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.
Now's your turn. If you have any questions or comments, click on post a comment below.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A New Book by Beverly Stowe McClure

How exciting!

4RV Publishing Co. has just released a middle grade book by one of my favorite authors, Beverly Stowe McClure. Her young adult novels have kept me riveted, so I'm anxious to hear about the new book.

What's it about,  Beverly?

STAR OF THE TEAM is a middle grade contemporary novel.

A girl.

A dream.

An accident.

A dream shattered.


Eleven-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star


Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?


Links where we can purchase the book:


 Barnes and Noble:


Now tell everyone something about yourself.


Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.

Thanks so much for telling us about your new book, Beverly. I can't wait to get my copy. Thanks for allowing me to join your blog spotlight for STAR OF THE TEAM.
Anyone have a question for this author?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Ghost at Fort Sill

A dear friend, Sue Watson, bought me a book titled, The Ghost of Fort Sill, by Robert R. Hiatt. This army fort, built in 1870, has been the site of many strange happenings through the years. Fort Sill, just north of Lawton, Oklahoma is only an hour from my home in Wichita Falls, Texas, so I find the stories in this book fascinating.

Hiatt’s book was published in 1989. He lists 20 documented sightings.
Today, I wish to share one of Hiatt’s tales.

This story is titled “The Lady with the Rustling Skirts.” A grey limestone house built in 1870 was, along with the other officer’s quarters, occupied in 1871.

A family that moved into the house in 1987 was warned that a ghost had been sighted there. A few days later, while the lady of the house was unpacking in her bedroom, she found a planter with flowers in it overturned. She picked it up but found it overturned again twice more. She never heard it fall. Finally, she moved it to another room where it never happened again.

The lady put her rocking chair near her bedroom. One night a sound awoke both the lady and her husband. The rocking chair squeaked as it rocked. Both of them saw it rocking. They investigated but never found any wind, and no firing had been going on that might’ve shaken the house. The chair moved forward as it rocked until the footstool in front of it made it stop. This happened three nights in a row until the lady of the house moved the chair to another room. The rocking stopped.

They forgot the incident. Weeks later, a sound alarmed the lady. When she went into the room, a lazy susan was spinning at a fast rate. The lazy susan stopped while she watched.

From time to time the couple heard the rustling of a skirt like a woman walking around the second floor. At the time of the writing of Hiatt’s book two years later, the couple continued to hear the rustling skirt, and the lady of the house would never go upstairs without lighting her way and keeping a close watch.


When you read my upcoming book, A Ghost for Shelley, you will notice I used the planter turning over by itself as one of my strange happenings.
How many of you have a ghost story to share? I would love to hear it.
Happy ghost hunting

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dreaming with Author, Lillian Duncan

Today, I have a special guest, multi-published, Lillian Duncan, with another of her wonderful books now released.  This one is titled Redemption. Just the title makes me want to read it.

 Read on down in the post.
You have until Oct 18 to claim your chance.

I always love the posts on Ms. Duncan's blog, so I asked her to send a devotion for this Writing With God's Hope blog. Here's another thought-provoking article. I think you'll find it inspiring.

by Lillian Duncan


I wrote another post with this same title after receiving my first contract from a traditional publisher three years ago. It took 15 years of writing before I received that contract. So you can well imagine I was a little bit excited.

Now three years and seven contracts later, I still get excited. I just don’t cry quite as much!

REDEMPTION, my sixth book with my publisher was released on September 19. So I thought I’d take a moment or two to reflect on dreams.

I believe God gives each of us many different dreams during our lifetime. Different dreams for different times of our lives, but there’s also that special dream—The Big Dream. For me that was becoming a writer and it might be for you, too.

 So why doesn’t everyone pursue their Big Dream?

I can think of a few reasons:

It’s not practical.

It can never happen.

I don’t have time.

I don’t know how to do it.

What if I fail?

What will people think?


The list of reasons can go on and on, but I think you get my point. I can tell you that I told myself all of these reasons and more why I should quit during all those years I didn’t get a contract. But every time I quit, I eventually started writing again. Mostly because it left too big of a void in my heart when I stopped.


I’m not going to tell you that going for your dream is going to be easy, or even that you’ll get there. But there’s joy in the journey as well as in the destination. Even had I never received a book contract, I would never say my time spent pursing my dream to be a writer was wasted. Why? Because I love writing stories. It’s fun for me!


