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Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz is my guest today. She is excited to offer two historical romance stories set in medieval times. I’m already swooning. Nothing sets my heart to patter more than a good castle complete with handsome princes and lovely ladies in waiting.

Welcome Penny. I have to admit, I love stories set in medieval times. I have a great love affair with castles and knights and fair damsels. Where did you come up with the idea for your historical romance, Lady in Waiting?

When I first started writing Lady-in-Waiting, I wanted to write it as a fantasy. I imagined Madoc would be a wizard, but he decided he didn’t like that and the story took a different turn.  I enjoy writing fantasy, and I was somewhat surprised when it turned into an historical romance. 

There seems to be a great angst between Alana and Mabriona. Can you tell us why Alana was so mean to her cousin?

Alana is a princess, raised to expect that everyone should do exactly as he or she is told to do. Alana resents the fact that Mabriona doesn't have to marry someone she doesn't like just because her father wants her to.  Further, she sees Mabriona as someone beneath her based on her darker coloring.  In the north where Alana lives, people are fair-skinned and blond.  Mabriona's side of the family comes from the south and have a dark olive complexion and raven hair.  Mostly, I would say, Alana is a bit of a brat.

Tell us more about Mabriona. She must be a strong, loving character to endure all the cruelty tossed her way and not come out broken.

Mabriona has lived with Alana since she was a child. Her parents sent her to the castle believing she would have a better life.  As Alana's lady-in-waiting, she meets fascinating men at balls, eats well, is dressed in finery to suit her station.  She is a romantic and longs for true love.  A sense of rivalry developed over the years between the cousins, much like it does between siblings.  Mabriona knows her life isn't her own, but she also appreciates what she has been given.  Despite it all, she does love her cousin, and like a younger sibling, wants to please her older cousin.

I first thought Prince Blayne was the answer to all Mabriona’s problems. What a great twist to add his brother, Madoc. Tell us about Madoc. He seems like a character all women would swoon over.

Madoc is the shy, retiring, book-loving younger brother.  Since his father, the king, doesn't expect much from him, he was able to devote himself to the things he enjoyed doing.  He didn't have to learn to rule a kingdom or fight from atop his horse.  Instead, he learned to write poetry and play an instrument.  He is soft-spoken and also longing for true love.  Unlike Prince Blayne, Madoc will be allowed to marry for love.

Your book, Mirror Mirror, sounds like another fun medieval read. How did you come up with the idea of this time-travel story?

I live in a small rural area, and we don't often get outside events coming to our community.  However, a few years back, a Renaissance Fair happened in one of our local parks.  Of course, I had to go!  It was so much fun to wander around and watch the re-enactments, sample the food, listen to the music, and watch the people who are into dressing up.  I got to thinking about what it might be like for someone who did this on a regular basis to actually get transported back in time.  How would she handle it?  Would she be able to survive?  Would she long to come back to the modern world.  I needed a way for my MC to be sent back and being sucked through a scrying mirror seemed made to order.

Tell us how your MC, Lindsey, feels about women’s positions in the 1400’s. They definitely didn’t have women’s rights back then.

Lindsey is appalled by the way women are treated.  When she arrives, she has no idea what happened, or where she is.  She soon finds out an old woman has brought her there to save a young man who is being forced by his father to marry the wrong person.   Lindsey learns the young lord of the manor desires someone beneath his station. His father of course, forbids the relationship. The old woman has picked Lindsey because she looks just like the young lord’s lov. When Lindsey tries to make the hero see she can be valuable, help him with the books, read, etc., she quickly finds out those skills didn't travel with her.  All our young man wants is to kiss her and get her into his bed, knowing full-well he can't marry her.  Of course Lindsey rebels. 

Where did you come up with the ideas for such strong male characters such as Madoc and Graham?

Both Madoc and Graham are composites of people I know, people I've read about, and my fictionalized idea of the "ideal" man.

What kind of research did you do to find out everything you needed for these medieval stories?

I did a lot of Internet research.  I've also read a lot of books set in similar time periods to see how other authors tackle the subject.  I've got a few reference books on my shelves such as Everyday Life in the Middle Ages, by Sherrilyn Kenyon and The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England from 1485-1649, by Kathy Lynn Emerson.

I am a sucker for happy endings. How about you? Do your stories tie the plot into a nice little bundle at the end?

I think they do.  I have to admit I've always liked the HEA endings.  I think most people who read romances like to see their MCs end up together, although they do have to spend some time working out their problems first.

How can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Thanks for asking!

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:

https://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=82

Love Delivery, Lady-in-Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror are with MuseItUp Publishing.

