It’s Here… Amish Redemption Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

As promised, Amish Redemptionthe epic finale of the Amish Friendships series, launched on October 10th! Check it out here. And if you’re new to the blog, you can find free excerpts of the first three chapters in my earlier posts.

Interested in reviewing the book? The first five fans who comment below with their Amazon IDs will receive the Kindle version!

The cover of Amish Redemption... What do you think?

The cover of Amish Redemption… What do you think?

Thanks to everyone who helped me to choose the cover by commenting on my Facebook page. I’m so blessed to have interactive fans like you. :) Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

 

 

Book Release Date Announcement and Excerpt!

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I’m excited to announce that Amish Friendships Book 4, Amish Redemption, will be launching on October 10th! It’s only fitting, since I released Rumspringa Break, the Amish novella that started it all, on 10/10/13. :)

Here’s the very last excerpt I will be sharing from Amish Redemption…until the book comes out. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo courtesy of lancasterpa.com

Photo courtesy of lancasterpa.com

Chapter Three: Miriam

I sink into Abram’s strong arms, suddenly disappointed in myself for this outburst—but not enough to stop crying. I’d been doing such a gut job of holding our family together, as a fraa should do. I know I can’t fall apart now; yet, it’s happening whether I like it or not.

Naturally, Henry starts crying, too, and I take him into my arms, cuddling and soothing him. For a long minute, our family huddles there in a triangle of grief: Abram comforting me as I comfort Henry.

Finally, Abram pulls away and gazes deeply into my eyes. “Look, liebchen, I’m glad that you told me your feelings. It would’ve been much worse if you’d held them in. And you’re right, by the way. We shouldn’t lie to each other. Lying, for whatever reason, is what got us into trouble in the first place.”

I let out a laugh, and hollow as it is, it somehow makes me feel just a little bit better.

“Let’s talk to Bishop Herschberger again,” he says. “He told us that our repentance will be long and hard, but I feel as though we’ve prayed a great deal. Why don’t we ask him if we can make our formal confession? The worst thing he can say is no—that we need to do something else before we can return to the fold. But at least knowing one way or the other will be better than this.”

I nod. Abram’s idea makes so much sense that I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. I suppose I was feeling too sorry for myself to think clearly. “When should we go? Can we head over right now?” I ask, my voice picking up speed.

“Not right now, liebchen,” he says. When I groan, he says, “We should go tomorrow. It’s too late now; tonight is no gut. And we should talk to all the elders after church this week, too—not just the bishop.”

I flinch at that, even though I know he’s right. Somehow the thought of talking with Minister Eichler gives me a sour taste in my mouth. If it weren’t for his overreaction, we wouldn’t be in the Bann in the first place.

I ignore Abram’s comment about Sunday, and say, “All right. Tomorrow it is,” and we finally go back to eating dinner.

The next morning, Abram has a clear tour schedule until half past ten. This means we’re free to pay a visit to Bishop Herschberger. I know from his usual rousing church sermons that he’s energetic bright and early in the morning, so I hope we catch him in a gut mood today.

His fraa answers the door, leading us down the hall to his small office. We pause in the doorway, not wanting to disturb him. He’s sitting straight and tall at his desk, reading his dog-eared old copy of the Bible and making notes in a small book, which he snaps shut the moment he realizes he has visitors.

“The Millers,” he says with a half-smile, toying with his wiry brown and gray beard. “What brings you here?”

“We’ve been working on our repentance, just like you said,” Abram says. “We have been praying a lot, and we’re ready to make our confessions so that we may return to the fold.” He pats my stomach and adds, “The bobbel is coming soon, and being born into the Bann is no way to enter this world.”

I feel my cheeks heat up in mortification. Even though my pregnancy is obvious, it’s embarrassing to have it announced in front of an elder this way.

The bishop, however, doesn’t seem to care at all. He takes a deep breath, glancing at Abram, then at me, and finally back at Abram again. “I realize that you want your bobbel to be born in gut standing among our community, but I’m concerned that this is the only reason that you’re so concerned with your repentance. You certainly weren’t repentant before, when you talked back and argued with us.”

I stare at Bishop Herschberger, speechless, as a strangled sound escapes Abram’s throat. The bishop peers at us over his wire-rimmed glasses, his eyes round and large, like an owl’s. “I can’t accept your confession and let you rejoin the fold until I’m convinced that you’re truly contrite and sincere in your motives,” he continues. “You know that.”

