PennyGet to know Penny…

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 80 articles, 60 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. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin! 

What was your favorite book to write?

My favorite book to write was Ghost for Rent—a middle grade paranormal mystery. When I wrote it, my daughter was about the same age as the heroine and I set it in our rural Oregon community. For many years, my daughter insisted I wasn’t a “real” writer because I hadn’t written a book. (All of my magazine articles and short stories didn’t count.) Ghost for Rent was written for my daughter, but by the time it was published, she was past the age of my intended audience. Still, I had fun writing it and coming up with obstacles for my main character to overcome.  I’ve since written the sequel, Ghost for Lunch, which is scheduled for release in 2012 with 4RV Publishing. I think I had as much fun with that as with the first. 

Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from a lot of different places. In my current release, A Past and A Future, there are sixteen individual short stories.  Many of these had been previously published in the small press and a couple were written for the collection. All of them came to being for different reasons.

With Love in a Different Hue, I was intrigued by the possibility of a woman who had been emotionally abused by her husband finding love with a machine.  It was an idea that was percolating in my mind and I wanted to see what would happen with it. 

Ashley of Ashland, also from the collection, came as a result of a newspaper article I read.  3-D Pictures, again from the collection, sprouted during the time when those 3-D pictures were popular. Maybe you remember them? You would stare at the picture long enough for things in the background to jump out at you. I loved them and wanted to do a story that involved someone who could actually be drawn into the picture. 

What advice would you give young writers?

I always encourage young writers to persevere. When I was younger, we didn’t have the resources young people have today for support and guidance.  My first rejections stopped me from submitting my stories for almost twenty years.  I didn’t realize when I was young, that even famous authors are rejected. I thought if I was rejected, I couldn’t write. It took me many years to learn it is more often just a case of being in the right place at the right time with the right story. Of course, writers need to hone their craft, study other writers, attend conferences, and ask questions.  But ultimately, if you don’t submit your work, you won’t get published.  If you are rejected, you simply need to try again.  If the same story is continually rejected, it probably needs some work. But, if you do the best you can, edit, and send off a professional manuscript, chances are good you will eventually find a home for your work. 

When are you the most productive?

When I worked full-time, I was most productive in the evening, because that was the only time available to me.  Now that I’m retired from my “day job,” I can write whenever I want. I find that I am most productive when I have an idea that wants to be put on paper. I tend to write when the mood strikes me, rather than at a set time each day. 

Are your characters completely fictional?

While my characters are completely fictional, I often take bits and pieces from people I know. Maybe it will be a description of someone or a characteristic they might have. Or someone I know looks like my image of what a detective looks like.  I don’t think anyone I know would recognize him or herself in one of my stories, but I think it’s almost impossible not to look to people we know for character ideas.

Describe your dream vacation.

I have two vacations I would like to take.  I have never been to Hawaii and I would like my next vacation to be a cruise around the Islands. When I was younger, I never wanted to go to Hawaii, but since I’ve lived on the West Coast, I’ve become more open to seeing that state. People tell me if one doesn’t like the weather on one part of an island, one merely needs to go to the other side of the island.

My other vacation is a trip to Russia. I’ve been interested in Russian history for a number of years and would love to see St. Petersburg and other parts of the country.  There is so much history there. I think it would be fascinating to see it.