Friday, January 1, 2010

The Three Steps to Success in the New Year

Building Blocks for Success in 2010


Set concrete goals with a time line. Don't have some undetermined date set to achieve the goal.

The goals should be layered. Think of mini goals. You should have small goals and in increasing difficulty on the way to achieving your main goal. Let's look at an example.
General Fiction Story Concept (Jan 3, 2010)
Main character's basic description (Date)
Story Outline/Table of Contents with chapter description (Date)
First Draft of Novel Completed (Date)

Write the goals down and post them where they will confront you


They should be daily, weekly & monthly schedule.

They need to have a step by step process.

Post the goals where they will confront you.

Keep a daily accounting; a log.

Evaluate your progress & your plan. Is it TOO difficult, not challenging enough, etc? Check it's pulse at least once a month to determine if it still fits. Be open to changing it.

Get a Goal Buddy. Find someone like minded. Call or email each other to share successes, failures, concerns, etc. Have a set day to exchange goal achievement & attempt to succeed.

Make your goals dependent on you. Make sure most, if not all, are dependent only on you.Here are some examples.
Write 2,000 words a day.
Submit 3 manuscripts a month to publisher/agents.
Read 4 books a month in the genre you're writing and in that age group.
Make 3 or more blog posts per week.
Get a minimum of 3 interviews by local media per month (Have few goals that require someone else to react.)


This element is often forgotten or not considered. What can you give yourself?


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood Book Review and Book Marketing Brainstorm

Ghost for Rent
by Penny Lockwood

Copyright: 2002

ISBN: 0-7599-0340-9 (trade paperback); 0-7599-0337-9 (eBook)
Price: varies at different web sites
Format ebook, paperback, hardback, CD: trade paperback, eBook
Genre/age group/type of publication: paranormal mystery for Middle Grades

Ghost for Rent Book Review

Ghost for Rent takes a candid look at Wendy's life. Wendy is uprooted from her home in the city and plunked down in the country. To make matters worse her parents are headed for divorce. Her dad doesn't come with them. The house they rent is old and rumored to be haunted. The rumors prove to be true. It's up to Wendy and her brother to solve the mystery and set the ghosts free.

Wendy and her brother's conversations are rife with bickering, but their underlying love can be felt. Any children with siblings will relate to the authentic feel of the bickering between Wend and her brother, Mike. As siblings do, when they find a reason to set aside antagonism, they join forces to unravel the clues to try and solve the mystery. A good paranormal mystery minus any blood and guts makes it perfect for middle grades. Ghost for Rent is a fun and engaging mystery and ghost story.

Ghost for Rent Book Marketing Brainstorm

Book Signings

You can use white powder to put on your face and hands to appear ghostly. Visit a store the day after Halloween for cobwebs, plastic spiders, etc... Use a book stand or stack of books to string across your book. Hang white plastic bags with plastic bags stuffed to make a head, use black markers to make two ghostly black eyes, hang them from the ceiling with clear fishing line, fill a plastic cauldron with ghost candies and make gift bags that resemble ghosts from white lunch bags, fill half full of your giveaways, tape around its middle and color two round circles black for eyes and one for a mouth. You can get suckers and cover with something white, tape around the base of the round candy and draw eyes and a mouth. You can do this with any round candies You just need white tissue paper, a marker, round candies and a piece of tape or string to make its neck. Bring a boombox and play eerie music. See if you can find an old wooden doll house at a thrift shop, garage sale or even a paper (A few good ones in Texas are the Thrifty Nickel, Greensheet and Penny Saver. Every area seems to have something similar.

Lay out bookmarks,, promotional material (like resume's & have fliers for information on school visits.

Websites, Blogs and Places to feature or stock your book for sale

During September and October finding websites and blogs will be easiest.

Other times of the year will prove to be more difficult. Google haunted houses, how haunted houses work, haunted getaways (try to get them to stock your book in their gift shop).

During the Halloween season haunted houses, candy stores, grocery stores, costume shops and party stores are good places to try to get your book stocked. You might try arcades & kid themed amusements.

Google houses & places that are rumored to be haunted. Places like the house where the Amityville Horror was filmed.

Miscellaneous Marketing Opportunities

Schedule a ghost story reading at the library, school gym or civic center (maybe they'll let you do it Halloween night. You can read a short story that's a ghost story or a chapter from your book. You can sell signed copies of the book at the end.

