A Magical Return to Middle Grade Fiction

by Kristina Ludwig
May 2
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

My latest writing project has been a super fun one, as well as one that is dear to my heart. I’m revisiting a manuscript that has been twenty-some years in the making.

I’m pretty sure all you writers out there have a similar manuscript–one that you started writing as a child, and have been working on for years, a story that just won’t let you go and seems to evolve with your writing experience. I call these “lifetime stories” for obvious reasons. :)

My lifetime story just happens to be a middle grade fantasy about eleven year-old twins who can travel to a magical and timeless kingdom called the Aquamarine Isle. There they help the queen to catch a gang of gemstone robbers–and discover some important things about themselves as well.

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I first wrote the story when I was six. I entered an updated version in a writing contest when I was fourteen, and did massive edits at age twenty. Now, in my early 30s, I’m returning to it–and planning to publish it on Kindle.

Returning to middle grade fiction is so much fun, but it’s also quite a challenge. MG fiction must be sassy and smart like today’s kids, grabbing their attention and stimulating their brains. Yet it can’t be so sophisticated that readers become frustrated with the wording and the storyline. No doubt about it, writing MG fiction is an exercise in balance and really stretches us as authors.

With that in mind, here’s an excerpt from the book, tentatively titled “Dazzle.” Do you like reading or writing MG fiction? I’d love to hear about your feedback and experiences, and I hope you enjoy the chapter!

Chapter One: Discovery in the Attic

Wes and Raffie Bonifaze were having an extraordinarily ordinary day—not just dull, but epically boring. And the Bonifaze twins did not do well with boring.

They lounged by their backyard pool, eating red, white, and blue popsicles left over from the fourth of July. They had grown tired of swimming games after a whole morning of them, and were drying off in the sunshine. Even at rest, the twins fidgeted, their bodies as tightly coiled as the copper-colored curls on their heads.

“Wessie, I’m bored,” Raffie said, tilting her face to the sun. Although she and her brother were redheads with nearly translucent green eyes—usually a recipe for disaster in the sun—their skin didn’t burn, and instead glowed a tawny golden-brown.

Wes frowned at his sister, wondering whether he should wear a “Hello, My Name Is” nametag that said, “Wes, the boy formerly known as Wessie.” Even though he was a mature eleven, his whole family still clung on to his annoying babyhood nickname.

“It’s Wes now,” he said. “Get it right. How would you feel if I went around calling you Raphaela-You-Smella?”

Raffie giggled. “Hmmm. Guess you have a point.”

The twins finished their snacks in silence until Raffie said, “Why don’t we go exploring in the woods?”

The backyard forest was one of the best things about living at Bonifaze Acres, although there were so many great things. The twins’ house was an honest-to-goodness mansion. The only catch was that their parents were hardly ever around to enjoy it.

“Exploring,” Wes scoffed, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, right. That’s kid stuff.”

“Bet you can’t think of anything better.”

“Sure I can.”

Silence ruled until Raffie said with a twinkle in her eye, “I know! You can laugh at me if you want, but I’m still feeling adventurous. Let’s go upstairs—”

“—into the attic,” Wes interrupted, practically reading her mind. This was one of the good things about being a twin, although Wes frequently wondered whether it was a good thing to be on the same wavelength as his sister. “Great idea, Raffie.”

Raffie sprang up from her lounge chair, sweeping into a dramatic bow. “It’s about time you noticed my greatness,” she said with a dimpled smile. “Now let’s get Aura and go.”

“Do we have to?” Wes rolled his eyes as he hurried after Raffie, who was already bounding toward the house. “She won’t want to go anyway.”

“How do you know?” Raffie called over her shoulder, disappearing through the back door.

Wes shrugged, jamming his hands into the pockets of his still-damp swim trunks. “Just a hunch,” he mumbled. And to be honest, he hoped Aura wouldn’t want to go.

