4/4/20

Behind the Scenes: Love's Intensity

Love's Intensity delves into a love drama with many of the complications that come with having one's possible soul mate and family move into the same house as employees. Then, things get even crazier when their kids stumble upon a telepathic attraction.

Inspiration / Muse:
I am a teen at heart where love is continually coming alive and evolving into something more than when it began, constantly renewing itself. My interest in young adult stories and motion pictures paved the path to writing this Young Adult paranormal romance with tension, passion, and martial arts. (I grew up looking at Bruce Lee, so, yes, martial arts.) What I found interesting was that the biggest muse for this story was Christian music. What now? With keys of G and C, those songs fueled the love center of my brain. How in the world does that happen? I wish I knew. Although I enjoy experiments, science may not be able to figure this one out. Oh, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet left a huge impression on me, so there's elements of that story in Love's Intensity (hint: sword fighting).

Theme:
In a word, LOVE. Of old friends, of young friends, of parent to child, of child to parent, of young attraction. It affects how someone deals with grief and anger and sorrow. Love heals where indifference cannot and can be reborn in interestingly powerful ways.

Journey:
Starting out as a dream, this story took nine months to write, another nine to fix up for submission to yield a contract, and yet another nine to edit. But even after its release, this labor of love (no pun intended) required many more months of work before the print, which is coming soon, can be released. As for the characters? There's a bit of me in both Brad and Kressa, but characteristics of people I've known also found their way into Bradford and Nina, the soul mates, as well as the other characters, even the bullies, who scarred my high school experience. So it's no surprise there's negative drama for Kressa in that space. She had Brad. I had the intuition God gave me to make it to graduation day.


Meaning behind the cover:
Nine tries at a cover and a few hundred dollars later strained my sanity and my pocketbook. No one warns you about the challenges behind creating the right cover for a story. This cover was no doubt my biggest challenge (and I thought editing Love's Intensity was tough).

Impact / Tribute:
This story is a tribute to everything Shakespeare and my dad who often performed monologues with me after watching one of Shakespeare's plays on PBS. Those are precious and happy memories for me. Over the years, I've learned to be grateful for the ability to love and be loved. So, in your life's journey, remember two things. Live Life. Love Intensely.

The fourth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for April 18, 2020. 

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/published-manuscripts/loves-intensity/

3/21/20

Behind the Scenes: Real Purpose: You are Special

https://www.amazon.com/Real-Purpose-You-Are-Special-ebook/dp/B00LAQO86K/ref=sr_1_16?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1583600081&sr=8-16
Real Purpose: You Are Special is a collection of poetry born out of the determination to show that a person's real purpose is grounded in their existence. Each individual brings something special to this planet. Points of view and decisions made along this journey affects the outcome, but each one of us is loved and valued by our Creator.

Inspiration / Muse:
I spent much of my middle school, high school, and college years thinking. I thought about who I was and who I wanted to be. I mused over why I made certain choices. I studied the beauty around me and the reasons why I existed on planet Earth in this wonderfully vast universe. I'd listened to so many of my friends ask, "What's my purpose in this life?" My response, "What if our primary purpose was to love God and others while doing good on this planet, whatever that might be?"

Theme:
The collection contains statements, declarations, questions, and devotion. In no way do the poems directly answer the question of purpose, but they point to a path that leads to more questions and a guide book, The Bible. Interestingly enough, The Bible doesn't specifically answer the question of purpose. Instead, it points to something deeper--the value of the human soul. Love is woven throughout the pages.

Journey:
Although I grew up believing in a monotheistic God, I questioned everything. I still do. I made friends who practiced other religions or none at all. I still have friends whose lives and faith are vastly different than mine. Why? Because I believe God wants me to love Him and others (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40), no matter the differences. This has been most challenging with others who fall under the umbrella of Christianity. It's why I hold on to Christ first and foremost. He was/is the only perfect human being and interacted with people who were considered societal/religious outcasts and showed them love.

Meaning behind the cover:
I met with a college student and read a few poems from the collection. Although North American born, she captured my Caribbean heritage with the gorgeous blue skies I grew up under. I like that it shows people just going about their daily routine. Nothing superstar and that's just fine.

