Showing posts with label short story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short story. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Penny Ehrenkranz's Ghost Stories

My guest today is Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz. I love her children's book, Boo's Bad Day. Naturally, I'm fond of ghost tales, so ...

Since this, after all, is Weird Wednesday, I interviewed Penny about her writing and about her upcoming middle-grade ghost stories. Here's my questions. Perhaps, Writing with God's hope blog followers will have more to ask in the comments section below.
Janet, thank you for inviting me to visit your blog today.  It has been a pleasure answering your questions. If people want to learn more about me or my work, my web site is


1.You're sure welcome, Penny. Now, tell us something of your writing journey.

Like most authors, I became interested in writing when I was a child in grade school.  I often entertained myself by writing books, illustrating them, and binding them with cardboard and ribbon.  In high school, my senior English teacher allowed me to work on a novel in lieu of doing homework assignments.  I have no idea what happened to that manuscript. I do remember being influenced by J.D. Salinger at the time.  After high school, I took some writing classes, but I was unable to sell any of my work and gave up for many years.  After my children were born, I did some grant writing for local non-profits.  When I realized I could make money from my writing, I took another writing class and this time, I made my first sale.  I began by writing non-fiction articles and short stories.  My middle grade novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch are the only full-length books I’ve written.  I still prefer to write 10,000 word or less stories.


2.       Your journey sounds a lot  like mine. I was inspired by an English teacher, and I started with short stories.   Is there a favorite theme in your writing?

I enjoy writing fantasy and science fiction, but I generally include a touch of romance.  I would say a common theme would be that families and relationships between people are important and should be nurtured.


3.                What books have you read recently?

I recently completed Room by Emma Donoghue (my book group selection), and11/22/63 by Stephen King (for pleasure).


4.                What other interests do you have besides writing?

I enjoy walking, water aerobics, gardening, spending time with my family and pets, crocheting, and of course, reading.


5.                What is your writing routine?

Routine? Hum… I really don’t have one.  I’ve never felt that I needed to write every day to call myself a writer.  If I write, submit, and get a story or article accepted, I feel I’ve accomplished my goal of being a writer.  When I am working on a project, however, I do better in the afternoon and early evening when I tend to feel more creative.  I am a “pantser,” so I don’t outline, although I will keep track of my characters names, descriptions, quirks, etc. I will often see a scene running through my mind as though I’m watching a movie.


6.                What song best describes you?

Sorry. I don’t have an answer for this one.  I’m a classic rock kind of gal, but I’m afraid what I would have answered when I was younger doesn’t really fit now.


7.                Have you ever felt like giving up? If so, how did you get through it?

Since I don’t feel obligated to write every day, I suppose one could say I give up quite often.  I rather think of it as taking a break to do what needs to be done to care for family, finish up a major task, or take a vacation.  When I get an idea for a new story or article, however, I am refreshed and ready to get started.


8.               Interesting way to view it. What’s your favorite quote?

I’m not sure who said it, but my favorite quote is “These things, too, shall pass.”


9.               Ah, good one to remember. What’s next for you?

I retired from my day job (office manager for our county district attorney) in 2008 and promptly hired on as an editor for a couple of small publishing houses.  When family obligations became more demanding, I retired again and gave up my editing jobs. Now, as time permits, I’m working on a fantasy, working title Raven’s Story.


I am currently under contract for my middle grade novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch as well as a picture book, Many Colored Coats. I am waiting on illustrations for all three of these books and hope to see publication with 4RV Publishing in the next year.


10.          How would you answer the question, "do you believe in ghosts?"

I do believe in ghosts.  The first time I saw a ghost was after my dad died when I was a child.  I looked out the window of our house and saw him walking up the street from the bus stop, suitcase in hand, headed home. Of course, he never arrived, but to this day, I can still picture it in my mind.


The second ghost I saw was when I was in my 20s. Several of my friends and I had rented a ski lodge in New Hampshire during the off-season.  I was home alone one evening, sitting in the main living room.  The clock struck thirteen (yes thirteen). I looked up and saw an opaque form floating up the stairwell to the second floor. When I ascended the stairs to investigate, no one was there.

I don't have cover art for my two ghost stories, yet, but here's what my main characters look like in my mind:

Mike Wiles, age 13

Wendy Miles, age 11

Tell us a bit of what the stories are about. I find the titles catchy.

