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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Tips to Throw an Epic Book Release Party on Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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?

 

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?

5 Ways to Make Your Historical Fiction Sizzle

by Kristina Ludwig
Nov 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: November 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

I’ve been immensely enjoying my time writing The Mermaid’s Wedding, book 2 of my California Mermaids series! Not only does it allow me to stretch my imagination and indulge in my fascination with mermaids, it has also helped me to rekindle my love of history.

The Mermaid’s Wedding takes place in 1912, and Oceania and Xavier travel to San Francisco to meet with the conductor of the symphony, who has offered both of them positions. I’ve visited San Francisco twice, but I didn’t know much about its history. Therefore, I headed to the library to load up on books about the subject.

Here's a picture of early twentieth century San Francisco that I came across in my research. (Courtesy of timeshutter.com)

Here’s a picture of early twentieth century San Francisco that I came across in my research. (Courtesy of timeshutter.com)

As I began to read, I became enthralled in San Francisco’s rich history, and voila–I realized that I just had to share some awesome tips for writing historical fiction with you! So, here they are:

  1. Lose yourself - We write best when we’re entirely immersed in a subject, so by all means, hole up in your office amidst a pile of books. Or, if you’re like me, hang out in the library courtyard sipping an almond roca latte while–yes–being surrounded by a pile of books. Losing yourself in your research will allow you to pick up on the fine historical details and nuances that will bring your time period and setting to life.
  2. Remain accurate to the big picture but use your imagination for the rest - It’s important to know the key historical events and landmarks of the time, as well as how people talked, their modes of transportation, and what was fashionable. But for other things, feel free to use your artistic license. For example, I write about the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1911. I learned in my research that Henry Hadley was the director of the symphony at this time, but I’d already had a character in mind for the director. Therefore, I called him a different name and let myself go wild with my descriptions. Most readers won’t notice this discrepancy, but my imaginary director adds a lot of personality and flavor to the story.
  3. Only write about a period you’re passionate about – I’ve been interested in the turn of the century (the twentieth century, that is) ever since I was a little girl obsessed with Samantha, the “bright Victorian beauty” from the American Girls books. Therefore, deciding to set the first California Mermaids books in 1912 was a no-brainer. Originally, I’d wanted to set them in 1901, but I’d realized that I wanted them to take place after the San Francisco earthquake and fires of 1906, and after the symphony was established, so 1912 it was. But I digress… My point is that you should choose to write about a time period that has always interested you, and a place that you’ve either visited or dreamed of visiting. History can either be scintillating or terribly dry and boring, depending on your interests and personal preferences.
  4. Keep a “question notebook” during the writing process - I began researching my topic before I began writing the book, but realized that many of my questions arose as I was writing. For example, what was the most affluent area close to downtown San Francisco, where Xavier’s family would be likely to live? What was its proximity to cable cars? The questions went on and on. I actually began to write them down on a page of my inspiration notebook, since I didn’t want to thumb through my reference books right away and interrupt my creative writing momentum. After I’d finished writing, I would look up the answers and fill in the blanks, or change little details.
  5. Have a good relationship with your librarian - The librarians are awesome! They helped me to find the perfect nonfiction history books in two minutes flat. And not only have they proven helpful during my research, they’re amazing resources for all things literary in the community. As writers, we need to network with as many literati as we can, and librarians certainly fit the bill!

Writers out there, how do you research your topics when writing historical fiction? Did you find these tips useful? I’d love to hear your questions and comments!

6 Essential Tips to Work from Home With a Newborn Baby

by Kristina Ludwig
Nov 17
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: November 17, 2014 at 9:13 am

Being a new first-time mom–or dad–is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs there is. Every day is an adventure, and there’s nothing more precious than seeing the world through your newborn’s wide, shiny eyes. No doubt about it–your life changes forever the minute you hear your baby’s first cries. It’s super exciting, but many people find it daunting as well. The question on many new parents’ minds is, “How will I find time for my career and my own personal fulfillment when I’m faced with so many new responsibilities?”