Have a drawing through a radio station, library, bookstore for a Halloween basket with a ghost theme.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood Interview

Ghost for Rent
by Penny Lockwood

Copyright: 2002
ISBN: 0-7599-0340-9 (trade paperback); 0-7599-0337-9 (eBook)
Price: varies at different web sites
Format ebook, paperback, hardback, CD: trade paperback, eBook
Genre/age group/type of publication: paranormal mystery for Middle Grades

This young adult, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced. Wendy, her mother, and her twelve year old brother, Mike, are forced to move to an old rented farmhouse in 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.

Penny Lockwood


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.

Penny Lockwood Interview

Aday: What sparked the brainstorm that led to A Ghost for Rent?

Penny: I’d been thinking of writing a children’s novel for awhile, mostly because my then 11 year old daughter didn’t think I was a writer since all my published pieces were short stories or articles. A friend had moved into an old rented farm house after she and her husband split up. She told me about hearing and seeing a young ghostly figure playing the piano which had been left in the house. The more I thought about her story, the more it seemed like the perfect beginning to a novel for middle grade readers.

Aday: Do you have a method for brainstorming when ideas are elusive?

Penny: I like to read through magazines or newspapers when I’m having trouble finding ideas. Sometimes, like for Ghost for Rent, a conversation with someone will spark an idea. One of my adult short stories came from a newspaper article, another from a National Geographic magazine. The sequel to Ghost for Rent, which I’m working on, is based on a newspaper article about ghostly sightings at an historic restaurant in our area.

Aday: How will you promote sales for the novel?

Penny: I’ve already done a book signing at our local bookstore and issued press releases to our local newspapers. Recently, I completed a virtual book tour. I’ve also started participating at local social network sites.

Aday: Do you follow a book marketing plan? Will you share it with us?

Penny: I would love to have a book marketing plan, but unfortunately I don’t. The marketing aspect is still something I’m trying to learn. I attended a weeklong on-line conference recently (Muse Online Conference) and concentrated on marketing workshops. I’ve now built my own website, which I didn’t have before, and will be trying some of the other tips I learned.

Aday: What’s your writing process? Give us look inside. Tell us the how, when & why.

Penny: My writing process varies with the type of project I’m doing. When I’m working on a novel, I tend to write in spurts. I’m more comfortable with short story writing, so crafting a long novel is more intimidating. I often “see” a movie progressing in my head and follow that as I write. I keep track of my characters in a notebook with their descriptions and things that make them unique. For example, Wendy, my protagonist in Ghost for Rent, wants to be a writer. When she’s upset or sad, she writes poetry. Her brother, Mike, is a tease, so I’ve included scenes where Mike torments Wendy, much like my own brother teased me when we were kids. With my novels, I like to edit as I go since I don’t work on the story every day. When I begin for the day, I read the proceeding chapter to get a feel for where I was headed. I’m not an author who outlines, since my stories tend to take on a life of their own and often change mid-stream from what I thought I would be writing. When the book is complete, I let it sit for a few days or a week, then go back and edit. I also find reading the book aloud is useful, especially with dialog.

With non-fiction, I like to interview experts and add quotes to the material. I write tips for writers, parents and teens. These articles generally are done in one or two sittings. With these, I don’t edit as I go, but write the entire piece, then go back and edit.

Aday: What is the key(s) to your writing successes?

Penny: Often it’s merely a case of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right story. It’s important to know your market and what editors are seeking whether it’s a story or a non-fiction article.

Aday: If you do write another novel, what have you learned to make the process easier?

Penny: Unfortunately, for me, novel writing isn’t easy. The satisfaction when it’s finished, however, is worth the effort. Short story writing comes much easier. In writing the first novel, I did learn that keeping track of my characters is important. You don’t want your main character to have blue eyes in the first chapter and brown in the fifth. I know, myself, as a reader, these inconsistencies can ruin a story for me. If I make character sketches, those types of errors are less likely to happen. Of course, the usual things such as good grammar, tight writing, a great plot, and perfect beginning, middle and end, won’t hurt.

Aday: What piece of advice would you give other middle grade paranormal writers?

Penny: It’s important to know your audience. If you don’t have kids yourself, volunteer at the local library or school. Hang out at the food court at the mall and listen to kids talking. Research ghost stories and read other paranormal middle grade novels. Your ghosts don’t have to be like everyone else’s but there should be some similarities so they are believable. When it comes time to query publishers, research what each publisher is printing. Don’t approach an adult romance publishing house with your middle grade paranormal mystery.

Aday: Thanks for sharing with us Penny.

Penny: Aday, thanks for hosting me today. You asked some great questions.