Thursday, December 16, 2010

Guesting today---Penny Lockwood!

Join me in welcoming Penny Lockwood. Penny has graciously shared the first chapter of her middle grade paranormal, Ghost for Rent for our reading pleasure today. This one you'll want to get for that young reader on your Christmas list. So grab a cup of coffee and set back to enjoy. But first, a little about Penny!




THE SHORT STORY OF ME



I was born and raised on the East Coast, in Stamford, Connecticut. I attended Stamford public schools and graduated from Stamford High School in 1964. Classmates back then knew me as "Susan Lockwood." After high school, I attended and graduated from business school and also attended community college.

My family and close friends have known me as Penny since before I was born. My brother was enamored of Sky King's niece, Penny. He asked my parents if they would name me Penny. My dad wanted to name me after my mother, so my birth certificate says "Susan." No one called me that, however, and in my mind, "Susan" is my mom, not me. I am "Penny," and all of my bylines are either Penny Lockwood or Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz.

Like a great number of writers, I knew I wanted to write from the time I was a youngster. Writing for me has always been easier than talking, and as a child, I spent a lot of time writing letters and crafting stories for my own enjoyment. I find it somewhat amusing that one of my early stories was "Patty and the Country Ghost," and my first published novel, Ghost for Rent, is the story of a country ghost.

I lived on the East Coast until 1977 when I moved to California and I met my husband. In 1978, we moved to the Pacific Northwest where we made our home. We are the proud parents of a son and daughter, both of whom are now happily married. We have one lovely granddaughter. We currently share our rural six acres with three dogs and five cats. Over the years, in addition to dogs and cats, we've had goats, rabbits, doves, cockatiels, finches, budgies, and a turtle.

Over the years, I have worked and volunteered for a number of non-profit organizations. Much of that work is reflected in the non-fiction articles I have written offering advice to both parents and teenagers. My non-fiction has appeared in parenting, writing, and teen magazines. My fiction leans toward fantasy and soft science fiction, often with a touch of romance, and has been published in a number of small press genre magazines and online.

I have been published in two anthologies: Pirate Writing's Anthology Year 1: A Time of Change, and The Breast Feeding Diaries. My middle grade paranormal mystery, Ghost for Rent, is available from Hardshell Word Factory, and my young adult chapbook, Dragon Sight, is available from Sams Dot Publishing.

I have a picture book which has been accepted for publication with 4RV publishing and a collection of my science fiction and fantasy short stories has been accepted for publication with Sams Dot Publishing. More will be coming about these new and exciting projects.

I work as an intern editor learning about acquisitions with 4RV Publishing. I also work as a copyeditor with MuseItUp Publishing and Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press.

GHOST FOR RENT


This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 13,280 words, 10 chapters, and 65 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 twelve 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’s no such thing as ghosts,” paranormal events continue to occur in the Wiles’ 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.



GHOST FOR RENT
ISBN: 0-7599-0340-9 trade paperback
ISBN: 0-7599-0337-9 eBook

By: Penny Lockwood
Available through Fiction Wise: http://tinyurl.com/25um6wy
Available at: Amazon http://tinyurl.com/2g3k32k

CHAPTER 1

With the rain pelting her, Wendy ran from her bus stop to her apartment building. She couldn't wait to get home. Maybe she'd call Darcy and see if she could come swim in the indoor pool. Or, maybe, she'd just go to the exercise room and work out before dinner. She couldn't make up her mind. Her twelve year old brother, Mike, liked to go straight to the arcade room, so she and Darcy would stay away from there.

Karl, the door man, greeted her as she skidded to a stop under the rain awning. “Good afternoon, Ms. Wiles.” He opened the door for her with a theatrical flourish.

“Good afternoon, Karl.” Wendy smiled, careful not to show her braces. She always felt grown-up and elegant when Karl open the door for her.

After entering the foyer, she groaned. Mike, dressed in his usual black jeans and tee-shirt, leaned against the elevator button, banging his head to the awful heavy metal music he enjoyed so much. She heard his Walkman even though he listened through earphones. Life would be almost perfect if it weren't for him, she thought.

Wendy reached the elevator just as the doors opened, and she slipped in beside her brother. She watched him out of the corner of her eye and considered asking him about the argument Mom and Dad had last night. She wasn’t sure if Mike even heard them since his stereo was always so loud. Mike ignored her and kept his eyes focused on the flashing floor lights.
Fine, she thought, pulling a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry from her backpack. Water dripped off her hat, but after living in Oregon her whole life, it didn’t bother her. She pretended her stupid brother had been abducted by aliens and immersed herself in Emily’s poems. Something cold and slimy slithered down her back. She screeched, and dropped her book. Dancing from one foot to the other, she stubbed her toe against her bulging backpack, then yelped even louder. She hopped up and down as she clawed at her back. Mike howled, and held his sides, laughing so hard he doubled over.

