The Truth About Writer Moms and Deadlines

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

It seems as though we live our lives by deadlines, and this is a good thing. After all, they keep us focused and productive, which is essential if we ever want to move forward in our chosen professions.

Deadlines are especially important for us writers–whether we’re writing an article for a major magazine or self-publishing a novella, it’s imperative to take our craft seriously, and that means sticking to deadlines–whether they’re self-imposed or not.

I never had a problem with deadlines; during my school days, my assignments were always done on time. During my stint as a pharmacist, I would stop at nothing to make sure that people had their prescriptions ready by the promised time. When I transitioned into my career as a self-published author, I created my own deadlines. Suddenly, I didn’t have teachers or patients breathing down my neck, and I was able to be totally self-directed, which I loved.

For the first year, I churned out one new book per month, sometimes two if I released a box set, and I stuck to my deadlines religiously. When Antonio and I were blessed with our daughter last October, I set slightly less aggressive deadlines, and was able to meet them all… that is, until about a month ago when I had to ask my editor for my first-ever extension.

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it's still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. :)

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it’s still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. :)

 

Every muscle in my body tensed at the mere thought of an extension. I felt like I had failed–my editor, my readers, and, most of all, myself. Yet there was no way that I could’ve submitted my book by the promised date. I’d been traveling, but I’d thought I’d have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time while Xaviana napped. However, when she began teething, her naps (i.e., my writing time) became irregular, and I just couldn’t catch up.

The good news was that I set a new deadline with my editor, and was able to meet it. I released the book, and am now hard at work on the next one–and hoping to meet the next deadline haha. Xaviana is napping well again, I’m writing, and all is right with my world. :)

This made me think about how work for a writer-mom is constantly evolving–just like our babies themselves. As I’ve told myself so many times, we just need to be flexible, and I suppose our deadlines have to be, too. Writer-moms (and dads) out there, what do you think? What experiences do you have with deadlines? Do you always meet them, or do you find that it’s better to keep them a bit loose sometimes? What about those of you with older kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Kindle Unlimited New Pages Read Policy: What Do You Think?

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 7, 2015 at 11:41 am

As of July 1st, Amazon has rolled out a brand-new policy, which affects authors with books in the Kindle Unlimited borrowing program. Check out the details here. In a nutshell, authors will receive payment based on pages read instead of number of downloads. There’s even an algorithm called Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), which Amazon employed to determine the page count of each book.

Will we have to write books this thick to reap the benefits of the new Kindle Unlimited policy? Only time will tell ;)

Will we have to write books this thick to reap the benefits of the new Kindle Unlimited policy? Only time will tell ;)

Admittedly, I didn’t realize the new policy at first; I’d somehow missed that particular email from Amazon. When I saw my borrowed units jump well into the thousands–just in the first week of July–I was ecstatic. The news of the change burst my bubble, but once I really thought about it, I had to admit that it’s totally fair. I have removed some of my books from KDP Select, and may yank out a few more depending on how my sales are impacted–and how high they are in other markets. As always, the process of choosing where and how to publish is one of trial and error, and always being adaptable.

Authors out there, what do you think of Amazon’s new policy? Has it impacted your decision to place your books in the Kindle Unlimited borrowing program? As always, I welcome your feedback and thoughts!

KDP Self-Publishing Glitches–And How to Fix Them

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 17
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 17, 2015 at 9:00 am

Let me preface this post by saying, I absolutely love Amazon, and I’d be willing to bet that most indie authors feel the same way. IMHO, Kindle Direct Publishing is the best way to self-publish and distribute eBooks around the world. However, KDP is not without its glitches, and, unfortunately, our chances of encountering them increase with every eBook we publish.

I’ve published 22 eBooks, so I’ve encountered some rather interesting–and irritating–glitches. The good news: I’ve learned more trouble-shooting tips to share with you! Here are two glitches I faced, and how I overcame them.

life_is_a_glitch___wallpaper_by_me_by_pawlakkonrad-d6dr8k8

Problem #1: The Amazon description of my book was showing html code!

When I published Amish Awakening, I was appalled to find that the html code had shown up in the description. My first thought was, OMG, did I mess something up? But a quick and frantic check confirmed that the problem wasn’t on my end; a glitch in the system had caused all of the eBooks published between certain hours to show up with the html code in the description.

