12/5/20

NaNoWriMo2020 Fever

 Nine years after my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I participated again, this time to work on an anthology.

On November 1st, I published Danny R.O.S.S., the story I wrote during NaNoWriMo2011. After releasing my third book this year, I'd intended on taking a bit of a break. Instead, I signed up to writing 50K words in thirty days to encourage a friend during her first NaNoWriMo. This move proved to be a win-win as we both have successfully achieved our goals. What's interesting is that I crossed the 50K line on the same day as I did nine years ago--on the 27th.

Now, I get to spend 2021 editing all those stories. 😊





11/7/20

I did it! Three releases in one year.

 And what a year it has been. 

I remember planning out 2020 with the intention of relaunching Love's Intensity and publishing two stories, If It Kills Me and Danny R.O.S.S., both of which had been contracted previously with small house traditional publishers. With the closing of those companies, I was left with the decision to try other publishing houses or take the leap into self-publishing these manuscripts. This meant hiring editors and cover designers. Then, the stay-at-home order hit. 

I reassessed and forged ahead despite the unknowns swirling around me. I reached out to a few people, not knowing if they'd be up for working with me. Some said yes, and others said no. With additional pieces coming together, I said a prayer and planned out the release dates: 7/11, 9/21, and 11/1. Though this year has not been free of sickness for my extended family, I persevered. Staying focused helped me deal with the unsettling moods popping up around me.

I present to you my three 2020 releases. Check them out on Amazon and please leave reviews. They are much appreciated.



10/3/20

Behind the Scenes: Danny R.O.S.S.

Danny R.O.S.S. is a story about a Navy SEAL who lost his eyes during a failed mission. After being in a coma for six months, he wakes up in an unfamiliar place to find his damaged eyes had been replaced with robotic ones.

Inspiration / Muse:
The SEAL Team Six's successful mission on May 2, 2011 in Pakistan and the loss of elite Navy SEALs on August 6, 2011 in a fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan acted as the fuel for my first and only (so far) Nanowrimo story. I wanted this Sci-Fi Adventure to serve as a tribute to the guys who face high-risk situations in service to their country every day and night, whether on land, in the sky, or under the waves of our seas.

Theme:
How does someone who's used to physical challenges and willing to go anywhere in an instant deal with an injury endured during battle? I've often wondered about this and have read books depicting the way in which many veterans deal with the new path their lives have taken. My compassion for them drives me to help organizations that supply desperately needed help to those who sacrificed their health so the rest of us can continue to pursue our dreams. This story touches a bit on the need to be useful and effective post injury despite the dreaded PTSD that clings to those who've been in combat.

Journey:
I'd just released A Beautiful Girl and had recently signed a contract for Love's Intensity (October 30th) when I learned about Nanowrimo, an event every November when each participant spends tons of time each day, beginning November 1st, to achieve at least 50,000 words by midnight November 30th. That's 1,667 words on average each day--no easy feat with a day job and two kids less than 12 years old. I didn't have an outline or even a story idea. With the recent events in the news, I figured I'd write an adventure book the likes of the Bourne Identity movies--a tall feat. With minimal research and a mental motion picture outline attempted in 2 days, I embarked on a typing frenzy the remaining 28 days. I was and am so proud of the 51,163 word count and my Nanowrimo winners badge. This novel has grown by almost 5K words since then. Wow! The past nine years of fixing up this novel for release has been quite the journey.

Meaning behind the cover:
With one rejection under its belt, Danny R.O.S.S. landed a contract. However, when that publisher closed, I submitted to another one, not expecting it to return to me unread because that publisher was closing down too. I'd decided to self-publish, then a pandemic closed down the world. Knowing some people didn't feel quite creative during this time, I had no idea whether I'd be able to get a cover done. None of the pictures I looked at quite matched what I had in mind. I was trilled when Kyle Lapinski said he'd accept the job.

Impact / Tribute:
I just want to say thank you to all the troops and their families for the many sacrifices you make so we can retain our freedoms.

Danny R.O.S.S. is planned for release on November 1, 2020 as a salute to the month during which it was created.

The thirteenth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for a later date, so stay tuned.



10/1/20

Cover Reveal for "Danny R.O.S.S."


A blast during a covert operation destroyed a Navy SEAL’s eyes and killed his best friend. He woke up six months later in darkness, his eyes wrapped. His only contact with the world a soft voice. When the wraps were removed, the world took on a different hue. His ruined eyes had been replaced with mechanical eyes. His new mission: Defend the defenseless on the home front with a young female prodigy scientist as his only lifeline during dangerous missions.