First in the Series

      This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 16,418 words, 11 chapters, and 61 pages long.

      The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced.  Forced to leave her beloved city home for a cheaper country place, Wendy, her mother, and her thirteen year old brother move to rural Warren, Oregon.

      On move-in day, Wendy meets a neighbor girl who tells her their quaint country home is haunted.  Events proceed quickly as Wendy, her new friend, Jennifer, and Wendy’s brother, Mike, see ghostly figures dancing in the woods.  Despite Mom’s claims that “there are no such things as ghosts,” paranormal events persist in the Wiles’s home. Meanwhile her brother Mike, arch-tease, continues to torment Wendy, claiming he’s causing the unusual happenings.

      Wendy searches through library records to get to the bottom of the mystery.  Finally with Jennifer’s help, Wendy begins to unravel the truth. At last, even Mike can no longer disbelieve and decides to aid Wendy in her search.  By the end of the story, the three young sleuths have uncovered an accidental death, a suicide and a murder.
Second in the Series
            This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 30,365 words, 13 chapters, and 110 double spaced pages.
            Wendy Wiles, her brother Mike, and her family have lived in Warren, Oregon for almost a year.  When they moved into their new home, they found it haunted. With the help of a new friend, Jennifer, Wendy and her brother solved the mystery of the haunting in the first book of this series, Ghost for Rent.
            This story begins as Jennifer and her family move to California, leaving Wendy bereft of her best friend with only a new kitten to help remember her.  Shortly after Jennifer leaves, Wendy and Mike meet their new neighbor, a thirteen year old boy, Jon Adams.  Jon is cute, and Wendy is attracted to him, but everything is thrown into turmoil when Wendy learns Jon’s family bought a haunted restaurant in St. Helens.
            Wendy, Mike and Jon soon become good friends.  Jon’s mother is a bit odd.  She loves ghosts and wants to learn more about Wendy’s experience.  She invites Wendy to help clean the haunted restaurant, hoping that Wendy’s presence will make the ghosts more active.
            Wendy agrees as long as Mike is there, too.  As soon as they arrive at the restaurant, Wendy becomes aware of the ghosts.  She sees shadows in the upstairs windows; she hears a young boy calling; she feels blasts of cold air.  Although Mike, Jon and Jon’s family are all there, too, no one else sees or feels anything.  Wendy is frustrated until one of the ghosts attaches himself to Jon’s dad.  It’s impossible to ignore what happens, and Jon and Mike both admit they now believe Wendy.
            The children embark upon a quest to find out who is haunting the restaurant and how Wendy, Jon and Jon’s dad are connected to the ghosts.  The children follow clues they find in old newspapers, a note left in the restaurant’s kitchen, and a ghostly apparition that causes Wendy to have a bicycle accident.
            By the end of the story, the children solve the mystery.  The restaurant is haunted by none other than Steve Milhouse, the husband of the young woman who took her life in Wendy’s home almost a century ago. In Ghost for Rent, Steve’s skeleton was found in Wendy’s attic although he never haunted the house.  Wendy was left wondering why.  Now, in Ghost for Lunch, the answer is revealed.

Those both sound interesting. I can't wait to hear that they've released. Be sure to let us know when they do.
Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, 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.  She is a former editor for MuseItUp Publishing and Damnation Books.  Visit her web site at http:// Her writing blog is located at
She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. She recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Alban Lake Publishing and Smashwords.
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Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Family for Easter

     "I'm sorry, I ... " Diane ran for the back of the store, feeling another onset of nausea. With each round of vomiting, her anger flared anew. She washed her face and returned to the pharmacy counter. 

     The customer she had been assisting was nowhere in sight. Good thing Diane didn’t work on commission. Quitting time neared but not soon enough for her.

    Climbing the steps to her grandmother’s apartment, Diana choked back conflicting emotions. She and Grandma had never got along, but what would she have done if Grandma hadn’t let Diane and her six-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, live with her until the baby came? When Diane stormed out of her house after fighting with Tony, she had nowhere else to go. Her husband was arrogant and self-centered. The only thing she gained from their last attempt to stay together was this unwanted pregnancy.

    She entered the living room and sprawled into an overstuffed chair to rest her weary feet and aching back. Mackenzie and Grandma’s voices drifted from the kitchen. Diane was thankful tomorrow was her day off work.

