Mindset Matters: How to Change Mindset When You Switch Writing Genres

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 26, 2015 at 10:38 am

I’ve just begun my newest writing project: a return to the YA Amish genre. After my foray into mermaid fantasy fiction, I missed writing inspirational and entertaining stories about the plain people. The only problem: after my four-month hiatus from Amish fiction, I wasn’t sure what to write about, what characters to include, or how to inject something fresh and new into my latest Amish creation. I knew that I wanted to write another spinoff series of my popular Amish Hearts books, but when I brainstormed story concepts, I couldn’t come up with anything!

Genre switches are difficult; when I’d begun writing the California Mermaids series, I’d published a post about it. At that time, however, I’d been delving into a brand-new genre with all the energy and inspiration that goes along with such a switch. In some ways, returning to a genre in which I’d previously written has been much harder. I’d been publishing one Amish book per month, and had really been in a groove. By switching to mermaid books, I’d interrupted my momentum.

However, I’ve found that it is possible–but not easy–to regain that momentum. My first step was to visit the library and pick up some Amish books. I’m a firm believer in reading to write better, and I often enjoy reading books that mirror what I’m doing at the moment, whether it’s going on vacation, going through a certain stage in life, or writing a book. The Amish books did the trick; my favorite was Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler. In his memoir, Wagler made his childhood and Rumspringa years come to life–and inspired parts of the plot line of my new book. 

This book helped me to reset my mind in preparation for writing my newest Amish book.

This book helped me to reset my mind in preparation for writing my newest Amish book.

The second thing I did was begin to reread my own Amish books, starting with Book 1 of the Amish Hearts series, Rumspringa Break. This put me back in touch with my characters, as well as with the events that had happened in each story. It’s strange, but when you write one book per month, you actually forget what you’d written six months or a year ago. That’s why it’s so important to periodically reread your own books when you’re writing a series or spinoff.

I’m still in the process of rereading my Amish books (There are ten of them.), but the third thing that really helped me to change my mindset was plain old meditation. After all my reading, I suddenly had tons of inspirational thoughts swirling around in my head, and I needed to focus them. Ten minutes in the hot tub were all I needed to plant the seeds of the story line, and to sketch out the first few chapters of my new book in my mind.

My Amish book will be about some young upstarts who decide to start a new community after an unnecessarily strict bishop takes over in their own community. I’ll be posting excerpts and reflections as I write, and the book itself is due out in late February.

Writers, have you ever returned to a genre after leaving it? If so, did you find it as difficult as I did, and what did you do to facilitate the process? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

6 Tips to Throw an Epic Book Release Party on Facebook

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 23
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm

On Wednesday, I took part in my first-ever Facebook launch party, and it was awesome! My latest eBook, The Mermaid’s Secret, had just been released, and teen author/blogger Hayley Guertin hosted the party.

I loooove parties, and I have tons of experience hosting them–live ones, anyway. However, I knew nothing whatsoever about Facebook ones, although I’d “attended” a handful of them in the past. It turns out that FB parties are a lot like house parties–minus the loud music and cocktails. You must make sure the guests are engaged and entertained, or they’ll leave. And contests are a must. The only difference is that instead of playing Flip-Cup or Beer Pong, your guests will be playing trivia games, or liking author Facebook pages. Your prizes will be other eBooks or perhaps Amazon gift cards. Finally, if you do it right, your guests will leave exhilarated and will be commenting on the event page long after the party has ended!

Here is the image we used during the party. I then provided a short summary of each part of the book, including teasers, to generate interest.

Here is the image we used during the party. I provided a short summary of each part of the book, including teasers, to generate interest.

Here are 6 FB party tips that I’m psyched to share with you today:

