7 Things You Might Not Know About the 1920′s

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 29
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 29, 2014 at 9:00 am

I’m currently in the midst of writing The Mermaid’s Voyage, the conclusion of the California Mermaids trilogy. In this series finale, Doria, Oceania’s niece, turns eighteen in the year 1925. Like her aunt, she must choose between living on land or in the ocean, but the decision is riddled with complications. Between her overprotective mer-beau, her aunt’s bizarre behavior, and the scheming landsman who threatens her safety and sanity, Doria is a bit overwhelmed. Can she break the mermaid’s curse that has been in her family for generations? And will she choose land or water? Look for the Kindle ebook in late January to find out!

The Mermaid’s Voyage has been incredibly fun to write so far, mostly because I loooove the Roaring 20s! I have always been fascinated by this time period: Prohibition, flappers, and the overall glitter and glamour of this party-filled, somewhat excessive era of American history. I’ve stumbled upon so many interesting facts throughout my research, so, naturally, I have to share them with you! Here they are: 7 things you might not know about the 1920s. 

Here's a fun picture of 1920s fashion, courtesy of Glamordaze.com.

Here’s a fun picture of 1920s fashion, courtesy of Glamordaze.com.

  1. Speakeasies, which cropped up all over the U.S. during prohibition, had many nicknames, such as “juice joint,” “drum,” and “ham & egger.”
  2. One of the most popular speakeasies in San Francisco was Coffee Dan’s. Patrons accessed the speakeasy via a slide into the basement level of the restaurant, and could hold their coffee cups under the table if they cared for some liquor from the wait staff’s hip flasks.
  3. San Francisco was also home to the Sir Francis Drake hotel, which had a “prohibition room,” where alcohol was stored and could be delivered to guests via small doors hidden in each room. The hotel is still there today, but the secret doors no longer exist.
  4. Radio was a huge form of mass communication in the 1920s, and America’s first commercial radio station was Pittsburgh’s KDKA in 1920. By the end of the decade, over 12 million households owned a radio.
  5. Jazz and ragtime were the popular types of music for the young generation, and people could be found in juice joints and dance halls doing dances such as the Charleston and the cake walk.
  6. The speakeasy crowd had many silly code-words for “drunk,” such as zozzled, splifficated, ossified, and hoary-eyed.
  7. Most movies of the 1920s were silent films, but all that changed with the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927. It was the first “talking picture” to feature a star singer and actor–and to attract huge crowds of viewers.

There you have it…a little slice of life from the 1920s. Authors out there, have you ever written historical fiction, and if so, what era did you write about? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Changing Cover Designs of a Published eBook

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 18
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

You’ve written your eBook, had it professionally edited, finished your own spin on the edits, and composed a dynamite description. So you’re all ready to publish right?

Wrong! The book cover is one of the most important–and most often overlooked–aspects of an eBook. A professional-looking cover can make or break your sales. And furthermore, the cover must capture the unique flavor and mood of your book, as well as appeal to your audience. If the book is part of a series, the cover must create unity with the other books of the series. That’s a lot to think about!

Sometimes, no matter how polished and well-written a book is, it may not sell because its cover is just…wrong. Either it’s not eye-catching, the audience thinks it looks lame-o, or it appears amateurish. I have experienced this firsthand. Back in 2011, I designed the cover for my first ever eBook, Unlucky 13. At the time, I was writing and publishing as a hobby, and it showed. The book only sold to my family, friends, and a few totally random people who stumbled across it. This was due in part to the fact that I did zero promotion, but another huge reason was because the cover looked unprofessional. Last year, I had a new cover designed for the book; although Unlucky 13 is still far from a best seller, the sales are a whole lot better than they’d been with the first cover!

I encountered a similar problem with Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse. I loved writing the book; in fact, I’ve never felt so inspired. Yet, when I published it, sales and borrows on Amazon were lower than I’d expected, despite the fact that I marketed it the same way as all my previous best selling Amish books. This was partly due to the fact that I was dabbling in a new genre, but Antonio, my hubby and expert professional cover designer, had another theory: perhaps the cover was turning people off.