Of course, that’s easy for me to say now that I have a contract—or seven of them!


But one thing I do know is that if you quit on your dream, I can guarantee it won’t happen. If I’d given up in year 13 or 14, I would never have received that first contract. So, I urge all of you to go for that special God-given dream. And never, never give up!


To celebrate the release of REDEMPTION, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. But wait…there’s more! I always feel bad for the people who enter the contest but don’t win. So I’m also going to pick FIVE more lucky names to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Just the right amount to buy REDEMPTION! Just kidding, the winners can use it to buy whatever they wish.

So hop on over to TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at  to enter. Leave a comment on the post REDEMPTION and you’ll be entered to win. Easy Peasy!! Contest ends October 18!

Lillian, tell us something about the new book.

Others may think Jamie Jakowski is a hero, but she knows differently.

Haunted by her past, she seeks redemption by helping others in spite of the danger to herself. However, after almost orphaning her daughter, Jamie opts to retire. When a friend needs her, Jamie agrees to one last undercover operation.

She is determined to reunite a heartbroken mother with her kidnapped son. Used to working alone, Jamie’s not happy when she’s assigned a partner. And after a failed operation and their failed romance, Enrique Rodriguez is the last person she wants to work with—ever.

To succeed, Jamie must confront her past as well as the people who want her dead.

Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!

Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers, including The Christmas Stalking and Betrayed. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us

Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at


Thank you so much, Lillian, for visiting with us here on Writing with God's Hope blog. I posted last Saturday about dreams and goal-setting. Seems we're on the same mindset.
Now, readers, yout assignment , should you choose to accept it, is:
Go over to Tiaras and Tennis Shoes (see link above) and comment to have a chance to win that Amazon gift Certificate.
Purchase Lillian Duncan's new book.
Click on post a comment below and let us know what you think about Lillian's post, her, or her book, or if you'd like ask a question.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm excited to welcome Deb Hockenberry to my Writing with God's Hope blog and especially to the 2nd Weird Wednesday. She has a ghost legend for us. Take it away, Deb

Deb Hockenberry

Where Can We Have The Party? - Coming soon from 4RV Publishing
Entertaining, one word at a time.

My mother used to live close to Gettysburg, PA.  near the old battlefield. I talked to her every day on the phone and she’d tell me about her previous night’s experiences. A few of these stories, I experienced when I was visiting.
Here is one I remember.
 One night Mother had trouble sleeping and saw a parade of people walking through her bedroom. They were all dressed from different eras, and all were different ages.  She slowly rolled over to look at her clock to make sure she was awake. There were men and boys dressed in Civil War military clothes and also women that looked about her age and were badly beaten. These women wore long dresses and aprons. There were bruised and battered children passing through in their short pants and calico dresses. Besides these older eras, there were others dressed in World War I, II or later dressed in camouflage uniforms. Some were missing limbs and some had half of their faces blown off. Some people were in one piece with not a bruise or cut on them. All of these ghosts walked into her room through the bedroom door (which was closed), across the room, and out the wall facing the front yard.
 She told my brother and sister-in-law about it the next morning at breakfast. At the time, my brother worked at a college. At work, he talked to a professor of the paranormal and asked what was happening. He said that my mother’s bedroom was a portal from this world to the next and that these spirits were just passing through.
That year, I stayed there over Christmas. It was a nice vacation for me. Since my brother hadn’t any pets at the time, he asked me to bring my cat with me. Against all of my objections, I slept in Mom’s room, and she slept on the living room couch. I had the high light on since I was reading with my cat curled up at the bottom of the bed. I glance at the cat once. Not a hair on her body was moving. but her head was following something (or someone?) from the bedroom door to the wall that faces the front yard. I couldn’t see them. I suppose it was because the light was on, but I felt the presence. My cat and I weren’t alone in that room!
Thank you, Deb, for this exciting tale. You'll have to tell us more another day.
If anyone else has a ghost legend to share, email me at
Happy ghost-hunting!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dreaming and Setting Goals

If you don't set a goal, how do you know you're on the right path?

If all you do is tread water, you'll never reach the shallow end of the pool.

When you stop dreaming, decay sets up in your mind.