    When she awoke the next morning, the small apartment was quiet. A note stuck on the table said her grandmother and Mackenzie were visiting a neighbor.

    Diane added her own note and went for a walk. The baby kicked. The thought of two children to rear alone unsettled her mind and quickened her step.

    Apartment houses blended into a neighborhood of nice brick homes then changed to rundown tenements. Her legs pumped. She sagged against a stop sign and spotted a beautiful old church with stained glass windows and open-wide double doors.

     Diane crossed the street and entered. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, a man stepped out of the shadows near the front. “May I help you? Most call me Pastor Bob.”

     Diane rubbed her back. “My name is Diane Miller. May I sit and rest awhile?”

     “By all means.” The pastor pointed to a nearby pew. He disappeared through a side door and reappeared with a pillow. “This might help.” He indicated the side door again. “I’ll be in my office if you need anything. Stay as long as you like.”

     High above the platform, ivy outlined a magnificent picture of Jesus leading sheep. An open Bible spread out on a table before the podium. The quiet of the chapel cradled Diane like an oasis in the desert.

     After sitting for awhile, she stepped to the Bible turned to the gospel of John. Without touching the book, she read several verses.

    Behind her, the deep voice of Pastor Bob startled her. “Do you have a Bible of your own?”

    Her answer slipped out in a whisper. “No, Sir.”

    He held out a Bible. The black leather cracked around the sides and one page stuck out at an odd angle. The pastor touched it with reverence. “Would you accept this from our church as a gift?”

    She nodded as she took his offering. “Thank you.” The last time she’d read a Bible was the white children’s Bible her father gave her as a child. She thought she remembered selling it in a garage sale.

    Pastor Bob tipped on his toes and held his hands behind his back. “Do you attend church anywhere, Diane?”

    She stared at her protruding tummy. “No, not since I was a child.”

    “You’d be welcome to worship with us tomorrow. It’s Easter Sunday.”

    She’d never even thought to buy Mackenzie an Easter basket. What kind of mother was she? “I have no way to get here.” Heat burned her cheeks. “I don’t usually walk so far, and I have a daughter.”

    The pastor took one step toward her. “My wife and I would pick you and your daughter up if you’d give me your address.”

    Diane stared at him. “You would do that for a stranger?”

    “You’re not a stranger to God.”

    Before Diane refused a ride home and left the church, she gave her address. That night, she lay awake and read in her new worn Bible.

    The next morning Pastor Bob along with his wife and two children picked up Diane and her daughter. Mackenzie bounced with excitement at the new adventure.

     “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The words read by a Sunday school teacher pierced Diane’s bitterness and sparked her remembrance of childhood teaching. After class, Pastor Bob preached using the same Bible reference. His words haunted her.

    When the service ended, the pastor’s wife, Nicole, made her way over to Diane. “Come have Easter dinner at our house.”

    Her invitation seemed genuine, and Diane accepted.  Watching the family of four interact in a loving manner whetted Diane’s appetite to be part of a family.  
     Since Diane’s dad died when she was eight, she’d had no family. Her mother pulled away from her sullen daughter finding merriment among friends. Diane fell for Tony in high school and raced to make a life with him only to be disappointed with marriage and the parenting scene with no help from a selfish husband. She opened up to her new friend while the girls played. “I wish I had a family like yours.”

    Nicole patted Diane’s knee. “We have a lovely family, but it wasn’t always that way. God brought Bob and I back together when our children were babies.”

    Diane’s eyes widened. “You separated?”

    Nicole nodded and told her story not unlike Diane’s own.

    Before the afternoon ended, Diane bowed her head and gave her heart to Jesus.

    Mackenzie and her new friend came hand in hand as Nicole and Diane raised their heads. “Mom, why are you crying?” Mackenzie’s chubby fingers brushed her mother’s cheeks.

    “Because I’m happy.” A rush of love for her daughter left her tingling. She clutched her belly. Mackenzie and this baby were her family. A small cottage loomed in her mind with a man she’d promised to love, honor and obey, but then left. “How about we call Daddy and invite him to church next Sunday?”

    Mackenzie jumped up and down. “Can we? And Grandma, too.”

    Diane nodded. “And Grandma, too.”

    God gave her new life and a family for Easter. She would need His help to keep them together.
I hope you enjoyed my short story. Spring and Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day are all times of reflection. I wish you joy, peace, love, and most of all, Jesus.