I loooove the original cover of The Mermaid’s Curse. To me, it captures the essence of the book: the mermaid caught between two worlds under the full moon. However, when I evaluated it critically, with the target audience’s eye in mind, I realized that it is too dark; it draws your eye in, instead of popping out at you. Sales of Book 2 of the series, The Mermaid’s Wedding, have been much better than The Mermaid’s Curse. Since I’ve been promoting it the same way, I can only guess that the hike in sales is due to the more colorful, girly cover. The hot pink lettering and couple bathed in sunshine are vibrant, and very appealing to YA and NA mermaid fantasy romance readers.

So, Antonio and I decided to create a brighter, more beachy cover for The Mermaid’s Curse, using the same font and basic design as that of The Mermaid’s Wedding. I will be monitoring sales, and, of course, will keep you posted on how they are impacted by the change! Incidentally, I just changed the cover last night, and the rank of the book has already risen from around 100,000 to 84,000–still not where I want to be, but we’re taking baby steps here. :)

Here's the original cover of The Mermaid's Curse--very dark, and perhaps not as appealing to readers of the YA mermaid fantasy romance genre.

Here’s the original cover of The Mermaid’s Curse–very dark, and perhaps not as appealing to readers of the YA mermaid fantasy romance genre.

 

Here's the new cover of The Mermaid's Curse... What do you think?

Here’s the new cover of The Mermaid’s Curse… What do you think?

Authors out there, have you ever changed the cover of your already-published eBook, and if so, why? Did you see an increase in sales after you changed your cover? I’d love to hear your experiences!

It’s Here: The Mermaid’s Wedding Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 16
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

I’m excited to announce that The Mermaid’s Wedding (California Mermaids Book 2) has launched, and is now available for Amazon Kindle here. To pump you up for the book, I will be including a free excerpt with today’s blog post!

The Mermaid's Wedding Launch

Also, I am celebrating the new release by offering a special 2 for 1 deal today and tomorrow. Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse, will be free December 16th and 17th, so you can read the entire series for only 99 cents. I’ve got the hookup, dear readers. ;)

So, without further adieu, here is Chapter Two of The Mermaid’s Wedding. Chapter One can be found in this earlier blog post. Happy reading!

Chapter Two: Xavier – 1912

My heart breaks for Oceania as we stroll down the shore. She smiles tightly, keeping a running commentary of the birds, the beach, and the passers-by, but I can tell that she’s only putting on a brave face for my benefit.

When she’d first announced her decision to choose land, I believe that she’d been in a state of shock—and, of course, the pain had been dulled by our love. However, now that she’s had time to digest the full implications, she seems weighed down, as if an invisible anchor is dragging her spirits to the ocean floor.

As we head up the elaborate, flower-trimmed walkway of my family’s lavish summer home, I stop and turn to her.

“My love,” I say, gently tucking a stray lock of her silver-blond hair into the wide-brimmed hat Amelie has lent her. “You don’t have to force yourself to be cheerful just for me. I know how much you’re hurting right now, and I only wish I could heal your wounds. I wish I could be the part-merman who could break the curse, so you’d never have to say goodbye to anyone you love.”

Oceania’s eyes fill with shimmering aquamarine tears that fluoresce as they roll down her cheeks. I fumble for my handkerchief, and begin mopping her face with it.

“It’s sweet of you to say that,” she says in a tremulous voice. “But you shouldn’t wish for that. If you weren’t exactly who you are, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you.”

She’s right. I must admit that I have thought—more than once—about how much easier life would be if I hadn’t fallen in love with a cursed mermaid. But if she wasn’t exactly who she is, I wouldn’t love her so desperately, either.

“Oceania, my dear, you’re as wise as you are beautiful.” I dry the last of her tears, planting a kiss on the tip of her delicate nose before we head into the house.

The summer house feels significantly lighter and airier without Father’s dark and lumbering presence; he has returned to San Francisco to resume work, and Mother, Amelie, and I are in the process of packing up and preparing the house for the end of the season.