My ninety-year-old mother-in-law inspires me. I wrote a true story about how God uses her in old age. It is titled "Never Too Old." Union Gospel Press published it in their periodical, Christian Life, January, 2014. Here's a quote near the end of the story, " The fighting spirit that has overcome depression, poverty, the loss of husband and child and now illness and old age, rises up to seek the victory provided by Christ’s stripes."

Granny never quits. As I said in my article on another page of this site, Granny is the one who told me to "keep dreaming." The link to that story is

Granny set a new goal.
My new pillows from Granny
From making quilts, to purses, and now toss pillows. On our last visit, she gave me a set of three. To me, they represent that keeping-on dreaming, never-quitting, setting-new-goals type spirit. If she, at ninety, thrives from setting goals and living new dreams, how much more do I need that for a full life?

In the Divine Dining Weight Controller class at my church, goals are important to lose weight. For me and others who maintain their weight loss, our dreams might include being at a certain weight after vacation or a holiday, or it might be to call someone to encourage their weight loss.

Whatever we do, goals drive our success.

The Bible reminds us of that.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
                                 Proverbs 29:18

Writers need to know something about the end of the book to ever reach it. An outline, even though loosely woven or thought-out keeps us on target.

On the last book contract I signed, I agreed to make out a marketing plan and send it to them. Why did they require this? Because if I have no idea how I might promote the book, it might remain unknown.

Goals must be specific.
    Don't say, "I will write a book."
        Say, "Tomorrow morning, I will start writing words on the page and keep writing until noon."
    Don't say, "I want to lose weight."
        Say, "I will eat more fruits and vegetables, leave off white sugar, and lose five pounds before this date next month.
Goals must be written.
     If we say our goal and write our goal, our senses absorb it in two ways. Written becomes reality. Written is a measurable reminder. Written is harder to forget.
Goals must be forgivable.
      If we determine to lose five pounds, but only lose 3 1/2, we must not run ourselves down, but we should rejoice in our victory.

Never quit dreaming.
    You're never too old.
    You're never too sick unless you're unconscious.
    Life might delay you, but never let it stop you.
If you do, don't tell my mother-in-law.

What's your dream? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Lady in White at the Old Collin County Courthouse

     In downtown McKinney stands a tribute to North Texas history. When a new Collin County Courthouse was built, the old one became the home of the McKinney Performing Arts Center, and now provides live entertainment. Last year, the wonderful ladies that oversee MPAC provided me with a tour of the building.

     The old courthouse, by order of the judicial system, belongs to the people of Collin County. Since it can never be closed off to its owners, the east door remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Its called the People's Entrance. An iron gate separates the foyer from the rest of the building when MPAC offices or theatre are closed, but the foyer with a water fountain, restrooms, literature, and media board are never closed to the public.

     Ghost legends abound in many downtown McKinney buildings. Self-guided tours will take place during the McKinney Ghost Walk on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25 in 2014. During that time, the tale will be told of the sightings of the lady in white at the old courthouse. The courthouse was the site of the last public hanging. That, in itself, raises the eye of paranormal enthusiasts.

     During my private tour, I learned the story propagated by local people of the lady in white. Frequent sightings keep the story alive. In 1890, a young divorcee, last name Winslow, was found hung in the courthouse. It was never proven whether she was murdered or if she hung herself. She lived as an outsider with the pain of isolation because of her divorce. She was known to play the organ.

     At night, organ music has been heard coming from the second floor. The theatre is located there and houses a mighty Wurlitzer - Vintage theatre pipe organ. Different ones have spotted a woman leaving the organ as they entered the theatre, but when they follow her down the hall, she disappears.

     Others claim a view of the lady in white overlooking the eagle on the east side. Back in 1890 when Ms. Winslow died, the courthouse had a clear view of her home site to the east near the cotton mill. Now the bank with an eagle statue on top hides where she used to live.

     The second book in my YA ghost series will be released soon by 4RV Publishing. The title is A Ghost for Shelley. Shelley, the mean, all-country girl in the first book, Victoria and the Ghost, moves to Dallas. She and her dad clean the old Collin County Courthouse. Ridden with bitterness and guilt, Shelley adds fear to her list of emotions when she is visited by the "lady in white."

     That's my story. Read all about Shelley soon.