Free Excerpt from My Upcoming Amish Book

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

February has flown by–what a short and action-packed month! Between trips to Mexico and San Francisco and completing the preliminary drafts of my upcoming Amish novella, I’ve had little to no blogging time, so my apologies for going missing for a bit. :)

 

A picture from my recent San Francisco trip--feeling inspired over excellent French roast coffee.

A picture from my recent San Francisco trip–feeling inspired over excellent French roast coffee.

I’m working on the final edits of my upcoming Amish book, which will be launching next week, and I’m psyched to share an excerpt with you today.

This book, tentatively titled Amish Bishop, centers on favorite characters Hannah and Jakob, the newlyweds who quickly became parents to beautiful bobbel Grace in Amish Baby. It is full of action; between Mercy’s surprise announcement, a new family with a mysterious secret, and ordinations for a new minister and bishop, change is in the air.

As always, I’ll be sure to keep you posted about release dates, promos, and giveaways on the blog! In the meantime, enjoy the excerpt and let me know what you think. :)

 

Chapter One: Hannah

 

This Sunday, church services will be held at my haus, and I’m not looking forward to them.

Preparations should be easy; after all, I’ve helped my mother and sisters so many times. I know the routine: scrub the haus from top to bottom, and clear the living room for the benches that will be hauled in on the wagon. And, of course, there are foods to assemble: cold cuts, sausages, bread, peanut butter and marshmallow church spread, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. I’ll need to bake pies for dessert, too. The blueberry crop has been wunderlich this year, so I’m planning to make ten blueberry pies, which should be simple. After all, I worked in a bakery for several years.

But this will be the first time I’ve ever hosted services in my haus since I gave birth to my new bobbel, Grace.

We Amish don’t talk much about the miracle of motherhood. As a child, my maemm often said nothing at all about her pregnancies—until she began going into labor, and sent my daed or one of us older children to fetch the midwife, that is. But now that I’m a maemm, I feel blessed every time I gaze upon my sweet little miracle, who is here with us through Herr Gott’s divine grace.

Bobblin are the most rewarding little creatures, but they’re so much work, too. I have no idea how my maemm was able to raise all of us, keep the haus spotless, and entertain visitors, too. Of course, we older kids helped out, but what did she do when she had her first little bobbel, namely me?

I have newfound respect for her, because right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Today is Saturday, and after Jakob left for work this morning, I’d scribbled a quick list of preparations for tomorrow’s church services. I’ve been steadily checking tasks off the list since before sunrise. The floors are swept, the furniture polished, the window screens cleaned, and the shelves dusted. Now, it’s time to do the cooking—for tonight’s dinner as well as some advance cooking for tomorrow.

So far, it is not going well.

I’ve just finished mixing the pie crusts and pressing them into the pie plates when I hear Grace begin to wail. Wiping my greasy, doughy fingers on my apron, I rush into the bedroom and am greeted by a screaming, red-faced Grace, wriggling back and forth in her crib. At three-and-a-half months, she has a collection of cries for every occasion. This is her hungry cry—she coughs a bit and makes a noise that sounds like, “Ma-MA.”

“Oh, sweet bobbel, Mammi’s here,” I croon, hastily unpinning the top of my dress. As I do, the pin slips, its sharp tip pricking into my finger. Biting back a howl, I suck on my wounded finger and pick Grace up with my other hand, positioning her to eat.

Grace loves eating; she latches on easily, and for a moment, the only sound in the house is sucking—me on the injured finger, and Grace on my breast. After she’s fed, burped, and changed, she wants to play, so I place her on the bed on her belly, watching her roll back and forth as she coos in excitement.

I’d love to keep rutsching around here all day, but the thought of all my tasks propels me forward. So, I scoop up Grace and head into the kitchen to finish making the pies.

I try placing her on her little play blanket on the floor, but she whimpers to be held, her clear blue eyes glistening with tears. Sighing, I pick her up, cradling her in one hand while filling the pies with the other. I’ve just dropped a dollop of blueberry filling to the floor with a wet splat when I hear a knock on the door.