 

Amish Blessings Release + Giveaway

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 30
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 30, 2015 at 8:58 am

I’m psyched to announce that Amish Blessings has launched on Kindle… Check it out here. In this book, we catch a glimpse of the lives of Miriam and Abram, young business owners who, up until this book, have been minor characters. In past books, Abram and Miriam mostly cropped up in party scenes (Abram in the Amish Hearts series) or moments of annoyance for Mercy and Hannah (Miriam). However, I think readers will find love and compassion in their hearts for this surprisingly sweet couple as they take in a runaway boy…and face an unexpected shunning.

Interested in reviewing Amish Blessings? The first 5 people to comment here will receive free review copies!

Thanks to everyone who provided me with valuable feedback on the cover designs yesterday. Many readers commented on the Facebook post, and it helped so much! Here’s the finished version of the cover. What do you think?

 

You voted, we listened... Here's the Amish Blessings cover reveal.

You voted, we listened… Here’s the Amish Blessings cover reveal.

And, as always, I’m happy to share a free excerpt with you. Here’s Chapter 2. (If you missed Chapter 1, you can read it here.)

Chapter Two: Abram

 The brisk fall wind whips across my face, nearly blowing my straw hat off my head. I shiver, tugging my jacket closer around myself as I harness the horses to the buggy for the first tour of the day.

My Amish tour business is a relatively new one. Miriam and I started it, and the bed and breakfast, after my vadder passed away and left me, along with my bruders and schweschders, a bit of money. My dear maemm had died of cancer a few years before, and Vadder hadn’t taken it well. He’d simply stopped taking care of himself, despite the constant concern of the family.

The heavy gray clouds above make it the perfect day for gloomy thoughts, but I force the sadness out of my head and focus on the tasks at hand. Vadder and Maemm are with Herr Gott and each other in heaven, where they belong. At least, I hope they are. We Amish try our best to live purely and simply, and my parents were gut people. But even so, you can never be sure that you’re going to heaven.

I’m glad when the Quigleys, who will be staying at the bed and breakfast for the weekend, head out the front door. They’re scheduled for a morning tour, and it will be nice to be distracted from the turn my thoughts have taken. But I’m surprised to see that they’re not coming outside empty-handed; they have their bags, and the twin girls are pouting and whining.

I hurry over, wondering what could have possibly gone wrong. The tours are fairly popular, and I even hired two of my friends, Jeremiah and Aaron, to help out. They’ll both be coming in a little later today, when the tour schedule is full.

However, very few people have stayed in the bed and breakfast. So far, only a few families have visited, and all of them have either cut short their stays or canceled when they’ve found out that there’s no indoor plumbing.

Honestly, what do these Englischers think? We’re Amish!

I look down at the Quigleys’ overstuffed bags and ask Mr. Quigley, “Something wrong, sir?”

His cheeks flush pink under his light stubble. “We decided that we won’t be staying at your facilities,” he says, the timid tone of his voice making him sound rather embarrassed. With a little chuckle, he adds, “My wife can’t do without running water and indoor toilets.”

“Like you could, either,” Mrs. Quigley snaps. “We decided to skip breakfast, too, but we’d still like a tour around the neighborhood, if you’d be so kind.”

I raise an eyebrow. I’m surprised that they’d willingly miss out on Miriam’s breakfast casserole; it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

However, they’re paying customers, and they did reserve a tour. So I force a smile onto my face and say, “Of course. Why don’t you let me take your bags to the car, and we’ll be on our way.”

After I’ve helped the family to repack their huge SUV to Mrs. Quigley’s satisfaction, I load everyone into the buggy and start the drive around town. The route stretches from New Wilmington to Volant, and I usually stop to showcase the shops and Amish homes if the Englischers are interested. Often, we’ll run across other buggies on the way, and the English tourists generally try to snap pictures with their cell phones. This has led to some pretty funny episodes, since we Amish don’t believe in having our photos taken. Just last week, a man tried to take a picture of Minister Eichler as he passed by, and the minister placed a hand over his face and nearly steered his buggy into a ditch.

As I begin the tour, trying unsuccessfully to block out the whines of the little girls and Mrs. Quigley’s constant griping, my stomach gives a slow, long roil, and not just because I’m getting hungry from thinking of my fraa’s breakfast casserole.

We have to get this bed and breakfast off the ground, or the business may not be able to stay afloat.

Amish Shopkeeper Release and Giveaway!

by Kristina Ludwig
May 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

I’m super excited to announce that Amish Shopkeeper is out! Download it here.

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

Interested in reviewing the book? The first 5 fans who comment below with their Amazon IDs will receive the book for free!

Want to check out the book before you buy it? Here’s an excerpt. Happy reading!

Chapter Two: Jakob 

That morning, there’s another slight snag that I need to work out before I talk to Aaron: whether or not Amos is actually selling, and when. Although he’s constantly hinting around about it, he’s been pretty vague about the specifics.