***

A Young Adult Sci Fi Adventure novel by Cassandra Ulrich COMING SOON on Amazon

***

For the latest info, visit

My Website

9/5/20

Behind the Scenes: If It Kills Me

If It Kills Me is a story about a young man who falls in love with a woman who later ends up dating his roommate. As his friendship with her grows, he's tormented as to how he'll ever reveal the depth of his feelings for her. He's determined to make it happen even if he dies trying.

Inspiration / Muse:
Jason Mraz's song "If It Kills Me" is the inspiration behind this novella. After listening to his We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. album for hours, a story began to take shape. It didn't take long before a female response to the male character in the lyrics came alive as well. Sprinkle in the insecurities expressed in Rick's Springfield's "I Wish That I Had Jesse's Girl" and the plot takes off.

Theme:
Isn't it all about love? The thing most people crave and may struggle a lifetime to connect with that special someone. This story focuses on what happens when an opportunity is delayed. If only Jaeson had asked Jessica out the first time he saw her.

Journey:
I enjoy listening to songs and the stories they portray. When I start seeing a motion picture play out in my head, one of two things happen: I enjoy the daydream and let it go, or I start writing. Putting pen to paper didn't happen for months, but, once it did, I couldn't stop. I submitted the manuscript to five publishers before landing a contract. When that publisher closed, I submitted to yet a sixth publisher and signed another contract. However, after waiting about two years for an editor who never contacted me and a pending closure, I received back the printing rights and began working toward self-publishing this story, my first romantic comedy.

Meaning behind the cover:
A graphic artist hired by the second contracting publisher created the cover. Three tries later produced a cover I really liked. I'd purchased the photos of the guy and the hands holding the coffee cup to guarantee I got the look I wanted. Creating the perfect cover is nothing less than an adventure.

Impact / Tribute:
In the story, Jaeson's grandmother plays a special role in his life and reminds me of the grandma's whom I've personally known and loved. In fact, I've added a Bonus Poem after the story in the upcoming release as a tribute to my mother-in-law who passed away too soon. Look for this book on Amazon come September 21, 2020 and don't forget to leave a review.

The twelfth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for October 3, 2020.




8/21/20

Cover Reveal for "If It Kills Me"

 

He just couldn't catch a break. That is, until he met Jessica Stewart.

After losing a promising accounting job, Jaeson secures a position at a coffee shop where he first meets Jessica. He instantly falls for her, but weeks later, he is shocked to find out his playboy-turned-suddenly-serious roommate, Rick Springer, is her new boyfriend. Jaeson, thrown into the middle of this mismatched pairing, is left tormented that he cannot have what he wants most. He's determined to let her know how much he loves her... even if he dies trying. 

***


A New Adult Romantic Comedy novel by Cassandra Ulrich COMING SOON on Amazon


***


For the latest info, visit

My Website

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 created 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/

4/18/20

Behind the Scenes: Life Experienced

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Experienced-Cassandra-Skelton-ebook/dp/B00MWK81JI/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=cassandra+ulrich&qid=1585435294&sr=8-7
Life Experienced is a collection of poetry depicting colorfully splashed moments of activity from life in the U.S. Virgin Islands to college in Chico, California, including daydreams, observations, and memories, some happy, others filled with sorrow or hope. Life is too short not to be experienced to the full every day.

Inspiration / Muse:
These poems were written during or after some experience snatched up an emotion and brought it to the surface. They span my life from middle school through college, a time when I did a lot of gut-felt meditation on who I was and what I wanted to be. Nature (of which humans are a part) affected me in many ways and that became apparent in the titles and stanzas of my poems.

Theme:
In one word? Experiences. I never wrote essays in a journal. I wrote poems to express what I thought and felt. I showed in words the things I saw, remembered, or longed for. They give hints to my valued friendships, my fears, and my prayers. I attempted to bring sounds to a blank page.

Journey:
No matter where I lived or what I went through, I kept God close. My choices always kept me moving from the few friends I made. However, those same choices took me away from those who bullied me. No matter what, I asked God to guide my steps (Psalms 119:105) and He has brought me through some unforgettable experiences. Poems are my memoir.

Meaning behind the cover:
The college student who painted the cover for Real Purpose: You are Special also painted the cover for Life Experienced. I wanted green as the main color to represent the life-giving essence that experiences can potentially bring. Flowing water means a lot me, so I am pleased that both water and trees ended up in the painting although I had not specifically requested it. The poems spoke on my behalf.

Impact / Tribute:
Although I've experienced many things since middle school, high school, and college, the words in this book brings back all the emotions of that time and place. I hope that this collection can encourage others to live their lives to the full as well.

The fifth in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for May 2, 2020.

http://mobile.cassandraulrich.com/poetry/life-experienced/

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.