Naturally, Father’s colleagues have left Monterey as well, and I breathe a bit easier knowing that not only is Mr. Simonsen gone, but so is his daughter, Victoria. Our fathers had been forcing us into a lukewarm courtship, and she didn’t take well to Oceania’s appearance in our lives. The past few weeks have been filled with uncomfortable encounters with her; the town of Monterey is much too small to avoid her entirely.

Oceania and I head toward the parlor, our shoes clacking on the glossy floors of the marble foyer. Mother and Amelie are perched on Mother’s long, red velvet fainting couch, poring over a bridal magazine. Their heads snap up in unison when they spot Oceania and me in the doorway.

Mother springs up and surrounds first me, then Oceania in a warm hug. “Darlings,” she says, kissing Oceania on both cheeks as she learned to do during a recent trip to Europe. “Amelie and I were having the best time planning out details for your wedding. Of course, we may have been getting a bit ahead of ourselves—you haven’t even set the date, after all. But I have the most fabulous idea. I hope you don’t mind my intruding.”

I glance over at Oceania, wondering what kind of reaction she will have to my mother’s exuberance, and am relieved to see that her smile seems genuine. Mother tends to have that effect on people.

“We don’t mind at all, Mrs. Rose,” Oceania says. “In fact, I’d love to hear your idea.”

“Fantastic,” Mother says, taking Oceania’s hand and pulling her down on the couch next to Amelie. After another round of hellos with my younger sister, I sink into Father’s hulking leather armchair, feeling small and out of place in it.

“So here’s my thought,” Mother continues. “What if you had your wedding ceremony on the beach and the reception here?”

“You could say your vows on Point Joe,” Amelie pipes up. “I read a book in which two lovers marry on a beach, but I’ve never known anyone who has actually done it.”

“What do you think?” Mother asks, leaning toward Oceania. “I know it’s not a common thing to do, but that’s what makes it so special. It will be as unconventional and unique as both of you are, a union of land and sea.”

Oceania and I look at each other, and her bright smile tells me everything I need to know. “That sounds absolutely perfect,” she says. “I can’t think of a better place to say our vows than on top of our special rock.”

I nod in agreement, but can’t help but ask Mother, “Do you think Father will approve? I’m sure he’ll want a traditional church wedding.”

Mother and Amelie exchange an uncomfortable glance. “I’m unsure whether your father will be attending, Xavier,” Mother says in a subdued voice, drawing her delicate brows together. “When I spoke to him on the telephone last night, he was still violently opposed to your future marriage. Then we lost our connection, and I couldn’t get him back on the line. The service out here really is dismal. That’s one thing I certainly will not miss.” She pauses, taking a deep breath. “I’ll do my best to convince him though, dear. After all, you are his only son.”

“Right,” I say, studying the intricate, swirling patterns on the red and gold Persian rug. Even though I should have expected this, I’m immensely disappointed.  I know that Father will probably never approve of Oceania, but some small part of me still wants him to. “I suppose we’ll just have to see what he decides.”

Oceania pushes herself up from the couch and crosses the room to my side. “It’s okay, Xav. My family won’t be there, either. They can’t be there.” She lowers herself into Father’s chair next to me, and I take her hand, squeezing it tightly.

Amelie fidgets in the corner, chewing her lip and looking as though she’d like to vanish down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. She probably has no idea what to say to comfort Oceania—or me, for that matter.

Mother’s face has taken on such a look of compassion and sadness that she seems ready to weep. Finally, she says, “I’m sorry that this is so difficult for both of you. But rest assured that we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your celebration will be as joyous as possible.”

“You can depend on us,” Amelie adds. “Mother is the best at throwing parties, and I’ve already checked some wedding planning books out of the library.”

This doesn’t surprise me. Amelie is a voracious reader, with a book—or twenty—for every occasion.

I paste a smile on my face, and Oceania does the same. “Thank you,” we chorus, both of our voices sounding just a little too bright.

“Fabulous!” Mother exclaims, clapping her hands. She picks up the bridal magazine and resumes flipping through it. “Let’s get busy. After all, we only have a fortnight to plan.”

The fake smile falls off Oceania’s face, and her eyes grow round with panic. “A fortnight? What do you mean? Isn’t that a bit soon?”

