8/1/20

Behind the Scenes: Battle at Kitee

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/battle-kitee
Battle at Kitee is a futuristic depiction of warfare in 2030 with a cast of characters, both human and mechanical, the reader won't soon forget.

Inspiration / Muse:
I enjoy watching Sci Fi Adventures, like iRobot, Bourne Identity, and G.I. Joe. I just never thought I'd write a story that painted a battlefield in a country no one can find on the globe with action worthy of the movie screen.

Theme:
The goal was to write about technologies that might have a place on the battlefield a decade from now. 

Journey:
A fellow author and friend informed me about a Mad Scientist writing contest. At first, I thought...Neat. Then, I wondered if I'd ever be able to pull off a sci fi adventure story when I'd only written YA/NA sweet romances, an inspirational story, and poetry up to that point. An injury placed any research or planning on hold for about a month. By the time I recovered, only one week remained before the submission deadline. I wasn't going to bother until two coworkers encouraged me to give it a go. They said, "What do you have to lose?" So, I agreed to think something up, knowing I wouldn't be able to have anyone edit it before I pressed the send button. My research consisted of talking to a former military guy at my office and reading any websites he pointed me to. But what about the story? My mind was blank. So I said a prayer, asking for a scene I could write about. In an instant, the mental motion picture of the Battle of Kitee started running. Check out The creating of "Battle at Kitee" for additional information about the contest.

Meaning behind the cover:
No cover needed for this entry, but brainstorming one would be really cool.

Impact / Tribute:
I'm so glad I leaped into this story with the imagination of wonder as the words creating an amazing landscape with self-aware drones and helicopters with personality. Thanks to my friends who encourage me to keep taking risks with my writing. It surely is a type of self-discovery.

The twelfth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for September 5, 2020.


7/18/20

Behind the Scenes: I Exist. Hear Me.

https://www.southjerseywriters.com/2018/04/19/winning-writers/
I Exist. Hear Me. is a poem born out of self-reflection and a determination to never give up on me no matter how much lingering voices I'd heard over the years say otherwise.

Inspiration / Muse:
I entered a contest sponsored by the South Jersey Writers' Group in January of 2018. Even though this poem had a slight dark edge to it, I submitted it as a statement of courage in the hopes of helping others to persevere even when the mind attempts to talk a person out of pursuing one's dreams. It's a crazy battle, but one worth fighting.

Theme:
I Exist points to the value a person has just by being here, before any accomplishments and outside of monetary wealth. Hear Me is a desperate cry to be understood on a deep level.


Journey:
Writing poetry is a vibrant and colorful way to express emotions sometimes too deep for mundane words. I write what I feel, not just what I think. It's a journey that started in grade school and continues through the challenges of adulthood.

Meaning behind the cover:
No cover needed for this poem. It's interesting to think what it might have been, though.

Impact / Tribute:
I'm glad I didn't listen to my initial thought of not submitting this poem. The words resonate with many people and continue to inspire me to keep going. I look forward to helping others with my writing. I'm grateful to have this gift.

The eleventh in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for August 1, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/poetry/i-exist-hear-me/

7/4/20

Behind the Scenes: Zale's Tale

https://www.amazon.com/Beach-Fun-Nancy-Sakaduski/dp/1732384215/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=beach+fun+cat+and+mouse+press&qid=1592530466&sr=8-1
Zale's Tale is a story about a seven year old merboy who visited Rehoboth Beach, DE for the first time and made friends with a seven year old human boy. Curiosity and acceptance led to the start of a fun friendship.

Inspiration / Muse:
A friend from the South Jersey Writers' Group told me about a writing contest held by Cat & Mouse Press and sponsored by Browseabout Books, To compete for a spot in Beach Fun, the story had to take place in Rehoboth Beach, a famous summer destination I'd never visited. I almost talked myself out of entering, but thankfully I ignored that voice. I would have missed out on all the fun I had creating this story. I'd always been fascinated with stories about mermaids. Now, I had the chance to shake things up a bit. Since I have two boys of my own, it made sense to develop a small adventure around a merboy instead.

Theme:
Basically, the story had to live and breathe Rehoboth Beach scenes, foods, locations, and fun times.

