Reflections on a Month of Love

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 8
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 8, 2015 at 9:20 am

This summer was truly the “summer of love” among my friends and family; Antonio and I found ourselves invited to 5 weddings, and were able to make 3 of them. Incredibly, all of the weddings took place in August, so three out of four weekends this past month included wedding festivities!

To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a couple in love, especially a couple just starting their lives together, full of hope and expectations for the future. It’s why all the books I write feature young people in love–and it’s also why I adore weddings.

I can’t help it: I’m a hopeless romantic, and now that I’m married, I often find myself reliving my own special day at other people’s weddings. My eyes always prickle with tears of joy as I watch the bride walk down the aisle and see her face full of happiness and anticipation. Then I shift my gaze to the groom, and marvel at the way his face lights up when the music swells and he admires his wife-to-be. I remember the way I felt as I took that joyous walk, which just intensifies the experience.

My favorite part of weddings–besides being part of the love, of course–is the way that each celebration reflects the couple’s personalities and the things they hold most dear. With that in mind, here are my reflections on the three weddings I attended this past month.

  1. Wedding #1: Small and Intimate - We kicked off the month with the destination wedding of our friends Carlo and Samar, traveling to the stunning red mesas of New Mexico. The bride and groom had planned a “white wedding” at a resort in Santa Fe, and Antonio and I were entranced not only by the beauty of the landscape and venue, but by the charming outdoor ceremony, delicious sit-down dinner, and incredibly fun group of about 30 guests. After dinner, we all went nuts dancing, and closed out the night with karaoke. We had ample time to chat with the bride, groom, and other attendees, and by the conclusion of the weekend, I’d made many new friends. Small weddings are amazing in this way; I really felt like everyone celebrated together instead of just sticking in their own little groups. IMG_0650
  2. Wedding #2: All-out Festival – Nabil and Salam’s wedding took place in Lebanon, and was a huge, traditional wedding that reminded me of a Lebanese festival. The day began with a gorgeous outdoor lunch of about 350 people, and then the guests all followed Nabil to Salam’s mountain village, where the ceremony took place. The reception was held in a castle with breathtaking views of the city of Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. A sumptuous buffet was set up, and guests danced into the wee hours of the morning to a variety of music, but mostly Lebanese songs. As the bride and groom danced and cut the cake, huge sparklers erupted. The lights were brilliant and dazzling, but they were nothing compared to the spark in the couple’s eyes when they looked at each other. IMG_0877
  3. Wedding #3: Getting the Party Started - Eddy and Maya’s wedding also took place in Lebanon, and began with a touching ceremony in a beautiful old church, full of speeches by family and friends, as well as a sermon in Arabic. The reception was held at an amazing outdoor venue called Swan Lake. Sure enough, there was a shimmering lake with real swans, and down below, tables and a dance floor were set up. The venue sat atop a mountain, and the views of the city and sea were a sight to behold. The buffet was delicious, but the best part was the dancing. The bride and groom are a high-energy couple who love to party, and their arrival was punctuated with dance music, after which many of the guests stormed the dance floor. Antonio and I danced all night, reveling in the fun, club-like atmosphere and enjoying every moment with the bride and groom. IMG_1017

Writing about these weddings and reliving the happy memories has been such a treat for me. Readers out there, was this summer full of weddings for you, too? Do you love weddings as much as I do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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 Teaser

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the Amazon description of the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Random Places to Find Inspiration

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

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

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

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

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

New Year’s Writing Resolutions

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

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

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

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

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

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

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

7 Things You Might Not Know About the 1920′s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Mermaid’s Wedding Story Excerpt

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

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

Gorgeous mermaid pic courtesy of fanpop.com

Gorgeous mermaid pic courtesy of fanpop.com

Chapter One: Oceania – 1912

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe.”

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

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

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

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

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

NaNoWriMo Reflections

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

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

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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!