Mother gives a dainty shrug. “Perhaps it sounds that way, my dear. But if you want an outdoor ceremony, the beginning of September truly is the most temperate time of year in Monterey. And besides, we’ll only be here for two more weeks before we must return to San Francisco. We can’t very well plan the wedding from there, can we?”

Cover Reveal and Mermaid Monday Giveaway!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 15
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 15, 2014 at 9:30 am

I’m psyched to announce that my newest eBook, The Mermaid’s Wedding (California Mermaids #2), will be launching tomorrow, December 16th!

Therefore, I’ve dubbed today Mermaid Monday…and what would this magical “holiday” be without a giveaway? I will be gifting FREE copies of The Mermaid’s Wedding to the first five people who comment below with one reason to love mermaids. Get creative! For example, you could comment, “I love mermaids because we’re never too old to believe in magic,” or, “I love mermaids because they bring a dose of fantasy and intrigue to my Monday.” Also, please include your Amazon ID (your email that is registered with Amazon), so I can gift you the Kindle book.

In honor of the launch, Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse, will be free December 16th and 17th, so make sure to download it if you haven’t already!

And in other news, I want to give a warm shout-out to everyone who voted on the cover concepts that I posted on Facebook and the blogs last week. The overwhelming winner was the design on the right. Here’s the final cover reveal! What do you think?

Here's the cover reveal for The Mermaid's Wedding, which will be launching on December 16th! What do you think?

Here’s the cover reveal for The Mermaid’s Wedding, which will be launching on December 16th! What do you think?

 

They’re Here: Cover Teasers for The Mermaid’s Wedding!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 11
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 11, 2014 at 9:30 am

I’m excited to announce that the cover teasers for my new eBook, The Mermaid’s Wedding (California Mermaids #2) are ready, so of course I’m sharing them with you. :) The book will be released next week, and I can’t wait for you to read about Oceania’s adventures as she and Xavier plan their wedding on land!

Now, I need your help… Which of these cover concepts do you like better, left or right? Let me know by commenting below, and thanks in advance for your feedback!

 

Which of these rough draft cover designs do you like... Left of Right?

Which of these rough draft cover designs do you like… Left or Right?

The Mermaid’s Wedding Story Excerpt

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

Today, I’m psyched to share my NaNoWriMo project with you…or a chapter of it, anyway. I just submitted The Mermaid’s Wedding, Book 2 of the California Mermaids series, to my editor, and will be launching the book in mid-December. Until then, here’s the first chapter! I would love to hear what you think. :)

Gorgeous mermaid pic courtesy of fanpop.com

Gorgeous mermaid pic courtesy of fanpop.com

Chapter One: Oceania – 1912

 

In only ten full moons, my life will change forever, and the thought terrifies me.

I know I shouldn’t allow myself to be caught up in fear; after all, everything has already become drastically different since I turned eighteen two full moons ago. I left my mermaid home for the first time and ventured to the surface, where I fell in love with a land boy. I also uncovered the mermaid’s curse that has hung over the females in my family for generations.

If I survived all of these trials, I should be able to make it through anything, right?

From my vantage point atop Point Joe’s jagged rocks, I gaze out over the tempestuous waters of the Pacific, shivering as the breeze claws at my wet hair with chilly, damp fingers. When I visit the land, Xavier and I always meet in this spot, since it was here that we fell in love.

The view is different every hour of every day; sometimes, the white-capped waves glitter in the sunshine, rolling over each other like playful seal pups, but today, they’re a violent shade of dark teal under the steely, cloud-covered sky. The aura of foreboding suits my mood exactly.

Xavier wraps his jacket around my shoulders, encircling me with his strong arms. When I’d surfaced a few minutes ago, he’d patted my tail dry until I’d morphed into human form. Then, he’d held up a towel to shield me from the prying eyes of the distant fishermen and beachgoers, and I’d slipped into a borrowed dress from his sister Amelie. I must admit that, while I still find land fashions uncomfortable and confining, I’ve become much more adept at dressing myself in them.

Now, Xavier regards me with concern in his warm brown eyes. “What’s wrong, Oceania?”

“I was just thinking about tonight—it’s another full moon, and after that, I only have ten more moons until my choice between land and sea is made permanent.”