Impact / Tribute:
I wrote all these poems before I graduated college, yet they are fill with a depth that surprises me now that I'm older. There's an innocence imbued with maturity that amazes me. People from youth to seniors have told me how much these poems have encouraged them.

So, whether you believe in God or not, I hope you can find inspiration and encouragement in the words I penned some time ago. Here's to you feeling loved and valued.

The third in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for April 4, 2020. 

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/

3/7/20

Behind the Scenes: A Beautiful Girl

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Girl-Cassandra-Ulrich-ebook/dp/B00815SQBQ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1583017328&sr=8-1

A Beautiful Girl is the story that almost didn't get written, yet it has inspired, nurtured, and restored the emotional well-being of many who have read its pages.

Inspiration / Muse:
I remember listening to The Story of Beauty by Destiny's Child, thinking it would make a meaningful story for those who have been abused. Never did the thought cross my mind at the time that I'd be the one writing this story. In fact, I didn't want to and fought the idea once it planted a seed in my mind.

I'd seen many movies about young women whose lives had been shattered by others they trusted, but the story usually ended with a downturn, leaving the viewer to wonder if the woman ever thrived in this new reality, post-abuse. I grew discouraged because I'd lived through, no, clawed through my own #metoo story, and I've graduated from just surviving to thriving on this planet.


Theme:
Once I'd decided to write the first word, I wanted the story to inspire others to keep striving until their lives represented what they wanted for themselves. I'm not just talking success: good job, decent friends, positive social etiquette. I'm referring to a deep sense of love for self, a looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, "I love you," to your reflection kind of thing. That might seem trivial, but for an abuse victim, it's the most challenging thing, to love your broken self so that healing can begin. The goal? A healthy self-esteem, not based on looks or the past, but on the internal beauty struggling to burst out of every pore, every word, and every task in order to develop strong characteristics. I wanted this book to inspire courage.

Journey:
Writing the words only took two months, but the emotions swirling through my heart and mind felt like a lifetime's worth. Every heartbreak, disappointment, and self-loathing I'd felt, bled over the pages. The process of expressing those hurts acted as a sort of therapy in addition to the ones I had undergone over the years. Since the manuscript was written from the end of October thru the end of December, I spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws' house and the travel time writing out some of the more disturbing scenes. I hadn't realized I was hugging myself until my husband spoke to me, asking if I was okay. I knew I was fine but Sara in the story wasn't. I'd slipped into her head for a moment and wanted to rescue her. I believe that was a foreshadowing of how others would be helped from reading about Sara, A Beautiful Girl.

Meaning behind the cover:
The cover on the book is the second try and the one I connected with. When I'd seen the girl on the original cover, she didn't match the girl in the story. I needed someone who seemed vulnerable with inner strength instead of someone who looked mean with well developed biceps. Although victims come with different features and from all walks of life, Sara had a certain persona I wanted to represent accurately.

Even the font and colors on the original cover caused me some angst. The t's were topped with carots, making the title look a bit too festive, and red and green reminded me of the holidays, not the painful journey Sara would live through in the story. The mostly neutral colors except for the red-checkered dress which contrasted with the girl's demeanor, and the broken font which represented Sara's broken spirit was the perfect match to this inspirational story.


Impact / Tribute:
To date, many people, women and men, older and younger, from different ethnicities, have read Sara's story. Some couldn't stop reading until the last page in one sitting. One expressed disappointment in having to disembark from a plane before she finished the next chapter. Another confessed that he hadn't dealt with being abused as a child and that he now knew he needed to deal with his dark past in order to have a brighter future. Teens who lacked self-esteem found it again after living Sara's story and reading about how she progressed through the story. A teen who hated reading said it was the first book she'd ever read all the way through and that she loved the story. A grandmother sought me out in a book event to tell me how the book helped her previously suicidal granddaughter get the help she needed.

The real-life stories go on and on. Over time, I realized that this was no ordinary book. It contained life-giving energy born out of love. I often tell people that God dictated the book and I merely wrote down the words. To date, I've not written any other book in just two months. Other than correcting typos, I've left the story with its original editing. A Beautiful Girl doesn't need to be perfect in everyone's eyes for its perfection comes from all the lives it inspires.

So, I dedicate this story to all the beautiful girls and boys. Don't ever give up on yourself. You are worth much more than you may realize. Peace and Love to you all.