People who work from home have it better than many, since we can spend the day with our babies while still staying active in our careers. Most of us have relatively flexible schedules and are motivated self-starters, both of which are ideal traits for balancing work and family. But still, the question remains… How does one work with a newborn in the house?

By practicing time management techniques, of course! Here are 6 strategies I use to incorporate plenty of work–and play–into days with my one-month-old daughter, Xaviana.

Want your baby to give you a wink for a job well done like Xaviana is doing here? Just follow these tips!

Want your baby to give you a wink for a job well done like Xaviana is doing here? Just follow these tips!

  1. Read Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West - Everyone is more productive after a good night’s sleep, but having a newborn in the house makes this seem impossible. That’s why I recommend this book. It’s chock-full of amazing techniques to find a sleep schedule that works for both you and your baby, and I used the tips inside to set up an awesome sleep routine at home. Babies sleep fifteen to eighteen hours a day during the first month, but the sleep is pretty scattered. Xaviana takes three main naps per day, one in the morning, one in the mid-afternoon, and another in the evening after dinner. My family sleeps around 10:30, and Xavi awakens twice at night for feedings, and typically wakes up a third time in the early morning around 6 AM. After I feed her, she snuggles with my hubby and falls back asleep until somewhere between 7:30 and 8 AM. I am not a napper unless I’m sick or severely fatigued, but luckily Xavi is a good sleeper and so am I; I get eight to nine hours a night, even though it is interrupted. This allows me to function optimally during the day and get a ton of work done while Xavi naps.
  2. Be Flexible - Tailor your daily routine to your baby’s moods, and know that you will seldom have long, uninterrupted blocks of time to work. Instead, learn to work in quick snatches of an hour or two, concentrating hard during that time. If you’re a writer like me, you’ll probably be able to write and take care of your baby all by yourself as long as you remain flexible. For example, when I’m in the middle of writing a chapter and Xaviana wakes up hungry and/or irritable, I make a note of where I was heading, and then focus on making Xavi happy. Afterwards, I can pick up where I left off. On the other hand, if you work in an industry that demands meetings–even virtual ones–with clients and coworkers, flexibility is a bit more challenging, and you may need some extra help with the baby during the day. This brings me to tip #3…
  3. Ask for Help - I’m the type of person who likes doing things myself. I detest delegating, and prefer to be left alone during the day to work and take care of Xavi. But I also know that sometimes, we just need a helping hand. For this reason, it’s super important to have a support system: significant other, family, friends, and baby-sitters. If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t ask for help, but remember, it’s okay to do it if you have to.
  4. Be Efficient - Don’t waste time–especially when your baby is napping. It might be tempting to nap when the baby naps, and that might work for some people. But I know that I accomplish the most while Xavi is asleep, since it’s easiest to concentrate and immerse myself in my work.
  5. Make a To-Do List - Starting each day with a to-do list is essential. Newborns break your day into little fragments that can seem disjointed and disorganized unless you have a clear itinerary of everything you want to accomplish. I include not only work goals on my to-do list, but also personal ones, such as playing piano, exercising, cooking, and cleaning. The list keeps me organized and lends a sense of accountability. It also helps me to structure my day. For example, I play piano and exercise while Xavi is awake, since she seems to enjoy watching me do these activities. I try to write, cook, and clean when she’s asleep.
  6. Be Realistic - Before Xavi was born, I would often write 4000 words a day, in addition to blogging three times a week, shooting YouTube videos, promoting, and keeping  up with social media. Now, I write about 2000 words a day and blog once or twice a week, but still make plenty of time to promote and keep up with social media. My goal is to return to my original level of productivity, and even exceed it. ;) However, I also realize that this will take some time, and I’m okay with that. For now, I’ll challenge myself to write as much as possible while still enjoying the sweet little girl I waited so long to hold and adore. Newborns are amazing, and we should savor every smile, every wiggle, and every cuddly moment of this precious time.