Amos had been prepared to sell right away when the new minister had told us that our rubber buggy wheels were too worldly and would need to be changed immediately. Unfortunately, the wheels were non-returnable, and we’d just ordered in a huge shipment. The shop stood to lose a lot of money, and Amos told me it was time for him to think about retiring early.

However, after I convinced Minister Eichler that the rubber wheels weren’t too Hochmut and were actually a whole lot more durable than the steel-rimmed ones he favored, Amos didn’t seem so eager to sell anymore. Since then, everything has been business as usual.

Now I finish up a repair on an old clock while Amos sips coffee at his desk in the corner, balancing the figures. I pause, trying to think of the best way to bring up the subject of selling, but I realize that I’ll just have to be blunt. I don’t have my fraa’s skills when it comes to talking to people.

“So,” I begin, clearing my throat as I shift my weight from foot to foot. “Given any more thought to selling?”

Amos shuffles a few papers around and peers at me over top of his glasses. “Things are looking pretty gut here, Jakob, so I don’t really need to sell. But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t be open to it for the right price.” Amos sets his papers down and leans forward. “Why, are you thinking of buying?”

I nod. “I would like to, and I’m hoping that I can offer you the right price. My bruder will be coming in at lunchtime today. I’m trying to talk him into going into business with me.”

Amos smiles. “Well, that would work out nicely. I must admit, I am looking forward to retirement, but I love the shop as well. I’ve worked hard to build it up over the years, and when I do sell, I’d much rather have you buy it than some stranger. I might as well retire soon; I’m no use sitting behind this desk all day. Don’t get old, Jakob, whatever you do.”

I laugh, wondering why old people always say that. “You’re not that old, Amos,” I protest.

He rubs his rheumatic knee. “Well, thank you, son, but right now it sure feels like I am.” Taking a deep breath, he adds,  “Bring your bruder in here, by all means. I’ll show him how things work, and hopefully, we can sweet-talk him together.”

I smile at Amos, praying that Aaron will realize how wunderlich it would be to work here. I don’t have much time to linger on the thought because we’re busy all morning. There’s a new shipment of parts to organize and display, one buggy repair, and a few random odds and ends to fix for a friend of old Mrs. Yoder.

Aaron arrives a little after noon, and Amos says, “Well, hello there. It’s gut to have you in my shop.” With a wink in my direction, he adds, “Your bruder here is a wunderlich worker. You could do worse than going into business with him.”

Aaron smiles. “Jah, I reckon you’re right, Amos. But there are other options for me, so I’ll have to choose wisely.”

I raise an eyebrow, wondering what Aaron means by “other options.” Is he referring to his job at the factory, or perhaps to taking a new job and moving out of town with Elizabeth after the wedding?

Shaking the thoughts aside, I focus on the present, demonstrating how to fix a buggy’s suspension, and telling Aaron about the other things we repair. Amos takes some time to go over the books with Aaron, and even lets him wait on a customer, a man from Volant who is looking for new buggy wheels.

Although Aaron isn’t used to working with customers, he does a pretty gut job waiting on the man, explaining the types of wheels we sell, and looking to Amos and me when he’s unsure of the prices.

“Thanks much,” the man from Volant says with a smile as he leaves with four new buggy wheels. “You helped me a great deal.”

Once the man has left, Amos pats Aaron on the shoulder. “Well, there you go, your first sale. I can tell you have a knack, son. I really hope that you and your bruder decide to buy the place. I’m in no hurry to sell, but I know the day is coming sooner than I think. I’d much rather sell to gut Amish boys than to English outsiders.”

Aaron gives Amos a tight smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Well, thanks for the opportunity, sir. I’ll certainly think about it.”

I fight the urge to groan. I’d thought that coming in and seeing how smoothly the shop runs would make Aaron more eager to buy it, but he still doesn’t seem convinced. Then again, Aaron always was a stubborn one.

I sigh. It looks like my work isn’t done yet.

 

It’s Here at Last–Amish Gossip Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 13
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

My apologies… I promised that my new Kindle eBook, Amish Gossipwould be available on Friday, March 6th, but it took a bit longer than that. :(

This was not actually my fault; I hit the “publish” button on the evening of March 5th, but the book itself did not become available in the Kindle store until today because of a weird glitch. This is the 22nd Kindle eBook I’ve self-published, and I must say, I’ve never seen it take so long for a book to go live. But more about that in a later blog post. For now, let’s bask in the glory of the new release!

Amish Gossip - Final Cover

In honor of the launch, I will be offering free copies of the book to the first ten fans who are interested in giving me an honest review. If you like to make your opinions known on Amazon and Goodreads, comment below!

Have a great weekend!

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!

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?