My anthology A Past and A Future, and my YA chapbook, Dragon Sight are available at Sam's Dot Publishing and Smashwords. My MG novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, and Boo’s Bad Day and Many Colored Coats, picture books, are scheduled for publication with 4RV.

Love Delivery, coming August, 2011

http://tinyurl.com/4ajo9wz   

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GPRQEC

Lady in Waiting, coming November, 2011

http://tinyurl.com/6u4keh5

Mirror, Mirror, coming December, 2011

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2

A Past and A Future

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#pastfuture

Dragon Sight

http://www.genremall.com/fictionr.htm#dragonsight

Ghost for Rent, coming September 2012

Ghost for Lunch, coming September, 2013

Many Colored Coats, coming October, 2014

Boo's Bad Day, coming June, 2015

http://4RVpublishingllc.com/Childrens_Books.html

***************************************************************Blurb Info for:  Lady-in-Waiting

Tag Line: Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit?

Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana.  When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.

Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle.  Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.

While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.

When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?
**********************************************************************************Blurb Info for: Mirror, Mirror

Tag Line: Lindsay Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.

Blurb: Lindsay Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong. 

Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter.  Before Lindsay can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes.  Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.

Can she find her way back to her own time, or will she be stuck in a time when women had no rights?

Temporary buy link: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2
*************************************************************************************************************
EXCERPT:  LADY-IN-WAITING

“Today’s the day, Mabriona,” Princess Alana said as Mabriona entered the chambers.  She wiped tears from her eyes with an embroidered linen. “Prince Blayne will be here, and soon I’ll be his wife.  I think the worst part of being father’s daughter is marrying someone I’ve never even met.”

“You’ve always known your marriage would be arranged for the benefit of the kingdom, Princess, but I’m sure he’ll be very nice,” Mabriona replied as she opened the heavy drapes covering the windows. She looked at her cousin and sighed.  She wanted to feel sorry for Alana, but they’d had this discussion so many times. Mabriona was tired of it.  Alana had known from the time she was a child that she would not wed for love.  Why can’t Alana just accept her fate? Outside the day was as wet as the one before and the one before that.

“Nice?  Who wants nice?  I want someone handsome and dashing.  A knight in shining armor who will love me forever.  I certainly don’t want someone like my father who will make me do everything I don’t want to do.”

After Stefany left, Lindsey adjusted the water spigots on her tub.  A few drops of bubble bath went into the water, and the soothing scent of lavender filled the moist, steamy air.  While the tub filled, Lindsey tried on her Renaissance outfit for the upcoming Faire. She couldn’t believe her good luck at finding the perfect pieces.  She tested the bath water to be sure it was the right temperature. Then she picked up her antique mirror to get a better view. Was this a scryer’s mirror at some point in time? It slipped from her wet hands into the bathtub.

“Nuts,” she mumbled as she leaned over the tub.  She pulled one sleeve up on her blouse and fished around in the bubbles for the mirror. When she pulled the mirror from the water, spots appeared in front of her eyes, and she felt faint.  While she watched her reflection in the old mirror, the background changed.  She no longer saw the inside of her bathroom.  She closed her eyes as the room around her went black.

****************************************************************************************************************

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today, C.K.  I want to remind your readers I’m having a contest.  I will be choosing two names at the end of my blog tour from all who comment at any of the stops.  One winner will receive a copy of Lady-in-Waiting and the other a copy of Mirror, Mirror.


Thanks for joining me today, Penny. It was a treat to hear about your upcoming books. I hope everyone goes right out and picks them up for Christmas!
C.K. Volnek

 
 
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The world of writing and selling books is an ever changing chameleon these days.  There are many ways to get your book into the public hands, whether publishing with big publishers, small press or even independently. And it’s been my joyful experience that today the author has so much more input into the look and marketing of their book. (Though not always as much as they’d like or want. lol)

Sometimes, however, we find our sales not as we, the author, would like to see. Though some of this could be due to marketing shortcomings, other elements could also come into play as well…the cover, blurb, price, and the writing itself.

Enter…Why is My Book Not Selling - http://booknotselling.blogspot.com/ … a blogspot started by Victorine Lieske, author of best-selling novel Not What She Seems. This is an extremely helpful tool to help authors examine these very elements.

Authors can submit their books, offering the cover, blurb and the beginning chapter of the book and receive critiques from Victorine as well as from her loyal followers. This site is not for the author who cannot take criticism, as the critiques are honest and quick to point out the flaws they see. But for the author who only wants to produce a better product and enhance his or her sales, this is a valuable tool, definitely worth of a look.

Visit Victorine at http://booknotselling.blogspot.com/ and either offer up your own critiques on our fellow author’s work or submit your book to find out how you could sell more today!