Wendy retrieved the fake worm Mike had dropped inside her tee-shirt. "You jerk!" she yelled, throwing the worm at her brother. She gathered up her books which had spilled out of her backpack onto the elevator floor.

Mike laughed. “Wottsa matter, sis? Can't ya take a joke?”

“You're not funny, Mike. Why couldn't I have been an only child?” She ground her teeth and balled her fists at her sides.

“Because I was born first, bird-brain.”

“I'm going to tell, Mom.”

The elevator door opened and Mike dashed out, racing for their apartment. “If she's working on a story, I wouldn't interrupt her if I were you.”

Wendy’s anger deflated like a popped balloon. Mike was right. Ever since Mom decided to be a writer, she'd become distracted and unavailable. Of course, Wendy wanted to be a poet, but poets are supposed to be moody and poetry didn’t take nearly as long to write. Mom spent most of her time caught up in a story - planning it, writing it, rewriting it. Probably if she sold something, it would be better, but so far her track record ranked zero. Maybe today she had worked at an office temp job and wouldn't be thinking of her latest story, Wendy thought hopefully, then sighed. Nope, Mom always thought about her stories.

When Wendy entered the apartment, she heard loud voices coming from the living room. What was Dad doing home? He hardly ever comes home for dinner any more. She closed the door and put her backpack on the hall table. Mike stood near the closed living room door. She tiptoed up beside him. Anger at her brother's teasing forgotten, she listened to her parents fighting. Her stomach felt like someone had kicked her and tears welled up in her eyes.

“I've had it with you, Paul,” Wendy's mother screamed at her husband. “You're never home. You say you're working late at the university, but you’re not there when I call. It's getting worse not better. You promised you'd be more available for the kids. They've probably forgotten what you look like! When you are home, you're either watching T.V. or working on the computer. If I'm going to be a single parent, I'm going to do it without having to be your wife too. I want a divorce.”

Wendy grabbed Mike’s hand. When he turned to look at her, she knew his shocked expression mirrored her own. “Divorce?” she whispered. Mike shrugged.

Dad's voice came through the open door. “Divorce? You want a divorce? Fine, Anne, you've got your divorce. I work hard trying to give this family nice things. Who do you think pays for this fancy apartment? You certainly don't pay for it with your stories.”

“Don't go bringing up my stories, Paul. You promised to be supportive when I took the creative writing class. Now all you do is make fun of my efforts.” Wendy heard her mom's voice tremble.
“Supportive? Do you realize how much postage you use every month? Well I do. I keep track, and it's more than fifty dollars a month. You don't earn anything with this career of yours, but you know how to spend it.”

“You're not being fair, Paul. You knew it would take a while to get established, and I have had some encouraging rejection letters. It's just taking time.” Wendy imagined tears running down Mom's face. She hoped the man she married some day would understand her need to write poetry better than Dad understood Mom’s need to write her stories.

“If you want me around this house more, then get a real job so I don't have to work all these extra hours.”

“You don't get paid for those extra hours, Paul. You're just trying to confuse me. Get out before this gets any uglier. I've seen you with her, you know?” Mom's voice sounded bitter.

“What is Mom talking about, Mike?”

Mike shook his head and frowned, then put his ear near the door again.

“Come on, Mike, I don't think we should listen any more.” Wendy pulled her brother to the kitchen.

“Wow! Can you believe that?” Mike asked, as he put his Walkman on the table. He pulled milk, peanut butter, jelly, and bread from the fridge, made sandwiches and poured milk into glasses. Grinning, he pushed a sandwich at Wendy. “Here I made one for you.”

Wendy pushed the sandwich away. “How can you think of eating? Weren't you listening? Mom wants a divorce!” With that lead feeling still in her stomach, she didn’t feel much like eating, but for once her brother wasn’t being a jerk. He’d even made her a sandwich. Then she saw the fake spider sticking out of it.

“Mike! How could you? Don't you ever give up? Mom and Dad are talking about getting divorced and all you can think of are your stupid jokes!”

“So what?” he replied around a mouth full of food.

“What are we going to do?”

“I bet we have to move for one thing. Who do you want to live with?” Mike wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Wendy realized she'd been gripping her shirt; she ran her sweaty palms down her jeans. She took off her hat, put it on the table, then sat down and faced her brother. “How can you be so calm, Mike? We're talking about big changes here.” She glared at him.

She heard a snuffling noise and turned; her mother entered the kitchen.

“Hi, kids. How was school? I didn't hear you come in.” Her voice sounded strained.

“Mom, we heard you and Dad,” Wendy said.

“Oh.” Mom couldn’t quite look at either one of them.

“What's going to happen, Mom?” Wendy asked. She swiped her sleeve across the tears flowing down her cheeks. Her hands trembled as she clutched her chair. Inside her body vibrated like a massage chair.