How I Fixed It: Naturally, I contacted Amazon support right away, and the representative emailed me that technical support was working on the problem and should be fixing it “soon.” However, I didn’t want my book description to show up looking unprofessional and sloppy for some indeterminate amount of time, so I took all the html code out of my description and republished the book. There may have been no bolds or headings, but at least my description didn’t look like some type of “Coding 101″ project. When the representative emailed me the next day to inform me that the glitch was fixed, I re-inserted the html code and republished the book once again–a lot of work, but the best alternative. There’s nothing worse than seeing a funky description under your book on your launch day!

Problem #2: It took forever for my book to become available in the Kindle store!

Last week, I hit the publish button on my newest creation, Amish Gossip, and checked to make sure it was available in the store the following day. I was shocked to find that it was not, since the usual turnaround time for a book to become available in the Kindle store is usually 12 hours or less. In my author dashboard, it showed up as “in review.”

How I Fixed It: I emailed the help center after 24 hours, and was told that the book was being reviewed and a representative would let me know when the problem was fixed. Imagine my surprise when the problem was pending for a week! I replied to the same email thread periodically, and would get a different representative every time. The responses were very vague, and no one ever told me what the exact problem was. Finally, one week after the intended release date, I started wondering whether I should just try republishing the book. I replied once again to the pending email, and the representative suggested republishing the book. I did, and the book became available about 12 hours later. The original publication, however, was still stuck in review. I wished that the representative had told me this sooner. If this happens to you, I would recommend republishing your book right away instead of waiting for a satisfactory answer from customer support.

Writers out there, have you encountered similar glitches when self-publishing? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

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!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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!

It’s Here! The Mermaid’s Curse Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

I’m pumped to announce that my newest eBook, The Mermaid’s Curseis out and priced at only 99 cents! It was one of my favorite books to write–I found it immensely stimulating to delve into a brand-new genre after focusing completely on Amish fiction for the past year.

The Mermaid's Curse Slider

 

Mermaids have intrigued me ever since childhood, when I watched The Little Mermaid and visited Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the performing mermaids. I feel as though I never outgrew my fascination with these fanciful creatures. I also loved the element of historical fiction that I decided to weave into the book; writing about the vacation town of Monterey in the year 1912 was so much fun!

Here’s a free excerpt from the new book. Chapter One can be found at the end of Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Book, and Chapter Two can be found at the end of a previous blog post.

Chapter Three: Oceania

Over the years, Ula has regaled me with stories of humans, and told me that many human men are good-looking. However, her descriptions could never do this man justice. When I surface, he is the first thing my eyes land upon, and his handsomeness strikes me like a twenty-foot wave. His hair is dark and wavy, his skin swarthy. His body is muscular and powerful, his features so strong that they appear to be chiseled, like the rocks on which he sits.

As I pull myself out of the water and greet him, I’m surprised that I feel none of the shyness that I would normally experience when meeting a new merman, especially such an attractive one. Perhaps it’s because everything here is so new and different that I’ve forgotten all about my nerves.

Or perhaps it’s because there’s something about this man that puts me instantly at ease. He’s so nice, telling me that I have a wonderful singing voice. No one has ever told me that before. I decide that I like this Xavier Rose—such a strange, exotic name, just as he himself is strange and exotic.

When I ask him to show me around, however, he wrinkles his forehead. “I would love to,” he says. “But how? I could swim with you, I suppose, but—” He trails off as his eyes land on my fins. “—you’re not really equipped for land.”

I laugh. “I know it might seem that way. But we mermaids change into humans when we’re dry, and back into mermaid form when we’re wet.” Or so I’ve heard. I’ve never actually tried it myself.

Xavier’s long-lashed brown eyes widen, and I realize that I can see myself in their dark mirrors. However, there’s so much more in his eyes than my own reflection—there’s kindness, and a sparkle that tells me he has a passion for life. I wonder what this man does. I can feel a certain sensitivity behind all his strength. Perhaps he’s a poet, or a painter.

“So all I have to do is dry off,” I continue, shivering a bit as the cool night air whooshes over my skin.