New moms and dads out there, I hope these tips help you to work from home more effectively. What strategies work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

8 Fun Facts About Mermaids

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 22
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

After a temporary hiatus from the blogosphere, I’m back–and feeling blessed. This past weekend, Antonio and I welcomed our sweet beautiful baby girl, Xaviana Rose, into the world, so I’ve been a bit preoccupied, to say the least. ;)

However, I’m super excited to share this blog post with you. On Friday, October 24th, I will be launching a brand-new eBook in a brand-new genre! The Mermaid’s Curse is part historical fiction, part fantasy, and chock-full of romance and intrigue. The writing process was so much fun; after all, I am a product of “The Little Mermaid” generation, and writing about mermaids is the perfect way to let my imagination run wild. And although the total fact immersion of research can be tedious, researching mermaids felt more like entertainment, especially here in Southern California where all I had to do for inspiration was hit the beach!

Here are 8 facts you probably never knew about mermaids!

Here are 8 fun facts I learned about mermaids, through countless hours of reading mermaid lure, watching shows about mermaids, and, of course, overdosing on YA mermaid fiction eBooks. I hope you learn something new and fanciful. :) Many of my facts came from the book Among the Mermaids: Facts, Myths and Enchantments from the Sirens of the Sea by Varla Ventura. I would definitely recommend that you check it out.

  1. The first mermaid stories appeared in ancient Assyrian mythology. After conceiving a child with a mortal, the goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame, plunging into a lake and morphing into a creature with the head of a human and the body of a fish.
  2. Although I write about mermaids in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, mermaid stories have been passed down through the generations in nearly all cultures close to bodies of water. For example, nineteenth-century Europeans depicted mermaids as healers who offered medicinal potions to sailors, while African myths tell of a mermaid called Yemaya, who was the goddess of water and the symbol of fertility, since water is the lifeblood of everything on land. The ancient Chinese told stories of mermaids putting fishermen into comas when they sang their enchanted songs.
  3. According to some folklore, a mermaid’s kiss is said to infuse a human with the ability to travel underwater.
  4. Historians believe that the mermaid “sightings” of early sailors and explorers were not just folktales or products of overactive imaginations. It is theorized that the sailors mistook manatees for mermaids!
  5. If you’re looking for amazing places to shop for mermaid merchandise and books, head to San Diego! I’ve discovered several mermaid stores nearby, including Mermaid’s Cove in Old Town and Mermaids in Carlsbad.
  6. There is a real-life “mermaid” from Australia named Hannah Mermaid. Not only does she custom-design mermaid tails, she performs underwater shows with sharks, dolphins, manta rays, and more. She is also an advocate of ocean life, supporting charities and commercial ventures alike.
  7. Several schools have opened for people who want to learn how to swim like a mermaid, including one in the Phillipines and another in Colorado Springs.
  8. Florida is home to Weeki Wachee Springs, a park where guests can watch fun underwater shows featuring “mermaids.” My parents took my brother and me there when we were little, but the attraction was in its peak of popularity in the 1950s and ’60s, when stars such as Elvis Presley headed over to check out the underwater beauties.

There you have it–8 things you probably never knew about mermaids. I hope these facts amp up your anticipation for The Mermaid’s Curse, and I’ll keep you posted on the release!

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?”

New Vlog: Reading an Excerpt of Amish Awakening

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 29
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 29, 2014 at 9:15 am

Is it just me, or are we never truly too old to be read aloud to? Whether it’s listening to Bible readings in church, attending poetry or book readings, or listening to Audible books, the ancient tradition of the storyteller is still alive and well! Here’s a recent blog post I wrote on the topic after doing a public reading of my eBook, Amish Baby.

This weekend, Antonio and I filmed a video of me reading an excerpt from my newest Amish book–and grand finale of my Amish series–Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Book. It’s the last Amish book I will write, at least for a while, so I’m super excited to share it with you. I hope that listening to this reading of Chapter One will bring the characters to life and set the stage for the story of Rebekah’s dramatic summer and re-awakening of her Amish roots.

Click the picture to watch the YouTube video of me reading an excerpt of Amish Awakening!

Click the picture to watch the YouTube video of me reading an excerpt of Amish Awakening!

Readers out there, do you still enjoy being read to? Writers, have you filmed reading videos and/or read your work publicly, and if so, what kind of reactions did you receive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!