Mom ran her hands through her short brown hair, disturbing the grey at the temples. “Dad and I agreed to separate for awhile. I know this is going to be hard on you kids, but you'll still get to see him. He’s packing a few things, then he'll say goodbye. I don't think we'll be able to stay here. I can't afford it, even if I go back to work full-time. Your father said he'd help pay our rent if we moved someplace cheaper.”

“Move! We can't move. I love this place, Mom. Why can't you and Dad just make up? It’s just not fair,” Wendy screamed. She pushed her chair so hard, it fell backwards as she got up from the table. She pushed past her mother and ran to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Wendy leaned against the closed door and surveyed her room through misty eyes. She saw the double canopy bed, draped in soft pinks and white, the white double dresser, night stand and vanity, the standing oval mirror, and the view of the Willamette River outside her window. Why do Mom and Dad have to be so stupid? She threw herself on her bed. Tears fell from her eyes; her body shook with huge sobs. She gulped for air as her nose clogged, but she couldn't stop crying.

She barely heard the gentle tap on her door. Then she felt a heavy weight settle beside her on the bed. Dad’s strong hand rubbed her back, then stoked her hair.

“Honey, you know I love you and Mike, don't you? It's just that things aren't working out too well for me and Mom right now.”

Wendy sat up, rubbing her fists into her eyes, hiccupping as she gasped for breath. Dad took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped her face, then held it to her nose. “Blow.”

It sounded more like a honk, but blowing her nose helped restore her breathing. She felt better too. “hanks, Dad.” Wendy took the damp cloth from her Dad.

“Dad? What did Mom mean about seeing you with another woman?”

“Mom and I have been having problems for awhile now, Wendy. The woman your mother saw me with is just a friend. We talk about things, mostly my problems with Mom. Sometimes we have dinner together, but that’s all. I love your Mom, honey.”

“I don't want you to leave. I want to stay here in this apartment with you and Mom.”

“What about Mike?” Dad laughed. Wendy looked at him. It wasn’t his happy laugh. His eyes were sad and moist with tears.

“Mike, too. Dad, I don't want things to change.” Wendy took several short breaths trying to regain her composure.

“Life does change, Wendy.” Dad ran his fingers through her hair. “You've changed. Just look at you. Maybe Mom's right and I don't spend enough time with you kids. You've become a young woman without my noticing.”

“Well, I am eleven, Dad,” Wendy said, twisting her mouth into a pout.

"You remind me of my sister, Barbara, when she was your age. You know, I teased her just like Mike teases you. I love her a lot now, and I hope you and Mike will appreciate each other when you get older, too.” Dad hugged her. “I've got to go, honey. Mom and I agreed that I'll try to see you on weekends. This is just going to be a trial separation. We'll work something out, okay?”

“Can't you just stay here and work something out?” Wendy held fast to her dad's arm.

“Thing is, honey, even if I stay, we can't afford this apartment any longer. They raised the rent last month, and now it's out of our price range, even if Mom did go back to work.” Dad kissed Wendy's forehead, then pulled her up to give her a huge bear hug. “Bye, sweetie, see you soon.”

“Yeah, sure, Dad.” Wendy slumped down onto her bed, staring at the door long after Dad closed it. “Why did you guys have to fight? Why does everything have to change? Life is supposed to be great when you're a kid. It's not supposed to hurt like this,” Wendy lamented to the empty room.

9 comments:

hotcha12 said...

HI PENNY! I'D LOVE TO READ YOUR YA BOOK, IT'S A GREAT CHANGE OF PACE.

Lizzie said...

Isn't hotcha! Going to have to pick it up for the granddarling...she can have it after I finish...(g)

Vivian Zabel said...

Hi, Penny. 4RV is delighted to have you as part of our staff and an upcoming author.

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Hotcha12, it's available on Amazon, so hope you do get a chance to read it.

Lizzie, thank you for hosting me today.

Vivian, I'm am thrilled the next installment in this series is being published with 4RV!

lionmother said...

Penny,
I'm looking forward to reading the sequel to Ghost for Rent. This is a good interview, Lizzie. Penny, you are definitely into a lot of things.

I am also an apprentice editor for 4RV and I'm looking forward to you being my line editor for my book at MuseItUp Publishing.:)

Kay Dee Royal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay Dee Royal said...

Hi Penny and Lizzie,
Thanks for sharing your writing story Penny - I love hearing a fellow writer's evolution.
Congratulations on all of your successes, your Ghost for Rent, sounds like a winner for sure. Believable with strong characters - awesome Penny.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I'm excited to hear that your book is coming out with 4RV, Penny. Looking forward to seeing what happens to your characters next.

J Q Rose said...

Penny, I enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. You are one talented, busy gal.