Thanks for stopping by.

C.K. Volnek


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Anne E. Johnson has published many types of writing, including feature articles about music for the New York Times, non-fiction children’s books for the Rosen Group, and children’s short stories for Spaceports & Spidersilk, Underneath the Juniper Tree and elsewhere. She also has short stories for adults in a number of anthologies. You can see the details on her publications page: http://www.squidoo.com/anne-e-johnson-publications

Due to the differing speed of operations at different publishing houses, her first three novels are all coming out within the first six months of 2012!

Her middle-grade paranormal mystery novel, Ebenezer’s Locker, will be published by MuseItUp in June, 2012.

I’m so excited for you, Anne. Can’t wait to read Ebenezer’s Locker.  Can you tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

Although I do love Rhonda Zymler, the first-person protagonist in Ebenezer’s Locker, the character who was the most fun to write is an octogenarian psychic named Tallulah Radley. She ends up being the kids’ link to the world of spirits that are haunting the school. All her dialog and behavior, and even the things she keeps in her house, are based on thorough research I did into spiritualist practices from over a hundred years ago.

What fascinating research. What was your favorite book as a child? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

The best middle grade novels I’ve read recently are Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smek Day. The two books, although they’re both speculative fiction, are in very different styles. Yet they both combine humor, imagination, and pathos in a way that I really admire, and both to a tremendous job of developing intriguing, lovable characters in an original and surprising plot.

Humor and unpredictability are two of the most important elements to me when I read fiction, and I hope I include them when I write.

I agree. Love a story that twists expectantly. Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

Although I write many genres and for many audiences, middle-grade fiction is very special to me. I think that’s because my own imagination must have blossomed when I was between eight and twelve years old, and I often feel like I see the world through the eyes of a child, but not a little kid.

The great thing about writing for that age is that tweens still have a wacky sense of humor and a healthy sense of wonder (they haven’t yet been waylaid by the hormonal angst of the teen years), yet they can deal with pretty sophisticated ideas and complex plots.

I love the tweens. I feel this is the best age to challenge, mold and encourage. If you grow their thirst for knowledge and adventure now, no telling where they’ll go as an adult. Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

When I was in third grade, I loved a book called Ghosts Who Went to School, by Judith Spearing, about a family of ghosts who move into a new neighborhood and send their two ghost kids to the public school (full of normal, living children).

Ebenezer’s Locker was my attempt to put ghosts into a school, only the ghosts are not kids. They are residents of the building from its past, when it used to be a school for Psychical Research, during the heyday of American Spiritualism. There used to be many such schools.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

I love the solitary, intellectual nature of writing. The Internet has really helped keep this element a positive, since I can work on my own yet feel connected to colleagues at the same time. I also love having control of my days (at least those days when I’m not teaching). Writing must be very difficult for people who can’t schedule their own time well.

And I should not neglect to mention how much I love to tell stories! On a good day, the plot just spins out like thread through my fingers, and that’s a great feeling.

That’s a great feeling to have the story flow. What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

This is such an individual thing. All I can do is say how I work: Perhaps because my dad is a journalist, I write very quickly and confidently. Not everyone can do that. The benefits are obvious: I get lots done. The potential problem is that I’m too confident, which sometimes causes me to resist making major changes that would improve the work. That’s why I have a bunch of terrific beta readers, who advise me on how my story works by considering it with fresh eyes.

A good critique group is worth their weight in gold, isn’t it? Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Writing and marketing are both big jobs, and quite separate from each other. It’s easy to get buried in one to the exclusion of the other. I recommend doing a bit of both each day, but you have to figure out what works for you.

Excellent points. How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

Readers are welcome to follow my Tweets http://twitter.com/#!/AnneEJohnson, subscribe to my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-E-Johnson-Author/249053641780972, and visit my blog http://anneejohnson.blogspot.com/.

Here’s a bit about Anne’s book, Ebenezer’s Locker. Look for it in June, 2012…

A hundred years ago, Corbin Elementary School's building housed Dr. Ebenezer Corbin's School for Psychical Research. It seems that a couple of old spirits are still wandering the halls. It's up to Rhonda Zymler to find out what they want.


Ebenezer's Locker follows the adventures of Rhonda, a sassy fifth-grader who's having trouble finding her place and identity. Getting to know these spirits becomes Rhonda's quest. The more she digs, the more perilous her task becomes, and to complete it she must take two trips back in time. This story blends the realities of an economically-challenged modern American town with supernatural elements. What Rhonda finds not only gives her life a sense of purpose, but changes the fortunes of her entire town.


Thanks for joining me here today, Anne. It has been such a treat to read about your upcoming work.
C.K. Volnek