  1. These events are best when another blogger and/or author organizes them for you. You’ll get your work in front of a new audience, in addition to your existing friends and fans. Another perk is that your host can indirectly promote your work by mentioning your other projects–whereas if you did the same thing, it might come off as overly promotional or even as blowing your own horn. For example, Hayley commented, “Did you know that Kristina also writes Amish fiction?” I was then able to chat with some of the guests about my other books, and many were interested in checking them out.
  2.  Hold contests throughout. Everyone likes a chance to win something, and there are so many types of contests you can try. For example, write out trivia questions from your stories, and the first guest to answer correctly wins your latest eBook.
  3. Offer prizes from other authors. Hayley held eight contests during the event, and most of them involved winning the books of other authors. The authors had donated a certain number of copies of their eBooks, and contestants had to like their FB pages and then comment on the event page for a chance to win. This was great because it introduced new fans to my work and helped other authors to receive more likes on their FB pages.
  4. Offer your own grand prize. I gave away 5 copies of my first two California Mermaids books to contestants who liked my FB page and invited at least 20 of their friends to like it, too. As a result, I received 62 new likes to my FB page!
  5. Keep engaged the entire time. This is kind of a no-brainer, but you must be present and interacting the entire time. Like people’s comments, and try to gauge whether they’re having fun. Always be thinking about the next topic you can discuss. For example, people were commenting about how much they liked mermaid fiction and how excited they were for The Mermaid’s Secret, so I posted a link to my blog, where there were free excerpts of the book. One guest seemed very interested in my Amish books, so I messaged her and offered to gift her my Amish Hearts box set. She was super excited to claim her gift.
  6. Tell readers about your book. Antonio made the above graphic for me, with the book cover on one side and the sections of the book on the other. I summarized each section briefly and included some teasers to generate interest in the book.

So there you have it: 6 tips to throw an epic FB book launch party. Did these tips help? Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

The Mermaid’s Secret Cover Reveal

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 20, 2015 at 9:28 am

Tomorrow is the big day… the launch of The Mermaid’s Secret! I’m putting finishing touches on the book before I hit “publish” on Amazon tonight, and I’ve narrowed the cover concepts down to two options. So, here they are. Which do you like better?

Here are the two over concept options. Which do you like better?

Here are the two cover concept options. Which do you like better?

And to get you excited for tomorrow’s release, here’s another excerpt from the book:

Chapter Three: Doria

 For a long moment, the words just hang there awkwardly, suspended in the water between us. I feel instantly horrible as Dylan chews his lip and clenches his jaw, awaiting my response.

But I have no response; I’m too shocked. I can’t believe that he would tell me he loved me right as I’m about to travel to the surface. What a dirty trick. I’d always suspected he did, but he’d never told me so. To be honest, I didn’t really want him to. After all, we’re young and he’s the only male—merman or otherwise—that I’ve ever been able to call my beau.

A mermaid can’t be expected to fall in love with the first merman she meets, can she? True, my mother and father did, but I don’t particularly want to follow their example; they have no sense of adventure whatsoever.

Finally, I clear my throat and say, “Dylan, you’re a wonderful merman, and I’m very fond of you. But this is a difficult time for both of us. I have twelve moons to make the most major decision of my life. Are you sure that you’re telling me this because you really love me, or because you’re afraid to lose me?”

Dylan clutches both of my hands so tightly that I can feel my coral rings cutting into my fingers. I wince and pull my hands out of his vise-like grip.

“How could you ask that question? I love you. I was just too cowardly to tell you before, but I had to do it now.”

He swipes furiously at his eyes, which have begun to fluoresce with tears. We mermaids and mermen cry tears of aquamarine, so there’s no way to hide our emotions. I quickly look away to spare him some embarrassment.

We’re silent again for a long moment. I have no idea what to say, and the silence becomes more and more uncomfortable.

I clear my throat again. “Dylan, I appreciate your honesty, and I’m glad that you told me your feelings. I’ll certainly consider them when I’m on land. But I think we should both meet others. You can talk to some mermaids, and I can meet new landsmen. And when I return back here, we’ll know whether your love is true.”

“I already know my love is true,” Dylan chokes out, his voice cracking on the last word. My heart breaks for him as he avoids my eyes, probably trying to cover up the fact that he’s crying again. “But I’ll do what you want.”

“Thank you. That’s all I ask.”

Dylan and I float side-by-side; we’re mere inches apart, but I’ve never felt further away from him. We’d always enjoyed an easy, happy relationship, and I know him almost as well as I know myself. Now, however, he’s as distant as the Celtic Sea from whence he came. I try to tell myself that this is what I want—the freedom to make my decision unencumbered by matters of the heart.

But regardless, my stomach feels as though it’s being gnawed from the inside out by a school of hungry piranhas.

“I guess this is goodbye,” Dylan says in a flat voice. “Take care of yourself, now.”

“Thank you.” Fighting back tears, I swim away from the familiarity of my home and my mer-beau, toward the dark, unknown land above.