Rolling my eyes, I wipe my hands again and scurry through the haus to fling open the door. There, on the front steps, stands my best friend Mercy.

“Hiya, Hannah,” Mercy says with a glowing smile, stepping into the haus as though she lives here. “Neat as a pin. You truly are the perfect homemaker.”

I fight back the urge to flinch at the mere mention of the word pin; my finger is still throbbing, although immersing it in the cold blueberries helped a bit. “Thank you.” I lead her into the kitchen. “Can I get you anything to drink?”

“No, thank you.” Mercy’s eyes widen at the sight of the kitchen—the only room in the house that is not neat. The pies are in disarray, half of them filled, the other half sitting there with sad, empty shells, and flour covers the countertop.  Unwashed mixing bowls litter the counter by the sink.

“I guess you’re not perfect after all.” Mercy giggles. “Would you like some help?”

I laugh, slapping her on the arm. “I’d love some. I’ve been having a baremlich time preparing everything for services tomorrow. There’s just too much to do, especially with Grace.”

Mercy grins at Grace, who gurgles and gives a sunny smile back. “How is the little bobbel?” Mercy asks, tickling her soft, rosy cheek.

Wunderlich, and growing every day. Unfortunately, she wants to spend all her time with her mammi, and it’s been hard to do my chores and the cooking, and take care of her.”

“It’s gut that I’m here, then,” Mercy says, her skillful baker’s hands filling the remaining pie crusts. “Lattice or traditional?” she asks.

“Lattice. I could only make enough crust for lattice. I ran out of flour—I forgot to buy it at the store yesterday because Grace started crying.”

“I’ll bring you some,” Mercy says, expertly rolling out the remaining crust and cutting it into strips while I begin making tonight’s dinner—one-handed.

“Thanks. I’m glad that you came by. But aren’t you usually at the bakery at this time?” Mercy and her mann, Samuel, own a general store and bakery, and she’s usually there until late in the evening, Monday through Saturday.

Ach, jah,” Mercy says. “But today, I didn’t feel well, so I left your sister Eliza in charge.” Her busy fingers stop weaving the lattice strips, and she looks at me with serious eyes. “Hannah, I have something to tell you, and Samuel is the only other person who knows. Promise you won’t tell a soul?”

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!

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.

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?

 

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!

4 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Fans When You Write Multiple Genres

by Kristina Ludwig
Nov 6
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: November 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Writing is a life of evolution, and authors seldom stay pigeon-holed in one genre. After all, we must write about what inspires us, and staying in one genre for too long can lead to stagnant works, tired story lines, and overall boredom during our writing sessions. No one wants that!

Want to show the fans of both of your genres some love? Read on!

Want to show the fans of both of your genres some love? Read on!

However, authors who want to plunge into a new genre face a massive obstacle: How can they stay connected with the dedicated fan base of their first genre, while writing a project in a totally different second genre?

I faced this problem when the muse prompted me to try my hand at YA mermaid fiction after a whole year of focusing on YA Amish romances. I’d built up a dedicated fan base in the YA Amish fiction genre, and didn’t want to lose contact with them. Yet, The Mermaid’s Curse was just begging to be written.

Luckily, there are some easy ways for us writers to remain connected to our old fans while reaching out to new ones, and I’m pumped to share four tips that have worked for me so far. I hope they help you!

