Donna, you asked me what inspires me to write. I enjoy writing in many different genres and for both adults and children. My inspiration comes to me in many different forms from fleeting conversations to articles I’ve read.
Boo’s Bad Day, the picture book I’m currently touring on several blogs, including yours, came from an adventure our own black cat Boo had when he was a teenager. At the time, we allowed our cats to go in and out as they pleased. One winter day, during a particularly cold spell, Boo went out. As the day wore on, weather turned, and we had an ice storm. That evening, when we called Boo, he didn’t return. The next day, we located him high up in a fir tree. My husband tried to get him down but couldn’t reach him, not even standing on the top of our 50-foot ladder. We called the fire department, but they told us they no longer rescued cats. Poor Boo’s meows were getting weaker, and we were worried. We finally arranged for a friend, taller than my husband, to come over. He was able to grab Boo and get him down from the tree. Once Boo got inside, he refused to leave the hearth in front of our wood stove for a week.
When my grandchildren were born, I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing for younger children. I thought of Boo’s story and decided this would be a good way to talk about caring for pets as well as being safe.
My middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent, started brewing in my head after I had a conversation with a former neighbor. After divorcing, she left her home and moved into an old farmhouse rental with her children. One night, they heard a piano playing in their living room. When they went downstairs to investigate, they saw a ghostly being sitting on the piano stool.
My young daughter had told me I wasn’t a real writer because I didn’t have a book published. Up to that time, I had published numerous articles and stories in magazines, but I hadn’t written a novel. My friend’s story got me thinking this would be a great book for the middle grade readers, and one my daughter might enjoy. She was a great fan of Poe at the time. I was fortunate to find a publisher and I finally had a “book.”
The follow-up to Ghost for Rent is Ghost for Lunch. When I finished the first book, I thought it would be a fun paranormal mystery series for kids. I live in an area which has had numerous ghost sightings, so when I wrote Ghost for Rent, I located it in my town. One day, I came across an article in the local newspaper about a restaurant in a town seven miles away. I knew this was the focus for the next book, and Ghost for Lunch was born. Since my original publisher had gone out of business, I was lucky that the publisher who accepted Ghost for Lunch was interested in the first book, too.
The next book in the series is my current WIP. A friend told me about an experience with a ghost she had while working in a local craft store. I immediately realized this would be the perfect mystery for my young sleuths to solve. Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch are under contract with 4RV Publishing, the publishers who released Boo’s Bad Day. I hope they will be ready for release by the end of the year, packaged as a two-book deal. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that 4RV will be interested in the next book, too.
Another picture book under contract with 4RV, Many Colored Coats, is a direct result of a diversity training I took while volunteering for our local women’s crisis line. One of the programs the agency developed was a child abuse prevention presentation. I wanted to translate this into a picture book which would be available to more children than those in our county. Using animals instead of children, I tried to make the message subtle yet strong enough that young readers will take away the important information.
My adult fantasy story, Ice Man, was inspired by an article in National Geographic about a man frozen in ice for thousands of years. I wondered what his life was like and if he left any family behind. Another adult fantasy, Ashley of Ashland, came from an article in a statewide newspaper about a man whose home burned, and they found him staring into the ashes. Mirror, Mirror, a time travel romance, popped into my head one day when I was looking at mirrors in a local antique shop. I wondered what it would be like to travel through the mirror to another time, and the story was born.
I read a lot of fantasy, so most of my short stories tend toward that genre. I guess I find inspiration in the authors I read, although I do feel my style is my own and not a rehash of someone else’s work.
My non-fiction work has been in the areas of parenting, teen self-help, and writing tips. As a writer, I’ve learned a great deal about polishing a manuscript, where to find ideas, marketing, blogging, and other areas of the craft. I wanted to share what I learned with other new writers. When I was younger, I didn’t know where to start, where to look for markets, or even how to properly edit a manuscript for submission. Being able to share my knowledge with others is important to me.
By the same token, my articles for parents and teens have come about through my own experiences and from training's I had as a volunteer for Girl Scouts and my children’s after school programs. For many years, I was actively involved in our local Women’s Resource Center. There I learned about diversity, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse prevention. What I was taught, I translated into articles for various parenting and teen magazines. Again, I wanted to share my knowledge with others who might not have access to the information I had.
My inspiration for writing comes to me in unexpected places and from all around me. I’m never at a loss for an idea, and I have so many ideas stashed away, I’ll never get to all of them. I want to tell stories to my children, my grandchildren, and my friends. I’m thrilled that others can enjoy them now, too, thanks to the support and belief of my various publishers.
Donna, thanks for hosting me. At the end of the tour, I will pick out one commenter’s name and send an autographed copy of Boo’s Bad Day to a United States address only. If the name I pick is someone who lives outside the U.S., I will send a PDF copy of the book. So remember, readers, be sure to leave contact information when you comment!
If your readers missed yesterday’s post, they can catch up at http://4horsemenseriesbr.blogspot.com/. Tomorrow, I’ll be visiting with http://snugglewithpicturebooks.com/.
About the book:
By: Penny Lockwood
Picture book for children aged 18 months to 6 years
Published by 4RV Publishing
ISBN# 13: 978-0-9852661-5-8
$8.99 includes s/h
Look inside at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Boos-Bad-Day-Penny-Lockwood/dp/0985266155/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Blurb: Boo is a very bored kitten. When Timmy and his mom return home, Boo sneaks out of the house. Boo is frightened by the noises of the big world outside of the safety of his warm home. When Timmy coaxes Boo back into the house, Boo realizes some places are safe and some are not.
About the author: Penny Lockwood 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 edits for MuseItUp Publishing. Visit her web site at http:// pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com. Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.
She has 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. She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.
Penny, it's been a pleasure hosting you today. Your experiences in your life are fascinating. I wish you the very best in both your personal and professional lives!
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist