Guest Blog Post: Channeling Your Inner Teen

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

TGIF!! It’s been an exciting and crazy week of promo for my two new eBooks, as well as the launch of the “Buy Winner & Win” contest.

Here’s a guest blog post I did for Free Book Dude about channeling your inner teen when writing contemporary YA. Hope you enjoy, and have a great weekend!

cartoon_teen_walking_small

Contest: Buy “Winner” & Win a Special Prize!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

I am excited to announce my first ever giveaway for readers, the “Buy Winner & Win” contest!

Kristina Ludwig Contest

In honor of Winner, my new eBook about a teenage girl who’s hooked on winning, I am hosting — what else — a competition! I am offering a special prize to one lucky reader who will be picked at random using Rafflecopter.

All you have to do is buy a copy of Winner or  Unlucky 13 between December 17th and December 31st, 2013, and email your receipt to info@kristinaludwig.com.

You can also gift one of the books to as many people as you want – and forward me the receipt. You will receive one more entry for every gift you make!

Write an honest review on Amazon and you’ll receive one more entry in the drawing. Just forward your Amazon.com Review confirmation email to info@kristinaludwig.com.

All participants will then be entered to win the Kindle Paperwhite. Drawing will happen in the first week of January.

The winner of the Paperwhite will be announced on this blog, and will also be notified by email. Here is an example of the email receipt. All you have to do is forward it to enter the contest. Good luck!

Contest Email

How to Write Full Time – And Never Get Bored

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 16
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

When I tell people that I am a full-time writer and work from home, one of the most common questions I hear is, ”Do you ever get bored?” And I always answer the same way, “Definitely not!”

I can see why this question comes up, though. When we work for large companies (or even small ones), we often have a list of tasks that we have to complete in a specified amount of time. Our days are super focused because of that. When I worked as a pharmacist, hours would fly by and I wouldn’t even realize it because I was so busy!

Writing on our own schedules is a huge change from that. But as long as we’re self-motivated and goal-oriented, the day will pass as quickly as it would in a pharmacy, an office, or wherever people work outside the home. Plus, writing is such a creative activity that it’s actually super-easy to lose track of time. It goes along with something my mom always said when I was younger, “Our imaginations are our best playmates.” And it’s true — as long as we imagine new things, we’ll never be bored.

Don't surrender to boredom; fight it with these proven tips!

Don’t surrender to boredom; fight it with these proven tips!

Here are 4 tips to prevent boredom when writing full-time:

  1. Vary your extracurricular (i.e. non-writing) activities. Playing sports, working out, doing yoga, and practicing a musical instrument are all awesome activities to incorporate into your day. They get your blood pumping, keep you in superior physical and / or mental shape, and shake things up so you’re not just sitting in front of the computer all day. And bonus: All these activities can inspire you for your next writing project!
  2. Divide your day into chunks. Remember middle and high school, when your day was divided into seven regimented class periods? Recreate that feeling as a writer by cutting up your day into time allotments for each activity (i.e. marketing, blogging, writing new material, editing). Not only will you prevent boredom, you’ll also accomplish more. Win-win!
  3. Work off-site. If you’re feeling bored and stagnant, sometimes a change of scene is all you need. The local library or cafe can be a perfect cure for the mid-day writing blues. Plus, you’ll look every inch the part of the hipster indie author. ;)
  4. Close your eyes and imagine. I had a teacher in elementary school who said, “If you’re bored, you’re boring.” I don’t entirely agree with this, but I do think an awesome boredom-buster is just taking a time-out and letting your imagination run wild (i.e. become “un-boring”). If you’re bored because you’re stuck on a stubborn scene of your novel, sit back, take cleansing breaths, and imagine. The answer will either come to you, or you’ll know it’s time to give the work a break and start something else.

Freelancers out there, what are your best boredom-busters? I’d love to know if there’s something I missed!

Just in Time for Friday the Thirteenth: Unlucky 13 Re-Released!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 13
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 13, 2013 at 11:33 am

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, all! It’s a day to watch out for black cats, avoid walking under ladders, and…download the new and improved version of my first-ever eBook, Unlucky 13.

A few blog posts ago, I wrote about my extensive editing process, from cover to content to formatting. After I finally finished all the edits yesterday, I realized that the launch day would be Friday the Thirteenth. How appropriate is that?

To get you in the mood for some Friday the Thirteenth fun, here is a link to an article about silly luck superstitions. I think Jordyn, the thirteen year-old heroine of Unlucky 13, would appreciate these!

And finally, I have a special treat for all you blog readers out there. Of course, you can click here to download a free sample of Unlucky 13 on Amazon, but the sample trails off in the middle of Chapter Two. If you’re curious about how the chapter ends, here’s an excerpt…because why wouldn’t you want to read about luck on Friday the Thirteenth? ;) Enjoy!

 

Unlucky 13 -- re-leased just in time for Friday the Thirteenth!

Unlucky 13 — re-released just in time for Friday the Thirteenth!

“I’m not turning into her,” I said. “I’m just taking some pointers. After all, she gets all the guys.”

“Yeah, she gets the guys all right,” Avery said, “and they don’t like her for herself at all. I know how Karilyn used to be. She was really cool. Now she’s so fake-y and flirty it’s annoying. And you’ll notice I used to be friends with her, but I’m not anymore. Just keep that in mind, Jordyn.”

I was speechless as my face heated up with anger. What kind of bestie was Avery? This was my big moment — Andrew seemed really into me — and she was ruining it.

Luckily, Ms. Emmett, our gym teacher, began her announcements, breaking the uncomfortable silence that hung over my friends and me.

“Good afternoon, seventh and eighth graders,” Ms. Emmett called, “and welcome to our forty-fifth annual Track and Field Day. Today, we will be participating in a wide variety of events…”

Gianna tapped me. “Ms. Emmett sure takes this seriously, doesn’t she?”

“Yeah,” I mumbled.

Gianna put her arm around me. “Hey, it’s ok, Jordyn. I think you look great…and so do the boys.”

“Thanks,” I said, leaning my chin on my hand and staring straight ahead. Right now, even Gianna’s sweetness was not enough to improve my mood.

Ms. Emmett droned on. I didn’t hear one word she said until she announced, “And before our first event I just want to remind you of our dress code. There are to be no hats, no clothing with obscene messages, and no sports bras. At this time, all seventh grade shot-put participants please report to the lower field.”

“Oops,” I mumbled. I hadn’t actually known about the dress code, mostly because I’d never worn anything that could possibly violate it. I looked around to see if anyone else was wearing a sportsbra. Maybe I was a trendsetter.

No such luck. I was wearing the only sportsbra in the place. I fumbled around for my tank top, but it was stuck in my sweatshirt.

Ms. Emmett raised the megaphone again. “Anyone violating the dress code and making no attempts to change will be dismissed from track and field day immediately and given detention.”

I looked up from my valiant struggle with the sweatshirt and saw that her beady little eyes were boring holes straight into me.

I heard some snickers from behind me, one of them Kayleigh’s signature snort, but I was too busy untangling the tank top to care. Finally, the tank top came loose and I pulled it over my head as quickly as possible, my cheeks turning pinker than Karilyn’s sportsbra.

“All ready, Ms. Bodenschatz?” Ms. Emmett asked.

I decided that the only way to get out of this situation without complete and lifelong embarrassment was to make a joke out of it. I remembered how Adam Hollinger had saluted Avery on the bus on my birthday, so I did the same thing to Ms. Emmett, adding a loud, “Aye, aye cap’n!”

A bunch of people laughed, for once with me, not at me. Among them were all my friends — except Avery. She just sat there frowning, her arms folded across her chest.

“Mouthy,” Ms. Emmett observed. “I’ll be keeping my eye on you.”

“Thought she already was,” Lexie commented out of the side of her mouth.

I gave Lexie a half smile, and headed down to the lower field for shot put.

I did okay at shot put, and amazingly at long jump. I jumped 16 feet, 3 inches, almost a whole foot better than I had in sixth grade. I knew that I had probably won first place again. So, I hopped out of the sand pit and bounced up to the bleachers to tell everyone.

I found Avery slathering herself with SPF 100 sunscreen, Lexie painting her nails with hot pink nail polish, and Gianna fishtailing Gretchen’s long brown hair into a fancy-looking style.

“Guess what guys,” I said. “I jumped 16 feet 3 inches in long jump.”

“No way.” Lexie looked up from her brilliantly painted fingernails.

“No, it’s true.” I did a little dance.

“You’re going to win for sure, Jordyn,” Gianna said, her soft brown eyes shining.

“Congratulations, Jordyn,” Avery said. She set down her sunscreen for a minute. “I’m proud of you. Look, I’m really sorry for flying off the handle earlier. I shouldn’t have said that stuff. But I do think you haven’t completely been yourself lately. Now you are, though. You’re not obsessing about how you look and what Andrew thinks of you.”

I pondered that for a moment. “Yeah, you’re right. I haven’t thought about anything but the long jump for the last half hour. I don’t even know what my hair’s doing right now.” My hand flew up reflexively. “It’s ok, right?”

Avery laughed. “It looks great, Jordyn. You look like yourself. Friends?”

I hugged her. “Best friends.”

At that minute, Ms. Emmett called the hurdle race participants down to the track. “That’s me,” I said.

“Good luck,” Avery said. “You’re on a roll today. You’ll probably kick butt at hurdles too, even though you’ve never really done them before.”

I laughed, waved at all my friends, and made my way to the track, feeling on top of the world.

There were about 15 hurdle racers, mostly guys. The only two I knew were Adam Hollinger and, of course, Andrew. Adam and two of his goofy friends were contorting their bodies with weird, exaggerated stretches and bursting out laughing. I rolled my eyes and walked straight over to Andrew, saying, “Hey.”

“Hey, Jordyn,” he said. We were standing so close that I noticed things about him that I had never seen before, things that made him even more adorable. Like the little mole he had under his right eye. His breath smelled like Bubblemint gum.

Wow. I could barely think. “What’s up, Andrew?”

“Not much,” he said, stretching a little. “Why don’t you risk detention and show me your sportsbra again? I think I would lose this race if you were wearing it.”

OMG. This could not be happening. I was so incredulous that I actually forgot to speak, creating an awkward silent moment. But finally, I recovered enough to give Andrew the answer I was sure he wanted to hear. “Yeah right, Andrew. You lose a hurdle race? Not likely.”

Andrew threw back his head and laughed. “Yeah you’re probably right. But still, I just wanted to tell you, I like your outfit.”

I held back a squeal. I grinned at him, but the smile was wasted. Andrew was not looking at me anymore. Instead, he was focused on stretching his calves and hamstrings

Adam, however, had stopped his stretching long enough to realize I was there, and he winked at me. Eeew. I couldn’t believe Adam had done that not once but twice in the past month. I quickly looked away, just as Ms. Emmett reached the track. She raised her megaphone and I prepared to be deafened, since I was one of the people standing closest to her.

“On your marks…” she yelled, “get set…GO!”

Andrew took off running. He was a blue and tan blur; one moment, he was beside me, the next he was gone. I couldn’t even watch him very well…especially because I was concentrating so hard on making the hurdles. Even though we were only jumping the smaller ones, they were not as easy as they looked.

I cleared the first hurdle and mentally congratulated myself, then saw the next one looming ahead. One, two, three, I counted in my head. On three, I bounded over it and grinned a little.

I scaled the next few hurdles a little more confidently, and looked around to see where I ranked in the race. I was not as fast as some people, like Andrew and Adam, but I was beating about half of the participants. Not bad. Maybe I was better at this than I gave myself credit for.

I looked straight ahead just in time to see that I was heading right for a hurdle, the highest yet. Oh crap. I jumped as high as I could, but I hadn’t had enough time to prepare. My front leg just barely cleared the hurdle, but my back leg didn’t. Before I could think another thought, I was pitching forward onto the track. To make matters worse, one of my Nikes flew off, and I just lay there, shoeless and shell-shocked.

The first thing I remembered was Ms. Emmett standing over me asking questions, like how many fingers she was holding up. “Can you stand up?” she asked, disentangling my leg from the hurdle. “Try it.”

I obeyed, groaning. My right ankle was impossibly sore. But the main reason I was groaning was not because of the pain; it was because the whole race had stopped. 15 pairs of eyes stared directly at me, not to mention those of the students in the bleachers. Andrew raised his eyebrows in surprise, as though he had just realized I wasn’t as hot as he’d thought I was.

Ms. Emmett took my arm and said I should go to the nurse’s office. So, I began hobbling off the track. I stopped short when I heard Ms. Emmett and some other people calling my name.

Adam Hollinger sprinted over to me, holding one of my running shoes. In all the excitement, I had forgotten to retrieve it. “Oops,” I said to Adam, rolling my eyes at myself, and trying not to cry.

Adam got down on one knee and held out the shoe. He bowed his head so that all I could see of him were his moppy, sunstreaked curls. “I have been searching the whole kingdom for the girl whose foot fits this slipper. Could you possibly be her, oh fair maiden?”

I laughed, despite myself. I needed a little comic relief. “I so do not feel like Cinderella right now.”

Adam looked up, and I could see flecks of golden in his lazy-day green eyes. “Oh, but you are. May I please try this slipper on you?”

I shrugged. Things couldn’t get much more embarrassing right now. “By all means, my prince.” I raised my foot, and Adam slipped on my sneaker.

Adam clapped his hands. “Oh, it fits! How lucky I am.”

I laughed and slapped him on the back. “Thanks for grabbing my shoe, Adam. It was nice of you, especially when I was so out of it.”

“Any time, my princess. Is this the part where we live happily ever after?”

I giggled uncomfortably. This was getting creepy, and I had no idea what to say. “Um, no. This is where it ends, Prince. Thanks again.”

I looked away from Adam and focused on hopping into the school, trying to keep my weight off my right ankle. I was glad to escape my staring classmates and find sanctuary in the nurse’s office.

Nurse Jones was a chubby little woman with very pink cheeks, and she always smelled like potpourri and the oatmeal raisin cookies that sat in a jar on her desk. She shook her head when I told her what had happened.

“I can’t believe the stunts you young people are expected to pull off these days,” she told me in her soft Southern drawl. “I wouldn’t even know what to do if you told me to jump a big old hurdle.”

I giggled because I knew she probably wanted me to, and also because the thought of this roly-poly little pink lady leaping over a hurdle was absurd.

Nurse Jones did a check-up, and told me I had no broken bones or sprains, just a little pain that would probably go away in a few days.

“But under no conditon are you to jump those hurdles for the next month or so,” she added. She offered up some Tylenol, ice, and an oatmeal raisin cookie as I waited for my mom to come pick me up.

Ten minutes later, my mom dashed into Nurse Jones’s office in a cloud of Yellow Diamonds perfume. My mom was a grown-up version of Karilyn — glamorous and fashionable. She was a freelance writer and worked from home most of the time, but that didn’t stop her from dressing up. I still held out hope that I’d turn out like her — eventually.

My mom thanked Nurse Jones and took my arm, leading me out to her car. “How did you trip over a hurdle, sweetie?” she asked, her forehead wrinkling in concern.

I decided that I wouldn’t hold anything back, so I used most of the fifteen-minute car ride to tell my mom how I’d tripped, and why. I included the parts about Andrew and Adam, but omitted the fact that I had been yelled at for wearing only a hot pink sportsbra.

By the time she’d heard everything, my mom seemed so sorry for me that she detoured at Starbuck’s for comforting frappuccinos. We sat outside for a few minutes, relaxing in the sun.

My mom sipped her Mocha Lite frapp and pushed up her sunglasses to look at me. “I bet you’re glad that’s over. I know it was rough, but two things really jumped out at me while you were telling your story.”

“Hmmmm?” I asked thickly, gulping my Caramel frapp.

“First of all, you weren’t being true to yourself when you competed in that event. You’d never practiced jumping hurdles, and that’s the main reason you fell.” She raised her eyebrows. “The other thing I noticed was that you said Andrew looked at you as if you’d let him down. Then, he didn’t even ask if you were okay. So you think you let him down, but really, he let you down. One minute he was flirting with you, and the next he wouldn’t even talk to you.”