The second in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for March 21, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/

2/29/20

Introducing the Upcoming Behind the Scenes Series for my Releases

Ever so often, someone who's read my work asks me what inspired it or what's the story behind the story. I'm always happy to say and have given tidbits in various posts on this blog and other social media.

So, on this leap day, February 29, 2020, I'm announcing the launch of a Behind the Scenes series for all of my published and soon to be published works. Please post questions as they will help me craft future blogs in this series.

The first in the series is planned for March 7, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/

1/31/20

So far so good

It's been quite a productive writing month. Besides continuing to merge loose files into a few different stories, I tackled first edits for Danny R.O.S.S. After dealing with the easier changes, I've been trudging through the more challenging items. Almost there, though. I'll be reading through the entire manuscript to make sure I haven't messed up the timing of different activities in the plot.

And, great news. There's a good chance Love's Intensity will be available in print this spring. 🔥

Here's hoping for an equally productive February.

12/31/19

2019 in Review

It's crazy how the year starts out with optimistic goals that ebb and flow when met with life's realities. Health, family, changing workloads, and challenging situations all play a part in what actually gets done...or doesn't.

First a look at what didn't:
  • Love's Intensity has yet to be issued in print - I'd hoped to get this done in 2019 (reality check: I'd hoped to get this done in 2018 but stuff happened) in time or the October book festival in Collingswood, but proofreading has taken much longer than expected. Here's hoping for a 2020 printing.
  • Posting on this blog every month - Too many obstacles. Maybe 2020 will be kinder than 2019.
  •  If It Kills Me and Danny R.O.S.S. were never edited. Instead, they were both released back to me by a publishing company due to unforeseen circumstances.
Celebrating the tasks that did:
  • Merged scenes from loose files for the two new stories and the prequel and sequel of Love's Intensity.
  • Tweeted and posted to my FaceBook Author Page more often.
  • Attended the 2019 USVI Literary Festival and Book Fair in April.
  • Landed an impromptu in-person interview at WSTX radio in Gallows Bay, St. Crox at that time.
  • Participated in Career Day at the Samuel M. Ridgeway School in June.
  • SciFi 2030 battle scene in Battle of Kitee (posted on the Small Wars Journal site) made it to the semi-finals of the Mad Scientist Fiction Writing Contest 2019.
  • Entered five other contests for stories and poetry. I'm glad I made the leap even though those didn't place.
  • Finished the first draft for one of the new stories, #ZnT, with 62,500+ words in 287 pages a week before Christmas. It's now out with the Beta reader.
  • Completed first edits for If It Kills Me.
So, as 2019 comes to a close, I raise my glass of sparkling apple cider to all the things I accomplished and all the hardships I pushed through to do that. Looking forward to an even better New Year.

11/2/19

Updating the PHP

Updating the what now?

PHP is scripting language called Hypertext Preprocessor, but, to me, it's the thing, if not updated properly on one's website, can render it unreachable and useless.

In the spring, during my first attempt at updating cassandraulrich.com, I made a mess of things. Monumental sized. Not only was an error message popping up every time I tried to access any page on my site, but I could also no longer update/change/fix my error. Talk about a Rock and a Hard Place.

Thank goodness for my site's host, Inmotion Hosting. They had my site up and running within a half hour. Website life was good once again.

Then, the dreaded reminder came months later to update the site's PHP again in order to protect against all the known nasty web invasions. Eeek!

Do I call for help this time or try updating by myself again? They are only an instant message away if I mess up, right?

For those of you who know me, I'm not a quitter and I don't like not knowing/understanding how to do something or how I messed up the last time. I can read and follow directions, can't I?

So, I click on links, take notes, and talk my brain through the steps. Took me an hour to do that and download the needed apps to backup my site, something I hadn't done the last time--yes, i was panicking back in the spring. And, wouldn't you know, I did it! My site stayed up, ready for visitors to check out my latest posts.

I understand that not many have the stamina for this type of stress, but I'm a writer with a technical background. I refuse to let the web trip me up. I'm not a glutton for punishment, though. If indeed I encounter an issue best left to professional IT folks, I have no problem letting them at it. It's just really fulfilling to do something I was never trained for on the job.

Don't underestimate what you can do.