Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghosts for Halloween: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch

In 2002, my first middle grade novel, Ghost for Rent, was published in electronic format by Hardshell Word Factory and was also available in POD format. When Hardshell Word Factory was sold, I was able to get my rights back to the story.  At that time, I had completed the sequel, Ghost for Lunch, and hoped to find a publisher willing to take both the books.  I was fortunate to find 4RV Publishing, LLC, a small family-owned traditional publisher.  Ghost for Rent has been re-edited to 4RV's exacting standards and will be released before the end of the year in conjunction with the release of Ghost for Lunch.  Both books will be available in print editions with cover art (and hopefully chapter illustrations) by the talented Aidana Willow-Raven.

Ghost for Rent received wonderful reviews from other children's authors, and I'm hopefully in it's newly edited version both Ghost for Rent and the sequel Ghost for Lunch will receive equally high praise.


When their parents separate, city kids Wendy Wiles and her brother Mike find they have to make a new life for themselves in a rural Oregon community.  Wendy soon discovers the house their mother rented is haunted.  Fortunately, Wendy has made a new friend, Jennifer, to whom she can confide her fears.  Meanwhile, her brother Mike torments her and insists he’s the one responsible for the flickering lights and weird noises.

Plagued by ghostly apparitions and strange happenings, Wendy solicits Jennifer’s help in tracking down the true story behind the ghosts.  In a surprising turn, Mike has a change of heart and joins the hunt.  Can the three young sleuths solve the mystery of the haunted house?  Will the ghosts help them or hinder them? 


            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, torments 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.


Wendy Wiles best friend has just moved to California.  Wendy feels lost without the one friend who helped her solve the mystery of her haunted house.  Fortunately, her parents have reunited and she and her brother became closer since they moved from the city to the country.  Much to her surprise, a new neighbor soon becomes the focus of attention.  Jon’s parents have purchased a restaurant in a nearby town that is rumored to be haunted.

As soon as Wendy sees the restaurant, she knows the rumor is true. Jon, Wendy, and Mike become closer friends, and the three set their sleuthing skills to finding out who the ghost is who is haunting the old restaurant.  Strange voices, rattling pots and pans, a stench of rotting meat, frigid temperatures, and ghostly apparitions keep the kids on their toes.  Will they find the answers to their questions, or will the ghost stop the opening of the new restaurant?


            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.  

Praise for Ghost for Rent
Chris Speakman, author 

First it’s separating parents, then moving (out of the city, no less) and now her new home is haunted??? 
What is eleven year‑old Wendy to do? Solve the mystery of the haunting ghosts, of course.

This is the simple basis for “Ghost for Rent.” However, there is more here than first meets the eye. Ms. Lockwood explores the emotions of one child; as Wendy deals with annoyance, hurt, anger, fear, not being believed, to finally being accepted. Emotions we adults tend to forget are very strong in our young. Emotions I can remember running through on a weekly basis with my childhood friends. However, I never lived in a haunted farmhouse. Wish I had.

It is the ghost story that brings Wendy and her teasing brother together. Even when their mother refuses to acknowledge what her own eyes are showing her, Wendy and her brother become more determined to uncover why these spirits are still here.

Why do ghosts haunt? What chains them to their old homes? Sorry, I’m not about to tell you, but the ghosts in “Ghost for Rent” will haunt you in more ways than one.

“Ghost for Rent” entertains on different levels. It is a read that brought me back to my own childhood and what I loved to read at Wendy’s age, a spooky tale with just enough scare without the horror. As an adult it’s a refreshing fright from the more sensual scares that seem to be the norm, today. More importantly, as a mother I can’t wait to share “Ghost for Rent” with my daughter and introduce her to the fun of being scared.

Thank you, Ms. Lockwood; I hope you revisit Wendy and friends.

Barbara Ehrentreu, author If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

What happens when a city girl has to move to the country? How will she survive leaving her familiar apartment for an old farmhouse on the outskirts of a tiny town? To add to her troubles the house seems to be haunted. Is it possible that the ghosts are trying to tell the new inhabitants something?

In Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood, Wendy and her older brother Mike are forced to move to a farmhouse her mother has rented when her mother asks her Dad for a divorce. Soon she finds herself in the country. When her new friend, Jennifer, tells Wendy how she thinks her new house is haunted, Wendy doesn’t want to believe it. But soon, events change her beliefs and start her and her friend Jennifer on a quest to discover the mystery behind all the strange ghostly sightings at her new place.

The author involves the reader in the mystery as she puts you in the terrifying situations that the children face as they confront the apparitions that are desperately trying to find a way to communicate their message to the new inhabitants of the house. As each strange occurrence happens the reader can feel the same goose bumps the children feel as they encounter these ghostly presences.

Told in Wendy’s point of view the reader encounters the ghosts at the same time as she does, and as the real life story of the ghosts comes to light it is evident that this is not your usual ghost story. Intertwined with the ghost story is the uncomfortable experience of separation from Wendy’s Dad and her mother’s assimilation into a small town existence. The author writes of small towns with tenderness and makes the one in the story very inviting.

How do you find the answer to a mystery that is almost a hundred years old? Will the research unearth the answer? What is it like to see a ghost and be part of that experience? To find out you will need to read the book. You will find it a very fast and enjoyable read. Though it is written with younger characters, the story, which delves into teen age issues, should appeal to older readers as well.

Beverly Stowe McClure, author Just Breeze, Life on Hold, Tumbleweed Christmas

Ghost stories are some of my favorite books, and this one kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.

Eleven‑year‑old Wendy Wiles’s life is falling apart. Her parents are talking divorce. Her dad leaves home. Wendy, her mom, and her older brother, Mike, move to an old house in the country. Wendy is one unhappy girl. An aspiring poet, she writes a poem about the unfairness of life. After all, poets are supposed to suffer, aren’t they?

As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, Jennifer, a girl she meets who lives on the other side of the woods, tells Wendy the house they’re living in is haunted. Mike, as brothers delight in doing, teases Wendy, because he, of course, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Wendy’s mother also agrees that there’s no such thing as ghosts. But they don’t know the weird stuff that happens in Wendy’s bedroom.

Ghostly sightings and unsolved mysteries finally make even skeptical Mike a believer, and the children decide to discover the truth about a long ago tragedy. And what about Mom and Dad? How does their story end? I’m not telling.

Ms. Lockwood has written a chilling tale that once you start reading it, you’ll turn on all the lights and check your doors to be sure they’re locked, unless you’d like a visit from a ghost. This is a great story for middle‑grade readers who love a good mystery and the paranormal. The brother and sister relationship is true‑to‑life, and you root for the children to succeed in their quest. I think even older folks will enjoy the book. I know I did.

Happy Halloween everyone! Be careful when you look in your mirror tonight, who knows what you will see!

1 comment:

  1. These books are on my wish list. Both sound like they will be interesting to read.