***If you liked this excerpt, be sure to check out tomorrow’s blog post for the final cover reveal and links to the book. Also, there will be a Facebook launch party tomorrow from 5-9 PM EST, so if you want to join in the fun, festivities, and giveaways, click the link here.

The Mermaid’s Secret Teaser

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 15
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 15, 2015 at 9:00 am

I’m thrilled to announce that the finale of the California Mermaids series will be launching on January 21st! I had originally titled this book The Mermaid’s Voyage, but decided to change it to The Mermaid’s Secret, since it sounds more intriguing and is more fitting to the plot.  

Unlike Books 1 and 2, the series closer centers around Doria, niece of Oceania. Doria is a free-spirited, artistic eighteen year-old who is not afraid to speak her mind, but has some interesting blind spots.

Image courtesy of mic.com ("Mermaid Ariel" by Alena Lazareva)

Image courtesy of mic.com (“Mermaid Ariel” by Alena Lazareva)

Here’s the Amazon description of the book:

Mermaid Doria bears an unusual family curse: twelve moons after she turns eighteen, she must choose between living on land or in the sea, and remain there—permanently. The only way to break the curse is by finding love with a half-merman, thus uniting the realms of land and ocean forever.

Doria’s beloved Aunt Oceania chose land, and Doria has been dreaming of visiting her ever since she was five years old. Now that she’s finally turned eighteen, she makes the long-awaited trip—to Roaring 20s San Francisco, where her aunt and uncle have become well-known jazz musicians.

Meanwhile, Doria’s mer-beau Dylan loves her more than anything in the world. The problem: she doesn’t feel the same way about him, and wants to see other people. Dylan worries about Doria in the wild world of speakeasies and ladies’ men, so he follows her to land, trailing her in disguise as she navigates the 1920s social scene.

There, Doria meets and falls for Stanley, a handsome landsman who just happens to be a gossip reporter. As he asks her question after question about her life, Doria worries that he will uncover her secret identity as a mermaid.

Will Dylan be able to win Doria’s heart, or will Doria follow in her aunt’s footsteps and choose a landsman? Can Dylan watch over Doria without blowing his cover? Will Stanley uncover Doria’s secret? And does either of Doria’s love interests hold the power to break the mermaid’s curse?

Hang tight until the 21st, and you’ll find out! ;)

This book was incredibly fun to write, mostly because I’ve been obsessed with the 1920s ever since I watched The Great Gatsby. The writing process was rather unusual because I took a two-week long holiday break after the first ten chapters. I was a bit worried about how I would regain my momentum, but my hiatus actually worked in my favor; I felt so inspired that I finished the remaining twenty-five chapters in a week. Once I started working on the book again, the plot line solidified and I became addicted to writing it! I hope my readers will find it equally addictive. :)

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with details about the release, another story excerpt, and an upcoming Facebook release party, so be sure to stay plugged in for updates!

5 Random Places to Find Inspiration

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

As writers, we have to be open to the weird and the wonderful, and inspiration often strikes in totally random places. Often, we don’t even need to search for inspiration; it finds us instead. With that in mind, here are 5 random places where you might find your next story idea!

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

  1. Vintage Stores - Writing historical fiction? Then head to your local vintage store before you slide into your desk chair. Browsing is so much fun because each item has its own unique story–and it’s up to you to find and tell it.
  2. Gyms - Your blood is pumping and the endorphins are flowing; these factors can launch your creativity into overdrive. Add to that the fact that your mind is mostly blank when you’re doing reps or running on the treadmill, and you have the ideal environment to dream up awesome new writing projects.
  3. Your Shower - Many times, you don’t even need to venture out of the bathroom for inspiration; just take a shower! Great ideas often hit when you’re sudsing up.
  4. Bed - The saying, “Sleep on it,” is so true; sleep really lends us a sense of clarity. If you’re stuck at a stubborn point in your story, “sleeping on it” is often all you need.
  5. Public Transportation - Not only do you have uninterrupted time on a bus, train, or airplane, you also have an abundance of people and conversations. Hello, people watching!

Writers out there, what is your favorite random place to find inspiration? Is there a special location that always works for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Book Excerpt from The Mermaid’s Voyage

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

Today, I’m excited to share an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, The Mermaid’s Voyage. This book follows Oceania’s niece, Doria, as she ventures to 1920s San Francisco and stays with Oceania and Xavier, who are now well-known jazz musicians. Doria discovers the wild life of the Prohibition era, visiting her first speakeasy and meeting a handsome but nosy reporter named Stanley. Meanwhile, her merman boyfriend Dylan is worried about her and follows her to land–undercover. Will Dylan blow his cover? Will Stanley discover that she’s a mermaid? Find out when the book is launched at the end of the month!