  1. Release a box set - If you’re giving one genre a break for some time but still want to stay on the best seller lists, releasing old material in a new form is the perfect way to stay relevant. Readers adore box sets because there’s something magical about having all the books of a series in one place. Capitalize on this by releasing box sets of the books in genre number one while concentrating on writing new material in genre number 2.
  2. Work your KDP Select free days - Offer your books of genre number one for free, and your fans will be psyched. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of jumping your ranks on Amazon and reaching more new fans!
  3. Become active on Wattpad - Connect with the fans from both of your genres on Wattpad. I love this form of social media, because it allows writers to post segments of any of their books and reach new fans. Wattpad is also the optimal place to pilot a new series or genre, since followers are likely to give you their feedback, votes, and comments. I just joined Wattpad last week and really like it so far. As I familiarize myself with Wattpad, I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with my reflections and tips for success!
  4. Have a plan to return to genre #1 - Make sure that the fans of genre #1 know that you won’t be leaving them forever. I made sure to tell my Amish fans, via blog posts, emails, and Facebook statuses, that I’m not leaving Amish fiction for gut–it’s more of a temporary hiatus. This gives them something to look forward to, and I’m hoping that it will jump-start the sales of my next Amish book.

So there you have it–4 ways to stay connected with fans of multiple genres. Authors out there, have you tried writing in multiple genres, and if so, how did you stay in touch with your previous fan base while building a new one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My Version of NaNoWriMo

by Kristina Ludwig
Nov 3
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: November 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

It’s that time of year again: NaNoWriMo. Love it or hate it, we writers must admit that it’s an interesting–and motivating–challenge.

nanowrimo

I have never actually participated in NaNoWriMo. Last year, I was just beginning my career as an indie author, and I was so caught up in writing and promoting my new Amish novellas that the thought didn’t even cross my mind. And in previous years, I was working full-time as a pharmacist and wasn’t ready for the challenge.

This year, however, I’m doing my own, slightly modified version of NaNoWriMo, just so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the fun yet again. :) I will be working on Book 2 of the California Mermaids series, tentatively titled The Mermaid’s Wedding. The awesome thing is that I have a head-start; I completed the first six chapters of the book before I gave birth to my daughter, Xaviana Rose. The hurdle will be juggling my writing and my newborn–not literally, of course–with my parents visiting and my hubby going back to work. It sounds crazy, but you only live once, so why shy away from a challenge? ;)

As NaNoWriMo progresses, I’ll keep you posted with my progress–and I’d love to hear how you’re doing, too! Writers, are you participating in NaNoWriMo, or a modified version thereof? If so, what project are you focusing on? I always welcome your comments and feedback!

New Unpublished Excerpt from The Mermaid’s Curse

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I’m currently in the midst of revisions of my latest eBook, The Mermaid’s Curse, coming to Amazon Kindle in mid-October. I don’t know whether it’s Baby C’s impending due date or the mixture of So-Cal sun and my frequent trips to the ocean, but I’ve been so inspired to write this beachy paranormal/historical romance. So far, the writing process has been flowing like water. ;)

I included an excerpt of Chapter One at the end of my latest eBook, Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Bookand I’m psyched to share Chapter Two with you today. This is told from the point of view of Xavier, the hero of the story. Happy reading!

Here's a picture of the ocean and rocks from a trip to Monterey, where The Mermaid's Curse is set.

Here’s a picture of the ocean and rocks in Monterey, where The Mermaid’s Curse is set.

Chapter Two: Xavier

I close my eyes and sit back on the smooth-topped boulder by the ocean’s edge. The rocks here at Point Joe are my favorite spot of Monterey’s 17-mile drive; they’re the perfect place to come when I’m feeling moody. Every so often, a particularly vicious wave crashes against the rocks like a train wreck, splashing me from head to toe with salt spray. I don’t worry about it, though. I have always felt a deep and passionate affinity toward the sea, and I don’t mind the clammy feeling of my damp trousers or the way the tangy breeze whips pieces of my hair across my forehead.

My favorite moments are ones like these, when I’m alone and listening to the symphony of nature. The ocean has all the elements of a great musical masterpiece: gentle, rolling melodies when the water is calm, and the jarring, cacophonous roar of the high tide on nights like tonight, embellished by the raucous caws of the sea gulls. I can see why Debussy, one of my favorite composers, wrote La Mer, an entire piece of music, about it.

But now, there’s another sound, something different. Somewhere from the depths of the ocean comes a soft, sweet tune, like a siren’s song.