“It wasn’t like that, Mom,” I protested. “He really didn’t have time to talk to me. So much was happening at once.”

My mom shrugged. “Look, I wasn’t there so I won’t try to tell you what to think. But from what you told me, Adam actually sounds like a nicer boy than Andrew.”

Eeeew. How could she possibly say that? I had no response — what she’d just said was too ridiculous for words.

“Who is this Adam, anyway?” my mom asked.

“A buffoon.” I made a face. “He’s always winking at me and acting weird. I have no idea what his problem is.”

“Oh, I think I might,” she told me, her eyes tilting up at the corners, as they did when she was amused. “I’m going to give you some motherly advice here, ok sweetie?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Don’t write Adam off. Be nice to him, and give him a chance. You may find there’s more to Adam than meets the eye.”

Doubtful. But I kept quiet. It was obvious that my mom must have seen something in Adam that I, and the rest of the world for that matter, didn’t.

I was saved from any more talk of Adam when my phone vibrated. Avery had texted me.

“Hey gf. Hope ur feeling ok,” she’d messaged. “If it makes u feel any better, u won first place in long jump again!”

“Thx,” I texted back. “Good 2 hear:)”

Avery messaged me a picture of my shiny gold trophy.

“Check it out, Mom,” I said, holding up my phone. “First place in long jump. Maybe today wasn’t so bad after all.”

“Congrats, sweetie,” my mom said. “This is great news.”

I smiled, until the unwelcome image of Andrew’s face after my fall flashed into my head. If only I could’ve jumped that hurdle as easily as I could jump 16 feet, 3 inches, maybe Andrew would’ve asked me out.

I stuck my phone into my bag, suddenly repulsed by the picture of the sparkling trophy. Winning every track and field event wouldn’t begin to make up for humiliating myself in front of my one true like.

I needed to do some damage control so that Andrew would see me as a hot girl again…but how?

In Quest of Reviews: 5 Tips for Indie Authors

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

You’ve written and published your ebook on Amazon and you’re ready to tear up whatever category your book fits into. Congrats! But after patting yourself on the back comes the fun part, searching for good reviewers for your book.

Reviews are necessary because not only do they provide useful feedback and social proof for potential readers, they also influence Amazon’s algorithm. If a book receives 12 or more positive reviews on Amazon, the algorithm will recommend it to dramatically more users. And 25 reviews is the real sweet spot. Receive that many and Amazon’s algorithm goes wild recommending your book!

Of course, you could bother family and friends for reviews…but, after all, they do have a life. And what if your book is about something they’re totally not interested in? Or what if you write multiple books? Recruit your friends to write reviews about every one of your books, and they’ll mysteriously start avoiding you…

Then, there are reviewers who read and post reviews on indie books. They’re all there in a database online for your perusal. Great, right? Not necessarily, when they’re so glutted with indie ebooks that some of them take months (or even a year! True story!) to review your book.

books

Luckily, I’ve learned a lot about getting reviews, and I’m super excited to share some helpful hints with you! Here are 5 tips to get more reviews:

  1. Make friends with other authors in and out of your genre. Authors I’ve met at conferences as well as through various social media channels have agreed to review my ebooks.
  2. Join a book review group on Facebook. These groups are made of readers looking for new, fun reading material and indie writers looking for reviews of their work. Match made in heaven, right? Here are some of my faves: I Need Book Reviews, Review Seekers, Reviewers Roundup, and Julie’s Book Review.
  3. Recruit reviewers on your author website. These are your fans anyway — give them incentive to write reviews by hosting book giveaways and even a raffle for fans who write honest reviews.
  4. Join a book club. Check your local library or meetup.com for book clubs in your neighborhood. You’ll meet people who share your passion for reading, and will be only too happy to review your book.
  5. Post a link at the end of your ebook that says, “Did you enjoy this book? If so, please leave me a review on Amazon…” and give a link to the Amazon page. This reminder is a great call to action for readers, many of whom enjoy helping out indies.

What do you think? Have you tried these techniques before? What works for you? I’d love to hear your opinions.