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Chapter Two. Chapter One can be found at the end of California Mermaids Book 2, The Mermaid’s WeddingLook for more excerpts coming soon to the blog!

mermaid-wishes-leslie-allen

Chapter Two: Dylan

I can’t help but notice the way Doria stiffens and averts her gaze when I tell her not to spend too much time with land boys. I’d attempted a flippant tone, but I probably didn’t quite succeed.

There’s no way to hide it—sometimes I feel as though I love her more than I love myself, although I’m unsure whether she reciprocates that sentiment. We’ve never exchanged any declarations of love, mostly because I’m reticent to tell her how I feel. She’s always seemed to regard the ocean as something temporary, until she can travel to the surface to see her aunt, and I’ve always been afraid that she thinks of me as temporary, too.

Everyone in the village of Mar is well aware of the curse in her family, and the fact that her aunt chose to live on land. I’ve always supported Doria when she talks incessantly about visiting her Aunt Oceania, but I’m secretly terrified that she’ll follow in her aunt’s footsteps. I would be devastated if she chose land. True, I could still visit her, but I know I could never build a life there.

“When will you be back, Doria?” I ask. I gaze into her eyes, which glow a shade of blue as dark and mysterious as the deepest waters of the ocean. The filtered light of the moon glints off her burnished-gold hair, and I run my fingers through it, aching for answers.

But Doria just shrugs. “I’ll be staying for at least a few days, with Aunt Oceania and Uncle Xavier. Father told me that they were touring, but now they’re back in San Francisco, so they can host me.”

Doria’s aunt and uncle played in the symphony for years, but now her uncle is a composer and they tour independently to perform his works all over the world.

“I’ll miss you,” I say. I don’t want to sound desperate, but there’s no way to avoid it.

“I’ll miss you too, Dylan. But I haven’t seen my aunt in thirteen years. Do you know how many full moons it’s been, how much I’ve missed the sound of her voice? She was always so wild and free, and spirited—much different than my mother. I feel like there’s a lot of her in me, you know?”

I nod. Unfortunately, I do know. “You’re right, Doria. But please come back.”

“Of course I’ll be back,” Doria says with a slight edge to her voice. I stare at her, taken aback by her choppy tone.

She’s silent for a moment as she studies my face, then glances down at the abalone D that I spent hours carving for her. Finally, she says softly, “I hurt you. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped like that. But I feel as though I’m under so much pressure right now and you’re adding to it.”

“I never meant to do that.” My voice cracks, and I clear my throat in disgust. I want her to think I’m strong and capable, and mermanly, but I’m failing horribly so far.

“I’m sure you didn’t. But just remember that the decision of land or sea is one that I have to make for myself, and that means I need some time alone, all right?”

“All right.” It breaks my heart that Doria wants time away from me, while I know that she’s the only one for me. Suddenly, I realize that I have to tell her I love her. I can’t wait any longer. She needs to know the truth. If she knows how much I love her, it will temper her decision.

So, I gently cup her chin, turning it upward toward my face. “Doria, I respect the fact that you need time to make your decision, but there’s something you need to take into account while you’re making it.” I pause for a moment, swallowing hard. “I love you.”

5 Easy Ways to Regain Your Momentum This Year

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

I always enjoy some time off around the holidays, and although I’ve written a bit here and there over the past two weeks, today is my first official day back to writing full-time!

No matter what you do, returning to work after a long break can seem daunting to say the least. Luckily, I’ve got you covered! Instead of dreading your return to work, try these 5 easy ways to regain your momentum after the New Year. I applied them last year after the holidays, and they worked incredibly well. I’m psyched to implement them again.

New Year's was fun, but now it's time to get serious. Check out these 5 tips to find out how!

New Year’s was fun, but now it’s time to get serious. Check out these 5 tips to find out how!

