read so many authors in a variety of genres. I guess my favorites are Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Anne McCaffery, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, George R. R. Martin, and Stephen King. I can’t say any of them particularly influenced my writing, though. I love to read fantasy, and while Love Delivery is a contemporary romance, my book, Mirror, Mirror, which is coming from MuseItUp in November is a fantasy romance.
Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?
I actually prefer quiet when I’m writing. I have a cozy little office with family pictures on the walls, and some of my daughter’s artwork on the book shelves. I have a lovely view of my greenhouse and garden outside my window. This is where I do most of my writing, although I have been known to write while I’m waiting for an appointment or for kids to come into a writing class I’m teaching.
As a writer, what is your greatest fear?
It’s not really a fear, but I loathe marketing. I find it very difficult to put myself out there and ask people to buy my books. I’ve never been overly-confident, and even though I know my writing is good, and I craft interesting stories, it’s still hard to approach people. I’m getting better at it, but I don’t think it will ever come easy to me.
What normally occupies your desk while writing? Pencils? Coffee mugs? Breakfast crumbs?
I have a tin can covered with fun fabric filled with highlighters, pens, and scissors. I also have a notebook where I track submissions (yes, I still do this manually not on my computer), and I have scratch paper, reference books, and a good luck bamboo plant. I only drink coffee for breakfast, so if there is a mug of anything, it would be herbal or green tea, or a water bottle. I tend not to eat at my computer, so no breakfast crumbs.
Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they?
I’ve got a couple of works in progress, mostly middle-grade or YA pieces. Unfortunately with my other obligations, I don’t spend as much time as I would like working on these, so they are a bit scattered and still need a lot of work.
I do have quite a few contracts, however:
A Past and A Future is a collection of my short fantasy and science fiction stories
Lady-in-Waiting, an historical romance, coming November, 2011
Mirror, Mirror, a time-travel romance, coming December, 2011
Funny Dog, a picture book, coming May, 2012
Ghost for Lunch, a middle grade novel, coming September, 2013
Many Colored Coats, a picture book, coming October, 2014
Boo's Bad Day, a picture book, coming June, 2015
Ghost for Lunch is actually the sequel to Ghost for Rent, which had been released as an eBook by Hard Shell Word Factory. I am now in the process of preparing to submit it to 4RV Publishing. Since they contracted the sequel, they would like to have the first book in their house as well, and I am more than happy to do so, as I would also like to keep these two together. One of the things I like about 4RV Publishing is they are a print house. I really like having a print book for middle grade readers as opposed to an eBook, although I suspect I’ll change my mind in the next few years when eBooks become so affordable every family has one!
What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?
The one thing I stress is not to give up. When I first started out, oh so many years ago, the support system young writers have today wasn’t in place. After my first couple of rejections, I basically gave up writing, except for my own pleasure, until 1993. At that point, I had written a few grants and realized I wasn’t the failure I felt like I had been. I took a writing class, submitted some work, and quickly became a published author.
Over the years, I’ve found often it is merely a case of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right story. Many times rejection isn’t because your writing isn’t good, it’s simply someone else had the idea and submitted before you did.
Taking writing classes, attending writing conferences (many are online and free), and being involved with critique groups are all excellent ways to improve one’s writing.
Marva, I do want to thank the editors at MuseItUp Publishing, and especially our publisher and editor in chief, Lea Schizas. The support and professionalism of this team is superb and I am grateful to all of them.
How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?
“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.”