Journey:
By the time I time I learned about the contest, I had less than two months to think up and write a story between 500 and 3,500 words. I studied maps of the area in an attempt to help with the visual of a merboy traveling south along the eastern shoreline. Having never been on a boat offshore in Rehoboth Beach, I encountered some difficulty in describing the landscape accurately from the viewpoint of an ocean creature approaching a sandy beach with strange structures as the backdrop. I also had to imagine the evolving experience of a merboy eating foods that didn't have a tail and scales. Giving the story a shot landed me a spot in the Beach Fun anthology of 25 stories and the chance to autograph copies with other authors.

Meaning behind the cover:
The publisher chose a cover that depicted a crowd having fun at the beach. I was not involved at all in that process. A relief for sure. 

Impact / Tribute:
I've had the opportunity to read this story for students at a couple middle-schools. I'm glad I have a part in showing young people just how enjoyable a story can be with images that can free their minds from the every day hardships, if only for a moment.

The tenth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for July 18, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/2019/08/24/the-birth-of-zales-tale/

6/20/20

Behind the Scenes: A Love Gift

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Gift-Cassandra-Skelton-ebook/dp/B01HK84O3S/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1585435565&sr=8-5
A Love Gift 💝 is a collection of poetry gifted to anyone who's searching for love, whether from another human or from God. The poems talk about love between friends, in a family, or directed toward the Creator. 💕

Inspiration / Muse:
Nature, songs, holidays, and special people have all inspired the words in this collection. The experiences lived with those muses fueled the emotions that penned the words. I wanted to share the essence of the poems with others as a gift to reopen even when the world doesn't feel quite right.

Theme:
Love makes it possible to forgive, try again, persevere, reach for the stars 💖, stay grounded, care for others 💞, nourish self 💓, believe in the impossible 💗, and heal 💔. The problem is humans keep forgetting that love is the key to many wonderful things. Perhaps, these poems will remind us.

Journey:
The poems were written over a decade from middle school through college, as were my previous collections. It is eye-opening rereading the words. Some were memories while others looked to the future, like the poem Being in Love. 💘

Meaning behind the cover:
This cover was painted by the same college student who painted the covers for Real Purpose: You Are Special, Life Experienced, and Encouraging Through Sharing: A Christian's Perspective. Without knowing, she painted one of my favorite flowers--cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Impact / Tribute:
Hopefully, these poems lift the spirit of every reader, reminding them to love one another and that someone in the universe loves them too. 💟

The ninth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for July 4, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/poetry/a-love-gift/

6/6/20

Behind the Scenes: Adelle & Brandon: Friends for Life

https://www.amazon.com/Adelle-Brandon-Friends-Cassandra-Ulrich-ebook/dp/B07GRGST9V/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1585436058&sr=8-4
Adelle & Brandon: Friends for Life is a short story about a young woman's hope that a long time friendship will grow into something more. In the meantime, she remains as a shoulder for him to cry on whenever he has a breakup.

Inspiration / Muse:
During a South Jersey Writers' Group meeting, a guest speaker talked about about the best way to write descriptions of the scene so the reader isn't bored. In response, I started writing the first half of this story the moment I arrived home.

Theme:
Friendship, love, and longing pretty much covers it.

Journey:
For two years after finishing the first part of the story, no additional scenes came to mind. I thought the story was complete until a dance performance with a similar beginning inspired the rest. Only then did I know the end of the story had arrived.

Meaning behind the cover:
The pinky-swear and Coney Island are involved in a major turning point in Adelle's and Brandon's lives--the day they promised to remain "Friends for Life" despite the fact that they'd be living in different cities. When the graphic artist asked me whether I wanted to use warm or cold colors on the cover, I had no idea how to respond. After a bit of research on the internet, I choose a rainbow of cold to warm colors from top to bottom to depict the progression of Adelle's friendship with Brandon. I'm very pleased that this cover has received many compliments.

Impact / Tribute:
I enjoy rereading Adelle and Brandon's story over and over. I've spoken to others who feel the same way. It's a sweet, feel good kind of story with a bonus short, a tribute to my dad, to wrap up the small book. I hope you enjoy it too.