  1. Start the week by doing something you love! I kicked off the week with an impromptu yoga class yesterday morning. Yoga is one of my favorite workouts because it exercises not only our bodies but our minds and souls as well. I always feel more focused and motivated after I practice yoga. This session, however, the true revelation came at the end of class. After everyone left the exercise room, I still had so many endorphins circulating through my system that I didn’t want to leave. So, I took advantage of the fact that there were no back-to-back classes that day; with the room to myself, I began dancing and doing splits, cartwheels, and front handsprings. I felt wild, free, and completely in touch with my innermost essence. Gymnastics and dancing were two things I loved as a child and a teen, and practicing them again felt divine. As I walked home in the sunshine, I was pumped for everything  in life, including returning to work.
  2. Create a mantra. I always create a weekly mantra, but I believe that it’s especially important to do so before returning to work after a long break. My mantra came to me at the end of yoga practice, and it is Discipline, Drive, and Determination. Over the holidays, I relaxed and cut loose, but now it’s time to return to the core of what makes us all successful: the 3 D’s. I repeated my mantra to myself before I sat down at the computer today, and I was raring to go!
  3. Read voraciously. This is my only tip that applies exclusively to writers, especially those of you who are working on fiction projects. Reading is the perfect way to regain your momentum; reading a book in your genre will inspire you and impart a feeling of accomplishment. After all, you’re not just reading for pleasure–you’re conducting market research! And if you’re working on a manuscript that requires research, dusting off those non-fiction books and reading up on your topic will give you ideas and help you to feel more in touch with your story. For example, I’m working on a mermaid novel set in 1920s San Francisco, so I dug up some new resources on the 1920s in general and prohibition in San Fran in particular to put me in the mindset of the story.
  4. Write a list of goals. I think most of us do this in some way or another, and call them New Year’s resolutions. However, even if New Year’s resolutions aren’t your thing, don’t fret. Write goals for your workweek–and your year–instead. This is an excellent habit to get into, and it will help you to start, and finish, your week strong.
  5. Take care of your body. Many of us gorge during the holiday season. After all, we won’t see some of these foods again for a whole year! But remember, sugar is a toxin, and the starchy, salt-laden foods of the holidays kill your energy. Returning to your regular healthy diet is paramount in regaining your momentum at work, because if you feel sluggish and bloated, how are you going to perform to your full potential? Additionally, many of us neglect our exercise regimens during the holidays. Working out again will get your blood flowing and your endorphins pumping, and will fill your entire body with an amazing sense of well-being. The sooner you can return to your healthy habits and take care of your body, the better it will be for your momentum at work!

So, there you have it: 5 easy ways to regain your momentum this year. Have you tried these? Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

New Year’s Writing Resolutions

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 2
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

I don’t know about you, but a fresh new year motivates me like nothing else. Even though it happens every 365 days and is therefore not all that special, each new year is like a blank slate. Somehow, I feel like I can be anything, and do anything, after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps I have delusions of grandeur from a few too many sips of champagne, but still…there’s just something magical about a new year.

This year, my resolutions are writing-related, so, of course, I must share them with you! After all, blogging creates accountability, so I’ll just have to follow up on these resolutions, right?!!

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

So, here they are… 5 writing resolutions for 2015!

  1. Release one eBook per month - I was able to maintain this rigorous pace throughout 2014, with the exception of the month of November, when I took some time off after the birth of my daughter. Now that our family has settled into a nice rhythm, however, I plan to write and publish an eBook every month this year!
  2. Finish the California Mermaids series with a bang - I won’t lie; the California Mermaids series has disappointed me a bit. I was so inspired to write in a totally new genre, but, unfortunately, the mermaid books are just not selling as well as I’d thought. Therefore, I’ve fought with my momentum as I’ve written the last book of the series, The Mermaid’s Voyage. Some days, I’m incredibly psyched to write it, but on others I lack motivation. However, the New Year brings a new attitude, so I’ve decided that I’m going to have fun with the book and write the most amazing series finale I can. Which leads me to my next resolution…
  3. Return to the Amish Fiction Genre - While formatting my Amish Couples Box Set, I just happened to skim the ending of Amish Baby, and I teared up as I read about Hannah’s faith and God’s work. I realized that I missed incorporating themes of faith and God into my books, and at that moment, I knew that my heart was telling me to return to Amish fiction.
  4. Participate in NaNoWriMo - You may recall that I performed my own version of NaNoWriMo in 2014. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it. However, I want to do it right in 2015, and follow all the rules–for the first time ever.
  5. Attend a Writing Conference - Conferences are the perfect places to find inspiration, network with other writers, and just have an all-around good time. That’s why a return to the conference scene is in the cards this year!

Writers out there, do you have New Year’s writing resolutions? If so, what are they? I’d love to hear your thoughts!