Xavier grins. “In that case, let’s get you onto the beach.”

He stands on the rock, heaving me up into his arms effortlessly. My breath hitches as he carries me over the jagged boulders, finally setting me down on a dry spot in the sand.

“Here, Oceania.” He removes his jacket and helps me into it; it’s slightly damp, but guards me against the chill of the windy surface world. Plopping down on the sand next to me, he gently massages his hands up and down my arms from outside the jacket, and I feel my entire body heating up, starting with my arms and extending all the way to my heart.

I never want him to stop, but when he drapes his arm over my shoulder, I realize that this feels even better. I relax into his embrace, leaning my head against his broad chest. For a long moment, time stops. We gaze out at the ocean; it’s just as Ula had described it, with white-tipped waves rolling over each other and the rocks in tumultuous rhythm. Here, the moon is so brilliant and luminous, not at all like the filtered view I’d always had through the water. I hum lightly under my breath, a tune my mother taught me, called Song of the Sea.

“I could listen to you all night,” Xavier says in a husky voice, burying his lips in my hair.

I shiver at his touch, wondering what his lips would feel like on mine. He’s so masculine, but he has a softness about him, too. “I could sing to you all night.”

“Well, let’s do that,” Xavier says. “I know the perfect place to take you once you’ve transformed.”

He glances at my lower half, and I follow his gaze. My tail has begun to tingle as the breezy air wafts over it, and I wince when I feel a slight burning sensation. A moment later, my scales gradually begin to dull and fall away, revealing a layer of skin, as pale and white as the moon.

“Are you okay?” Xavier asks, tearing his eyes away from the transformation and staring at my face. “Does it hurt?”

“A little.” It’s not the worst pain I’ve ever experienced—once I was accidentally bitten by a playful baby shark, and that had hurt far worse. But just the same, I grimace as my tail and the remaining scales crack away and fall into the sand, revealing two smooth legs and two little feet with shiny, aqua-colored toenails. My only covering, besides my seashell top, is a light layer of green seaweed that reaches to my upper thighs.

Xavier’s mouth drops open as he stares at my legs, but a moment later he shakes his head and averts his gaze.

“Let’s walk,” he says quickly. He stands first, and then reaches down, helping me up with both hands. I notice that even when he’s looking at me from above, he keeps his eyes away from my bare legs, as though he’s embarrassed to see so much

flesh. Perhaps he is—Ula told me that humans, particularly the females, are very peculiar about exposing their bodies, and even their bathing costumes hardly show their legs.

I scramble to my feet a bit awkwardly, and scrunch my toes into the sand for stability. “This feels wonderful!” I exclaim, wriggling my toes through the sand. The tingling and burning feelings have subsided, but my legs do quiver a bit under the unaccustomed weight.

Xavier laughs and kicks off his own shoes, doing the same. “You’re right, Oceania. Feeling the sand between our toes is such a simple pleasure, and one that we can so easily forget. But it really does feel splendid, doesn’t it?”

A moment later, however, he stops laughing and asks, “So, do you think you can walk? I mean, you never tried it before, right?”

I nod. “Right. But I think, with your help, I can.”

Xavier laces his arm through mine, and together we walk down the beach by the light of the moon, wobbly at first, but soon falling into a nice strolling rhythm. Finally, I feel comfortable enough with my new legs to look up at the sky and walk at the same time. The stars glisten like mermaids’ tears, each different and perfect.

We walk to a spot where the sand meets the water’s edge, and I squeal in delight as the waves lap over my toes.

“I love it here,” I proclaim, but I jerk my feet out of the water as my toes begin to tingle.

“What’s wrong?” Xavier asks, tightening his grip on my arm.

“I just forgot that once I’m in human form, I can’t get wet or I’ll change back into a mermaid.”

“That’s important to know,” Xavier says, reaching down and drying my feet with his jacket. He glances toward some huge houses near the beach. Many of them are darkened for the midnight hour, but some still have lights in the windows that shine as brightly as the stars. “Come with me, Oceania. It’s time that I show you around.”

I hope that you enjoyed the excerpt, and welcome your comments and feedback about it. I love to hear from my readers!