The eight in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for June 20, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/published-manuscripts/adelle-and-brandon-friends-for-life/

5/16/20

Behind the Scenes: Encouraging Through Sharing: A Christian's Perspective

https://www.amazon.com/Encouraging-Through-Sharing-Christians-Perspective-ebook/dp/B01HK84O2Y/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1585435499&sr=8-6
Encouraging Through Sharing: A Christian's Perspective is a collection of poetry that delves into the heart and deep thoughts of a person of faith dealing with a variety of situations, whether good or not. This collection speaks of hope, desperation, joy, an aching heart, suffering, and perseverance.

Inspiration / Muse:
Some people mistakenly think that people of faith never get depressed, are hardly ever sad, or tend to think they are better than others. Although these types of people may exist, so do ones who struggle with insecurity, want to do what's right, and treat others with respect no matter what their beliefs. These poems open the door to a different view.

Theme:
What does this Christian do when dealing with what life throws at her? Answers to this type of question fill the pages. However, the main theme is that she kept focused on God and His willingness to help the downtrodden out of the dumps and into His wonderful light.

Journey:
The poems are an expression of a person who survived abuse, bullying, and rejection by fellow classmates in high school. Yet, the words point to a better future where thriving is possible. And even in the midst of struggle, a poem was written to encourage a friend to hang on.

Meaning behind the cover:
This cover was painted by the same college student who painted the covers for Real Purpose: You Are Special and Life Experienced. The golden glow among the clouds depicts a breaking through of hope from where rain once poured.

Impact / Tribute:
The words written in these pages encourage the reader to persevere no matter how bleak the circumstances.Even though I'm the one who wrote the poems in this collection, the words continue to inspire my heart as well, for which I am grateful.

 The seventh in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for June 6, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/poetry/encouraging-through-sharing/

5/2/20

Behind the Scenes: Billiard Buddies

https://www.amazon.com/Billiard-Buddies-Cassandra-Ulrich-ebook/dp/B07VK1839Z/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1585435397&sr=8-3
Billiard Buddies contains a love rectangle where the two main characters are avid billiard players and the female pool shark meets a guy who dared to challenge her on her turf. She had no intention of losing her game much less her heart to him.

Inspiration / Muse:
I played billiards in college and loved it. My dad, a bartender, had received two pool sticks from tourists visiting the island. The one he gave me is the one I describe in the book. I often competed with other players, all of whom were males. I remember how impressed they were that I had to screw the two halves of my stick together prior to the first game. I don't have my bedazzled pool stick anymore, but I found a way for it to live on in the minds of every reader.

Songs by Colbie Caillat in Coco influenced the overall mood of the story and even some of the plot. So much so, that even Gina, the female protagonist, depended on the contents of this album to get her through heartbreak and unrequited elation at newfound love. This love drama already has a Tailor Made soundtrack.

Theme:
This is a story about friendship, family, heartbreak, dreams, desire, respect, fun, and, of course, intense focus on a game where passions explode and the winner takes all.

Journey:
I wanted to write about a female pool shark, and Kindergarten teacher, Gina, fit the bill. She became the embodiment of the songs in the Coco album. However, Gina wasn't the only one to experience heartbreak. This book struggled through three rejections before landing a contract. After a few years, the publisher closed and returned the rights to me. I relaunched Billiard Buddies in 2019

Meaning behind the cover:
Well, no one should be surprised that the cover started with some kind a drama. First try: Not enough clothes. 😲 (I needed Oxygen) Second try: Guy looks like he was teaching the pool shark. Really? 😒 So, I searched for the picture with the help of a friend. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find fully clothed people playing pool. Third try: Ahh. Finally. 😌 Not perfect, but it'll do.

Impact / Tribute:
This story has made many readers smile. Some have told me the descriptions of the games are spot on.  It also brought about some interesting reviews. This is a sweet contemporary romance, meaning nothing too steamy (just to be clear). I mistakenly thought the fully clothed characters on the cover would make that crystal. Um. Apparently not. 😂

Thanks, Dad, for giving me that bedazzled pool stick so many years ago. Like Gina, I lost an influential and devoted father from my life.

The sixth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for May 16, 2020. 

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/published-manuscripts/billiard-buddies/