I force my eyes open and shake my head back and forth. Of course, this is only my imagination. It has been a long day, and I’ve only just escaped the dinner party with my father, mother, and all their friends. The mysterious strains of the siren’s song are most likely the fanciful product of the wine, whisky, and brandy that were flowing plentifully during our seven-course meal.

Yet, still, there is something odd tonight, something more than the pull of the full moon, more than the general vacation feeling that I’ve had ever since my family and I came to our summer house here in Monterey. I watch the water, the waves glittering like living things under the white light of the moon, the sea foam hissing over the rocks.

A particularly turbulent wave rumbles in; in its wake, I hear the song again and just barely discern a faint glimmer of aquamarine beneath the water’s surface.

The stunning light grows and the melody amplifies, rising to a fantastic crescendo that sends shivers up my spine. Then, the surface of the water breaks and the head of a beautiful woman emerges in a halo of silver and blue light.

I blink hard, rubbing my bleary eyes with the back of my hand. I’ve been able to make it twenty-one years without spectacles, but perhaps my vision is going. Or, more likely, it’s the alcohol I consumed earlier, playing tricks on me.

But all my blinking, squinting, and eye rubbing do me no good. This really is a woman, with fine, high cheekbones and cornsilk hair that shines as brightly as the moon itself. Her white skin glistens with water droplets, and seems almost incandescent.

My mouth drops open in disbelief as she glances over at me. She continues her song completely uninhibited, gliding toward me so fluidly that I wonder how she could possibly be kicking her legs under the water. Perhaps she’s not. She could be a mermaid.

Of course, I’ve heard tales of mermaids, luring sailors to their deaths with their lovely forms and dulcet songs. I’ve even heard that many sailors, practically delirious after months at sea, have mistaken manatees for mermaids—an error that I can’t fathom. This magnificent female is certainly no sea cow.

She continues her song until she has reached my side. Then, with a soft grunt of exertion, she hoists herself up onto the rock beside me. She smells of salt and sand, and her waist-length hair feels like seaweed as it brushes my arm.

I open my mouth to speak, but no words emerge. She is a mermaid, wearing some kind of crude brassiere fashioned of a mosaic of colorful seashells. Her long tail glimmers gold, silver, and blue in the moonlight.

“Hello,” she says, as calmly as if she were a friend of the family, coming over for a mid-afternoon luncheon and perhaps a round of golf. She smiles, her teeth as white and shiny as a strand of pearls.

“Hello,” I croak, clearing my throat. Suddenly, my whole mouth has gone dry. The mermaid and I stare at each other for what seems like eternity, and her dazzling aquamarine eyes search my face.

“That song—your voice—it’s so beautiful,” I stammer.

The mermaid giggles. “Really? Thanks. Maybe that’s my special talent. We all have one, you know, but I have no idea what mine is.”

“I would say it’s a special talent,” I say, nodding. “Not often do I get chills from hearing someone sing. A voice like yours belongs in the finest opera houses. I can’t believe that you’ve gone through life without knowing how incredible your voice is. You’re—how old?”

“I just turned eighteen. But all of us mermaids sing, so I didn’t think my voice was anything special. I’m Oceania, by the way.”

“Oceania,” I repeat, smiling. “It suits you.” I stare at her, suddenly feeling an almost elemental pull to both the ocean and her, but a moment later I mentally scold myself for forgetting my manners. Quickly, I hold out my hand, hoping desperately to redeem myself. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Oceania. I’m Xavier Rose, visiting for the summer from San Francisco.”

A small wrinkle forms on the delicate skin between her eyebrows as she stares at my outstretched hand, but a moment later, she takes her cue and shakes it. “It is a pleasure to meet you too, Mr. Xavier Rose. You are the first human I’ve ever met.” Then, grinning at me, she says, “I have come from the sea to celebrate my birthday under the full moon. Perhaps you can show me around?”