Most mermaids can travel freely between land and sea for life, but the women in my family cannot. This has been my family’s curse ever since Grandmer Genevieve spurned King Triteus’s son Kai in favor of Lucas, a land boy. Genevieve and Lucas proclaimed their undying love under a spray of sea mist, and Genevieve became pregnant with his child—my mother. Naturally, the king had been furious, and had called upon the sea witch Morwenna for punishment.

Morwenna took away Grandmer Genevieve’s immortality, and bestowed a curse upon future generations as well; all of Genevieve’s female descendants have only twelve full moons following their eighteenth birthdays to choose between living on land or in the ocean. After that, the choice is made permanent, and the mermaid can never visit the other realm again. To complicate matters further, if the mermaid chooses land, she becomes a human and loses her mermaid powers and her immortality.

The only way the curse can be broken is if the mermaid unites with a half-human merman. Then, they and all of their descendants will be able to travel between the two realms once again.

I chew on my bottom lip, glancing down at the antique diamond engagement ring that Xavier gave me when he proposed. Even in the gloom of the afternoon, each diamond sparkles like a mermaid’s tear. I should know; I’ve been crying a lot of those lately. I dread the day when I can never see my family again.

Xavier squeezes me tightly, lowering his forehead to mine. “I can’t lie to you; it’s going to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. And I can only understand a fraction of what you’re feeling right now. But remember that you still have some time to go back and forth—savor that. And above all, know that I love you, and I’m here for you always.”

I give him a teary smile. “I suppose that’s all that truly matters. I love you, too.”

He kisses me, and the sunshine peeks through a tiny hole in the thick layer of clouds. The ray of light only lasts for a second, but it’s enough to tell me that everything will be all right—eventually.

“Besides,” Xavier says, “maybe someday the mermaid’s curse will be broken, and you’ll be able to travel freely once again.”

“Maybe.”

I’m about to add, “If I’m even still alive by that time,” but I bite my tongue, holding in the bleak thought.

I know that Xavier is trying his best to lift my spirits, but he’s right—he only can understand a fraction of what I’m feeling. His wealthy father did disinherit him when he refused to take up the family business and marry a “suitable” girl, but at least he can still see his family, and they’re in the same world.

“In the meantime, we have each other.” Xavier grins, his teeth bright white against the swarthy bronze of his skin. “Incidentally, my mother and Amelie have been so excited about our wedding plans. They want you to come over right away to discuss them.”

Xavier and I are planning a land wedding before we move to San Francisco together, where we’ve been offered positions in the symphony. I also want him to come under the ocean with me for a mermaid wedding, but I have yet to actually broach the subject with my mer-folks. I’m dreading their reactions.

But I shouldn’t think about that right now; it will only depress me. Taking a deep breath of the salty, cleansing air, I say, “Let’s do that. I look forward to seeing them.”

NaNoWriMo Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 1
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

At the beginning of November, I decided that I would do a type of alternative NaNoWriMo challenge. If you missed it, you can check out the blog post I wrote about it here. Basically, my goal was to finish writing Book 2 of my California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Wedding. However, I was projecting the word count to be between 30,000 and 35,000 (not the usual NaNoWriMo 50,000), and I’d already had a head start–I’d written the first six chapters in October before the birth of our daughter, Xaviana. I figured this “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” would be optimum for me, since I am taking care of Xaviana, and I lost a week of writing time in the beginning of the month when my parents visited. And, of course, there was the Thanksgiving holiday. All of these factors combined to create a pretty abbreviated writing month.

nano_feature

It turns out that I was right to set this modest goal. By the end of today, I will have completed my first draft of The Mermaid’s Wedding. I only have to finish the last three chapters, and I’ve mapped them out so that all I have to do is actually write them. This will be easy because the momentum is there. The book will be just under 35,000 words. Even though I’m technically finishing my modified NaNoWriMo a day late, I feel great about it!

I know that some of you commented that you liked the idea of the alternative, personalized NaNoWriMo. Writers out there, did you participate in the traditional NaNoWriMo, or are you a fan of my “NaNoWriMo for Wimps” idea? If you took the challenge, did you meet your goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!